I don’t know how chocolate turtles got their name or what — if anything — they have to do with the four-legged reptile with a shell, but I’ve been a fan since my first bite. That delicious combination of chocolate and caramel with a little salt thrown in for good measure is one of life’s little culinary wonders.
I decided to tackle making turtle brownies for our first official post on the new Table 1095 because one thing Rachel and I have noticed in the three years we’ve been blogging together: Our readers like desserts. (Oh, and so do we )
Janet here: I remember very little of my father’s grandmother, Nana, who died when I was in elementary school except this: she made outstanding date bread that I loved to eat smothered in cream cheese. Her recipe died with her and I’ve been on the lookout ever since for that exact date bread. This one is one I’ve come up with that is pretty darn close. Do you have a favorite date bread recipe? Share it up! In the meantime, find some cream cheese after you make this version.
Date Nut Bread
8 ounces chopped dates
1 1/2 cups boiling water
2 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cups chopped nuts–I used pecans and walnuts this time
Combine all the dry ingredients together. Then add the egg, sugar, butter, vanilla and dates. Stir. Add nuts.
Pour into baking pan. Bake at 350 for one hour.
Delicious with cream cheese….
Rachel here: Banana bread, I think, is what I make best. It’s certainly the only thing of any complexity that I have made over and over again without a single mishap and, if I do say so myself, the recipe I use is just perfection (it’s from “The Best Recipe” by Cook’s Illustrated and after I made it for the first time I wrote “perfect” next to the recipe, so…). I am so pleased with this banana bread, in fact, that I have overnighted it across the country to two of my nearest and dearest friends, Jessica (my bff since high school) and G (my brother who is closest to me in age). I’m pretty sure that Jessica and G will agree: this banana bread has straight-up healing powers, be it a broken heart or a head wound (I just realized that this could serve as incentive for people I know to feign ailments in the name of getting their own fresh-from-the-oven loaf from California…uh-oh). Anyway, I love making it and I’ve loved sending it to people I love when they’re down for the count (I should confess that I love my ma’s date bread, too…a certain somebody I co-habitate with doesn’t “do” dates, though, so I haven’t made it in years). Oh, and I love making it for myself, as well, including the challenge of trying not to consume the entire loaf before the sun has set. While it’s no aphrodisiac, clearly for me banana bread is a food of love…do you have one?
2 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 tspn. baking soda
1/2 tspn. salt
1 1/4 c. toasted walnuts, chopped coarse (I use closer to 1 1/2 c. because I love nuts)
3 very ripe, speckled bananas, mashed well (approximately 1 1/2 c.)
1/4 c. plain yogurt
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
6 T. butter, melted and cooled
1 tspn. vanilla extract
With rack on lower-middle position, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. If you’re using a non-stick loaf pan, grease and flour the bottom and side. If you’re using a regular loaf pan, grease and flour only the bottom. Combine dry ingredients (flour through walnuts) in a large bowl, whisk, and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the wet ingredients (bananas through vanilla) using a wooden spoon or spatula. Fold the wet ingredients into the dries using a rubber spatula until just combined. Batter should be thick and very lumpy. Pour batter into loaf pan and place pan in oven. Cook until a toothpick comes out of the center clean, approximately 55 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes before removing to finish cooling on a wire rack. Enjoy!
Rachel here: My mom suggested making scones for this post (stay tuned for a future post featuring these), but I desperately wanted to make granola and so here we are. I’ve been eating it on-and-off for breakfast for years and, for about the last month, combined with some plain yogurt and fresh fruit, it’s been my breakfast of choice. Anyway, there’s really not much to say about it except that it is significantly better when homemade. And speaking of homemade, though the specific recipe posted below is my own concoction, it is very closely related to the granola I learned to make while working at the Homemade Cafe (they don’t have a website, but if you ever find yourself in the Bay Area make your way over to 2454 Sacramento Street in Berkeley for a breakfast that most certainly won’t disappoint…if you’re lucky, John will be cooking). Enjoy!
4 c. rolled oats
1/4 tspn. salt
1/4 tspn. cinnamon
1/4 tspn. all spice
1/8 tspn. cloves
1 c. walnuts (broken)
1/2 c. almonds
1/2 c. pumpkin seeds
1/2 c. whole ground flax seed meal
3/4 c. honey
1/4 c. canola oil
Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Heat honey and oil on the stove until combined and pourable. Pour over bowl of dry ingredients and combine well (this will get stuck in your rings, so definitely take them off if you care about them at all). Spread evenly over a cookie sheet (I put my silpat down first, which makes cleaning up a non-issue). Place in oven, removing and stirring to redistribute granola every 10 to 15 minutes. If granola starts to brown before it is dry, leave oven door ajar. Remove granola once dry feeling (it won’t feel completely dry, but will finish this process as it cools). Let cool. Add dried cranberries (or any other fruit you like) to taste. Personally, I like a lot so I threw in several generous handfuls. Place in an airtight container. Yum!
Janet here: I have basically been eating granola just about every day for, oh, decades. I mix it with yogurt and I am ready to start the day. I had never made granola, however, until today. I just assumed it was very complicated — all those ingredients! — and figured it was just something hippy dippy people did. I was a little nervous about making this, too. Again, I just thought it was going to be complicated and a flop.
I was wrong.
Simply put, I may never eat store-bought granola again. This homemade version is so superior it’s like I don’t even know what I was eating all those years. I created this recipe after trolling around on the web. It’s a conglomeration of things I read on Chowhound under Best Homemade Granola and my go-to cooking goddess, The Barefoot Contessa.
4 cups rolled oats
1 1/2-2 cups nuts (I used sliced almonds, pecans and walnuts)
about 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
a large handful or so of sunflower seeds
1/4 cup canola oil
about 1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup or so of dried fruit (( used blueberries, but I could see adding cherries, apricots, bananas, etc.)
Heat oven to 300 degrees. Toss all the ingredients into a large bowl except the fruit. Heat the oil and honey in a pot and whisk together. Take it off the heat; add the vanilla, and then pour the liquid into the bowl and stir everything together. Place in two large roasting pans on one layer. Cook for about 40 minutes until golden brown, turning every 10 minutes or so. (I set the timer so I wouldn’t burn it.)
After you take it out of the oven, mix in the dried fruit. Let cool. It will crisp up as it cools. Store in an airtight container. Delicious!