Banana bread with walnuts and coconut oil

_MG_47413 large ripe-to-over-ripe bananas
1 large egg
1/3 cup virgin coconut oil, warmed until it liquefies, or olive oil
1/4 cup vanilla (or plain) yogurt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat your oven to 350°F and butter a 9×5-inch loaf pan. In the bottom of a large bowl, mash bananas with a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon until virtually smooth but a few tiny lumps remain. Whisk in egg, then oil, yogurt, brown sugar, sugar and vanilla extract. Sprinkle baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves over mixture and stir until combined. Stir in flour until just combined, then fold in chopped walnuts.

Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake until a tester comes out clean, about 40 to 50 minutes. Cool loaf in pan on rack.

Recipe adapted from

Vanilla frozen yogurt

1 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (full fat for best results)
1 1/2 cup half & half
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tbsp brandy

Pour 1 cup of the half & half into a medium saucepan and add the sugar and salt. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the saucepan and add the pod to the pan. Warm over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved.
Remove from the heat and add the remaining 1/2 cup of half &half, yogurt and the vanilla extract. Whisk together until yogurt is fully incorporated. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator. When ready to churn, remove the vanilla bean pod, add the brandy and freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Plum cake – zwetschgen kuchen

Last year was the first time I saw the little oval shaped, blue plums – called Italian plums here – at the grocery store. You can normally find the round type of plum, black or purple, year round in the produce aisle, but for some reason, the Italian plums only show up in season. I found a recipe in My Berlin Kitchen – my trusted source for good German recipes in English – for zwetschgen kuchen, Michael’s favorite, and later a slightly improved version of it on David Lebovitz’s website.
So when the plums became available this summer, I had to try this cake (or tart) right away. It was fun and easy to make – I made the dough by hand, as written in the recipe. The end result was delicious, not too sweet, with just a hint of tartness from the plums. It would be no doubt excellent with some vanilla bean ice cream on the side.

_MG_4661Dough and plum topping

1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (225g) flour
2 teaspoons active dry yeast, or 1/2 ounce fresh yeast, crumbled
1/2 cup (125ml) whole milk, divided
3 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg yolk
3 tablespoons melted butter, cooled to room temperature
pinch of salt
grated zest of one lemon
1 1/2 pounds (700g) Italian prune plums, pitted and quartered

Streusel Topping

3/4 cup (50g) sliced almonds
1/2 cup (70g) flour
6 tablespoons (70g) light brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 ounces (55g – 4 tbsp) unsalted butter, cubed, cold
pinch salt

Butter a 9- to 10-inch (23 cm) springform pan.
Mix flour, 2 tbsp sugar, salt and zest in a large bowl, set aside. In a separate small bowl mix 1/4 cup milk, 1 tbsp sugar and yeast and let rest for 5-10 minutes, until mixture begins to foam. Stir in the remaining milk, egg yolk, 3 tablespoons of melted butter, and mix everything together well. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Shape the dough into a smooth ball and put in the buttered cake pan. Cover with a kitchen towel, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until doubled.
While the dough is rising, make the streusel topping. Put the almonds, flour, brown and granulated sugars, cinnamon, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the almonds are broken up. Add the 2 ounces of butter and salt and process until the mixture first becomes granular, then begins to clump together.
Use your fingers to smooth the yeasted dough across the bottom of the pan and about half an inch (1 cm) rim up the sides. Place concentric rounds of prune plum wedges over the dough, within the rim, pushing them close together.
Sprinkle streusel topping over the top and let the dough rise 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
Bake the tart for 45-55 minutes, until the streusel topping is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Recipe adapted from David Lebovitz

Simple chocolate cake with ganache

I made this cake last year for our annual Christmas party with our friends – yes, I’m a bit behind in posting some of my recipes…I usually make a Yule log for our Christmas party, but for some reason I did not have the time last year. This cake comes together in a pinch, and it is a great simple chocolate cake. I have made it several times since, and I think it’s time to bake one again soon…

_MG_2539 copy1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
2/3 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit, butter an 8 inch cake pan and line with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda and salt.
In a measuring cup, whisk together milk, vinegar, eggs, oil and vanilla extract, and pour into the flour mixture. Mix gently with a spatula just until combined. Pour the batter in the cake pan and bake in the center of the oven for 35-40 minutes or until tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and cool it on a rack for about ten minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely before frosting with the ganache.


1/2 cup of heavy cream
4 oz. chopped semi-sweet chocolate, or chocolate chips

Add chocolate to a bowl. Heat cream until small bubbles form around the edges, then pour over chocolate and stir until chocolate melts and stir with a whisk until smooth. Pour over cake and let ganache set.

Adapted from

Buckwheat polenta

polenta3 cups water
2/3 cups polenta
2 tablespoons cracked buckwheat, ground in a mini food processor
scant 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup (2 ounces) grated freshly grated Parmesan, pecorino or asiago cheese

Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan. Stir in the polenta in a thin, steady stream and stir with a whisk to avoid lumps. Add buckwheat and salt. Decrease the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until soft and creamy. Remove the polenta from the heat and stir in the butter and grated cheese. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

Adapted from My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz

Gin and tonic sorbet

This sorbet is perfect on a hot summer evening – cold and a bit tart. Due to the 1/2 cup of gin, it does not freeze solid, it retains a bit of a slushy consistency. If you like your sorbet more icy, reduce the gin to 1/4 cup.

1/2 c water
1/2 c sugar
Juice & zest of 2 limes
2 1/2 cups tonic water
1/2 cup gin
1 egg white

Prepare the simple syrup by boiling the water and sugar in a saucepan. Once the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat. You could also use 3/4 cup pre-made simple syrup. Add the lime zest and juice to the simple syrup and allow to cool completely.

Once cooled, add the gin & tonic water and process in an ice cream maker. Froth the egg white with a fork. Combine with the sorbet mixture. Using either a food processor or immersion blender, pulse the mixture quickly to attain desired consistency. Freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Recipe adapted from