Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A (Delicious) Cop-out

Sometimes you're just not in the mood to cook. That's what frozen pizza is for.

To be honest, I haven't been spending much time in the kitchen lately. I have a number of excuses: Going out to dinner, eating leftovers, working late, general laziness.... Additionally, there has been an unprecedented influx of baked goods into our kitchen over the weekend, that for once I was not (entirely) responsible for. Thursday night Erik and I made a blueberry buckle for a "State Party," where each guest brought a dish that represented their home state (Erik is from Maine). A few pieces of our delicious buckle made it back with Erik, which got me through the weekend, along with some excellent Vermont spice cake. Additionally, my great friend Liz (of sent me two batches of cookies in the mail, which Erik and I have been devouring, although with the remains of last week's banana bread. So as you can see, lots of baked goods!

Another thing that has been putting a bit of a damper on my cooking/baking motivation is that I've finally started bike-commuting. Last summer was dry and warm, so I started bike commuting on the first of June or thereabouts; this summer started out so wet and cold that I was afraid to ride, because I didn't want to risk being forced to bike 4 1/2 miles home in the rain. However, since I've started biking my commute has nearly tripled in time. The added time isn't really a big deal, but it has made shopping a real pain because biking to the grocery store adds an extra mile to the commute and means I have to cross through a particularly hairy intersection (twice), and then there is the added weight of the groceries in my dirty old messenger bag... Meanwhile, Erik has finally started taking the bus to work to save a little gas money for the next month or so. Like me, last year he started busing to work as soon as the seasonal route started, but this summer he was a little slow to ditch his car. So now he is restricted to shopping at the very mediocre in-town grocery store (I can't believe we used to shop their exclusively before we had our cars).

I spent most of today racking my brain for a quick, easy, light, meal that I could bike to get the ingredients for and then prepare quickly when I got home, but I was just coming up empty. Apparently Erik was having the same dilemma, because when he called me after 5 to confer on dinner (a nightly ritual--we rarely plan ahead), his best suggestion was frozen pizza. The mediocre grocery store near his office only carries one brand of pizza, and it's horrible. We tried it once...won't make that mistake again. So, I had to get a pizza, and bike it home. Which I did. Tied on with gardening twine.

It was delicious, as always. But really, this post isn't simply to sing the praises of Stop & Shop brand Supreme Frozen Pizza (although, when you're in the right mood, it's quite delightful), but really to share the amusing image of a pizza tied to my bike. It reminded me of The Upper Crust delivery bikes from my old neighborhood in Boston, minus, you know, the practical pizza-carrying boxes attached to the back.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

When Life Hands You Lemons

People are split on the issue of regifting: Tacky or practical? My parents fall firmly in the latter camp; my father especially regifts everything. Sometimes I find this annoying, like when I discover that he has regifted something that I have given him that I actually spent a lot of time choosing (and money buying). Sometimes I find it amusing, like when he pretends that he has chosen a gift for you, and I know that it was regifted because I saw it sitting out in our house for several months. And then, voila, "Happy Birthday, Macy! I chose this, uh....olive oil for you!" True story. For my 24th birthday I was the recipient of a box of gourmet olive oils, clearly not chosen specifically for me. But for someone who likes food as much as I do, it was actually a thoughtful gift, in its own tacky and/or practical kind of way. And I say, when life hands you lemons (or in this case, lemon-infused olive oil), make lemonade (or chickpea salad with lemon-infused olive oil).

This morning at 7 am I realized that there was next to nothing in the fridge that could pass as lunch, so in a panic I turned to the pantry. After surveying the assortment of blue corn chips and cookies I pulled from it a can of chickpeas, which I proceeded to open and dump into a Tupperware. Thinking on my toes, I rinsed the remains of package of colorful mini heirloom tomatoes, and sliced them in half. A few julienned leaves of basil and a tiny bit of minced red onion joined, and I drizzled the whole thing with just a couple of tablespoons of my fancy lemon-infused olive oil, a few drops of balsamic vinegar, a bit of salt and pepper, and voila, lunch! The whole thing seemed fairly repulsive to me at this early hour, but by noon it really hit the spot. I have to say, my regifted lemon-infused olive oil was really the star, although I bet that with just regular olive oil it would still be pretty good. Now I just need to figure out what one does with white truffle-infused olive oil...suggestions welcome!

