Quickie Crappie with a Side and Dessert

We’re having a simple meal of crappie fillets, smashed potatoes with banana bread for dessert. It contains my favorite three food groups: fish, fat and sugar. The sugar part comes in a fruit. Gotta be good for you!

 

Quickie Crappies for Two

4-6 crappie fillets

Salt & pepper to taste

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 lemon, sliced wedges

 

Season fillets with salt and pepper to taste. Add butter and olive oil to a medium hot skillet until the butter turns brown and bubbles Add fish and cook for about 3 minutes on each side until golden brown or flakes. Serve with lemon wedges, if you like that sort of thing.

 

Cook’s Country magazine generously emailed me a few of their recipes. Here are two, smashed potatoes and banana bread, to round out our meal. Cook’s Country is my favorite TV cooking show and they also have a terrific web site. I like the science and their efforts to test ways to create the best tasting foods.

 

Smashed Potatoes

2 pounds Red Bliss potatoes, (about 2 inches in diameter), unpeeled and scrubbed

Salt

1 bay leaf

4 tablespoons salted butter, melted and warm

1/2 cup cream cheese, (4 ounces) at room temperature

Ground black pepper

3 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped, (optional)

 

White potatoes can be used instead of Red Bliss, but their skins lack the rosy color of Red Bliss skins. Try to get potatoes of equal size. Place potatoes in large saucepan and cover with 1 inch cold water then add 1 teaspoon salt and bay leaf. Bring to boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently until paring knife can be easily inserted into potatoes. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water; then drain potatoes. Return potatoes to pot, discard bay leaf and allow potatoes to stand in pot, uncovered, until surfaces are dry. While potatoes dry, whisk melted butter and softened cream cheese in medium bowl until smooth and fully incorporated. Add 1/4 cup of reserved cooking water, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, chives and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Smash potatoes enough to break skins. Fold in butter/cream cheese mixture until most of liquid has been absorbed and chunks of potatoes remain. Add more cooking water 1 tablespoon at a time as needed, until potatoes are slightly looser than desired (potatoes will thicken slightly with standing). Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Best when made just before serving.

 

TIP: The best time to buy olive oil is just as the new season hits the markets in early winter.

 

Banana Bread

Use only very ripe, heavily speckled (or even black) bananas – they contain more fructose (This is the sweet part; fruit sugar). You can use five frozen bananas because they release a lot of liquid naturally, so you can bypass microwaving and go directly into the fine-mesh strainer. Do not use a thawed banana for the topping; it’ll be too soft to slice. Cook’s Country recipe calls for loaf pan that measures 8½ by 4½ inches but you use a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan, start checking for doneness five minutes earlier than advised in the recipe.

 

1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon table salt

5 large very ripe bananas (about 2 1/4 pounds), peeled

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

2 large eggs

3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)

1 ripe banana for topping

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

 

Place oven rack to middle position and pre-heat to 350 degrees. Spray loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk flour, baking soda and salt together in large bowl. Place 5 bananas in microwave-safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap and cut several steam vents in plastic. Microwave on high power until bananas are soft and have released their liquid, about 5 minutes. Transfer bananas to fine-mesh strainer placed over medium bowl and allow to drain, stirring occasionally. You should have 1/2 to 3/4 cup liquid. Transfer liquid to medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/4 cup. Remove from heat, stir reduced liquid into bananas and mash with potato masher until fairly smooth. Whisk in butter, eggs, brown sugar and vanilla. Pour banana mixture into flour mixture and stir until just combined with some streaks of flour remaining. Gently fold in walnuts (optional). Scrape batter into prepared loaf pan. Slice remaining banana diagonally into 1/4-inch thick slices. Shingle banana slices on top of both sides of loaf leaving 1 1/2-inch-wide space down center to ensure even dough rise. Sprinkle granulated sugar evenly over loaf. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean. Cool bread in pan on wire rack 15 minutes, then remove loaf from pan and continue to cool on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

TIP: Replace your non-stick skillet if your scrambled eggs don’t slide off the pan if you don’t use oil or butter.