Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Loaf Cake

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread
A few months ago, I received a frantic text from Z's mom..."I'm in Brooklyn...where should I go to eat?" While Brooklyn is a neighborhood I haven't explored as much as I would like, I did have a few places to send her to.

A bakery at the top of my list to visit is Baked, a classic American-style bakery. They are famous for their brownie, and I've featured their Pumpkin Whoopie Pies here on the blog.

Z's mom came back with a positive report--everything was delicious, and they have her a dozen cupcakes for free! While she couldn't bring me back cupcakes, she did send me one of their cookbooks, called "Baked Essentials".

Flipping through the cookbook, I was immediately drawn to the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Loaf recipe. The orange and black combination is only fitting given upcoming Halloween celebrations!

Pumpkin and loaf cakes are a perfect match made in heaven; homey loaf cakes and pumpkin treats both conjure up images of crisp fall days and hot cups of tea.

I recommend making two batches, one for work on Friday and one for your friend's Halloween party. I promise it won't disappoint!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

From Baked Essentials

1 3/8 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 cup pumpkin (one 15-ounce can)
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9x5 inch baking pan, dust with flour, and knock out the excess. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, baking soda, and salt.

In another large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin and oil until well combined. Add the sugar and whisk again. Whisk the eggs into the mixture, one at a time, followed by the vanilla. Add 1/3 cup room temperature water and whisk again. With a rubber spatula, fold in the chocolate chips.

Fold dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Do not overmix.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Use spatula to smooth out the top. 

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread
Bake in the center of the oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through baking. 

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Invert loaf onto a wired rack and cool completely before serving. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

Double Chocolate Banana Bread
This week, I'm sharing two loaf cakes that belong on your Halloween dessert table. Today's recipe is a dark as night chocolate banana bread studded with chocolate chips.

For Z's birthday, we stocked up on bananas for toast, and as per usual, we were left with a plethora  of bananas. We bought four times as many bananas as we needed! Instead of letting the bananas go to waste, we froze half, and then put the rest into banana breads. 

Z is big fan of banana bread and chocolate chips, and as soon as I saw this double chocolate banana bread recipe, I knew we had to give it a try. I love how dark the bread turns out, plus the surprising banana flavor. 

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

I baked the chocolate banana bread on a Sunday, with hopes of bringing leftovers into work, but it was so delicious that we devoured the whole loaf that day! It's crazy good. 

Loaf cakes like banana bread make perfect fall treats--they pair great with an afternoon cup of tea, and I love eating them warm out of the oven on a cold day. Oh, and did I mention there's no fancy equipment required, and the prep process takes less than 5 minutes? Another reason to add this into your baking rotation.

 On Wednesday, I'll share another loaf cake that is perfect for Halloween--hint: it's orange and black!

Other recipes you would like:

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

From Smitten Kitchen

3 medium or large very ripe bananas
1/2 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x5 inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Mash bananas in bottom of large bowl. Whisk in butter, then brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Place baking soda, salt, flour, and cocoa powder into a sifter, and sift over wet ingredients. Stir ingredients together, and then fold in chocolate chips.

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 55 to 65 minutes, until toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out batter free. Let cool in pan for 10 to 15 minutes. Then run a knife around pan, and invert the cake onto a cooling rack. Move the cake right side up. Serve warm (my favorite) or at room temperature.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Hummus with Pita Chips

Hummus and Pita Chips
Yes, you can buy a pretty decent hummus at the store for $5 (you better be buying Sabra), but no supermarket hummus can compare to the amazing creaminess and taste of homemade hummus. I still dream about the hummus in Israel, served at nearly every meal with fresh pita and herbs.

Hummus and Pita Chips

Here in the Bay Area, Z and I like to travel down to Oren's Hummus in Palo Alto for fresh hummus and grilled chicken, but given the traffic and driving time, we don't make it down nearly as much as we would like. For weekends when a hummus craving strikes (which for me is about every other week to be completely honest), homemade hummus is the way to go.

Cooking hummus at home is really straightforward. It does require some foresight and thought, so buy the ingredients during the week and start the soaking process on Friday night when you get home from work/happy hour/dinner. By Saturday at noon, you'll have a giant bowl of homemade hummus for weekend football parties and fall picnics.

Hummus and Pita Chips

Every good hummus needs a vehicle to eat it with, and my personal favorite is homemade pita chips. Homemade pita chips are healthier than store bought chips, have way more flavor, and are easy to throw together at a moment's notice. Inspired by Mediterranean flavors, I flavored my chips with sumac and thyme.

Hummus and Pita Chips

I find that each person has their own hummus preferences, so feel free to treat this recipe as a guideline. Add more lemon juice, garlic, and herbs to your liking. Add in some roasted tomatoes or garlic. I serve mine topped with olive oil and a sumac/thyme combination, but grilled meats, pine nuts, and chopped veggies would all be outstanding.

