It’s the 4th of July and I’ve been holed up at home for the last three days with a respiratory infection. I hardly ever get sick but when I do, that’s usually what it is. Up until today, eating has felt like I’m dining on sand sprinkled with glass shards sauteed in acid every time I swallow. And it all just takes like hurting…there is no flavor thanks to the congestion. Then, there is the phlegm. It is absolutely amazing the varying shades of color that post nasal drip can trigger. On the bright side, I do think I’m slowly on the mend, though my voice still sounds like it belongs to someone who has been chain smoking for 30 years.
I’m so bummed I’m missing out on all of the 4th of July party shenanigans (e.g., eating like it’s my last day on earth), and while I’m not contagious, I just didn’t want to be “that” phlegmmy coughy person at the BBQ or Kevin’s family’s lunch. So here I am, drinking hot tea to soothe my throat in my eighty-five degree apartment…trying to get caught up on the backlog.
Kevin and I hosted a belated birthday dinner at our place for Alex’sbirthday back in February (dinner recipe deets forthcoming) and had to make sure we had something kick-ass for dessert. With Lingie as chief dessert decision officer, we came up with a great idea for a chocolate banana bread pudding. My favorite bread pudding is from Nook Bistro, as are a few other recipes I’ve tried to recreate through the years. The recipe I found on Denica’s Cafe sounded like it would yield something similar at the time, though now that I’ve made and eaten it, I’m convinced Nook’s uses way more fat and maybe even a brioche bread.
I did make a few tweaks to Denica’s recipe though. Chocolate chips usually have less cocoa butter than bars do, so they hold their shape in moderate oven heat. That way, they retain their texture and shape in cookies, muffins, and other baked goodies without looking melted melt (even though the cocoa butter has melted). I wanted a big gooey swirly chocolatey mess with my bread pudding, so I chopped up a chocolate bar (dark instead of semi-sweet, simply out of preference) into chip-sized pieces. If I were to make this again, I’d utilize bananas that are a day or two more ripe than what Denica recommended too, again for that gooey bread pudding texture.
Here is my rendition:
1 loaf (16 oz) firm white bread or French loaf, cut into 1 1/2″ chunks and left out uncovered overnight
3 ripe but still somewhat firm large bananas. Use bananas that are a little ripe than what’s pictured below. Brown spots are fine!
4 large eggs
2 cups half-and-half
1/4 C packed light brown sugar
1/2 C granulated sugar
2/3 C chopped dark chocolate chunks (I used bars of Cote D’Or)
Peel and slice bananas into 1/2 inch slices.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs, half-and-half, and sugars until blended. Gently stir in bread, bananas, and chocolate chunks to combine. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight, pressing down bread occasionally to absorb cream mixture.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9″ round springform or cake pan that is at least 2 inches deep. The pan will be very full.
Bake bread pudding, covered loosely with foil, 35 minutes. Uncover and bake 45 minutes or so longer, or until knife inserted in center of pudding comes out clean. Cool pudding slightly on wire rack before serving.
Check out that gooey swirl! We served it a la mode, and I think it went over well with the birthday boy and fellow dinner guests!
The gloomy weather we’ve been having lately made me really want some warm comfort food so I made one of my favorite meals. Fall is also the season for one of my favorite foods in the world – butternut squash! The first time I had a butternut squash and garbanzo bean (or “chickpea” if you want to use the sexier word for it) stew like this was at Nook Bistro a couple of years ago. I fell in love with it and absolutely had to make it at home. After trying out a couple different recipes, I found one that was similar enough and really healthy. I made this a few years ago prior to starting my blog, so I thought I’d give it the shoutout it deserves!
Note: If you decide to make this at home, I would recommend buying pre-cut butternut squash because the rind is not easy to cut through.
A few people have asked what is with the sudden burst in posts. I love to eat, sleep, and breathe food so naturally, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the kitchen with the new found free time I’ve acquired in the last month. However, it seems like this is slowly turning into a cooking/baking blog, so I’ll change it up in the next couple of weeks with something inedible to share!
I never took photos of the Key Lime Bars with Pistachio Graham Cracker Crust and Blueberry Compote that I had made back in May, and had been wanting to make them again and correctly… and with photos. One of my coworker-friends threw out her back last week and had been in a lot of pain the last few days. I remembered when I brought some of them in to work, she had really taken a liking to them so I thought this was the perfect thing to help cheer her up!
Tons of work, the NBA finals, and my own workout/basketball shenanigans have absorbed the last two months, so I’ve been slacking on all things baking and crafts. I did, however, manage to dedicate this past Saturday evening to baking after being inspired by the dessert I had a couple weeks ago at one of my favorite restaurants in West LA. I’m not a huge key lime pie fan, but the key lime pie bar with blueberry compote at Nook was simply splendid. I found tons of key lime recipes online, but one recipe had two things the others didn’t – pistachios and Martha Stewart. I also sourced the blueberry compote companion from a pancake recipe of hers.
After one trip each to Target and the market, I realized I didn’t have any parchment paper nor enough limes. During my third lap to the store, I decided an 8″x8″ square pan was just not going to be enough key lime bars to share – especially considering it’s another one of Kevin’s favorite desserts. Being the brilliant pseudo-pastry chef that I am, I eyeballed extra of each ingredient when making the crust to fill a 9″x12″ pan, and then discovered I had neglected to buy double the ingredients for the filling. It looked like a sad little puddle of tart creaminess in a huge desert of crust. After a frazzling total of four (yes, four) trips to the market, I finally had all the ingredients I needed only to realize I was supposed to bake the crust BEFORE I put the filling in it. MEGA. FAIL. At that point, I had conceded that this officially was my first baking disaster and decided to just finish it out like the champ I had so hoped to be.
Despite the mishaps, I think they still turned out halfway decent. The crust was still crusty and solid, and everything seemed to have baked evenly.
Unfortunately, I forgot to take photos but I do think I’ll be making these again in the near future. I did love the pistachio graham cracker crust turned out, and am open to suggestions of other things I can pair it with!!