Banana Pudding Bundt Style Dessert

Banana Pudding Bundt Style

For something fun, tasty and fruity, try this recipe that boasts a delicious banana flavor. It’s relatively simple to make and makes a great family dessert or your contribution to a pot luck dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of yellow cake mix
  • 1 package of instant banana pudding mix, 85g (3 oz)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 250ml (8.5 fl oz) of water
  • 60ml (.9 oz) of vegetable oil
  • 200g (7 oz) of mashed banana
  • 500g (17.5 oz) of powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoon of milk
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 120g (4.2 oz) finely chopped walnuts (Optional)

Kuglof od jogurta i naranče - Mirisna teka

Procedure:

  1. Preheat your oven to 175 degrees C.
  2. Prepare a bundt pan by greasing and flouring it.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding mix, water, banana, eggs, and vegetable oil.
  4. Use an electric mixer and mix for 2 minutes. Pour into the bundt pan. Bake 50 – 55 minutes or until the cake tests as done.
  5. Remove cake from the oven and cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack. Then remove the cake from the pan and let it keep cooling on the rack.

Glaze:

  1. Combine the milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar in a medium size bowl.
  2. Beat together until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Drip the glaze over a cooled cake.
  4. If you have decided to use the chopped walnuts, now is the time to sprinkle them over the cake.

Healthy French Food Recipes

 I am very excited, and honored, to be doing this guest post for Karen. Her work and crusade are so worthwhile. I am a French mom living in LA, raising a 19 months old son, and writing my FrenchFoodieBaby blog about our journey in educating his taste buds and making him a gourmet and healthy eater, the French way. And I’m here to debunk some of the myths and mystique behind French family cuisine, and try to show families that the French approach is much simpler than it seems.

The French way of eating, and their approach to educating children’s taste buds, has definite benefits (including the fact that kids actually enjoy eating vegetables, and have lower rates of obesity). So the next logical step would be for more people to implement and adapt those methods for their family. And a lot of families have indeed been inspired by it, as demonstrated by the great deal of interest in Karen’s book and work in general. But I have found in my interactions with a lot of moms and families mostly in the US, that there’s this ingrained belief that French food is fancy. I say “French-style cuisine” and a lot of people visualize intricate sophisticated dishes, hours laboring by the stove, expensive ingredients… all of which would make it quite impractical to most families, and wasted on young children. (Note that I talk about “French-style” cuisine or “French way of eating”, because I’m not so much talking about what the French eat and French cuisine per se, but how the French eat, the way they approach food and nutrition. You can adopt that approach with any type of international cuisine, and in fact, a lot of French families cook from a variety of cuisines from around the world.)

I started becoming more aware of those preconceptions about French cuisine when I started my son on solids when he was about 5 months old. I was following a Mommy & Me class which happened to be around lunch time, and started bringing my homemade baby purees to class. Soon came the era of finger foods, around eight months, and I started bringing a mini-version of a “4 course meal” for Pablo in class, basically a finger food as appetizer (hearts of palm, green beans, cauliflower, etc.), a homemade protein & vegetable puree, a kind of cheese, and a bit of fruit compote or yogurt for dessert. There I was, thinking I was doing nothing out of the ordinary. And one day, another mom commented on the “gourmet meals” I was making Pablo, and that he was the “best fed baby in LA.”

This same perspective a lot of North Americans have of French cuisine, shows up again when you start telling them what French kids are served for lunch in school. When I first told my husband we were served a sit-down hot four-course lunch, he just couldn’t believe it, rethinking with some nausea about the sloppy Joes, pizzas, stale spaghetti and overcooked burgers he ate in school.

Karen’s brilliant idea to post the menus from French school lunches on her blog, really shows some concrete examples of what goes on every day in French schools, and by extension, what they eat at home too.

I am often asked by busy moms browsing through Pablo’s menus, “How can you do these fancy meals for Pablo every night?” Well, I hate to kill the bubble and gourmet aura around French family cuisine, but I’m here to tell you that it’s just not that fancy. Well… it is, and it isn’t.

If by fancy, you mean that it tastes really good, then yes it’s the idea. If by fancy, you mean some thought and finesse has been put into the dishes that compose a meal, then absolutely. If by fancy, you mean that care was put into presentation and preparation, definitely. That approach is the cornerstone of the French view of food as a pleasurable, worthwhile, sharing experience.

