Archive | healthier choices

Peaches with Goat Cheese and Honey

There’s no getting around the too-lazy-too-cook-for-oneself bug when you’re at home for lunch on a hot summer day, or any day for that matter. I’ve heard it many times from friends who live alone: how do you get motivated to prepare a healthy meal or snack? Look no further than your local grocery store or farmer’s market and get what’s in season. That is my dirty little secret. I can admit to eating bananas or ants on a log (i.e. celery with peanut butter and dried cranberries) when I’m really pressed for time and need sustenance.

I had this for lunch last week and I felt much better about eating it than reaching out for a bag of chips. Hey, it happens.

This is as simple as it gets:

  • Peel and slice fresh peaches (or just slice nectarines)
  • Crumbled creamy goat cheese over the quarter moon slices
  • Drizzle with a tiny bit of honey
  • Eat!

Peaches with Goat Cheese and Honey

Posted in breakfast, brunch, cheese, cooking for one, dairy, dessert, fruits, gluten-free, healthier choices, original Gourmeted recipe, quick & easy, raw, snacks, vegetarian, wheat-free0 Comments

Cherry Clafoutis | This Ain’t No Pitted Party

New year, new recipes to conquer. I love trying something new. I’ve been on the lookout for a genuine Black Forest Cake recipe so I can compare it with the bastardized version I grew up with and I found one in a German cookbook I found at the library late last year. For some reason I thought I would need fresh cherries when I saw them at the market. Rarely do I buy fruits that are out of season, but I felt compelled to break my own rules sometimes for the sake of baking expeditions. When I got home and looked at my recipe again I guess I only needed bottled sour cherries! I was left with a rather expensive bag of cherries.

What to do…what to do with more than a pound of cherries? And they weren’t sweet enough to enjoy eating.

I turned to Twitter and sure enough my ever reliable friends had a lot of suggestions. In the end, the cherry clafoutis won.

Chef John pointed me to his video recipe and insisted I leave the pits be. Ken sent me the recipe he uses (from Martha, I believe) and it for pitted cherries, vanilla bean and kirsh (love). I created a compromise clafoutis: using whole cherries with kirsch custard, AND baking a small dish with pitted cherries to test if there really is a different. I also followed John’s method of pre-baking a layer of custard to keep the cherries from sinking down to the bottom of the pan. Brilliant!

Light, fragrant, mildly sweet bites of fluffy custard with fresh bursts of cherry goodness. And I have to say, the unpitted cherry owned the pitted cherry clafoutis by a landslide. Forget for one moment that you will bite into seeds. It’s a tiny price to pay for the great flavor.

Oh, and by all means, please use fresh vanilla beans if you can. Absolutely divine.

I can’t wait to bake more! Shall we make a pact and get ready to bake clafoutis come cherry season? Next time, I’ll take Barbara‘s recommendation and try Julia Child’s recipe. I’m also counting on the Tartine recipe I have from their book as well!

   Get the recipe for the Cherry Clafoutis

Posted in baking, coffee buddy, dessert, healthier choices5 Comments

The Mummy Diaries, Part 2: Baked Sweet Booh!tatoes

And I’m back for more #GreatHallowTweet. BOO!!! Do check out my fellow ghoulish frighteners in crime on the left sidebar (look for the pumpkin!). Get some inspiration from them this Halloween season — trust me, they have lots of wonderful stuff for you!

As for today here at Gourmeted, I bring you: Mummified Sweet Potatoes! Yes, it’s all about the mummies. I love the cute side of mummies. I love wrapping things, especially gifts. I like wrapping food in crunch. I like wrapping, period. Wrapping means surprises, and I sure do love those.

Goodness, do I sound drunk from sweet potatoes? Perhaps.

This Halloween snack was borne out of necessity almost. Deep fried sweet potatoes with sugar were my favorite after-school snack, an indulgence I get 8 times out of ten when I beg our helpers to make them for me us. When you’re a kid, you get a lot of things for free, with a smile, too. These days, my taste buds (and hips) aren’t too fond of deep fried, but the fact remains that I have never successfully baked sweet potato fries or wedges that are crispy on the outside as the deep fried goodness. They become limp faster than burn my mouth from fresh-out-of-the-oven sweet potatoes. [Never do that, promise me, please.]