Super Fast Chickpea Lunch:

* 1 can of chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and drained again
* About 1/3 of a pint of grape or cherry tomatoes, halved (I was lucky enough to have a mix of mini heirlooms that I picked up at Trader Joes this weekend. The mix of yellow, orange, red, purple and green tomatoes made it very pretty and colorful, but regular mini tomatoes would work just as well)
* 6-8 basil leaves, roughly chopped or julienned
* A thin slice of red onion, finely chopped
* 1-2 Tablespoons of lemon-infused olive oil or regular good olive oil
* 1-2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar
* Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Toss together chickpeas, tomatoes, basil and onion. Drizzle with oil and vinegar, and sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. Eat right away, or let it sit around for a while (as I did). It's bound to taste good either way!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Deceiphering the next recipe

Well I haven't written lately because I haven't baked much lately. I've been too busy working long hours and last weekend we actually got off-island to visit my dad & sister on the Cape. Tonight I finally remedied that by baking the tried and true banana bread bundt cake. I just pulled it out of the oven, and it's making my cottage smell pretty tasty. It looks exactly like the one in my previous banana bread post, so I'll spare you the photographs. Another part of my baking slackerdom is due to the fact that Erik actually baked brownies on Monday (the first thing he's baked, other than birthday cake, that I can recall). They were pretty good. I say "were" because they are mostly gone now. Which is why it was time for more banana bread (that, and the bananas that I had been saving had turned black and were growing mold on the outside. I was undeterred, into the bread they went!)

I just received a very belated birthday present in the form of a cookie cook book from my boss's mom. I started browsing it for ideas and I'd like to try the oatmeal apricot cookies this weekend. Only catch is the book was published in England, and the recipe calls for "polyunsaturated spread." Bonus points to anyone who can tell me what that is, or rather, what the American equivalent is. When I Google it most of the hits are from .uk websites and they talk about English brands, so I am unsure of what I could use that's available here. Crisco? Smartbalance? If I figure it out by Saturday I will try the cookies and give you a full report.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

BBQ, Overachiever style.

I really enjoy entertaining, but as anyone who has ever seen my cottage will attest, there is not much room to do it. Which I why I savor the summer and the opportunity to throw a backyard BBQ, because I have a lot more backyard than living room. Which is not to say that my backyard is large, because it's not. But my living room is very, very tiny.

Yesterday night we threw our first BBQ of the summer. Hard to believe that it's mid July, and still the weather has been unseasonably cool. Luckily yesterday was a beautiful day, but even so, the temps never even reached 70, and by 7 pm is was definitely cooler than that. Nonetheless, my wonderful guests persevered and we enjoyed some yummy BBQ fare in the backyard, mosquitoes and all, until it got too dark and chilly. (Incidentally, yesterday night had a record low temperature for Nantucket--48 degrees! July indeed!)

When throwing a BBQ, many people are content to slap pre-made burger patties on a grill, top with American cheese, ketchup and yellow mustard, and call it good. Maybe have a tub of deli potato salad or some other side dishes. I am not one of those people. I need appetizers, main course, sides and dessert, and I like at least a modicum of cohesiveness. I also require real plates & silverware, and bunches of fresh flowers and lots of candles for ambiance, to elevate my hand-me-down vinyl and aluminum lawn furniture. I'm probably tooting my own horn too much by labeling this post "BBQ, Overachiever Style"--I don't want to mislead you into thinking that this was some gourmet meal or that it rivals the parties that are photographed and featured in style magazines. But I do the best I can with my limited space and resources.

Conventional entertaining wisdom dictates that the first time you try a new recipe should not be when you're cooking for a crowd, but somehow I always manage to overlook this bit of (sage) advice. Last night I tried out a handful of untested recipes, and I am glad to report that they were about 75% good, but there was room for improvement. (The % good thing is a reference to my father, who last weekend told my mother that her sole--not to be confused with soul--was 80% good. I was amused.) The menu was as follows: Apps: Crudite platter with roasted garlic and artichoke dip (courtesy of Cottage Living. Yes, I read it. Since I live in a cottage and all). Tortilla chips with mango salsa (courtesy of People Magazine. Surprisingly delicious). Main course: Turkey burgers with guacamole and caramelized onions (suggested by my sister, Ali). Potato Salad. Romaine salad with corn, tomatoes, and scallions. Dessert: Fruit salad (courtesy of Beth), homemade ice cream sandwiches, and pound cake (courtesy of Sean). You can never have too much dessert!

