Blog - biscuits and such
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Banana Nut Bread

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When I was a kid, my mother’s freezer always had black, frozen bananas in it.  Now, in turn, my freezer always has black, frozen bananas in it.  It’s a combination of the fact that I always have bananas laying around that don’t get eaten and the fact that I’m always intending to make banana bread.

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Banana bread is an easy, healthy snack that keeps for a few days and is appropriate any time of the day.  And, the recipe is very adaptable.  I used pecans, but you can use any nut.  Or, if you don’t like nuts, you can leave them out entirely and this is still a delicious bread.

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While I always use frozen bananas in this recipe, as a way to use and eat all the bananas we buy, you can absolutely use fresh bananas.  If you do decide to use frozen bananas, you can go ahead and chop them and mix them in while they’re frozen.  By the time you’re done adding in all the other ingredients, they’ll be thawed.

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Finally, I am going to take a last opportunity to plug silicon bakeware.  For cupcakes, bunt cakes, and loaves, this is really the best bakeware.  While I was making this, I was watching Ultimate Recipe Showdown on Food Network (a weekend favorite in the Rosemond-Hoerr household), and one woman was making bunt cakes.  She pulled the cake-removal off perfectly, but the stress that she (and the judges) had about that moment was palpable.  And totally avoidable, if you ask me.

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Banana Nut Bread

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

3 ripe bananas (frozen or fresh), diced

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped pecans (or other nut)

1 tsp salt

2 cups flour

Peel and dice your bananas, and chop your nuts.

One by one, whisk together the ingredients, in the order that they’re listed.

Bake at 400* for 60 minutes.  Let cool and serve.

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Damn Fine Gumbo

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This Christmas I also got a cookbook from my parents titled The Best of the Best from North Carolina.  As you can probably guess, it is a collection of recipes from North Carolina recipe books.  Browsing it on Christmas morning we had a few chuckles at recipe titles (Otis’s Dipsy-Doodle Cake, for instance), my father scoffed at the two brunswick stew recipes, and I got very excited about the possibilities.  My sister Lauren, had she had the opportunity, would have probably scoffed at the gumbo recipes.

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You see Lauren, North Carolinian that she is, has recently moved to New Orleans.  During school she lead a ton of service trips to the gulf for Katrina relief, and she loved it so much that after she graduated, she moved down there.  She is now a full fledged bourbon drinker, and I’m sure that her gumbo skills would blow mine out of the water.  Never-the-less, she is over a thousand miles away, so this weekend I made Beaufort Grocery’s Darn Fine Gumbo from my new recipe book.

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As you may well have realized, the 44th president, Barack Obama, is being inaugurated this weekend, just down the street from our Takoma Park apartment.  And while I initially had aspirations to see this historic election in person, Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton’s warnings, the D.C. metro’s statistics, and the constant NPR and Washington Post reports about how gridlocked and insane the District is going to be this weekend made me rethink.  Not to mention that they are predicting that it will be very cold.  So, Dan and I decided that our best bet was to hunker down and get a front row view on MSNBC.

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And all hunkering down includes a plethora of food, so on top of other snacks, I decided a pot of something hot and slow cooked would be a good option for all day no schedule eating.  I skimmed my new cookbook, and was attracted by the ingredients (most of which I had on hand), and the proprietor.  I’m partial because Beaufort Grocery is catering my wedding.

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The only hitch was the title of their recipe.  You see, a childhood strip test revealed that I’m allergic to saying the word “darn” unless I’m mocking someone.  And even then I have a high risk of breaking out in hives.  Thankfully, I would categorize this gumbo as damn fine, and I think even Lauren would agree.

