Sometimes when I'm looking for the perfect word, I realize that leaning on inference and bending the definition of something common makes more sense. That's why I am quick to call my freezer one of my favorite kitchen tools when it is, by all measures, an appliance, and tools tend to be handheld.
But it's so integral to how I cook. More importantly, to how I tame the looming ouroboros of food waste borne from a life where my iPhone camera often eats before me. Whims feel less reckless when I know that the motivation to track down an ingredient doesn't necessarily align with my ability to cook. The freezer is home to rogue cake slices double wrapped in foil and freezer bags to preserve the flavor. Lasagna loosies (miraculous how long pieces take to defrost and how it's always worth it) are at home next to half-finished bags of kale (I'll google "green shakshuka" again but use it in fried rice). Black-ripened bananas, haunted by the ghosts of deferred "early quar" energy, sit quietly tucked into a dark corner.
Those slightly haunted bananas ended up being a blessing when I wanted to make a maximalist banana bread recipe that didn't remind me of being forced to pretend that Tiger King amused me.
recipe adapted from smitten kitchen's ultimate banana bread
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 6-cup (9×5-inch) loaf pan/two mini loaf pans, or coat with a nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
In a light-colored pan melt the butter and continue cooking on medium-low until the butter starts to foam, smell nutty and speckles of brown appear at the bottom of the pan. Take off the heat and add the brown sugar to the browned butter and stir to combine. Set aside to cool slightly.
Once the butter mixture has cooled slightly, add the defrosted frozen banana. Make sure to add in any of the juices that escaped while the bananas were defrosting too. Using a blender, hand mixer, or immersion blender, blend the banana.
Add the mixture to a large bowl. Whisk in eggs and vanilla. Sprinkle the surface of the batter evenly with salt, cinnamon, nutmeg (if using), baking soda, and baking powder, and whisk until the ingredients are fully dispersed in the batter, and then whisk 10 more times around the bowl because it’s better to be overly cautious than to end up with unmixed pockets. Add flour and stir until combined.
Split prepared batter into two bowls (just eyeball it, it doesn’t have to be precise!) Sift 1/2 cup of cocoa powder into one bowl of batter and fold in the black cocoa powder until combined.
Using 2 spoons, alternate adding each flavor into the loaf pan(s) until all the batter has been divided. You can swirl if you’d like, but the pockets of each flavor can be nice too. Set aside the prepared loaf/loaves
Put the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and mix with a fork thoroughly to combine, set aside. Melt the butter and cookie butter in a heat-proof bowl. Pour the melted butter mixture evenly over the bowl of dry ingredients and use the fork to mash it all together until it is combined and clumps start to form.
Spoon a thick layer of streusel over the loaves, more than you think. It will bake into a crunchy crust so if it feels excessive, then you probably added just enough
Bake banana bread for 55 to 65 minutes. It is done when a toothpick or skewer inserted into the bread is batter-free — be sure to check the upper third as well, near the rim of the pan; that’s where I’d find the unbaked pockets of batter hanging out.
Let cool in pan. This banana bread is good on the first day but exceptional on the second and third.
To store: Leave the banana bread in the pan, uncovered. Once cut, press a piece of foil against the cut side of the remaining loaf but leave the top uncovered — you worked hard for that crunchy top and should not sacrifice it to humidity. It keeps for five days at room temperature, possibly a week in the fridge.
It might seem excessive to freeze the ripened bananas, but magical things happen to fruit's natural sugar and moisture content when frozen. This recipe puts that magic to work. Plus, waiting for the bananas is a lot easier than finding a way to get a taste of this brand-spanking-new batch unsnackables
I have so many flaws but one that keeps me up at night is the stunning absence of beans from my diet. Try as I might, they elude my attempts to work them into the rotation of foods I cook for myself. The singular upside is that I relish eating beans prepared for me, and there is no better example than the black bean-slicked noodles of jajangmyeon. I love it in its original form, with a cinematic twist and when it inspires a DIY multistep gummy candy kit. Noodles, meat, vegetables, sauce, a spice packet, and even a perfectly fried egg, rendered in sugary facsimile. This puts a gummy pizza or Krabby patty to shame
It was rare to get a chance to enjoy a serving from a three-flavor popcorn tub with the correct 60:30:10 ratio of flavors, despite their yearly presence in our home when I was young. 60% Caramel, 30%Butter, 10%Cheese, 100% satisfying. Youngest sibling survival instincts always led me to hoard as much caramel as possible because it was in demand, depriving me of that golden (popcorn) ratio. This trifecta of popcorn-flavored chips would give me a chance of redemption.
I've had this drink on my mind for months, with hours spent researching increasingly esoteric disambiguations and translations of the flavor name (Peach Espresso) only to discover that it is marketing lingo meant to infer that it is intensely peachy. Like crunchatize me cap'n but for peachy goodness overwhelming your palate, and somehow it is not a deterrent to how much I want to try it.
Move over Dr. Pepper. Your paltry 23 flavors have been dethroned. This brandy-based liqueur boasts an impressive combination of herbs from the verdant Vipava Valley, many with charming names like "lady's bedstraw" and "tormentil" alongside more recognizable ingredients like elderberry and thyme. The valley is known for withstanding the seasonal rigors of a strong northern wind, known as the Bora, that can reach up to 200km an hour. I wonder if a bit of that ferocity made it into this tiny bottle.
I’m still figuring this out, but hopefully, you enjoyed v.55 of unsnackable.
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