Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread

So, first off, my family and I have now officially moved into our apartment in London, which means.... I can get back to baking and blogging! Before I begin, hello from London and from a new kitchen after five years in the same one in Singapore. 

To stock up for groceries, we made trips to three different grocery stores and accidentally bought a few too many bananas (but that's never really a problem - smoothies, one ingredient ice cream, banana bread). I went with the last option and whipped up a banana bread recipe I've been wanting to make for the longest time. I make regular spiced banana bread and chocolate chip banana bread all the time, but this one is on a whole other league - CINNAMON SUGAR SWIRL. I think that explains it all.
The bread is moist, sweet, full of banana and has the most amazing cinnamon sugar aroma. Don't blame me if you pull it out of the oven before it's even done baking! I just baked the bread today, and over half of it is gone. My mom, sister and I ate it as an evening snack and both my sister and dad are taking it to school and work as a bite. Lucky me because it means I don't have to wait too long before I bake something else!

Anyways, as I said, this is a wonderful recipe with a secret cinnamon sugar swirl. Grab your overripe bananas and get baking!

Banana Bread
2 cups whole wheat or all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp butter, softened
2 large eggs
3 mashed ripe bananas
1/3 cup plain or honey yogurt (reduce the sugar a bit if using honey yogurt)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cinnamon Swirl
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 175 C. Line a loaf pan with baking paper and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.

In a larger bowl, beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.

With a large spoon, stir in the mashed banana, yogurt and vanilla. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients. Do not overmix!
Spoon half the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Completely cover the batter by sprinkling the cinnamon sugar mixture over top. Top with the remaining batter. Bake for an hour or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
As always, enjoy!


Indescribable in Words - Wine Tour and "Delights" [Chianti Region, Tuscany...Italia]

Continuing the Italian theme (and the fact that I couldn't not mention this), while we were staying in Chianti, we - obviously - had to do a wine tour. We chose the option to do a wine tour beginning at 11:30 am followed by a wine tasting (none for me!) and gastronomical delights, which as you will see was MUCH more than just some delights! We drove about 45 minutes from our villa to the site of the tour and reached just in time...oops.. Yup! That's me on the left!
The tour began with a brief description of several types of wine, a view of the lovely region and was followed by a journey through the winery where we could see huge barrels and even old & dusty wine bottles. Sure, the tour was great, but to be honest, I was just looking forward to the food (I mean.. seriously!). Before I proceed, the name of the place was Castello di Verrazzano. It was an out-of-this world experience and a must if you are the region.. and I'm saying not just any old wine tour - one at Castello di Verrazzano (see picture).

The wine tasting platter included five different types of wine (the four pictured in the center in the picture plus a dessert wine that was served in a shot glass). Unfortunately, I don't remember any of the wines that my parents tasted, but rest assured they loved ALL of them. Moving on to the star of the show:

I hope the picture spoke for itself. The ingredients were absolutely fresh, delicious and outright amazing. My mom even opted for the vegetarian platter and it was equally, if not more, fabulous. Starting with the bruschetta, you're supposed to maker your way around the plate (counter clockwise). So here goes: bruschetta, several types of melt-in-the-mouth deli meats, tuscan bread with absolutely fantastic olive oil, pecorino cheese, goats cheese with honey and in the center - cabbage with that same to-die-for olive oil. Just delights, they say...

The strong, but sweet dessert wine was served with the best almond biscotti I have ever tried in my life. At this point, I don't know if I will ever come across better.

All said and done, this was the highlight of my trip. It. Was. Amazing.

P.S. Sorry for the lack of recipes. It's hard when I'm all over the world! Don't worry, my own recipes will be coming soon once we're all settled in London (by the end of August!).


Coffee. Cream. COFFEE CREAM ~~~~ Italy.

Since I last posted in London, I have been globe trotting around the world.. Ok, maybe not globe trotting exactly, but I have been traveling - A LOT! I began in Singapore, stayed in London for a week, then went on a family trip to Italy. This first stint in Italy included a one day stop in Pisa to see the Leaning Tower, a two day adventure in the Tuscan highlands of Chianti, a two day historical experience in Florence and ended with the touristy water city, Venice. The trip was hectic, crazy but absolutely amazing! We ate delicious food (another post to come on this later!) and enjoyed every single bit. From there I ventured to New York and then found myself in Italy (Rome!) again. I'm back in London now, but am going to Mumbai for a couple of days soon followed by Singapore and will finally be back in London for good in the middle of August. However, the focus of this post is something as insignificant as coffee cream - but really it's not insignificant at all!

The first time I came across coffee cream was in some random cafe in Venice where my dad stopped to get his evening cafe latte (NOT just a latte - that simply means hot milk in Italy!). I saw a couple of people drinking coffee cream in a small cup, but shrugged it off and opted for some rich gelato instead. A week later, I was in a cafe in Rome and my mom and uncle were having a cappucino in the afternoon. The heat was killer so I was honestly hoping to get something cool when my cousin asked to try the coffee cream. She gave me a try of her try (!) and I was hooked at once. We were on the run, so I got it in a takeaway cup topped with cocoa powder.

Coffee, cream, sweet, cold, delicious, light.. the PERFECT cool down. Mmmmm...

Two days later, we were back at the same cafe for breakfast and I ordered a strawberry tart accompanied by coffee cream topped with freshly whipped panna (cream) and let me tell you... it was significantly better than the first time and that's saying a lot. It's funny how the most quaint and unassuming things are the little tidbits that make our life.. That was what this coffee cream was to my trip! Don't skip it if you are in Italy and would love a sweet coffee flavor. Beats a Starbucks frappucino any day (in Italy, that is).