Kalikori Olive Oil; A Partnership [Olive Oil, Toasted Fennel & Orange Loaf]
I’ve been so looking forward to sharing this post! You know how excited I get when I try something new - I want to yell it from the rooftops so you can all be as tempted and seduced by new products, flavours and brands as I am. Or because I just like to yack and yack. That, too.
When I started writing in this little corner of the internet, I decided I wouldn’t take on sponsorship’s because I felt it might be harder for people to feel connected with me on the other end of their computer screens and I might come off insincere or pushy. Sponsored posts can sometimes come off like a schmoozy, cologne-drenched salesman trying to shove the highest priced, lowest quality products down your gullet. Granted, there are some really incredible and well-partnered writer/sponsor relationships out there, it just never seemed right for me and what I hoped to accomplish.
So you can imagine my reaction when Kalikori Olive Oil approached me to team up and spread some love about their olive oil, which I had been using for quite some time. I knew I loved their product (loved might even be a small understatement, I am somewhat obsessed) but wondered if you all would still trust me to be honest about my thoughts on food if I was taking on sponsorship.
Ultimately, and not without much thought, I decided it was a move that I felt comfortable making. I would never take on something that didn’t feel sincere and aligned with what I’ve always wanted to accomplish here - honest talk about real, whole food and ingredients - and I truly believe that this product connects with that and so I’m anxious to tell you more about this small business that produces such an incredible product. And so, let’s talk about my favourite olive oil!
photo courtesy of Olive Oil Times
Kalikori Olive Oil is a family-owned and operated business run out of Montreal (1.5 hrs from my hometown of Ottawa). The paternal grandfather of the Ligris family, Vassiily, planted vatsikes olive trees near Kalamata in Messinia in the 1950s and three generations later, Vassiily’s granddaughter Effy and her family took charge of the companys operations and has since been slowly, naturally, finding it’s way into the home of adoring customers who have all but fallen in love with this peppery, green olive oil. Each year, the family heads to Greece to assist in the harvest of the olives and oversee the processing. This is as “small, family run” as it gets and the passion for their craft is entirely evident in not only their eagerness to talk about all the ridiculously tasty ways you can use their oil for, but in their efforts to create a consistently impeccable product. Every one of the some-30 bottles I’ve purchased has tasted the same - rich, peppery and clean with a zingy bitterness that sort of tingles as it makes it’s way down your throat. It has a low acidity and is moderately flavoured. I sometimes sneak into the kitchen just to slurp a spoonful of it. It’s that good.
Each month I’m going to share a recipe that shines a well-deserved spotlight on this small family business’ olive oil and it’s unique, grassy flavour and how you can make the most of it. This month I really wanted to play with the flavour combination of olive oil, orange and toasted fennel. The earthy oil and sweet, toasty fennel pair so wonderfully with the orange zest and juice. I decided to bake these flavours into a loaf of quick bread that would brighten up any afternoon tea or breakfast coffee. It’s delicately sweet and has such a nice brightness to it. The olive oil makes the crumb a bit denser, but it makes for a moist, tender loaf.
If you want to try out Kalikori’s oil in this recipe, you can find some have a peek at their supplier, Favuzzi’s, Where to Buy page. Just search in your city.
Kalikori Olive Oil, Toasted Fennel & Orange Loaf with Orange Glaze
adapted from The Vanilla Bean Blog
makes 1 loaf
1 3/4 cups AP flour (Sub in 1/4 cup whole wheat if wanted
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp toasted, ground fennel seeds
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tbsp orange zest (from 1 large orange)
Juice from 1 large orange
1/2 cup milk (soy or almond ok, too)
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup Kalikori Olive Oil
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 tsp orange zest
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 5-by-9 inch loaf pan
In a medium bowl, add the flour, baking power and soda, salt, and fennel. Stir until combined.
In another large bowl, mix the orange zest and sugar until combined. Add the juice, milk, eggs and olive oil and gently whisk to combine. Add the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
Pour into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean.
While baking, mix the ingredients for the glaze until smooth. Taste and add more juice if necessary.
Remove the loaf from the pan and place the on a cooling rack over a sheet of parchment. Poke about 10-15 times evenly on top of the loaf with a toothpick and spoon the orange glaze over the top. Let cool. Slice and serve.
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. Kalikori Olive Oil sponsored it and compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, I only recommend restaurants or products I use/enjoy personally and believe will be good for my readers.
