Move over, banana bread. Make way for banana upside down cake.
There’s no denying banana bread is so comforting, so nostalgic, and so easy to make.
But I think it’s high-time to branch out of that ol’ banana rut.
It’s time to flip things around. Upside down to be precise.
As in “Banana Polenta Upside Down Cake.”
This delightful recipe is from “Vanilla Table” (Jacqui Small LLP) by Natasha Macaller, a pastry chef and restaurant consultant who splits her time between London, Los Angeles and New Zealand.
As the name implies, this cookbook, of which I received a review copy, showcases vanilla in every recipe, both savory and sweet.
If you’ve ever accidentally left out vanilla extract from a cookie recipe — ahem, yes, I have so blundered on one occasion — you know exactly how flat tasting it ends up. Vanilla adds an unmistakable lovely, natural sweetness to anything it touches.
Start the morning off right with this oatmeal puff made in the microwave.
With school back in swing, mornings are even more hectic than usual.
There’s no excuse to skimp on breakfast, though. Not when you can make a whole-grain one loaded with fiber, protein, calcium, and fruit in a microwave in a flash.
That’s the beauty of “Minute-Oatmeal Puffs with Anise and Grapes.”
The recipe is from “Simply Ancient Grains: Fresh and Flavorful Whole Grain Recipes for Living Well” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy. The book is by Maria Speck, a food journalist and cookbook writer who lives in Massachusetts.
As the name implies, this cookbook is all about cooking with grains, many of which are gluten-free, too. Inside you’ll find info on everything from black rice to red quinoa to farro to golden Kamut berries, and delicious ways to enjoy them morning, noon and night. You’ll be inspired to try new grains in dishes such as “Lemon Pancakes with Millet and Amaranth” and “Spelt Spaghetti with Lemony Parsnips and Olives.”
This gluten-free oatmeal puff caught my attention not only because oatmeal is a staple in my pantry, but because of the microwave trick similar to making a mug cake.
Chocolate chunk cookies — hiding a wealth of chicharrones.
Chocolate chunk cookies studded with bacon? Yawn. Been there. Ate that.
But have your teeth ever sunk into “Dark Chocolate Chicharron Cookies”?
Nope, didn’t think so.
I know mine sure hadn’t until I spied the recipe for them in the new cookbook, “Eat Mexico: Recipes From Mexico City’s Streets, Markets & Fondas” (Kyle Books), of which I received a review copy.
The cookbook is by Lesley Tellez, a New York City culinary guide and creator of the blog, The Mija Chronicles, who immersed herself in Mexican cooking when she lived in Mexico City for four years. The beautiful photos are by my former San Jose Mercury News colleague, Penny De Los Santos.
The book includes recipes for favorite Mexican street food such as “Roasted Poblano Pepper Tamales,” “Thickened Mexican Hot Chocolate,” and “Shrimp and Octopus Cocktail.” But where I think the book really shines is in the last chapter, “At Home,” in which Tellez incorporates Mexican flair into unexpected dishes such as “Oatmeal with Charred Poblano Peppers and Cheese” and “Stuffed Cactus Paddles,” which are reminiscent of loaded potato skins.
That last chapter is also where you’ll find this cookie recipe.
My former nemesis, now my sweet friend.
For years, I’ve suffered from a malady.
One that I’ve shamefully hidden, glossed over and tried to ignore.
You see, I am a can-o-phobe.
There, I said it.
I am one who has never canned.
Oh sure, I’ve made jam. And I’ve made pickles. But all ones that could be easily stored in the refrigerator or freezer.
Petrified that I’d end up killing friends and family (or at least making them deathly ill), I’d never had the nerve to water process the jars to attempt to make them shelf-stable instead.
A sticky bun that’s less sweet and a whole lot more enjoyable to eat.
I love the idea of sticky buns. But the execution? Not so much.
That’s because the standard avalanche of goopy glaze is more than even my sweet tooth can bear.
So I beamed when I received a review copy of “Baking With Less Sugar” (Chronicle Books) by one of my favorite pastry chefs, Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery + Cafe and Myers + Chang in Massachusetts.
In this day and age, where we’re all trying to eat better, this timely cookbook is all about making sweets — but with only natural sweeteners and little white sugar. Yes, the perfect way to enjoy dessert without your body paying such a high price later.
The book includes more than 60 recipes, both new ones and reformulated ones from Chang’s bakery, that make use of maple syrup, honey, molasses, dates, juice concentrates, coconut, and bananas and other fresh fruit.