Sunday, 28 June 2009

rosey datey breakfasty buns

Yup. The title pretty much explains it. These are sweeter than bread, but not as sweet as cinnamon buns or cake. This recipe serves 2 hungry people, or 4 not-so-hungry people, or could conceivably make 6 itsy-bitsy snack-size buns for a lovely afternoon tea, if you're into such things.

1c whole wheat flour
1/2 c. soy flour (I bet chickpea flour would also work, but I'm not promising anything)
1/2 tsp vanilla salt (a bottle of sea salt in which you have cleverly placed a ground up vanilla bean several weeks ago)
2 tbs maple sugar
1 tbs quick yeast

Mix all this together, then mix up your wet ingredients

about 3/4 c. warm water
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract

Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix. Adjust water/flour ratio. Knead for about 5 mins. Roll out into a rectangle, and brush with rosewater, then sprinkle with about 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp cardamom. Sprinkle with 1/2 c. chopped dates and 1/3 c. pistachios. Roll up as you wish, either making 2 really fat rolled buns or 4-6 smaller buns. Cut into buns. I made 2 giant ones, and the reason for wanting a giant bun will be clear shortly. Sprinkle your baking pan with cornmeal, and place the buns in it. Allow the buns to rise for about an hour (I went for a run in the foggy Sunday morning and Sweetums puttered around the house).

Heat up your oven to *damn hot*. Mine goes to 250C, so that's what I used. Brush buns with soy milk spiked with a little rosewater. For the love of sweet Jeebus, if you have a fan assist, turn it off at this point! Bake for 10 mins, checking that they don't burn. Brush again with soy milk, and drop the heat to 200C. Bake for another 10-15 mins. Remove from oven. Brush again. Decrease baking times by about for smaller buns. Serve with fresh fruit and bitter chocolate dipping sauce (good quality unsweetened cocoa dissolved in the leftover soy milk/rosewater that you were brushing the buns with).

Friday, 19 June 2009

Cherry Bomb! or... I wanna be a chocolate god part 9: Cherries!

Birthdays are an excuse for me to do stuff like this. My sweetums loves cherries and balsamic vinegar and fine chocolate. So this is a cake of (you guessed it) cherries, balsamic vinegar, and fine chocolate. Your birthday is the one day a year when you don't have to make any concessions to other people's tastes, so this is when "love it or shove it" recipes come out. This is one of my favorites. The cake is dense and fairly dry and not sweet. It gets soaked with syrup, which it drinks up like mad, and then covered in layers of ganache and fresh fruit. Oh, and you have to start it a day and a half in advance. One of the guests said that this cake was nearly enough to make her believe in a higher being.

On a really odd note: it's hard to find people to feed around here.I love making stuff like this, but you need an occasion. Or at least a few hungry friends.   

For the cake:

Note that this makes TWO CAKES (ie- each layer is a full cake, making this a 10-12 serving cake). If you're not making a layer cake, half the recipe.

500 g pitted cherries that have been soaked at least overnight or overday in enough balsamic vinegar to cover them. drain the cherries, reserving the (now cherry-flavoured) vinegar. 

2 c sugar

2 c water, hot

1/4 c cocoa butter

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (use the stuff that the cherries were soaking in)

1 tsp vanilla

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

5 cups plain white flour

1/2 cup arrowroot flour

2 tbs cocoa powder

1 tbs carob powder

Preheat your oven to 180C

Melt the sugar and water in a pan without stirring so that it forms a syrup. When the syrup has simmered for about 5 mins (reducing a little), take it off the heat and add the cocoa butter, vinegar and vanilla. The cocoa butter should immediately melt. Set this pan aside. 

Mix the dry ingredients together, and then pour the wet ingredients into them, and then fold in the cherries. Bake in two cake pans at 180C for about 45 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean. 

Take em out and let them cool for a few minutes in the cake pans, and then turn them out of the pans and let them cool completely, preferably upside down. I just cover them with a tea towel and leave them out overnight. The cakes should be dry-ish (but not overcooked)

The next day... make the syrup:

3/4 c balsamic vinegar

1/4 c agave 

simmer to reduce by about a third. Take off heat and allow to cool. 

You'll also need 

300g of chocolate worth of your favorite ganache, with a sprinkling of salt added (trust me... this whole cake is quite sweet, and you need to counteract it). I used dark, dark chocolate and just make a simple water ganache. 

another 300g or so of pitted fresh cherries. Save a few whole ones for the top. Things are so much nicer with a cherry on top, don't you think?