February Kick-Off [Hazelnut, Olive Oil, Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate]
It’s about to get a little crazy around here, my dearests. February is going to be an incredible, if insane, month for me and I want to do my best not to neglect you all or leave you without any delictible bites for the month. I’ll be doing my darnedest to keep you up to date with all my endeavors throughout these next few crazy weeks, so please keep checking back for exciting news!
To kick off February, which also happens to be my birthday month (I accept gifts in the form of bacon. Thank you in advance) properly, I decided to share a very simple banana bread recipe that will have you sneaking down to the kitchen at 4am to shave a sliver off and pour yourself a big icy cold glass of milk (or perhaps some herbal tea for the non-dairy drinkers).
Light in banana flavour and rich and nutty from the addition of olive oil and hazelnuts, this bread is a somewhat lighter alternative to your typical banana bread. It’s butter-free and full of whole-wheaty goodness and made ever-better by slathering some natural peanut butter on it. Admittedly, I have convinced myself that cake for breakfast is entirely appropriate so long as you have peanut butter with it. It’s delicious. Plain and simple. And it would make me very happy if you’d make some and have it for breakfast with me so I don’t feel so bad.
Hazelnut, Olive Oil, Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate Chips
adapted from 101cookbooks
I ended up adding the chocolate chips to the top of this loaf, but that was mostly as a result of forgetting to mix them into the dough (durrr). Both would work well but I think there is something to be said for a loaf laced with chocolate throughout.
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dark muscovado or dark brown sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup hazelnuts, skinned*
1 cup dark chocolate chips or chocolate cut into chunks
1/3 cup good quality olive oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 large, very ripe bananas
1/4 cup whole milk yogurt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Remove a small handful of whole hazelnuts and set aside. Place the rest of the skinned hazelnuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground.
Preheat oven to 350.
In a large bowl, whisk the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, ground hazelnut mixture and chocolate until combined.
In a smaller bowl, whisk the bananas, olive oil, eggs, yogurt and vanilla until smooth.
Pour the banana mixture into the dry mixture and stir just until combined. You don’t want to overwork this.
Pour into a greased & floured bundt or loaf pan. Chop up the remaining hazelnuts and sprinkle over the top of the bread. Cover with tin foil (so as not to burn the hazelnuts on top) and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 30 more minutes or until lightly golden browned on top. There’s but a few minutes between moist, dense bread and dry, overdone bread so do keep an eye out after about 40 minutes.
Let cool in pan for 10 minutes and then remove, slice and serve!
*To skin your hazelnuts, put them in a pan and roast at 350 until skins begin to split, about 6-8 minutes. Remove immediately, place in a paper bag and seal the bag. Let sit until cool, 10 minutes. Using a dish towel, rub the skins away from the nuts; they should come right off
An Ode to Bread and Soup [Roasted Butternut Squash and Asian Pear Soup + No-Knead Bread]
I love bread.
I love the way a fresh loaf’s crust shatters like glass when you pull a warm, doughy piece from it. I love it’s comforting, alluring smell as it emerges from the oven, golden brown and imperfect. I love how unpretentious a rustic peasant loaf can truly be. I love that it rises from merely three modest ingredients. Simple or complex, dense or light, flattened or round, I love everything about it. Everything.
The dilemma lays in this; I am a dreadful baker. Heavy handed, overly fussy, impatient and imprecise. None of those equate to scrumptious bread. Or at least they didn’t use to.
Enter No-Knead Bread. The savior to all incompetent bakers. I’m certain there are some real bakers out there who might see the no-knead method as cheating, but for all of you out there like me, who dream of being able to slice into a fresh, warm, yeasty loaf - this is, without a single doubt, the greatest thing to happen since…well…sliced bread. You CAN make this bread. And you will. [this is me sending you subliminal message to pull out your flour, yeast and water…. you’re getting sleeee.. no wait… baaaaakey]
You know as well as I that fresh bread is not complete without something to slather on it or dip it in. I decided to go with the latter and whip up a batch of soup with a few things I had kicking around. Surprisingly, it was one of the better soups I’ve made.
The perfect marriage of sweet and savoury exists between the roasted squash and Asian pears. I really appreciated the depth that roasting them created and the subtle sweetness that bathing them in a mixture of vanilla, cider and just a hint of cayenne for background heat, provided. Simple and unpretentious but entirely delicious.
