Are there dishes that you always associate with a person? Like a perfume or a scarf, people seem to have a signature food. It’s either something they make consistently or something they make once in a while, and they do it really well. Sometimes, it can be a combination of both.
These dishes pop up on all occasions. A specialty lasagna might get dropped off for new parents. Chocolate chip oatmeal cookies are delivered as a thank you. A tin of muffins is left for a grieving family.
Often people are looking for ways to make a gesture to another person in times of both celebration and hardship. And frequently, food is an answer.
When we moved into our new home last fall, a friend brought over banana bread. (Didn’t neighbors also used to do this sort of thing?) It was delicious. Shortly after that, she sent a group email offering her banana bread in exchange for a favor and I realized this was her signature dish.
I learned that she delivers banana bread for all occasions. When friends come to town, she’ll make sure a fresh loaf greets them in their hotel room. If someone invites her over for dinner, she brings bread as a host gift. During the holidays when it’s not appropriate to take wine to a party, she gifts her banana bread instead. She has even gone as far to detail the banana bread with a little aspen leaf, making the whole presentation thoughtful and cute.
This friend is leaving Aspen to move to Boulder and town will miss her and her banana bread. She generously shared the recipe so that even with her gone, the treat is the gift that keeps giving.
2 ripe bananas
½ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup buttermilk and 1 tbsp buttermilk
1 ¾ cup flour
1 ½ cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three mini-loaf pans. Mix ingredients (bananas, eggs, oil, buttermilk, vanilla) in one bowl first. Mix dry ingredients in separate bowl.
Blend ingredients. Pour batter into pans. Bake approximately 20-25 mins until top splits (and edges break away from pan). Cool on drying rack for a few minutes. Then, remove loaves from pans and let loaves cool on drying rack.
Sometimes it can take less or more than the suggested cooking time. Check to see when cake is breaking away from the edges and use a toothpick test in center of loaf. Slice and use for French toast and serve with fresh blueberries and raspberries! Or, toast with butter.
Christine Benedetti writes about food here every other week. Mostly the plant kind. She’s editor-in-chief of Aspen magazine, but you can reach her @cabenedetti.