Follow the culinary adventures and misadventures of the Cooking Agents (Ray and Katie). Watch as we eat/cook our way into adulthood.
It’s been a while since I graced this blog or coworkers’ bellies with yummy treats. I know I’ve said it before, but baking is so therapeutic. It’s precise, like culinary chemistry, and the payoff is usually something delectable.
This past week, my team had an intern whose last day was Friday. I told him he could pick his favorite flavor and I’d come up with a cupcake for him and the team. Strawberry shortcake he said — so strawberry it was!
In a large bowl, cream together butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. Beat in 1/3 cup of the strawberry puree and vanilla extract. Add the confectioner sugar one cup at a time beating until well combined. Frost the cupcakes and garnish with fresh strawberries.
The frosting is nothing short of amazing. It literally tasted like ice cream… and I would know! I licked the spoon the night I made it. Did I feel guilty? NO I DID NOT. Make these cupcakes, you will run right down to Boston to give me a big hug and kiss.
The dragon fruit originated in Middle Earth where man would cultivate the fruit of dragon trees in order to sacrifice them during the summer solstice in order to be spared by dragon attacks during mating season. Hence the name dragon fruit (elvish for don’t get munched on by a dragon).
Better Get Your Hands on Some… Come Dragon Season
It’s really ironic considering the dragon fruit looks more like it’s from another planet rather than looking like a reptile with wings that may or may not breathe fire. Inside the red skin, there is a cream/off white colored flesh with tons of little black seeds. It’s almost as bizarre as the kiwi (the fuzzy brown skin still makes me suspicious)!
Help! My Fruit is an Alian.
In order to get to the flesh, just cut the top and bottom of the fruit off with a knife and then make a slight slit down the peel so that it just touches the flesh. Carefully peel away the skin and you should be able to remove it all in one piece. Be careful to not drop the fruit as it will be slippery. Cut into slices or bite size pieces and enjoy.
Peel Away and Eat Up
This was my first time eating dragon fruit and although it wasn’t a home run, I would definitely eat this in the future. The fruit was mildly sweet and juicy. The little black seeds gave the fruit texture much like a kiwi. A few sites I checked out indicated that the fruit is pretty low on calories, which is a plus since I pretty much consumed the entire fruit for a late night snack.
When I finally grow a pair, the durian better watch out.
On Sunday, I went to the Sowa Open Market for the first time to check out the food trucks and farmers market. After arriving around 10:30am, I took a stroll to see what was available and created a shopping list in my head. Corn, tomatoes, peaches and plums came to mind, yet I also left with string beans, cherry tomatoes and blueberries. Typical. This wasn’t like haymarket where food goes bad in 24-48 hours. I still have them going strong in my fridge and have been enjoying them all week. I spent a total of $21 for 3 ears of corn, 3 tomatoes, 2 peaches, a pint of blueberries, plums, cherry tomatoes, and about a half pounds of string beans.
Best Produce of the Summer So Far.
Lush, Full Herbs… Ways to Inaccurately Describe My Herb Garden…
When Pigs Fly Bread.
For people not in the Boston area, food truck business has been booming and they’ve been popping up all over town as permits and license restrictions have become more lenient. However, having food trucks gathered at a single location is a huge draw and they are at Sowa every Sunday. For lunch, I got a lamb skewer from Silk Road BBQ (which is actually a food stand), but was left disappointed since it cost $8 and was essentially 5 large chunks of lamb and left me hungry. It tasted decent, but wasn’t worth the price and was regretting passing up the chance to try M&M Ribs. However, the guy was friendly and also offered me a sample of pulled pork.
BANANA! So come inside and let me make something delectable out of you. Ray and I were supposed to have a banana baked good throw down, but Ray decided to be lazy bones. Yes, I am calling you out Ray.
I’m not a huge fan of eating bananas. I’m pretty sure I’m mildly allergic to them — lips get numb when I eat them straight from the peel. However, covering them in lipids, sugar, and flour seems to solve that problem. I had cupcakes on the brain, so I figured why not fall back on a classic banana nut cupcake (e.g. a frosted muffin).
First thing’s first. You’ll need to have some tools:
Say hello to your new friends the apple and the brown paper bag!
The magical apple and the brown paper bag are legit going to be your best friends if you’re like me and have no patience. I don’t like waiting for my bananas to get mushy mushy ripe. And that’s where these guys come to play. Just throw your bunch of bananas (it would be wise to buy yellow ones vs. green ones to begin with, don’t be dumb) and just wait 24-48 hours vs. an entire week! Voila!!!!
Recipe adapted from Paula Deen, the Queen of saturated fat
3 cups AP flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 bananas mashed
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup of vegetable oil (yikes! I know that’s a lot of oil. I will discuss this immense amount of fat later)
3 beaten eggs
Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Mash the living daylights out of your bananas (see the visual above). I let them just settle for a minute so they have time to get nice and juicy. You want juicy because the amount of dry ingredients seem pretty overwhelming compared to the wet.
In the mean time, combine the 3 beaten eggs, the vanilla extract, and the 23957892345324 lbs of vegetable oil. Ok ok, so this is something I feel like you can get around. For instance, you can pull the healthy brownie approach and substitute half of this oil for some apple sauce. I don’t believe in being particularly healthy when it comes to desserts. I went for the oil 100% without even flinching. Plus, I didn’t want my cupcakes tasting anything close to apples.
Stir in the oil, egg, vanilla mixture just enough to get all of your dry ingredients wet. At this point, you’ll want to pour your bananas and any extras you may want like chocolate chips or nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, etc.). I used walnuts. Paula called for pecans, but it’s up to you and your taste buds.
Pour your batter into muffin cups, filling them about 3/4. I opted for mini cupcakes and got a full 75 mini cupcakes out of this recipe. Bake cupcakes for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Frost with a standard cream cheese frosting [2 8 oz. package of cream cheese creamed together with 2 stick of butter; add 1 lb. confectioners sugar (or less depending on how sweet you like your frosting), 1 tsp. vanilla extract]. In the past, I’ve added 1 tsp of cinnamon so that it would taste more like the cupcake. You could probably add some banana extract to the frosting as well, but I’m not a huge fan of extracts aside from the standard vanilla.
Serve and enjoy!