One of my New Year’s resolutions this year was to spend less time sorting through the overwhelming amount of recipes available online and to instead dedicate myself to preparing old favorites (and new favorites) from our vast cookbook collection. In keeping with this resolution, I spent the first few days of January curled up on our sofa with a pencil, a fresh pad of post-it notes and the very first cookbook I ever owned: Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook. The book, which was a gift I received from an old boyfriend’s mom when I was nineteen and moving into my very first apartment, has since become a foundation for my home cooking (although our business is meat-centric, I balance that out by cooking an overload of veggies and vegetarian dishes at home during the week). I’ve pretty much committed her recipe for classic lentil soup to memory (her tip to add a splash of red wine vinegar to each bowl right before serving is my most favorite thing) and no matter how many detoxes or cleanses I commit to this time of year, her orange cake, which is the most simple and fragrant cake with the most gorgeous, cornbread-like texture, always makes at least one appearance in our home before January ends.
While skimming through her cookbook last week, it occurred to me that I’ve never followed her recipe for banana bread, which recommends that you first soak your ripe bananas in room temperature coffee before you mash them into your batter. Genius. The bananas absorb the most subtle amount of the liquid, which ultimately lends the most delicate coffee flavor to the bread, a flavor that I only now realize has been completely missing from every other loaf of banana bread I’ve previously made.
It wasn’t until I prepared the second loaf of her recipe when I decided the only thing the bread was lacking was something with a slight crunch. While walnuts are the obvious choice, I’m really anti-nuts in cookies or breads (personal pet peeve), and opted for some lighted toasted quinoa instead, which added just the right amount of crunch to every bite, as well a delicate, nutty flavor that played nicely with the nuttiness of the coffee.
So that’s about where we are at the moment: a bit of a peaceful standstill, filled with casual baking projects and quiet nights binge watching TV (are you all watching Black Mirror on Netflix? We’re obsessed, in what is perhaps an unhealthy way) until we receive the keys to the new space. In the meantime, we’ve signed the final papers for our new Beer & Wine license (relatively easy, considering the absolute horror stories that circulate throughout the industry), reviewed and submitted our final lease contract, and finalized layout plans with our kitchen designer (a kitchen designer!?!? what a serious luxury, one we did not have when we opened our first shop, and one that makes us feel significantly more mature, established and accomplished than we actually are).
I’ll be back in a few days with pictures of the raw space, some pictures of our plans for how we plan to layout and design the new space, and some thoughts on creating a new sandwich menu and a new menu full of bar snacks (the first time we get to do so, and we are both so thrilled!). Until then…
Coffee + Banana + Crispy Quinoa Quick Bread
– 3-4 ripe, sliced bananas
– 1 cup room temperature coffee (decaf works fine)
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 1/4 cup cooked quinoa (any variety)***
– 1/3 cup melted butter
– 3/4 cup light brown sugar
– 1 egg
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– pinch of kosher salt
– 1 teaspoon cinnamon
– 1 1/2 cups flour
*** Cook 1/8 cup dry quinoa in 1/4 cup water in order to get a final product that is slightly undercooked.***
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously grease a 4×8 inch loaf pan and set aside. Add the bananas to a medium sized bowl and pour in the coffee, being sure the liquid covers the bananas. Set aside.
Meanwhile, warm the olive oil over high heat in a small skillet. When the oil is hot, add the cooked quinoa and saute for 2-3 minutes until the quinoa is dry and crispy (but not burnt). Remove from heat and set aside to cool completely.
In a large mixing bowl, mix the butter and brown sugar using a wooden spoon. Mix in the egg, vanilla, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and quinoa. When all ingredients are well incorporated, add the flour and mix well. Drain the bananas from the coffee and gently fold the bananas into the batter. Using your hands, squeeze the bananas into the batter until it becomes smooth and creamy. Pour the batter into the greased loaf pan.
Bake the bread for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the bread to cool in the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a drying rack to finish cooling.