I always do my food shopping on Saturdays. I go to the farmers market in the early afternoon and buy fresh fruit and vegetables for the week. Unless I have friends coming over for dinner, I almost never plan what I’m going to bring home – I just buy seasonal and fresh produce. Last Saturday, the market stalls were filled with tons of oranges, grapefruit, tangerines and lemons. Being a citrus lover, I couldn’t help but buying some, and on the way back home I even manage to peel and eat a giant orange while at the same time carrying all the bags packed full of fresh produce.
Back at home, I fantasized about baking an old fashioned orange cake with a beautiful orange glaze, but then I just thought that the fruit was so delicious and fresh that throwing it into a cake wasn’t the best way to make it justice.
I remembered years ago seeing Jamie Oliver on a show making a savoury basil sauce to go with a raw tomato salad, and that idea kind of got stuck in my head and ended up being the inspiration for this dish. The combination of flavours might seem unusual but it works incredibly well. I ate the salad as an afternoon snack but it could easily be served as a light dessert. Needless to say, there’s room for adaptations here: you can omit the grapefruit if you want to (subbing it for more orange and tangerine), or you can take a different route, by using pineapple instead of all the citrus (I bet it’s equally delicious).
Citrus Salad with Basil-Coconut Sauce
Note: all the fruit was weighted after being peeled.
For the salad:
185 g / 1 large grape fruit
166 g / 1 large orange
75 g / 2 small tangerines
2 Tablespoons dried coconut
a small handful of goji berries
for the basil-coconut sauce:
18 g / 1 medium bunch basil leaves
4 Tablespoons coconut milk
2 Tablespoons brown rice syrup
In a small skillet over medium-high heat, toast the coconut until it’s fragrant and just beginning to brown.
Cut the orange and grapefruit into 0,5 cm round slices. Split the tangerines into segments and remove the pits (if they have any).
In a blender, combine all the ingredients for the sauce and process until smooth. If it’s too thick, add an extra tablespoon of coconut milk.
Put the sliced fruit in a serving plate and sprinkle with the toasted coconut and goji berries. Drizzle with the sauce and serve immediately.
I don’t share the enthusiasm most people have for Christmas. My close family is very small and I’m with them all year around, so gathering for an occasion I personally couldn’t care less about (I respect all religions, but I’m not a religious person) just seems a bit pointless. Having said this, it doesn’t come as a surprise that I don’t bother cooking a big, impressive meal for Christmas Eve. In fact, I cook the same kind of food I do everyday, like this little carrot and black bean salad.
This dish is easy to pull off and it’s packed full of good things for you. It’s also perfect for this time of the year when, after the carb and sugar filled holidays, people seek to lighten up their eating. You can also adapt the ingredients, like substituting the black beans for chickpeas or even the carrots for sweet potatoes. The dressing is very fragrant and gives an exotic edge to the salad too. After cooking my way through Plenty More these last couple of weeks, I borrowed some ideas from Ottolenghi, and one of those is adding spices to salad dressings, like cinnamon and/or fennel seeds.
I wish you guys a wonderful new year, and I’ll come back by the end of the week with one of my favourite soup recipes –keeping the mood light and clean. ;)
Roasted Carrot & Black Bean Salad with Orange Cinnamon Dressing
For the salad:
645 g / 10 medium sized carrots, peeled and left whole
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed
1 ½ teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
270 g / 1 ½ cups cooked black beans (canned is fine)
20 grams chopped parsley
20 grams chopped mint
20 grams chopped coriander
30 grams / ½ small red onion, finely diced
1 medium avocado, thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
For the orange cinnamon dressing:
zest of one large orange
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, minced
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 180º. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Combine the carrots with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the cumin and coriander seeds. Add a generous pinch of salt and pepper, toss, and roast in the oven for 45 minutes or until the carrots have cooked through and are lightly brown.
Mix the remaining ingredients for the salad in a large bowl, and add the carrots on top. Combine the ingredients for the dressing and drizzle over the salad. Serve immediately.
I’ve left a pot of lentils cooking on the stove, while I sit on the couch with my laptop to write you about a cake I’ve baked this weekend. So, my grandmother’s birthday was on Saturday, and the cake I’ve made for us to enjoy was, in her words, the best I’ve baked so far. I was quite happy with a such a great compliment, and here I am sharing the said cake recipe with you. I tell you straight way: it has a long list of ingredients and requires the use of a couple bowls and pans, putting it under the “time consuming recipe“ label. But, on the other hand, I’d say it makes a great appearence at parties and will definitely impress your guests. As far as the taste goes, despite being quite orangy, it’s not overbearing orangy – you call actually perceive the delicate taste given by the combination of oat and rice flours in the batter, as well as the cream’s nutty scented flavor. An advise to all the sweet tooth out there: I tend to use very little sugar in baked goods in comparison to other recipes, because I’m not a fan of too sweet desserts, but, if you aren’t like me, I suggest you to increase the amount of sugar used in here by a couple tablespoons (four or five). I’ve told you before I’m not that much of a baker, and fussy and time consuming sweet baked goods aren’t really my thing. That’s mainly because the recipes I’ve tried so far tend to give priority to the final aestethical aspects rather than reflecting concerns on healthy baking. With this cake, I’ve done my best to combine both factors, working on a recipe that – I think – looks quite good, and even though calling for the use of wholegrain and wheat-free flours, that doesn’t compromise its flavor.
