May 23, 2010

Banana Nut Loaf

My Auntie Chien is a killer cook. No really, I kid not. She makes spectacular dishes and everytime there is a family reunion, she either brings her homecooked goodies or cooks for us. I even joke that she needs to host a family cooking weekend where we go to visit her in L.A. and she teaches us all how to cook some of her delicious recipes. Well, I'm actually not joking. So, Auntie if you are reading, I'm ready for a cooking weekend whenever you are. =)

I also have to note that not only is she a spectacular cook, she's an amazing florists. For the past few family weddings, she's handled the arrangements of all the flowers from wedding ceremony arrangements, to bride and bridesmaid bouquets, flower girls and table settings. She's amazing!

She shared three recipes including this banana nut bread and it definitely wasn't a disappointment. Delicious. I especially love the crispy, sweet topping on this dessert or breakfast, in my case. I always buy a bunch of green bananas when I go on my weekly grocery store trip (I love raw, hard bananas versus the ripe bananas where they get a tad too mushy and too sweet), and I almost always end up with one or two left that are a tad overripe. Perfect time to make Auntie's recipe!

Banana Nut Loaf w/Streusel Topping
Recipe from Auntie Chien
Makes 2 loaves

Streusel Topping
1/4 cup finely copped walnuts
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon (you can add less but I love the flavor of cinnamon and almost always double the recipe)
1 tbsp butter

1. In a food processor, add all ingredients together so it's a crumbly mixture. Set aside.

Banana Loaf
2 cups chopped walnuts (You can use pecans too)
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 cup flour (I used cake flour)
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter, cold (2 sticks)
1 1/2 cup bananas mashed (4-5 very ripe bananas)
1/2 cup milk
4 eggs
1 half can of pineapple cubes
1/2 cup raisins

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Make sure your butter is very cold and quickly cut into cubes. In the mixer, add the butter, flour, sugar, baking soda and salt until nice and crumbly.

3. Add the mashed bananas and nuts. Give it a few seconds to mix making sure not to overmix!

4. Measure milk in a measuring cup then crack in the eggs. Give it a quick mix and then add to the mixer. Let it mix for about 30 seconds then add in the pineapple and raisins. 

5. Spray and flour two loaf pans. Pour mixture evenly into the two pans and then sprinkle the streusel topping that you made earlier on top.  
6. Cook for 45 minutes until a toothpick (or in my case a chopstick) comes out cleanly.

May 12, 2010

Chicken Curry Pioneer Style

I follow a number of blogs that talk design, fashion, food, cooking, photography or pets.  I was recently introduced to Pioneer Woman, laughed out loud reading the most recent post and then ended up reading her archived blog posts for the next 30 minutes.  To shed light on her killer following, some of her posts will have 20,000+ comments.  She has several sections including confessions, cooking, home & garden, and photography.  Hello, sister!  That's my blog roll all in one.  I purposely don't read her blog every day so that when I do, I'll have several posts to catch up on.  I don't know why that gives me that little extra pleasure but it simply does.  Ha! 

Anyways, if you haven't read her blog, you need to.  She has this hilarious sense of humor and she couples everything with photos.  Two of my favorite posts include the one about Charlie and the one about her college handbook for her sister.    

She has a new cookbook as well, which will probably be on my next bookstore run.  On her blog, she featured an easy chicken curry recipe from her friend, Tom.  It definitely was easy!  I actually loved the flavor, extra punch and depth provided by the onions, tomatoes and garlic.  This was so good that my mom asked for the recipe and even made it herself!  What was even better, this was a one pot dinner. 

Beware, if you don't have a good kitchen ventilation system, your house and everything else - including your pets - will smell oh so, curry.  Don't think that it will only last a few days.  Nope, I had a curry smell in my house for a week and even after that was gone, my Sasha smelled like curry for two more weeks.  Poor girl. 

One Pot Chicken Curry
Recipe adapted from Pioneer Woman
Serves 4

6 chicken thighs
1 tsp mustard
1 onion, chopped and separate into two equal portions
2 tomatos, chopped
8 cloves garlic, chopped
Handful of cilantro, chopped
3 tbsp yellow curry powder
1 3/4 cup water
1 cup chicken stock
4 tbsp veg. oil

1. Wash and pat dry chicken thighs. Put in a large bowl and sprinkle with S&P.  Then add in the mustard and mix well.  Chopped up the garlic, tomato, 1/2 onion and cilantro.  Add to the bowl and mix around so that the chicken is thoroughly mixed and covered.  I let it sit in the fridge for an hour.

2. If you want to serve this with rice, would start cooking the rice now.

3. In a small bowl, combine the water and curry powder and mix well.  In a pan on medium high heat, add the veg. oil and the curry water mixture.  Once mixture has reduced down slightly, add in the other 1/2 onion and let them cook for about 3-5 minutes.  If it gets to be too dry, add in a little bit of water.  
4. Now add in the chicken along with the marinade mixture.  I put all the chicken in and then flip each one to make sure each side is coated with the curry mixture.  I let it sit and cook for about 5 minutes covered.
5. Flip the chicken again if you need.  Now add in 1 cup of water and 1 cup of chicken stock.  I let it cook covered for another 15-20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.  Halfway through, I spooned the sauce over the tops of all the chicken. 
6. Cut through a chicken to make sure it's cooked all the way.  Then server with hot rice with a big spoonful of the sauce (for the chicken AND the rice).  Enjoy!

May 05, 2010

Restaurant Review: Reef

Two weeks ago, Ross and I didn't have a particular craving like we usually do, but we weren't planning on cooking either. I proposed Asia Market, which if you haven't been you must, because it's good and cheap! Ross, however, said that he already made reservations for us at Reef. I've heard mixed reviews of this place but I was game - new place!  However, it didn't meet my expectations (especially since I'm a seafood person) and it was so very pricey.  I joked that we could have gone to Asia Market that night for a fraction of the cost.  Surprise, surprise that lunch the next day was Asia Market - hooray!

Reef, of course, is a nice seafood restaurant - bringing in fish from the Gulf and Mediterranean. Decor is very simple and you are seated in an open room with two story ceilings. Surprisingly, it was not incredibly full for a Friday night and we even bumped into one of Ross' coworkers.

For our appetizer, we shared the crab cake on a bed of thai flavored cabbage.  The crab cake was Texas style enormous, had a nice crispy crust all around and big pieces of lumb crab meat.  We also shared the mac & cheese - don't get it.  No bueno. I love mac and cheese and we barely touched it.  It comes out looking like a larger crispy crab cake so we were excited but then we we took a bite - bleh. 
I had the seared scallops on truffled polenta and mushroom ragout. I was pretty much disappointed in this dish. Scallops were okay and not one where I go, oh my, this is delicious.  Polenta was not flavorful and tasted just similar to buttered grits. 

Overall, I give this place a 2 out of 5.  Two appetizers, two drinks and two entrees totaled to a meal more than Marks.  Where at Marks you leave feeling like you had an experience worth every penny, I definitely didn't feel the same leaving Reef.