Ina Garten’s gluten-free flourless chocolate cassis cake

 

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I’ve wanted to try Ina’s recipe for sometime now, but finding creme de cassis in Bangkok was a challenge. Then I found cassis syrup. Cassis, pronounced ka-CEESE, is made from blackcurrants. While creme de cassis is a liqueur, and thus alcoholic, the syrup is not, thus making it an acceptable substitute.  This recipe is flourless but I’ve also made it gluten-free by using cocoa instead of flour to dust the pan. The cake has a dense fudgy interior, lightly sweet with a delicate taste of blackcurrants.

Chocolate Cassis Cake (adapted from Ina Garten)
Prep time: 40 minutes
Baking time: 35-40 minutes

For the Cake:
170g plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter for greasing pan, room temperature
284g unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup cocoa powder plus extra for dusting pan
6 tablespoons cassis syrup (can substitute creme de cassis)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 extra-large eggs, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Glaze:
170g unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
2-3 tablespoons cassis syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

For the cake, Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F/175 degrees C. Grease a 9-inch round springform pan with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper then butter it. Dust with cocoa powder. Tap out the excess powder.

Melt the 170g butter and chopped chocolate together in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes. Whisk in the 1/2 cup cocoa powder, cassis, and 1 teaspoon vanilla and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (you can also use a hand mixer), beat the eggs, sugar, and salt on high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until pale yellow, thickened,  and triple in volume. Pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and carefully but thoroughly fold them together with a silicone spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until just barely set in the center. Allow to cool in the pan for 30 minutes and then release the sides of the pan. Invert the cake carefully onto a flat serving plate, remove the parchment paper, and cool completely.

Cake Baker’s Note: At 35 minutes, the entire cake seemed to be not set yet. So I gave it 5 more minutes. The cake was level with the top of the pan when it came out of the oven. After 15 minutes, the volume fell 50% as it cooled. In my experience, this is normal for flourless cakes.

For the glaze, melt the chocolate and cream together in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until smooth. Turn off the heat, then whisk in the cassis and vanilla. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and spread just over the top of the cake. Let the topping set as it cools.

Serving Suggestion

  • Whip 1 cup whipping cream with 2 tablespoons sugar and serve a dollop with a wedge of cake.
  • Add sliced fresh berries on top of the cake. Glaze berries with melted apricot jam.
  • Serve with a strawberry coulis. About 1 cup crushed strawberries with juice, 1/4 cup water, and cornstarch to thicken, will make a divine strawberry coulis. Spoon it on the side and scoop it up with some cake.

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gluten-free high-fiber breadfruit flour banana bundt cake

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In taste, this cake is similar to cakes made with whole wheat flour. It is dense. But instead of being dry, this cake is moist, tender,  and full of banana flavor. And it can be made entirely by hand. The cake plate and server in the picture are gifts from my mother.

Gluten-Free Breadfruit Flour Banana Bundt Cake
Prep time: 25 minutes
Baking time: 45 minutes

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup superfine sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup milk
juice of one lime
3 medium very ripe bananas, mashed
1 1/2 cups breadfruit flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, optional
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, optional

Preheat oven to 350˚F/175˚C. Grease a bundt cake pan and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine melted butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time and combine. Add vanilla with the last egg. Set aside

In a medium bowl, combine milk, lime juice, and bananas. Add to butter-sugar mixture.

In another medium bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and cinnamon, if using. Add all at once to butter-sugar-banana mixture. Mix until dry ingredients are just moistened.

Scrape into the prepared pan. Bake 40-45 minutes. Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Unmold and cool completely on a wire cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. If desired, dust the top with powdered sugar.

secret ingredient chocolate truffles

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I love avocados but it is difficult to assess their ripeness. I’ve slit into an avocado only to discover it was either under-ripe or over-ripe. I have discovered that the under-ripe ones hold up well in stews and ratatouilles. The over-ripe ones I usually make into an avocado spread or guacamole. But this came as a revelation to me: to use an avocado to make chocolate truffles (recipe adapted from Christine@Apple of My Eye). The delicate flavor of avocado is overpowered by the chocolate, so its only purpose is to add moisture to the truffle balls. I call the recipe the

Secret Ingredient Chocolate Truffles
Makes 18-20 one-inch diameter truffles

1 over ripe avocado (save the best ones for salads and sandwiches!)
5 oz bittersweet chocolate, recommended (I used semi-sweet baking chocolate and chocolate chips)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, divided.

