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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Food Holidays/History/Facts

FOOD HOLIDAY: National Bock Beer Day

sam-adams-double-bock-juliatomases-230ps

A double bock beer from Samuel Adams, shown with a scattering of the hops used to brew it. Photo by Julia Tomases | THE NIBBLE.

 

Bock is the German word for strong, referring to a strong beer brewed from barley malt. It’s a dark, heavy, rich, sweet, complex beer, similar to Münchener* beers, but stronger. A true bock-style beer has a foam collar “thick enough to steady a pencil.”

Bock is a style that originated in Saxony (capital Dresden), on the eastern border of central Germany, adjacent to Poland and the Czech Republic.

Originally used to celebrate the end of the brewing season† (May), bock beer (Bockbier in German) was brewed in the winter for consumption in the spring.

It was originally brewed by top fermentation in the Hanseatic League‡ town of Einbeck (beck bier became bock bier) in Lower Saxony, where it is still brewed and known as Ur-Bock, the original bock.

But the style has evolved. Initially brewed with top fermenting yeast (“ale yeast”), German bock beers are now brewed by bottom fermentation (with “lager yeast,” which weren’t discovered until the 15th century). and are usually dark brown.

A modern bock can range from light copper to brown in color. There are varieties that can be very different in style:

 

  • Doppelbock (double bock), a stronger and maltier recipe.
  • Eisbock (ice bock), a much stronger variety made by partially freezing the beer and removing the ice, thus concentrating the flavor.
  • Maibock (pronounced MY-bock), also called helles bock or heller bock, a paler, more hopped version generally made for consumption at spring festivals (hence Mai, the German word for May).
  •  
    Pale bocks are increasing in popularity, and a distinction is sometimes made between light bock beer and dark bock beer. Because the word bock also means billy goat in German, a goat is often found on the labels of bock beer brands.

     
    *Munich is the capital of Bavaria, in southeast Germany; the German name is München. A Münchener is a beer from Munich; for example, Münchener Dunkel, a full-bodied, malty and sweet-style dark lager beer that is a model for other Bavarian-style beers.

    †Modern refrigeration enabled brewers to make a uniform product year round. Previously, brewers had to work with the natural temperature of caves to provide an environment cold enough for the yeast to ferment. As a result, styles evolved to work with seasonal temperatures (lighter beers in the summer, for example).

    ‡The Hanseatic League was an economic alliance of trading cities and their merchant guilds in Northern Europe. Created to protect commercial interests and privileges, it existed from the 13th through 17th centuries.

      

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    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Artichoke Hearts Day

    artichoke-baked-potato-bonefishgrill-230

    Celebrate with an artichoke baked potato. Photo courtesy Bonefish Grill.

     

    Today is National Artichoke Heart Day, an occasion to mix up our favorite luxurious yet low-calorie dishes, “Luxury Salad.” It combines artichokes with hearts of palm, roasted red pepper, red onion and black olives in a white wine vinaigrette. Here’s the recipe.

    But we’re all about options, and we’re making a stuffed baked potato from some of the artichoke hearts.

    We were inspired by this photo from Bonefish Grill. The elaborate recipe topped with an artichoke heart seems an elegant way to celebrate National Artichoke Hearts Day.

    The potato is stuffed with some sautéed spinach, then crowned with a poached egg and the artichoke heart.

    RECIPE: ARTICHOKE STUFFED POTATO

    Ingredients For One Serving

  • 1 baked potato
  • 3 tablespoons sautéed spinach
  • 1 poached egg
  • 1 artichoke heart, drained
  • Optional: hollandaise sauce (recipe)
  • Garnish: tarragon chiffonade
  • Preparation

    1. BAKE the potato(es). When the potatoes are almost done…

    2. Sauté the spinach and poach the egg(s). Warm the artichoke heart(s) in the microwave.

    3. SLICE the top off the potato(s) to provide an even platform. Scoop out a bit of the potato to create a shallow well for the spinach.

    4. FILL the well with the spinach, top with the poached egg and hollandaise sauce. Crown with the artichoke heart, sliced in half as necessary. Garnish with the tarragon.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Bake A Pie, It’s Pi Day Of The Century!

    Mathematically, today is Pi Day: 3.14. As you learned in high school geometry, the Greek symbol is used in mathematics to represent the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, a constant which begins with 3.14159.

