“Breakfast for Dessert” Sundae

It’s breakfast for dessert (sort of); it’s golden, caramelized bananas; it’s crunchy-sweet-salty nuggets of yum.  That’s what happens when your sweet tooth kicks in and you have a bag of honey-caramel krispies staring back at you. Most of the krispies made it to an ice cream social at 18 Reasons as a BYOT (bring your own topping ), but we strategically made sure to keep some “leftovers” around. And what didn’t end up being eaten in sneaky handfuls by every member of my family, ended up on these totally accidental, breakfast-inspired sundaes.  As for the bananas… my family lives by the rule that “everything is better with caramelized bananas”. I think we’ll put that one on a t-shirt!

In case you have any shred of doubt left, Luca’s happy face will tell you everything you need to know. Make this sundae!!

Honey-Caramel Rice Krispies

These will keep for a week in a tightly sealed container. In a pinch, I think you just might be able to get away with plain old rice krispies  right out of the box in place of these fancy honey-caramel ones. Or you could break up up some rice krispy treats next time you have some at hand. 

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 TBL unsalted butter
  • 3 TBL honey
  • big pinch of salt.
  • 1 3/4 rice krispies
  1. In a pan, combine sugar, butter, honey and salt. Give it a stir and then turn on the heat to medium. The trick from here is to not give into the temptation to stir the caramel as it’s melting. You can swirl the pan, but don’t stir with a spoon or your caramel can sieze up and crystallize. Don’t stir!
  2. You’ll see the butter and sugar melt and then start to turn golden and eventually amber. It takes some time (~20 minutes) so be patient.
  3. When you’ve achieved a beautiful caramel color, immediately remove from heat and drizzle the caramel over the rice krispies. Toss well with a spoon (use caution, it will be very hot so this is not a good project for kids). Spread the caramel on the krispies on a lightly greased cookie sheet (or on top of a silicone baking mat). When cool break apart.

Caramelized Bananas

  • Slice peeled bananas into quarters. Sprinkle the cut sides lightly with sugar.
  • Lightly butter a skillet and add the sugared bananas, cut side down. On medium-high heat, cook the bananas to warm them and caramelize the bottoms This should take about 5 minutes. And there’s no need to flip the bananas at all, just cook on the cut side.
  • The sugar can go from a lovely caramel to burned rather quickly, so check often by gently lifting a corner of a banana to see how they are coming along. They are perfect when their undersides turn a deep golden brown.

Clearly Luca is not the only ice cream fiend around here. Check out some of our other favorite ice cream delights:

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A Snack for Your Next Epic Adventure: Hero Milk (aka Banana-Cashew Smoothie)

Fresh out of monkey skulls, the islanders sip their hero milk from the shell of a rare species of coconut which has been dried for exactly 17 days. The elusive gold-finned pyramid fish lurks out in the distance.

Did you ever find yourself canoeing rough seas amongst a horde of hungry sharks in search of gold-finned pyramidfish? Then you’ll certainly need this recipe for “Hero Milk”. Sometimes it’s the backstory that makes the dish, but in this case it’s also a healthy and super delicious snack — even for days when you’re not climbing a volcano. [Find the whole story by Eric Wolfinger & Mac Barnett on the blog, “The Daily Monster“.]

By the way…. experts say “one skull-full fuels three days of heavy paddling”. Good to know.

Hero Milk

Blend the following:

  • 1 Frozen Banana (if you don’t have time to fell a banana tree and drag it up the snowy peak of a volcano, your freezer will do)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 Spoon Flaked Coconut
  • 2 Pitted Dates
  • 1 Spoon Honey
  • A Handful of Salted Cashews
  • A Thimbleful of Vanilla Extract

Islanders bring bananas up the snowy peaks of the volcano using funicular carts. Down below, they guard their lava rock mortar and pestle.

Quince: Where Have You Been All My Life?

I’m not sure why we have missed out on quince all these years. I had a vague notion that they they were like a pithier apple — something that needed to be preserved or cooked for long periods of time. Something about quince seemed old-fashioned and fussy and therefore not on my radar. Funny thing is, we almost always buy boughs of quince blossoms this time of year to decorate our home for the Lunar New Year, but so far we have totally ignored the actual fruit.

