Category Archives: Recipes (Sweet)

Bestia’s Butter-Topped Banana Bread

Half a stick of melted butter gets brushed on top before this banana bread gets a shower of sugar, too.

Half a stick of melted butter gets brushed on top before this banana bread gets a shower of sugar, too.

 

I often kid myself that pumpkin bread, zucchini bread, carrot cake and banana bread verge on being healthy because they contain fruit and veggies.

But who’s kidding who?

Clearly, that con won’t even get off the ground when you’re confronted with “Butter-Topped Banana Bread.”

Yes, two loaves with intense banana flavor, a mountain of walnuts and 1/2 a stick of melted butter drizzled abundantly on top of each one of them.

Uh, there is calcium in butter, right?

This lavish rendition of a staple baked good comes from “Bestia: Italian Recipes Created in the Heart of L.A.” (Ten Speed Press, 2018), of which I received a review copy.

Bestia Cookbook

It’s by husband-and-wife chef team, Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis of Bestia in Los Angeles; and Lesley Suter, the former deputy editor for Los Angeles magazine.

Menashe (executive chef) and Gergis (pastry chef) opened their wildly popular Italian restaurant in the LA Arts District in 2012 long before that area became a destination. They hit a home-run with that first restaurant. That was followed in 2018 by Bavel, their Middle Eastern restaurant that hit it out of the park.

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It’s Not Easy Being Green (Cake)

Blink twice -- because this cake is indeed green.

Blink twice — because this cake is indeed green.

 

The first thing my husband said when he spied this cake cooling on the kitchen counter was: “WTH!?!”

Yes, this is cake.

With mint.

And parsley. Loads of it.

All of which gets minced until it resembles churned up grass clippings. Then, it’s folded into a batter that ends up looking quite a lot like pesto.

Meet “Parsley Cake” from Katy Peetz, former pastry chef of Roberta’s in Brooklyn.

It’s from the cookbook, “Food52 Genius Desserts: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Bake (Food52 Works)” (Ten Speed Press, 2018) by Kristen Miglore, creative director at Food52.

The batter goes into a rimmed baking sheet so it bakes quickly.

The batter goes into a rimmed baking sheet so it bakes quickly.

When I first spied this recipe, I knew I had to make it in time for St. Patrick’s Day. I mean, a cake the vivid color of moss clinging to an ancient castle couldn’t be more perfect for that holiday, could it?

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Pucker Up to Tart Cherries — Especially In Cake

Tart cherries make this streusel-topped yogurt cake extra delightful.

Tart cherries make this streusel-topped yogurt cake extra delightful.

 

It is not easy to find sour cherries — unless you have a friend with a backyard tree who takes pity on you. In fact, just the other day on Facebook, I saw someone blasting out a plea for a source that sells them, where you don’t have to buy a ton at a time.

Oregon Specialty Fruit to the rescue.

The Willamette Valley fruit company sells canned and jarred locally grown fruits. As luck would have it, I was recently sent samples of its jarred Red Tart Cherries. They feature hand-picked, pitted, non-GMO Montmorency cherries, a tart cherry variety that some studies have found may help lower blood pressure and muscle soreness, and improve sleep.

What’s especially great about these cherries is that they are packed whole in their own unsweetened cherry juice. That’s right, there’s no added sugar. What’s more, you can use that juice. Drink it straight from the jar or add it to cocktails, a glass of sparkling wine or smoothies. Or freeze it for a granita or popsicle.

Tart cherries packed in their own juice -- with no added sugar -- from Oregon.

Tart cherries packed in their own juice — with no added sugar — from Oregon.

The cherries and their juice have a measured sharpness, nothing too wincing and definitely less sour than cranberries. The flavor makes for a nice sweet-tart balance. Plump and juicy with a softer texture than frozen ones, these cherries make a great topping for yogurt, oatmeal or ice cream. They would also be fantastic spooned over roast pork or duck.

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Valentine’s Day Calls For Some Special Chocolate

A great start to a Valentine's Day.

A great start to a Valentine’s Day.

 

Yes, roses are lovely.

But chocolate is where it’s at.

At least that’s my philosophy for Valentine’s Day.

And nobody makes chocolate like Burlingame’s Guittard Chocolate Company, a family-owned craft chocolate maker that celebrated its 150th year in business in 2018.

In honor of that monumental anniversary, Guittard created a limited-edition Eureka Works 62 Percent bar, named after the first factory that founder Etienne Guittard set up in San Francisco in 1868.

It’s a blend of cacao beans from its earliest sourcing locations: Indonesia, Hawaii, Ecuador and Brazil. What’s more a portion of proceeds from every bar sold will go to the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Fund, a not-for-profit that works to preserve the rarest cacao trees that produce the highest quality chocolate and to help the farmers who grow them.

Guittard's special, limited-edition Eureka Works chocolate.

Guittard’s special, limited-edition Eureka Works chocolate.

The huge 500g bar ($29.95 on the Guittard Web site) is lovely to look at — molded with a nifty cacao bean imprint design. And the taste? I was fortunate enough to receive a sample recently. It’s a smooth, complex chocolate that tastes prominently of dark cherries and a touch of pineapple. It has some acidity and bitterness, but in measured amounts to let the fruitiness of the bar shine through.

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Happiness is Chocolate Popcorn

Hooray! This homemade version of chocolate popcorn is pretty darn close to the one I fell for in Seattle.

Hooray! This homemade version of chocolate popcorn is pretty darn close to the one I fell for in Seattle.

 

Ever since a trip to Seattle last year, I have been obsessed with chocolate popcorn.

My first taste of this crunchy, chocolatey treat came courtesy of the Cinerama movie theater in downtown Seattle, where the marquee not only flashes its availability in bright lights, but the intoxicating smell of it wafts out its doors.

The late Paul Allen, a co-founder of Microsoft, bought the iconic theater and proceeded to seriously up the game on the concession stand. Fortunately, you can even walk into the lobby and buy some of this popcorn without even buying a ticket to a movie.

That’s what my husband and I did after our interest — and nostrils — were piqued. On the second to last day of our trip, we bought a small ($6.50), which is fairly sizeable. One taste and we were completely hooked. In fact, I like chocolate popcorn way better than caramel corn because it’s not as cloying. We nibbled to our stomach’s content and even had enough leftover to bring home on the plane.

After the last of the chocolate popcorn was gone a couple days later (and mind you, it was still wonderfully crisp even at that point), I began to have serious withdrawal. So much so that I even looked online to see if the Cinerama might possibly do mail-orders of the popcorn. But alas, no.

So I was determined to try to make my own at home.

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