Of course, you don’t have to make both soup AND bread… but I found they really went wonderfully together. Mr. GL claimed that the bread made it a meal and even he, the handsomest of picky eaters, devoured his bowl with a big grin on his face. So do try them both at some point, if not together.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Asian Pear Soup with Vanilla
I love the way the soup turned out initially, but it was a little on the sweet side. I found the addition of ricotta to really help balance it out.
I garnished the soup with some lightly roasted squash seeds that were dusted with chili powder. You are welcome to do that or you can top with a little yogurt, some olive oil, fresh herbs, toasted croutons or nothing at all.
1 large (2+ lbs) butternut squash, sliced in half and seeded
2 large Asian pears, peeled, sliced in half and cored
coarse sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 cup pure, high quality apple cider
3 cups water
1/4-1/2 vanilla bean
pinch or two cayenne pepper
1/2 cup ricotta or Mascarpone (optional)
Preheat oven to 400.
Place the squash and pears cut side up, in a roasting pan or cookie sheet. Cut a few slices in the squash and rub it and the pears with some olive oil. Give the slices a good sprinkling of salt and pepper. Roast for 40-60 minutes until a fork is able to go through both squash and pears without any resistance. The pears might be done sooner than the squash so check them after about 40 minutes.
Remove squash and pears from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes. While cooling, throw the diced onion in a large soup pot with a few glugs of olive oil. Turn the heat to medium and let the onions sweat until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
Throw in the pears and carefully scoop out the squash flesh and toss it into the pot. Add the cider, vanilla bean and water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and let simmer for another 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the ricotta and cayenne pepper and puree with an immersion blender or in a stand blender until creamy and smooth.
Ladle into bowls and top with whatever you please.
No Knead Crusty Bread
adapted from Honey & Jam
Makes 3 small or two good sized loaves
This bread is simple in preparation but impressive in flavour and texture. It’s yeasty and dense, crunchy and satisfying. The perfect pairing with soup.
Please read instructions before you start so you can ask any questions you might have before go-time.
3 cups of lukewarm water
1 1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 tbsp coarse salt
6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
In a very large mixing bowl, add the water, yeast and salt. Let it sit for about 5 minutes, it’ll just be starting to get frothy.
Dump in all the flour, don’t be shy, and use a sturdy wood (or otherwise) spoon to mix it until no flour streaks remain. I didn’t mix mine enough and had a rough clump in one of the loaves, so don’t be shy.
Cover the bowl with saran wrap and let it rest in a warm spot for 2 1/2 - 3 hours or until it has risen and started to deflate.
If you’re ready to bake the bread right away - flour your hands and tear off a chunk about the size of a grapefruit. Round the loaf out by pulling some pieces from the sides of the dough, rotating as you go, and tucking them underneath the loaf. It doesn’t have to be perfect, this is a rustic loaf. It shouldn’t take you more than 1 minute to tuck the sides under.
Place the small loaves on a counter top or board dusted with cornmeal and let them rise for another 40 minutes, no need to cover.
20 minutes before cooking time, preheat oven to 450. While preheating, place a skillet or pizza stone in the middle rack and a cookie sheet in the lower rack.
When the dough is done it’s final rise, give it a quick drizzle of olive oil (optional) and place it on the preheated pizza stone. Immediately pour 1 cup of water in the cookie sheet that’s in the lower rack of the oven. Close the door quickly to trap that steam in. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
If you have more will power than I, you’ll let it cool for 15 minutes. But not much longer than that as you have to have a slice of it warm with butter. I insist! (…and when I insist, you must listen)
The Breakfast Curse [Aged Cheddar, Spinach & Arugula Strata]
It’s become blatantly obvious over the past few months that I have a terrible curse. One that affects not only myself, but whomever happens to be with me. A breakfast curse.
Ottawa has been gifted with many wonderful restaurants that serve creative and enticing brunch menus to the masses that show up from open to close on the weekends (and likely during the week as well, but brunch doesn’t exist during the week as far as I’m concerned. It’s just easier that way.)
What could possibly be the issue, then?
Let me tell you. Every time I am asked out to brunch, or take Mr. GL (who isn’t the biggest brunch fan in the first place) out, we end up waiting over an hour to get our food while everyone around us receives theirs almost immediately. Customers come and go as we sit, tummies grumbling. Every time. And as if that weren’t bad enough, I usually end up getting the snarkiest, most unhelpful waiter in the joint. It’s unfortunate, but it’s a reality I’ve come to accept. Brunch spots and I just don’t mix. Maybe I’ll give it a few years and try again. Maybe.
