A finicky guy's exploits in finding gustatory (and other) satisfaction in his kitchen, his neighborhood, and beyond.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Baked Bananas & Brooklyn Bagels

A look back at yesterday's meals

I habitually prefer to eat raw fruits at breakfast time, but occasionally, the mood strikes for something a little special.  Today was one of those times.  I felt as though a little extra richness in my morning meal would help me to knock this cold, so I opted for baked fruit.  Here's how I do it, in less than 5 minutes (not including the 30-min baking time).

First, assemble the fruits you want.  My favorites for this treatment are apples and, for a caramelized gooeyness that is a real treat, bananas.  You could also use pears, stone fruits, berries, whatever strikes your fancy and is in season.  I also toss in a handful of nuts and often some raisins.  Today's assortment included apples and bananas, diced into chunks, raw walnut halves, and hunza raisins:

Next, I load all of my ingredients into an overproof Pyrex measuring cup.  I like to put the nuts and raisins in first so they end up on the bottom, where they are protected from burning by the fruit on top of them.  Lastly, I add a dollop of butter on top, which will melt during the baking and coat all of the other ingredients, absorbing their sugars and creating a yummy sauce.  You could add a sprinkling of cinnamon, nutmeg, or cardamom if you like, and even some sugar or maple syrup, but by that time, you'd be making dessert, not breakfast.  Let's rein in our sweet tooth here, folks, before we end up serving this as a topping for vanilla ice cream.  (Notice how I diverted the blame right off myself?)

Ready to bake
Now I just pop the filled measure cup into my trusty countertop convection oven — less fortunate souls will have to heat up their entire full-sized oven for this — and bake it for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  As the aromas develop, you will be strongly tempted to cut short the baking time and lunge into this sweet, buttery dish with your spoon.  Get ahold of yourself.  You will be disappointed that the fruit is not pleasingly soft.  (Of course, I am just imagining such an impulsive action, having never experienced it myself.)

If you manage to wait the full half-hour, as I did today, your fruit will have turned into something like the insides of a pie.  Dump it into a bowl, and enjoy.  (I have been known to pour a little milk over this concoction, but took it neat this morning.  Along with a cup of tea.  OK, 2 cups.)

Happy baked fruit breakfast!

Not feeling up to more cooking at lunchtime, and Peter being busy with laundry and his own blog (I would provide a link if 98% of my readership had not already come through Male Pattern Boldness), we decided to take the easy way out and go to Brooklyn.  

In our home, when we say "go to Brooklyn" we hardly ever are referring to the borough.  We mean the Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Co., conveniently situated right on our block.  This marvelous little place opened up just as we were becoming disillusioned by the diminishing standards at Murray's Bagels down the street, and it deserves its own blog posting sometime, in which I'll explain why we adore it and why we high-tailed it out of Murray's, never again to return.  (Well, once, when I got really lazy and didn't want to cross the street to Brooklyn, and therefore obtained literally inedible bagel chips, but that's part of the other story.....)

How easily distracted I am!  I believe I was telling you about our lunch.  We shared a "mini" whole wheat everything bagel with whitefish and lettuce and a bowl of Mediterranean vegetable soup.  I put "mini" in "quotes" "because" (oops — I get carried away with "punctuation") because the mini bagels are what most people call "bagels" and the regular bagels are the size of a birthday cake.  Well, not quite, but they're TOO BIG, which results in a doughier texture.   (In the bagel, and, presumably, in the abdomen of anyone who consumes these things with regularity.)   I guess if you're looking for a doughy bagel, by all means, go for the regular, but we prefer a crustier one.

[Several hours pass]

So, after dinner I'm feeling a lot more positive about the eggplant/pasta bake from last night.  Another thing I love about leftovers is that you get an opportunity to fine-tune a dish.  Sort of like in tennis, where you get a second chance to re-do a botched serve.  (Get it?  Serve?  Sometimes my humor requires a rim shot for full effect.)

Anyhow......let me explain how I improved the eggplant/pasta dish upon re-baking.  First, I upended it into the baking dish, so that the pasta layer ended up on top, where it got delightfully crisped.  Maybe "crisp" is not the right word.  Certain of the individual pieces get partially dried out, which results in a chewy texture.  That's the word, "chewy."  (If you go too far with this drying-out process — I know this from experience — you do get to the crisp stage, which is not so pleasant.  Or maybe it is, for someone out there.  Just be aware that your pasta will go from floppy to chewy to crisp to hard-as-a-rock as it bakes.  Stop the oven when you get to your desired destination.)

