Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Banana Bread

My favorite way of using up overripe bananas is to bake banana bread and this is the recipe that I have come up with. If you are baking this in France, like my son who requested the recipe, my favorite food blogger, David Lebovitz, has sources for the buttermilk and baking soda: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2006/02/american-baking/  He also tells you which French flour will give you the best results when baking from an American recipe.

Banana Bread 
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed banana
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
butter and flour a 9"x5" loaf pan
Cream the butter and sugar. Sift and measure the flour. Measure all the dry ingredients into a bowl and whisk until mixed. Add the eggs one at a time to the butter mixture, beating well after each. Add the buttermilk, vanilla, and banana to the butter, sugar, and eggs. fold in the dry ingredients until just combined. Place the batter in the prepared loaf pan and bake in a preheated 350º F oven for about 1 hour, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan 10 minutes and then remove from the pan.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Piperade

Peppers hanging to dry on a house in Espelette which is in the Basque region of France.













Piperade is a traditional Basque dish made with sweet peppers, onions, tomatoes, garlic, herbs, and seasoned with piment d'Espelette, a pepper grown around the French town of Espelette. Piment d'Espelette has a mild heat and is delicious on a variety of foods from vegetables to popcorn, one of my husbands favorite ways to use it. Piperade is traditionally served with chicken or eggs but is excellent with most any meat that you would enjoy with red sweet peppers alongside. Leftover piperade is great and we love it with spätzle which makes for a German-Basque fusion meal. Our first introduction to piperade was when our French daughter-in-law made it for us and the recipe I use is based on her recipe. Though it is best made with pimento d'Espelette, and I have always made it with the Basque pepper, it is not easy to find in the U.S. You will likely have to order it online. I have read that you can substitute hot paprika or mild New Mexico chile powder.

Piperade
1.25 lb tomatoes
3 large red sweet peppers, seeded and cut in julienne
2 large yellow onions, peeled and cut in julienne
6 slices thick cut bacon, the best you can find, cut in lardons
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 bay leaf
a few sprigs of thyme
salt to taste
2 tsp piment d'Espelette
1 tblsp honey
Brown the bacon in a deep heavy pan, I use my le Creuset Dutch oven. When the bacon is cooked remove it and put it aside until the dish is finished, leaving the fat in the pot. Peel and cut the onions into julienne. Add the onions to the pot with the bacon fat and let them cook over medium low heat while you prepare the other vegetables. Give them a stir from time to time. Remove the seeds from the peppers and cut them into julienne. Add them to the pot with the onions. Add the garlic also. My daughter-in-law removes the skins from the tomatoes, but I don't. So it is your option whether to do it or not. If you choose to, cut an x into the end opposite the core and dip in boiling water for about 1 minute. Place in cold water. The skin should come right off. Core the tomatoes, slice them in half across the equator and gently squeeze out the seeds into a bowl. Cut the tomatoes into large dice and add them to the pot. Put the tomato seeds and any juice with them into a food mill. Put all the juice recovered from the seeds into the pot. Add the herbs, honey, and piment d'Esplette. Bring the heat under the pot up to medium high, when the contents just come to a low boil, cover the pot and lower the heat so that the piperade will just simmer. Simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Piperade is one of those dishes that is better the next day.