This cake tastes best if the syrup has time to do it's thing. Assemble it at least an hour before you plan to eat it, preferably more. Put the bottom layer of the cake on the plate you will serve it on. Poke a few holes in it with a fork. Now pour about 1/3  of the syrup over it, and let it soak in. The syrup is *intense*. Use it as described above if you want a really strong cake, or replace some of the vinegar with water, for a calmer cake. But don't just leave the syruping out, or you will just have a dry cake, and not in a good way.  Once it's soaked in, cover that layer with a layer of ganache (half the ganache) and embed a layer of halved, pitted cherries in the chocolate. Place the top cake on top. Poke a few holes in it with a fork. pour about 1/3-1/2  of the syrup over it and let it soak in (are you seeing a pattern here?). Then cover the cake with the rest of the ganache and place cherries on top. Let the cake sit for a while. The syrup will make everything all moist and cakey and the ganash will harden to a shine. Serve with vanilla ice cream and let guests drizzle the extra syrup on their cake to taste. 

As usual, please don't use slave chocolate. Use fair trade and/or organic chocolate (some minimum level of human rights need to be respected to get the organic stamp), or chocolate that you know is not sourced from places that use slaves. 

Dancing along to: Joan Jett, Cherry Bomb! 

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

mole hummous

Best eaten on a picnic... shown here on pumpkin bread, along with various yummy fresh things from the farmer's market. Sweetums and I were out biking all day in the rolling hills around the Trossachs. Oh yeah. It was a beautiful spring day out, and we didn't see anyone. Not a soul. Everyone must have been inside watching tv or something. I was outside in the sun, biking along, having a blast, enjoying being in my body, and then having a wonderful picnic by a river. And I thought: being alive rocks. I wonder why more people don't try it?

mole hummous:

1 can drained black beans

1 clove garlic

fresh ginger (about an inch)

about a tsp ground cumin

about a tsp ground coriander

pinch cinnamon

jalopeno pepper

pinch smoked paprika


lots and lots of lime juice

2 heaping tbs cocoa powder

1/2 cup fresh coriander, chopped

blend! blend! blend! Everything but the coriander, which you should mix in later.  And then pack it up in, put in in your bike bag, and find a lovely picnic spot. 

music: don't fence me in, by cole porter

Thursday, 11 June 2009

confusion yum: chili meets salsa meets italy, and it all gets kitchendanced

Sometimes, I don't wanna cook the tomatoes because actual ripe tomatoes are so wonderful after a winter of using canned or dried ones. But I want chili. And then I thinks to myself : what *is* chili, really, but cooked salsa? Maybe I'll just make some salsa and put it on rice. And then I thinks: oooh, look, dried mushrooms, and isn't that fresh basil in the fridge? Maybe I want a nice fresh basil tomato mushroom sauce. But with chocolate. Finally, I think: I want it ALL. I don't care if it goes together.

Confession: I don't just think this. I say it out loud, at the tomatoes, as if they have an opinion on the subject.

The result is wonderful. In fact I will be making it again, much more decisively, and without consulting the tomatoes at all. And again, and again, because it's ridiculously easy and pretty and colourful and enables me to eat chocolate and chickpeas for dinner at the same time, both of which rank very high on my "foods to get excited about" scale. And the tomatoes agree. They told me so.

3 cloves garlic
2 nice fresh (opinionated) tomatoes
1 red or orange pepper
1 bunch basil (I ended up with just over 1 cup)
1 sprig of fresh rosemary leaves
a handful of dried mushrooms
1 heaping tbs of capers, drained
a handful of sundried tomatoes, soaked in just enough hot water to cover

See that list of stuff above? Chop it all into tiny bits and dump it in a bowl along with the soaking water from the tomatoes, if your tomatoes are pre-soaked. If you (like me) aren't the kind of girl to have presoaked sundried tomatoes around, just set them soaking now, and add them later. If you've been good and read to the end of the recipe, you'll realize you have half an hour of fudge time on the tomato-soaking.

1 lemon of lemon juice
1 lime of lime juice
2 tbs of toasted cumin seeds
1 tbs of dried chili (I used one that was described as "sultry", ie.. a nice complex sweet hot, but use whatever kind strikes your fancy)
some ground black pepper, to taste
3 tbs of finely grated unsweetened chocolate (I grate it with a lemon zester)
and a sprinkling of cocoa nibs too
sea salt (I used smoked)
2 c of sprouted chickpeas (or cooked chickpeas, or other sprouted legume...) I used sprouted green chickpeas because they're both yummy and pretty.