And now, some of the recipes, and suggestions on things that I would do differently.

Crudite Platter (as inspired by Cottage Living):

I was not so in love with the veg dip to bother publishing it, although I will say that it provided a more interesting alternative to ranch dressing. Will update this when I find a dip that I like more. Cottage Living suggested blanching some of the veggies to give them more flavor & color. It had never occurred to me to do this before, but I was actually a fan of this technique. This will probably sound silly, but my jaw gets tired when I'm chewing lots of raw veggies. Additionally, and more importantly, by blanching veggies, you can serve a wider array of vegetables. On a raw veggie platter you're restricted to things that you can eat raw: carrots, celery, peppers, tomatoes, cukes, and cauliflower & broccoli, if you like those raw. By incorporating cooked veggies as well, you can have stuff like green beans, asparagus, and potatoes. Plus, I prefer broccoli cooked. So anyway, that's what I did. To my surprise, the potatoes were the biggest hit of all.

Vegetables that you like. I used:
* Bell peppers (red and yellow are my faves)
* Grape tomatoes
* Fingerling potatoes
* Broccoli
* Green beans
* Carrots (the recipe suggests true baby carrots, i.e., actual small carrots with the greens still attached, as opposed to the baby carrots that are whittled from full sized imperfect carrots. I could not find these, so I just cut sticks from regular carrots)

Other suggestions include cauliflower cut into florets and blanched and endive pulled into leaves and served raw.

Remove the seeds and membrane from the bell peppers and cut them into nice thin strips. Prepare the rest of the vegetables for blanching: for the beans this means trimming the ends, for the broccoli or cauliflower, this means cutting them into bite size florets, and for the asparagus this means cutting off the bottom ends. A handy trick for figuring out where to cut the asparagus is to snap one or two ends off. Line up the snapped asparagus with the bunch and then cut the whole bunch about an inch longer than the snapped stalks. Some people say that you should cut at the snap, but to me it seems wasteful because you will probably find that the stalk snaps pretty high, and I think that the vegetable is still perfectly edible up to an inch below where it snaps naturally. Potatoes should be scrubbed but whole, and carrots should be peeled and cut into sticks, if using big carrots, or have the greens trimmed if using true baby carrots. Boil a large pot of water. Cook each vegetable in the boiling water separately. Remove with a slotted spoon, and dunk them in an ice bath for a few minutes, then drain. Bring the water back to a boil between each vegetable. Cooking times are as follows:

Potatoes: 10 minutes or so. Start checking for doneness after 8 minutes. Once cooled, cut in half or thirds.
Broccoli & asparagus: 30 seconds
Carrots & green beans: 1 minute

Arrange blanched veggies, along with peppers and grape tomatoes on a platter with your dip of choice in the middle. (Unfortunately I didn't think to take a picture of mine yesterday, since I was rushing so much. It was pretty, though. I like to arrange the colors so that none of the greens or reds are touching. It makes it more festive that way.)

Mango Salsa (adapted from People Magazine)

This salsa was excellent. It came from a feature on what to serve at a LOST finale party.

In a bowl combine the following:

* 1 mango, peeled and diced.
* 1 avocado, peeled and diced
* 3 or 4 tomatoes, diced
* 1/2 or 1 jalapeno, diced. Much of the heat in a jalapeno resides in the seeds, so if you want a less spicy dip, carefully remove the seeds and membrane from the inside of the pepper before dicing. If you can handle the heat (I can't), leave the seeds in.
* 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
* 1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
* 1 large clove garlic, minced

Drizzle these ingredients with 2 tablespoons each of olive oil and lime juice, and toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve with your favorite tortilla chips.

Turkey Burgers:

My sister suggested burgers with caramelized onions and guac after a friend of hers served them at their 4th of July party. I am actually a huge fan of turkey burgers. It's what I grew up eating, and I like them just as much, if not more, than beef. A few of my guests were skeptical, but after trying them they admitted that turkey burgers are good, which made me very happy.

