Intro to Cooking 101
I feel as if an introduction is in order, so at the very least you have a name to toss around when you tell your friends about the wonderful columnist, who is hopelessly passionate about food. That name would be Anna, but I also answer to your humble host, brilliant baker or culinary genius. Whichever you feel is most convenient.
All jesting and self-flattery aside, however, I cannot wait to use this space to share recipes and stories, because food always has a story. To start, here is a glimpse of my past adventures:
While these last few weeks marked the start of my freshman year as a journalism major, Biola is not my first college experience. Fresh out of high school, I arrived at the Culinary Institute of America set on becoming a pastry chef. I would graduate, work in a top New York City restaurant, reside in a tiny yet fabulous apartment, and never have a second thought about my home state of California.
As it turned out, only 75 percent of my list was worth accomplishing. By my final year of culinary school it was clear that I had grown into new dreams — dreams of exploring food and describing its beauty in print, and dreams of living as far from East Coast humidity as possible. So this July, upon receiving my associate’s degree in baking and pastry arts, I ran back to California and toward pursuing food journalism as a career.
God made food simultaneously delicious and necessary to our survival; how awesome is it that our Creator intentionally made a potential chore into a pleasure! For this reason, food is such a gift — a deep appreciation for this blessing lies close to my heart. For this reason, I hope you will join my journey in savoring God's flavorful present. I invite you to pick up a whisk, spatula or other utensil of choice and play with food. Discover the many possibilities that lie in wait at the grocery store and farmers market. Challenge preconceptions about cooking and baking, and experience something different. Cooking should be fun, not intimidating. Approach the stove humbly and fearlessly, and you will surprise yourself. Hopefully it's a delicious surprise, like this week's featured recipe ...
Necessity is the mother of invention, and while the author of this cliché never clarified the quality of necessity's child, a desire to make peanut butter cookies in a virtually ingredient-less house proved such invention to be quite scrumptious. Google found a recipe that did not use butter or flour, but as I prepared to bake, I realized my fridge contained absolutely no eggs, but the recipe called for one. Scanning the kitchen in despair and defeat, my eyes fixed upon a lone banana and my cookie-craving heart rejoiced once more.
What is the significance of the banana, you ask? Unlike the pineapple in How I Met Your Mother, there exists an explanation for this banana. For an item like cookies, where the eggs do not contribute a lot of rising power — as opposed to a cake, which generally rises more than cookies — a quarter cup of banana purée can seamlessly replace your missing egg. So then, having solved this problem, the scent of baking peanut butter banana cookies filled my little kitchen.
Peanut Butter Banana Cookies
(adapted from thekitchn.com, “Sensational Peanut Butter Cookies”)
1 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup banana, puréed/mashed
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
additional sugar for rolling cookie dough
Preheat oven to 350°F.
The banana should be as close to liquid, or purée, as possible. With the realization that the average college student does not have a food processor on hand, a fork and a little elbow grease will suffice. Just make sure it is as smooth as possible; using a riper banana will help and actually give the cookies more banana flavor.
Measure your banana purée into a 1/4 cup and add into a mixing bowl, along with the peanut butter, sugar, brown sugar, baking soda and vanilla extract.
Stir all the ingredients well until they combine into a uniform mixture. Roll about a tablespoonful of dough into little balls, then roll it in the additional sugar. Place on a cookie sheet that has either been greased or has parchment paper on it. Space the cookie dough out; each cookie will spread out at least an inch in the oven.
Using a fork, press down on dough twice to slightly flatten, making intersecting lines on top of the cookies.
Bake in oven for eight to 10 minutes, let cool and enjoy!
Note: I used natural unsweetened, unsalted peanut butter in the recipe. If you use Skippy, or other sweetened brands, and the cookies turn out too sweet, just reduce the white sugar by about a 1/4 cup.