    Sorry we can’t show the Greek symbol in these paragraphs: WordPress keeps converting it to a question mark and we couldn’t make any of the help forum ideas work. So we’ve chosen the fetching “pi pie” in the photo at right to help out.

    Today is actually an extra-special Pi Day, the Pi Day of the Century: 3.14.15. The first ten digits of pi, which extends to infinity beyond the decimal point (it has been calculated up to trillions of places), are 3.141592653. There’s more about pi below.

    Thus, 9:26:53 a.m. is the Pi Moment of the Century.

    Some people are obsessed with memorizing as many digits of pi as possible. The Guinness Book Of World Records names the record holder as a man named Lu Chao. He set the record in November 2005 at Northwest A & F University in the Shaanxi province of China. It took him 24 hours and 4 minutes to recite the 67,890th decimal place of pi without a mistake. [Source]

    Congratulations, Mr. Lu, but we’d prefer to eat pie rather than memorize pi. Culinarily, we use Pi Day as an excuse to have a different type of pie each year.

       

    pi-pie-day-greatmindsofscience.tumblr-230

    Since we couldn’t get the Greek symbol for pi to appear in WordPress, we found a photo of a real “pi pie” on GreatMindsOfScience. Tumblr.com. The pi symbol is in the center and the first 31 digits circle the rim. If you know who created this masterpiece, let us know.

     
    Yes, Pi Day is celebrated by pastry fans around the world. How about a piece of the award-winning pie below? It won a blue ribbon at the 2014 National Pie Championships.

    Norske Nook is a restaurant and bakery in western Wisconsin that has received 36 blue ribbons in the past 10 years at the National Pie Championship, competing in a field of more than 500 pies.

    The restaurant announces its new cookbook today: The Norske Nook Book Of Pies & Other Recipes. It will be released next month, but you can pre-order it now.

    In the interim, they provided this delicious pie recipe.

    RECIPE: LEMON CREAM CHEESE PIE

    Most icebox pie recipes require no cooking: You simply refrigerate or freeze the completed pie. Others, like the recipe below, need only a bit of time on the stove top or in the oven. This recipe requires a bit of both.

    After you get the pie into the fridge, check out the different types of pies in our delicious Pie & Pastry Glossary.

    Ingredients For An 11-Inch Pie

  • 1 single crust, baked
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 container (16 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed and divided
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 6 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 5 large egg yolk
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 cups hot water
  • Garnish: fresh whipped cream
  •  

    lemon-cream-cheese-pie-norsknook-uwisconsinpress-230r

    An award winning pie for Pi Day. Photo courtesy University Of Wisconsin Press.

     

    Preparation

    1. MIX the cream cheese and powdered sugar in an electric stand mixer until smooth. Fold in half the whipped topping and mix to combine. With a rubber spatula, continue mixing by hand.

    2. SPREAD the filling into the bottom of the baked crust.

    3. MIX the sugar, salt and cornstarch in a saucepan over high heat. Whisk in the egg yolks, lemon juice and hot water. Cook until thickened and the center is boiling. Transfer to a plastic bowl and refrigerate until cool.

    4. MOUND the cooled mixture over the cream cheese layer. Top with the rest of the whipped topping or fresh whipped cream. Keep refrigerated.

    THE HISTORY OF PI

    Pi is a mathematical constant, a special number that is significantly interesting in some way to mathematicians.

    But why was the 16th letter of the Greek alphabet (it translates to “p” in the Roman alphabet), chosen as a mathematical symbol to represent the constant ratio of the circumference to the diameter of any circle?

     

    The credit for what turns about to be a great idea goes to a Welsh mathematician William Jones (1675-1749). In a 1706 work called Synopsis Palmariorum Matheseos (A New Introduction to the Mathematics), he abbreviated the Greek word root for periphery, meaning “circumference,” to pi.

    Before Jones used the pi symbol, the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle was referred to in this wordy phrase from medieval Latin: quantitas in quam cum multiflicetur diameter, proveniet circumferencia (the quantity which, when the diameter is multiplied by it, yields the circumference). Whew!

    Here’s more about pi.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Meatball Pot Pie

    For National Meatball Day, March 9th, here are two fun recipes with meatballs. courtesy of Casa Di Bertacchi,

    Both will be popular with busy moms, because the ingredients are quick to assemble. We don’t often use recipes that use a can of soup or canned potatoes as an ingredient; but here we make an exception to make it easy to celebrate National Meatball Day.

