February 4, 2012

My trip to Transylvania: Part 3

I’m starting this post by telling you that last week was awful.  Adrian came down with a cold and then, when we thought he was getting better, he threw out his back.  For three days, Adrian walked tilted to the left.  He was in pain.  But that’s not all.  After Adrian’s back problem, I came down with a terrible cold.  It was so bad that last Thursday all I could do was lay on the couch covered with a wool blanket up to my nose and build up a pile of Kleenex next to me.  My eyelids could barely make it above half-mast and I felt that I needed a pair of toothpicks to hold them up to watch yet another Federer – Nadal classic, this time in the semi-final of the Australian Open.  We were a house under siege…

But, all’s well that ends well, right?  Fortunately, this week’s been better.  And it started really well when Djokovic defeated Nadal in the final of the Australian Open.  Anyway…  I don’t want to complain too much or bore you with my tennis obsessions, especially since I’d like to tell you more about my trip to Transylvania.  

After that food coma between Christmas and New Year’s, we all took a short break from anything food related.  Even the weather got better and it was a true pleasure going for a stroll on the riverbank.  That’s what I did and decided to take some pictures to show you the beautiful scenery.  You can pretty much traverse the entire city walking on the riverbank.

Our break from food didn’t last too long.  It only lasted until January 7th, when we celebrate St. John and evidently everyone named John or Joan or any other derivative.  Being a very important religious holiday in the Orthodox calendar, we had to prepare some fine dishes.  You’re probably asking: what else could we possibly eat?  We didn’t go over the top this time, but I did manage to introduce my family to an American classic: Banana Bread.  And guess what, they loved it!  

I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical since my parents are not used to the American cuisine, but, to my surprise and excitement, they all loved my Banana Bread.  The only difference from the traditional banana bread was its shape.  That’s because I baked it in a bunt cake pan, and it was worth it; it was a stunning visual.  The whole kitchen was overwhelmed with bananas and toasted nuts aromas.  And then I took it out of the oven… 

When the banana bread was ready I felt just like in My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  Do you remember the scene when Ian’s parents come to Toula’s house to meet her family, and they bring a bunt cake?  Toula’s mother doesn’t understand what it is and after a couple of confusing moments she says that’s a cake!  I made the banana bread in a bunt cake pan and it looked exactly the same.  I told my family it was banana bread, and they reacted exactly like Toula’s mother, and said, no, it’s not bread, it’s a cake!  Most importantly, they loved it.  The cake was rich, dense and moist, and oozed banana and walnut flavor.  I ended up making it several times before I left.  

Banana Bread
Adapted from Food Network Magazine (May 2011)

Serves: 10+ servings


·         Butter for the pan
·         1 cup banana, mashed (about 2 large bananas)
·         1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
·         Optional: ½ cup raisins
·         1 ¼ cups flour
·         1 cup sugar
·         1 teaspoon baking powder
·         1 teaspoon salt
·         ½ teaspoon baking soda
·         1 teaspoon cinnamon
·         ½ teaspoon nutmeg
·         2 eggs, at room temperature
·         ½ cup vegetable oil
·         ½ cup plain yogurt or sour cream
·         1 teaspoon vanilla extract
·         1 teaspoon lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Lightly butter one 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and walnuts (and raisins if using).  In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, vegetable oil, yogurt, vanilla extract and lemon zest.  Stir the mashed bananas into the egg mixture.  In batches, fold in the dry ingredients until just combined. 

Spread the batter in the prepared pan.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes.  Cool 15-20 minutes in the pan on a rack, then turn out onto the rack to cool completely.  When cool, dust powdered sugar on top.

Note: Instead of bananas you can also try this recipe using pears (shredded and squeezed dry), apples (shredded and squeezed dry), carrots (shredded) or zucchini (shredded and squeezed dry).

Poftă Bună! (Bon Appétit!)     

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your travel story with us. It has me itching to travel again and explore the wonderous culinary cultures that are out there. Matter of fact speaking of my big fat greek wedding I am looking at vacations in Greece next winter. Thanks again for these wonderful posts