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February 2012

January 2012

Super Simple Banana "Ice Cream"

When you cook as much as I do (and as often), you end up doing odd things, at odd times. It may be winter, but last weekend I made banana “ice cream.” I put it in quotes because it’s not really ice cream. Though it looks and tastes that way, it’s nothing but frozen bananas. Nothing else.

This recipe has been circulating on the Internet for a while now, and I apologize if you’ve seen it before. I first came across it last summer while on vacation in Montauk. We had some extra, quickly ripening bananas, and I thought I could use them up. Unfortunately, at that time, I did not read the recipe before throwing the whole bananas in the freezer. You don’t want to do that. You want to cut them into little slices, first.

Last weekend, I had two compelling reasons to make the banana “ice cream.” I had three nearly overripe bananas staring at me from the corner of the kitchen, and I had my brother, sister-in-law, and their son coming over for a morning visit. My nephew can’t eat wheat or dairy. I had made pancakes, but he wouldn’t be able to have any. I wanted to have a treat for him.

So this time, I read the recipe, and followed the very simple but important instructions. I sliced the bananas, put them on a plate, and stuck them in the freezer before my nephew and his parents arrived. When he got here, I was ready to try out the recipe.

I couldn’t believe that plain, frozen bananas could transform themselves into creamy soft “ice cream,” but that’s exactly what happened. I can’t say I really liked the results, but I know I’m in the minority. My nephew tried a taste, broke out into a huge smile, and said “Like it.” And as soon as his bowl was empty, he pointed at the blender and said, “more dat.”

One-Ingredient Banana “Ice Cream”

  • 3 or more ripe bananas 
  • 1 blender

Peel the bananas.

Cut them into small pieces, and spread them out on a plate.

Put the plate in the freezer for one to two hours.

Drop the frozen banana slices into a blender, and run it until the bananas magically transform into what looks like soft ice cream. It will happen, eventually. Just push the bananas down the side of the blender as you go.


Slow-Cooker Virtual Cooking Class Coming Up

I get many nice notes in my inbox related to this blog. A recent message from a reader, Michele Hays, who commented on my post about the trouble I had getting my kids to eat my roasted red peppers, alerted me to a potentially helpful resource, It’s Not About Nutrition: The Art and Science of Teaching Kids to Eat Right. The blog is run by a sociologist named Dr. Dina R. Rose, and I know I’ll be spending some time reading it.

And the other day, I received a fun invitation from the folks behind The Motherhood. They’re putting on a virtual cooking class on Feb. 2 at 1 p.m. called “Game Day and Slow Cooker Recipes,” and they asked me to co-host it.

I hope you can join me. We’ll be asking and answering questions about getting ready for the big game by firing up the slow cooker. I’m a great believer in getting the cooking done before kick off (as I did by making Frikadeller when the Giants triumphed over the Packers a few weeks ago) and the slow cooker is a great, hands-off tool for feeding a lot of folks.

My father-in-law has a slow cooker, and I’ve used it a couple of times. What tips do you have for using a slow cooker? And if you have any questions, send them my way, or jump into the class on Feb. 2 at 1 p.m.

The Ups and Downs of Cooking

Cooking for a family can be a topsy-turvy affair. Sometimes things go horribly wrong, and I’m not talking about about spilled milk here. I’m talking something worse. Over the weekend, a certain someone, who might have been so proud of the roasted red peppers he made, brought to tears a certain daughter (who shall remain nameless, in hopes of protecting the innocent). All he wanted was for her to try it. Was that wrong? What about the "eating the rainbow philosophy" for raising healthy children? And don’t get me started on the whole “if they make it with you they’ll want to eat it with you” approach. She practically held the pepper in the flame when I was cooking it. Sheesh.

But there are also high points, such as this morning, when another daughter came trotting out of her bedroom and said “Yummy oatcakes,” as soon as she smelled the aroma from the kitchen. I knew then why it was I get up at 6 a.m. to get breakfast started. Whew.

Roasted Red Pepper Recipe for Arugula Salad

A year or so ago, I was making my winter quinoa salad—the one with sweet potato, red onion, and red pepper—just about every week. Lately, though, I haven’t been eating it as frequently. The last time I thought I was going to make the salad, I bought a red pepper and the rest of the ingredients, but I never got around to using them.

