Dorayaki...Les délices de Tokyo.

Dorayaki(どら焼き)

Dorayaki(どら焼き)

I just watched Sweet Bean by the Japanese director Naomi Kawase.  In France the title is translated as Les Délices de Tokyo.  It's a beautiful and sad drama film that centers around a middle-aged man and an elderly woman working together in a dorayaki stall.

Dorayaki is like a pancake sandwich with a sweet red bean filling.  It's a rare treat to find it fresh off the grill unless you pass a stall like the one in the movie.  

My family used to receive a box of these on occasion.  In the box, the dorayaki would be individually cellophane-wrapped.  Opening one up was like unwrapping a little gift each time.

There is a scene in the film when the elderly lady is teaching the man how to make the red bean paste filling.  My ears piqued and the drama film quickly turned into a cooking lesson.  I love adzuki beans and they are commonly used in Asia to fill confectionaries such as these dorayakis.

Taking mental notes I knew what were to become of my dried adzuki beans in the pantry.  I couldn't wait to make my own filling for my own dorayaki.  

After the film, I prepared my beans by soaking them in water for use the next morning.  My stewing session the next day took a lot longer than the film lasted and longer than I imagined.  Man, those beans just didn't give.

I prepared the simple pancake batter and after waiting impatiently for the bean paste filling to be ready, finally,  I could make a dorayaki.   And guess what?  I ate it straight off the grill. 

I think my pancakes could have been thinner and moist,  and I could have been less heavy-handed on the filling too.   I'll share the recipe with you another time but try and catch the film if you can.  It may stir you in other ways but it certainly got me moving to make these Japanese delights.  Once I perfect them I'll let you know!

White Bean Spinach Soup

When it comes to white beans, I think cannellini.   I usually go for the ones in the tin and never really think much about them.  Then one day Lady Jo asked me, "what's a white bean?"  It seems like a simple question but it's a loaded one.  I answered definitively, "Cannellini", quickly followed by "Non?— oh, you mean haricot blanc?", then with a tinge of doubt,  "Flageolet?"

Well, a month later I find myself with a sack of white dried beans my husband picked up at the market and they were not any of the white beans mentioned above.  These are called Soissons beans and resemble a lima bean.

Apparently this variety of bean is culitvated in Soissons located in Aisne, a department north east of Paris.

These Soissons beans turned out to be plump and flavorful.  Now the question is to soak or not to soak your dried beans beforehand.

White Bean Spinach Soup

INGREDIENTS//Serves 6

• 500 grams dried white beans
• 1 onion, chopped finely
• 3 cloves garlic
• 1 bay leaf
• 1.5 litre stock
• 150 grams spinach

PREPARATION

Soak white beans in water overnight.


INSTRUCTIONS

In a large Dutch oven, add some olive oil and sauté the onions and garlic until the onions becomes translucent and turn golden.

Add the stock and beans, cook until boiling point, then turn down the heat, cover and let it simmer for about two to two and a half hours or until the beans are tender.

Add the spinach and keep the lid on.   Let it cook until it wilts, stirring occasionally.

Let the soup cool.  Scoop out the spinach and half of the beans and put it in a blender and whiz it up into a soup.  

Pour it back in with the rest of the beans.  Reheat on low temperature before serving.

 

 

 

Pumpkin Cookies

Pumpkin cookies in a goûter bag stitched and designed by Marie-Joelle.

Pumpkin cookies in a goûter bag stitched and designed by Marie-Joelle.

I came home from work with a bunch of fresh pumpkin slices and quickly divvied it up and made some soup out of it along with a batch of these home baked pumpkin cookies.   I didn't have to labour over deseeding, peeling, and chopping up the pumpkin so it was a time-saver. 

Goûter in France is snack time.  You cannot deny the kids this rite since it's considered a light meal, usually a piece of baguette with marmalade or chocolate spread or better yet,  a fresh pain au chocolat right from the bakery.  Although nowadays it seems to be easily replaced by store bought cookies and cake. 

The kids stay through the primary school after-school program so they have to pack their own snacks.  Thanks to our friend and neighbor, Marie-Joelle, who has handmade this cute goûter bag as seen in the photo, it has made each night before bedtime cheerful; that is, the kids look forward to filling their personalized goûter bags up with a couple of treats.  This week it's clementines and pumpkin cookies!

Pumpkin Cookies

INGREDIENTS//Yields 28-32 cookies

• 320 grams (2 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon ginger, finely grated
• 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 113 grams butter, softened
• 300 grams granulated brown sugar
• 225 grams pumpkin purée
• 25 grams pumpkin seeds


INSTRUCTIONS

Sift the flour, baking soda, and baking powder into a large mixing bowl.  Then add your spices: ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon.  Set it aside.

In a seperate large mixing bowl, mix the sugar and butter together until creamy and add in the pumpkin purée.

Slowly add in the dry ingredients in three parts and mix well.

Put it in the refigerator fo 30 minutes or you can drop spoonfuls of the mix onto the baking sheet straight away (I like to roll my cookie dough into balls so I put the mix in the fridge to harden up).