Stir this around and then let it sit while you cook rice or read a book or whatever. It needs at least half an hour for the mushrooms to soak up liquid

Just before serving, stir in a tbs or so of toasted and ground sesame seeds or almonds. Chopped mango is also nice in this, but I accidentally ate most of it while waiting for the rice to cook, so only about 1/4 of a mango actually made it into this dish. I highly recommend using more than 1/4 mango, but these things happen. You can't really expect me to know that there is a chopped mango sitting right there and not eat it. It's just impossible. There will be a fair amount of liquid in this dish. I like that, because you can then pour it over rice. If you want a thicker liquid, add tahini or peanut butter, or just don't add the tomato-soaking water.

I just stirred this into warm rice and scarfed it down. It was one of those Very Satisfying Meals. Comfort food for summer, I guess. If one can call what we have here in Edinburgh "summer". I mean, I am typing this in a toque. But it's a cotton toque and it's light out at 11 pm. So, summer.

A note on the chocolate. I've been using Willy's Supreme Cacao a lot lately. It's an unsweetened block of cocoa (100% cacao, meaning that it contains only cacao solids, including cacao butter... this is not just pressed cacao powder) that you grate onto foods. I like the Venuzuelan Black variety. At first glance, the price tag seems high, but a block of the stuff goes a long way, and even if it didn't, it's so good that I don't care. Oh yes. Fuck all the vegan parm substitutes. Just grate this on everything. I kid you not. I've put it on pasta and tomato sauce, on chili, on middle eastern soups, even on a pear and arugula pizza. The dude behind this chocolate clearly knows what he's doing. He's made a super duper high quality chocolate without any of the pretense and preciousness I've come to expect/tolerate from high-end single-origin, handmade, slave free (I could keep going on the qualifiyers, but let's just say ethical and damn fine) chocolate. So if you're in the UK, check out his stuff. Then, make confused chili.

the tomatoes dance to their death to the diabolical strains of : this offer is unrepeatable, by elvis costello

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Buckwheat-pear pancakes

These are substantial without being heavy, and are actually...dare I say it... fluffy. A perfect post-run brunch on a Sunday. This makes 9 small (ie, one hungry-person brunch size serving = 3 pancakes + fruit salad) or 3 huge, plate-sized (1 pancake = 1 serving) pancakes. I don't see the point in eating medium-size pancakes, but I won't stop you if that's your thing. I suspect it'd make about 6 of those.

-1.5 c buckwheat flour
-1/2 c ww spelt or wheat flour
-1/2 c muesli base (ie, rolled oats, rolled rye, flaked rice...whatever, so long as it's not "puffed" anything... just use plain rolled oats if that's what you have)
-1/2 cup soy flour (if you dont' have this, sub in more of the buckwheat or wheat, and use soy milk instead of water in the wet ingredients, but the soy flour + water works much, much much better)
-1/2 tsp guar or xanthan gum
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 tsp sugar
-1 tsp cardamom
-1 tbs baking power.

Mix dry ingredients. Add enough water to form a thick batter (2-3 cups, depending on your flours, your muesli base, etc.). Now, go take a shower and let the batter sit for about 15 mins.

Stir in
1 decent sized handfull chopped walnuts (uh... 1/3-1/2 cup)
2 smallish chopped pears (this is a perfect way to use bruised, overripe, or just plain sub-par pears)

Heat up a nonstick pan or griddle. I find the pancakes work best if you heat up the pan, then drop the heat to medium-low (I have a gas stove, which lets you change temp quickly), spray the pan with oil (these taste best if you use olive oil) and then cook them covered. To know when pancakes are ready to flip, look at them, when the top looks bubbly, they're ready to flip. Try to flip them only once, and don't fiddle with them while they're cooking, dammit. For those of you with non-vegan pancake experience, vegan pancakes (at least mine) cook a bit longer than omni pancakes, and on slightly lower heat, and do best if they're cooked covered. I've spent years figuring this out. Have fun reaping the rewards of my pancake experiments. Keep the cooked pancakes on a plate in a warm oven while you do the next batch. Cold pancakes, while wonderful as leftovers, are a bit of a disappointment in non-leftovers.

Serve with cinnamon coffee, fruit salad and maple syrup or apple/pear sauce or soy yogurt...surely you can make your own decision here.