These were incredibly good and addicting.

Enter Phyllo Dough, which in my book, will always pack a crunch when you need it! You see, there’s a bit of a phyllo-mena here in the household. I’ve been on a filo kick lately because they are so darn handy with food, be it sweet or savory, snack or main meal. It’s a perfectly sane idea to keep a box or two in the freezer, just as you would do for butter. What, you don’t do that? :)

This sweet and healthy snack is easy to do, all you need are:

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 2 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 2 t0 3 tablespoons of brown or demerara sugar (depending on how sugary you want it to be)
  • 2 sheets of phyllo dough. for every medium size sweet potato

You can double this recipe, just use the 2 butter, 2 (or 3) sugar 2 phyllo ratio and you’ll be fine.

Oven is preheated to 400°F and potato pieces are baked 10 minutes, turned, then baked for another 15 minutes. Easy enough, right? The construction is the tricky part, but I was able to do everything under an hour, including the baking time and even while shooting photos. Once you get into the groove, there’s no stopping the mummy production line.

Here’s how I did each piece:

Cut the sweet potato into wedges or a-little-fatter-than-fries size (half an inch x a quarter inch is perfect) and place in a bowl.

Lightly brush half a sheet of phyllo dough with butter, fold, then butter the exteriors, and cut into 16 strips. Sprinkle or rub each strip with sugar.

Use the remaining butter to toss the wedges in.

Fold each phyllo strip in half, lengthwise, and wrap around each piece of sweet potato.

Just tuck the beginning of the strip by overlapping after the first turn.

Tuck the end underneath the strip looping before it.

Just a little push would do. The tine of a fork could help, too. And there you have it, one mummy!

Place on a baking/cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

And bake for 10 minutes in an oven preheated to 400°F.

Turn each piece, exposing the caramel-y side and bake for another 15 minutes.

VOILA!

For bulkier pieces, wrap them twice with phyllo for that extra crunch and finger-food stability if you’re serving it for a party.

The good news is, the crunch of the phyllo stays for hours. Mmm!!!

Posted in appetizer, baking, experiments, healthier choices, original Gourmeted recipe, snacks6 Comments

Pan-Fried Eggplant with Lemon-Soy Sauce Dip

Hmm…so much for Fuss-Free Fridays! How about Too Lazy Tuesdays? Hahaha.

I used to be a picky eater as a young child. It’s not that I won’t eat vegetables or that I will only eat burgers (McDonald’s burgers were actually a rare treat because it wasn’t a place we .). The thing is, when I likes something in particular, could you just please cook it for me everyday until I tire of it? I had a lot of phases: fried chicken, corned beef, Mah-Ling, Spam, tomatoes, green beans, peas, broad bean, mung beans, etc. My blood was also half soy sauce and calamansi juice because I will dip almost anything in that sauce. Take for example, one of my favorite Filipino dish,  Pritong Talong (PREE-tong Ta-LONG; talong = eggplant; prito = fried). It’s as simple as what the name suggests: Fried. Eggplant. No salt. No pepper. Just wash, cut, and fry in oil.

Our Philippine eggplants are long and slender, similar to the Chinese and Japanese ones, and they’re cut in half lengthwise and crosswise, leaving you four pieces per eggplant. You can also use the much plumper variety, American globe, for frying, just cut them across, about a third of an inch in thickness.

Now depending on who’s cooking, it can be very oily, and that’s one thing I avoid. The older I get, the more naturally averse I am to oily food. What I do instead is to fry them in little oil and then steam by adding a small amount of water, just like when you cook potstickers.

The Method: Put enough vegetable oil on a frying pan, just enough to coat it. Heat on medium. Place eggplant slices (about 1/3 of an inch thick) sliced side down and cook until it it begins to turn brown on the edges. Flip to the other side, and wait until the edge starts to brown. And then quickly add about a tablespoon of water per slice of eggplant in the pan and quickly cover the pan until all the water evaporated. Transfer eggplants onto a plate. Coat pan with oil with every batch of eggplants cooked.

