Thursday, September 10, 2009

where the skies are so blue

So there I was... perfectly blue beach skies, white sand, a house > 400 sq. feet, and nothing to do for 5 days but read (for pleasure!), soak up the last bits of summer sun, watch the puppy doggie-paddle in the Gulf, and eat lots of (fried) seafood... and I just couldn't resist the urge. I mean, the kitchen was bigger than my studio! And there was counter space! And natural light! And an oven that could fit 5 pies in it if you wanted to. Unbelievable!

It all started when we hit up the grocery store for beach-week must-haves: Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers, Cheerios, 3 pints of ice cream, grapes for mid-day snackin' and get-your-butt-out-of-bed-at-the-crack-of-dawn-and-get-to-the-beach coffee. We were strolling through the produce section when we spied huge bags of ripe bananas stuffed into a shopping cart. At $1.50 for 7, we HAD to buy them. If we didn't, where would they go! There wasn't even a question.

What's fun about baking at the beach house (as I soon discovered) is that it's a test of skill and substitution. Worried that the flour and baking soda in the pantry had been there since Hurricane Ivan, we grabbed replacements without a recipe in mind knowing they were banana bread staples. When we got back to the house and found a recipe, the substitutions began -- and I think the bread turned out better for them. Super yummy, and the perfect morning coffee pairing.

B-Hive Beach House Banana Bread
I have no idea where the recipes in this post came from since they were googled on a family members blackberry... but here they are (with substitutions in parentheses):

1 cup whole wheat flour (substituted all purpose flour)
1 cup flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk (substituted 1/2 cup vanilla Yoplait)
1 tsp. vanilla
3 ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup chocolate chunks (I added, because... well it's obvious)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (I added)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan (I used two smaller disposable pans that I found at the grocery - so perfect for gift giving! Why doesn't my deli in the city stock these?). Combine oil, egg, buttermilk, and vanilla. Whisk flour, baking soda, salt and brown sugar together. Add wet ingredients to dry in two batches. Mix until just combined.

Stir in mashed bananas, chocolate chunks, and chopped walnuts. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes in pan before serving.

A few days of beach bliss passed until we planned a super summery dinner for all. Let me tell you, there's nothing better than sitting on the porch swing, wine cooler in hand, watching a pink sunset fall into the ocean while steaks sizzle and corn steams on a charcoal grill. YUM. Unfortunately, we had nothing for dessert... :)

Lacking any butter in the fridge, I found a vegan recipe that matched the ingredients in the pantry and got to it, ending up with the perfect dessert for ice cream to melt into.

No-butter Blondies

6 oz. vanilla yogurt (I used plain Greek Fage yogurt)
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. canola oil
1 cup + 2 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. molasses (I used cane syrup that I found in the cabinet)
1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup chocolate chunks
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a cast iron skillet.

Whisk together yogurt, oil, vanilla, and molasses. Add sugar and mix until combined. Mix together dry ingredients in a small bowl, and add to wet ingredients until just combined. Stir in chocolate chunks and walnuts.

Pour into greased skillet and bake at 350 degrees until top is golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Serve warm with a generous scoop of ice cream on top.

We ended the cooking fun with pizza one night for dinner. I broke out my Bisquick crust and treated the parents to my favorite Broccoli Rabe and Roasted Onions pizza (I know I keep mentioning it, but damn... it's THAT GOOD!) from Smitten Kitchen. Or... I tried to. A tip: don't ask for broccoli rabe in the South without expecting quizzical looks and stares. Since the 4 grocery-store workers I asked had never heard of chinese broccoli, I swapped it out for turnip greens (how very Southern of me) and added crumbled italian sausage for some protein. I made a pepperoni pizza as a back up but I think the 'rents actually preferred the bitter greens.

It was the perfect trip to end my summer. I could have used another week of relaxation (I swear I could feel the stress climbing up my back as I took the cab into the city from LGA), but my 5 days were little treasures.

Hope you all had a great holiday weekend! Back to my closet-kitchen and a brand new October Bon Appetit tagged with some must-do recipes (Hello, Chocolate Stout Layer Cake with Chocolate Frosting. How are you, Bubble Top Brioche).


1 comment:

Heather said...

love the lynyrd skynyrd title

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