In a heatproof bowl, melt the chocolate over boiling water. Alternatively, melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30-40 second increments, stirring after each increment. Cool slightly.

Process the avocado until it’s a smooth paste in a food processor. Scrape the avocado paste into the melted chocolate along with the sugar, salt, vanilla, and 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder. Refrigerate or freeze the chocolate mixture until it is firm–about 1-2 hours.

Remove from the fridge or freezer. Using 2 teaspoons, shape the chocolate mixture into balls about 1 inch in diameter. Roll each chocolate ball in the remaining tablespoon of chocolate powder. Freeze or refrigerate until firm.

Baker’s Note: Though this simple recipe requires no baking, it does need to be thoroughly chilled before rolling in the cocoa powder. And when it is warm, as it is here in Bangkok, the truffle returns to room temperature rather quickly, and the cocoa powder will be absorbed. My sister-in-law who is an expert in all things chocolate, recommends freezing the truffles before rolling them in the cocoa powder. It worked beautifully. Thanks, Mimi!

tomato ratatouille

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This vegetable stew is hearty and filling, and it comes with the added feeling of virtuousness because it is made entirely of fresh vegetables.  There is nothing in it to feel guilty about. I used salsa to season it, but a tomato paste or puree with some wine would be wonderful.

Tomato Ratatouille (adapted from The Photo Cookbook-Quick and Easy)

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium onion cut into thin wedges
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 small eggplant, chopped
1 red and 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste (I used two tablespoons salsa for flavor and bite)
3 tablespoons water
2/3 cup sliced mushrooms (I used fresh shiitakes)
2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
pepper
1 tablespoon shredded fresh basil, to serve, optional
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve, optional

1. Heat the oil in a Dutch pot. Add the onion, garlic, and eggplant and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes.
2. Add the bell peppers and zucchini.
3. Mix together the tomato paste and water in a small bowl and stir into the pan. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes.
4. Add the mushrooms and tomatoes, with pepper to taste, and continue to simmer for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender.
5. Garnish with shredded basil and serve with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

lemonade jelly with basil

lemonade jelly with basil

This dessert/snack from epicurious.com is delightfully refreshing. It has a mild herbal flavor from the basil and a tart tangy taste from the lemons.

Prep time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients

juice of 4 lemons (3/4 cup juice), strained
3/4 cup white superfine sugar
1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup orange juice, strained

In a small bowl, roughly tear the basil leaves and set aside.

In a small saucepan, put the lemon juice and sugar. Warm it over a low flame until it begins to boil, about 10-15 minutes. Pour the lemon juice mixture over the basil leaves and let it steep for at least 15 minutes.

In the saucepan, add the orange juice and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Let the gelatin bloom for 5 minutes. It will clump but don’t worry about that. Warm the pan over medium heat and stir constantly to dissolve the clumps. Remove from heat. Strain the lemon juice-basil mixture into the orange-gelatin mixture, and discard the basil leaves. Whisk vigorously to combine.

Pour lemonade jelly mixture into 6 individual cups or into one 8 inch square pan. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. When the pan jelly is firm, cut it into 16 squares. If desired, serve jelly with sweetened whipped cream topping.

Epicurious.com Appetizer Serving Suggestion:

  • Double the amount of gelatin (think: Knox Blox) then cut the jelly  into circles or squares. Thread 2 jellies on a toothpick or skewer along with basil leaf.

asian grilled tofu triangles with thai cabbage salad

asian grilled tofu triangles

This recipe was inspired by the South Beach Diet Cookbook. That recipe originally called for tempeh but as I’m not a tempeh fan I decided to use its first cousin, extra firm tofu. This recipe takes longer to make because you need to press out the excess water from the tofu and then marinate it for at least 4 hours. After it was grilled, I was a bit disappointed in the taste–the ginger and garlic flavors were overshadowed by the sesame oil. Next time I make this I will increase the garlic and ginger by one tablespoon each.

Asian Grilled Tofu Triangles

Prep time: 40 minutes
Marinating time: 12 hours
Cook time: 12 minutes
Servings: 4

1 pound extra firm tofu drained and cut into triangles
1 tablespoon canola oil (can use peanut oil)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons scallions sliced thinly on the diagonal for garnish (optional)

Press the tofu. Spread two layers of paper towels on a medium rimmed baking tray. Spread the tofu on top of the paper towels. Put another layer of paper towels on top. Cover the paper towels with a small rimmed baking tray. Place canned goods and or books on top to weight down the small baking tray. This will press out the water and flatten the triangles to about half the size when they were sliced. It takes about 20 minutes to remove the excess water.

