Lemon Cake

15 08 2012

This dish is a dance that took 12 months to create.  The foundation was simple:  Make a cake.  The rhythm was more challenging:

No animal products… no eggs, butter, dairy.

No refined sugars… no honey, agave, stevia.

No oils… not olive, not coconut, not avocado.

Only whole wheat flour.

And make it taste good.

After 12 months of practicing the steps, this is my dance.

Lemon Cake

Serves 8

2 tablespoons flax meal

½  cup dates, soaked in warm water

1 tablespoons dried lavender buds

½ cup raw cashew butter, no-salt-added

1 cup non-dairy milk

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 ½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon turmeric

1/8 teaspoon salt (optional)

1 lemon, zest and juice

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 350.

To make flax eggs:  Combine flax meal with 6 tablespoons warm water.  Whisk together and let sit 5 minutes, until mixture is gelatinous and slimy, like eggs.

To combine wet ingredients:  Remove dates from soaking liquid.  Place in a blender or high-speed food processor with ½ cup of the soaking liquid.  Puree until well-blended and smooth.  Add dried lavender, cashew butter, non-dairy milk, and vanilla.  Puree until smooth.

To make cupcakes:  Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, turmeric, and salt in a large bowl.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry.  Add the lemon zest and juice and vinegar.  Stir well to combine.  Line an 8” round cake pan with parchment (or use a 12-cupcake silicon baking mold).  Pour the cake batter into the pan and spread evenly.  Bake 20-25 minutes for regular cake (10 to 15 minutes for cupcakes).  The cake will be done when it is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Let fully cool before frosting.

Lemon Frosting

Makes 1 cup

1 cup raw cashew butter, or 1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight and drained

8 dates, pitted and soaked in warm water

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric

To prepare the Lemon Frosting:  Place the cashew butter (or soaked cashews), dates, vanilla, and ¼ cup warm water in a high-speed blender or food processor.  Pulse the mixture several times, and then blend until the ingredients are thick, smooth, and creamy.  If needed add 1-tablespoon at a time of water to the blender until the desired consistency is achieved.  Cream can be use immediately or may be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.    

Freezes beautifully.

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Apricot Bean Salsa

8 08 2012

Salsa comes down to a few key ingredients: jalapeno, lime, and cilantro.  From there, the possibilities are endless, making it the perfect setting to use summer’s ripest fruits.  Adding beans takes it from side dish to main course.

2 cups cooked yellow eye stueben beans

2 large apricots, diced

1 jalapeno, seeded and minced

1 lime, zest and juice

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

To make salsa:  Combine all just before serving. Enjoy in bibb lettuce cups.

If making a day ahead, layer all of the ingredients in a large bowl, with the beans and cilantro on top.  Toss just before serving.  If you toss any sooner, you beans and apricot will get mushy.





Red Rice, Yellow Cauli

30 07 2012

Time to embrace color.  Red Himalayan rice comes from Southeast Asia.  Yellow Cauliflower is colored with the golden hue of Indian curry powder.  Make sense out of two perplexing ingredients.

Serves 4

2 cups red rice

1 white onion, diced

2 tablespoons curry powder, home-made or pre-made

1 large head yellow cauliflower, cored and cut into bite-sized pieces

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

To cook the rice: In a small pot, cover rice with a couple inches of water.  Simmer until tender, about 25 minutes.  Turn off heat, fluff, and keep covered until cauliflower is ready.

Meanwhile, to make your Yellow Cauli:  Place onion, curry powder, and 1/2 cup of water in a large saute pan.  Sweat gently over medium heat until onions are soft and the liquid becomes paste-like.  Add cauliflower to the pan and stir well to coat in the yellow curry paste.  Cover and reduce heat to low to steam cauliflower.  Cook until cauliflower is tender, about 10 minutes.  Add cilantro and stir well to combine.

Serve a big scoop of yellow cauliflower over a huge mound of red rice.  Enjoy!





Purple Tomatoes and Purple Basil

23 07 2012

Purple tomatoes?  Purple basil?  Sounds like the perfect match.

Serves 4

3 or 4 purple heirloom tomatoes, sliced

1 to 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons purple basil

Freshly ground black pepper
Place tomato slices on a large plate and fan out.  Splash on the white balsamic vinegar.  Tear apart the purple basil and scatter over the tomatoes.  Grind a few turns of black pepper.

Share with good friends and sunshine.





Butter Bean Leek Soup

18 07 2012

Creamy, rich butter beans provide body and texture to this addictive soup.  A classic take on French Vichyssoise, traditionalists will serve chilled.  I prefer it warm, straight out of a mug.

3 leeks (about 1 bunch), white and light green parts only, thinly sliced

2 white onions, diced

3 cloves garlic

1 carrot, diced

1 bay leaf

2 cans (about 7 cups) butter beans, no-salt-added, drained and rinsed

In a large soup pot, combine leeks, onion, garlic, carrot, bay leaf, and 5 cups of water.  Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until leeks and carrot are soft, about 10 minutes.  Add the beans to the pot.  Remove the bay leaf.  Puree half of the mixture using a blender (immersion blender preferred).

Cook a few more minutes to bring flavors together.  Garnish with chopped chives, parsley, or just freshly ground black pepper and serve.





Sweet Cauliflower and Currants

17 07 2012

Tiny currants provide bright pops to highlight the natural sweetness of cauliflower and the sweet licorice-flavor of fennel.  Other dried fruits like raisins, diced apricots, or chopped dates would also work well.

Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon fennel seed

1 head cauliflower, stem and florets, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 white onion

2 cloves garlic

1/4 cup dried currants

2 tablespoons roasted sunflower seeds

Place fennel seeds in a large skillet.  Heat over high heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes.  Add cauliflower and onion to the pan.  Continue to cook until onions and caulifower begin to turn brown, about 4 more minutes.  Add the garlic, currants, and 1/4 cup of water.  Reduce heat to medium.  Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any bit from the bottom of the pan.  Cover and cook over medium heat until cauliflower is tender, about 7 minutes.  If the pan becomes to dry or garlic begins to burn, simply reduce your heat and add more water.

Serve over a mound of brown lentils and garnish with roasted sunflower seeds.





Cracked Wheat Greek Salad

9 07 2012

Cracked wheat is a low-maintenance whole grain.  How to cook?  Just soak in warm tap water.  No need to turn on the stove.  Now that’s what I call easy.

Serves 6

2 cups cracked wheat (also called bulgur)

1 red onion, diced

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 seedless cucumber, diced

1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

1 lemon, zest and juice

1/2 bunch fresh parsley, chopped

1/2 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

Place cracked wheat in a large bowl.  Cover with 4 cups of hot tap water.  Let sit while preparing other ingredients.  The longer it sits, the softer the cracked wheat will get.  You don’t need to cook the cracked wheat.  Just let it sit in the warm water.

Add all other ingredients to the cracked wheat.  Toss well to combine.  Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Best let sit overnight for flavors to marry.  Serve chilled.