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Damn Fine Gumbo
Source: The Best of the Best from North Carolina, North Carolina’s Historic Restaurants and Their Recipes

4 pieces of bacon, chopped and fried

1/2 cup clarified butter

1 cup chopped green bell pepper

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped onion

2 tbsp paprika

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp thyme

1/2 tsp cayenne

1 tbsp gumbo file

1 cup flour

2 quarts chicken stock or water

1 cup chopped cooked chicken

1 cup chopped cooked sausage

8 ounces chopped okra

2 cups scallops

Dash of salt

2 tbsp tabasco

Cooked rice

Parsley to garnish

Fry bacon in the bottom of your pot, set the bacon aside.  Mix in the butter with the bacon grease.  Add green pepper, celery, and onion.  Saute until tender.  Add garlic and spices, and stir.  Mix in flour and stir continuously for five minutes.  Slowly add stock, and let simmer for twenty minutes.  Add chicken, sausage, bacon, and okra, then let simmer an additional fifteen minutes.  Add scallops and cook until they’re almost completely opaque.  Add salt and tabasco.

Serve over cooked rice, garnished with parsley sprigs.

Serves 8-12.

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Spicy Pecan-Crusted Dolphin Fish

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When I was a kid, our family friend, Captain Fred Cates, used to take us fishing on his beautiful sports fishing boat.  Capt’n Fred was actually my grandfather’s friend.  The former mayor of Hillsborough, he is a bastion of hilarious stories about my parents and grandparents.  He also spent all of my elementary and teen years trying to set me up with his grandson, Chase.  Who, as I was frequently reminded, has a four door truck.

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On these fishing trips off the coast of North Carolina, into the gulf stream, there was an award system.  Golden hooks were awarded for biggest fish, most fish, so on and so on.  I rarely won, and when I did go home with a golden hook it was usually because my father or uncle had helped me reel in the fish.  Mostly I remember fishing for dolphin fish, but I’m sure we were after other game as well.

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Dolphin fish, also known as mahi mahi (which I refuse to say, seeing as how I am not Hawaiian), is a delicious fish.  It is also, in my opinion, a beautiful fish.  It has this incredible shimmer to it, changing from yellow to green to bright blue, depending on how the sun hits its scales.  The meat is light and full of flavor, not fishy at all.

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For this recipe, I was looking for a good winter twist on a fish dish.  Usually I like dolphin served with lime and cilantro.  But, since it’s winter, I thought something a little heavier was fitting.  So, I made a quick pecan breading, with a little spice to add a kick.  I served it with lightly cooked asparagus that I topped with lemon and parmesan.  It was scrumptious.  Dan suggested that these might make a great appetizer, on toothpicks served with spicy mustard.

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Spicy Pecan-Crusted Dolphin Fish

1 dolphin filet

1 cup of pecans

1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp chipotle pepper

1/2 tsp paprika

1/4 cup peanut oil

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup milk

Salt & Pepper

Rinse your filets in cold water, and pat dry.  If your filet still has the skin on it, peel the skin off before you rinse.  For instructions on how to filet a dolphin see here.  Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.  I sliced them into squares to increase the breading surface.  Also, cutting them makes the filets go further portion wise.  Dan and I split one filet, and combined with the asparagus, we were full.  I actually didn’t even finish my half.

In the food processor, blend pecans, flour, sugar,  salt and spices.  In a heavy nonstick skillet or cast iron pan, heat the peanut oil.

Dip your filets in the dry mix, then in milk, then in the dry mix.  Set aside.

When the peanut oil is hot to the touch, drop your filets in.  Cook for two to three minutes on each side.  Use tongs or a fork to drop the fish onto a paper towel.  Allow to cool at least a few minutes on the paper towel (which will also absorb some oil) before plating.

 

Asparagus with Lemon and Parmesan

1 bunch of asparagus

1 lemon

2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

Fill your saute pan 1/4 to 1/2 of the way with water.  Add 1 tbsp olive oil and bring to a simmer.  Rinse your asparagus and place in the pan.

Slice your lemon in half.  Squeeze half of the lemon over the asparagus, and place the lemon half in the pan.  Cook the asparagus for 10 minutes, or until it has become a darker green.

Plate your asparagus, then squeeze the other half of the lemon over it.  Grate parmesan over the asparagus and serve.

Serves 2.

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