Caribbean-Style Banana Bread w/ Sweet Orange Blossom Cashew Cream

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I’ve been wanting to make this Banana Bread recipe for a few weeks, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to top it with.  I knew I wanted something creamy but what flavor….?  That was the question.  Time was ticking as my bananas were at their ripest and I didn’t want to start over with a new batch of bananas to ripen.  As you can tell, I was very determined to get the perfect topping for it.  And then it happened…that aha! moment. I was looking through a couple of cookbooks searching for a dinner recipe, when I came across Bryant Terry’s Afro-Vegan Cookbook.  Let me just say, this book is amazing.  It a cookbook bursting with African and Caribbean flavors that are vibrant, colorful…a celebration if you will of plant-based foods with a taste of tradition.  I came across Bryant’s Sweet Orange Blossom Cream and I got my a ha! moment.  It was serendipity. 

Let me just say that I love banana bread.  It is a quick and simple classic quick bread, however I wanted to zhuzh it up a bit.  Give it life.  And life I did give it.  The orange blossom cream was heavenly on top of it.  I made a few changes.  Instead of silken tofu, I used soaked cashews, thereby making a cashew cream.  I opted out of using bourbon (the original recipe) as I wanted it to be more for breakfast or a snack.  However, if you feel the need to add the bourbon (Bryant uses 1 Tablespoon), go for it.  I also used maple syrup instead of agave, but feel free to use your favorite sweetener.  The absolute best part about this recipe is the Orange Blossom Water or Orange Flower Water.  It is a clear and perfumed essence made by the distillation of fresh bitter orange blossoms.  Get a bottle and take a whiff.  You’ll want to put it in your food, put it in your favorite drinks, spray your sheets, etc.  You can find Orange Flower Water at Middle Eastern markets or buy it here.  It is used in a lot of desserts such as baklava and Mexican Wedding cakes. 



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Caribbean Style Banana Bread w/ Sweet Orange Blossom Cashew Cream//makes 1 loaf
Adapted from B. Smith's Entertaining and Cooking for Friends

¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
½ cup vegan butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 ¼ cup mashed ripe banana
½ cup Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Sweet Orange Blossom Cream//1 cup
Adapted from Afro-Vegan

1 ½ cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours, drained, and rinsed
¼ cup agave or maple syrup
¼ cup non-dairy milk or water (I used almond milk)
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
¼ cup freshly squeezed navel orange juice
Finely grated zest of 1 navel orange
1 teaspoon orange blossom water

To prepare the frosting, place the cashews, syrup, non-dairy milk or water, salt, and extract in a high-speed blender or food processor. Blend or process until the mixture is mostly smooth; in a high-speed blender, this will be about 2 minutes once you get to high speed, and in a food processor it should take about 4 minutes, with a few breaks to scrape the bowl down. Then, with the machine running, drizzle in the coconut oil. Continue blending till the frosting is smooth and emulsified. Transfer it to an airtight container to chill for at least 2 hours. It will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.

For the banana bread, preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan.  In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice.  In another large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Then fold in the flour mixture, alternating with mashed banana, yogurt, and vanilla.  Stir in the nuts.  Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Transfer the bread to a wire rack to cool.  

Party Time! Glam Popcorn Two Ways

Orange, Rosemary, & Balsamic Vinegar Caramel Popcorn AND

Kaffir Lime, Coconut, & Banana Sugar Popcorn

Hello! I’ve got two popcorn recipes for your next movie night, TV show night, award show night …. pick one.  These popcorn recipes taste as amazing as they sound.  I love popcorn especially zhuzh’ed up popcorn or as I like to say, Glam popcorn.  They are very easy to make and will definitely be conversation starters with your guests. 

The first is an Orange, Rosemary, Balsamic Caramel Popcorn with fresh rosemary and orange zest.  I couldn’t stop eating this one.  I told myself just one more bite, but the woodsy floral essence of the rosemary, the tanginess of the balsamic and the sweet citrus flavor of the orange zest had me entranced. 

Next, is the Kaffir Lime, Coconut, & Banana Sugar popcorn.  Your taste buds won’t know what hit them.  The Banana sugar concept comes from one of my favorite bloggers, Gabriel Cabrera of The Artful Desperado.  Gabriel concocted these wonderful cookies called Crumbly Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate Ganache and Banana Sugar (I am so making these).  FYI, it’s right here. I thought why not add banana sugar to popcorn.  Done!  If you don’t have Kaffir Lime in your area, you can substitute lime zest or you can buy it here.  The remaining ingredients will most likely be in your pantry.  Have fun with these popcorn recipes and by all means, play with the ingredients.  Food is art and our minds are the canvas!



Party Time! Glam Popcorn Two Ways//makes 10-12 cups

Orange, Rosemary, Balsamic Caramel Popcorn

½ cup unpopped corn kernels
1 tablespoon oil

basic caramel sauce – adapted from The Kitchn
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons orange zest

Preheat oven to 350’.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  In a medium saucepan, add oil and popcorn kernels.  Pop the corn and shake the pan occasionally until popping slows.  Pour popped popcorn into a large heatproof bowl.  Set aside.

For the caramel, melt the butter over medium heat in a saucepan.  Mix in the sugar until completely moistened.  Increase the heat to medium high and bring the mixture to a boil.  Boil for 3-4 minutes while stirring and scraping the bottom continuously.  Remove caramel mixture from heat, then add rosemary sprigs, orange zest, and balsamic vinegar.  Continue stirring until you form a thick glossy sauce.  Slowly pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn and stir to ensure every kernel is coated with the caramel.  Divide the popcorn between the baking sheets, spreading evenly.  Bake in the oven for 8 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.  Remove the rosemary sprigs.  It’s perfectly okay if the popcorn clumps together.  That’s actually the best part!  Once cooled, break up the popcorn with the back of a wooden spoon.  Serve immediately.

Kaffir Lime, Coconut, & Banana Sugar Popcorn//makes 10-12 cups

½ cup unpopped corn kernels
1 tablespoon coconut oil (highly recommended for that extra coconut flavor)
2 kaffir lime leaves, finely minced, plus more for garnish
½ cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
½ cup can sugar

In a medium saucepan, add coconut oil, a generous pinch of the kaffir lime leaves and popcorn kernels.  Pop the corn and shake the pan occasionally until popping slows.  Pour popped popcorn into a large heatproof bowl.  Set aside.

To make the banana sugar, add banana chips to a spice grinder and grind until ground.  It’s okay if there are bits of banana chunks lingering. You want crunch in this popcorn.  Once ground, pour into a small bowl and add sugar.  Mix well.

To bring it all together, sprinkle the shredded coconut and banana sugar on top.  Add remaining kaffir lime leaves on top.  Serve immediately.