I also grated about 7 pounds of additional Asiago cheese over the top, because, in my opinion, nothing is as delicious as baked cheese.  I'm exaggerating, folks — I'm sure it wasn't more than 5 pounds of extra cheese.  (Drinking wine as I cook frees me from all kinds of inhibitions.)

Let's take a moment here to list some of the reasons we ADORE leftovers.  (I realize not everyone is in my camp here.  My best friend's boyfriend refuses to eat anything left over.  Which is one of the reasons he's not MY boyfriend.  Not to mention I'm already taken.)

  • They make for an easy meal down the line.  We cooks do not feel like pulling out all our stops every night of the week.  Geez.
  • You get a second chance at creating the dish you had envisioned.
  • Many foods taste even better after sitting for a while, their flavors developing over time.
  • Often, the cook is too tired to even taste his dish upon first presentation.  Or too sick of staring at it.  With the benefit of a little cushion of time, we can properly assess our own creation.  (I guess this explains why kids get sent to summer camp.)
  • They make for an easy meal down the line.  (Oh, did I already say this?  And did I mention that I don't feel like pulling out all — —  — oh, I did?)
  • You get to try out variations each time you trot out a left-over ingredient.  I am particularly brilliant with turning plain old cooked pulses (dried beans) into a myriad of seemingly unrelated dishes.  Or so I am told.  (By me.)
So, readers, why do YOU love leftovers?  Or, if you're in that other camp (the less desirable one across the lake), why do you dislike them?  (What's wrong with you, anyway?)

Have a great weekend, everybody!  Check back in tomorrow if you're not off doing something exotic (and maybe just a leetle beet naughty?) — I'll be exposing the truth about. . .

. . .the Urban Organic produce delivery service. 


  1. Leftovers? I don't know what your talking about they don't exsits in our house, and that on the bench is just lunch for the next day.

  2. Neither me nor my husband are big leftover fans. However, my husband INSISTS that I save everything for 'leftovers'. Leftovers for what? You are certainly not going to go near the 'leftover' so why are we taking it home?? It's just amazing to me.

    Oh wait, I take that back, he will demolish a pan of leftover lasagna. So, there is ONE thing he will eat that's leftover. I will eat leftover soup or stew. But otehr than that, I don't want leftovers either.

  3. I made deliberate leftovers today- a big pot of bean and vegetable soup. The leftovers were frozen in individual portions. I'll put them in the freezer in my office lunch room. I do the same with unplanned leftovers that freeze well. I can't buy sensible lunches close to my office and I have trouble remembering to think about lunch in the morning when I'm getting ready to go to work, so I like to take a week or more of frozen meals at a time. Bonus - with the money I save eating leftovers for lunch, I can buy the Magic Dress when I find it, no matter what it costs! $350- that's only 23 lunches @ $15.

  4. I am in the leftover camp as well. I will usually make a chicken or a pot of beans and then reuse them different ways throughout the week (e.g., tacos, soups, pastas). Kind of like the school cafeteria, but not nearly as scary :)

    As long as you are creative (or good at reheating!), leftovers can sometimes outshine the original dish.

  5. We are hoping that Mae will be willing to post a picture of herself modeling her next Magic Dress! Keep eating those economical leftovers, sweetie!

    I wish I could treat myself to Magic Outfits whenever I'd accrued enough leftover savings, but MPB would object to RTW. Magic Wine, anyone?

    [For the 2 readers who are not familiar with Peter's blog, those acronyms stand for Male Pattern Boldness and Ready-to-Wear.]

  6. I love leftovers and will often do most of my cooking on Sunday afternoon so we can warm it up during the week. Sometimes I'll cook 4-5 main dishes so I just have veggies to steam and a quick starch to complete the meal. Sure saves time. And, all the dishes get done at once instead of spread across the week. Lane

  7. @quiltfool: I aspire to your well-organized culinary schedule, but I often feel lazy on Sundays, and neglect preparing the meals for the upcoming week. I then end up resorting to ordering in after my long days of teaching. I'm hoping — and Peter along with me — that food-blogging will inspire me to do more cooking on the weekends!

  8. Your breakfast looks so comfy that I think it would make me want to go back to bed.

    Some leftovers we like. Those cabbage rolls for lunch yesterday? Wonderful! Quesadillas? We intentionally make enough to heat up for at least 3 more days and I'm always sad when they're gone. We have a non-Jetsons toaster oven (with optional convection) so heating up for us doesn't mean the whole big oven either. I don't particularly care for chewy pasta, though, so I'd probably be sure to cover any peeker-outers in sauce or 7 lbs of cheese.

