Chocolate Chip Almond Banana Bread

After several delightfully tasty experiments, I came up with my new favourite banana bread:

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Almond Banana Bread

Made with freshly-ground whole almonds, natural sugars, vanilla, nutmeg, and dark chocolate (to mention just a few of the stellar ingredients) it's incredibly flavourful, moist, and heathy too. The almonds give the bread a satisfying bite, and lend their own natural sweetness. Speaking of sweet, I've tweaked the sugar (agave nectar) till it hit that wonderful sweet but not-too-sweet balance, which allows all the flavours and textures to shine. This recipe is dairy optional, wheat and gluten-free. Use high quality dark chocolate chips for a supremely delicious treat. I'm not one to push brands, but Ghirardelli 60% cocoa bittersweet chocolate chips are pretty awesome!

Happy healthy baking :-)

(Wheat-free & Gluten-free) Chocolate Zucchini Cake

It's still chocolate and zucchini season, so after scoring a hefty dark green beauty, I stayed in on a Saturday night and made this delicious cake. (Really, I had every opportunity to go out, but I wanted to stay in and bake ;-) Like my Healthy Chocolate Zucchini Cake, it's a variation of my grandma's super-rich traditional recipe, which I've updated to be wheat-free (+ gluten-free) and lower in refined ingredients, sugar and fat. This version is moist, rich and airy with a delicate blend of aromatic ingredients + extra chocolate.

Recipe: Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Enjoy ♥ 

Baking & Real Estate II

I finally have a bit of time to write, since I've been organizing, staging, photographing, and polishing our condo for the market. We've gotten nothing but stellar feedback on our stylish pad - now if only we could get a couple of keen buyers and a friendly little bidding war, that would be really sweet!

Everything I've read about staging a home talks about the importance of good smells. With all the fresh flowers and baking that goes on here, our place smells great. Since one's place should be spotless all the time when it's on the market, I lean towards easy recipes that don't involve too many bowls, utensils, or appliances. I often bake half of the cookies from a recipe (and store the other half of the batter in the fridge) and bake the rest another day to save time and effort. I've been avoiding baking peanut-butter cookies on the off chance that someone with a nut allergy comes through. I use high quality Mexican vanilla and cinnamon in everything for the best flavour and aroma. Things I've been baking:

Sweet Ambrosia Cookies
These are quick and easy to make - you can mix everything by hand in one bowl. Coconut and pecans add lovely complimentary fragrances.

Tahini Oatmeal Walnut Cookies
Another delicious easy one bowl concoction. Add 1tsp of vanilla to make these even more fragrant.

Patty's Pumpkin Pudding
Tis the season for these aromatic winter squash baked delights. The higher quality the spice, the better the bouquet! I throw all the ingredients in a blender to make prep and clean-up quick and easy.

Wish us luck!

Black Bean Brownies...


Not too long ago I noticed a hot trend around the web - the black bean brownie. The concept is awesome: a rich dark chocolaty brownie made with fiber-and-protein-rich black beans (wheat-free). Sounds like breakfast to me! Above is a pic from a batch I made based on this recipe. (Mine were made with extra chocolate, less butter, less agave, no coffee or walnuts...)

The result tasted great, looked amazing, but didn't really have a brownie texture - and also had to be refrigerated to stay firm. The texture was more like a cheesecake, a really yummy cheese-less cheesecake, so that's what they'll be in their next life. We had no problems scarfing this experiment down.

UPDATE: See comment #3 for the recipe (I've added a bit of starch to firm things up a bit) - apparently they rock. :D

UPDATE 2 (May 10 2011): Check out my new recipe for Really Awesome Black Bean Brownies :)

Baking & Real Estate

Yes, it's officially autumn, and I've been busy baking-up summer's bounty into crumbles, clafoutis, quick breads... I've also been super-busy with life, as we've decided to sell our beautiful historic tip top loft condo here in downtown Toronto. (Please contact me asap if you're interested!) Luckily for me, I hear that baking things like pumpkin pies while trying to sell increases your chances - so our timing is great :-)

Any advice to help us sell? Particular things I can do or bake to fluff the place for viewings? Thanks!

(Healthy) Chocolate Zucchini Cake

In late summer and early fall, my mom would have giant zucchinis from her garden - they were often comically large and obscenely shaped. Us kids weren't really into veggies, especially giant green ones, so my mom would make these into rich chocolate zucchini cakes. The recipe she used was my Ukrainian grandma's recipe: a lovely moist chocolatey cake with a hint of spice. We loved it.

When I got older, I scored the recipe from my mom, and after looking it over, decided that it needed a bit of a (healthy) makeover. (Her recipe used 1 3/4c white sugar, white flour, and over 1c of fat - yikes!) Being the health-conscious sweet-loving young woman that I was, I altered the recipe to make it as healthy as possible, while still being loyal to the delicious flavours and texture.

The recipe I came up with uses whole ingredients, a lot less sugar and fat (over half as much! don't worry, the zucchini keeps things moist) - and more chocolate, spice and vanilla. I've had this recipe for years, and just remembered that I didn't share it yet, so voila!

Recipe Remix: Healthy Chocolate Zucchini Cake

These days I'm working on a gluten-free version of this recipe. My current tastes are a bit richer than they were a few years ago, so the new recipe will have a bit more fat and chocolate...

