Wednesday, 23 June 2010

halvah cherry torte

For my sweetums' birthday. What can I say. The boi has a thing for cherries and middle eastern food. This isn't halvah, but it has that same dense, rosewater-spice-nut type thing going on. It's the torted-up dream of halvah. Or something.

1.5 c cooked chickpeas, drained
1c ground almonds or pistachios (I used the leftover almond meal from making almond milk)
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbs rosewater
1/4 c sugar + stevia to taste (or just a full cup of sugar if you want)
1/4 tsp salt

Blend all of these together until you have a paste. It should hold it's shape when you scoop it up with a spoon, like mashed potatoes before you add any liquids.

Stir in
1/4 c almond milk
3/4 c flour
1.5 tsp baking powder (not soda)
1 tbs dried rose petals (optional but pretty)

Just before putting it in the pan, stir in 2 tbs cider or other mild vinegar. spread into greased and floured pan

Top with as many cherries as you can fit on top, halved (uh... about 2 cups, after halving), tossed in juice from 1 lime. Be generous with the cherries. There is a special place in culinary hell for people who are stingy with seasonal fruits and/or chocolate in desserts. Sprinkle with about 1/4 tsp (or less) ground black pepper. No, I'm not kidding.

bake at 200C for 10 mins, lower heat, and bake at 175C for 35 mins.

Lately, I've just found rich foods unappealing. Maybe it's all the traveling, where I end up sitting on my ass too much, which is making me develop an aversion to even the slightest twinge of feeling sluggish because I associate it with being forced to sit between overly-talkative vacationers, leery men who keep touching my thigh "accidentally" and leaning closer and closer over the course of the flight and then look surprised and offended when I tell them off, or (on one memorable occasion) a fundamentalist who spent 6 hours trying to save my evolutionary biologist, queer, atheist soul from eternal damnation (he failed) - If there is a God, why does He not send me boring seatmates on long flights? Maybe it's the sun. Maybe it's because I'm having fun running, having fun working, and just generally not wanting to feel weighed down. I still wanted to present my sweetums with a yummerific birthday treat, but I wanted to enjoy eating it (that's the point, no?). Plus, we both like really *dense* cakes. No fluffy cakes here, no thank you. We tested it on/shared it with an innocent bystander (who had no idea it had been healthified), and he loved it. So there. It's not just "good for a healthified dessert", it's just good dessert. You could make it all chickpeas (no almonds), which should work just fine (and make this low-fat), but I had almond pulp lying around, so I threw it in.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010


For my birthday: rum-themed flaming desserts! Arrrrrrrrrr..... Now, the ice cream looks simple, but trust me, it is heaven in a dish. And totally what pirates would have eaten had they had freezers. And blenders. And raisins. The date cake is dense and fabulous, and flaming it makes the brown sugar into a kickass layer of rum-flavored caramel on the top. The flaming date cake is an invention of my sweetums, who made it for me, and so I've copied her recipe here.

Flaming date cake:

18 pitted dates soaked in the soy milk (below), about an hour

Soy Milk 3/4 cup

Sugar ½ cup

soak ½ cup pitted prunes in the same soy milk with the dates

All purpose flour 1 cup

Baking soda 1 teaspoon

Cashews, walnuts, brazil nuts for selenium (to taste)

Dark rum, brown sugar, and matches for flaming (optional)

Soak the dates and prunes in soy milk for 1 hour up to overnight. Add sugar and grind to a smooth paste along with the milk. (Use hand blender or mortar and pestle, depending on degree of technophobia. I use the mortar and pestle).

Sieve together flour and baking soda. Add the flour one tablespoon at a time and mix slowly. Add the broken-up nuts and mix.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Bake the cake in a greased oven proof dish for 35-40min (or till a knife inserted in the cake comes out clean). Or, line a cast iron skillet with grease/ovenproof paper and bake in this.


To flame, spread brown sugar evenly across the baked cake surface to “hold” the rum. Heat the rum till hot but NOT boiling (boiling will remove the alcohol, which is needed for flaming). Pour onto cake and light with match. Remove pouring vessel with hot rum from near vicinity of the cake before lighting, as it may catch fire too. This is okay of you are prepared for it (if you are pouring from a metal saucepan with a handle, for instance) – you can pour the flaming rum for added dazzle in this instance. The brown sugar will caramelize. After flames go out, tilt cake back and forth to disperse the caramelized sugar.

Piratical ice cream:
10 frozen overripe bananas

1 cup raisins, soaked in enough rum to cover for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight

1 tsp vanilla

1/4-1/2 tsp black pepper

pinch salt

pinch nutmeg 1/2 c soy milk
agave to taste if your bananas were not sweet enough

Drain raisins, keeping rum. Set raisins aside. Try not to snack on them, but if you know beforehand you will fail in not snacking on boozy dried fruit, then just set up more the day before! This be my trick. Blend everything else (including rum). It will be too runny to serve as ice cream at this point. Put it back in the freezer in a metal bowl (the rum will keep it from freezing solid) for a few hours, stirring whenever you remember (once or twice in 4 hours does just fine). Stir in the raisins just before eating.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010


The bad titles and fusion cooking continues. More and more, I am coming to the conclusion that Italian and Japanese foods were meant to be melded together. In my kitchen they have a tendency to end up in the same dish.

So, you take your leftover brown rice, and your leftover stewed okara, and you mix them together, smooshily, with some glutinous rice flour and some flax meal, and then bake them. You end up with japanesey rice balls along the same lines as arancini (leftover risotto balls), except vegan. And not fried. And dare I say pretty damn healthy and low-fat and yummerific to boot. Okay, so it's not much like arancini at all except in shape and leftover ricey gooey goodness. This is a way to use leftovers, so all the amounts are approximate. My stewed okara had fancy-pants mushrooms, green beans, and carrots. I learned to make okara stew from this book, but I more or less wing it now because it's a dish I make so often. I've linked to a free online recipe if you need to get an idea of what I'm talking about.

2-3 c cooked short grain brown rice, cooled
1c leftover stewed okara with vegetables, cooked down until fairly dry.
1 tsp powdered dried porcini, optional (available at specialty Italian stores)
1 tbs or more white miso
1/4-1/3 c glutinous rice flour (which you should have on hand at all times for emergency mochi making)
1 tbs flax meal in 2 tbs water, left to sit for 10 minutes
dash salt (I used truffle salt, because I am a decadent freak)

Mush everything together. Add more rice flour if it is too dry to stick together. Form into 4 large balls, about the size of oranges. This is where the name comes from. Yup. Place balls in silicone muffin cups, or just in a greased muffin pan. Then you have each japanarancini in its own little bowl and it can sit in your lunch box the next day and not get hurt. Of course, not all of you take your lunches to work, and not all of you bike, and in that case, you don't have to worry so much about preserving the structural integrity of your lunch while biking to work over cobblestones. But I do. So nyah. Bake the well-protected rice goodies at 200C for 20 mins. Cool. Take to work for lunch the next day and make your coworkers jealous. I took them to work with asparagus, red pepper and greens salad with yummy yuzu dressing, so it was a pretty winning lunch day indeed.