So the other day were doing a little produce shopping and Luca saw a great pile of sunny, yellow quince and asked “what’s that, mom?”. I mistook them for papaya at first, but then soon realized these were the elusive quince. I’m not sure I had a notion of what they looked like, and so was surprised at both their color and shape. We took a smell and I was completely taken by how beautiful the aroma is. You could/should make perfume from the stuff. It’s heavenly. We snapped some up and then scoured our cookbooks to find a recipe.

Deborah Madison to the rescue! Simran, Ria and I attended a fabulous potluck last year with Deborah, hosted by 18 Reasons and Onmivore Books (a book tour stop to support her new “Seasonal Fruit Desserts” cookbook). I was lucky enough to sit next to Deborah that night – and nervous that she would be tasting my rendition of her chard and saffron tart! Both Simran and I of course immediately added this dessert book to our respective collections. It’s a great one for anyone who wants to showcase fruit throughout the year and for anyone living with sweet-tooths like my son. The recipes range from simple to elaborate. She gives ideas for fruit and cheese pairings, fruit-based sauces, and condiments as well as cakes, tarts and other deliciousness. The book includes two wonderful quince recipes including “nearly candied quince” that you roast and enjoy on it’s own or in concert with your favorite apples and pear desserts.

I opted for her braised quince with honey, cinnamon and wine. The Atlantic published the recipe, and you can find it here (but do yourself a favor and check out the book, too).  The recipe is ridiculously simple and utterly delicious — so simple that you can make this on even the busiest of nights when you want a little something special to end your meal. Case in point: I was able to pull this one off on a hectic Monday night amidst the distractions of a 2-week old infant and preschooler (while cooking dinner)! You don’t even need to peel or core the quince, just wash and slice the fruit and chuck it in a baking dish with the other ingredients and throw at all in the oven. Even though the fruit is braised with wine, it will appeal to young dessert fans too — anyone who likes the middle of an apple pie.

I’m a believer now. Quince rules!

Honey Walnut Cake

Honey and walnuts are a classic combination.  Whenever there is no dessert in the house and we want some, we mix some walnuts with honey with the slightest pinch of cardamom powder.  This cake worked well with fresh churned vanilla buttermilk ice-cream (replace fruits with 1 tbsp vanilla extract).  I bought some fancy wildflower honey (pricey!) and now Ria wants this particular honey in her oatmeal every morning.  Somehow she figured out that this is the good stuff and knew exactly where I put it in the pantry.   Hmmmmmm….somebody’s paying attention.

Honey Walnut Cake – from The Vineyard Kitchen by Maria Helm Sinskey

Serves 8-10

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups walnut pieces

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

12 tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks) at room temperature

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup sugar

3 large eggs

1 tsp grated orange zest

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

10 nice walnut halves with 2 tbsp honey for garnish

Softly whipped cream (optional) – we served with vanilla buttermilk ice-cream

Method

  1. Preheat over to 350F
  2. Butter a 9-inch cake pan
  3. Spread the walnuts on a sheet pan and toast in oven for 6 minutes.  Cool and rub walnuts in a towel to remove loose skins
  4. Grind the walnuts in a food processor with 1/2 cup of flour until very fine.  In a medium bowl, combine the ground walnuts, remaining flour, baking powder, and salt.  Reserve
  5. In a standing mixer with a paddle attachment or with an electric hand mixer, beat the butter with the honey and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Scrape down sides of the bowl
  6. In a small bowl, beat the eggs lightly with the orange zest and vanilla.  Add it in thirds to the butter mixture.  Beat well to incorporate after each addition.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the dry ingredients and mix till fully incorporated
  7. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared cake pan.  Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean
  8. While the cake is baking, toast the ten walnut halves on a sheet pan for 8 minutes.  While they are still warm rub the walnuts with a towel to remove the excess skin and place them in a small bowl.  Add the 2 tbsps of honey and stir until the walnuts are coated.  Reserve the walnut halves for garnish
  9. Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes and then turn it out onto a cake rack to cool.  Garnish the edge of the cake with the walnut halves
  10. Serve with softly whipped cream or vanilla buttermilk ice-cream (like we did 🙂 )