Happy healthy baking :-)

PS - Do you have a favourite chocolate zucchini cake recipe? Gluten-free?

UPDATE: Here's my Gluten-Free Chocolate Zucchini Cake!

Fresh Fig & Blueberry Clafoutis


I LOVE figs, and lately I've been noticing fresh figs around town... somewhere it the world, it's fig season. Combined with fresh blueberries (which I love too) they're killer good. Luckily, blueberries are still in season here, because my favourite clafoutis combines the two - I guess I should call it a flognarde then? Nah ;-)

I made a variation of my new wheat-free (+ gluten-free) clafoutis with this stellar combo - fresh local blueberries and black mission figs:

Recipe:
Fresh Fig and Blueberry Clafoutis

Very yummy. Very pretty. Very easy.
Blueberries and figs are very nutritious too :-)

I Love Your Blog

I feel so honored to receive an I Love your Blog award! Thanks koalabrains for the sweet thought, I admire your creative healthy styles, openness and friendliness. I'm going to share the love by passing this award on to a few of my favourite blogs...

Pan y Various ~ Adi, I love your beautiful healthy and inventive Mediterranean recipes - especially your baking. (You can find some of her recipes in English here.) Always a pleasure sharing recipes with you online :-)

Fran's House of Ayurveda ~ Your delicious healthy food blog has introduced me to ayurvedic foods. I love your recipes, and all the great info you share.

Pony ~ Adina, you're a great writer, and a very cool chick - you make me laugh, cry, and salivate. You help connect the online world to the physical for me, being a buddy I love chatting up at parties, and a fellow downtown Toronto hipster ;-)

serial consign
~ Greg, are you an architect or a writer? I'm ever impressed by your prolific posts, and fluid writing styles covering art/design/technology. I also love the cool image/video/link blog that you and Jordan have: highflight

Lookdeeper ~ Crispin, your blog is an ever-shifting experiment that changes over the years - I've loved watching it move from complete inaccessible obscurity to an open source sandbox where you share your interests in web, technology, and life. (Lookdeeper is also one of the best url's out there!) I'm looking forward to seeing where it shifts to next...

...and here are some fantastic (and very popular) foodblogs that inspire me: 101cookbooks, La Tartine Gourmande, Diet, Dessert and Dogs, have cake, will travel...

A big thanks to everyone!

Plums, Pears & Blackberries


A pretty plum tree full of ripe fruit.

I'm so excited about all the fresh fruit that's in season! Here are some great recipes from around the web that celebrate late summer's bounty:

Frangipane Style Plum Tart Recipe
The local plums are in, and here's a beautiful way to enjoy them - in a lovely almond cream tart. (Adi makes wonderful treats with fresh fruit.)

Pear-berry Crisp With Lavender Topping Recipe
This lovely crisp made with blackberries, raspberries, and pears sounds amazing. (The recipe calls for all purpose flour, but I think it would work with a whole flour, light spelt flour, or a gluten-free mix - crisps and crumbles aren't too fussy.) I have lavender growing on my deck that's ready for this aromatic treat...

Roasted Plums with Greek Yogurt
What an elegant way to let the plums speak for themselves - I'm totally going to make this. The lightly carmelized fruit is topped with toasted hazelnuts, and I'm sure other nuts like almonds or walnuts would be delicious as well. I might get fancy and sprinkle the tiniest bit of cardamom or cinnamon on top before baking. You can also make this simple desert with pears. Bonus: This one's quick and easy to make + light and healthy!



The last of the late summer blackberries. (Both of these photos were taken in Switzerland last summer, while staying on the Vulliens farm.)

Happy healthy baking :)

New Cherry Clafoutis

Clafoutis are one of my favourite summer treats. These baked fruit and custard desserts are absolutely delicious made with fresh local fruit (traditionally cherries), they look beautiful, and they're very easy to throw together. I discovered some interesting facts about clafoutis while searching the web and re-visiting the English wikipedia entry I started on the topic:

  • A "clafouiti" is more commonly called a "clafoutis" ("clafoutis" in the plural too)
  • When other kinds of fruit (plums, prunes, apples, cranberries, blackberries..) are used instead of cherries, the dish is called a "flognarde" or "flaugnarde" (I still prefer calling them clafoutis!)
  • Clafoutis originated in Limousin France and spread throughout the country in the 19th century
  • Baking whole cherries (with the pits intact) in a clafoutis imparts a wonderful flavour

Out of curiosity (and laziness) I made my first cherry clafoutis with whole un-pitted cherries. The result? The cherry clafoutis (+pits) had almond-like undertones from the cherry pits, totally delicious! You do have to spit the pits out while you're eating it, but it's totally worth it.

Since I'm off wheat, I experimented until I came up with a delicious nice-textured wheat-free clafoutis -
Recipe: Classic-Style Cherry Clafoutis + Variations


And here's a splendid variation with a slivered almond crust -
Recipe: Cherry Clafoutis with Almond Crust

Both of these clafoutis can be made with other fruit like blueberries, raspberries, halved fresh figs - mmm...

Please share your favourite clafoutis recipes, facts and tips in the comments!
xo Patty

Thanks Michelle for intoducing me to clafouits years ago - you're a great baking buddy. Thanks Crispin for the top photo, you really have a knack for making my baked goods look sexy ;-)