Zucchini Bread with Maple Cinnamon Walnuts.

Zbread1

Breakfast is not my favorite meal of the day. In the morning, forget a meal, what I really want is a cup of coffee. Followed by a second cup of coffee.  Afterwards, we can talk about breakfast. Or we could, except at that point it is definitely time to head in to work. Scratch breakfast.

For more years than I’m comfortable admitting (it would be more than I’m able to count on two hands), breakfast out the door most likely consisted of some dark chocolate, maybe some milk chocolate if that’s all that was left.

Zbread5 Zbread7

Long before it was hip, a friend’s mom was turning out quickbreads loaded with zucchini and pancakes made of different sorts of flour. Try handing a seven-year-old a buckwheat pancake and you may be disappointed. Wait a decade or two and when that now 24-year-old is grabbing at alternative flours, you’ll can say, “I told you so.”  You’ll also probably say something like, “I can’t believe you’re still eating candy for breakfast.” But it’s the small victories that matter.

Partly because our kitchen ran out of chocolate, and partly because it seemed like at least for a couple of days it’d be nice to have an actual breakfast ready on my way out the door, I went back to that zucchini bread recipe, graciously passed along. Motivated—most likely by the odd things a lack of chocolate and sugar will do to the brain—I swapped in honey and maple syrup for some of the sweetener and whole wheat for a bit of the white flour. Clearly, I should have reached for the buckwheat.

This zucchini bread is the non-chocolate breakfast that’s, truthfully, better than chocolate. It’s spiced, with just a touch of sweetness, soft and moist with just a bit of crunch from candied maple cinnamon walnuts.

Unfortunately, we froze half of the loaf thinking we wouldn’t eat it quickly enough. Two days later what was left is gone leaving me with a sad, half frozen loaf of zucchini bread only one option this morning . Chocolate raisins for breakfast.

Recipe on the following page.

Zbread4Zbread2

Continue reading “Zucchini Bread with Maple Cinnamon Walnuts.”

Chocolate Coconut Loaf.

CocoCake1

Sometimes, you just have to know when to cut your losses and…eat cake. One instance, which happens more than you (let’s be real “I”) would hope is when, in your smaller than average Brooklyn kitchen, the one window in the entire apartment which provides any decent light is not doing its job. Yea, sure it’s letting in a few UV rays and if we were a couple weeks along I probably would even crack the window and let some sweet, fresh air in. But those UV rays are not lighting my nicely styled food in the proper way. Even though it should be soft morning light, it’s all harsh and shadowy. Bleh.

Thankfully, as with most instances in food blogging, if the pictures aren’t turning out, at least you have something tasty to eat. And in this particularly instance, after a few failed attempts to get an overhead which finally culminated in the two slightly weird little shots you see here (backlight and looking over the back of the cake like a creepster?), I got to eat cake.

So all in all, a win.

CocoCake2

Losses than have been cut and resulted in cake are not only to be found in the food blogging space. In simple baking, you often end up with cake. Especially when you venture into the realm of breakfast “breads.” You know what I’m talking about. Looking at you banana walnut, carrot raisin, and apple. The breads that, if we were perfectly honest, are really just cake that you can throw in the toaster and heat up, real nice. To do away with any pretense that this coconut loaf was actually bread, I added a decent sized handful of chocolate chips.

By which I mean a cupful. And let me say, it improved the “bread” quite nicely. All studded up with coconut, scented with vanilla, this really is one of the best pieces of bread a girl could have.

Continue reading “Chocolate Coconut Loaf.”

Banana Chocolate Chip Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting.

BPB1

Oh hello, cake it’s been a long time.

It’s not like I’ve been ghosting as a healthy baker, cook, and eater.

No, that would be silly.  And false. Want proof? Here it is in all it’s peanut-butter-frosted, chocolate chip studded banana-scented glory. Fair warning: This cake is heavy. I’m talking maybe should have spent more time doing light reps with free weights in the gym heavy. (I found that it was less heavy once inside bellies, so perhaps the tactic here is to simply eat the cake, instead of attempting to carry it around.)

BPB2 BPB3

For all the lovers of banana bread out there, who maybe like to toast a slice and spread it with Nutella or peanut butter, this is the cake for you.  Because what this cake is, at it’s core, is a very moist, rich banana bread, dressed up in peanut butter frosting.

And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that.

Recipe on the following page. 

Continue reading “Banana Chocolate Chip Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting.”

Fig Preserves.

Sticky, sweet, and plays well with cheese.

I know what you’re thinking, that could be practically anything. Even if we’re just sticking to what I’m talking about—fruit preserves—that still could be, well, any fruit growing from a tree. Or a bush. Or a vine. A preserve, while it sounds a bit mysterious and tightly sealed, is really quite simple. It’s produce that’s been intensely heated, mixed with a sweetener, and sealed off to last a lifetime. (Or a little less…) Great for winter, and even better it seems, for outlasting a hurricane.

