It has been a long quarantine and it seems that it has brought out the cook in many of us. The number of friends that are sending recipe ideas, recipe requests, photos and videos is unprecedented. Social media is flooded with how-to videos and recipes, and it seems everyone wants to share a new idea.
I have been having fun in my kitchen, too - I even tried to make a banana bread in a mug!!! It seems that banana breads are quite the rage right now, mostly because we all stocked up on bananas and then they risked going bad. Who wants to throw away food in a quarantine when our visits to the grocery store seem more like a well organized trip rather than a spontaneous I-need-some-milk situation?!
After making a classic banana bread last week, I thought I'd see which of the Zēlos products could help spice up my usual recipe. You see, part of my creative journey is to try to find more ways for all of us to sample these exquisite small-batch delights that we have in-store and to stretch them to their (and our!) limits.
But back to my banana bread, I thought of trying Sparoza cooking blend with spices and orange zest. Full disclosure, I'm in love with this product and the more I use it in soups (remember that carrot and sweet potato soup?), stews and other winter dishes, the more I appreciate it...but the more I want to keep using it into the spring and summer! The phrase "cooking blend" always makes me think of serious, hard-core cooking, not so much baking, but the orange peel and spices make me think of warm and fragrant flavors, instant kitchen cozy!
Well, I am happy to report that Sparoza came through. The cooking blend added a warm, spicy, intricate flavor to the sweet, moist banana bread that you just can't explain. It's not cinnamon, although the blend has cinnamon, too; it is the unique combination of allspice, cardamom and cloves that make it super warm, and then the chili, orange zest, peppercorns and pink pepper that give it a hint of spice. Sparoza founder, Efi Ekmetzoglou, knew what she was doing when she crafted this blend by hand!
My other Greek touch in this banana bread was to use olive oil instead of butter, which makes every cake more moist (I'll have to share my basic olive oil cake recipe next!). Try it, and let everyone wonder what your secret ingredient is.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda (or 3 tsp baking powder)
1/4 tsp salt
1-2 tsp Sparoza's cooking blend with spices and orange zest (depending on how spicy you want it to be)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup yogurt or milk
3 ripe bananas
1/2 cup nuts or chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat your oven to 350F.
Brush a bread pan with olive oil.
Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
In another bowl mash the bananas with a fork and set aside.
Mix the eggs, yogurt or milk and all the dry ingredients with a fork and add the bananas. Mix and then add the optional ingredients. Careful not to over-mix, you don't need a mixer or blender for this dough.
Pour the dough into the bread pan and bake for an hour or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Let it cool 15-20 minutes to enjoy warm...we spooned some of Elli & Manos' sweetly-savory Gourmet Spreads on them for an extra touch of indulgence!
PS In my home we love banana breads for breakfast and snack and they last very little. We even tried it with the Elli & Manos raisins and cinnamon (yummy) and figs and walnuts for a super Greek flavor!
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