April 29, 2011

Banana Bread

One of my favorite meals has always been breakfast. I rarely ever skip this meal, and when I do, trust me...steer clear! Whenever we have large groups of people staying over for a weekend, its inevitable that people wake up at the exact same time for brunch. Muffing and breads are a great way for the early birds to "hold over" prior to the main meal. I had every intention of doing this recipe this past weekend when we had 18 people over! (But I too, didn't wake early enough to have it done...next time!)

1/2 Cup butter
2 eggs
1Cup white sugar
1 Tsp. vanilla extract
1 Cup ripe mashed bananas
1 Tsp. cinnamon
1 Tsp. baking soda
1/2 Tsp. salt
1/2 Cup Creme Fraiche
1 1/2 Cup sifted flour
1/2 Cup Chopped Walnuts & or 1/2 Cup Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl mix together the butter, eggs, sugar, vanilla in a bowl and mix until creamy. Add mashed bananas, cinnamon and mix well. (Try not to over mash the banana's, they add great texture). Next add the baking soda, salt, creme fraiche and sifted flour until all smooth. Stir in walnuts or chocolate chips if you are using (a combination of the 2 is also great!).

Grease a loaf pan. I like to slightly coat the pan with a sugar and cinnamon mixture so it creates a nice crust to the edges of each slice. Pour into the pan and bake at 350 F for 1 hour or until you insert a tooth pick/skewer and it comes out clean.

I've made several recipes for banana bread, and this version with the creme fraiche (you can also substitute sour cream) is the best. Its moist and simply delicious; or should i say... Zelicious!

April 17, 2011

Perfect Crostini

A few years ago I learned to make crostini. It sounds much harder than what it really is. All you need is a little prep time, and some patience (not to get too far from the kitchen while they are in the oven!). Here is my way to get perfet crostini every time.

Baguette Loaf, day old is even better
Olive Oil

Slice the bread into 1/4" thick slices. Spread slices of bread onto a baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over bread, make sure each slice has some olive oil. Sprinkle some salt and pepper over. (You can also add additional flavorings, such as garlic or fresh herbs at this time).

There are 2 ways to get these cooking. If you are skeptic about using the broiler, simply put in the oven at 350 F, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Turn over each slice and put into the oven for about 5 minutes. Ideally you want to get the same color on both sides of the crostini.

If you don't  mind the broiler, this goes REALLY QUICK! So make sure to stay right in front of the oven as you do these. Place under broiler, and literally count to 30. If they aren't golden yet, place them back in for only a few more seconds. Remove them and turn each slice over, place back into the broiler and count to 20.

April 11, 2011

Guava Salmon

Everytime my sister comes to visit, she always asks for me to make this dish. The first time I had seen someone do a guava sauce was a few years ago while a chef friend was visiting us in Miami. I really have no idea the exact method, but the idea was so easy and simply "Zelicious"!

I've made this so many times, and each time I think it varies a little by adding more savory flavors or making it spicier really depending on who's over for dinner that night.

The base of the sauce is done with Guava Paste. For those of you who may not have an idea where to find it or get it, it looks like this:

I prefer this type of packaging since I typically only use 1/2 of the package or about 7 oz. I also like the ones that are 1 oz portions that come individually wrapped. I also always favor using the paste in this recipe versus a jam since I do dilute in water, its still keeps the texture that gets lost with a jam.

Salmon (4 individual Filets, or approximately 1.25 lbs)
7 oz. Guava Paste
1/4 Cup water
1/2 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Pepper
1/2 Tsp Paprika (or Cayenne if you prefer more heat)
1/2 Tsp Cumin
1/2 Tsp fresh grated ginger
1/4 Cup white wine
1 Lemon

Cut the Guava Paste into 1/2" squares, and place into medium saucepan. Add the water and put over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, and allow guava paste to fully dilute into water. Feel free to add more water if you prefer a more liquid sauce. As the mixture is simmering add the salt, pepper, paprika, cumin and ginger. Once the guava has diluted add the white wine and bring to a reduction. The sauce should have a smoothe finish, but stll have some of the guava grain to it.

While the sauce is simmering prepare the salmon. Line a pan (I used a rectangular cake pan) with foil paper. Place the salmon filets over and squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over it. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour sauce over the salmon until well covered, you may have extra sauce. Place in oven at 350 degrees F and cook for about 25-35 minutes. Baste the salmon about 20 minutes after in the oven to create more of a glaze while it continues to cook.

Serve with desired sides, I love pairing with jasmine rice and fresh asparagus!