Pomegranate Blueberry Bran Muffin


With all the driving I’ve done over the past week or so, I can’t even begin to express my fondness for finding an occasional Starbucks instead of a McDonald’s along the way.

I mean, what could be better that 9 hours of driving with a Venti Soy Macchiato and a bran muffin? Yup, I live dangerously.

Now I’m home and can get my crazy fix by the dozen.

POMEGRANATE BLUEBERRY BRAN MUFFINS

1/2 Cup Pomegranate Juice
2/3 Cup Soy Milk
1/2 Cup Blueberry Soy Yogurt, or plain would do in a pinch
1/3 Cup Safflower Oil
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar, slightly packed
2 Cups Bran
1 Cup Self Rising Pastry Flour
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Cup Fresh Blueberries, washed & picked over for stems

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
In a saucepan, bring the pomegranate juice to a boil and reduce by about half. (About 5 minutes total.)
Remove the juice from the heat and cool while you combine the milk, yogurt, oil and brown sugar in a large bowl.
Add the bran, flour, salt, soda and blueberries to the wet ingredients, then pour over the pomegranate juice, mixing just to moisten.
Lightly spray a large muffin tin and generously spoon in the batter.
Bake until firm and browned, about 20 – 25 minutes.
Let them cool slightly in the pan before turning out to a rack.

Makes 12 muffins.

Waste Not.


Have a kid who won’t eat crusts? I do. So instead of having it continuously irritate me, I’ve decided to please both parties.

I was inspired after reading this New York Times article about wasted food. Where I’m really happy I live in an area which makes us separate so they can collect our organic waste, I was still annoyed at the pile of crusts at the end of most every lunch.
Determined to end the fight but win the battle, I started cutting the crusts from my Darling’s cucumber sandwiches. This little princess must have thought she’d died and gone to heaven, but dare she know that I was storing the crusts in the freezer and watching them accumulate.

Knowing they wouldn’t go bad in the freezer, like the brown bananas, and vegetable scraps before them, they were ready and on hand for anything I might be ready for like, crumbs, croutons or bread pudding.

Bread pudding that her highness had little trouble polishing off for dessert.

Now I just have to plan for those cherry pits.
For other great grocery money saving tips, check out the article put together over at Everyday Food.

CHERRY CHOCOLATE BREAD PUDDING

4oz Semi Sweet Chocolate, roughly chopped
2 Cups Bread (Crusts), any kind, whole wheat, flax, oat, just be sure it’s at least a day old and chopped into 1/2″ cubes
1 Cup Soy Milk
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
1 Tablespoon Brandy
3 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Tablespoon Arrowroot Powder, cornstarch will work as a substitute
Pinch of Salt
1 Cup Fresh Cherries, pitted & roughly chopped – dried may be substituted when out of season
3 Tablespoons Cocoa Nibs, very optional but quite delicious

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Cube the bread and set aside in a large bowl.
Melt chocolate in a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water (or in a double boiler), stirring occasionally until smooth.
Measure milk in a pourable measuring cup.
Add the vanilla, brandy, sugar, salt and arrowroot powder, stirring well to incorporate and dissolve the arrowroot powder.
Pit the cherries, I used the flat side of my chef’s knife to pop the cherry open and the pit little more than a flick from your fingertips.
Roughly chop the cherries, reserving as much of the juice as possible.
Pour the milk mixture over the cubed bread, then add the cherries and their juice along with the cocoa nibs, if using.
Toss well to coat the bread and to soak up the liquid.
Drizzle over the melted chocolate, stirring well to combine.
Pour mixture into a short baking dish or divide between 4 – 1 cup ramekins.
Bake for 15 minutes.

Best served warm and with just about any ice cream you like.

Daring Bakers May: L’Opéra Cake


It’s terrible but it’s the truth. I almost didn’t attempt to veganize this month’s Daring Baker Challenge.
Daunting to say the least when a cake has a dozen eggs in it to somehow replace. (…And that’s not including the other two that were in the buttercream recipe.)

After making the original version I had to share. I mean, what’s the point of this site if everyone can’t share good food together?