However…

If by “fancy”, you mean I slaved by the stove all day to prepare them, well, that’s…

Myth #1 – French style meals take hours to prepare.

Most French moms work, and are definitely back at work by the time they start their babies on solids, so they can’t spend the whole day by the stove. I found that most family dishes we cook on a weekly basis require 20-25 minutes of preparation with some additional cooking time, during which other stuff can get done.

As Karen has mentioned, studies show that the French do spend on average 13 more minutes cooking per day than Americans, cooking on average for a total of 43 minutes per day. Feeding a family a fairly balanced diet with a wide variety foods, vegetables in particular, doesn’t require a lot more time, but it does require a bit of thinking and effort. I think the French think of “the education of taste” as an important parenting and family priority. They find a way to devote it a little bit of time and effort, because eating well as a family is of value to them, the same way they would devote time to homework, or getting their kids to practice the piano.  

Tip: It is mostly a matter of being a bit organized, by making a meal plan, having some cooked veggies or soup made ahead for the week, and planning on a balance of simple preparations (smoked salmon or canned sardines or a slice of ham, or pan-fried meat or fish, or crock pot recipes) to help keep busy nights stress-free. (If cooking is stress provoking, kids will pick up on it, and it will definitely put a dent on that food/pleasure association in their mind). It is also a matter of accepting to take a little extra time to do it. Trying to think of cooking not as a chore, but as an opportunity to slow down, be in the moment, and do something really good for our family.

If by fancy, you mean that French-style cooking uses hard to find, obscure ingredients for intricate dishes, that’s…

Myth #2 – French style meals are very complex and sophisticated

To the contrary, I would argue a lot of French family dishes shine by their simplicity, from chocolate mousse, with only a few ingredients, to mixed vegetable salads simply tossed together. Most French family recipes are not any more complicated (often less) than making chocolate chip cookies, muffins or pancakes.

One French secret is the way they name their dishes. It always sounds sophisticated. As Karen reported recently, Cornell researcher Brian Wiansick found that using attractive names for foods do make them more appealing. And to children especially. And if you peruse the French school lunch menus, you will see many “fancy” names for very simple dishes. For example, saying “Jardinière de légumes” sounds better than “mixed vegetables”, it gives the image of a garden where the vegetables grew. The French, known to take food very seriously, wouldn’t give foods silly names to get kids to eat them (not on the official school menu anyway), but even the restaurant-like names on those menus might just make the kids feel like they’re important enough to be served “fancy” dishes.

And the dishes also often look sophisticated, as care is definitely given to presentation, for children included. The French really consider that the aesthetics of food is key to children’s education of taste and appreciation of cuisine. All five senses are involved in the pleasure of eating.

Tip: I pick a lot of fairly simple recipes that make their ingredients shine. For that, it is important to choose good quality ingredients and fresh produce as much as possible.

Another secret is the use of herbs and certain condiments to add some subtle flavor to dishes. My mother can’t cook without thyme and bay leaves. Tarragon, parsley, basil for salads. These simple herbs are the “je-ne-sais-quoi” of French cooking.

If by fancy, you mean that it costs an arm and a leg, that’s…

Myth #3 – French meals are expensive

I guess that this is relative to every family’s budget, and certainly the price of food has gone up everywhere. But in our family, using seasonal produce, cooking with fresh (or frozen) foods and planning our menu has eliminated a lot of waste and saved us a lot of money. We’re not talking

truffle and lobster here, but peas, carrots and chicken.

Tip: Finding ways to cook with what we’ve got left in the fridge can lead to very creative recipes and fun meals. Also the advantage of cooking on a regular basis, is great money-saving leftovers. I’m pretty thrilled on an exhausted evening, to find we have leftover watercress soup, mustard pork tenderloin and sauteed apples and onions in the fridge…

In an attempt to illustrate my points here, I picked a lunch menu served last October in a French school in St Manvieu Norrey, Normandy, sharing the recipes with you here. It sounds really nice, but is actually very simple to make, with inexpensive ingredients, taking a reasonable amount of time to prepare (with the possibility of making some of it ahead.) And last but not least, it is really delicious, and offers a wide variety of vegetables in one meal. So why not try it?

Appetizer: Tomato mozzarella salad (not much of a recipe, just slice, drizzle with olive oil, add herbs and serve!)

