Banana bread

Blend until creamy:

   1/3 cup vegetable shortening (such as Crisco)

   1⁄2 cup sugar

   3⁄4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Beat in:

   1 egg, lightly beaten

Sift before measuring:

   13⁄4 cups flour

Resift with:

   11⁄2 teaspoons baking powder

   1⁄4 teaspoon baking soda

Mash 2 or 3 ripe banans to make:

   1 cup banana pulp

Add the sifted ingredients in 3 parts to the sugar mixture alternately with the banana pulp. Beat the batter after each addition until smooth. Scrape into a buttered loaf pan, about 9 x 5 x 3 inches. Spread smooth.

Scatter on:

   1⁄2 cup chopped walnuts

Bake at 350 degrees until brown on top and done in the center (poke with a toothpick; it should come out clean), about 50-55 minutes.

Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

Tomato tart

¼ cup (loosely packed) slivered basil

¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

Tart pastry (recipe follows)

1 ¼ pounds beautiful, ripe tomatoes (a mix of colors and sizes is prettiest), sliced into ¼-inch thick rounds

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

 

1. Mix: Toss together basil, thyme and cheese.

2. Roll: On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry to a 13-inch circle. Fold in quarters and unfold onto a parchment-lined baking pan.

3. Fill: Spread herb and cheese mixture over pastry, leaving a 2-inch border bare. Cover with tomatoes, overlapping the slices slightly. Drizzle tomatoes with a little olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Shape: Fold the pastry border up and over the tomatoes, forming a 9-inch rustic tart.

5. Bake: Slide pan onto a lower rack of a 425-degree oven and bake until pastry is golden brown and crisp, about 30 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. Slice and savor.

Tart pastry: Measure into food processor: 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon sugar and ½ teaspoon salt. Pulse once to mix. Drop in 1 stick unsalted butter (cut into 5 chunks) and pulse about 5 times, until lumps range in size from crumbs to beans. Dump flour mixture into a large bowl. Drizzle in ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, folding pastry with a flexible spatula, until pastry clumps. You’ll need about 5 tablespoons water. Pat into a disk. Dust with flour. Wrap and chill at least 1 hour. 

Melon Ice

2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

1⁄8 teaspoon peppermint extract

6 limes

2 1⁄2 pounds (with rind) seedless watermelon

1⁄2 cup sugar
6 tablespoons Lillet Blanc

1 pinch kosher salt

 

1. Melt: Tumble chocolate into a microwave-safe bowl and zap on low power until just melted, about 1 minute. Drop in peppermint and work smooth with a soft spatula. Scrape into a small zip-top bag.

2. Shape: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Snip a corner off the bag and squeeze drops of melted chocolate onto the paper, forming 60 or so seed shapes. Slide sheet into the freezer and let set, 5 minutes.

3. Slice: Cut each lime in half across its equator. Run a grapefruit knife around the interior rim, separating flesh from rind. Lift out flesh, leaving 12 lime shells.

4. Pulse: Scoop out watermelon flesh. Use the food processor to pulse to bits, along with flesh of one lime. (Save remaining lime middles for another project.) Press purée through a medium-mesh sieve into a quart-sized measuring cup. There should be about 2 cups juice. Stir in sugar, wine, and salt.

5. Swirl: Churn in an ice-cream maker. Slide most of the chocolate seeds into the melon ice on the last turn.

6. Freeze: Scoop ice into the lime shells. Sprinkle remaining chocolate seeds on top. Set filled limes on an empty ice-cube tray or into a muffin tin to pre- vent tipping. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, about 2 hours. Scoop up with a spoon inside or slurp Popsicle-style outside.

Chicken pot pie

Prep: 45 minutes

Bake: 25 minutes

Serves: 6

 

4 strips bacon, sliced thinly crosswise

8 ounces button mushrooms, halved

1 onion, quartered and sliced

3 carrots, sliced into coins

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)

1 clove garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons port

2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken

3 ounces sugar snap peas, thinly sliced crosswise

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

5 tablespoons flour

3 cups chicken broth

1 Pinch nutmeg

Herb pastry (recipe follows) or prepared puff pastry,

1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water, optional

 

1.  Sizzle: Cook bacon over medium-high heat in a large, heavy skillet until crisp, 10 minutes. Scoop out bacon bits with a slotted spoon; drain on a paper-towel lined plate.

2.  Brown: Scrape mushrooms, onions and carrots to the skillet with the rendered bacon fat. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until mushrooms are beautifully browned, 10 minutes. Add garlic and thyme, cook 1 minute. Deglaze with port. Scrape into a large bowl. Stir in chicken and snap peas.