The sauce is just soy sauce with calamansi juice, lemon or lime juice. The salty and tangy sauce with the slightly sweet eggplant is a match made in heaven. Filipinos are huge rice eaters, and the fried eggplant is one of rice’s concubines. Give me plain steamed rice with fried eggplants for breakfast and I’ll be happy. Unless you make me some Tortang Talong (Eggplant Omelette), which I also love. I’ll be posting about that soon!

What about you — How do you cook your eggplants?

Posted in Asian dish, Filipino dishes, fried, healthier choices, vegetables, vegetarian6 Comments

Oats, the many things I could do with you!

I love oats. I grew up eating sweetened oatmeal topped with Nido powder milk. One of my earliest childhood memories in the kitchen was baking oatmeal cookies with my grandma. I eat it raw. I’ve also been known to eat it with asparagus. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that I went so far as making it congee-like and topped with my all-time favorite viand, the (Filipino) adobo.

That's not a pond of oil, it just looks like oil from this angle. Whoops.

I’ve turned into a heathen in the world of adobo because its appointed wife is a bowl of steamy white rice (or garlic fried rice). How could I defame such a cult-following of adobo lovers?

The reason, my friends, is that I’m dead serious about improving my health and losing weight. I packed on so much weight even I couldn’t believe it. This is what the 30′s does to you, I guess. I was joking that I got an early 32nd birthday gift. There is just no room for error in food choices and laziness (with regards to physical activities). To remedy that, I run almost every other day (depending on how my body is, if I’m too sore I don’t run) using a modified Couch-to-5K running program (it’s 12 weeks instead of 9), and have gone to Bikram yoga since the beginning of June. I run and do yoga on Sundays. So for all that hard work, I am more careful of what I eat. Since I got back from my carefree vacation, it’s been tough to think of what recipes to post here because you might think I am going nuts with the healthful turn of events. I mainly stick to eating fresh fruits, and just one meal with rice a day. Woe, my beloved rice!

So, anyway, back to oats. It’s like my almost-guilt-free ally in all of this. In the morning, I eat a steel-cut oats porridge, a little sugar, and skim milk powder (gotta have the powder there) for breakfast. Sometimes I would eat it with something savory, such as chicken adobo. [Again, my apologies to my Filipino roots.] It does curb my hunger pangs. Honestly, I can put almost anything in it. I prefer steel-cut oats because it doesn’t turn into complete mush and I still get those solid (rice-like) bits when it’s not overcooked.

The result after a month of proactively living healthy? I lost 10 pounds (!!!), I feel the best I’ve ever felt in a year. It didn’t come without a lot of ‘work’ though–it took 4 months for my metabolism to get back to into gear. Effortless metabolism doesn’t come free anymore in my thirties. Ouch.

So, uhm, how do you keep healthy fellow foodies, food bloggers, and food lovers? Any tips?

Posted in healthier choices8 Comments

Quick & Easy: Endives with Lox & Cream Cheese Spread

Here in Vancouver, we are quickly shifting into summer and it is getting HOT. I don’t know if it’s because of this that I am suddenly lethargic, but this has to stop soon because I have a lot of things to do! That includes our newsletter (which is looking more like June would be the next) and the roundup of the virtual Tea Exchange party I hosted. My apologies, dear participants!

Going along this lack of energy theme, I could (figuratively) barely lift a finger to prepare anything that requires cooking these days. I feel like my body’s battery is mimicking the iPhone’s. Ha ha. I haven’t baked or cooked in a while. Perhaps all the eating out has contributed to my body blues? In any case, quick and easy isn’t so bad…

I got the idea to make this from Danielle’s Home-cured Salmon Spread & Endives. She made home-cured salmon, while I used up some leftover lox. And I didn’t follow the quantities of the recipe, I just glanced at the ingredients and made a quick mix of chopped lox, walnuts, cream cheese, a drizzle of lemon juice, a few wisps of lemon zest and a sprinkle of sea salt.

Serve that in crisp endive leaves and enjoy it with a glass of wine or fresh ice tea…mmm. They make a good summer combo.

It’s the easiest thing to make and it was surprisingly filling. Again, there’s no (strict) recipe required, only your imagination and an openness to taste.

I love being inspired by other people’s recipes, especially from food blogging friends. Although we don’t see each other that often (or most of the time, have never met in person), we could share the same feast.

Do you have any other no-cook recipes (or recipes that require little cooking)? Please share!

