Nice Socca


Eons since I’ve visited the south of France, I was whisked to my memories of the Mediterranean first, by a post by David Lebovitz and again by this book.

The books recipe missed elements, like being tested apparently, but it reinforced this Nice institution.
Chick pea flour, at least within my reach, tends to be bitter but seasoned and sweetened -whoa, this is good stuff.

Go with tradition and eat it while it’s hot, it won’t be hard. Pour a glass of chilly rosé to wash it down and find yourself too, whisked away with an authentic Mediterranean street treat.

SOCCA

1/3 Cup Dried Apricots
1 Cup Chickpea/Garbanzo Bean Flour
3 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil, plus more for drizzling
Pinch Salt
4 Tablespoons Pistachios, shelled and roughly chopped
1 scant Cup of Cold Water

Thinly slice and soak the apricots in warm water.
Preheat the oven to it’s maximum setting (525ºF in my case).
In a bowl, combine the flour, 2 Tablespoons of the sugar, and salt.
Mixing well, add the water, followed by the olive oil.
Let the batter rest for about 20 minutes.
Add enough oil to lightly coat a cast iron pan and heat in the oven as it comes to it’s full temperature.
Shell and roughly chop the pistachios and drain the apricots.
Carefully remove the hot pan from the oven. Pour in the batter in a thin, even stream.
Evenly sprinkle over the apricots and pistachios. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over top and return the pan to the hot oven.
Bake for about 5 minutes or until it is dry, golden and coming away at the edges.
Remove from the oven, sprinkling it evenly with the remaining 1 Tablespoon of sugar.
Serve warm.

July Daring Bakers — How Could I Resist?


Sometimes I just look over those great recipes and think; no way, no how.
This was one of those months. A cake where the only leavener is a bowlful of pouffy egg whites? How am I going to veganize that? Buttercream? Whipped cream? C’mon – my guests are more than happy with a fruit bowl, right?

But then, when I made the original recipe – and tasted it… It would be just plain cruel if I didn’t, at the very least, attempt something for everyone to eat.

Continue reading July Daring Bakers — How Could I Resist?

Baby Spinach Greens With Grilled Pears and Caramalized Onion Dressing


Of course this time of year just about any spring greens from the market will be great, but baby spinach is something I always have on hand.
Where it’s not exactly your throw it together tossed salad, the onions are pretty much low maintenance to caramelize and this dressing is worth the wait.


CARAMELIZED ONION DRESSING

1 Onion, thinly sliced
1/4 Cup + 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
Pinch Salt
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 Cup Water
1 1/2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup

Turn heat to medium. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and sliced onion to a sauté pan. Once they begin to sizzle, reduce the heat to medium-low, toss and add salt.
Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft, sticky and golden; 20-30 minutes.
Add the balsamic vinegar and reduce slightly, about 3 minutes.
Remove from heat and cool.
Add onions along with the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil, maple syrup and water to a blender or a food processor and blend until smooth. (If your onion was large and you find that the mixture is too thick for your liking, you can add more water about 1 tablespoon at a time to thin.)
Taste and add additional salt if desired.
Serve from a squirt bottle, if you have one

Preheat the grill to medium.
Slice 2 bartlett pears into wedges and lay onto the grill, cooking for about 1 minute.
For the fancy-schmancy grill marks, rotate the pear slices 1 quarter turn, cooking for another minute.
Flip and repeat for the other side. Pears should be hot but not cooked through.
Toss greens, adding a handful of walnuts and dried cranberries. Top with the grilled pears and drizzle over prepared dressing.

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.

Low Fat Granola


I wouldn’t go so far as to label myself a hippie or anything. Although I do enjoy a good amount of Canned Heat, I’m just not old enough. What I could call myself is frugal. I grew up with granola in the house but it was “Dad’s Cereal”. Which is, of course, why it was so elusive. We were told it was too expensive for us to burn through on a Saturday morning and we were much better off with the Fruit Loops within reach. However, little did my Mother know that as one of the few occasions my brother and I would get along, we would tag team to the top shelf for a sneaky handful from the protected bag of goodness.

Being the rebel that I am, I’ve continued to prefer granola over mass produced O’s, but the one tidbit of price tag always stuck with me. The giant yellow box is half the price of the tiny one I covet. Seeing you can’t stuff air into oatmeal must be one reason for the price difference and of course, that age old saying of getting what you pay for.

As frugal as I am, I tend to never order in a restaurant or buy anything food wise that I could easily make for myself at home. Granola, naturally fits into this category quite well. After recently receiving a bag each of dried papaya and almonds I hit my pantry to complete the list of ingredients.

Although filled with a little more of the good stuff than most store brands, I would call it pretty close to that shoveled childhood handful. All I need to go with it is the bravery of Lolo to commit to making my own soy milk to go with it.

LOW FAT TROPICAL GRANOLA

2 Cups Whole Oats, Old Fashioned
1/3 Cup Dried Papaya, 2 spears halved and diced
1/3 Cup Almonds, coarsely chopped
1/3 Cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
1/4 teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Safflower Oil
3 Tablespoons Blue Agave Nectar
2 Tablespoons Brown Rice Syrup

Preheat the oven to 300ºF.
Toss the oats, papaya, almonds, coconut and salt together in a large bowl.
In a small saucepan combine the oil, agave and syrup.
Mix well to combine and heat until it just begins to bubble.
Remove from the heat and pour over the dry ingredients. Stir well to coat.
Spread evenly over a parchment lined, edged cookie sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes. Stir to mix and rotate pan.
Return to oven and bake for an additional 5 – 10 minutes.
Shake granola lightly to break apart any large piece and leave to cool completely.
Store in an airtight container.

Also Goes Great With Tea Coffee Cake


I know that Mother’s Day has come and gone, but I just had to share this perfect everyday, great with tea or Coffee Cake.

One of the many things that I’ve learned through my Nana and her baking is that men love coffee cake. It’s a crazy notion, but you can go ahead and quote me on this. So with all my motherly advice aside for now, I’d been eying this recipe handed down from my Nana. Originally called Sour Cream Coffee Cake, it’s moist and satisfying and it’ll wrangle afternoon peckishness like the dickens.

Seeing that I have a habit of buying up anything organic or that I’d want to see in stock at my local grocery store just to send a message, I was the new owner of some soy yogurt. I’m good with tofu but I won’t be eating the “soygurt” à la carte again. However, as an equal replacement for the original sour cream in this recipe, I know I’d buy it again.

Although a nice bundt pan would be pretty, my Nana is of the depression generation so you can put it in what ever pan fits. I used a square 8×8 and it worked out really well, just could have been bigger since, even with all the birthdays lately, this is about the fastest I’ve seen cake go around here in a long time.

NANA’S COFFEE CAKE

1 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 Cup Margarine, softened
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1 Cup Soy Vanilla Yogurt, plain is o.k. in a pinch, just add 1 tsp vanilla
1/2 Cup Plain Soy Milk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour

TOPPING
1 Cup Walnuts, broken
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Toss the walnuts, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.
Cream the sugar with the margarine, then add the baking powder and continue to mix until fluffy.
In a measuring cup, combine the yogurt, soy milk and baking soda.
Add half of the yogurt mixture to the creamed sugar, then half of the flour, mixing until each is combined, repeating with the remainder.
Lightly spray and dust an 8×8 cake or bundt pan with flour.
Add half of the cake batter to the pan. Add half of the walnut topping. Finish with the remaining batter, then evenly sprinkle over the last of the topping.
Bake in the center of the oven for 45 – 50 minutes.
Cool completely in the pan before turning it out to a serving plate.