A Marble to Behold

Chocolate Marble Banana Bread 4 arrA while ago, homey banana bread was made and devoured by yours truly – ‘moi,’ of course! The sweet memories of what once was – yester-bake – now leaves me with this thought: I do believe it’s time for a remake. Just as before, I’ve come across the very old yet same predicament – as past recipes would reveal – and, a very delicious answer for an almost forgotten bunch of ripened bananas. Some never learn, I suppose – or do they?

Chocolate Marble Banana Bread 1 arrSpeaking of myself, I’ve definitely love to salvage overripe fruit in baked goods. Without getting overly ‘mushy’ about the subject, I equally attest that banana bread is best made when this fruit does in fact start to brown and spot on its exterior but, remains soft and explosively flavourful.

Wasting no more time, let’s get baking! Starting with a trusted recipe, I decide on marbled banana bread. Like the original, this variety simply requires one to divide the dry ingredients initially suggested for the making of one loaf in multiple bowls. Taking things step-by-step, measure halved amount of the ‘necessities’ – flour , sugar, salt, and baking powder – into two different bowls where the chocolate variation takes less flour, thus being certain to replace the omitted amount of a.p.f. with cocoa powder. Chocolate Marble Banana Bread 2 arrFrom here, divide and pour the already mixed wet contents – butter, vanilla, bananas and eggs – into each ‘dry’ bowl. And for an even more decadent chocolatey twist, add dark or semi-sweet chocolate chunks to each bowl. Once both batters are well combined, introduce spoonfuls of each into a well-greased and parchment-lined loaf pan.

Vanilla and chocolate contents now acquainted, insert a knife or wooden skewer into the batter-filled pan and make swirl motions to create the classic marbled pattern. Finally, top your edible art with extra chocolate chunks – if your heart desires – and get that marbled slab into a preheated oven.

Chocolate Marble Banana Bread 3 arrSensing a banana-rich sweetness in the air, I know my marbled loaf is ready – about 50 minutes or so. Leaving this beauty to cool prior to slicing, getting my dose of potassium courtesy of this banana bread-ish ‘healthy’ cake is my kind of rescued dessert. Hoping you’ll show ripened fruit some TLC – via the kitchen – treating bruised fruit is not so ‘bananas’ after all. Clearly enjoying the fruits of my labour, reinvented banana bread is simply marvellous. Whether you enjoy it as a mid-day snack or for a quick breakfast on the go, this moist loaf satisfies in both its classic state, embedded with nuts or rippled with melted chocolate flavours – naturally, it’s a ‘marble’ to be behold!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved. 

The Latest Scoop

No-Churn Ice Cream 2 arrAsk any ice cream fan, and I bet they have their ‘favourite.’ While mint chip and rocky road are popular flavours, mocha almond fudge tops my list.  Whatever your preference, most would agree that quality ─ real dairy ─ ice cream can’t be beat.  And much to my delight, “no-churn” recipes are no-fuss and all things decadent, rich, creamy, and simply divine.

Too irresistible not to try, I put a three ingredient “no-churn” ice cream recipe to the test. Happily evading use of an ice cream maker, I only need an electric mixer and these “must-haves”:  2 cups of heavy cream, a can of sweetened condensed milk, and a couple dashes of vanilla essence.  Once the aforementioned ‘magic three’ are whipped and form soft peaks, I pour the mixture into a freezer-proof container, cover it with a lid, and set it into the icebox for at least five hours.

No-Churn Ice Cream 3 arrThat’s it! Truly, your work is done ─ “no-churn” vanilla ice cream 101.  But why stop there, right? ─ Right on!  Getting creative, I double the ‘basic’ vanilla recipe, and divide the ‘very good’ vanilla bean ice cream into four separate loaf pans.  Creating a blank canvas of sorts, you can stick with vanilla-infused ice cream and later incorporate added texture and taste via your imagination.  For instance, consider the following:  chocolate chips, caramel sauce, fresh berries or fruit preserve, nuts, crumbled cookies, liqueurs or even mint extract for a more refreshing taste.

No-Churn Ice Cream 4 arrGoing for delicious scoops of ‘breige,’ my ice cream cloud is made of plentiful shades of wonderful: vanilla bean, espresso, double chocolate and mocha almond fudge.  For the already mastered classic, use of pure vanilla extract is a given.  Catering to purists, I also recommend following suit by integrating the scraped black seeds of an authentic vanilla pod for an elevated flavour profile.  As for a chocolaty spin, whip a few tablespoons of cocoa into the basic mixture until it appears homogenous, and then stir in shavings of dark chocolate.  In similar fashion, treating the basic vanilla mixture to an “afternoon pick me up” is as easy as blending it with chilled brewed espresso or with a few tablespoons of the ‘instant’ alternative.