Posted in appetizer, healthier choices, quick & easy, seafood, snacks, vegetables13 Comments

Steel Cut Oats with Asparagus and the Merits of Uncomplicated-Yet-Still-Good Meals

Simple. Healthful. Delicious.

I’m talking about sliced asparagus topped with fried pancetta, on a bed of steel cut oats.

Who needs a recipe for something as easy as that? (Some do, if only for the methods, and I will happily oblige at the end of this post.)

People underestimate the value of their taste buds and instincts in the kitchen. I know that too well having been cooking-challenged for most of my life. I didn’t even bother to cook, because I (and everyone else) knew I was incapable. I was the one family members would silently worry about because I had no interest in spending time in the kitchen. Part of the reason for that was because cooking was not only a daunting chore, I was also afraid of the judgments to be made with the way I cook and the end product of my rare culinary attempt. The thought of cooking anything that does not provoke victorious gasps among meal partakers was just too much to bear.

So what changed? As much as I cannot stand to watch Rachel Ray these days, I used to like her pre-pre-Oprah…in her $40 A Day days when extended cable was my friend. Then I caught a few episodes of 30-Minute Meals when it started, when I had Food Network on all day, like…all day. Finally in September 2006, I found the very first recipe in my twenty-something adult life that, for some crazy reason, made me try cooking. It was..drum roll…Rachel Ray’s “You Won’t Be Single For Long Vodka Cream Pasta [The name of the dish still make me cringe]. Perhaps, I didn’t have to hide under the kitchen sink when asked who wasted all the ingredients with that kind of cooking. It was actually quite good, now that I looked at my blog entry then (not here). I enjoyed it so much that I cooked it again with linguine with sliced beef sausage and ham:

Yes, this is the actual photo I took of the 2nd dish I cooked, back in October 2, 2006 (thanks to Flickr and my blog archive, I don't have to commit everything to memory). It's inspired by Rachel Ray's "You Won't Be Single For Long Vodka Cream Pasta."

I’m much more confident in my cooking these days, and can make something out of whatever is available. The kitchen and I, we’re like bread and butter now. Cooking and baking relax me, like meditative symphonies, and the outcome is something that others can enjoy–everyone’s happy.

Ms. I-Don’t-Cook, I am no more. Good-bye to the days of subsisting solely on someone else’s cooking, or making reservations for dinner so I can have my crème brulée fix. Today, I’m the one who misses cooking at home when I travel. I’m the one gently encouraging to friends and family to try recipes, because cooking good food could be so very easy AND delicious. It doesn’t take a magician or a day of labor.

And it took Rachel Ray to inspire me to get out of my (non-cooking) shell.

Recently, she and Jamie Oliver have been called out in this article as advertising and marketing “on behalf of the processed food industry.

Jamie, for one, has promoted real food for the longest time. Both their recipes can be really quick, but they are a far cry from Hungry Man and Lean Cuisine dinners. Quick and easy meals may raise the eyebrows of food snobs, but the bottomline is:

Rachael Ray and Jamie Oliver bring people to the kitchen.

Jamie’s Food Revolution has stirred interest in the school lunches of America, and the way people eat in general. People need to start somewhere, and if these two can bring people home from the takeout/drive-thru line and out with their pots in front of their stoves and to the dining tables, then so be it.

A lot of us in the online food blogging circles take the time to cook, because first and foremost, we already love to cook. I have to constantly remind myself when I write and post recipes that, not everyone is like me. It is so easy to get tunnel vision when you live a certain lifestyle, are comfortable, and have time to ruminate on the good things in life, or how you could be less busy to make meals, but…

People do get busy. And tired. And lazy on some days. I don’t have kids, I don’t have any obligation to cook for anyone or attend to anyone, I work from home, and YET, there would still be days when I am just too swamped with work, too exhausted, and too famished to cook. I speed dial the pizza place. Or I take some French bread, slice some cheese, rinse some fruits, open a bottle of wine and call it Joy’s Awesome Dinner. There would be week-long stove lulls in favor of eating out with friends and re-heating take-outs, meeting work deadlines or riding over the lazy days. I’m sure you’ve had that. I can’t imagine what it must be like for parents who both work and have kids, and no sitter.

