This one goes out to all you marathoners out there. All you celiacs. All you vegans. This is the back-pocket recipe I wish I had over the last two years, when I was training my ass off, hungry all the time and only half-heartedly fooling myself into thinking I could eat whatever I wanted. These vegan, gluten-free chocolate peanut butter banana energy bites have everything I want in a sweet, satisfying treat, and nothing I don’t need. Continue reading →
I’m not a big material gift-giver. Probably because I’m a pretty awkward gift-receiver. Sure, it’s always great to rip open some packaging and discover something extremely thoughtful, something you’ve always wanted, or something you never knew you would want but would end up using on a regular basis. It might also stem from the fact that my parents always insist that we not buy them anything for birthdays, Hanukkah, Mother’s or Father’s Day. Maybe we just need to be more savvy (note: parents do NOT want massage gift certificates), but what that has meant is that my gift to my family, my friends, my loved ones, is very often the gift of food. Putting love into a cake, brownies, penne or gnocchi; and the sacred ritual of gathering and filling our souls with that love. It becomes more than a meal, more than a gift: it is an experience, shared, together.
And sometimes, I go into overdrive. This is what happened this past weekend, when my fella celebrated his 33rd. We had blueberry pancakes with actual real bacon, his favorite kickin’ grilled chicken and blue cheese calzones (twice), and this Chocolate Nutella Banana Insanity Cake. Continue reading →
There are days when I dream of sun-ripened fruit and farmstand veggies and other fresh things. And then there are days when I try to Nutella everything. I’ve gotten into the habit of baking off loaves of peasant bread and schmearing warm slices with Nutella, or rescuing day-old peasant bread by toasting it and schmearing it with Nutella. It’s been my daily afternoon treat and I think it was saving me from the depths of everyone else’s winter depression. When we ran out of the sweet stuff over the weekend, we took advantage of the current thaw and took a walk up to one of our many local European markets (one of the great things about living in a Greek neighborhood) to see if they were selling it any cheaper than the supermarket on the corner. They weren’t, but they did have giant jars. Don’t worry, I said, I’ll find a use for it. But when I say “Nutella everything” I don’t just mean a schmear on things here and there — I’m talking about recreating Nutella in all kinds of food forms. Enter these chocolate-hazelnut banana muffins. Continue reading →
When I lived in Paris my junior year of college, I probably ate a crêpe every other day, if not every single day. My fillings of choice were simple: Nutella and banana. It wasn’t breakfast, and it wasn’t dessert. Usually it was lunch. I would eat it as I walked from my favorite outdoor crêperie (off rue de Passy) back to class, or to the Métro, pieces of just-warmed banana falling onto the cobblestone street as I would hurry across a small intersection while taking a bite, hot Nutella oozing onto my fingertips. Along with the pains au chocolat and other delectable pastries, I definitely had a problem. But it’s a problem that, almost a decade and a half later, I still can’t seem to shake.
Exhibit A: this blog. See, I ran out of apple oatmeal cookies, so I had to make something new last night. Forget the fact that I have chocolate chip cookie dough in the freezer. I also had leftover pizza dough that needed to be used up before going bad. Aha, see, there’s another dirty little secret I haven’t yet let on. I make pizza. And bread. And calzones. We’ll get to the first two at some point, I promise. But first let’s hit the latter, and hit it hard. Forget savory dinnertime calzones (for now). We’re making Nutella-banana calzones. Which, according to my inner 20-year-old’s logic, would also make an excellent lunch.
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I’ve been dealing with a bit of writer’s block this past week. I’m not quite sure what’s gotten into me, but it’s been butting heads with deadlines, leaving me stressed out and needing to just get in my kitchen and get my hands dirty without worrying what to say about whatever’s coming off my stove or out of my oven. In fact, the first sentence here was the only thing on this page for hours after I excitedly, and successfully, baked and tasted what could be the greatest thing ever to come out of an oven anywhere ever. Hyperbole? Maybe. But come on now, say this with me: chocolate, peanut butter, banana bread.
Yes, you read that right. And it’s the thing that’s putting words back on this page. Last March, Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen posted a recipe for what was, at the time, the greatest quick bread baked in New York City: double chocolate banana bread. I followed her instructions to a tee then (not even realizing that the cocoa I was using was, as she directed, in fact Dutch-process cocoa — but we’ll get to that later), and was in love. Last week was a food blogger lovefest, and just days after meeting Joy the Baker, I had the honor of meeting Deb and the great Melissa Clark of the New York Times at a WNYC event at the Greene Space in lower Manhattan. Again: two incredibly personable people who just want to make good food and share it with the world. I was inspired, but I still couldn’t write.
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A video went viral recently in which an explorer and documentarian, clad in a heat-protective suit, climbed down into the crater of Manu, an active volcano on the island archipelago of Vanuatu, later describing it as a “window into hell,” like looking into the center of the earth. The churning, bubbling, exploding sea of lava before him sent chills down my spine, in utter awe of the life within our world. But in those crashing waves I also saw something else: I saw a pot of sweet, spicy, boiling, churning oatmeal.
It’s one of my favorite sounds: milk and oats, rising and colliding and becoming more than they were alone. Expanding, creating. I have my method: milk, brown sugar, a healthy dose of cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Bananas folded in off the stove, topped with sliced almonds and another sprinkling of cinnamon. Toss in some blueberries and it’s heaven on a cool morning. Delicious, filling, and – time consuming. It got me thinking: can I make this in muffin form, for an easy, grab-and-go breakfast treat?