    Other leftovers from more mundane meals? Not so much. But we'll either eat them, grudgingly. Not much goes right to the garbage can here. Unless you count the 3 furry garbage cans who will eat just about anything that's hand-fed.

    I'm really enjoying your blog, and your sense of humor since it seems to be a lot like mine. ;-) And I love that you post BEFORE that other blogger in your home.

  9. 30 minutes cook time is the right amount for a cup of tea, dressing and makeup for the day, then sitting down to eat. 5 minutes prep time is my dream in life.

    Oh, and leftovers? What are those? Sometimes I can hide one slice of meat for my lunch the next day (but not often).

    BTW, I come to you via Debbie Cook, one of my favorite blog-pals (I cook a lot and sew a little, opposite of Debbie, and my one dog is bigger than both of yours 4 times over, and he likes leftovers).

  10. Oh, golly, Michael! That fruit bake looks divine! I'm going to give it a try this weekend. Yum!

    I love leftovers. :) After sitting overnight in the fridge, the flavours intensify. I also like turning them into a new dish.

  11. We love leftovers at our house! At least I do -- I don't think anyone else cares when it was made as long as it's a dish they like. Every few days, I cook an extra large amount of whatever for dinner and we then eat the leftovers for lunch and dinner as many days as the food lasts. Then repeat. Tonight we shall be dining on my family's favorite lentil stew, prepared last night.

    I'm really enjoying your blog, Michael! I also came via MPB, by the way (surprise! :-). I (usually) like to cook (and eat!), though I'm not much of a cook, but I'm learning and improving (I think...I hope!) all the time, and I've already picked up some great tips here, eg add fresh herbs and spices at the end, salt the eggplant (I've never been able to do eggplant well). And the cheese basket at Whole Foods got me really excited! I must go and see if they offer it at the Whole Foods stores in my area!

  12. I love leftovers, but the other two people in my house don't, so I'm careful not to make too too much. I don't want to be eating butternut squash lasagna for a week ever again.

  13. Love the banana recipe. I have to go get a snack now, it made me hungry.

    I don't have access to an oven right now (yes, I know, the horror), do you think it would cook up alright on a stove - over a low flame?

  14. Hello. I love leftovers, they are my 'day after lunch' at work, plus they always impress my colleagues who buy sandwiches. And it gives a 'raison d'etre' to the company's microwave.
    Your breakfast looks very good, I will try it on Sunday. Thanks.

  15. @Sara: you could send a care package full of butternut squash lasagna our way next time you have a surfeit.

    @saro: I am going to give the stove-top method a try the next time I'm jonesing for baked fruit. Stay tuned for my results, and be sure to leave a comment letting me know how it turns out if you try it first.

    @anon: Yes, I've worked in offices where the microwave was nothing more than a big, expensive method of reheating old coffee. Glad you're putting yours to better use!

  16. Thanks Michael, can't wait to see what you come up with. I'll let you know if I try the stove-top method first.

  17. that breakfast looks so good I am going to have to try it. I'll just do the fruit and leave off the sweeteners, maybe a dollop of vanilla yogurt on top would be good.

  18. I made this for my breakfast this morning and it was sensational!! So delicious!!


  19. Hi Michael

    I am going to try it on Wednesday. Thankyou, Sarah for introducing me to this fabby blog. And those doglets! I love them!

    Glis (Sarah)

  20. In my house leftovers are a must have. My husband is a vegetarian, a boring one. He doesn't like Indian food, Thai food, Filipino food, etc, and he claims ketchup is spicy. I, on the other hand like any ethnic food and would prefer to eat nothing but what could be considered ethnic, and I don't consider food spicy unless my tongue burns for an hour after eating it. Cooking two meals every day is not an option, so I cook enough to last each of us several meals. Thank goodness we never had kids, I'm sure they would have turned out to be diabetic celiac vegetarians with food allergies.

  21. Hi Elle, and welcome to Pleasing my Palate! Your husband would be pretty miserable at our house...or maybe just very very hungry. We adore all kinds of ethnic foods. I consider the plethora of multi-cultural eating options to be one of the highlights of living in NYC. If you're ever in town, let me know and I'll go out with you on a search for scorchingly hot Korean, or Indian, or Thai, or Szechuan, or Mexican, or Indonesian, or. . . . .

  22. Michael, you are on. However the odds of me getting to New York in the near or distant future are remote, however the lottery could come through for me and if so, my treat, on all of the above. 8-)

  23. It's a date! (I'll keep my fingers crossed about that lottery....)