And then, there are so many people who don’t know where or how to begin cooking. And this could be for a variety of reasons: they never cooked, they don’t like cooking, they couldn’t care less about cooking, didn’t grow up around people who cook, etc. I  grew up with good food and family and household help who cook, and I was lucky enough to have learned the basics in school, and we even had meal-planning as part of our Home Economics subject. We even had to come up with our own recipe! It was a drag then, I admit. University was a cooking write-off, limited to a one-range stove to make breakfast, boil water for ramen, re-heat take-out, and make the occasional leche flan.

If you told me 5 years ago that I have to learn cooking for my own good, I would have brushed you off (and something worse that’s for your imagination). I wouldn’t see you eye to eye. Someone who loves to cook take joy in even talking about food, while someone who doesn’t would think the food lover needs to shut up about the juicy, garden fresh tomatoes already. Try to feed someone some good, simple, home-cooked meals and at one point or another you could get a conversation going about how easy it is to make and they could make it, too. It’s a process. You can’t push it, but you’ll just have to try and it’s not a chore for you because it’s something you love to do.

I used to avoid cooking at all costs. I progressed from a kitchen miser because of an inspiration. Oh, love! My approach to food is romantic at its very core. I’m not trying to make people cook or bake if they really don’t want to. I would love for people to appreciate good food, if not love it. Food is not only physical nourishment, but a body of more than the sum of all its ingredients–with it comes conversation, momentous occasions, a time to pause and relax, a wink, a smile…memories!

Of course, not every meal could bring butterflies in your stomach or be imprinted on your mind, but it can be enjoyed…alone, with company, to celebrate something, to banish a bad day, or seal a good one. Food can be that good. And it doesn’t have to be complicated, such as Asparagus with Steel Cut Oats.

Here’s the “Un-Recipe” for 2 vegetarian loving eaters, or 3 to 4 people enjoying this as a side dish:

For the asparagus: Wash about 450 grams of medium asparagus spears to make 2 cups, sliced. Slice diagonally, about a third to a quarter of a centimeter in thickness. In medium heat, melt a tablespoon of unsalted butter in a large frying pan until froth starts to turn brown. Saute asparagus for a few minutes until the bottom of the pan is almost dry. Add a tablespoon of water and allow to steam. Add 3 more, evaporating in between additions. Add salt and pepper to taste. Eat as is, with rice, quinoa, or with cooked steel cut oats and top with some fried-till-crisp pancetta or bacon for flavor.

Cooking steel cut oats (also called Irish or coarse-cut oats) as a stand-in for rice: Place 1/2 cup of steel cut oats with 1 cup of water in a small pot and cook in med-high heat. Once it boils, lower the heat to medium-low and cook for about 10 minutes or more, until you reach the doneness you prefer (I like it really chewy). Add water by the tablespoons if needed. I typically cook it like this when I am going to eat it for something savory. For breakfast, I go with the 1:3 oats to water ratio.

Do you have any favorite dishes that require no recipes? I’d love to know, so please share them in the comments!

Posted in healthier choices, original Gourmeted recipe, quick & easy, vegetables7 Comments

Eggplant and Chard Lasagne and Being a Reluctant Gardener

In case you’re in the mood for lasagne, and up for something different, try this Eggplant and Chard Lasagne. Yes, it’s vegetarian and it’s incredibly good in a Wow-That’s-Vegetarian?! kind of way. I served it to a group of carnivores who whined (a little) before tasting it. They shut up after the first bite. Then, the rest of the lasagna was history…gone with the skeptic wind.

Eggplant and Chard Lasagne

I really, really wish you could taste this right now!

Eating what I consider a “balanced” diet

I do love my chocolates, high-fat Irish butter, desserts and everything sweet, so I try to balance them out with oatmeal or 2% greek yogurt in the mornings, and vegetable/fruit-rich dishes the rest of the day [Keep in mind: I try, but it doesn't always happen.]. Having said that, I also don’t see the point of dreading a lackluster meal only to make myself feel better with too much dessert. And let’s face it–it’s way easier to keep eating dessert…so very easy. I want to eat with a good diet in mind, but I don’t want to eat like I’m missing out. I’m with the camp who believes that eating healthier shouldn’t mean resigning to eating food that taste like crap.