Instead of sulking at home eating roasted chicken and potatoes with gravy for breakfast, I’ve been experimenting more with some brunch options that are easily made in advance and can be cooked in the morning for a quick and satisfying breakfast that doesn’t require waiting in line, waiting an hour to be served, or being barked at by wait staff.
I brought this Strata to my girlfriends place last weekend and was so thrilled at the simplicity of it. It was beautiful to look at, delightful to eat, and easy to make. And as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t get much better than that. Add a few homefries, some fruit salad and coffee for a full brunch that you don’t even have to brush your hair or get dressed to enjoy.
Aged Cheddar, Spinach & Arugula Strata
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Tip: I made the mistake of using a too-tiny dish and ended up with raw eggs all over the floor, counter, and myself. It’s probably best you try to avoid that.
1 large onion, chopped
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 10oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeeze of all excess liquid
2 large handfuls arugula
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
8 cups crusty bread, cut into cubes
3 cups good quality aged (I used 4yr) cheddar
2 3/4 cups milk
9 large eggs
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and add the onions. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the 1/2 the salt, 1/2 the pepper and nutmeg and saute for another 2 minutes. Add the spinach and arugula and cook until arugula is soft.
Butter a 3-qt gratin dish and add half the bread cubes. Cover with half the spinach mixture and half of the cheese. Repeat again.
In a separate dish, whisk the eggs, milk and dijon and remaining salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the bread. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, up to a day.
This was immediately before the eggs spilled onto everything. Thankfully, I got the photo just in time.
The next day, let the dish sit at room temperature for 30 minutes while you’re preheating the oven to 350.
Bake, uncovered on the middle rack, until puffy and golden brown on top, 45-55 minutes.
Pour yourself a coffee, grab the newspaper and enjoy!
Mother Knows Best! [Sticky Lemon Rolls with Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze]
Let it be known, that I was the kid who recited “I will not be just like my mother” like it was etched on my skin. Not because I thought my mother wasn’t a perfectly acceptable role model, but I, like most kids/teens, liked to think I would be my own person. Do things differently, and change the little quirks that frustrated me so much as a teenager. “I’m not going to do it like that… ” I would say confidently, assuring myself that things would be different when I was old enough to call the shots.
Here I am, 25 years old, noticing daily that I am, in every sense of the word, my Mother’s daughter. From the way my hands look, to the way I answer the phone, my views on the world and relationships, and the tiny looks that I so often despised as a kid… it’s all eerily similar. And while it may not have been what I had hoped for when I was younger, I couldn’t be happier to be just like her. I remember her sighing at me with a smirk and saying “just wait until you’re older…” and it all makes sense now. Everything she instilled in me, all the life lessons passed down, they’ve all come back around.
I often find myself telling people that I would prefer to have boys when I decide to have children. Not because I don’t likegirls, but because I’m afraid that my potential daughters might be just like me. It took me twenty two (give or take) years to finally understand everything my Mum used to try and tell me. And it seems like an awfully long time to not see eye-to-eye. From where I’m sitting now, I have the utmost respect for her and the patience it took to raise two daughters who always thought they knew better.
My mom is wonderful, and kind hearted, and generous beyond belief. She not only taught me to be all those things, but also how to fend for myself and take care of others. A valuble lesson that I am forever thankful I aquired from her.
It’s hard to say thank you to someone who has molded exactly who you are, and unquestionably the person you had always hoped to be, but we always try our best. My mum is not much for presents on Mothers Day, but instead asks for our time, which we understand is more and more valuable as we get older, and start traditions, careers and home lives of our own.
Since the weather has been agreeing lately, we decided to put together a brunch for Mothers Day. Something small but satisfying we could enjoy over mimosa’s, coffee, and cheerful conversation on my balcony. My sister made the savoury portion of the meal, sharing a wonderful roasted vegetable frittata, bacon and fruit salad, and I was in charge of the sweets. I hmm’d and hah’d over scones, muffins, bread pudding… but none of them left me feeling excited. And if I wasn’t excited about it, why would anyone else be.
I recalled a recipe I came across on The Kitchn for an alternate take on the cinnamon bun minus the cinnamon. A sticky, sweet roll that housed a few of my very favourite things. Lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, cream cheese, nutmeg… all the most crucial players for a breakfast baked good, in my opinion. I can’t say I’ve ever been successful in any cinnamon bun endeavours, but I took a deep breath and assured myself that this was it. Time to step into the big leagues, push out any unfortunate memories of rock hard buns, and get down to business. I owed my mom that much.