No-Churn Ice Cream 1 arrReserved for last, but certainly not least, my favourite ─ mocha almond fudge ─ tastes like the real-deal. Best part is:  the only place I need to ‘bask in’ for the making of this confection is the kitchen.  Kid you not, this take on mocha almond fudge is ‘that’ good!  And, here’s how to make your own:  blend the basic vanilla mixture with cocoa powder, espresso powder ‘et voilà,’ you got the mocha part ready.  Half-way done, freeze the mocha ice cream for about an hour while you prepare the fudgy addition.  No-Churn Ice Cream 6 arrFor my interpretation of a DIY nutty ganache filling, I take a dark chocolate almond bar ─ the family-size variety, about 300 grams ─ save some with which to later decorate, and then melt the rest with some heavy cream over a double-boiler.  Once the contents have melted and the ganache has cooled, remove the mocha ice cream from the icebox and spoon in the filling, trying to create chocolaty almond ribbons.  Finally, top off the mocha almond fudge ice cream with a crunchy combo of toasted sliced almonds and chopped chocolate chunks, and really freeze it this time ─ a solid five hours should suffice.  Wait time ‘somehow’ endured, appeasing to one’s appetite for homemade “no-churn” frozen dessert is undeniably a cinch.  As for the question of brain freeze, “no-churn” is still a no-brainer ─ happy ‘paced’ consumption!

© DISHFUL, 2016.  All Rights Reserved.

“Food of the gods”

SOMA chocolate 1 arr

Toronto is home to many foodie hotspots, and rightfully so. But, where do chocoholics go?  Having heard many great things of one particular chocolaterie, I thought I’d pay a little visit to a quaint gem in the heart of the Distillery District.  Say it is so ─ SOMA Chocolatemaker.  Catering to fans of all things cacao, enter this one-stop chocolate shop and you will not be disappointed.  A local paradise of sorts, SOMA looks, smells, and embodies the multifaceted tastes of chocolate.

SOMA chocolate 2 arrPleasantly surrounded by one of my favourite things ─ chocolate, of course ─ I take some time to admire the shop’s ambiance and machinery such as the cocoa grinder. Also capturing my attention, I locate an encased chocolate and nut salami that is uniquely made and available by SOMA.  Clarification provided, this show stopping treat contains no meat and can be sliced and served in rounds, making it ideal for individual delighting at any holiday party. SOMA chocolate 3 arr

SOMA chocolate 4 arrNeglecting not the other senses, it’s time to taste test. Patiently waiting in queue, I studiously scan the endless array of handcrafted chocolates, and begin to decide.  Certainly wanting chocolate, which one?  With no shortage of options, I decisively place an order of hot and cold, in addition to both liquid and solid cacao treats:  six truffles and a mug of Spicy Mayan Hot Chocolate.

Saving the confections for later, I first sample the ginger and cayenne infused hot chocolate. Clearly combining sweet with heat, this invigorating hot chocolate will leave your taste buds ─ on fire ─ with a chocolaty picante bite.  Needless to say, this spicy hot chocolate lives true to its name.

Another day, another chocolate? Yes, please!  SOMA chocolate 5 arrOpening my wrapped box of handpicked bonbons, I behold these heavenly beauties:  Brown Butter Truffle, 8 year aged Balsamic Vinegar, Roasted Cacao Bean, Magnolia Peach, Australian Ginger and Meyer Lemon, and a “unique origins” truffle.  Though a select few, the aforementioned truffles are all synonymous with pure quality chocolate that is aromatic, refined, and smooth while equally indicative of a myriad of flavours and textures.  Favouring the Peach Magnolia, I recommend it for its delicately perfumed taste and silky ganache interior.  The clean and bright citrus profile of the Australian Ginger and Lemon is pretty good in its own right, as are all the rest.  In all fairness, I haven’t had a bad ─ “Food of the gods” ─ experience at SOMA, and thank goodness.  Happily, my overall first impression is this:  SOMA truffles are more than chocolate ─ they’re chocolate made right!

© DISHFUL, 2015.  All Rights Reserved.