The red pepper sat in the fridge for weeks, and I saw it every time I opened the crisper. It sat there mocking me. Why did I really buy it? What was I thinking? What was I going to do with it?

A few days ago, shortly before it would have gone bad, I came up with an answer: I would roast it. A roasted pepper, marinated in oil and vinegar, is not only delicious, it will last a while on its own. I could buy time to find a use for it.

Roasting a pepper at home is very easy. You just put the pepper in the flame of the gas burner on your stove, either by standing it up on the stove itself, or by holding in the flame with a pair of tongs. Move the pepper around so it gets charred on every side. Once that’s done, put the pepper in either a brown bag or place it in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.

Leave the pepper until it cools, at which point the skin will come off very easily. Rinse the pepper to get the seeds out and any little bits of skin that may remain. Slice the pepper into long narrow strips, and then marinate them in olive oil, vinegar, and a bit of oregano, or other herb.

The peppers will keep a few days, at least, in the fridge, and they’re great on their own, on a sandwich, or, as I discovered, in an arugula salad with shavings of Parmesan.  The sweetness of the pepper counteracts the tartness of the arugula, making it a colorful and perfectly balanced salad.

Go Giants! Game-Day Frikadeller Recipe

When I wrote earlier that I didn’t know where the time went last weekend, I wasn’t telling the whole story. A good part of it was spent watching the Giants overcome the Packers. And a good rest of the part of it was spent getting ready to watch the game.

This was a rare occasion. In my circle, I don’t have many football-watching friends (well, that’s not entirely true: one friend has repeatedly invited me to Giants Stadium to share his home-field tickets, but I’ve never gone). Last weekend, though, while in Lake Placid, I discovered that my friend E., as I’ll call her here, was my kind of football fan. She liked the game when it was playoff time. I don’t have the patience for regular season games (note to self: ask shrink about that), but when the end of the season is on the line, I’m there.

So we set out to tune into the Giants, but missed their triumph over the Atlanta Falcons because we were watching bobsledding practice (there are some things you can do in Lake Placid that you just can’t do anywhere else, at least not on the East Coast). Having failed to catch the Giants victory, we settled for the first half of the Broncos-Steelers contest. Clearly, our football-watching skills needed work, because the second half of that game was by far one of the most exciting finishes in playoff history (or so I subsequently read).

Still, we had fun, eating popcorn and guacamole and drinking beer. So, excited by the Giants’ excellent playing of late, I invited my friends back over for the most recent game, and I whipped up a batch of Frikadeller (Danish meatballs).

Football and Danish meatballs are not exactly a natural combination, but let me tell you, they are a great one. I was able to make the meatballs ahead of time, and keep them warm in the oven. This meant I was sipping a Corona on the couch while the game was on, and not standing in the kitchen.

I had never heard of Frikadeller before last year. I first came across them in Laurie David’s excellent book, “The Family Dinner.” The recipe comes from David’s personal chef, Kirstin Uhrenholdt; it was her grandmother’s. There are many nice things about them—kids love them, they’re easy to make, and they’re delicious being the top three. My friends and their son and my family gobbled them up—at half time, of course.

Game-Day Frikadeller


  • 2/3 cup cold water
  • ½ cup homemade, unseasoned breadcrumbs (or a little more, depending on how things go, how many visitors you have coming over)
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon apple-cider vinegar (or white wine, if that’s all you have)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 lbs ground turkey


In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except the turkey. Stir well until mixed together. Let the mixture rest in the refrigerator for about ten minutes, until the breadcrumbs absorb the liquid

Add the ground turkey to the bowl and mix well

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Oil a baking sheet and set it nearby.

Heat a large frying pan with some oil for frying.

Using a spoon and/or your hands, make small balls out of the mixture and place the mixture in the frying pan. Flatten the balls so the are no longer round, and are more oblong than circular.

Fry on one side until brown, and then flip.

When brown on both sides (more or less), remove the meatballs from the frying pan and slide them on the baking sheet.

Repeat until all the mixture is used up and you have a baking sheet full of meatballs.

Bake the meatballs in the oven for 20 minutes.