    The meatballs, too, are purchased frozen from Casa di Bertacchi.

    Of course, you make it from-scratch, using your favorite homemade pot pie recipe.

    RECIPE: MEATBALL POT PIE

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed and drained
  • 13 frozen fully cooked meatballs, thawed
  • 2 cans (10.5 ounces each) condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can (15 ounces) diced potatoes, drained
  • 1 teaspoon chopped dried rosemary
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 frozen or refrigerated pie crusts, at room temperature
  •    

    meatball-potpie-casameatballs-230

    Meatball Pot Pie. Photo courtesy Casa di Bertacchi.

     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F.

    2. COMBINE all ingredients except the crusts in a 2-quart bowl. Place one pie crust evenly over the bottom and sides of a deep dish pie pan, pressing it up over the sides.

    3. FILL the pie crust with the meatball mixture. Cover with the second crust, sealing the edges and cutting slits in the top to vent steam. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool 5 minutes before serving.

     

    meatball-kabobs-casameatballs-230

    Fun food: Try meatball kabobs. Recipe and photo courtesy Casa di Bertacchi.

     

    RECIPE: MEATBALL KABOBS

    Spell it kabob, kaboab, kebab or kebap: The word is transliterated from Arabic, so there’s no one definitive spelling.

    Originating in the Eastern Mediterranean, a kabob consists of pieces of meat, fish or vegetables roasted or grilled on a skewer or spit.

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 18 frozen, fully cooked meatballs, thawed
  • 1 medium yellow or green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 12 equal pieces
  • 1 large or 2 small yellow summer squash*, cut into 12 slices, 1-1/2 to 2 inches
  • 12 whole mushrooms
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup Caesar dressing
  • 1-1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 long metal skewers†
  •  
    *Substitute yellow bell pepper.

    †If using bamboo skewers, soak in water for 30 minutes prior to assembling kabobs.
     
    Preparation 

    1. THREAD a meatball, bell pepper slice, yellow squash slice, mushroom and tomato on a long metal skewer. the Repeat pattern ending with a meatball.

    2. REPEAT for the other five skewers.

    3. COMBINE the Caesar dressing and black pepper.

    4. PLACE the meatball skewers directly on a hot grill. Baste the kabobs with the dressing.

    5. GRILL for 6–8 minutes, turning and basting every 2–3 minutes until done. Makes 6 kabobs.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Easy Grasshopper Pie For St. Pat’s

    Grasshopper Pie is a crème de menthe chiffon pie with a chocolate cookie crust. It was invented in the U.S. in the 1950s following the popularity of the Grasshopper Cocktail, a dessert cocktail made from cream, green crème de menthe and white crème de cacao.

    The drink’s name derived from its green color. While it reputedly originated at Tujague’s, a landmark bar and Creole restaurant in the French Quarter of New Orleans, the story is a bit more complicated.
     
    THE HISTORY OF THE GRASSHOPPER COCKTAIL

    The recipe, created by Philibert Guichet Jr., owner of Tujaque’s, began as an entry submitted to a cocktail contest in New York City. It won the second place prize. Of note is that the contest was held in 1928—before the end of Prohibition (1920-1933). [Source]

    The cocktail gained popularity in the South during the 1950s and 1960s.

    In the 1950s, liquor became much more widely available as it filled grocery store shelves across the land. With women doing most of the grocery shopping at this time, the popularity of sweeter, dessert-type drinks increased. By the 1960s, the Grasshopper had become a standard cocktail.

       

    grasshopper-pie-tasteofhome-230r

    Plan ahead for something green and delicious: Make a Grasshopper Pie for St. Patrick’s Day. Photo and recipe courtesy Taste Of Home.

     
    NEXT STOP: GRASSHOPPER PIE

    At the same time the cocktail became a national standard, the pie appeared. Chiffon pies were very popular at that time, and food historians speculate that the recipe was invented by food companies to promote their products.

    In the American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipes For The 20th Century, Jean Anderson writes, “I suspect—but cannot verify—that [Grasshopper Pie] recipes descend from one that appeared in High Spirited Desserts, a recipe flier published jointly by Knox Unflavored Gelatin and Heublein Cordials. [Source]

    Prep time is 30 minutes plus several hours to chill (or overnight).