Cook’s Note: The tofu may need a change of paper towels and an additional 20 minutes if the triangles have not reduced in size significantly.

Make the marinade. In a small bowl, whisk the oils, ginger, garlic and soy sauce until they emulsify. Put the pressed tofu in an 8” square pan and pour the marinade on top. With a pair of tongs, gently turn the tofu several times to coat. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least four hours. I let them sit overnight in the marinade.

Grill the tofu triangles. The next day, I heated up the George Foreman grill and grilled the tofu 4 minutes. That was enough time to cook them and also get that wonderful burnt grill lines. If desired, sprinkle sliced scallions on top. Serve at once.

Cook’s Note: Save the marinade as a dressing for the grilled tofu. The tofu turned out slightly sweet and with a delicate flavor.

To accompany the grilled tofu, I made my favorite coconut kale recipe (kale, coconut oil, pepper flakes and Maldon’s sea salt. Yum!) and tried a new recipe for Thai Cabbage Salad from epicurious. I adapted the measurements because there was enough to feed everybody at a pot luck supper and then some. I think I could even halve the recipe one more time.

Thai Cabbage Salad

Prep time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6-8

1/4 head each red & green cabbage (sliced thinly)
3 carrots grated
1 medium cucumber diced small
1 large red pepper diced small)
1/2 cup scallions (sliced thinly)
1/2 cup cilantro (chopped coarsely)

Dressing:
1/4 cup rice vinegar or mirin
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1-2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon chili garlic paste
2 Thai chilies (minced)
4-6 cloves garlic (minced)
2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
1/2 cup peanuts

Do ahead: make salad dressing in a large jar and store in the refrigerator up to one week

Toss all salad ingredients together. Twenty minutes before serving, add dressing to salad and toss. Let sit 20 minutes to let flavors develop. Sprinkle peanuts on top.

thai cabbage salad

another variation on Pasta With Half the Carbs

quinoa pasta in spinach pesto with meatballs, zucchini, summer squash, and tomatoes

Gluten Free Quinoa Pasta in Spinach Pesto with Zucchini, Summer Squash, Tomatoes, and Turkey Meatballs

Prep time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes

1 pound lean ground turkey
1/4 cup Mexican shredded cheese
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion
8 oz quinoa pasta
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup zucchini, julienned
1/2 cup summer squash, julienned
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, slivered
10 grape tomatoes, halved
2 large cloves garlic pressed through a garlic press
1/3 cup spinach pesto
salt and pepper to taste

Optional toppings:
Chopped cilantro, chopped scallion, chili-garlic sauce, Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Prepare a baking tray covered with heavy duty aluminum foil sprayed with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the turkey, cheese, granulated garlic and onion, and salt and pepper to taste. Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop up the seasoned meat and place it on the prepared baking tray. It makes about 12-16 2 inch meatballs. Bake 10-15 minutes or until browned. Remove from oven and drain meatballs on a plate lined with paper towels.

In a large pot, boil water with canola oil. Cook the pasta according to package directions, about 6-7 minutes for al dente. Drain and set aside.

In the same pot, add the chicken broth. When it sizzles, add the cut-up vegetables and pesto. Season to taste. Cook until the veggies are heated through and slightly wilted. Add the meatballs and the cooked pasta. Toss ingredients to combine thoroughly. Serve at once.If desired, sprinkle optional toppings on top of the pasta, vegetables, and meatballs.

Variation:
1 pound firm tofu cut into strips
Salt and pepper
Cooking spray

Instead of the turkey meatballs, make a vegan version with tofu. Spray a skillet with cooking spray and brown the tofu. Season with salt and pepper, and add to the pasta dish.

gluten free quinoa pasta with zucchini, summer squash, and tomatoes

quinoa pasta with zucchini, summer squash, and tomatoes

This is the quick and easy version of the The Healthy Flavor’s Pasta With Half the Carbs recipe! It is so delicious but I was too hungry to roast the tomatoes and garlic, so I sautéed  them in broth with the summer squash and zucchini. Just be sure to put the garlic through a garlic press first!

