Sunday, November 15, 2009

Carrots! Carrots! Carrots!

I recently made a 3 tiered carrot cake and processed a bit too much carrot, so I found some ways to put the extra grated carrot to good use in two delicious ways...and by the way, I did not post the recipe for carrot cake. It was delicious, but carrot cake is only attractive/photogenic in the deft hands of a pastry chef!


I like an accompaniment to a sandwich or grilled/roasted meats and fish. Traditionally we have used potato salad, slaw and lately we have cleaved to a variety of salsas. Salsas have gained in popularity, largely because they wake up our taste buds and have more complexity of flavor and spice than traditional potato salads and slaw. They do require a few more ingredients than the accompaniment I am sharing today, which is why I love it. This salad was inspired by Phyllis Meras book, Carry-Out Cuisine. There is a recipe from McMead's a carry out shop that was in Coconut Grove, FL. It was a "Honey Glazed Carrot Salad," whose kick came from the healthy addition of dijon mustard and ginger. Of course, being the "adaptable" cook, I made some revisions to the original recipe, but kept the total amount of ingredients to 6 plus salt and pepper. I hope you try it with any grilled meat or fish and it is a great wake up topping for a grilled burger.

6 cups grated carrots
1 cup dijon mustard
1/2 cup honey
1 T.+ freshly grated ginger, or 1 t. ground ginger
1/2 c. golden raisins
Juice of one lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Thoroughly mix all ingredients, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Chill in refrigerator and enjoy. My favorite way to enjoy is with roast/grilled chicken, only to be topped as a hamburger topping. Scrumptious!

...And expanding on our "carrot" theme, my favorite/only daughter, Ashley, loves avocados! So with some left over grated carrot on hand, I decided to incorporate them into a vegetarian sandwich I knew she would enjoy. I used to make a variation on this sandwich many moons ago when I had a carry out shop. The difference then was that I used sprouts instead of lettuce, no whipped cream cheese and eliminated the Monterey Jack cheese. Sprouts scare me now, so I stay away from them. Color me coward!

The Californian Sandwich

Vegetarian sandwiches can truly be filling, flavorful and imaginative. The use of high fiber whole grain breads lend a density to the sandwich, and a good dressing helps. Because vegetables hold so much water, liquid oozing can attempt to turn your fresh and tasty sandwich into a soggy mess. Mayonnaise is not an effective barrier to this moisture, and while it does lend flavor to the sandwich it will not retard moisture seeping into the bread. This requires a bigger "fat" barrier that you can traditionally obtain with butter spread on both slices. I opted in this sandwich for a different profile, and used whipped cream cheese, in lieu of two fat laden ingredients like butter and cheese.

Ingredients: Serves One
2 slices whole wheat/whole grain bread of choice
1/2 - 3/4 cups of grated carrot
2 T. Whipped cream cheese
1 avocado, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
Curly lettuce (arugula works well here also)
Lemon Mustard Vinaigrette


Smear whipped cream cheese on both slices of bread, and pile on grated carrots on one slice of bread.

Arrange the avocado slices on top of the carrots, and salt and pepper to taste.

Add your lettuce or arugula, top/close and enjoy your vegetarian sandwich!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Banana Chocolate Chip Nut Bread With Molasses & Marsala

I really don't care for banana bread, at least I didn't before I perfected this recipe. The only reason I would have been motivated in the past to make banana bread is because I had over ripe bananas hanging around. I buy them for my morning cereal quite often, but some mornings it's a savory breakfast that wins out or I have oatmeal. Thus I look at those bananas that start to really freckle up and have that dilemma. Sometimes I peel them and wrap them in aluminum foil and put them in the freezer. They make an excellent snack that is good for you and if you talk yourself into it you can imagine you are eating banana ice cream. But more often than not, I already have some in the freezer and banana nut muffins or banana bread comes to mind.

In the past I have made banana bread, but I was like Goldilocks and The Three Bears, one was way too moist, one was way too dry, but this recipe is just right. This banana bread retained the correct amount of moisture, and is meltingly delicious and from hence forth I will be a banana bread fan! I love this recipe and I hope if you decide to try it you will love it too!


I started out knowing I would use bananas, flour, and sugar and oil. As for the flour, I try to use some whole wheat flour in most of my baking, when I can. In this recipe I used whole wheat and all purpose in a 50/50 ratio. I know most people give a greater ratio to the all purpose, but I tried it this way and it worked. When it came to oil/butter I have left butter behind in most of my cooking and opt for either canola oil or olive oil. Lately I have graduated to olive oil in my baking because it provides a textural quality to baked goods that I don't get from canola oil, and as long as it is not too fruity it compliments the flavor profile in the baked product. I know walnuts or some addition of nuts is traditional, but for me they would represent texture. The chocolate chips and molasses (cut back on the sugar a bit) were a definite flavor addition and because I was jotting notes and sipping a bit of marsala I just knew in my bones it would also work. Maybe I had sipped a wee bit too much Marsala, but it proved to be a genius addition if I do say so. Whereas some recipes call for the addition of buttermilk, I substituted the marsala as a liquid. My only concern was with the elimination of the buttermilk and its chemical action, should I add more baking soda? I didn't and it turned out just fine.

Preheat your oven to 325ยบ
Oil/flour a 9x5x3 loaf pan
Total baking time 75-90 minutes

Dry ingredients:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 t. cinnamon

Wet ingredients:
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, you may substitute melted butter, or canola oil
1/2 cup dark, unsulphured molasses, you may substitute an additional 1/2 cup of sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
1/4 cup Marsala wine, you substitute 1/4 cup of buttermilk
2 large eggs, well beaten
4 ripe mashed bananas

Blend into final mixture:
6 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup well chopped walnuts

The Method:

Into a bowl sift all the "dry" ingredients and set aside.

Put olive oil, molasses, sugar, vanilla extract and wine into a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 10 or more minutes until well "creamed" and sugars have dissolved. This step cannot be overworked so take your time here. Next add the beaten eggs and mix again to incorporate. When this is all blended, fold in the bananas and hand mix thoroughly.

Add the dry mixture to the mixing bowl of wet ingredients in 3 batches, stirring/folding until just blended. Then fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts and pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan. Place on a rack in the center of the preheated oven and bake until done. I tested mine with a wooden skewer, but at 75 minutes it was not quite there and left it in the oven the full 90 minutes. Cool in pan for 15 minutes, remove to a rack and cool completely.

I wrapped the bread in foil and left it at room temperature overnight, and do believe it tasted better the next day. The texture was great, the flavor was more complex with the molasses and marsala while the chocolate chips gave it a decadent tone that I usually didn't experience with banana bread.

My next iteration of this recipe will mix 1/2 chocolate chips and 1/2 toffee chips and that will be that!