3.  Thicken: Melt butter over medium heat (feel free to use the same skillet, but note that cast-iron will tint the sauce an odd gray). Whisk in flour, cook 1 minute. Slowly add broth, whisking thick, 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Pour sauce over chicken and mix.

4.  Fill: Scrape chicken mixture into a deep 9-inch pie plate (or other oven-safe pan). Cast on bacon. Roll out pastry. Cover, crimp, vent. Brush with beaten egg (or don’t, for a more rustic look). Bake at 400 degrees until top is crisp and middle bubbles, 25 minutes. Enjoy warm.

 

Herb Pastry: Measure 1 cup flour, 2 tablespoons fine corn meal, 1 teaspoon fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme) and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt into the food processor. Buzz to mix. Add 5 tablespoons unsalted butter (cut up) and 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening. Pulse until mixture looks crumbly and darkens a bit. Turn out into a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with up to 3 tablespoons cold water, folding with aflexible spatula until pastry clumps easily. Press into a disk, wrap in waxed paper and chill while prepping pie (at least 30 minutes).

Roast chicken


Serves 4

1 21/2 - 3 pound chicken

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 clove garlic

6 fresh sage leaves

Olive oil

Bunches of other herbs — such as rosemary, parsley, thyme and sorrel — leaves, stems and all. This is the perfect time to clear any sad-looking herbs from the crisper drawer or trim the straggly herb garden.

1. Clean: Pull the chicken out of its packaging and the innards out of the chicken. Save or toss innards. Plunge the chicken into a big pot of cold salted water. Let soak, a few seconds. Drain water and repeat until water is clear and chicken is clean. Pat dry with paper towels.

2. Rub: Tuck wings behind back. Sprinkle chicken, inside and out, with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; rub lightly into skin. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or wax paper. Set on a plate. Return chicken to the bottom shelf of the fridge. Let rest, 2 to 24 hours.

3. Season: Pull chicken out of fridge and let come to room temperature, up to 1 hour. Chop together sage, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Slide a finger between skin and breast, opening a pocket of space. Rub in some of the sage mix. Repeat, seasoning between the skin and meat on both sides of the breast and over the legs. Stuff herb bunches inside the chicken, filling (though not tightly packing) the cavity.

4. Roast: Meanwhile, drizzle about 1 tablespoon oil into a cast-iron pan that will later offer your chicken a snug fit. My go-to chicken pan is 10 1/2 inches across the top and 3 inches deep. Slide pan into a cold oven; heat to 425 degrees. Pan and oven will heat up together. When hot, carefully lower in chicken, breast side up. All that sizzle will ensure crisp skin. Roast 20 minutes. Turn breast down; roast 20 minutes. Flip breast up; roast 20 minutes. Chicken is done when skin is golden and blistered, its juices run clear when inner thigh is poked, and it smells delightful, about 1 hour total.

5. Rest: Lift chicken out of pan and set on a platter. Cover loosely with foil. Tip the platter so the chicken is tipped toward the breast.

6. Deglaze: Set the roasting pan on the stovetop. Add 2 tablespoons unsalted butter and 1/2 cup water or chicken broth. Set over medium-high heat. Stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up any stuck bits. Let boil and thicken, about 3 minutes. Strain into a gravy boat.

7. Serve: Carve the chicken. I usually divide into 2 wings, 2 drumsticks, 2 thighs and 2 breasts, each cut crosswise into 3 chunks. Set roasted chicken chunks on a bed of spicy greens, such as arugula or watercress. Serve with gravy. What could be better?

 

Asparagus rolls

1 pound mid-sized asparagus

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon mustard seed

3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1/4 pound prosciutto, very thinly sliced

1/2 pound filo dough, defrosted

4 tablespoons butter, melted

 

1. Roast: Peel asparagus. Snap off the tough root ends and discard. Settle asparagus on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and mustard seed. Slide into a 425-degree oven and roast bright green (but not thoroughly cooked), 10 minutes. Let cool.

2. Wrap: Toss together cheese and zest. Sprinkle over asparagus. Shred proscuitto into long strips. Wrap one strip around each asparagus spear. No need for full coverage— aim for the demented candy-cane look.

3. Cut: Unroll filo dough. Cut a stack of 6 x 6-inch squares. Cover with a clean kitchen towel. Save any remaining filo for another project.

4. Fill: Brush one filo square with butter. Settle on 1 wrapped asparagus spear, running diagonally from corner to corner. Fold over filo, forming a triangle. Brush triangle with butter and roll up tightly. Brush again. Repeat with remaining spears.