    An easy frozen version follows the standard version below.

    You can play with the garnishes, using chocolate chips instead of chocolate shavings. If you want a more vivid green for St. Patrick’s day, add food color before you whip the cream.

     

    ice-cream-grasshopper-pie-tasteofhome-230

    The easiest Grasshopper Pie is made with mint chip ice cream. Photo and recipe courtesy Taste Of Home.

      RECIPE: GRASSHOPPER PIE

    Ingredients For 8 Servings
     
    For The Crust

  • 1-1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon chocolate wafer crumbs, divided (about 32 wafers)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted
  •  
    For The Filling

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 1-1/3 cups well-chilled heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup green crème de menthe
  • 1/4 cup white crème de cacao
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • Garnish: grated chocolate or mint-flavored chocolate*
  •  
    *Green & Black’s and Lindt are two brands of mint chocolate bar available at many supermarkets.
     
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the crust. Stir together the wafer crumbs, sugar and butter in a bowl to combine. Pat the mixture onto the bottom and up the side of a buttered 9-inch pie plate. Bake the crust in the middle of a preheated 450°F oven for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

    2. MAKE the filling. In a heat-proof bowl or the top half of a double boiler, sprinkle the gelatin over 1/3 cup of the cream; let it soften for 5 minutes. Whisk in the sugar, crème de menthe, crème de cacao and egg yolks. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture registers 160°F on a candy thermometer.

    3. REMOVE the bowl to a larger bowl of ice and cold water. Stir the mixture until it is cooled and thickened.

    4. BEAT the remaining 1 cup cream in a separate bowl until it holds stiff peaks. Fold it into the crème de menthe mixture thoroughly.

    5. POUR the filling into the crust and chill the pie for 4 hours, or until set. Sprinkle the pie with the grated chocolate.
     
    RECIPE: ICE CREAM GRASSHOPPER PIE

    This version is even easier, using store-bought mint chocolate chip ice cream (photo above left). It’s a kid-friendly recipe without the liqueurs; but feel free to add 1/8 cup of crème de menthe to the softened ice cream.

    Ingredients

  • 4 cups mint chocolate chip ice cream, softened
  • 1 chocolate crumb crust (8 inches—store-bought or made with the recipe above)
  • 5 Oreo cookies, chopped
  • 1/3 cup chocolate-covered peppermint candies (e.g. Junior Mints)
  • Chocolate hard-shell ice cream topping
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SPREAD the ice cream into the pie crust. Sprinkle with the cookies and candies.

    2. DRIZZLE with the ice cream topping and freeze until firm. Remove from the freezer 15 minutes before serving.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Frozen Food Day

    While fresh is fashionable, we can’t ignore the importance of frozen foods today, National Frozen Food Day.

    Frozen food revolutionized the way Americans consume food. First came the joy of off-season fruits and vegetables (which are tastier and a fraction of the price when purchased frozen at their peak than shipped fresh from South America or elsewhere). Then the ability to buy larger quantities when on sale. Then the convenience for busy moms.

    In 1984, President Ronald Regan declared March 6th to be National Frozen Food Day, stating: “…I call upon the American people to observe such day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.”

    Our ceremony consists of frozen foods for breakfast and dinner, at least. We already had a delicious Cedarlane omelet, and cooking SeaPak frozen butterfly shrimp for lunch (thanks, SeaPak, for the samples).

    (For dinner, it’s the last day of New York Restaurant Week and we’re heading out.)

    Most supermarkets today have 2-3 aisles of frozen foods, and many Americans rely upon the convenience of frozen food for their weekly dinners and other meals.

       

    seapak-jumbo_butterfly_shrimp-230

    Today, it’s jumbo butterfly shrimp for lunch at THE NIBBLE. You can bake or fry the frozen shrimp. Photo courtesy SeaPak.

     

    btrflyshrimp_scaloppini_seapak-230

    Butterfly shrimp “scallopini” with lemon, butter, garlic, parsley and white wine. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy SeaPak.

     

    WHO INVENTED FROZEN FOOD?

    Since ancient times, foods were frozen in climates that were cold enough to freeze them (here’s more about early freezing and refrigeration). But the invention of the home refrigerator-freezer after World War II brought modern-age frozen food into every home.