Drop some pumpkin seeds on each cookie and press them into the dough.

Pre-heat your oven to 175° celsius.  Bake for 15-18 minutess until golden.

Take it out of the oven and let it cool.

Jerusalem Artichokes a.k.a Topinambour

Jerusalem artichokes straight from the earth.

Jerusalem artichokes straight from the earth.

Jerusalem artichokes known in France as topinambour can be eaten raw, cooked, and marinated.
Since the first time I heard of this vegetable was in France I figured there was some special French way of preparing them, and who better to get a recipe from—Mamie Jacotte.

Jerusalem artichokes also known as topinambour.

Jerusalem artichokes also known as topinambour.

I was quickly pre-empted by my husband who told me that it was a "war vegetable" , thus better to leave it behind and not be reminded of it.   Ok, so then I asked elsewhere and it seems most people either sauté these tuber vegetables, boil or steam them and make a purée with potatoes, or roast and make a gratin out of them.  Coat it with a whole lotta fat and I mean whole fat and you can't go wrong.

Then I read somewhere that it could be eaten raw.  I took a little bite out of it and it was sweet and crunchy like a water chestnut and slightly nutty and artichokey.  They are not at all from the same family and they do not come from Jerusalem (they come from Native America)—go figure!

Apparently, it supplies a lot more potassium than that of the banana (I understand that a banana is an easier snack to reach for) and a good choice of vegetable for people with type 2 diabetes since it is low in starch and high in carbohydrate inulin.

Winter Medley Salad

INGREDIENTS//Serves 2-3

• 300 grams Jerusalem artichoke, julienned
• 1/2 lemon, juiced
• 100 grams beetroot, julienned
• 1 endive
• 100 grams of blue cheese, goat cheese, or sheep cheese, crumbled
• 50 grams walnut, roughly chopped
• balsamic vinegar
• extra virgin olive oil


INSTRUCTIONS

Wash and peel your Jerusalem artichokes and place them in a bowl of water with lemon juice to keep them

from oxidizing.

Use a mandoline to julienne your Jerusalem artichokes and beetroot.  Transfer the raw, julienned vegetables into a medium size mixing bowl.

Add your roughly chopped endive to the mix.

Drizzle some balsamic vinegar and olive oil, add your cheese and walnuts, and toss.



NOTE
 

Instead of chopping your endive, you can use its full leaf and serve the salad in it.  Line a bunch of endives up together and fill it in with small portions of the salad.   This makes a pretty addition to the table.

 

 

Teff Patty. Have it your way...

Teff patty on a bed of sautéed cauliflower & pumpkin topped off with parsley and mozzarella.

Teff patty on a bed of sautéed cauliflower & pumpkin topped off with parsley and mozzarella.

Ok folks, so if you caught my last post you'll know that this is my second experiment with teff grains.  I've gone from pancakes to patties.  The original intent was to make a veggie burger for the family but I found that the patty didn't taste as good in between buns than simply plated on a bed of sautéed vegetables.

I tried a few different vegetable combinations with the teff grains but I kept getting mushy-like veggie patties which is why putting it in between buns didn't help the matter.    It's a stomach stuffer, if you know what I mean.

Roasted mushrooms seem like the ingredient to add for a meatier consistency.  You don't want your veggie patty to be waterlogged which is why roasting is the way to go—it gets rid of the liquid. 

Teff Burger

Teff Burger

I finally came up with this combination that I am sharing with you but I highly suggest plating it on some seasonal vegetables with a crunch to give an added texture to this dish.  I dressed it up as a burger for the kids who ate it willingly albeit with some raised brows.  So, have it your way...

Teff Patty

INGREDIENTS//Yields 10 medium size patties

• 100 grams (1/2 cup) teff grains
• 2 cups vegetable stock
• 350 grams mushrooms, finely chopped and roasted
• 220 grams pumpkin, diced and roasted
• 100 grams (1/2 cup) mung beans
• 1 tablespoon flax seeds, grounded

INSTRUCTIONS

Add two cups of vegetable stock and bring it to a boil.  Add the teff and let it cook on medium heat with a lid over it.   After 15-20 minutes, all the water should be absorbed and the teff will be cooked.  Let it cool.

In a pre-heated oven at 175°C, roast your mushrooms and pumpkin.    Then, take it out of the oven and let it cool.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the teff, mushrooms, pumpkin, cooked mung beans, and ground flaxseed.

Stir everything together.  Wet your hands and form individual patties.

Place your patties In a oil heated casserole on medium heat.  Cook each side for 4 minutes.

Serve it on a bed of crunchy veggies with a slice of cheese and you've got a veggie delight!

 

NOTE

I used dried mung beans as it is a staple in our house.   Lentils, black beans, red beans can all be good replacements.  Experiment with the bean of your preference.

 

 

 

Teff Pancakes

Snowflakes have fallen in Paris and my head is in the tropics.

Snowflakes have fallen in Paris and my head is in the tropics.