Gluten Free Quinoa Pasta with Zucchini, Summer Squash, and Tomatoes

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Makes 1 serving

2 ounces gluten free spaghetti style pasta such as a corn-quinoa blend
1 teaspoon canola oil
2 cloves garlic pressed in a garlic press
1/4 zucchini, julienned
1/4 summer squash, julienned
1/3 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, slivered
1/4 cup broth (chicken or vegetable)
Salt and fresh ground black pepper (I used Trader Joe’s Rainbow Peppercorns)
Red pepper flakes, optional
Parmesan cheese, optional

Boil a medium saucepan of water with a little oil, about 1 teaspoon. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions, about 6 minutes for al dente. Drain pasta and set aside.

In the empty pot, add the broth. When it is sizzling, add the vegetables and cook until the tomatoes are wilted. Return the drained pasta to the pot and toss with tongs to blend. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle on top a little red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese, if desired.

humpday supper, gluten free too

gluten free chicken tenders with cabbage salad with miso-ginger dressing

What’s not to like about humpday? The temperature went up to a very spring-like 54 degrees today! So of course (why not?) I tried these two new recipes. The chicken was juicy and tender. I loved the taste of the Parmesan cheese with the almond flour.  But the coating unfortunately, was soggy. Hmm. I need to work on that one. Anyway, this meal is also delicious with roasted vegetables: zucchini, summer squash, carrots, and baby bellas tossed in olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. I always do the veggies first, because I never want to forget chicken breast tenders in the oven.

Crunchy Cabbage Salad with Miso-Ginger Dressing
(Adapted from a recipe by Weird & Ravenous via Food52)
The miso-ginger dressing was full of flavor, but I couldn’t taste the ginger very much. So, if you love ginger as I do,  ramp up the flavor.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: —

Serves 4

Ingredients
1-2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
2 medium garlic cloves, finely minced or put through a garlic press
2 tablespoons miso paste  (I used 1 tablespoon Chinese soy bean paste)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar (or rice wine vinegar, your preference)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons water
3 cups finely shredded cabbage (about 1/2 a small cabbage)
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into very thin matchsticks
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds, toasted (I used white—the black would have made a pretty contrast with the white cabbage and the orange carrot)
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon scallion, sliced thin on the diagonal

Preparation
In a small bowl, whisk together the ginger, garlic, miso, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and water. Set it aside.

In a large bowl, toss the cabbage, carrots and sesame seeds together with the dressing. Serve immediately if you like it very crunchy or let it sit covered in the refrigerator for up to a few hours if you prefer it more slaw-like.

Garnish with cilantro and scallion.

Gluten-Free Chicken Breast Tenders in Almond Flour (adapted from allrecipes.com)
For this recipe I swapped 1/2 cup of butter for the egg dip. To save even more calories, I recommend using 2 egg whites. To solve the problem of a soggy coating, I read somewhere that if you let the breaded chicken dry for a few minutes on a wire rack before baking, it will bake up crispy. I haven’t tried this at all so I don’t know how well it works.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup almond flour
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried basil, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, or to taste
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into strips
1 egg, well beaten
1 tablespoon water

Preparation:
1. Preheat oven to 400˚ F (200˚ C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

2. Mix almond flour, Parmesan cheese, basil, thyme, salt, and pepper together in a bowl. In another bowl, mix the egg and water.

3. Dip chicken strips in the egg mixture; press strips into almond flour mixture until completely coated. Transfer coated strips to the prepared baking sheet.

4. Bake in the preheated oven on the middle rack until strips are golden brown and no longer pink in the center, at least 20 minutes or until the tenders reach an internal temperature of 165˚F.

ah! there’s the (spicy chicken) rub

New Yorkers who were in the direct path of Superstorm Sandy are now picking up what she left behind, counting their losses and their blessings. During the storm, I had wished for the support of family, but I never got to test the kindness of strangers. I’m indeed humbled and so thankful that we survived with very little loss. We lost a week of work but we have our lives and the warm little apartment that is beginning to feel like a home away from our home in Bangkok. Whether I am in Bangkok or New York, I like to fill my home with the smells of cooking (and baking) and here is a really spicy chicken rub that can be mixed up in a hurry, sprinkled on chicken, and grilled in my George Foreman indoors. I don’t need an outdoor barbecue to enjoy this, and neither will you.

Spicy Chicken Rub for Grilling (adapted from allrecipes.com)
3 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme

Mix all together. Sprinkle generously on one side of the chicken and grill 3-5 minutes per side.