After having cooked several recipes from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone, I couldn’t recommend it enough for anyone thinking of putting more vegetable dishes on their tables. Remember the split pea soup? Yum! This lasagne? Oh my. It’s another winning combination, and I can’t believe I’ve never used chard and eggplant together like this, it’s so deviously simple.

I wasn’t quite sure how it would taste from the recipe, to be honest, but knowing that my fellow food blogging pal Dana made it before was the extra assurance I needed to feel at ease making this for the first time and serving it to hungry non-vegetarian bellies.

And you know what? It was a smashing success of a pasta dish. If you taste this, you won’t say: “This tastes good for vegetarian…” It is awesome. Period. No need to label it as “vegetarian” as an excuse for its taste. I know what it’s like. I used to wince whenever someone said the V-word. I die a little each time then, if I want to be dramatic about it. But this. Oh, I love it! I’ve no qualms about serving it to anyone. I plan to serve this at my next birthday party, and it won’t need the usual introduction of, “That’s vegetarian, FYI.”

Eggplant and Chard Lasagne

Dig in.

It tastes like lasagne (in case you’re wondering). It’s not too leafy, not too rich. It’s filling, but it won’t weigh you down–y’know that feeling with pasta that’s bloated you can barely look at it before thinking there’s just no way I could eat that? I was quite surprised at how good eggplant was in between sheets of pasta, and really being good friends with wilted chard. Mmmm…mmm!

So the question is: would I pick this over the conventional lasagne if I had the choice? YES! Oh, heck, YES!

Truly, I love the dish as is, but something’s missing. With the beginning of spring, I can’t help but think of how it could be better with garden-fresh eggplants and chard. Yeah, I’m going to go all oogly-vegetably on you now.

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, a-gardening we go!

I won’t lie. I don’t have a green thumb (although he says there is no such thing) and gardening became obliterated from my thinking process before I reached my teens. Gardening wha’? Before that, I enjoyed mostly third-party gardening. I was perfectly content with watering the plants and removing/cutting the occasional dried stem or leaf. The major dig-ins, I just watch while others do it. My forte was harvesting and eating the fruits/vegetables, or cutting flowers and leaves to put in vases for our rooms. Very nice.

This year, I want to overcome my fear of soil–of earthworms, in particular–and start a small garden in the backyard. I used to live in a building complex where the yard consisted of rocks and manicured lawns and trees tended on an almost-daily basis by gardeners. You can’t plant. Not that it mattered at the time. Now that I’m back in the ‘burbs of Vancouver, there is actually a yard to play with.

Gulp.

I fear the yard. All it looks to me is more work when I could be tweeting instead! I’m so inspired by Kristina and Kristina‘s gardens. [Hah! Did I confuse you? Raise your hand if your name is Kristina and you garden. I see a pattern here.] I hope I’m not setting myself up for failure. We’ll see. I’ll try.

I mean…really, I will. Just thinking of having fresh produce from my own garden makes me happy. And I know that sounds like the geekiest food-related thing I’ve said. Help.

Do you have any tips for a newbie gardener like me? Can you share links/resources or books/primers to read?

I want to have a vegetable garden and eat the fruits of my labor. Hopefully, we can get soil this weekend. And no, I have not read a single book on gardening. Can gardening knowledge be–hold your breath–organic? :D

Get the recipe for Eggplant and Chard Lasagne (includes PDF)

Posted in books and publications, cheese, healthier choices, main dishes, pasta, vegetables, vegetarian4 Comments

Strawberry Ganache Fudge Cake: How to Have Your Cake and Eat It Too

I love you more than rainbows.” – Ryan Bingham (best original song, Crazy Heart) When I heard that, I went “AWWW”. How cute was that speech at the Oscar’s?! [I'm a total sap!] I’m watching it as I type, can you tell?

This (raw) fudge cake might just be more lovable than those colorful arches.

Strawberry Ganache Fudge Cake: the indulgent-tasting cake that looks good and makes you feel good

The oh-so-decadent-looking ganache–would you believe me when I say it’s made of dates, agave syrup, avocado, and cacao powder? Grins. No, it’s not April Fool’s Day yet. This total eye candy is good for you!

