Hi! It feels like a lot of life has happened around here since I wrote last. My oldest son, Rob, has been staying with us and his presence at the dinner table has given my cooking enthusiasm a needed boost. He enjoys sharing dinner with the Other Fisherman and me and we appreciate his company. I enjoy preparing fresh-caught king salmon, sockeye salmon, halibut and rock fish as well as special purchases of oysters, clams and mussels they’ve provided me. He’s busy enjoying Alaska adventures that take him all over the Kenai Peninsula doing all kinds of fishing.
Inspiration for this decadent banana chocolate chip bread came from a memory of a time when a fellow co-worker shared it at work. I recall it was really moist and the combination of banana and chocolate was delicious. To this day when I eat a banana I long for something chocolate to eat with it.
This recipe uses four ripe bananas. The natural sugars from the ripe, brown bananas keep the bread moist for up to a week. The high moisture of the batter can make it tricky to determine doneness, so take care not to under-bake the loaf. It should have a dry, shiny cracked surface, and a tester inserted into the thickest portion should come out with a few moist crumbs on it. No electric mixer is needed. I put it together quietly one afternoon when my grandson Kase was taking his nap.
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Makes one loaf
• Nonstick spray, as needed
• 4 very ripe medium bananas, peeled
• 6 tablespoons butter, melted
• ⅓ cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
• 1 cup light or dark brown sugar
• 2 large eggs
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1½ teaspoons baking soda
• ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
• 1 cup/135 grams finely chopped chocolate or mini chocolate chips
• ¾ cup coarsely chopped toasted nuts, such as almonds, walnuts or pecans (optional)
• Coarse sanding or turbinado sugar, as needed for finishing (optional)
*Note: I baked mine in a glass pan for one hour. I checked it at 25 minutes and the top was browned already, so I placed a piece of foil loosely over the top.
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.
2. In a large bowl, mash the bananas coarsely using a fork. They should be fully broken apart, but it’s OK if some larger lumpy pieces remain. Whisk in the melted butter, yogurt, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla until well combined.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda and salt to combine. Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture and stir to combine using a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Scrape the sides and base of the bowl well to make sure the mixture is uniformly combined.
4. Gently stir in the chocolate and nuts until combined, then pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and spread into an even layer. If using, sprinkle the surface generously with coarse sugar.
5. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until the edges of the loaf start to pull away from the edge of the pan, and a tester inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached — about 60 to 75 minutes. If the top of the loaf is becoming too dark before it’s baked through, loosely cover with foil.
6. Transfer from the oven to a cooling rack and run a thin knife around the edge of the banana bread to separate it from the pan. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before unmolding and cooling completely.
I hear of fabulous catches of halibut from my friends who spend time on the water fishing. What summer in Alaska could be complete without a halibut fishing trip and story? I am still waiting for a fun halibut story to share with you. Stay tuned. In the meantime, try a new halibut recipe. This preparation would also be good with rockfish, snapper or rockfish.
Halibut with Brown Butter, Lemon and Sage
• About 1 1/2 pounds halibut filets (or other firm white-fleshed fish), cut into 4 pieces
• Salt and black pepper
• Wondra flour for dusting fish
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 4 tablespoons butter
• 12 to 15 fresh sage leaves
• 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon capers
• ¼ cup coarse homemade bread crumbs, toasted
• 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley (optional)
• Lemon wedges, for serving
1. Dry fish filets well with paper towel. Season fish on both sides with plenty of salt and pepper. Lightly coat each side of fish with flour, shake off to leave just a light dusting.
2. Pour oil into a large, heavy skillet (preferably cast iron or nonstick) and set over medium-high heat. When oil is hot (but not smoking), swirl to evenly coat the pan, then add fish in a single layer. Let cook undisturbed for 3 to 4 minutes, until first side is nicely browned. Adjust the heat as needed to produce a steady sizzle and prevent scorching.
3. Flip and cook fish for about another 3 minutes, until just done. (To test for doneness, use a fork to gently probe the flesh: it should flake easily.) Transfer cooked fish to a warm platter or serving plates.
4. Make the sauce: Place skillet back on the stove over medium-high heat. Add butter and sage leaves. Cook butter, swirling the pan, until foamy and just beginning to brown, about 1 minute. Turn off heat and stir in capers and lemon juice.
5. Spoon butter sauce and sage leaves over fish. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and parsley. Serve immediately, with lemon wedges.
Rob prepared a whole black rockfish in a salt-and-egg white crust after he returned home from his last fishing adventure with one left whole and scaled. He did a fabulous job preparing it and layering lemon slices, bay leaf and a sprig of fresh rosemary in the cavity with a sprinkling of herb salt I bought at the Homer Farmers market last summer from Jen Castellani. He mixed up a salt-and-egg white crust to encase it in with kosher and regular fine salt. It was baked about 25 minutes and was about 2½ pounds. Salt crust was cracked and removed prior to serving, then the fish was deboned and served with a melted butter and lemon sauce. The fish was moist and tender with a subtle hint of the herbs.
Have fun out there fishing and be safe.