Serve with a hearty bread or some other starch (I made a variation on fried rice) and a vegetable (I made a salad).

Sufficient for 4 adults and 3 children easily. Also good the next day.


Olympic Rabbit Stew Recipe


As I mentioned earlier, I cooked up a delicious rabbit stew while on vacation recently in Lake Placid. Just this weekend, after I returned, I had a chance (call it twenty-minutes—where does the time go with a family???) to throw together the above drawing, because, as I also mentioned, the stew was so good the night I made it, that I forgot to photograph it.

I was inspired to make the stew after reading the recipe in the New York Times. It’s by David Tanis, and I saw it in his great column, “City Kitchen.” The headline is for a braised rabbit stew, so when I was packing to go away, I threw my trusty Le Creuset  cast-iron casserole in the trunk of the car, before heading north.

On my way out of town, I didn’t bother to read the driving directions my friend had sent me, and I became flummoxed upon exiting the George Washington Bridge. I had Googled the route, though, and I took an educated guess. Route 4, to Route 17, turned out to be a fine way to go, and I was reminded of this misadventure when I finally took out the newspaper clipping and read the recipe through fully in Lake Placid.

Tanis’s column didn’t mention anything about using a casserole, but damned if I had lugged that heavy iron pot three hundred miles for naught. I was going to use it, recipe or no recipe.

I also didn’t have porcini mushrooms. And I didn’t have chicken stock. So I used vegetable stock, and snuck in an anchovy or two to boost the flavor. Tanis had written that the proportions of the recipe “are forgiving and not etched in stone,” so I figured the ingredients might be forgiving, too. And sure enough, the dish was delicious.

His recipe calls for cooking the rabbit for about an hour in the oven. I was doing it on the stovetop, so I had to guess when it would be done. The nice thing about a braise, is that it is very forgiving. As it turned out the night I served it, everyone needed to get their children into bed before eating, so it sat on the stove for well more than an hour. The meat was falling off the bone by the time we ate it, and there was nothing left when we were done. I served it over couscous.

Olympic Rabbit Stew


  • 1 whole rabbit (2 1/2 to 3 pounds)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Flour, for dusting
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 cups leeks, finely diced
  • 2 anchovies
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons rosemary, roughly chopped
  • 8 ounces cremini or portobello mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • One 28 oz can of tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup unsalted chicken broth (or vegetable stock).


Cut the rabbit into 9 pieces (or ask your butcher to) as follows: with a sharp cleaver, cut the saddle (center portion) into 3 pieces, leaving the kidneys attached. Cut the front portion (front legs) in half through the backbone. Chop each hind leg into 2 pieces.

Heat 1/4 inch of olive oil in a Dutch oven. Season the rabbit pieces with salt and pepper, then dust lightly with flour. Lightly brown the rabbit for about 3 minutes on both sides, working in batches. Set aside

Pour off the used oil, wipe out the pan and add 2 tablespoons fresh oil. Heat to medium-high, add the onions and the anchovies and cook till soft, about 5 minutes. Add the leek, garlic, rosemary and mushrooms. Season generously with salt and pepper, and add red pepper flakes to taste. Cook for 2 minutes more, stirring.

Add the chopped tomatoes and wine, and let the mixture reduce for 1 minute. Add the broth, bring to a simmer, taste and adjust seasonings.

Return the rabbit to the dish. Cover the dish, and simmer for about 1 hour. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Yield: 4 servings.


Sardines, a Quick and Easy Lunch Unless You've Been to Art School

I wanted to write about the savory rabbit stew that I made while on vacation in Lake Placid, but I’ve encountered a small problem. I know I’m a food blogger, but I often get so hungry after making a meal that I forget to photograph it before I’ve eaten it. So it was with the rabbit stew. I don't have a decent photo of it.

I have some nice shots of the early steps, such as when I was sautéing the leeks and adding the mushrooms (are you hooked, yet?), but none of the actual rabbit stew. So I’ve decided to draw a picture to represent the dish, but I won’t get to that until over the weekend.