A Shapely Pear

Pear Crisp 3 arrFall is here, and with it comes an abundance of seasonal fruit. And thanks to a neighbourly gift, my effortless reaping of pears not only leaves me with a surplus of ‘au naturale’ shapely tree ornaments but, too, some baking inspiration. With no shortage of semi-firm green pears in sight, these treats can be kept to have and to hold ─ in a basket ─ before they fully ripen.  Then again, why wait?

Loving the pear shape? Undeniably well-suited for an elegant affair, pursuit of a classic poached pear recipe is the clear route for those who want to keep its curvaceous integrity. But when life’s offerings are plenty ─ and ‘boiling’ over a stove top can be averted ─ here’s what I do with all that fruit: peel, cut and get baking! For fancy taste without all the fancy work, I keep up with rusticity and follow a delectably simple country staple ─ golden raisin and walnut pear crisp.  Pear Crisp 2 arr

It’s Thanksgiving in a dash ─ well, almost! Courtesy of fragrant cinnamon spice, bites of toasty warm reminders of the upcoming holiday are thankfully achieved via homely fruit crisp. Equally pleasing to my ears, this shareable dessert can be made and altered to match one’s taste. Getting started then, select your preferred seasonal harvest ─ apples, pears, peaches, berries, etc. ─ and prepare the two main parts: a sweet fruit bottom and crunchy oat topping.

No tricks and all treat, this pear crisp is consistent with the following ‘fillings’: cinnamon, sugar, lemon ─ juice and zest ─ golden raisins and sliced pears. For your take, you can even try elevating the mixture by soaking the raisins in brandy or orange juice in addition to adding variant dried fruits such as cranberries or candied ginger. Pear Crisp 4 arrIn continuum, the soon-to-be crunchy topping can be made by separately ‘hand-mixing’ these dry ingredients: brown sugar, flour, rolled oats, salt, walnuts, and cold butter. ‘Et voilà,’ a complication-free fruit layer and oat topping that is ready to be poured into a greased oven-proof deep dish, and baked at 375°F until bubbly and golden brown. Though only a few, here are some friendly key reminders: preheat the oven, bake the crisp for approximately 40 minutes, and proceed to cool for roughly 20 minutes. Falling for these instructions, here’s the ultimate scoop: this baked bountiful of pear-licious crisp is best enjoyed at room temperature, and even more decadent when served ‘à la mode’ for a match-made mouthful ─ tenderly baked pears paired with rich vanilla ice cream.

© DISHFUL, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

A Heavenly Beauty Regimen

Heavenly 4 arrWe all know that eating locally-grown food is good for us. After all, remember that saying ─ “You are what you eat” ─ it must exist for a reason, right? Whether it’s true or not, there’s no denying this: the breathtaking island of O’ahu is pleasant in every sense ─ sensory taste buds included! So whilst on a dream escape, it’s no wonder that my vacation memories are inclusive to an early morning breakfast at none other than Heavenly. Ringing true to the “Island Lifestyle,” this eatery specializes in breakfast and lunch items that are in sync with their policy, “Local first, organic whenever possible.”

Heavenly 1 arrAlready feeling content with this chosen venue and its ‘Heavenly’ mission, I follow suit and make an edible-friendly statement of my own: “May I please have…everything?” Kidding aside, this was the exact order: the “Pitaya Bowl” and “Beauty” smoothie ─ for me ─ in addition to the “Big Island Honey French Toast” along with a “Power” smoothie. A lot to take in ─ I know ─ but that ‘morning glow’ must come from somewhere. As in this case, I happily get my daily dose of vitamins via homegrown nutrient-rich fruits. Loaded in antioxidants and all that good stuff, I’m pretty sure there’s no shortage of other good-for-you menu items ─ trust, there’s plenty!

Heavenly 2 arrAs for my ‘beauty’ treatment, here’s the raw scoop: who ever says clean-eating is boring, they’re wrong ─ healthy tastes divine. Far from an ordinary cereal bowl, my ‘flowering’ vision is reminiscent of an orchid-touched purée of fresh dragon fruit that is topped with ruby red slices of fresh ─ never frozen ─ strawberry, chunks of ripened pineapple, crisp granola and coconut milk. Needless to say ─ and as advertised ─ this detoxified select is synonymous of a “Super Fruit Morning!”

Now, let’s talk about that French toast. Just one bite, and it’s quite evident why ignorance ─ of satiety ─ is bliss. Hollering for more Hawaiian-style brioche, Heavenly again uses fine ingredients ─ “locally-made sweet bread” ─ for the making of this classic recipe. Equally similar to challah, just imagine: banana-embedded French toast that is finished with a saucy drizzle of chocolate. So maybe this ‘sweet’ indulgence is not as trim-friendly as the Pitaya, but it’s still worth a taste.

