I was pretty excited about this year’s Easter Sunday, because I knew it is going to be quite different than the usual egg hunt day. I celebrated my first Greek Easter feast at my friend’s house. Preparation had been going on for days and I can tell you, if Greeks celebrate, they do it big and proper. Everyone was talking about a whole lamb on a spit for days. The bummer is, I was not even sure if I like lamb, I am one of those crazy eaters that don’t eat cute animals. Growing up I tasted rabbit once – only because my aunt tried to trick me. I guess she wasn’t even offended, as I told her straight forward, that her “chicken” tasted strange. Other than that if it comes down to explore new food, I am usually first in line, so I hoped I would get over it and try some lamb.
Easter Sunday started very early for the “lamb team”. It had been spinning over the coals long before I opened my eyes. Always in charge was 85-year old Pappou, sitting next to the lamb, never taking his eyes from it and occasionally standing up and sprinkling some seasoning or lemon juice all over. This was serious business. The rest of the lamb team stood always nearby like bees round a honeypot, eager to learn from the chef, observing every move he made. At some point he declared the grilling process as finished and his “crew” started to cut and slice down the meat from the bones. I love how much everyone appreciates the food and how much of a special event this was. Small taste bites were handed out to the hungry crowd and I even tried a piece of the crispy skin.
Meanwhile more family members arrived and the house and the garden filled up with playing kids, chatting aunts, uncles and cousins and I was hopelessly lost and gave up to remember all the names. I once asked our friend’s daughter, how many cousins she has and she started counting and changed her mind twice, let’s say a lot! Although almost every member of this family is born in the States and some are even the 4th generation of emigrants, they declare themselves proudly as Greek and speak the language fluently. The table filled up fast with Greek dishes I’ve never seen before (and I am a lover of all Mediterranean food). I ended up filling my plate with nibs, desperate to taste everything. I also had some lamb and have to admit it tastes delicious. I still have to get over the eating cute animal thing, but it’s a good start.
This is just a part of the desserts. At right are diples (fried Greek pastry with honey and nuts), so so good.
Needless to say I had a blast, I feel like I borrowed a Greek family for one day. One last thing I have to set straight, Greek don’t say “opa” all the time, but I heard “yamas” quite a lot.
The mother of all questions, at least if it comes to banana bread, is for sure: Do we really need another banana bread recipe? For the last couple of days, knowing I am working on one of those “another” recipes, I paid more attention to blog posts and articles related to this topic – take it from me, there are a lot out there. And this essential topic runs like a thread through a fair amount of articles, don’t we have enough banana bread recipes? I am sure I would gladly find a different recipe for every day until the rest of my life and wouldn’t have to repeat one.
Sometimes I found this question even unanswered or unexplained and yet scrolling down you’ll find another recipe for banana bread on those posts (and I don’t have to tell you how much I appreciate that). Actually (IMO) there is no answer needed, because it’s a hypothetical question and because we all know the answer don’t we?
Nevertheless or for that very reason that’s why I am coming at you with another banana bread recipe and the answer for the mother of all banana questions: yep.
I maybe should give you some reasons, even if just for the sake of formality. I could say, as long as bananas going overripe on countertop all over the world… a little too dramatic? It just tastes good… too simple? Well I think here applies the law of supply and demand. In fact banana bread is one of the most baked goodies in my heck of the woods. There is always a demand for and I can find the main ingredient always in my kitchen, sometimes even in different stages of ripening. Now that’s a reason. Happy baking!
This chocolate chai banana bread is actually rather a cake. But for the sake of formality, I prefer to title it bread, because this is how I look at it. Although it’s less sweet, it has the same moist and tender texture like a cake. I like to treat myself with plum butter scattered generously all over the slice for an afternoon snack accompanied with a cup of coffee or if I feel a little British a proper cup of hot tea. Chocolate and spices pair perfectly and are not too overwhelming, just enough to make this bread (ahem cake) perfect. Enjoy!
chai chocolate banana bread
- dry ingredients:
- 125 g / 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 150 g / 1 ¼ cups whole wheat flour
- 30 g / 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. fine sea salt
- 1 tsp. ground cardamom
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- ½ tsp. ground allspice
- wet ingredients:
- 3 overripe bananas, mashed (see notes)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- ½ cup canola oil or other
- ¼ cup milk (2%)
- 170 g / ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
- Preheat your oven to 160 C/ 325 F and grease or line a 23 cm / 9 inch loaf pan.
- Combine dry ingredients, stir well and set aside.
- In a large bowl mix all wet ingredients. Add dry ingredients and mix just until combined don’t over-mix.
- Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle of cake comes out clean.
- Let cool for 30 minutes then invert cake onto a serving platter.
I don’t even bother mashing the bananas, if they are very ripe. The mixer does a fine job and leaves little banana pieces in the batter.
Cooking time: 50-60 minutes
I obviously missed the peak of grapefruit season by a couple of weeks. Yet it’s never too late for a good recipe and too early for a bracing cocktail. Thus I am right on time somehow…
For the most part of my life, I haven’t been very fond of grapefruit. If I would have eaten one, I would have topped it with sugar to balance the acid. However there had been always better options out there, like the sweeter orange, so why bother? This changed last winter season, somehow grapefruit grew on me. Since then I bought grapefruits by the bag and ate them preferable standing over the sink, slurping the juice and even enjoying the zingy fruit. Somewhere between my kitchen sink, the cocktail shaker and the still untouched bottle of elderflower syrup, I brought home from a visit to the giant Swedish furniture store, came the idea for a grapefruit cocktail with elderflower syrup. It’s just three ingredients and ice cubes, it can’t be more simpler than that.