In the meantime, I do have a nice snapshot of one of the lunches I ate while away: sardines, bread, olives, and pistachios. I was inspired to try sardines after reading a chapter on them in a lovely book I recently came across, “What We Eat When We Eat Alone: Stories and 100 Recipes,” by Deborah Madison and Patrick McFarlin. The two are husband and wife, and the husband is an illustrator. The book is an entertaining collection of stories and recipes, but what I liked best were the drawings. In the chapter about sardines, McFarlin admits that he can no longer eat them—he had too many, too often, when he was in art school.

I never had the chance to go to art school, so when I swallow one of the salty and oily fillets, I engage in a bit of play. I pretend I’m in art school, and that makes them taste all the better.

I mention the meal because lately I’ve been bringing lunch to work to save money. I think a couple of slices of bread, some sardines, and a side of olives and nuts will soon become a staple of my diet. Art school was always something I wanted to go to.

What quick, easy, and healthy lunches do you make for yourself, if any? I could use a few more ideas.  

Quick Home Fries

We're just back from a quick vacation. We went to a friend's house in Lake Placid, where we skated, skied, and snowshoed for three glorious days. Oh, and I did a slew of cooking. There's nothing like better than cooking for a small group. Cooking for my family takes a lot of effort, and with just a bit more, I can feed another three or four mouths without any problem.

I made a rabbit stew, which I'll write about later in the week, and a boneless leg of lamb that I've made so many times before it's hard to believe that I haven't blogged about it. I'll do that soon, too.

After six hours of driving, though, I don't have much energy left. I'll just share a quick tip for making home fries: use leftover baked potatoes. The night on vacation that I cooked the lamb, I accompanied them with baked potatoes. I was distracted by the Steelers/Broncos game on the television, and I lost count of how many potatoes I should put in the oven. I ended up with about four extra ones when the night was done.

Those baked potatoes sat in the fridge until this morning, when I cut them up and tossed them in a pan with a bit of oil, onion, and parsley. With a shake of salt and pepper, my home fries were ready to go. I scrambled two eggs, and I was ready to start packing the car.

Home Fries

  • 1/2 an onion, diced
  • 2 or 3 leftover baked potatoes, cut in to small cubes
  • 1 tablespoon or more of chopped fresh parsley

Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and saute the onions until they are soft

Add the potatoes and fry until crisp (or as crisp as you can get them--I don't often have much luck, and they're still delicious)

Add the parsley and salt and pepper

Serve with eggs

New Year's Money Saving Tip: Buy Wine by the Case

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but I’m always looking for ways to improve my behavior. Also to save money. In recent years, I switched from a credit card that gave me airline miles when I used it, to one that gives me cash back. After I became a father, I simply wasn’t travelling much. Cash, on the other hand, speaks for itself.

Recently, I read a new book, “The Behavior Gap: Simple Ways to Stop Doing Dumb Things With Money," by Carl Richards, and it is full of sage advice, and great drawings. Richards makes a number of good suggestions, and if you’re looking for a book to help get your financial bearings in the New Year, it’s a good place to start.

I have my own bit of financial advice: If you’re looking to save money on wine, buy it by the case. Most stores will offer ten to fifteen-percent off when you do this. I also find it handy to have a few extra bottles of wine to have on hand, in case I need one for a hostess gift or to bring to a family gathering. And if you're not sure what bottles to buy, find a trusted store and ask the staff for suggestions. You probably won't go wrong.

What money saving ideas do you have around the kitchen? If you have ways of economizing, I'd like to hear them.

Post-Holiday Insanity

I've been catching up after the holidays, and it's been a bit more difficult to manage than I anticipated. I'll be back posting next week, and in the meantime I leave you with a humorous piece by a friend, about working off holiday excesses, “The Holidays Are Over, And Now to Everest (By Cross Trainer)!," by Paul Greenberg.

Jan. 2: The indulgences of the winter feasts are at an end, and I have arrived at Everest Base Camp along with my Life Fitness Elliptical Cross Trainer.

My Sherpa guide, Dorjee, joined by his extended clan, gaze in wonder as I mount the apparatus and bring the instrument panel to life. Dorjee points at the "calories burned" meter, which reads a dismal "zero," and shakes his head. Laughter.

Jan. 5: The Himalayan village is atwitter with my activities as I acclimatize, first with care-free "Foothills," then more strenuous "Rockies," and finally... To read more, click here.