Water & food

Cooking with Scraps Recipes

Lindsay-Jean Hard, author of Cooking with Scraps, shared two of her favorite recipes with the Water Main during her appearance on Just Eat It: Why Food Waste Matters.

Enjoy these delicious, low-waste treats with recipes for banana peel cake and beet peel margaritas.

Banana peel cake with peanut butter frosting

Ingredients for the cake:

  • Peels from 2 very ripe bananas, stem and very bottom discarded (about 100 grams)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, plus more for buttering pans
  • 1-and-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1-and-2/3 cups cake flour (210 grams), plus more flour (any type) for flouring the pans
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

For the frosting:

  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1-and-1/2 to 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

This cake is lightly adapted from my paternal grandmother’s (G.G.’s) banana cake recipe. Well, I think of it as my grandmother’s recipe, but it was actually her mother’s or her mother-in-law’s . . . either way, it lasted through the generations for a reason. It was a special cake that she would make for my father’s birthday, as it’s his favorite cake (and mine, too). The major difference between this cake and hers? Mine is made with banana peels (yes, really) instead of bananas. It’s a simple-seeming cake (no vanilla?! not a spice to be found?!), but it tastes just like your favorite banana bread. Makes one 2-layer cake.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

  2. To make the cake: Cut the banana peels into 1-inch pieces and place them in a small saucepan with 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly, then strain the banana peels, reserving T cup of the cooking water.

  3. Meanwhile, butter and flour the sides of two 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Butter and flour the pans again to coat the paper.

  4. Transfer the peels and the 1/4 cup of cooking water to a tall, narrow container and puree until completely smooth with an immersion blender (a mini food processor would do the trick, too!).

  5. Cream together the butter and sugar using an electric mixer (or a wooden spoon for an arm workout) until pale and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the egg yolks one at a time, mixing until incorporated, and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Mix in the banana peel mixture, then stir in the buttermilk until well combined.

  6. In a separate medium-size bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the butter mixture and stir gently, just until combined.

  7. Put the egg whites in another bowl (make sure it’s clean and dry!) and whisk until soft peaks form—either by hand or with the whisk attachment on an electric mixer. If using an electric mixer, start slowly and gradually increase speed to medium-high. You’ll know you’re done when you pull out the whisk or beater and a soft peak is formed, but immediately collapses. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter and divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans.

  8. Bake for about 25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through, until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake pulls out with dry crumbs rather than wet batter. Let the cakes cool completely in the pans.

  9. To make the frosting: Mix together the Greek yogurt, creamy peanut butter, and 1/4 cup of the whole milk with an electric mixer. Gradually add 1 1/2 cups of the powdered sugar and mix until smooth. If the frosting is too thick, add more of the milk; if it’s too loose, slowly add the additional powdered sugar until it reaches a spreadable consistency.

  10. When the cakes are completely cool, remove from the pans and peel off the parchment. Put one layer of the cake on a serving platter and spread about one third of the frosting evenly over the top. Set the other layer on top, and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake.


Beet peel margaritas


  • Kosher salt
  • 1 ounce Cointreau or other orange-flavored liqueur
  • 2 limes, halved and juiced (don’t discard the spent limes)
  • 3 ounces Beet Peel Tequila (page 150)
  • 4 teaspoons simple syrup (see box)
  • Additional lime slices, for garnish (optional)

One of my favorite restaurants in my hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan, has a beet margarita on their menu, made with pickled beet juice. Since I don’t get there as often as I’d like, I had to find a way to re-create it at home. I first played around with a freshly juiced version, but then I found that using beet peel–infused tequila (page 150) was an even better way of imparting the earthy beet flavor to the drink without watering it down. Your eagle eyes may pick up that I call for 4 teaspoons of simple syrup here instead of 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon. Listing the ingredients in this way means you just have to be able to count to 4 (1 for Cointreau, 2 for lime juice, 3 for tequila . . .) and you’re well on your way to a delicious margarita! Makes 2 cocktails (sharing is optional).

  1. Pour some kosher salt into a small, shallow dish.
  2. Add the Cointreau, lime juice, tequila, and simple syrup to a shaker filled with ice.
  3. Run the spent lime halves around the rims of two glasses (or one, no judgment), dip the glasses in the salt, and then fill the glasses with ice.
  4. Shake the cocktail until chilled and then strain into the glasses. Garnish with a slice of lime, if desired.

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