Mushroom, Rice & Hazelnut LoafI’m writing a book. The working title is The Loaf Chronicles and it tries to reach a conclusion about all the savory loaves I’ve baked over the years (just look at my “loaf” category to the right of this page). The book’s overall premise deals with how I can’t stop and how I can’t find real peace.

Not really.

But here’s another one. The “Mushroom, Rice & Hazelnut Loaf,” from Green Kitchen Stories, is a meatless loaf glued together by eggs, sticky rice, and spinach. I used black rice because it is indeed nice and sticky. I used a 10oz. box of frozen spinach because when you thaw and squeeze it out, it does indeed weigh 7 oz.

The recipe’s language is a bit too laid back: it neglects to tell us to chop the onion and garlic and rosemary and thyme before we sauté them, but of course we know better. Make sure you taste for salt and pepper at each step of this process.

Four eggs seemed like a lot, but this was not an eggy loaf. Those eggs were glue, as I said. After 45 minutes in the oven, this loaf was moist but solid. We were kind of longing for a sauce, though.

Stuffed Sweet PotatoAnd now for a side dish in that same 400-degree oven, which blasts this whole vegetarian thing. I’ll stand my ground and announce the obvious: sweet potatoes are flawless and need no help. They need not be dressed in anything in order to be wonderful. Roast them alone and they give you everything you could want.

BUT, I cook, as does our blogging friend at The Stone Soup. And sure enough, we indulge in the exercise of the “Stuffed Sweet Potato.” I roasted three sweet potatoes for 90 minutes, until they oozed with syrup, bubbling out. After that, I sliced in and added my sauteed beef, seasoned with salt and ras el hanout. This whole endeavor needs you to season, liberally.

Luckily, the tahini/lemon sauce is a tart wake-up for this potato.

Onion (1) = .60¢
Cremini Mushrooms (10 oz.) = $2.13
Frozen Spinach (10 oz.) = $2.28
Hazelnuts (3.5 oz.) - $2.91
Ground Beef (1 1/2 lbs.) = $10.17

PREP TIMES: devote 90 minutes to cook rice, sauté vegetables, squeeze out spinach, assemble loaf, and bake; roast potatoes until they ooze (90 minutes?)
loaf is moist and “meaty” (mushrooms); luxurious sweet potato is dressed with beef and topped with tart tahini and lemon

Next time, I’ll bake yet another loaf, but this will be a sweet one. I want to bake the “Peanut Butter Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips,” from the December 2015 issue of Cuisine at Home (recipe below). Come back to my site next week to enjoy this one with me.

Peanut Butter-Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips
Cuisine at Home, December 2015
Makes one 9x5-inch loaf

For the bread, purée:
3 medium bananas, mashed
1 cup sugar
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
2 eggs
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup Greek yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9x5-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.

For the bread, purée bananas, peanut butter, sugar, peanut butter, eggs, oil, yogurt and vanilla in a food processor; transfer to a large bowl.

Whisk together  flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon and fold into banana mixture along with 1 cup chocolate chips. Pour batter into the prepared pan; bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 90 minutes.

Transfer loaf to a rack and let cool in pan, 10 minutes. Turn out loaf and let cool completely.