Heavenly 3 arrIn continuum of happy times, the smoothies complement either of the aforementioned plates but are ─ FYI ─ contrasting in flavour. Specifically, “Beauty” ─ also my preferred beverage ─ evokes a mild and sweet taste thanks to these ingredients: berries, coconut water, celery and chia seeds. Those looking for a protein boost, however, may opt for “Power” that carries a somewhat stronger and nutty profile due to the following medley: almond ─ both the butter and milk ─ spiralina powder, a hint of cinnamon, and fruits. Getting used to the spa-like treatment ─ even if it’s table-side ─ other blended items to try include: “Energy,” “Radiant” and/or “Dream.” All in all, delighting in locally-cultivated food items is a daily practice that I welcome with open hands ─ a “Heavenly Island Lifestyle” that, unequivocally, suits me fine.

© DISHFUL, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Broke Da Mouth, Good!

North Shore 1 arrBig waves, big surf, and ─ fortunately for pescatarians ─big shrimp is a trio to be found along O’ahu’s northern coastline. Home to plenty of land and water action, North Shore is exactly the place I want to be for more reasons than one: food, sunset and beaches. Driving along the Kamehameha Hwy., the town of Haleiwa is a destination worth exploring. Befriending locals, eating shaved iced, drinking fresh coconut water, and ─ need I say ─ ordering shrimp only scratches the surface to a memorably ‘wiki’ ─ fast ─ road trip.North Shore 2 arr

Leaving surfing to the skilled, distant admirers ─ like ‘moi’ ─ do what we do best, the possible. Needless to say, I happily exchange the waves for a seat and ‘professionally’ catch a glimpse of the famous ‘pipeline’ ─ on dry land, of course! And to make the whole experience more succulent, occupying island time can and does get better with a local favourite ─ “Shrimp plate, anyone?” When hunger calls, the friendly staff at the North Shore Shrimp North Shore 3 arrNorth Shore 4 arrTruck answers with this ─ simple yet sufficient ─ menu: spicy, lemon butter or garlic butter shrimp. “To each, their own” ─ literally! Ordering individual lunch plates ─ one for me, and one for you ─ two times a meal makes for an opportune tasting of both spicy and lemon butter shrimp. Skimping not on the scampi, this food truck’s shrimp is not only made to order but is also generously served with rice and Pupukea greens. Spreading the ‘aloha’ spirit, my order was kindly altered to cater to my appetite for less starch and more greens ─ ‘mahalo’ for the much-appreciated service and ‘ono’ food.North Shore 5 arr

Shrimping not on a flavour-marathon, a secondary food-stop is made. This time, behold the ‘Original’ ─ Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck. Shrimp so good that it ─ as locals say ─ “Broke da mouth!” I always say, “Busy is a sign of success,” and business is clearly hot for this food truck. So if you make your way to Giovanni’s, be sure to get in queue and place your order. Wait-time both accrued and elapsed, picnic-style table seating is spotted, secured and ideal for resting the requested spicy shrimp plate. North Shore 6 arrAccompanied by two scoops of rice and macaroni salad, Giovanni’s doesn’t mess around ─ this white shrimp plate is on fire! So ‘picante’ as a matter of fact, Mother Nature came to the rescue ─ with a showering of rain! Honestly, it was raining and the shrimp was hot but undeniably enjoyable for those who like it ‘peppery.’ Rain or shine, these bustling roadside food trucks still ‘openly’ welcome patrons and their insatious appetites alike. So if you ever get the chance, venture to the North Shore and be sure to ‘net’ some savoury local delights ─ where “must love shrimp” and “must eat shrimp” unite!

© DISHFUL, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

What’s The Story, Crowning Glory?

Dole Farm 1 arrWhat stands tall, wears a crown, and is internally sweet? ─ Pineapples! Forever my favourite, pineapples rank among my top preferred fruits. Both delicious and elegant in structure, this beautiful natural creation is ─ simply put ─ my kind of wonderful. “Have I told you, lately, how much I love…” pineapples? ─ Just checking! So you can only imagine my excitement upon learning that my recent travel destination is also home to a pineapple farm. Ideally situated in the historic town of Wahiawa, my trip to O’ahu has been made extra special with a very worthwhile visit to ─ you guessed it ─ the Dole Plantation.