    Many people think that Clarence Birdseye invented frozen food; but in fact, others preceded him. However, before Birdseye, foods were frozen at a fairly slow rate. This caused large ice crystals to form, which ruptured the cell membranes of the food. When the food was defrosted, the ice crystals melted and water would leak from the food, taking with it flavor and texture.

    What Birdseye did invent, in 1924 was the quick freezing method, which produces the type of quality frozen foods that we know today.

    While working as a fur trader in Labrador, Newfoundland, Birdseye discovered that the fish that he caught froze almost immediately after being pulled from the water—and that the fish was just as delicious when thawed out months later. He developed quick-freezing methods that retained the taste and texture of foods.

     
    Another revolution in frozen food came in 1948, when Sea Island Packing Company (SeaPak) in Georgia developed the Individual Quick Freezing (IQF) to flash freeze shrimp, lock in flavor at its original state of freshness. This new process forever changed the way the shrimp industry (and others) would freeze products. [Source]

     
    The First Home Freezer

    The first home refrigerator with a small freezing compartment that held two ice cube trays was launched in the 1923 (it was a Frigidaire—Source.)

    Large “deep freezers” for retail use only became common during the 1940s. That’s why people in period novels and films went to the neighborhood drug store to get ice cream! Big freezers did not go into mass production for home use until after World War II. Along with new refrigerator-freezer units, they enabled American homes to stock ice cream and other frozen foods.

    Prior to World War II, Americans primarily ate locally and regionally grown foods. The technology didn’t exist to pack and transport fresh foods over greater distances. Consequently, only those who lived near coastal waterways had access to shrimp, clams, oysters, and other seafood.

    Since shrimp is America’s #1 consumed seafood—a lot of that, for both home and foodservice use, is frozen—and SeaPak Shrimp & Seafood Company is the #1-selling retail brand of frozen shrimp entrees, we make them our choice for lunch. Check out all the varieties at SeaPak.com.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Peanut Butter Fudge

    peanut-butter-fudge-horizon-230

    Mmm, peanut butter fudge. Photo courtesy Horizon.

     

    March 1 is National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day. Fudge a recipe so easy to make that we urge you to try it. You most likely have the ingredients on hand, and it will take less than 15 minutes to prepare.

    There are different ways to make fudge, using butter, cream, whole milk or sweetened condensed milk. This recipe, adapted from one by Alton Brown, uses butter.

    Prep time is 10 minutes, cook time is 4 minutes, plus two hours in the fridge.

    RECIPE: PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE

    Ingredients For 64 Pieces

  • 8 ounces unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan
  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 16 ounces confectioners’ sugar
  • Optional: chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, honey roasted peanuts
  •  

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the butter and peanut butter in a 4-quart microwave-safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for 2 minutes on high. Stir and microwave on high for 2 more minutes. Use caution when removing this mixture from the microwave, it will be very hot.

    2. ADD the vanilla and sugar to the peanut butter mixture and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. The mixture will become hard to stir and lose its sheen. Add optional inclusions.

    3. SPREAD into a buttered 8 x 8-inch pan lined with parchment paper. Fold the excess parchment paper so it covers the surface of the fudge and refrigerate until cool, about 2 hours.

    4. CUT into 1-inch pieces and store in an airtight container at room temperature for a week.

     
      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Strawberry Cake Pops

    strawberry-cake-pops-bella-baker-230

    Strawberry-themed cake pops. You can use
    any flavor of cake that you like. Photo
    courtesy Bella Baker.

     

    February 27th is National Strawberry Day.

    What better activity than to make these luscious strawberry cake pops from Lauryn Cohen of BellaBaker.com.

    If you’ve never made cake pops but think they’d fit in with family and entertaining, there’s a fool-proof appliance to make round balls of cake: the Babycakes Pop Maker.

    There are several cake pops recipe books to help you become an artist. This recipe book has 175 different recipes/designs.

    If you like to decorate, you’ll be set for many hours of food fun.

     

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Strawberry Salsa

    How about something special for National Strawberry Day (February 27th): strawberry salsa.

    In addition to serving with tortilla chips, strawberry salsa is delicious over grilled chicken, fish or pork.

    This recipes was adapted from TasteOfHome.com. You can customize it by adding other fruits to the strawberries. Mango, grapes, pineapple, pomegranate arils and stone fruits are a few options.