I halved the recipe (because the other cake was enormous) and started in on my trials. I stuck to the traditional recipe as close as I could without those eggs but having had the other I had a general idea as to what I was after. This cake is very light without too much flavour. It’s a perfect canvas to add your own and it this case we, The Daring Bakers, were able to get creative just as long as we kept it light in colour. Again having the other version I knew what I liked and didn’t so choosing a flavour this time around was pretty easy. In my traditional version, I really wanted to go give it a Taste of Yellow in honour of one great and Daring Baker, Barbara of Winos and Foodies, who hosts the Livestrong event. For that I made an Earl Grey with a lemon buttercream so for this version I wanted to keep the citrus but add some kick with just a little brandy syrup, and boy did my little cake sing.

L’OPÉRA CAKE

JACONDE

1 Cup Ground Almonds
1/4 Cup Confectioners Sugar
1/2 Cup Cake Flour
1 1/4 Cups Soy Milk
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Tablespoon Vinegar

Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Line a 5 x 8 inch loaf pan with parchment then lightly spray with oil.
Add the dry ingredients together into a large bowl.
Combine the soy milk and the vinegar, then add to the dry.
Mix vigorously with a fork.
Once combined, consistency will be similar to a pancake batter.
Pour about 1/2 cup of batter into the prepared pan to cover the bottom to the edges.
Bake for 5 – 7 minutes or until the top appears golden, begins to dry and the edges come away from the sides.
Loosen edges with a knife, if necessary and top with an additional sheet of parchment or waxed paper.
Flip pan to remove the cake, cooling on a rack to room temperature.
Reline the pan and repeat with the remainder of the batter, baking three cakes.

COGNAC SYRUP

4 Tablespoons Sugar
1/3 Cup Water
1-2 Tablespoons Cognac

Add everything to a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
(May be made in advance and kept covered in the fridge for up to a week.

ORANGE “BUTTERCREAM” ICING

2 1/2 Cups Confectioners Sugar, sifted
1/2 Cup Earth’s Balance Margarine, room temperature
Juice and zest of one large orange
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla

In the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, combine half of the sugar with the margarine.
Add the orange zest and juice and mix on a medium-high setting.
Add the remainder of the sugar, half a cup at a time.
Once it has come together, then add the vanilla to incorporate.
Continue to up the volume with a higher speed until light and creamy.

ASSEMBLY

(Note: The finished cake should be served slightly chilled. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 day).

Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.

Place one cake layer on the baking sheet and moisten it gently with the flavoured syrup.

Spread about one-third of the buttercream over this layer.

Top with the second layer of cake and moisten again with the flavoured syrup.

Spread another third of the buttercream on the cake and then top with the third layer of joconde. Use the remaining syrup to wet the joconde. Spread the remaining buttercream on top of the final layer of joconde and then refrigerate until very firm (at least half an hour).

At this point a glaze of white chocolate may be made. I omitted this tradition but for a vegan white chocolate try this one from Bittersweet. Melt 7 oz of the chocolate with 1/4 cup of soy milk. Once it has cooled, pour/spread it over the top of the chilled cake. Refrigerate the cake again to set the glaze.

Trim the edges 1/2″ to reveal the layers.
Garnish with additional orange zest, candied or not, if desired.

Candied Orange Peels


Inspired by the urge to make hot cross buns, marmalade and reading Orangette.

CANDIED ORANGE PEELS

5 Oranges, any kind
3 Cups Sugar
1 Cup Water

Soak and scrub the oranges in warm soapy water and rinse well.
Cup the tops and tails from the oranges, then peel.
Cut as much of the pith as you can without getting too crazy about it.
Slice the peels into strips and add them to a sauce pan with enough cold water to cover.
Once the water begins to boil, drain and repeat 2 – 3 times to reduce the bitterness.
Dissolve the sugar in the one cup of water and bring to a low boil, heating 230ºF.
Once the sugar syrup reaches the magic number, reduce the heat to just a simmer and add the blanched peels.
Soak the peels in the simmering syrup for 35 – 40 minutes, or until they are translucent.
If you’re finding it irresistible, infrequently spin the pan but try not to stir it since it will create sugar crystals.
Remove the peels, separate them and lay them out on a cooling rack to dry. (Or be sure to toss them in sugar first, if they’re just for snacking.)
Reserve the syrup for other uses. (Like sweetening cocktails, iced tea or as a glaze.)
Once they are cooled, store the oranges in granulated sugar until ready to use.

