Posts Tagged ‘breakfast’

Banana cake

10 February 2011

I have had this recipe since I was 7 or 8 years old. I must have been in second or third grade; a friend in my class brought a banana cake to school to celebrate his birthday and offered photocopies of the recipe. I kept the photocopy, and it appears that I have collected recipes ever since. Not obsessively or excessively, but, every once in a while, I wrote down a recipe I liked.

Some years ago I copied these recipes into an orange, cloth-bound dummy book (a sample with blank pages) on the architect R.M. Schindler that I was editing at the time. The recipes compiled in the “Schindler book” (as I now very personally refer to it) are not anonymous, they are not newspaper clippings I fell across and found enticing – they are all linked to memories, and people.

This banana cake reminds me of my first school in France, of Jacob (my school friend) and his family with whom we have not completely lost touch; it evokes their music and a lemon tree in their San Francisco garden that I have seen only in photographs.

Also, it is a very good banana cake. I resisted tweaking the recipe except for the walnuts, as I seem unable to refrain from putting nuts in a cake.


10 Tbsps (125 g) butter

3/4 cup (150 g) brown sugar

3 eggs

3 very ripe bananas

1 lemon or orange

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups (200 g) flour (half whole wheat)

2 tsps baking powder

1 tsp sea salt

1 cup (100 g) shelled walnuts (optional)


Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).

In a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating with a wire whisk to incorporate until smooth.

Mash the bananas well with a fork and add to the butter/sugar/egg mixture.

Grate the zest and juice the lemon (or orange) and add to the batter with the vanilla extract. Mix well.

In a smaller bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt and add to batter. Stir just enough to blend everything together. Gently stir in the walnuts, if using.

Line a baking pan with parchment paper, butter the paper, and pour in the batter.

Slide into the oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until a knife inserted in the middle of the cake comes out dry. (If, like me, you like the cake to be very moist, take it out of the oven a little sooner, when the tip of the knife is still wet.)

Quince jelly

3 November 2010

I made quince jelly last year for the first time. It’s not that I don’t sincerely love quince, it’s because I don’t like making jelly very much. To make jelly the fruit is cooked in water, and only the clear juice is used. An awful lot of pulp is wasted in the process. Of course it can be used as a purée to eat with yogurt, but it does not last, and there is only so much quince purée a family can eat in a couple of days. For this reason I don’t make jelly, generally. But last year as quinces appeared at the market I simply couldn’t resist. Having made the jelly (a few pounds of quinces rendered three very small jars), I had a lot of quince pulp on my hands, and dismayed at the idea that it might go to waste, I suddenly thought about membrillo, the Spanish quince paste that pairs so perfectly with Manchego and other hard sheep’s milk cheeses. As it happens, all that is required for quince paste is fruit pulp and sugar.

So making quince jelly has become a perfect excuse to make quince paste (or the other way around?), and I think no recipe for one should ever be published without the other.






Making jelly is a fairly long process, but it can be broken up into 2 stages if you don’t have a big uninterrupted chunk of time.

Wash quinces thoroughly to remove fuzzy coat. Cut quinces into quarters or eighths, depending on the size of the fruit so all the pieces have approximately the same size. Place quince pieces in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan and add just enough water so it reaches the top layer of quinces but does not cover the fruit. Bring to a boil and simmer gently until the fruit becomes soft, stirring occasionally to submerge the fruit on top so it gets a chance to cook through. Poke around to check that all the pieces have softened (quinces will cook through at a different rate depending on how ripe they are – it could take up to 1 1/2 hours). Once all the quince is very soft, remove from heat.

**You can take a break at this point. Leave the quinces in the water, let cool and place in refrigerator once cool for up to 24 hours. If you refrigerate the cooked fruit, you will have to reheat it slightly to release the liquid before starting the next stage.**

Strain the juice through a fine mesh sieve and then through a cheesecloth to remove any impurities. Don’t mash the fruit or squeeze the cheesecloth too much or the jelly will become murky. Reserve fruit pulp for paste (refrigerate unless using immediately).

Measure the juice as you pour it into a (smaller) heavy-bottomed saucepan. For every cup (250 ml) of juice, add 2/3 cup (150 g) sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer, skimming off any foam that forms on the surface. After about 20-30 minutes, check regularly whether the juice has “gelled.” To do this take out a small spoonful and let it cool. Once cold, the juice should have thickened in the spoon, and when you try to pour it the drip is not liquid but heavy, as though it was sticking to the spoon.

Sterilize jars in boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes. As soon as the juice has “gelled,” remove from heat and pour immediately into sterilized jars and close tightly. Keeps unopened for up to a year; once opened should be stored in the refrigerator.

Orange thyme pancakes

26 September 2010

It’s the first day of fall. Officially fall arrived earlier this week, but until yesterday the temperatures still hovered close to 30°C (mid-80°s F) and it felt like midsummer. It’s much cooler today, it’s Sunday, and I woke up thinking of pancakes. A few years ago Thomas started a tradition of making pancakes on Sunday morning, and my sons have grown to depend upon it. (It would barely be an exaggeration to say that they bring out the “pancake cookbook,” as Joy of Cooking is referred to in our house, before we even come down for breakfast.) But with the summer – the heat, the traveling, the days at the beach – we had not made pancakes in months.

Today was a good day to reinstate Sunday pancakes, though I didn’t pull out Joy of Cooking. We happened to have orange juice in the fridge (which does not happen very often as we are a grapefruit-juice family), and every time there is orange juice, I think of orange thyme pancakes. We ate them in a bed and breakfast in Wyoming ten years ago on a skiing vacation.


Makes 12 four-inch (10 cm) pancakes

1/4 cup (55 g) butter

2 cups (250 g) flour

1 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

2 Tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp ground thyme (fresh or dried)

2 eggs

1 3/4 cup (450 ml) orange juice

Coconut oil to grease griddle (or non-stick skillet)


Melt butter over low heat and let cool.

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, beat eggs well with a fork, then add orange juice and melted butter. Add egg/juice mixture to the dry ingredients carefully, mixing just enough to combine until the flour disappears. **Lumps are fine; the important thing is not to beat too much or the pancakes won’t be fluffy.** If batter seems stiff, add a little orange juice.

Grease griddle (non-stick skillet) and place over high heat. (I use coconut oil to cook pancakes. It works perfectly because it doesn’t burn.) Once the griddle is hot, pour little puddles of batter (the size is entirely up to you), reduce heat to medium, and stay close, checking constantly until you start noticing bubbles popping up. Turn over the pancakes with a wide spatula and, within barely a minute, the pancake is ready. To make more pancakes, repeat process, adding a little oil every time to make sure they don’t stick.

The pancakes can be kept in a covered pan in a 250°F (120°C) oven for a little while if you want to make all the pancakes first and serve them at once.

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