5. Bake: Set finished spears on a rimmed baking sheet (feel free to reuse the asparagus sheet, no need to wash), no touching. Slide into a 425-degree oven and bake crispy, about 10 minutes. Arrange like sharpened pencils in a tall jar. Crunch.

Pot roast

Pot Roast

Prep: 30 minutes

Cook: About 2 ½ hours

Serves: 6

 

1/2 ounce dried porchini mushrooms

2 1/2 pound chuck roast

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 carrot, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 cups beef broth

1 cup red wine

6 ounces tomato paste

2 bay leaves

1 sprig fresh thyme

8 ounces pappardelle egg noodles

 

1.  Soak: Settle mushrooms in a small bowl. Cover with warm water. Soak soft, about 15 minutes. Pour liquid thorugh a coffee filter; set aside. Rinse and chop rehydrated mushrooms. 

2.  Brown: Season meat generously with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Brown meat, about 2 minutes per side. Lift out meat and set aside.

3.  Soften: Add carrot, onion, celery and garlic to the pot. Cook, stirring, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add broth, wine, tomato paste, reserved mushroom liquid and chopped mushrooms, bay leaves and thyme. Bring to a boil. Return meat to the pot. Liquid should come about 2/3 the way up the sides of the roast. Cover.

4.  Braise: Slide covered dutch oven into a 325-degree oven and let cook, turning roast once and basting occassionally, until very tender when prodded with a fork, about 2 – 2 ½ hours. Set pot on stovetop.

5.  Shred: Remove meat from pot. Shred. Discard any fat. Discard bay leaves and thyme sprig. Return shredded meat to pot and keep warm over low heat.

6.  Boil: Heat a large pot of salted water. Cook noodles until tender but firm. Drain. Add noodles to sauce. Toss gently. Enjoy. 

Provenance: Adapted from Mom’s beef with fat noodles, which she adapted from The New York Times Cookbook by Craig Claiborne(1961 edition).

Pasta without fear

Homemade pasta

Don't be intimidated by homemade pasta: Buzz together 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 pinch salt and 1 egg to something that looks like yellow Dippin’ Dots. If the dots are small or the dough, when squeezed, doesn’t hang together, buzz in 1 tablespoon water. Press dough into a square, about ½ inch thick, wrap in plastic and let rest at room temperature, 1 hour. Roll out, using a hand-cranked pasta machine: pass once through each setting, from widest to next-to-thinnest. (Alternatively, use a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface.) Roll up the long ribbon of pasta and slice into 4 extremely long 1-inch wide noodles. That’s it!

Tumbled corn salad

10 ears corn, husked

1 cup sugar snap peas

2 cups grape tomatoes, halved on the diagonal

1⁄4 cup olive oil

1⁄4 cup rice vinegar

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

12 fresh basil leaves, snipped

1. Boil: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop in corn and cook until shocking yellow, about 7 min- utes. Drain.

2. Blanch: Bring a small pot of water to a boil, add peas, and cook until bright green, about 1 minute.

3. Toss: Cut the corn kernels from the cob and tum- ble into a large bowl. Cut the sugar snap peas in half (on the diagonal is nice) and add to the corn. Add the tomatoes, olive oil, and vinegar. Toss gently. Sea- son with salt, pepper, and basil.

Provenance: Adapted from the now defunct Trotter’s To Go, Chicago.

Picnic Chicken

2 cups whole, cultured buttermilk

3 tablespoons kosher salt

4 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts, cut in quarters

2 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken legs, cut into drumsticks and thighs

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons ground cayenne pepper

1 quart vegetable oil

 

1. Marinate: Pour 1 cup buttermilk and 1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt into each of two 1-gallon zip-top bags. Add half the chicken pieces to each, seal, and shake to coat. Refrigerate 2 hours to 2 days.

2. Dredge: Whisk flour with remaining 2 tablespoons salt and the cayenne in a pie plate. Dredge chicken.

3. Fry: Heat oil to 350 degrees in a cast-iron skillet. Add half the chicken, avoiding spatter, and fry until golden on one side, 10 minutes. Turn and fry until golden, juices run clear, and chicken reaches 165 degrees inside, about 10 mintues more. Drain on a rack. Return oil to 350 degrees. Repeat with remaining chicken.

Onion tart

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 medium onions, chopped

1⁄4 cup sherry

3 egg yolks

1⁄2 cup heavy cream

3 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped

1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 package (about 1 pound) all-butter puff pastry, defrosted

1. Caramelize: Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over low heat. Add onions and cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until deep brown and sticky sweet, about 1 hour. Turn up the heat, add sherry, and deglaze the pan, scraping any browned bits off the bottom. Cool.