    TIP: Wear disposable gloves when cutting and seeding hot chiles; then clean the cutting board and knife, wash your gloved hands and dispose of the gloves. Accidentally touching your eye with the most minute amount of capsaicin fom the chile is an experience you never want to have.

    RECIPE: STRAWBERRY SALSA

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup strawberries, chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño chile, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1.5 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (do not substitute)
  • Optional: green, orange, red or yellow bell pepper, diced
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  •  

    strawberry-salsa-tasteofhome-230

    Strawberry salsa made with optional bell pepper. Photo courtesy Taste Of Home.

     

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all the ingredients. Refrigerate and let the flavors meld for an hour or more.

    2. SERVE with chips or as a protein garnish.

     
    Variations

  • Chunky Strawberry Salsa With Quartered Cherry Tomatoes Recipe
  • Strawberry Mango Salsa Recipe
  • Strawberry Salsa With Grape Tomatoes & Corn Kernels Recipe
  • Strawberry Salsa With Plum Tomatoes Recipe
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Banana Bread

    banana-bread-chips-nuts-LuluDurand-230

    Banana bread with chocolate chips and nuts.
    We highly recommend the optional chocolate
    glaze in the recipe (not shown). Photo
    by Lulu Durand | IST.

     

    You’d think we could get a decent piece of banana bread in this town, but it’s surprisingly tough. Most of what we purchase at specialty food stores has only a nodding acquaintance with bananas. With no banana punch but a high level of spices, it could be zucchini bread.

    One does do better at bakeries; but alas, bakeries are fast becoming extinct here due to low margins and astounding rents. So since today is National Banana Bread Day, grab the bananas and a loaf pan and start baking.

    One reason that some recipes fall short on banana flavor is that the recipe requires overripe bananas. When they’re brown and splotchy and unappealing, that’s when you want to bake. The more brown/overripe, the sweeter the banana flavor.

    A trick for always having the perfect ripeness on hand: Buy the bananas before you need them. (If you’re lucky, you’ll find overripe ones that have been marked down.) Once they become overripe, peel them, wrap them tightly and freeze them. They thaw quickly at room temperature when you’re ready to bake.

    We always bake a double batch and put the second one in the freezer; although work colleagues, hairdressers, friends and neighbors would be grateful for a slice.

    This recipe was adapted from one by Charles Masters for the Food Network.

     
    Ingredients For the Bread

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for the pan
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 cup mashed banana (2-3 very ripe bananas)
  •  
    For The Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.

    2. COMBINE the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl. Add the chocolate chips.

    3. WHISK the eggs, melted butter, sour cream, vanilla and orange zest in a medium bowl. Stir in the mashed banana, then fold the mixture into the flour mixture until just combined.

    4. ADD the batter to the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes in the pan on a rack, then turn the bread out onto the rack to cool completely.

    5. MAKE the glaze: Whisk the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, milk, vanilla and salt in a bowl. Pour over the cooled banana bread and let set, 15 to 20 minutes.

     

    overripe-bananas-bakinglibrary.blogspot-230

    Make banana bread with overripe bananas. These are just beginning to get ripe enough. The splotchier, the better. Photo courtesy Baking Library | Blogspot.

     

    DIFFERENCE BETWEEN “BREAD” & CAKE

    There is a transition between sweet breads and lower-sugar cakes that are baked in loaf pans, such as carrot bread and banana bread.

    What’s the difference between a banana bread and a banana cake? The obvious difference is that the bread is baked in a loaf pan while the cake is baked in a round, square or rectangular cake pan.

    A less obvious distinction is that the bread style of cake, as a quickbread*, is leavened with baking soda instead of yeast, which makes them quicker to rise.

    In general, loaf cakes or “breads” also have a denser crumb, a rougher texture and often less sugar than their cake counterparts.

    While the origin of the “bread” style of cake is unknown, food historians believe that it was originated in the 18th century with housewives experimenting with pearl ash. Banana bread became common in American cookbooks in the 1930s, with the popularization of baking soda and baking powder, and very popular in the 1960s, when variations with simple inclusions (nuts, chocolate morsels) created simple but delicious snack cakes.

     
    *Other quickbread examples include biscuits, cornbread, muffins, scones and soda bread.

      

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