Category Archives: Fruit

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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To Your Health

Revive Sparkling Kombucha's Cherry Hibiscus flavor.

Revive Sparkling Kombucha’s Cherry Hibiscus flavor.

 

A run-down on new healthful-ish food and drink worth checking out (of which I received samples).

Revive Kombucha

It’s not easy to find a shelf-stable kombucha, one that doesn’t need to be refrigerated at all times.

But Revive Sparkling Kombucha has done just that. The Petaluma company’s traditionally fermented and organic craft brew now comes in 12-ounce cans. While it still tastes best chilled, it doesn’t have to be stored unopened in the fridge.

It’s made with a similar process as Revive’s raw and refrigerated bottled kombucha. The difference is the sparkling version undergoes a proprietary pasteurization process while incorporating a naturally fermented and live probiotic, DE111.

There are only 5 grams of sugar and 20 calories per can. Revive touts that each can also contains 5 billion live probiotics at the time it’s manufactured.

The sparkling version comes in four flavors: Mango Orange, traditionally fermented with a black tea brew; Cherry Hibiscus, fermented with hibiscus flower brew and caffeine-free; Strawberry Lemon, fermented with a blend of hibiscus and yerba mate; and Citrus Ginger, fermented with a ginger brew and caffeine-free.

If you’re used to the assertive vinegary pucker and funky fermented character of most kombucha, this will strike you more as kombucha-light in taste. And that may be a good thing for people who don’t necessarily like the taste of kombucha, but force it down for its ability to aid digestion.

The sparklers are nicely fizzy and would be a very good substitute for sugary sodas. To me, they taste like a juice spritzer — refreshing, not overly sweet, and with a hint of tang on the finish. I think the Mango Orange might be my fave because of its tropical notes and definite mango taste.

Find the $2.99 cans at Good Eggs and Oliver’s Market.

OHi Superfood Bars

OHi Superfood Bar takes its name from its birthplace of Hawaii. Indeed, in Hawaiian, OHi means “to gather,” while in Maori it means “to rise or to elevate.”

Ohi Superfood Bar in Peanut Butter Mesquite flavor.

Ohi Superfood Bar in Peanut Butter Mesquite flavor.

Made in California now, these energy bars are non-GMO project verified, predominantly Paleo, low glycemic, and free of grains, soy, refined sugars, and dairy. They are also certified vegan and gluten-free.

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Southern Italian Pork with Grapes

Plenty of plump red grapes along with juicy tender pork. All over soft polenta.

Plenty of plump red grapes along with juicy tender pork. All over soft polenta.

 

Rustic Italian dishes with comforting flavors that speak to the soul.

Ones that are classic — not flashy. And that are in danger of disappearing.

That’s what “Food of the Italian South: Recipes for Classic, Disappearing, and Lost Dishes” (Clarkson Potter) is all about.

The new cookbook, of which I received a review copy, is by Katie Parla, a Rome-based food and wine writer who was a culinary consultant on Season 2 of Netflix’s “Master of None.”

Through 85 recipes, she shines a light on the simple yet satisfying dishes of Basilicata, Calabria, Compania, Molise and Puglia. Take a taste of everything from “Bread Dumplings with Potato and Tomato Broth” and “Orecchiette with Burrata, Tomatoes, and Almond Pesto” to “Egg and Ham Pie” to “Jam Tart with Lard Crust.”

Food of the Italian South

“Pork Cooked with Grapes” (Spezzatino All’Uva) is home-style cooking at its best, a dish of few ingredients that you combine, then let cook on its own, until the pork-fruity flavors marry.

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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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Salt Fat Acid Heat — And A Whole Meyer Lemon

This lively Meyer lemon salsa will add more punch to most anything.

This lively Meyer lemon salsa will add more punch to most anything.

 

Meet one of the easiest, most useful recipes you’ll ever encounter: “Meyer Lemon Salsa.”

Of course it’s from the best-selling Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking (Simon & Schuster, 2017) by Berkeley’s extraordinary Samin Nosrat.

If you haven’t yet picked up a copy of the book, do yourself a favor and get one pronto. With whimsical illustrations and a warm, engaging voice, it will teach you instantly and painlessly how to be a better cook.

Salt Fat Acid Heat

And if you haven’t yet caught Nosrat’s “Salt Fat Acid Heat” four-part Netflix cooking show, binge-watch it this week. It’s thoroughly captivating and will make you fall in love with this natural-born teacher and food personality with the winning, infectious spirit.

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