Recipe #18 Chocolate Banana Crumb Cake

This recipe is found in Make it Ahead, page 261.

Here it is! The recipe review you’ve ALL been waiting for — at least I hope!

On Sunday afternoon, I made IG’s Banana Chocolate Crumb Cake and let me just say, it did not disappoint.

In the post announcing that this would be the recipe I would make this weekend, I said that the headnotes for the recipe were two sentences. After making it, I can see why Ina did that. The taste of this cake speaks for itself!

Following that pattern, this post will be short and sweet. Below is a photo of the finished product. I highly, highly, highly recommend you try this for yourself.

The cake before going into the oven.
The cake while cooling.

Doesn’t it look just divine!?

Recipes #6 and #7 – Fingerling Potatoes, and Peas and Pancetta

Fingerling Potatoes from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, page 159 AND Peas & Pancetta from Make it Ahead, page 158.

To pair with my Turkey Meat Loaf, I decided I needed potatoes. After all, is a classic American dinner like meat load complete if there are no potatoes? I think not.

Luckily, Ina has numerous recipes involving potatoes. I chose for a simpler one, but also a somewhat non-traditional one since meat loaf is usually served with mashed potatoes.

Ina’s fingerling potatoes are just about as basic as you can get and it was lovely anyway. I purchased fingerling potatoes from the store and sliced them before cooking to save time. Since I had more time in the morning, after slicing them in half I filled a pot with cold water and let them sit in there on the stove (it was off) until I needed them for dinner. The potatoes were cooked until fork tender, I drained them, let them steam for a few moments while I was working on the Peas & Pancetta, then tossed them in olive oil, salt and pepper.

They paired really well with the meat loaf and it was probably the most basic recipe Ina has.

The Peas & Pancetta is where we bring in the “gourmet” that is typical of Ina Garten’s recipes. Pancetta is not something that I typically cook with, so going to the store to get pancetta would have been a hurdle. I’m not sure if the deli department in the grocery store would have it. Luckily, I didn’t have to find out because where the cheeses are on display with the other cured meats, they had prepackaged pancetta already diced just how I needed it!

It was a win for me and what a great way to start the day!

When it came time to make the veggie, I sliced up the shallot and threw it into the pan with some oil, I added the pancetta and shortly after I heard little crackling noises of the pancetta searing. Once the shallot turned translucent, I added the peas, the salt, pepper, and mint. I gave some time for the peas to defrost (since they were frozen) and cook. Almost as soon as the peas were ready, the meatloaf was done.

I plated everything and served it to my family. Everyone liked it. The pancetta was a welcome change to our usual routine of having plain peas or just something out of a steamer-bag. I do think I had too many peas…I used a larger bag than called for, but it was all I was able to find in the freezer. Oh well, I got the gist of the taste.

You may be wondering if made a dessert for this meal.

Well, I did…sort of. But it wasn’t made the same day as these. I made it Friday morning, which I will discuss on Monday’s post!

Recipe #3 – French Chicken Pot Pie

French Chicken Pot Pie from Make It Ahead

On Friday I decided to make another recipe from one of Ina’s cookbooks. The meal I made it for would be dinner so I paged my way through the “Dinner” sections of each of her eleven cookbooks until something caught my eye. I eventually found the French Chicken Pot Pie.

I went to the grocery store, found the leeks and mushrooms and opted for the a roll of the Pillsbury biscuit dough over the boxes of puff pastry as she suggested (I wanted to save a few bucks!), and I went home.

This was the first time that I can recall in which I cooked with leeks. And it was interesting. Every time I watch a chef on TV cook with leeks they say something like “You need to wash leeks really well because they are so sandy and dirty.” Remembering this, I was prepared for a mess of sand and dirt, but thankfully that wasn’t the case. These leeks were relatively clean and required only minimal additional cleaning.

The hardest part about this recipe was all the prep work. First you have to cook the chicken in the oven, then wait for it to cool to shred it by hand to get the pieces of chicken that will be “pie friendly.” Then you need to cut carrots, mushrooms, and the leeks into bite-sized pieces (half-inch dice). All of these cutting took some time and was probably the most time-consuming aspect of the recipe.

Finally, my mise en place was done and I was ready to cook. I followed the recipe diligently and when it came time to add the tarragon (after more knife work), the kitchen almost immediately smelled wonderful and I felt like I had just walked into a fancy-smanzy restaurant.

Ina’s original recipe calls to make individual portions of the pie in two-cup bowls that are oven-safe. While cute, it isn’t very practical. So I poured the mixture into a 13-by-9 baking dish and rolled the biscuit dough over it. I still brushed it with an egg wash and some salt and pepper, and it looked amazing!


While it baked, the house filled with wonderful smells of chicken, leeks, carrots, tarragon — and yes, Pillsbury biscuits.

Finally, the time came to eat the pie. I let it sit for a few minutes after removing it from the oven and it was worth it!

Upon having my first bite I immediately thought, “All the prep work was worth it!”

We had leftovers and I think the pie even tasted better the following day. Overall, it wasn’t all that much work (if you get over the chopping) and totally worth the effort!!

Sadly, the only photo I have of it is while the contents of the mixture was simmering on my stove, but the picture wouldn’t do it justice anyway. I highly recommend you try to this one for dinner soon.