Grandma’s Orange Birthday Cake
(makes one 20 cm diameter cake, 6 to 8 slices)
For the cake:
100 grams oat flour
60 grams white rice flour
60 grams brown rice flour
1 and ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 large ripe banana (about 200 grams), mashed
125 ml (½ cup) non dairy milk
200 grams soy yoghurt
125 ml (½ cup) orange juice
2 tablespoons orange zest
140 grams non-dairy margarine
120 grams muscavado sugar
For the Syrup:
200 grams orange marmalade
2 tablespoons regular sugar
80 ml (1/4 cup) orange juice
For the cream:
70 grams unsalted cashew nuts
250 grams silken tofu
60 grams icing sugar
grated dark chocolate or silvered almonds, for topping
special equipment: food processor and electric beater
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC, racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven. Butter two 20 cm (8-inch) round pans, and lightly dust them with flour.
2. Put all the ingredients for the cream in a food processor and pulse for 1 to 2 minutes or until totally smooth and similiar, in consistency, to that of heavy cream. If too thick, add one or two tablespoons of water to make the cream just a little more runny. Refrigerate it while you proceed with the recipe.
3. Mix the mashed banana with 125 ml non-dairy milk in a food processor, and blend until smooth.
4. In a large bowl, and using and electric beater, cream the vegan margarine with the sugar. Then, and still with the beater running, slowly pour the banana mixture, as well as the orange juice, soy yoghurt and orange zest.
5. In another large bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
6. Combine the wet mixture with the dry mixture, just until incorporated – be careful not to overmix.
7. Divide the batter among the two pans and bake, in the pre-heated oven, for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack to cool and, using a skewer, prick their tops with several holes.
8. In the meantime, prepare the syrup: Heat the ingredients for the syrup in a small saucepan, over medium-high heat, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the marmalade is runny.
9. To assemble: generously brush the top of one of the cakes with half of the syrup, and then spread about one third of the cream over it. Plaee the other cake over the first one, and brush it with the remaining syrup, finishing off with the remaining cream. Top the cake with grated dark chocolate or silvered almonds, and serve.
I believe – even though I’m not sure – this recipe is remotely inspired by Epicurious
When I was a kid, the cake I enjoyed the most was an apple cake my grandmother used to make. It was a rustic, unassuming cake, and even when so many years have passed since the last time I ate it, I can still feel its taste and smell with my eyes closed. Actually, my grandmother’s cakes used to be my favorites: the apple cake was the one I’d prefer over any other, although I’d be quite content with a few slices of the orange or the cinnamon cakes too.
As far as carrot cakes go, I don’t exactly remember the last time (before last Saturday) I ate one. I’m almost sure my grandmother has baked it some time in the past, but I can’t exactly recall when or even how good it was (I’m sure it was good anyway). The other day I came over to her place for a visit, and she told me about a carrot cupcake she used to eat in a bakery downtown. I feel that “cupcake” isn’t a fair translation for the kind of sweet treat she was talking about… it’s like a cake made with very little flour, moist, rich, and with an intense carrot flavor. As you can imagine, that left me with a big craving for something similar. I was digging on the internet trying to find recipes for the actual cake my grandmother described (as a kid, I used to eat it very often too), but the ones I’ve found mainly relied on eggs for structure. It’s not that I gave up on trying to find a vegan version for this particular kind of cake, but in the meantime, and in order to satisfy my cravings, I baked a simple, sort of traditional, carrot cake instead. And shared it with my grandmother.
The cake, we thought, was very good, but I tell you straight away: if carrots aren’t your thing, this cake is not for you. The carrot flavor is quite present, and the addition of orange zest and juice gives this baked good a fresh, citrus tang. As far as the preparation goes, it is really easy to make – with all the ingredients on hand, the batter will only take you a few minutes to prepare -, and the cinnamon sauce is a great complement to the whole thing, although I think the cake could also be enjoyed plain. And as a last note: do let the cake sit for a while (preferably overnight) before enjoying it, as it really makes a difference (the flavors will mature and be way more pronounced).
Carrot Orange Cake
(makes 8-10 slices)
1 cup (125 grams) bleached all-purpose flour
1 cup (125 grams) rye flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons orange zest
1 and ½ cups (255 grams) cooked carrots (from about 5 carrots)
1 cup (125 grams) finely grated carrots (from about 1 large carrot)
1 cup (250 ml) agave nectar
½ cup (125 ml) olive oil
1/3 cup (80 ml) freshly squeezed orange juice
1 heaped tablespoon flax seed
¼ cup (60 ml) warm water
for the cinnamon sauce:
1 and ½ cups (375 ml) soy milk
2 heaped teaspoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons muscavado sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Lightly oil a 20 cm round baking pan. Coat the pan with flour, shaking out the excess.
2. In a bowl, sift together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, the ground spices and the orange zest.
3. In the bowl of a food processor, add the flax seed and the water. Process until smooth. Now, add the cooked and raw carrots, as well as the agave nectar, olive oil, and orange juice. Process until totally smoth. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
4. Using a spatula, gradually add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, blending well.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 to 1 and ¼ hours, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
6. In the meantime, prepare the cinnamon sauce: in a saucepan over medium heat, add the soy milk, cornstarch, sugar, cinnamon sticks, and ground cinnamon, and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Once boiling, immediately reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes (don’t stop whisking), or until the sauce has thickened. Serve over each slice of the cake.