Cape Gooseberry & Raspberry Clafouti


Being indigenous to South American countries like Columbia, Physalis doesn’t exactly fit into the local food movement around here. However, they are in season right now.

Physalis, or Cape Gooseberries, come naturally wrapped, giving them a shelf life of over a month or more. Described as a cross between sweet cherry tomato and pineapple flavours, the Cape Gooseberry actually isn’t a gooseberry at all. In fact, it’s about the closest to the tomato, coming from the nightshade family.

An interesting combination of tart and sweet, they are a perfect and versatile match for desserts, preserves, salads or savoury dishes.

From the moment I saw my little package of Cape Gooseberries, it was destined for my grocery cart and clafouti. Most typically toped with cherries, clafouti is a French baked custard that’s super simple to make and rustic yet elegant to present.

Having not baked with Cape Gooseberries before, I still wasn’t so brave as to go it alone to tempt my clafouti solo. I opted to pair the Gooseberries with a handful of raspberries, which turned out to be a tasty choice. Both seedy, a bit tart but sweet, they balanced really well.

So well, my vegan friends thought I might just have been pulling a fast one this time.

CAPE GOOSEBERRY & RASPBERRY CLAFOUTI

1/2 Package Firm Silken Tofu, about 210g
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 Cup Soy Milk
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
3 Tablespoons Brandy
1/8 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 Pint Cape Gooseberries, about 1/2 cups halved
1/2 Cup Raspberries, fresh or frozen
2 Tablespoons Demerra Sugar

Combine the soy milk, lemon juice and brandy; Stir and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
In a food processor, blend the tofu until very smooth
Add the sugar and vanilla, continuing to blend.
Pour in the soy milk mixture into the tofu.
Sift the flour and baking powder and add just to combine.
Pour the batter into a cast iron skillet, soufflé or oval baking dish.
Evenly top with fruit.
Bake for 45 – 50 minutes or until the edges are browned and the center is set.
Cool and dust with confectioners sugar.

Chocolate Raspberry Torte


Not like there is any mystery that I love chocolate, but I’d realized that I hadn’t yet created a torte recipe.
What better than Valentine’s week to do the dessert cart?

Generally, a torte is a flourless cake, often using bread crumbs or ground nuts in it’s place, resulting in a dense and intensely rich cake.

I love the contrast of a tart, red raspberry with the intense chocolate, and not only because it’s Valentine’s Day. Raspberries perfectly balance the richness with a bit of pucker making this a pretty sexy end to any meal.

EGGLESS CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY TORTE

1 Cup Almonds, finely ground
1/4 Cup Cocoa Powder, sifted
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
2 Tablespoons Safflower Oil
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
1/4 teaspoon Salt
4 oz Broken Chocolate Pieces, 70+% Dark, Semi Sweet or mixed
1/2 Package Firm Silken Tofu
3/4 Cups Frozen Raspberries

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Lightly spray or grease an 8″ cake or spring form pan, dusting it lightly with cocoa and removing any excess.
Finely grind the almonds in a food processor, adding a spoonful of the sugar, as necessary to keep it from clumping.
Transfer the ground almonds to a bowl.
Purée the tofu in the food processor, until very smooth, add the remaining sugar, cocoa, vanilla, oil and salt.
Using a glass bowl or a double boiler, heat water to a simmer in the lower pan to gently melt the chocolate above.
Pour the melted chocolate into the tofu, mixing to incorporate.
Add the ground almonds, pulsing just to combine.
Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan then evenly sprinkle the raspberries over the top.
Cover the raspberries with the remaining batter.
Bake for 45 – 50 minutes or until the sides have crackled and the center is firm.
Cool the cake completely in the pan or refrigerate until serving.
Run a knife around the edge and release the sides of the pan.
Dust with confectioners sugar and serve with a raspberry emulsion, if desired.