Banana Bread and Miso Butterscotch Trifle For 2

 

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I appreciate the casualness of a trifle. It is created by simply stacking 3, 4, or maybe even 5 elements in a glass bowl a few times over to create a pretty and tasty final product. Traditionally a British dessert, the internet is full of versions that transcend the normal custard/sponge cake/fruit/jam combination. You have lots of room for improvisation with a trifle- it allows you to have a certain freedom that isn’t always available when making more specific desserts. (As long as you have properly cooked your cake/bread, puddings/custards, and various other pieces in the first place, layer away however your heart desires). This is also THE dessert to make when you thought you were baking a cake for a dinner party but the cake fell or you don’t have time to frost and decorate the final product. Nothing makes for a better use of an ugly cake.

Enough about using cake as a base, as my version calls for quick bread instead. After making 2 loaves of banana bread the other day, I decided to use part of a loaf for my own individual-sized trifles. I also had a strong urge to bake with miso, mainly because I had purchased a rather large bag of shiro miso the other week. So this trifle is both banana-and-umami heavy, perhaps not for everyone but try it if it sounds like your sort of thing.

Banana and Miso Butterscotch Trifle for 2 

Note: this trifle does not contain a pudding or custard, making it slightly drier than other versions. (It shouldn’t be an issue with the whipped cream and butterscotch, though.) If you’d like to add a pudding layer, I say go for it!  

1/3 loaf banana bread, cooled to room temperature and cut into 1 1/2 inch slices (*recipe below)

8 teaspoons of Miso Butterscotch Topping (I used the recipe from Christina Tosi in Lucky Peach)

Homemade Whipped Cream (I like mind unsweetened, but feel free to add a bit of sweetener if you’d like)

1 banana, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped

Preparation:

Start with 2 wide rimmed glasses (I used rocks glasses from my bar set). Cube the slices of banana bread. Take enough bread cubes to cover the bottom of one glass.

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Top this banana bread layer with a heaping teaspoon of miso butterscotch. Add a few slices of banana to rest above the butterscotch layer. Next add a heaping tablespoon of whipped cream and spread evenly over the bananas.

Start this process all over again with a layer of banana bread cubes, a teaspoon of miso butterscotch, banana slices, and a tablespoon of whipped cream. Repeat with one more layer if you have enough room. Finish off the trifle with a tablespoon of toasted chopped walnuts.

Repeat the same steps with the other glass. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

*Banana Bread (adapted from Epicurious) 

1 2/3 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup mashed ripe banana

3 tablespoons yogurt or sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature (plus additional butter for greasing the pan)

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1 large egg, room temperature

1/4 cup shiro miso

Preparation:

Preheat the over to 350 degrees. Butter a 9×5 inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a medium bowl, combine the mashed banana, yogurt, miso, and vanilla.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat until fully incorporated, 1 minute.  Add the banana mixture and beat for 30 seconds. Add the flour mixture in 2 batches and stir on low until just mixed together.

Bake for about 50 minutes.

 

 

 

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Review: A Vegan Cream Cheese Worth Eating.

2017_01_13_bruah079I’ll start by saying that I’m not vegan- the times I’ve tried in the past did not work out for my body-  but I wholeheartedly respect people that commit to a cruelty-free lifestyle. I also think it’s important for our food systems to come up with new ways of making the world less dependent on animal protein. (even if many people don’t give it up completely…)

I always enjoy trying new meatless and nondairy options that become available in local grocery stores. Though the dairy-free cream cheeses I’ve tried in the past have been, well, less than stellar. (Sorry Tofutti, but you have an aftertaste I just can’t enjoy.) For a while now I have hearing great things about the brand Kite Hill; how they were focusing on creating nut-based vegan products by using the same techniques as traditional cheesemakers. Their cream cheese style spreads are made from cultured almond milk instead of the soy-based varieties I’ve tried and disliked in the past.

I finally took the time to pick up a container of the Kite Hill chive cream cheese, a couple of bagels (admittedly, not great for NYC standards), and headed home to toast up some tests.

Let me tell you, this is a product I will 100% end up buying again. The cream cheese is soft and smooth and glides easily onto a bagel half.  Just taking off the plastic covering is a wonder in itself- it reveals an aesthetically lovely product that is studded with tons of green chives.  It has a creamy, dairy like flavor and mouthfeel that makes me not miss the real version, which is important when trying to gain fans of vegan food. I also liked the spread sprinkled with castelvetrano olives – the overall combo made me forget that the bagels I had bought weren’t the best.