There few words I can use to do these rolls the justice they deserve, but here are a few for starters; tangy, sweet, yeasty, warm, lemony, creamy. To say they were enjoyed would be a monstrous understatement. Each section was lovingly unraveled, the tangy lemon glaze slowly oozing down the freshly revealed dough, making a deliciously sticky mess of every one’s hands. Most of us enjoyed not one, but two rolls, which was surprisingly since we’re typically not much for dessert.
They looked good, tasted great, and were really not much harder than making a loaf of bread. I strongly urge you to try them. They might even convert you from a cinnamon-bun lover to a lemon-bun afficianado. I myself am a changed woman. And most importantly, my mum loved them just as much as I did.
Sticky Lemon Rolls with Lemon-Cream Cheese Glaze
Adapted from The Kitchn
Makes 12 large breakfast rolls
Note: Half of the lemon juice will be used in the lemon-sugar filling for the rolls. The other half will be used in the glaze.
Lemon Roll Dough
1 envelope or 2 1/2 tsp active yeast
3/4 cup milk, warm but not hot (about 100 degrees)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, very soft
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 zest from lemons
Sticky Lemon Filling
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp freshly-ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
3 tbsp unsalted butter, very soft
1/2 juice from lemons
1/3 zest from lemons
Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 juice from lemons
Final 3rd of zest for garnish.
Zest and juice the lemons. Divide the zest into three parts. Divide the juice into two parts, and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer sprinkle the yeast over the warmed milk and let it sit for a few minutes until frothy. With the mixer paddle, stir in the softened butter, sugar, vanilla, and one cup of the flour. Stir in the salt, nutmeg, and one part of the lemon zest. Stir in the eggs and enough of the remaining flour to make a soft but slightly sticky dough.
Switch to the dough hook and knead for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is elastic and pliable. If you do not have a stand mixer, you can stir the ingredients by hand, roll out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead by hand for 5-7 minutes until smooth and elasticy. See here for thorough instructions.
Spray the top of the dough with vegetable oil, and flip the dough over so it’s mostly covered in oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a towel and let the dough rise until nearly doubled, about an hour.
In a small bowl, mix the sugar with the nutmeg and ginger, then work in the second part of the lemon zest until the sugar resembles soft sand. Slowly pour in one part of the lemon juice, stirring. Stop when the sugar and lemon juice form a wet, clumpy mixture. You may not use all the lemon juice. It shouldn’t be gloppy.
Lightly grease a 13x9 inch baking dish with vegetable oil or butter. On a floured surface pat the dough out into a large yet still thick rectangle, about 10x15 inches. It might not be a perfect rectangle, but that’s ok.
Spread the dough evenly with the 3 tablespoons of softened butter, then pour and spread the lemon-sugar mixture over top. Roll the dough up tightly, starting from the top long end. Stretch and pull the dough taut as you roll, to keep the lemon sugar firmly inside. Cut the long dough roll into about 12 even rolls with a sharp knife so as not to squish them. Pinch the bottom of each roll closed and place each one, open and cut side up, in the prepared baking dish.
Cover the rolls with a towel and let them rise for an hour or until puffy and nearly doubled. If you are making the day before, as I did, you can cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight, up to 24 hours. In the morning, take them out and let them rise for an hour before you bake.
Heat the oven to 350°F. Place the risen rolls in the oven and bake for 35 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into a center roll reads 190°F.
(I was a little worried at this point since I expected them to be a little softer looking, but rest assured, you’re on the right track)
While the rolls are baking, prepare the glaze. Add the softened cream cheese to a mixer or a bowl with a hand mixer, and cream until smooth. Add remaining lemon juice and cream until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, a little at a time until you have a smooth, creamy glaze. Not as thick as frosting, but should coat a spoon (or your finger) with a good thick layer.
Finishing the Rolls
When the rolls are baked, smear them with the cream cheese glaze, and sprinkle the final remaining lemon zest over top to garnish. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving, but be sure to serve warm when they are at their very best.
Lastly, if you haven’t spoken with your mom in a little while, give her a call and tell her you love her. It’s the best gift you can give. Short of a million dollars, that is.
Sunny Sunday Baking [Hazelnut Brown Butter Banana Bread]
I’d be hard pressed to find a time during my week that is more wonderful than Sunday mornings. Lazy, comforting, judgement free Sundays. If it could talk, Sunday would gently reassure you, in a soft, honeyed voice, that the stress and worries of the previous week were gone now, and you could be free to start again.