Hummus and Pita Chips

From The New York Times and Ina Garten

1 1/4 cups dried chickpeas
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons light tahini paste
4 cloves garlic, crushed
4 tablespoons lemon juice
6 1/2 tablespoons cold ice water
1 package pita
Olive Oil
4 sprigs fresh thyme

Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with cold water twice its volume. Let soak overnight. 

The next morning, drain chickpeas. In a medium saucepan, combine drained chickpeas and baking soda over medium high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Add 6 1/2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cook at a simmer, skimming foam and chickpea skins off the top of the water, for 20 to 40 minutes, until chickpeas are tender (in my testing, it was about 20 minutes). When done, the chickpeas should crumble easily when pressed, but should not be mushy.

Hummus and Pita Chips
Drain chickpeas. Place chickpeas in food processor, and process until you get a stiff paste. With machine running, add tahini paste, garlic, lemon juice, and salt (1 1/2 teaspoons). Slowly drizzle in ice water, and let process for 5 minutes until you get a smooth and creamy paste. If it is too thick, add more water as necessary. 

Transfer hummus to bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for 30 minutes. Refrigerate if not eating right away--will last up to 2 days in the fridge.

For pita chips: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut each pita into 8 slices. Toss pita slices with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, pepper, sumac, and thyme. Spread pita slices onto a baking sheet, and cook for 10 minutes, tossing at 5 minutes. 


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Back to Basics: Roasted Garlic

Roasted Garlic Recipe
I love garlic. Garlic bread, chicken with 40 cloves of garlic, pasta with sliced garlic, garlic green beans, garlic hummus--as long as it's on the savory side, I'm a fan of throwing a few garlic cloves into it. Z, on the other hand, claims to dislike garlic. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this will change at any given moment, because how could you NOT like garlic, but anyways, it means my food life is often garlic deprived.

Luckily, we had a few extra heads of garlic around the other day and lots of bread, which gave me the perfect excuse to create a batch of roasted garlic. Roasted garlic is more mellow and sweet than raw garlic, and it has this awesome creamy texture with caramelized edges. It's garlic for grown ups. 

Roasted garlic is my favorite as is on top of really good bread. It's a great low calorie alternative to butter! The options don't stop there though. Whisk it into a salad dressing, use it as a spread, throw it into mashed potatoes.--it'll give a flavor boost to anything you add it to.

Roasted Garlic Recipe
This is a nearly foolproof recipe, so there's no excuse for not making some roasted garlic this weekend. 

Roasted Garlic

1 head of garlic
Drizzle of olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop the top off of the garlic, so that the cloves are exposed. Try to remove a little bit of the white skin, while keeping the head of garlic intact. Lay a piece of foil on a baking sheet, and place the garlic on top. Drizzle the garlic head with olive oil, then wrap the head up in the foil. 

Roasted Garlic Recipe

Bake in the oven until cloves are caramel in color and tender, about 30 minutes. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Z's Birthday Brunch Menu

Hipster Avocado Birthday Toast
Z and I like hosting friends for parties, and birthdays are no exception. A few weeks ago, Z and I sat down to brainstorm menu ideas for his 26th birthday party, and Z decided on toast.

Toast Birthday Brunch Menu
Toast Birthday Brunch Menu

$4 toast is a trend here in San Francisco--bakeries are serving thick slices of their best bread, toasted and topped with toppings like cinnamon sugar, avocado, or Nutella. Z, like most normal human beings, likes all of those things, so he thought it would be a silly but delicious brunch idea.

hipster toast birthday brunch

We served five different types of toast, and then we had a mix-and-match station for our guests to make their own creations! We wanted a balance between savory and sweet toasts as well as dairy and dairy-free toppings. We served the following toppings: hummus and roasted tomato, avocado and flaky sea salt, Nutella and flaky sea salt, peanut butter with bananas and honey, and brie with honey butter.

Toast Birthday Brunch Menuhipster toast birthday brunch

A toast brunch menu is great because it is easy to put together, even easier to clean up, and really filling. I made the roasted tomatoes two days before, which means on the day of Z's birthday brunch, all I had to do was slice bread and apply the toppings. No real cooking required!

Toast Birthday Brunch Menu

The secret is to make sure the bread is slicked thick. It ensures people have a substantial meal even if they grab only two pieces of toast, and it also gives a more luxurious feel. The same goes for small touches, like honey butter and flaky sea salt. They add just a touch of sophistication that elevates the entire meal.

hipster toast birthday brunch

We also served mimosas and iced coffee mint mojitos since we're in the middle of Indian Summer here in San Francisco.

I hope this inspires you to serve toast as part of your next brunch menu!

Toast Birthday Brunch MenuToast Birthday Brunch Menu


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