2. Mix: Beat 2 of the yolks briefly in a small bowl, then stir in cream, cheese, thyme, and pepper. Stir in onions. (If you’re working ahead, transfer to an air-tight container and refrigerate until you’re ready to bake the tart.)

3. Bake: Unfold the puff pastry onto a baking sheet. Score with a pastry wheel into 3-inch squares. Separate slightly. Paint the pastry with the remaining egg yolk, lightly beaten. Slide into a 375-degree oven for 10 minutes until pastry begins to puff. Remove from oven. Spoon the onion lling onto each square, leav- ing a 1⁄2-inch bare border. Return to oven and bake until fully puffed, about 30 minutes. Serve warm.

Coffeehouse Scones

1 ounce milk chocolate

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 3⁄4 cups flour

2 1⁄4 teaspoons baking powder

1⁄4 cup sugar, plus a little

1⁄4 teaspoon salt

1 1⁄4 cups heavy cream

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1. Pipe: Zap chocolate just to melt, about 1 minute. Stir in cinnamon. Scrape into a zip-top bag. Snip off one corner and pipe mini cinnamon chips onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Let set, 10 minutes (or slide into the freezer for 5 minutes).

2. Mix: Whisk together flour, baking power, 1⁄4 cup sugar, and salt. Pour in cream, stirring with a fork, once or twice. Slide in cinnamon chips. Mix a few more turns of the fork, just until dough comes together. Turn out onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Pat into a disk, about 8 inches in diameter and 3⁄4-inch high.

3. Brush: Use a long, heavy knife dipped in flour to slice disk into 12 wedges. Separate wedges about 1⁄2 inch from each other. Brush tops with melted butter. Sprinkle with a little sugar.

4. Bake: Slide into a 400-degree oven and bake until tops turn golden and scones are set, about 16 minutes. Good warm or cooled.

Apple Tart

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

1⁄2 cup sugar
3⁄4 cup ground almonds (aka almond meal or almond our)

1 egg

1⁄8 teaspoon almond extract

1 package (about 1 pound) all-butter puff pastry, defrosted

2 apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced

3 tablespoons honey

1. Fluff: Beat 4 tablespoons butter and the sugar until light and uffy. Beat in, in order: almonds, egg, and almond extract.

2. Cut: Unfold puff pastry onto a lightly floured surface. Cut into 8 sections (squares are efficient, but circles suggest apple). Set pastry on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

3. Fill: Spread a generous spoonful of almond cream onto each tart, leaving a 1⁄2-inch border bare. Arrange apples over the cream in a pleasing pattern. Melt together the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and the honey; drizzle over apples.

4. Bake: Slide into a 400-degree oven and bake until golden and thoroughly puffed, about 20 minutes. Serve warm.

Almond tea cake

1⁄3 cup ground almonds (aka almond meal or flour)

1 2/3 cups our

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ne salt

1 cup sour cream

1⁄2 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1. Mix: Whisk together almonds, our, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, stir together sour cream and almond extract.

2. Fluff: Using a stand mixer tted with the paddle attachment, set on medium-high, cream butter and sugar light and uffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Scoop in one-third of the our; mix on low just until incorporated. Pour in half the sour cream; mix just until incorporated. Work in remaining doses of our, sour cream, our.

3. Bake: Scrape the batter into a buttered and oured loaf pan (9 x 5 x 3) and slide into a 350-degree oven until a toothpick poked in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. Gently turn out onto a rack. Cool completely. Nice with blueberry preserves.

Sly oatmeal bars

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

3⁄4 cup sugar

2 eggs

6 tablespoons molasses

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour

1⁄4 cup whole-wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

3⁄4 teaspoon fine salt

1 1⁄2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 cups rolled oats

1 cup raisins

1⁄2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

 

1. Fluff: Using a stand mixer tted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and uffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, molasses, and vanilla and beat until the batter looks uffy again.

2. Mix: In a separate bowl whisk together both types of our, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add our mixture to butter mixture and blend. Stir in oats, raisins, and walnuts by hand.

3. Bake: Heap batter into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan (you know, the lasagna pan) lined with parch- ment paper. Pat down with a damp hand. Slide into a 350-degree oven and bake until rich brown and slightly puffed, about 25 minutes. Cool completely, cut, and serve. Or store in the freezer for those mornings when breakfast prep seems daunting.

 

Provenance: Inspired by Ina Pinkey.