* Ground turkey (not the 99% fat free kind, though. Go for the 93% fat free. I'm pretty sure it's better for you than beef, but it's still flavorful and juicy. The 99% fat free stuff just...isn't.
* Hamburger buns of choice

Plan on about 4 burgers per 1.3 lb package. Season burgers as you like. We use Emeril's Original Essence because it's fast and easy and has good stuff in it. Use a lot, don't be shy! Mix it all together and form patties. Grill until they are cooked through, but not dry. Toast the buns at the end, if you like.


Everyone has their own favorite guac recipe. For this burger topper I used:
* 2 avocados
* 1/4 red onion, finely diced
* 1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
* Juice from 1 lime
* Kosher salt & pepper--to taste

Mash all together in a bowl. Easy peasy.

Note: when serving guac as a chip dip, for example, I will also dice a tomato, but I skipped it for this one because I was serving tomatoes in 2 other dishes. For this, I just wanted something that would be nice and thick and stay on a burger.

Caramelized Onions:

* Vidalia onions, halved then cut into 1/3 inch slices.
* Butter--about 1 tablespoon for each onion

Well, I made too much of these, but damn, they were good. I used 3 medium onions for 9 people, but I think I only needed 2. No matter, the leftovers were excellent in scrambled eggs this morning and quesadillas tonight. The most important thing for caramelized onions is to leave yourself enough time! Truly caramelized onions take an hour or more. If you read a recipe and it says something like "caramelize the onions, 20 minutes" or some such thing, know that it is a dirty lie. First what you need to do is get a big enough frying pan, something heavy and non stick is ideal. Melt the butter over medium heat, and add the onions, separating the rings as you add them to the pan. Cook over medium-low heat, tossing them frequently. Eventually the onions will cook down to about 1/4 their volume. The trick is to let them soften without browning. The onions will turn brown eventually, but it will be a caramelized brown, not a burnt brown, and it will happen after about an hour of cooking them. Keep cooking them, tossing, until they reach a nice golden caramel color. Remove from the heat and transfer to your serving dish (or just serve them straight from the pan, if that's how you roll).

Easy Romaine, Corn, and Tomato Salad for 10

This salad is a riff on what Erik has dubbed the "Radloff Salad," a summer staple at my parent's house. A true Radloff Salad is served in a shallow bowl and consists of some combo of mesculan, arugula and/or baby spinach, topped with lots of slices of tomatoes, some cooked sweet corn cut off the cob, shaved Parmesan cheese, and whatever else is kicking around. This salad uses romaine lettuce instead of delicate baby greens because it's easy to cut up and won't be damaged when you toss the salad. The corn adds an unexpected sweetness, and is really the star of this simple salad.

* 2 heads of romaine lettuce.
* 4 ears of corn
* 1 pint grape tomatoes
* block of parmesan cheese
* 4 or 5 scallions

* Extra virgin olive oil
* Balsamic vinegar
* Dijon mustard (optional)
* Salt & pepper, to taste

Peel the corn and boil the ears for about 5 minutes. Drain and let cool. (This can be done ahead of time)

Rinse the grape tomatoes and cut in half.

Rinse the scallions and cut into thin slices. I use pretty much all of the scallion, unless the dark green parts are particularly limp or bruised.

Cut the romaine into 1/2 inch slices, and then wash & spin in a salad spinner.

Working over a large salad bowl, cut the corn off of the cob and break it up with your fingers. Add the tomatoes, lettuce, and scallions. To make an easy dressing, simply drizzle with EVOO and balsamic vinegar (about a 2:1 ratio) and toss. Shave about 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese on top. A really easy way to do this is to use a vegetable peeler and run it along the block of cheese, just as if you were peeling it. Add salt & pepper to taste.

For a slightly tangy-er, more complex dressing, try this instead:
In a bowl whisk together equal parts Dijon mustard and balsamic vinegar. Slowly drizzle in olive oil (2 parts), whisking with a fork while you add the oil. The goal here is to emulsify the dressing, that is, to create a thick, uniformly blended dressing. If you do this correctly, you might even need to thin it out a little with water. Adjust to taste with salt & pepper or more oil, if needed. Pour on the salad and toss.

Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches

Well...I'm not going to give you the cookie recipe I used, since I decided it wasn't actually that good. I tried to be moderately virtuous by using a chocolate chip cookie recipe from Cooking Light. However, the cookies didn't spread well so they ended up too thick, and they just tasted too...light. But the gist of it was: 2 chocolate chip cookies, vanilla ice cream in the middle, each sandwich individually wrapped in saran wrap and frozen. When I try these again I will just use the recipe off the back of a bag of Toll House chocolate chips, a tried and true recipe that produces thin cookies, which are key here. When assembling these sandwiches, make sure the cookies are totally cooled and don't let your ice cream soften too much. I thought I needed soft ice cream, but what I found was that even after I put them back in the freezer the ice cream ran and basically froze around the cookie inside the saran wrap, so when you unwrapped them the cookies had nearly nothing between them and the ice cream was all on the outside, and there were quite messy to eat. So this was basically a recipe on how not to make homemade ice cream sandwiches. Perhaps I will blog about these again when I do them right! (But, that being said, everyone ate them, so I guess the moral of the story is that even a bad ice cream sandwich is still pretty good!

So that is a run down of what I cooked yesterday, bloopers and all (hey, I'm no Martha Stewart). I think I managed to elevate the BBQ fare just a notch, and have hopefully inspired you for your next BBQ party.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Holy Trinity

Tomatoes, basil and mozzerella (fresh, please), is not exactly a groundbreaking combination. In fact, these days I'd say it's pretty much downright ordinary. These three ingredients are often served together with a drizzle of olive oil and/or balsamic vinegar as a Salad Caprese at just about every half decent Italian restaurant. Heck, even American restaurants serve Caprese salads, because, well, they're just that good. Considering how ubiquitous this combo is, it's hard to be overly inventive with them. But to be honest, that's okay with me. They're amazingly delicious in their simplicity--it's a popular combo for a reason, right?

I have been toying with the idea of adding the Caprese components to pasta for a while now. I did try it once, in fact, although I think I screwed it up big time. I tried stewing the tomatoes or something, and melting the mozz. It was a big mess. Although it did teach me that these ingredients are meant to be enjoyed fresh & au naturale. So tonight was Take 2, and it was a much better success. Perhaps because I delegated and didn't actually do the cooking...?

I'll write out the recipe, but it's very simple. And it's ready in about the time that it takes to boil a pot of pasta, and you'll only need 2 dishes. The one thing that I will say about the recipe though, is get
quality ingredients. They don't have too be top quality (I for one am too lazy/cheap/stuck on an island too seek out the best), but whatever you use, make sure you have ingrendients that are enjoyable in their natural state.

In particular, I can't say enough about having good olive oil. Finding good olive oil requires a willingness to spend a little bit of money and just taste what's out there and finding one that appeals to your tastebuds. Two years ago I cruised around some Greek islands with my parents and a few of their foodie friends. While I was there I gained about 5 lbs and a devotion to Greek style Kalamata Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I just use Trader Joe's brand Kalamata oil, which is relatively cheap, as far as EVOO goes, and is quite delicious. However, I've also tasted some store brand oils that are real duds. I've been so dedicated the TJ's brand Kalamata EVOO for so long now that I've forgotten what else is out there that's good. But look around and find one that you like, because it's such a kitchen staple. And without further ado, the recipe:

Macy's Speedy Fast Caprese Pasta Toss:

*Pasta. I like a fork pasta for this recipe, like fusili or penne, but choose your favorite. For 2 people with big appetites, about 1/2 lb should be plenty. I will also note that while I usually cook with whole wheat pasta, I would recommend plain (regular, white?) pasta for this dish. Whole wheat pasta has a grainy-ness and nutty-ness that stands up to hearty sauces well, but for this I wanted the other ingredients to be the stars, and the pasta to be the vehicle, hence the white pasta.
* 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes. I think organic ones taste better, and for such a small quantity, you'll probably only spend about 50 cents more
* Basil-about 1 cup packed leaves
* Garlic--2 large cloves (or less, if that sounds very overpowering to you)
* 8 oz fresh Mozzerella, either the kind that comes in a container packed in water, or the kind that's wrapped in plastic, like Bel Gioioso brand.
* Extra Virgin Olive Oil--a hearty drizzle (1/8 to 1/4 cup)
* Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook your pasta according to package directions.

