Saturday, May 1, 2010

Whole Wheat Banana Muffins

Banana muffins are great for breakfast or a snack on the run. We like to always have some ready for guests who stop by to visit. These muffins are adapted from Dorie Greenspan's wonderful column Baking with Dorie on Serious Eats. Lately we have been eating a lot of whole grains and have emitted butter from our diet (summer is officially on its way). Here we substituted whole wheat flour for regular flour, vegetable oil for butter, brown sugar for white sugar, almond milk for yogurt and added chopped mixed nuts instead of chocolate. So... having once made Dorie's delicious muffins, these muffins are completely different, but we think just as delicious. They are also a healthier version.
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup almond milk (you can alternatively use sour cream or plain yogurt)
3 ounces chopped mixed nuts, optional (I used a combination of Brazilian nuts, hazel nuts, walnuts and almonds)

The Recipe
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray 12 regular-size muffin cups.
Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together well.
Add the sugar to the oil, beat at medium speed for around two minutes. Beat in the vanilla, then the egg, beating for about 1 minute. Mix in the bananas. Then, mix in half the dry ingredients, all the almond milk and then the rest of the flour mixture. Stir in the chopped nuts. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.
Bake for 10 to 20 minutes (pay attention since every oven is different, we burned ours a little-oops), or until a knife inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Transfer the muffin tin to a rack, cool for 3 minutes, then gently turn the muffins out of the tin. Cool to room temperature on a rack.

Egyptain Cauliflower Salad

This is a simple cauliflower salad adapted from My Egyptian Grandmother's Kitchen by Magda Mehdawy.
The Ingredients
1 small cauliflower
1 tbs. olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tbs lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbs chopped parsley

The Recipe
Separate the cauliflower into medium sized pieces and steam in a steamer (if you don't have a steamer you can boil the cauliflower whole in water and then cut it into pieces). Place in a bowl. Mix the olive oil, cumin, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Pour over the cauliflower and mix. Garnish with parsley.

Julia Child's Baked Cucumbers

The other night, tucked under a blanket, we watched "Julie & Julia" on DVD. Why? We're not sure. The movie itself was pretty boring, but it left us wondering about baked cucumbers... We had to try them. The next day, and one cucumber delivery later, we had cucumbers baking in our oven. We were initially skeptical, but  they turned out truly AMAZING. This dish is simple and quick to make and the result is surprisingly delicious. Baked cucumbers, who would have thought?

Baked Cucumbers / Concombres au beure: adapted from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" by Julia Child.

Ingredients (makes 2 servings)
6 medium cucumbers (about 15 cm long)
2 tbs white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp sugar
1 tbs melted butter (the original calls for 3 - your choice...)
1/2 tsp chopped fresh dill
4 tbs chopped green onions
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

The Recipe
Peel the cucumbers, cut lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Then cut into strips of about 1 cm wide and 5 cm long. Toss the cucumbers with the vinegar, salt and sugar. Let sit for at least 30 minutes. Drain and pat dry in a towel. (This process is extremely important. It creates the delicate tenderness of the cucumbers once they are baked, by extracting the liquids out.)
Heat the oven to 200 C.
In a baking dish, toss the cucumbers with the butter, dill, green onions and pepper. Place uncovered in the middle of the oven for about one hour, tossing 2 - 3 times until cumbers are tender but still have a bit of of crispness and texture.
Serve warm.