A Greyhound is a cocktail with grapefruit juice and vodka or gin, if you salt the rim of the glass you got a Salty Dog. The elderflower syrup adds a sweet and floral taste and makes this refreshing cocktail even more suitable for a brunch, hint maybe your next Easter brunch? Cheers!
grapefruit and elderflower cocktail
- 60 ml / 2 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
- 30 ml / 1 oz. elderflower syrup
- 30 ml / 1 oz. vodka
- ice cubes, about one handful for the shaker
- for garnish: quartered grapefruit slices (1/8 to 1/4 inch thick) or see below for bruléed grapefruit quarter
- Fill your shaker with a small handful ice cubes and add grapefruit juice, elderflower syrup, and vodka. Shake vigorously and pour into a class filled with ice.
- Garnish with grapefruit slices.
Bruléed grapefruit quarter for garnish: make a cut at the cone end of the quartered grapefruit slices, so it will later easily slide onto the rim of the glass. Cover evenly with sugar. Using a kitchen torch, heat sugar until melted and beginning to turn dark amber.
Number of servings: 1
Well this snapshot above might not go down as the best food picture in history, but it’s all about the taste, isn’t it. I guess that’s what you get, if you are in a hurry. Mr. F came up with the idea to spend the weekend in a cabin in the mountains and I didn’t think twice. As a result we had to pack fast and I am not famous for that. I was just about to hastily stuff my camera into my bag, with my food already waiting for me, so I took a fast shot for you. I thought it would be hard to convince you to try out my white chili recipe without a picture, but if I look at it and it reminds me of a brain eaten by worms (sorry but it is what it is…) I am not sure if I should rather post this without a picture at all. Read more >>
Valentine’s Day is a little more than a month ago. As every year the opinions had varied outright about this topic. Some of you had been waiting all year for flowers or some romantic hours (no details please). The other half couldn’t care less or is even totally averse to Valentine’s Day. I am kind of in the middle of this, our anniversary is to close to feel the need to celebrate again, but we like to take this occasion as an opportunity to pamper ourselves with a nice dinner. Read more >>
The majority of people who come into our life, don’t stay. They hang around for months or even years, until we move on or they do. They are former classmates, neighbors and coworkers. Afterwards most of them disappear from our sight. Often they don’t leave more behind than fading memories, not all of them are good. That’s life.
One of those people, I did like a lot. We had never been besties, but I appreciated her and her nature. She impressed me with her persistent as a bulldog (I mean that in a good way), her strive to achieve what she wants and she taught me to see things through. Read more >>
A couple of days ago we celebrated an anniversary. It had been five years since we left Germany to life for the next three years in the USA. Life may be a journey, but the path is not a long and straight stretch of road. And I don’t mind. Wouldn’t it be tedious to have your life planned in details until you retire or even further? Nothing against fulfilling dreams, that’s a whole different story, but strategic life planning was never me. Read more >>
I hate throwing away food. I am aware of the harsh intensity of this word hate, which I am just throwing around and at you. However it is not an angry hate, I would describe it as a disgusting hate, whereas disgusting on it’s own wouldn’t kick it. Around here leftover food will be revived to new culinary pleasures and reused until they start to look fury. Confucius says: if you open the fridge and things start to move, you are in trouble. In fact I would rather get rid of my storage container than discard the moldy food content and reuse it. This plastic box is dead to me and has to go. I am trying hard not to use the word “puke” in a food blog post, but you need to know how I feel about… That’s maybe why I am not in charge of checking the refrigerator for spoiled food, turned out to be too costly. What the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve over. Read more >>
Many of you are denying the fact that they are eating nutella straight from the jar, not me, I am totally guilty of that. Red wine, cheese, fries and chocolate also fall in the category of therapeutic treat habits. I wish I could see your face, while you are reading my next confession, so please stay put and be a little open minded: I also do that with sauerkraut. I am not a bit ashamed of it and will do it over and over again. No matter what you say, I love sauerkraut. Every time I open a jar, I am grabbing a fork and dig in. I am a sucker for sour and fermented food, I enjoy everything with vinegary taste and are there at anytime enough pickles on my sandwich? Fresh sauerkraut has also a crunchy and crisp texture. Read more >>
Last weekend I attended the Food Blog South conference in Birmingham, Alabama. It had been the second time for me and it is always fun to talk to like-minded blogger. This year’s speakers had been interesting, funny and helpful and I came home with pages full of scribbled notes. While I was unpacking my bags, I thought I should write them down into a readable format and knew at the same time, I won’t. Last years notes are still out there and hopelessly waiting to be processed. And when I thought about you, wouldn’t you be interested in some groundbreaking tips on how to take nice pictures of your food for your blog? One of the things I had been looking forward to, had been the food styling and photography sessions with Helene Dujardin (Tartelette, a senior photographer at Oxmoor House, author of Plate To Pixel, Digital Food Photography & Styling) and Tami Hardeman (Running With Tweezers, an experienced and professional food stylist). Read more >>