2. While the pasta is cooking, halve the grape tomatoes and put them in a large serving bowl. Mince the garlic and add to the bowl. Cube the cheese (about 3/4 inch cubes) and add to bowl. Rinse and roughly chop the basil and add to the bowl.

3. When the pasta is cooked, drain and toss with a hearty drizzle of olive oil. Add to serving bowl and toss all ingredients together and serve immediately. Sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt and a crack of freshly ground pepper, if desired. Enjoy!

Monday, July 6, 2009

My Signature Recipe: Chocolate Chip Banana Bread.

Tonight I am baking what I consider my signature recipe, Chocolate Chip Banana Bread. I eat a lot of bananas, but when I can't keep up with the bunches (since I only like them when they're slightly under-ripe), they become banana bread. I've tried several recipes, but I've decided that the easiest/my favorite is one that I have adapted from one of my go-to books for easy recipes: Better Homes & Gardens red plaid cookbook (I have the 12th edition).

A random note here: I've always been confused by the term "adapted" when people (bloggers & food writers, essentially) say they've adapted something from such and such a source. Do they mean that they've made changes to a recipe, or that it's the same recipe from whatever source it's "adapted" from, and adapted is just a nice way of saying that it's someone else's recipe? If anyone could clear this up for me, I'd be most grateful. Anyway, just to make things clear, when I say adapted, I mean that I've tweaked it a little, but it's more or less the same recipe.

My adaptations to this recipe essentially include making it 1.5x bigger so that it fits perfectly in a standard bundt ban, since I am obsessed with them (see profile). I also add oats, bump up the spices, replace some of the oil with applesauce, and then add chocolate chips, because that's what makes it mm mm good. However, if you want the real Better Homes & Gardens recipe, it can be found here.

Banana Bread (Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook, 12th Edition)

* 3 cups flour (I often do a 2:1 combo of all-purpose and whole wheat, or sometimes a 1.5:1:0.5 combo of all-purpose, wheat, and oats)
* 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
* 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
* 3 eggs, beaten
* About 2 cups overripe mashed bananas, which is 5 or so large bananas. I never actually measure, and it always seems to work out fine.
* 1 1/2 cups sugar
* 3/4 cup vegetable oil or 1/2 cup oil and 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
* Your favorite chocolate chips in whatever quantity you like. (I like the jumbo Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chips, and Hershey's Special Dark chocolate chip are good, too. Sometimes I do a combo of dark and semi-sweet, depending on what's in my pantry. I probably use about a cup of chocolate chips, but this is one addition you can adjust to suit your tastes.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease (with softened butter or PAM) a standard bundt pan. (These also make good muffins, so if that's more your style, grease some muffin tins)

2. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour(s) through nutmeg). Whisk together lightly and make a well in the center. In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, bananas, sugar and oil or oil/applesauce.

3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir together lightly until just combined. The batter can be lumpy. Gently fold in chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pan.

4. Bake for 55-65 minutes
(20-25 minutes for muffins), or until a wooden toothpick or skewer inserted in the middle of the ring comes out clean.  The top should be golden brown and will probably be cracked in the middle. Remove  the bread from the oven and cool for at least 15 or 20 minutes before removing it from pan. To remove from pan, invert a plate or cake stand over the bundt pan and flip the plate and the pan over together.

Notice the golden brown crust, slightly cracked, and skewer used to test the banana bread.  It came out clean, which meant that the bread was ready to come out of the oven.

Now, this is where BH & G and I really differ. They say to cool the bread completely and then wrap and store overnight before serving. While this will allow the cake to firm up and make it easier to slice, I absolutely cannot resist eating at least one slice when it's still warm from the oven. I will concede, however, that it does crumble quite a bit when it's still warm from the oven, but if I'm just baking it for me, I say, who cares? In any case, you should let it cool completely before wrapping with saran wrap or aluminum foil, though I always suggest heating it up before enjoying a slice. When I'm eating it for breakfast then I just zap it in the microwave for about 20 seconds, but when I pack some for lunch I leave it in a tupperware on the dashboard of my truck all morning so that by noon the bread is warm and moist and the chocolate chips are starting to melt. Delicious! And on that note, I think I am going to go eat a slice.

Okay, so the edges are a little rough when it's hot from the oven.
By tomorrow
morning it will slice nicely, and be just as yummy.