Desserts

Nanner Bread

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I have about four different recipes for banana bread, because I make it fairly often. Every time my nanners get ripe, I throw them in the freezer until I have 3 to make a loaf. (I always use at least 3 per loaf). Here’s one recipe.

The basics:

· 2 cups flour   · 1 ts salt   · 1/2 cup butter (1 stick) melted

· 3/4 cup brown suggah   · 2 eggs   · 3 bananas (microwave a bit if frozen)

The extras I never leave out, but you don’t have to use:

· 4 tbs cocoa powder   · 1.5 ts pumpkin spice   · 1/2 cup pecans or any nut   · honey

Preheat the oven to 350º. Grease a loaf pan. I prefer an 8″x4″ pan, because the loaf is taller with a rounder top, but 9″ x 5″ works just as well. Mix the dry ingredients, then mix in the wet – everything but the honey and a fistful of the pecans. Pour into the pan. Sprinkle the rest of the nuts on top, then drizzle honey across the top. Bake for about an hour and fifteen minutes. The test is that you can stick a clean knife in the middle, and it comes out clean. Take it out and cool for 10 minutes before you remove from the pan. Das it! So easy and delicious. Use to make French toast for an extra sweet breakfast.

Pumpkin Pie

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pie monster from here.

Pumpkin Pie From Scratch

I’ve been trying to suss a good recipe for pumpkin pie for a few years now, and it never seems to come out right. Making a decent pumpkin pie from scratch has proved to be pretty difficult, at least for me. Well, I think I got it this year. So I am going to document it here so I don’t ever forget it now that it’s come to me. I know that this is a big endeavor, and pumpkins have a relatively short season, so if anyone does take this recipe and make it, I would love to hear about it. Cheers!

Ingredients

Roasted Pumpkin

· 1 sugar pie pumpkin   · olive oil   · kosher salt

Pie Guts

· 1 pie crust (see below)   · 1/2 cup brown sugar   · 1 tbs cassia cinnamon   · 1/2 ts allspice   · 1/4 ts cloves   · 1ts ground ginger   · 1 ts salt   · 1tbs cornstarch   · 1 1/2 cups roasted pumpkin puree (see above)   · 1 1/2 ts vanilla extract   · 3 large eggs   · 1 cup coconut milk

Pie Dough

· 2 cups all purpose flour   · 1/2 cup almond meal · 1 1/2 sticks of butter   · 1 ts salt · 1/3 cup cold water, a bit more if needed once mixing

Roasted Pumpkin

First, make sure you have the right pumpkin. This won’t work with a larger on that you might carve. You want the smaller pumpkins, usually indicated as ‘pie’ pumpkins. The larger ones just don’t taste the same, and you won’t want to eat it.

I usually roast the pumpkin the day before I am going to make the pie, for no reason other than this takes awhile to make.

Preheat oven to 400º. *Carefully* cut the pumpkin into a few large wedges. Clean it out, and cut a few more times. Drizzle with olive oil and rub it all over the pumpkin. Sprinkle salt all over. The salt really brings out the taste, so feel free to go a bit nuts. Bake for a little over an hour. You should easily be able to poke the meat with a fork. When it’s done, let it cool a bit. Scoop out the meat and discard the skin. Now, I like to use a blender or food processor to turn the pumpkin into a smooth puree. Many recipes say to hand mash or use a hand blender. Both of these methods can leave stringy bits of pumpkin in the final pie. But mash it how you will. The extras can be made into soup, cupcakes, pancakes – there’s a lot you can do with pumpkin. Anyways, back to the pie…

Doh!

This is my favorite pie crust recipe to date. The almond meal can be made with a food processor – go at it until the pieces are very fine, or I found them conveniently in Trader Joe’s baking section. If you must forgo this bit, add another 1/2 cup of flour to the mix.

Dissolve the salt in the cold water. In a large bowl, cut in the shortening with the flour. Add the salted water and roll up your sleeves. I use my hands to mash this dough into a consistent blob. When it’s all mixed together, cover the top of the bowl and throw this in the fridge for 3-4 hours. Leave overnight if you wish, but take out a half hour before using so that the dough is more pliable.

Pi

Preheat the oven to 350º. Roll out the dough for your 9-10 inch pie. Press it into the pie plate. trim the edges, and pierce throughout with a fork. Set aside.

Blend everything for the pie guts together with a hand whisk or mixer, dry ingredients first, then wet. When smooth and well combined, pour into the pie plate. Cook for about 50 minutes. The measure of doneliness is that if you move the pie, the middle barely jiggles. Cool it for a couple of hours before you try to cut into it. And quit.