As I sit here, sun cascading through my windows and setting my whole right side aglow, there isn’t anywhere in the whole world I’d rather be. Ryder, whose head is just inches from my legs, seems to agree. Our content sighs quietly echoing eachother.
Yes, Sundays are the cat’s ass, as far as I’m concerned. Especially when you wake up early and realize you have some bananas that are quickly going bad and begging to be made into a loaf of dense, moist banana bread.
I’ve made many a banana bread in my day. It may have even been the first thing I learned how to bake. It’s simplicity and endless variations make it one of the most versatile loafs you can make. It comes together quickly and takes little more than what you have hanging around the house.
When I noticed the bananas, I anxiously started rummaging through my cupboards, trying to figure out what variation I would try today. I immediately locked eyes with a bag of hazelnuts that’s been hanging around for just a little too long. Bingo! Nuts are a wonderful pairing for banana, but pecans and walnuts are a little overdone in my house. I find walnuts, especially, take away from the brightness of the banana. But hazelnuts, when ground down to a coarse meal, were a lovely addition. Their flavor was subtle and recognizable but not overpowering.
I wanted to add a little more richness to the bread and considered roasting the bananas, as I’ve done before, but decided against in. Instead I opted for some browned butter to add a little more depth and warmth to the bread. If you haven’t browned butter, or tried browned butter before, you’re missing out on something wonderful. Butter alone if wonderful, but browned butter can’t even be compared. It’s rich, nutty, warm and earthy. It was the perfect pairing to hazelnuts and banana. I added just a little cream cheese to give a bit of a kick, and keep the bread moist.
Hazelnut Brown Butter Banana Bread w Honeyed Hazelnut Streusel
If you do use fresh bananas in this, be sure they are over-ripe and soft. I usually put my bananas in the freezer when I see that they are browning. If you do freeze them, take them out 30-45 minutes before you’re ready to use them.
3 medium bananas
1/2 cup butter, cut into chunks
1 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
1 cup + 1 handful skinned hazelnuts*
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 handful hazelnuts, skinned
1 tbsp + 1 tsp honey
1 tbsp brown sugar
*see here for instructions on skinning hazelnuts
Pre-heat oven to 350. Grease an 8x4” loaf pan.
In a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, add your butter and let it melt and bubble away, swirling the pan every few minutes, until it’s golden brown and fragrant. About 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into a large mixing bowl, taking care to scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
While the butter is browning, add skinned hazelnuts to a food processor and grind to a course meal.
Add the brown sugar and salt to the butter and mix. Add the cream cheese and vanilla. Whisk to loosen the cream cheese.
In a separate bowl, whisk together your ground hazelnuts, flour, baking soda, and cinnamon.
Add the dry mixture to the wet in two batches being careful not to over mix. Pour into your greased loaf pan.
Chop up the hazelnuts until small and mostly uniform in size. Add the honey and brown sugar and stir mix until combined.
Sprinkle over the loaf batter evenly. Bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean.
(I was enjoying my cup of tea a little too much and left my loaf in the oven a wee bit too long…try not to do that, ok?)
Guest Post: The Lean Green Bean does bread!
Do you ever stop and think about what a crazy thing the Internet is? Not all the Ipads and Itouchs and tablet doo-dads, but just the Internet. The fact that I can type up this entry and the whole world can read it in a matter of minutes is neat. The fact that I have ‘friends’ in other parts of the world that I haven’t met, but only conversed with via twitter/tumblr/email is also pretty neat.
When I started writing this blog (not even 2 years ago), I figured it would be something for me to just get out all my food talk that no one wanted to hear about. Somewhere I could dump a recipe, share with close friends and family who had inquired, and forget about. I never imagined it would have connected me with so many wonderful like-minded people. And with those wonderful people, comes inspiring recipes, tips and thoughts on food. If I’m ever feeling stuck in a rut, or uninspired, I just look to my many peers and am never stuck for long.
All of this to say, I have a special entry for you today. All the way from Ohio! Lindsay writes a blog called The Lean Green Bean and if you haven’t yet read it, you’re missing out! I asked Lindsay last week if she would be interested in guest posting on The Gouda Life with a baked good or doughy recipe. She was quick to respond with an enthusiastic yes and said she had a great bread recipe she’d made over the weekend. I’m especially thankful for her post since I don’t do a lot of bread making at home (call me lazy). So before I go on much further, I’ll let Lindsay do what she does best!