Sandy arrived here yesterday evening in New York, and my family, friends and I have been extremely fortunate. The surreal state of it all, with only the Empire State building awake and shining in the city that never sleeps, the East River rising up and flowing over the FDR on the East Side, trees uprooting and smacking buildings at last getting a chance to protest the build up…it’s all quite odd, a bit terrifying, and in the strangest, darkest sense, a bit breathtaking.

But the day before, Sunday, I had spent making fig preserves. Perhaps now, it will be my little hurricane tradition. Sweet fruit broken down, combined with tart citrus, smooth liquor, and a healthy helping of sugar. Spread that on a cracker during 70 mile per hour gusts and a tide coming in on the avenues, and things will seem a little weird yes, but not completely lost.

Sharp cheese, crisp crackers, and a deep, rich fig spread to last a hurricane. It may not be the most practical of meals, but it’s comforting.

And responsible. See that barometer? Smart fig preserves checking air pressure. Stay safe.

Recipe on the following page.

Continue reading “Fig Preserves.”

White Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Spread.

When the White Chocolate Pretzel Peanut Butter Spread is gone, it’ll be the lowest point thus far in your eating career, no exceptions.  There will never be such a void.  Never a valley so deep, chasm so wide, but most importantly, never a jar so empty.  And you’ll look too, you’ll look deep into the bare pretzel peanut butter spread jar at the smeared remnants, the last slicks of white chocolate pretzel peanut butter goodness.  Maybe you’ll tear up a little bit, because that spread was just so, so good.

What is it about peanut butter that makes it so delicious?  At the most basic it’s peanuts, perhaps toasted and lightly salted, pulverized and ground into a luscious, rich nut butter.  Make butter out of anything really, and it’s hard to go wrong.  Take plain, simple lowly peanuts and elevate them from bar snack status into something wonderful.  It’s the nostalgic stuff of white bread peanut butter and jellies, peanut butter cups and, for a lucky few, peanut noodles and satay sauce.  So imagine the possibilities if you take peanut butter a step further.

This White Chocolate Pretzel Peanut Butter Spread however goes above and beyond plain old creamy peanut butter.  With the addition of white chocolate and crushed pretzels, peanut butter is transformed into a rich, dessertesque White Chocolate Pretzel Peanut Butter Spread.  And while it’s good enough to eat by the spoonful, a little smear of this spread on a PB&J or peanut butter and honey sandwich, an extra slick in a Gruyere or sharp cheddar grilled cheese, or perhaps most ridiculously layered between slices of chocolate cake is everything good in the world.

Recipe on the following page.

Big Cheese (Truck).

So about cheese.

It’s good, really good. From cheddar to Gruyere, Brie to blue, the only cheese I’ve ever met that I disliked was Stilton, straight out of the little ceramic pot. That was back when I was 10 years old. I likened eating Stilton to eating poop off the floor. Mature, yes, and also incredibly accurate.

The absolute best way to consume cheese is of course in a grilled cheese sandwich, perhaps accompanied by tomato soup.

So imagine my delight when Washington accommodated my cheese-needs with a grilled cheese truck. The Big Cheese truck not only offers up quality grilled cheeses using ingredients for cheese-geeks, (artisan cheeses like those from Cowgirl Creamery and locally sourced ingredients), but tomato soup and the newly added caramel hot chocolate.

The attraction of eating from a food truck is the duality of eating right on the sidewalk, the moment the food is prepared, and the proximity of customer to cook to the actual ingredient providers. Returning for the Big Cheese’s caramel hot chocolate after gobbling down our sandwiches on a fountain, the Big Cheese man called us out as we stood in the back of the line. Upon learning that we were there for not one but two cups of hot chocolate, Mr. Big Cheese exclaimed in delight. During its debut yesterday, the caramel hot chocolate only sold one cup he told us. It being delicious and the lack of purchase being due to an unfortunate lack of knowledge on the part of the general public, the Big Cheese man found himself drinking gallons of the stuff.

After a sip of the thick, rich hot chocolate, alternatively sweet and bitter in the way real hot chocolate should be, we were happy to take two cups off his hands.

The crowd at the Big Cheese truck is made up of those who truly love cheese. There are carefully laminated cards displayed in front of the ordering window as aides, which give details about taste texture, age, origin, and a quick little bio about all the cheeses used in their sandwiches. When the Big Cheese man motion to the card, one particularly informed customer brushed aside the suggestion to read up on her cheese before making the ultimate sandwich choice and said, “These cheeses are all my friends!” She knows her cheese, don’t show her the cards. Just give her a sandwich.

“This is the best part of my day,” was another gem from the grilled cheese line.

And after a little Mt. Fiji—Mt. Tam triple crème Brie from Cowgirl Creamery and sliced Fiji apples on whole grain—tomato soup and caramel hot chocolate, I’ll be honest.

It’s been the best part of my day thus far too.

Recipe on the following page.