Guest Post: Spice up your Meals for Good Health

We have been adding little amounts of various spices to Ria’s food right off the bat from when she was eight months old or so, to get her palate used to them.  I never thought about it but spices aside from adding flavor have several health benefits.  People tend to think of spices mostly as “chili hot” and shy away from them.  Chili is just one of the spices and you can leave it out entirely and still end up with “spicy” food.  The post below is from my friend Anji and talks about the health benefits of honey and some commonly used spices in Indian cooking.

by Anji Desai

I recently caught up with Simran while on a walk at Crissy Field on one of these gorgeous San Francisco Saturday mornings.  We discussed her blog and all of her yummy recipes.  I mentioned to her that she should do an entry on spices.  Last year I completed a one year course in Ayurveda at Vedika Global in Berkeley and I learned about how spices make your food tasty. Beyond the taste aspect though, I also learned about how they are vital in maintaining health, and when one does get sick, how they help speed your recovery.  By the end of our walk, Simran convinced me to do a guest post on spices.  I’m going to highlight some spices that really should be in everyone’s spice cabinet.

I think turmeric is one of the most important spices that exist.  It is a natural antibiotic and great for cuts and infections, for coughs, for allergies, for diabetics, and I’m sure some stuff I have left out too.  So anytime my kids are sick, I increase the amount of turmeric I use in my cooking or even add it to their milk with a spoonful of sugar.  There have been preliminary studies that show that people who use turmeric have a lower chance of getting Alzheimer’s and Breast Cancer.  You can easily add turmeric to your cooking, as it doesn’t even have much of a taste.  I often add it to rice to give the meal a bit of color.  I also add it to most of my vegetable dishes, lentils and meats.

Cumin is extremely good to add for digestive reasons.  If you have any type of digestive problems or a lot of gas, I’d recommend adding cumin to your cooking.  You can use cumin powder or the full cumin seeds.  Even if you don’t have digestive problems, to help you better digest heavier foods I’d recommend adding cumin to your diet.  After I had both of my children, my mom came and stayed with me and she put cumin in everything to help me recover from child birth.  I am lucky to say that because of her cooking and her use of spices, I healed quickly with both of my children and the weight was off within 6 weeks of delivery. I often heat a bit of oil and add whole cumin seeds and let it pop before I add a vegetable to it.  You can add any vegetable to it and it will taste good.  Some of my favorites are corn or potatoes.  If I am using cumin powder then I add it to most of my dishes, including lentils, vegetables, rice, and meats.

Black Pepper is also another great spice for helping with digestion, building immunity, and acts as an antibacterial.  So the next time a waiter comes by and asks if you would like to add some cracked pepper to your dish or your salad – say yes!! You can add cracked pepper to almost any dish, so the next time you are sautéing some vegetables add black pepper, turmeric and some cumin seeds.  It will add extra flavor and improve your health.

Honey
: Although honey is not a spice, it is a wonderful addition to your diet for many reasons.  I am talking about raw, unprocessed, uncooked and preferably local honey.  The kind in the cute bear bottle does not count.  The raw and unprocessed honey is the type that has all of the benefits.  Honey is great for building immunity or even adding to your diet if you have a cold or allergies.  It has “heating” properties and so it helps break up mucus and improve your immunity overall.  This is a regular part of our diet in my family.  I have two kids and they are constantly exposed to germs, so I make them take a spoonful of honey in the morning or they add it to their oatmeal.  Honey also tastes great with bananas as a snack.  According to Ayurveda it is great for losing weight.  Yes, I did say losing weight.  Honey has a scraping quality and it is a heating food so it helps increase your metabolism.  So the next time you are craving something sweet or something you shouldn’t be eating, take a spoonful of honey instead.

Hopefully, you found this helpful and the next time you’re in a rush to make dinner and you don’t have enough time to pull up a new recipe just throw some spices on your existing recipes and spice it up!