Hello lovely Gouda Life readers! My name is Lindsay and I blog over at The Lean Green Bean. Kelly was nice enough to let me do a little guest post for you guys and I couldn’t be more excited to tell you about this bread recipe!
Have you ever made something that too good not to share, but so good you don’t want to share? That’s this bread! I’ve been on a bit of a quest these past few days to find a new bread recipe and I finally have a winner. But losers, ohhhhhh did I have some losers first. Allow me to tell you about some of my latest baking fails. (*All you bakers out there will probably cringe as you read this but please stick with me…I figure it out in the end, I promise!)
The best part about this is that I learned something new with each failed loaf. I will share these lessons with you now so that those of you who aren’t yet expert bakers can learn as well J
Lesson #1: Do not substitute whole-wheat pastry flour for all of the flour in your banana bread recipe. The loaves may look pretty, but they will taste like the inside of your sweaty tennis shoe. Into the trash.
Lesson #2: Do not substitute whole wheat flour for all the flour in your sweet potato bread. The sweet potatoes make it slightly more edible, but still not worth eating. Into the trash.
Lesson #3: Instant yeast and active dry yeast ARE NOT the same thing. If you use active dry yeast in the same way the recipe tells you to use instant yeast, nothing will happen! I found this awesome-looking recipe for Almost No Knead Bread on one of my favorite blogs, Framed, and gave it a try. The idea is that it rises overnight and then you bake it in the morning in your dutch oven. I mixed up the dough, went to bed, woke up super excited in the morning and……….it looked exactly the same. Into the trash.
And finally, we come to the success! After my third fail, I did some research and discovered that while you can use active dry yeast in recipes that call for instant yeast, you must first activate it! (I knew something didn’t feel right when I was making the dough!) I didn’t want to wait another night, so I did some more searching and found this recipe for Speedy No-Knead Bread on The New York Times website. It was a very similar recipe, except it only needed to rise for 4 hours! And it turned out PERFECTLY!
You only need 4 ingredients:
3 cups of bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 ½ cups water
1 package of yeast.
1. If you’re using instant yeast, you can mix the yeast, salt and flour together and then add the water.
2. If you’re using active dry yeast, mix the flour and salt together in one bowl, and activate the yeast in another by adding the yeast to the water (100-110 degrees Fahrenheit) with a pinch of sugar! Let it sit for five minutes, stir it up and then mix the two together.
3. Once all of the ingredients are in the same bowl, stir until combined into a doughy ball.
4. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise somewhere warm for 4 hours.
5. Take the dough out, place on a lightly oiled surface and knead 5 times. That’s it! Just 5 times! Then put it back in the bowl for another 30 minutes.
6. Place your dutch oven into the oven and preheat to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
7. After the second rise, carefully take the dutch oven out, dump the dough in, put the lid on and into the oven it goes for 30 minutes! You’ll hear a satisfying little sizzle when you dump the dough in.
8. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and let the bread cook for another 10-15 minutes until it’s golden brown all over.
9. Slice, serve and enjoy!
PS. I may or may not have made a second loaf IMMEDIATELY following this because I ate 4 slices in about 2 minutes. And guess what?! The second one turned out just as well as the first!
So go grab your dutch oven and give this bread a try. It’s AMAZING! Perfect for making sandwiches, French toast or even dipping in some soup!
Thanks to Kelly for letting me share this recipe with you guys! Feel free to stop by The Lean Green Blog and find some new recipes! Don’t forget to say hi!
Bread for Bad Exercisers [Rosemary Grape Focaccia]
I sit here, writing to you from a ball of aching muscles on the couch.
What heroic feat did I accomplish to get like this? Was it that rock climbing on Friday? Or the boot camp class on Sunday? Unfortunately, it was the 30 minute run that just about killed me. I am not a runner (and please note, I am also not a rock climber or a boot camp goer). I am a walker. But I’ve really wanted to try and start going now that it’s cooler and more comfortable running weather. So off Allan and I went (he can actually run), for a run with the dog around Centretown yesterday. Thankfully, I made it. And felt great afterwards. Today, however, was not so kind to me. My knees, thighs, buns, and abs are aching and I can’t help but feel a little ashamed and pathetic.
And what sort of pathetic, whiney fat kid doesn’t want some fresh bread? Afterall, a good run deserves a loaf of carby bread, doesn’t it? No? That’s not the way it works? This exercising thing doesn’t sound very fun at all.