Notes

The pie dough was altered for this recipe. The actual amounts that I have written down are as follows: 5 cups pastry flour (or 4.5 all purpose) sifted, 3/4 lbs butter (3 sticks), 2 tsp salt, and 3/4 cup cold water. This makes *a lot* of dough though, so use this if you’re making more than one pie.

In time the wind will come and destroy my lemons.

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This is my world famous Lemon Bar recipe. I used to make these for an ex-girlfriend who didn’t like me very much, however I cared for her tremendously and as a result I spent a lot of time trying to figure out ways to make her happy. That being said, these didn’t get me very far but I did learn how to bake the living shit out of a Lemon Bar (and a Lemon Bar will never kick you out of its house and take your dog away from you). – S.

You will need a 9 x 13 glass baking dish, lightly greased (I prefer the spray variety as butter or oil tends to torch the crust). Glass really works best. Believe you and me, son, I’ve tried them all. Metal, glass, ceramic. Use the glass.

Ingredients:

For the crust:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup powdered sugar
2 sticks of unsalted butter, cut up into cubes
8-9 twists of a sea salt grinder

For the filling:
2 cups granulated sugar
6 tbsp. all purpose flour
1 heaping tsp. lemon sugar*
4 eggs
2 tbsp. powdered sugar for dusting
2 large pinches of granulated sugar
8-9 tbsp. ReaLemon brand concentrated Lemon juice. Accept no substitutes and avoid fresh lemons like the plague in this circumstance. They will do you absolutely no good. Promise.

*this, unfortunately, is “the rub” as they say: a company called “Spice Island” used to sell a jar of “Lemon Peel” which contained sugar, lemon peel, and lemon oil and is really the reason why my Lemon Bars work so well. AFAIK “Spice Island” no longer makes this lemon peel/sugar concoction and only sells straight lemon peel. It is easily reverse-engineered (lemon sugar, duh), however YMMV. In any event, unless you really know what you are doing, omit this step.

Preheat the oven to 350°

Prepare the crust as follows:

In a large glass mixing bowl combine the flour, powdered sugar, and sea salt. Using your hands (I have tried every method under the sun for this step, i.e. pastry cutter, however IMO using your hands gives you more control over the consistency of the crust) work the butter into the crust until you are left with a consistent, crumbly mixture. This takes awhile, and for what it is worth, is a zen thing for which the nuances are more or less impossible to convey with words. It takes an awful lot of trial and error. Bake the pain away.

Pour the mixture into the lightly greased glass dish. Firmly press the crust into place, ensuring that the mixture is evenly dispersed. As a last step I like to use my fingers to pock-mark the crust (consistent small dimples, or impressions across the surface of the dough, kind of like you are making a pizza) so that the filling integrates into the crust seamlessly.

Bake for 20 minutes, and not a minute more. Consistency is key.

The filling:

While the crust is baking prepare the lemon bar filling. In a large glass mixing bowl add the granulated sugar, flour, and lemon sugar and stir until mixed evenly.  Add the four eggs and whisk, by hand, until the eggs turn a pale yellow color. Next, add the lemon juice (again, it’s a Zen thing, sometimes 8 tbsp. feels right, sometimes it’s 9, go with your gut). If you are really feeling adventurous, perhaps you could go with 10 tbsp. of lemon juice. I would be interested to hear your results if you choose this path.  Continue whisking until the ingredients are thoroughly mixed.

After 20 minutes take out the crust and SLOWLY pour the lemon filling directly upon the crust (hastily slopping it about can break up the still-delicate crust). Furthermore, it would be in good taste to give the filling another quick mix with the whisk before baking as the particulates tend to sink to the bottom; stir them up before placing in the oven to ensure your flavors are even distributed. Place back into the oven and continue to bake for 25 minutes, and again, not a minute more.

When the lemon bars have finished baking, carefully remove the dish from the oven and set on a wire cooling rack. As a precaution, while the bars are still hot, I like to take a knife and delicately run the knife along the edge of the lemon bars and the glass dish; the thinking here is that as the lemon bars cool, the sides have a tendency to stick to the glass rim while the rest of the pastry pulls away resulting in a sloppy looking dessert). While the bars are still hot, sprinkle the top of the bars with a light coating of granulated sugar (the intense heat of the fresh-from-the-oven lemon bars will melt the sugar and exist as a kind of invisible coating on the surface–alas, this is nothing more than an added fail-safe geared for the expert variety sweet-tooth, but should remain more or less unnoticed to the novice).

Allow the lemon bars to cool completely, cut into squares. Remove from pan and finish off with a liberal dusting of powdered sugar. Arrange on your favorite platter.