Dole Farm 2 arrNothing ventured, nothing gained? ─ Precisely! Somewhat off the beaten path, the Dole Plantation is outside the heart of Honolulu City, but certainly not to be missed. For a ‘field’ day in of itself, merely take a drive along the Kamehameha Highway and you’ll be happier for it. And once you arrive, guiltlessly reward yourself with a self-indulgent treat ─ ‘ananas’ of course!

Between fresh and ‘freshly’ preserved airtight goods ─ macadamia nut cookies, praline candied nuts, Kona coffee or dried mangoes/papaya/pineapple chunks ─ I have my eyes set on one thing only: “Dole Whip.” Saving my appetite for this momentous treat, my unique pineapple cup of Dole’s very best ─ homegrown golden delicious ─ does not disappoint. Dole Farm 3 arrConsider this: tangy yet sweet and smooth soft-serve pineapple ice cream that is topped with succulent dices of ripened pineapple fruit. Undeniably irresistible, Dole Whip is simply divine ─ spoonful’s of heaven. Befitting of venue and warm climate, this chilled refresher is exactly what this pineapple-lover ordered. In essence, the chance to taste Dole Whip is an authentic experience not to be missed ─ the edible souvenir of choice!

To my heart’s content, this pineapple adventure similarly fed my mind as much as my appetite. Catching up on some thematic Dole Q&A, I learn a memorable “Fact of Life” for a pineapple. Did you know, the pineapple plant takes its ‘sweet’ time ─ approx. 1 year and 8 months ─ to yield its first fruit? It’s no wonder this glorious fruit earns and rightfully wears a crown. Dole Farm 4 arrWhile I won’t trifle with Mother Nature’s timing, it’s times like these I’m grateful for the produce aisle, and waiting ─ ever so slightly ─ at the “Plantation Grille” for dessert.   Catering to all, other activities include: a tour of the grounds via the Pineapple Express train, discovery of flora in the botanical gardens or getting lost/found along a maze course. Whether in memorabilia or snack formation, this massive stretch of cultivated pineapple devotion is truly worth the journey ─ and it didn’t take 20 months!

© DISHFUL, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Uncle Tetsu’s Special Delivery

Uncle Tetsu's Cheesecake 1 arrIt’s finally here!  Branded, boxed, and hand-delivered ─ over the counter ─ the iconic Japanese cheesecake has made its way to Toronto.  Already a franchise favourite abroad, the latest addition of Uncle Tetsu’s Cheesecake shop is conveniently situated along Bay and Dundas.

Is it worth the hype?  To be expected:  long line-ups, retrieving and holding onto a ticketed number, and practising patience ─ or self-entertainment ─ while amidst a swarm of patrons.  Fortunately, the foodie gene runs in the family.  Needless to say, I evaded two hours of the aforementioned ‘expectations’ in exchange for a special home delivery of now trending dessert.  Best of all, the experience ─ for me ─ was a piece of cake!Uncle Tetsu's Cheesecake 2 arr

Speaking of cheesecake, Uncle Tetsu’s take on the American style classic is similar in appearance but, quite distinct in its own right.  Light as air, this particular Japanese cheesecake reminds me of a delicately sweetened ricotta cheese minus the excess moisture.  What’s more, it’s springy to the touch and doesn’t leave you feeling guilty post consumption.  If anything, this feather-weight sponge is clearly the alter-ego to all that we have known the ‘original’ to be:  a heavily dense and richly saturated mixture that’s encased by a graham cracker crust.

Uncle Tetsu's Cheesecake 3 arrClearly composed of part cheese and cake-like ingredients, don’t let Tetsu’s mildly sweet round fool you.  However ‘light’ in mass, it is still a dessert item ─ a.k.a., a caloric pleasure.  Clarification noted, pinpointing a stoppage time in face of devouring subdued lusciousness persists to be challenging, and somewhat borderline dangerous.  “Rebel, rebel” ─ if you must ─ and omit moderation.  But, you’ve been warned!  I repeat, given the delicate taste and texture of Tetsu’s cake, one’s likely to take plentiful bites ─ and more pieces ─ than just one.

In my case, I tried, tasted, and delighted in a ‘reasonable’ share of this traditional eastern dessert recipe.  And, here’s my verdict:  while diverging in consistency from the western variety, Uncle Tetsu’s cheesecake is notably palatable though it does not yield a velvety cream-based body as one would typically anticipate from a Philly-inspired treat.  Luckily, you can be your own judge and find contentment in knowing this:  Uncle Tetsu’s Cheesecake welcomes everyone to take a stand ─ waiting in queue ─ to order their very own ‘nouveau gateau au fromage.’

© DISHFUL, 2015.  All Rights Reserved.