Main course: Chicken cutlets with “sauce chasseur” (hunter’s sauce, cool name), with jardinière de légumes (this is a fancy name for gently sautéed vegetables)

Fromage blanc (rough equivalent here would be Greek yogurt)

Dessert: Wafer cookie (store bought)

(For a home meal, I would forgo the cookie, give a piece of cheese, and the Greek yogurt as dessert, sprinkled with a bit of sugar or a few berries.)

Chicken fillets with sauce “chasseur”

Serves 4

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time – 15 + 10 minutes

Age for babies: 10-12 months in small quantity, to give a taste of the sauce. The mushrooms make a good finger food.

Note that you can use this sauce with any poultry. You could also serve it with a cut up chicken, or a whole roasted chicken.

4 pieces of skinless chicken (either breast or thigh)

1 lb mushrooms, washed and sliced

6 tbsp of butter

4 shallots, peeled and minced

2 heaping tbsp flour

1/2 cup white wine (or white grape juice, or juice from canned mushrooms, if you want to go alcohol-free)

1/4 cup chicken broth

1 tbsp of tomato concentrate

1 bouquet garni (in a piece of hollow celery rib, put some thyme, parsley, sage, 1 or 2 bay leaves, cover with another piece of celery rib and tie with kitchen tie.)

Salt & pepper

5-6 sprigs of fresh chervil (if you can find it, I’ve had a hard time finding it in LA), stem removed, minced

5-6 sprigs of fresh tarragon, stem removed, minced

Cut the chicken in strips and set aside.

For the sauce:

In a saucepan, melt the butter and sauté the mushrooms. Add in the shallots, and cook for a few minutes.

Sprinkle flour, stir and let it get a bit of color.

Stir in the wine and broth. Add the tomato concentrate, bouquet garni, salt & pepper.

Stir and bring to a boil. Cover and let simmer over medium low for about 15 minutes.

At this point, you can keep warm, covered, on very low heat, while you cook the chicken.

In a frying pan, heat some olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the chicken strips until cooked. Salt & pepper to taste.

Before serving the sauce, remove the bouquet garni, and incorporate the minced chervil and tarragon.

Pour sauce over the meat and serve immediately!

Jardinière de légumes (Mixed vegetables)

Serves 4

Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 35-40 minutes

Age for babies: 8-10 months, the veggie pieces make great finger foods.

I use two magical ingredients here, which make the vegetables taste delicious and slightly sweet: the sprinkle of sugar, and the coconut oil (which is so good for you too). Kids usually love it.
You can add more vegetables or omit some, adjust quantities to your liking. This tastes really great reheated, so you can make a big batch, refrigerate and eat the next couple of days.

7-8 carrots, peeled, diced
7-8 mini turnips, peeled (or 1 or 2 medium, peeled and quartered)
15 small potatoes, peeled (fingerling type, or medium red potatoes, peeled and quartered)
2 handfuls of fresh green beans (or frozen)
2 handfuls of shelled fresh peas (or frozen)
6 pearl onions, peeled but left whole
2 garlic cloves, peeled but whole (optional)
Fresh thyme (leaves from 3 sprigs)
Bay leaf
Coconut oil
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp sugar
Salt & pepper

In a large pot, melt the butter & coconut oil over medium heat. Sprinkle with the sugar, stir a bit, and wait until the sugar has melted.

Then add carrots, turnips, potatoes, pearl onions, garlic, thyme and green beans. Add salt and pepper, stir and cook for about five minutes over medium heat, stirring once in a while.

Add 1/4 cup of water, and cook on low, letting the water evaporate, stirring from time to time, about 20 minutes.

Add another 1/4 cup of water and the peas, and let cook until the water is almost evaporated and vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. (There should be a little “sauce” in the bottom, a treat to soak it up with good bread!)

Bon appétit! And I’d love to hear your thoughts, if you do try these recipes and this multi-course meal!

An attempt to Chinese style bok choy

OK, so I am Italian and I don’t really know how to cook anything but Italian food. That doesn’t mean I am not at least trying and experimenting with various types of food. Now some food is easier for me because I know the ingredients rather well (Spanish, American, German and to some extent even the different South american dishes). After all the basic ingredients are pretty much the same as the ones in Italian cuisine, but when it comes to Asian food… well there I am lost in the spices, the different types of noodle, the sauces, the different oils and vinegars. Anyway, I try. After all, practice makes perfect, doesn’t it?

