Several years ago, my mother gave my brother and I one of my most cherished gifts.
She started with an empty cookbook. Then she began to fill it. Every week for a year, she wrote out one of our favorite family recipes on a card and sent it to us in the mail.
There were also rules. If I requested a specific recipe (like her world-famous Judge's Cranberry Salad), then my little bro automatically received it too. His request for a beef stroganoff recipe was one of the sadder side effects of this rule:)
Here are a couple of my favorites.
It gives me such joy to see my mother's handwriting, my grandmothers' names and family friends listed in that cookbook. Dad is in there too. He got so excited about recipe suggestions he made a few of his own cards.
I know as time marches on, it will only mean more to us to have these memories.
A few of my mom's killer recipes are various breads. Her Lemon Bread, Cranberry Nut Bread and Banana Bread are phenomenal. She gives full credit to the original sources on her recipe cards, but I know how much she tweaks things over time. So I consider these hers.
I actually give the Cranberry Nut Bread (recipe below) out as a gift during the holidays. Gift worthy recipes really are proof of something awesome.
Marbled Banana Bread
So you can see why it's taken me a while to try a new 'bread' recipe. I have some high standards. But this marbled banana bread from Food Network seemed like a good place to start.
Nonstick cooking spray
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting the pan
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 medium very ripe bananas
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly mist a metal loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and dust well with all-purpose flour to cover the pan completely, tapping out the excess.
Put the chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high in 30 second intervals, stirring, until melted and smooth, 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds. Set aside to cool slightly while preparing the batter.
Combine the bananas and sugar in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher or fork until mostly smooth with just a few small pieces of banana left.
Add the oil and eggs and stir until combined. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, mix in both flours, the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in the buttermilk and vanilla.
Stir 1 cup batter into the melted chocolate.
Fill the loaf pan with half the banana batter and then half the chocolate batter. Repeat the layers.
Gently swirl together using a spoon or knife.
Bake until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
Cool in the pan 15 minutes, and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Serve warm or at room temperature.
This was good. I liked the beautiful marbled asthetic and the taste had a nice mix of subtle banana and chocolate.
Was it amazing? No. But really nice. And it's a good change up for your regular banana bread rotation.
Next time I'd go dark chocolate for some intense flavor in the marbling. I'll also probably add a third banana to punch it up a bit.
Bonus Recipe: Mamma Jo's Cranberry Nut Bread
I almost can't believe I'm giving this away. But it's too good not to share!
This has been adapted from the 1963 edition of the Good Housekeeping Cookbook.
Makes one loaf
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
3 tablespoons white vinegar plus enough water to make 2/3 cup
1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Blend together dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, beat egg. Stir in orange juice, rind, vinegar-water mixture and melted butter.
Add liquid mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir until flour is moistened. Add cranberries and nuts. Turn into a greased loaf pan.
Bake for one hour. Cool in pan 10 minutes and then remove to a rack. Cool at least an hour before slicing.
Wrap in foil for keeping. Bread also freezes very well.
Cook's note: Don't waste your time making just one. Commit to making two and freeze the second. Or give it to your co-workers and they'll love you forever:)