Before anything else, I'd like to share that Uncle Rob of The Curious Blogquat is going to give away an Espresso Maker for what he judges to be the best summer potluck recipe! Now you've got to be crazy not to want that, so go go go! I'm still deciding what I'll contribute. I want that prize so bad! Espresso makers are eeeexpensive here.
Over the weekend I'll be looking forward to more RSS-feed post accumulation as I will be heading to the beach with my buddies (friends from undergrad-- the closest friends I have). I'm trying to remember the last time I went to the beach with them, and that was when I was still in undergrad. Somehow nobody ever suggests that we go hiking in the mountains. What is it about the beach that repels me in the first place?
For one thing, there is implied shirtlessness and I have enough problems trying not to be referred as Mayor McCheesecake or Doughboy (for the record, no-one has called me that, but I err on the side of caution). There's also the hot sun, which I hate for reasons of skin health and just not the temperature extreme I prefer. There's the sea, which is mostly useless as I can't really swim (and even if I could, I probably wouldn't). Long car trips are not my cup of tea. So my tiger print speedos are collecting dust.
However, I DO love my friends and I do love hanging out with them (assuming they are still, uh, conscious after knocking back a few gallons) and it'll be a new experience being with them these days without the pressure of producing delicious food or knowing a good place to eat or shop (though writing that, I realize that I really, really love doing these things).
That's the thing I love most about blogging-- it's really opened me up to experiences. Somehow I just know that wherever I end up, nothing is ever really going to bore me. There's beauty everywhere to be captured on "film." There's a challenge in trying to cook with an absolute minimum of tools and ingredients. And of course, there's plenty of friends to catch up with. I guess I am a sunnier person than I thought I was!
For now I'll leave you with an easy but delicious recipe from the pastry chef of The French Laundry, Claire Clark, using one of my favorite tropical fruits. Unlike banana bread, the banana flavor of this is mild, so you can ease non-fans into it.
Frosted Banana Cake from Indulge: 100 Perfect Desserts
The original recipe has 50g chopped pecans in the cake and 50g in the frosting (that's 1-3/4 oz for the rest of you). They're quite expensive here so I opted to leave them out, but I quite like the pristine finish of the cake.
- 180g (1 cup plus 4-1/2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
- 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 180g (1 cup minus 1-1/2 tablespoons) soft dark brown sugar
- 2 medium eggs (I used large ones... meh)
- 55g (1/4 cup) vegetable oil
- 180g (6oz or about 2 small) ripe bananas (peeled weight), mashed to a pulp
- 65g (2-1/4 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 190g (2 cups sifted) icing sugar
- 125g (9 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F). Grease the sides and line the bottom of an 8" round cake pan with parchment. In a large mixing bowl, beat the brown sugar, eggs, baking powder, and oil at medium speed until fluffy (about 4 minutes). Add the banana and beat for half a minute. Sift the flour over this and mix at low speed for half a minute. Pour into the pan and bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Leave in the pan to cool completely, then turn out and place right-side up on a wire rack or serving platter.
For the frosting, beat the butter, icing sugar, vanilla, and cream cheese until well-combined. Spread over the top of the cake.
One of the fastest cakes I've ever produced! (And nearly as fast to consume...) And, by the way, love that George Harrison song :)