In the beginning I wasn’t sure it would be as good as Elle said it would. It’s not that I don’t trust her, or Ani Phyo (the cookbook author). It’s just that the ingredient combination was a bit foreign to me. Really? Avocado?! I grew up eating avocados as dessert topped with powdered milk and sugar, so the sweet part I got. But…with chocolate? You’re kidding!

My apprehension disappeared as soon as I prepared and tasted it. Oh…my…god!

Chocolate ganache

Raw ganache: the stuff of raw dessert heaven!

This chocolate frosting is UNreal in flavor. Wow. You wouldn’t think it has avocado in it. It is as good-no even better-than it looks.

Each cake layer is made of ground walnuts, cacao powder, medjool dates and salt. The major challenge for me when I made this was shaping the cake into 2 stackable layers. My smallest springform pan was 8 inches, and that produced a layer too thin to hold its shape. I ended up using a smaller-diameter fondue pot that I lined with aluminum foil tso I can easily pop out the layer once it’s compressed into a compact disc.

Pressing the cake into one compact disc

This is my low-tech solution to shaping the cake layers. It works.

I was eager to devour it after putting on the first layer of ganache, especially after tasting it with some leftover cake crumbs. I love eating tasting everything while making stuff.

First cake layer

First cake layer frosted with ganache

The original recipe called for fresh raspberries. I had strawberries at the time, so I sliced and macerated them in agave syrup for extra softness and moisture.

First layer of the strawberry ganache fudge cake

Mascerated sliced strawberries

After much fussing around with the frosting to make it look decent (I’m not good with icing at all), I had to wait 2 hours for the cake to firm up before cutting it.

Strawberry Ganache Fudge Cake

A piece of chocolate heaven.

It was love at first bite. I know I say that about a lot of desserts, but wow, this was on its own level of chocolate goodness. If I was to make a list of 100 Things To Eat Before You Die, this will definitely make the cut. Ultra smooth and creamy ganache on two layers of nutty cakes and a soft layer of macerated strawberries in the middle – what could be better? It’s raw and it’s healthy for you, that’s what! This is pure indulgence without the guilt.

Don’t even entertain second thoughts, just make this now. This is pure indulgence without the guilt.

Continue Reading

Posted in books and publications, cakes, chocolate, dessert, fruits, healthier choices17 Comments

Split Pea Soup

There’s nothing as comforting in winter as a good soup, especially a hearty split pea soup. This one is fully vegetarian, with all the goodness of homemade vegetable stock. The original recipe called for a lot of fresh herbs, which I didn’t have because I ran out and there wasn’t time to go out and buy them. What I had instead were dried rosemary, thyme and bay leaves, and fresh mint leaves. The latter was a very nice addition to the soup and if I had to do it all over again, I’d make this soup with the same ingredients.

A few weeks ago, I asked for vegetarian cookbook recommendations on Twitter. One of the top two mentioned by my Twitter pals is Deborah Madison’s “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. I didn’t realize it was like The Vegetarian Cooking Tome–the massive amount of recipes overwhelmed me the minute I held it. I haven’t delved that much into vegetarian cooking (there’s always a slight meat component in most of my vegetable dishes), so I didn’t know where to start. That week, we were having an incredibly cold and rainy week, as is typical for Vancouver winter. It was starting to get really old and the only thing that could really lighten the mood up was a good bowl of soup. When I looked through the cookbook, this one jumped at me. This would be the books “first test”.

Friends, do you do that, too, when you have a new cookbook? Do you test out a few recipes to see if the cookbook will be worth its place as a standby in the kitchen? For me, if one recipe succeeds, it stays near the kitchen and I continue to cook from it. If it fails, I’ll give it 2 more tries before I ditch it. What about you? How many recipes do you test before it gets a Yay or a Nay?

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

This recipe definitely earned a “Yay!” in my book.

I love when everything goes together and the whole experience of making a dish somehow connects you to the author, through the methods, the flavors, and the culmination in the forms of a really good meal and a silent Thank You to the mind that created something so wonderful. A regular dinner turned into something special. Yes, I romanticize about meals, and if this was a date, I’m picking the phone to ask for a second. ;-)

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Posted in books and publications, healthier choices, soups, vegetables, vegetarian11 Comments