When I’m with my friend Rachael, food is never far from the equation, whether we’re trying out a new restaurant in Philadelphia where she lives, cooking ourselves a quick dinner or just talking endlessly about what we’ve been eating. I recently spent a few days with her in Philly and then in Margate, on the Jersey shore, and we had some fabulous food as always. A dinner at Amis was terrific, with the stars being swordfish meatballs, pasta with bass and an outrageous Nutella-covered waffle for dessert. We also hit up Khmer Kitchen, a super-authentic Cambodian joint where I found mussels that made me question my previous ambivalence to the species, and dove head first into some fantastic flavors. After a quick Banh Mi from Nam Som and some baked goods from the newly opened Kermit’s Bake Shop, we headed for the Shore for some much needed beach time. Our first evening, we made a summery feast heavy on the excellent Jersey produce we bought:
I usually have a banana each morning, but when plans go awry, or I get too enthusiastic at Trader Joes, I end up with a few sad ‘nanas that look increasingly assaulted as the days go on. Luckily, the browning of the fruit makes them perfect for baked goods, and, as a result, I’m a frequent banana muffin-baker. They are a snap to make, involve a few simple pantry ingredients, and make great gifts (or solo eating extravaganzas) I’ve played around with a few different recipes, some with chocolate chips and some without (usually with), but I really liked this one from Tyler Florence that I used recently. I usually have one banana too many or one too few than the recipe suggests, so I just fudge the quantities accordingly. (Specific, I know)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 overripe bananas
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and lightly butter 2 muffin tins.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Mash 2 of the bananas with a fork in a small bowl so they still have a bit of texture. With an electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk, whip the remaining bananas and sugar together like you mean it, for a good 3 minutes. Add the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla and beat well, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Fold in the nuts and the mashed bananas with a rubber spatula. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins to fill them about halfway. Give them a rap on the counter to get any air bubbles out.
Bake until a toothpick stuck in the muffins comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before turning the muffins out. Serve warm or at room temperature.