 

 

2017_01_13_bruah035So omnivores, I say try this one out for taste. I’m excited to try out their version of plain cream cheese to see if it holds up to this one, as well as their other nut-based cheese products on the roster. An added bonus: if you buy one container, Kite Hill gives you a manufacturer’s coupon in the packaging for your next purchase if you decide that you like it.

 

When I Begin To Try Everything At Sugar Club

I might live too close to the Sugar Club.

Anything called Sugar Club might be a tough thing for yours truly to avoid. This is the name of a Thai-dessert-spot-slash-small-Thai-grocery located in Elmhurst, Queens. Although half of the space is dedicated to sit-down treats, I have yet to stay and eat their recommended Romeo Toast or a classic mango with sticky rice. What has made me happy so far is the craziness that is their to-go section. So. Many. Options. If you’re looking to try new Thai snacks, they have a massive array of homemade choices ranging from savory to sweet, from the familiar to the new (that is, if you’re not a Thai native or super-well-versed in Thai cuisine).

The first time I went into Sugar Club, I felt like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory reworked for tropical flavors. The grocery area was filled to the brim with take-home containers full of food. The flavors of taro, pandan, coconut, and tapioca were everywhere. I almost jumped for joy, ready to carry a tower of plastic boxes home for taste testing, but decided to practice some restraint. “I’ll come back soon,” I promised to myself, choosing a single container of black sticky rice for the road. “I will try to return every other week and pick up 3 new options to try.”

Of course it ended up that my take-home options for trip #2 were more limited in scope.  It seemed like they were awaiting a new batch of food on that day. I decided to bring home a container of Woon jelly- basically a Thai Jello- if only because it looked so pretty, as well as a Taro pudding and a coconut cake called Kanom Ba Bin.

The bite-sized jellies were basically what I expected: not too exciting flavor-wise, but pretty to look at. The Kanom Ba Bin were pretty tasty, but my favorite was the taro pudding which was soft and starchy, flavored with coconut, and felt like a very eggy bread custard. The black sticky rice dessert from my first trip, by the way, was also excellent.

I’ll be sure to post another round in a couple of weeks. (remember, practicing restraint…)

Sugar Club is located at 8118 Broadway in Elmhurst, Queens.

 

 

When Classic French Bakeries Are Tucked Into Strip Malls.

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Queens bakery Canelle Patisserie has been in East Elmhurst for what seems like forever. They have added a second location in LIC that is more centralized to trains and Midtown Manhattan, but I hope the original location never goes away. I always love the surprise of good food in the most random of strip malls. This seems to be the sort of place you’d normally find in LA, where most restaurants pretty much have to be located in a strip mall. This is a west-coast-centric-quirk: here in NYC, a strip mall usually means blah chain stores. Which makes Canelle, tucked between a (also good) Greek restaurant and small grocer amidst rows and rows of parking, have a sort of strange magical quality to it. The continuous roar of low-lying airplanes about to land at nearby Laguardia airport adds to the strangeness. The planes are only around if a specific runway is being used that day. If so, they pass just over this strip mall where it feels like you can touch them overhead. On the morning I stopped by that particular runway seemed to not be in use, but trust me, you will know either way.

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I hear the cakes are good but I have yet to have a reason to pick one up. The pastries are always more reasonable to leave with when you don’t have a special occasion to attend that afternoon. Here we have a Chocolate Croissant, Guava Danish, and Pain Viennois. The croissant and danish are flaky perfection. The Pain Viennois was interesting to taste, like a baguette that’s softer and sweeter. It would pair well with jam and coffee.

 

New Year, New Pineapple Cakes

I’m starting off 2017 by breaking open a special gift from the in-laws: a box of SunnyHills pineapple cakes from Taipei. If only I knew about this place when I visited Taiwan in ’14. (Or maybe it’s best that I didn’t, considering how many boxes I might have tried to bring back at once…)  Pineapple cakes aren’t for everyone, nor are they very consistent in quality, flavor, and texture across brands. You kind of have to do your own research to find out which versions you enjoy the most. To me, SunnyHills is one of the best I’ve tried so far. The cake is buttery and crumbly, the fruit filling not too sweet and fresh-tasting. Speaking of fresh-tasting: note that these cakes are preservative-free, making the shelf life extremely short. Works for me as I prefer my dessert not ready to last the ages, Twinkie-style.

SunnyHills ships stateside from Singapore and they even have a cute limited edition 2017 box adorned with chicks here.