A Nutty November
Look out, boy – I am currently infatuated with another.
Though I hate to admit it, I accidentally fell in love… While I long believed that I hated the nut, our paths crossed one faithful night. It was tough at first to crack him, but once he came out of his shell, I felt completely satisfied. He was more tender than I had imagined, and though at first a little bitter, he became surprisingly sweet in the end. Lately, I’ve been going to him for a late afternoon pick-me-up…
O, Walnut, how I lust for thee…
My mother used to keep walnuts in our pantry. I’ll never forget them – I don’t know what on earth she used them for, but they were there for as long as I can remember – chopped up and stored in a recycled glass jar that was in the shape of a teddy bear. One day – most likely out of rainy afternoon boredom – I decided to grab a handful out of the jar to eat as a snack. Now, perhaps they had gone rancid, perhaps they were simply stale, or perhaps my palette had not yet fully developed… but all that I can recollect is a vivid memory of my immediate heaving and spitting straight into the garbage pail.
For years afterward, this popular nut remained banished from all that I cooked, baked, and consumed.
Recently, I visited a small Italian resto on St. Denis. I was deep into conversation when the waiter showed up to take our orders. As per usual, I hadn’t yet taken a long enough glance at the menu to know what I wanted – feeling pressured as everyone sounded off their choices, I ran a split-second menu scan, spotted the words “cream,” “mushrooms,” and “pasta.”
Done and done.
Half a litre of wine later, a horrifying plate was placed in front of me: I received a dish of pasta covered in… you guessed it… walnuts. Now, I do not like handing anything back at restaurants – if you’ve seen the movie Waiting, you’ll understand why. Moreover, I was not going to let my (relatively new) friends think that I, Allison the Foodie, was a picky eater. So – I dug right in, fully ready to paste on a fake smile (all while I prepared a napkin in my lap, for secretive spitting purposes…)
And that’s when it happened. That was the turning point.
I. Like. Walnuts.
Later that week, I attempted to replicate the mushroom walnut cream sauce (which I did, fabulously, by the way), and served it over a spinach and mushroom tart. Sorry to break your hearts, but you won’t be getting the recipe for that today. You can blame the boy, and I guess you can also blame it partially on myself – we polished that sucker off before I could even fathom taking a second photograph. (Or writing down what the recipe.) Oops.
Instead – I bring you something tantalizing – an autumn twist on a year-round staple. You may have been searching for a superior banana bread recipe for years, and just haven’t found one. Or, perhaps you already have your own recipe for banana bread, and you’re wondering why you should switch away from your tried-and-true. Here are a few reasons why this bread is awesome: three huge bananas, whipped butter, cinnamon and vanilla. And now, here are a few reasons for the health conscious people: fibre(fruits, nuts), protein(nuts), vitamins(fruits), and a ton of added fat-free moisture – in the form of diced apples.
Yeah. That’s right. I put diced apples in my banana bread.
Do it. I dare you. You won’t regret it.
Banana Apple and Walnut Bread
an original recipe by Allison Sklar
what you’ll need
• 1 cup sugar (½ cup more if a sweeter cake is desired)
• ½ cup + 2 tbsp softened butter
• 3 mashed bananas (about 1 cup)
• 2 tbsp cinnamon
• 2 tbsp lemon juice
• 2 tbsp vanilla
• 3 eggs
• 2 cups flour
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 1/2 cup walnuts
• 1 tbsp brown sugar
• 3 medium sized apples, peeled and diced
how to do it: bread
• Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour 10” angel food cake (or bundt cake) pan.
• Mix sugar and butter together in a medium mixing bowl until completely blended. Add banana, vanilla, 1 tbsp lemon juice and eggs, mixing well.
• Add flour, baking soda and 1 tbsp cinnamon, mixing just until moist.
• Coat apples with the rest of the lemon juice, brown sugar and cinnamon
• Stir in nuts and apple mixture.
• Spread batter evenly into pan. Bake 50 minutes to 1h.
how to do it: muffins
• Divide mixture among 12 greased muffin cups. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.