While I further contemplate how to properly execute a chesterfield dismount for aching glutes, why don’t you make yourself some focaccia bread to praise yourself for all the awesome things you did today. Just don’t eat the whole thing, ok?
Oh, try not to let the grapes turn you off. They really make the bread flavours pop and when cooked, get extra grapey delicious!
Focaccia w Black Grapes, Rosemary and Sea Salt
recipe from Smitten Kitchen
3/4 cup warm water - warm to the touch, not hot and not lukewarm (105° to 110°F)
2 tablespoons milk, slightly warmed
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups halved Concord, red or black grapes, seeded
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary needles
2 tablespoons raw or another coarse sugar
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, stir together the water, milk, sugar, and yeast. Let the mixture sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add the flour, salt and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to the yeast mixture and mix well on low. Attach the dough hook, raise the speed to medium-low and knead the dough for 8 minutes longer.
(If you don’t have an electric mixer, you can do this by hand but you’ll have to roll the dough around in some flour and knead it a little)
Brush a large bowl with a generous amount of olive oil. Scrape dough into the bowl and brush the top with additional oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a cool place until it doubles in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Press the dough down with a floured hand. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and divide it into two balls. Brush a large baking sheet (or two small ones) with olive oil, place the balls of dough on it and brush the top with more oil. Set it aside for 20 minutes, lightly covered with a kitchen towel. After 20 minutes, dip your fingers in olive oil and press and stretch each ball of dough into a 8 to 9-inch circle-ish shape. It will be dimpled from your fingers. Cover again with the towel and let it rise for another 1 1/4 hours in a cool place.
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Brush tops of dough with remaining olive oil and top the sprinkle grapes, rosemary, coarse sugar and coarse sea salt evenly over the dough. Bake for 15 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and puffed around edges. Let cool before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.
I like bananas.
I do. But darn it, they just don’t last long enough. For someone like me, who enjoys them just barely ripe (still somewhat hard, green, and tangy, preferably), they have a shelf life of about 1-2 days. After that, once they get sickly sweet and brown… we just do not get along. It reminds me of having to eat the brown spots on my bananas as a kid. I know… can you believe how terrible my childhood was? It’s a wonder children’s aid wasn’t called in to rectify this problem.
So instead of wasting them, which I really hate to do, I pop them in the freezer until a day like today comes along where I feel like a warm, buttery slice of banana bread.
As I sit here, catching up on Mad Men (this season is just so much better than last!), the smell of browned butter, chocolate, bananas and just a little cinnamon is lingering in the air. It smells like being a kid to me. There was no lack of banana bread or muffins in my younger years. My aunt Stephanie makes the best banana chocolate chip muffins. Moist, dense (but somehow still light… if that’s possible?) and scattered with gooey chocolate. I make them every so often but they never taste the same.
You can probably imagine my excitement when I spotted a recipe for Roasted Banana & Brown Butter Bread. Roasted bananas?! Your questioning look is probably similar to mine. Well! I don’t know that I’ll ever make banana-baked goods any other way. The roasting gives them so much more depth. You bake them in the skins until they are almost bursting out of their peels with caramelized, gooey banana goodness. Mmmmm!
This bread comes out dense and packed with so many flavours. I tweaked the recipe ever so slightly based on what I had in the fridge/pantry… but whether you choose to make it my way or the Guilty Kitchen way, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Roasted Banana, Brown Butter and Chocolate Chunk Bread
3 over-ripe bananas, thawed if from the freezer.
1/2C unsalted butter
1C brown sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 plain yogurt
1tsp baking soda
1C cake flour
1C whole wheat flour
1 1/2tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/3C chopped dark chocolate
Preheat oven to 350.
Place unpeeled bananas on a baking sheet and roast for 15-20 minutes.
While bananas are roasting, place the butter in a heavy sauce pan over medium-high heat. Let it melt and bubble away until deep amber with dark flecks on the bottom. It will take about 5-7 minutes and will smell nutty and delicious. Keep a close eye on the butter so it doesn’t burn.
Put the browned butter in a medium sized bowl and add the brown sugar and salt. Stir. Add the yogurt and vanilla and mix. Mash in the bananas and give everything a good mix.
In a small bowl mix the remaining dry ingredients and stir to combine.
Add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture and mix just until incorporated. Add the chocolate and stir once more until speckled throughout.
Bake for 45 minutes - 1 hour*.
Serve warm out of the oven with butter, toasted with butter or all by it’s lonesome!
*mine was done after about 30 minutes so keep an eye on it.