An attempt to Chinese style bok choy

Ingredients

  • bok choy or other leafy vegetables
  • chili flakes
  • soy sauce
  • oyster sauce

Directions

  1. First I cut the bok choy and washed it to get rid of the dirt. Then I put my wok on the stove and when it was very hot I added some vegetable oil, when the oil was very hot I added quite a bit of chili flakes ( I though I might have exaggerated because inhaling the steam caused my eyes to tear, but turns out I was about right). Then added a teaspoon of oyster sauce and some soy sauce and finally added in the bok choy. I let the whole thing cook down until the bok choy where nice and tender and served it with a tilapia I had previously steamed over the wok and dressed in hot oil, ginger and soy.
  2. The bok choy turned out pretty good, spicy but not too much, tender and in general really nice. I am not sure that is the kosher way of cooking it, but I was really happy with the result. Now if anyone has suggestions for me I am happy to hear them. I would be happy to cook something that would not be frowned upon by purists of Chinese cuisine!

Rigatoni butcher style

BF and I were wondering around the global market, a market where several vendors from all over the world sell their goods and cook up pretty great food. We happened to walk in front of the meat case of the halal butcher and saw some pretty good looking meat. I was immediately attracted to oxtail and I decide to give a try to the recipe for coda alla vaccinara (oxtail butcher style) found on Memorie di Angelina, an awesome website for Italian cooking.

Of course I did not follow the recipe to the dot, because I never do, but I think I did a pretty good job!

Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 lbs oxtail
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 6 celery stalks
  • onion
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • bay leaves
  • cloves
  • salt
  • short pasta

Directions

  1. I didn’t have much time, by which I mean I only had between 2 and 3 hours, so I decided to use a pressure cooker. First I sauteed onion, a couple of stalks of celery and a bit of diced pancetta (I had no carrots) with a bit of cloves and a couple of bay leaves. I added a bit of salt and a bit of water to help the vegetables softening up without burning. I then added in the oxtail pieces and seared them on all sides. I added a splash of red wine and when it evaporated I also added a can of tomato sauce and about a cup of beef broth. I then closed the pressure cooker and let the whole thing stew for about 1 and 1/2 hours and then opened the pressure cooker by letting the steam out first. At this point the meat was quite tender and the sauce was quite thick. I spooned out the fat, which is the clear liquid on top of the sauce and meat (about 3 ladles), then I took out the meat and took the meat off the bone. I put the meat back in the pan and added 3 or 4 stalk of chopped celery. At this point I started preparing pasta. I used rigatoni, which are quite typical to use with this kind of sauce.I kept cooking the sauce until pasta was ready and then dressed pasta with the meat sauce.
  2. I dressed the pasta with the sauce and served it up with a glass of red wine.
  3. I decided this is my preferred March recipe, so I am sharing it on YBR for this month

Sopressata – Italian style head cheese

Last week I went for a cooking class in which we butchered a pig. I’ll admit, it was a bit graphic, but I am a firm believer in knowing how that pork chop or that slice of bacon got on your plate. It is a bit about knowledge and a bit about respect and realizing that if you are only eating chops and loin there is a good 3/4 of the pig that goes to waste. And that should never happen.

In the spirit of using all parts of the pig, I entered the draw for the pig head (well half a pig head. And I won it! I was also given some pork belly, a pork cheek and pork chops. So today I’ll present you the recipe of sopressata (Italian style head cheese) and next Sunday I will give you cooked pork belly. Both are to be cooked, refrigerated and then thinly sliced using a meat slicer if at all possible. and would be great on a charcuterie plate.

Sopressata

Ingredients

  • 1/2 a pork head
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 handful of black pepper
  • 2 handful of salt
  • 2 cloves
  • nutmeg
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/3 cup red wine

Directions

  1. Place the head in a large pot and cover it with water. Add the bay leaves, half the pepper, half the salt 2 cloves and a pinch of nutmeg. Turn on the heat and let it simmer for 3 to 4 hours.
  2. During the last hour of cooking, place the smashed garlic to macerate in the wine with a pinch of nutmeg.
  3. When the meat is very tender, fish the head out of the water and take it apart. Get all the meaty bits in bowl, and add as much of the fat as you like. I kept mine very lean, but a bit more fat would have not been bad.
  4. Mix the meat with the rest of the salt, the pepper and the wine in which you macerated the garlic (not the garlic). Press the meat into a cheese cloth and hang over a bowl so that it looses liquids.
  5. After 24 hours wrap in plastic and place in the fridge.
  6. When you want to eat it, slice it thinly.