A few months ago I recommended Dominique Ansel's banana bread recipe to a friend. It's a recipe that alchemizes minimal effort into cake gold: a light and moist crumb encased in a crackly crust of caramelized hallucinogenic magic. The source of that magic is 2 cups of sugar and 14 tablespoons of butter. To some people, myself included, 2 cups of sugar and 14 tablespoons of butter translate to "I TASTE REAL GOOD, YOU CAN TRUST ME, WITH ALL YOUR SECRETS, AND YOUR FUTURE BABIES." To others, they translate to "HELL NO, I PREFER A LIFE WITH LESS BUTTER AND SUGAR FOR SOME REASON."
My friend is in the latter group. I wasn't completely surprised he balked at the ingredients, knowing his food preferences, but I was still disappointed. I mean, we're good friends. I trust this guy. ...Or do I?
He looked up another banana bread recipe online, one less buttery and sugary, which is probably every other banana bread recipe in existence. Kåre and I were at his apartment when he baked it. We tasted the banana bread together, fresh from the oven.
"It tastes kind of...healthy."
[Everyone continues chewing]
There wasn't much else to say after that. He sent Kåre and me home with a chunk of the banana bread that we may or may not have eaten. I don't think we talked about it after that. We love our friend, and the friendship is better off that way, I think.
Don't make my friend's mistake. Try Dominique's recipe and let me know what you think. I don't think it's too sweet, but if you're concerned about the sugar content, according to this blogger you can use 1.5 cups of sugar and still get the amazing crust.
Unfortunately, that amazing crust doesn't last forever. Ideally you'd consume the entire loaf within hours to get maximum crust action before it becomes a moist husk of its former self. But nausea would probably kick in at some point and stop you. I know from experience. Without the magical crust though, the cake is still moist and delicious and will stay that way for days.
Here are some other recipes I've made in the last few months that have made me think, "Man, this is a good recipe that I should tell other people about someday when I'm less lazy."
Serious Eats: How to Make the Best Swedish Meatballs: I made this for Kåre's birthday last month. They're awesome. JUST TRY TO SEDUCE ME NOW, IKEA! (JK, I will never get tired of eating meatballs at IKEA.) Not that I expected anything less than awesome from Daniel Gritzer. Kenji gets most of the recipe recognition on Serious Eats, which I totally understand, but I want the internet to know that DANIEL IS SUPER AWESOME TOO.
Lady and Pups: Taiwan Pork Ragu on Rice - Lu Rou Fan: If you like the sound of "super rich and savory pork belly goop over rice", you should like lu rou fan. Now that I know how easy it is to make at home, I don't feel so bad that I no longer live in Taipei where I could easily get a bowl of lu rou fan for NT$30 (less than US$1). ...Ok, I still feel a little bad. On the upside, making it at home means you get a vat of the stuff instead of just a small bowl.
Serious Eats: The Food Lab: How to Make Real New England Clam Chowder: Since I was kid, New England clam chowder has been one of my favorite foods of all time. I'm not super into clams in general, but I like clams plus cream plus potatoes plus onions plus all the other stuff, plus an excuse to eat lots of oyster crackers. Kenji's recipe was my first stab at making the soup myself and I feel stupid for not trying it sooner. It's an easy recipe, especially if you're lazy like me and just used canned clams instead of fresh.
Simply Recipes: Fish Chowder: More chowder! This time with fish.
Serious Eats: Roasted Cauliflower With Pine Nut, Raisin, and Caper Vinaigrette: Before this, I hadn't roasted a vegetable in at least two years. Damn, this stuff is good.
Tine: Havreflarn (English translation): Think of these traditional Scandinavian cookies as oatmeal tuile cookies. This version is flourless, just rolled oats bound together with butter, sugar, and egg, and leavened with baking soda. The resulting cookies are delicately crisp and doomed to have very short lifespans. Because you will shovel them into your face.
Habeas Brulee: Salty Oat Cookies: As much as I like havreflarn, they made me want more substantial American-style oatmeal cookies that had some chew to go with the crisp. That's where these cookies come in. As the recipe says, don't be stingy when you sprinkle on the salt.