Out of hibernation and into the new year, I am back—Happy New Year everyone!  Wow, I certainly feasted through the winter holidays.  I wish I could say I snored through the last few weeks mais au contraire.   When the equation is me with no days off from work and kids with two weeks off from school during this very social and festive winter holiday, along with Mamie Jacotte in town, this equals one busy gal. 

I recently received some teff grains and I just started experimenting with it.  Teff has its roots stemming from Ethiopia.  If you have ever tried the Ethiopian fermented flatbread, injera, teff is the main ingredient.  It's one of the tiniest grains out there but packed full of protein with eight different amino acids (think cells!—growth and development), high in calcium, and iron absorption. 

Here's the first of my experiments...teff pancakes, gluten-free too!  

 

Teff Pancakes

INGREDIENTS//Yields 4 medium pancakes

• 150 grams (1/2 cup) teff flour
• 60 grams (1/2 cup) oatmeal flour (buy the gluten-free oats for those with allergies)
• 1 egg
• 1 cup almond milk
• 1 tablespoon maple syrup
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (for gluten-free option, use a gluten-free baking powder)
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
 

INSTRUCTIONS

Combine your first 4 ingredients in a blender and whiz it up until you get a smooth consistency.

Add in the last three ingredients and give it a last whiz.

Heat a lightly oiled medium size pan over the stove over medium heat.

Ladle a scoop of your batter and pour it onto the pan.

Cook until bubbles start forming and take a peek underneath to see if the side has browned, then flip the pancake to brown the other side.

Serve warm.

 

NOTE

I used teff grains that I grinded into flour.  It is probably coarser than store purchased teff flour.

 

Marninated Zucchini, Carrot and Tofu Strips

MarinatedVegetableStripsR.jpg

Yes, I know it's freakin' freezing out there and this is what washed up ashore—a bunch of marinated raw veggies and tofu strips on a bed of trevise or radicchio as we know it.  Let me go back to dreaming of the black sand beach in Bali, the surfers, the sultry heat...

Marinated Zucchini, Carrot and Tofu Strips

INGREDIENTS//Serves 5-6

• 3 zucchinis, raw and peeled into noodle strips
• 2 carrots
• 150 grams tofu strips (optional)
• 1 lemon, juiced
•  1 clove garlic, minced
• 1/2 tablespoon tamari (or soy sauce)
• 1 tablespoon sesame oil
• 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
• A handful of coriander leaves

 

INSTRUCTIONS

To prepare your zucchini and carrot strips/noodles you can use a julienne peeler, handheld spiralizer, spiralizer, peeler, or mandoline.

Place all your veggie strips in a large glass mixing bowl and add the lemon juice and minced garlic.  Let it marinate overnight or for at least 8 hours in the refigerator.

Take the marinated vegetables out of the fridge and add your tofu strips, sesame oil, tamari sauce, and white pepper.  Toss all together.

Garnish with plenty of coriander leaves.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Granola Crust

It's my party!  FotoFeedMe is officially one year old.  Can't believe I haven't skipped a beat since last December! I've been pretty obsessed about styling, photographing, and cooking up a storm and what better way than to share them with you on this blog. 

Thanks everyone for keeping me company through this insatiable and experimental journey.  There are terrific days, blah days, sunny days, dreary days, healthy and not so healthy days, freezing your butt off days—on top of that there are mindless tasks and chores to do or on the To Do list/lists.  No matter what, sprucing up my food has been a delight for me and I hope it brings you some cheer too.   

Pumpkin Cheesecake With Granola Crust

INGREDIENTS//6 muffin size cakes

• 200 grams kefir cream cheese or regular cream cheese
• 120 grams pumpkin, purée
• 60 grams brown sugar
• 1 egg
• 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
• pinch of nutmeg

FOR GRANOLA CRUST

• 100 grams plain granola, blended
• 25 grams butter, melted
 

INSTRUCTIONS

Prepare the crust first.  In a small pot, melt your butter on low heat.

Preheat your oven to 175° C or 350°F.

Blend your granola and transfer it into a small bowl. 

Add the melted butter and stir.

In your muffin mold, fill the bottom with the granola mix and press down on it with your fingers.

Put it in the oven for 10 minutes.  Take it out and let it cool.

Prepare the pumpkin cheesecake filling.

In a medium size mixing bowl, combine all your ingredients and beat until smooth.

Preheat the oven to 165°C or 325°F.

Fill your granola crusted muffin molds three quarters full and place it in the oven for 30 minutes.

Allow it to cool and then place it in the refigerator for at least a few hours or overnight before serving.


NOTE

I used my kefir cream cheese in this recipe which brought a citrusy taste to this cake.  It was almost as if I added lemon juice or something of that nature.  It slightly overpowered the pumpkin flavor of this cake but nevertheless, it was still delish!

 

 

Turning Leftover Mash Potatoes to Homemade Gnocci

Mamie Jacotte was in town.  She usually cooks up a storm for us and it was no different this time around. 

I leaped at the idea when she mentioned that we could make gnocci with the leftover mash potatoes.  We love gnocci and had never made them from scratch.  On top of that, Mila was home so what better idea than to spend the afternoon with her Mamie Jacotte learning how to make gnocci.

The kids are lucky to have grandparents with healthy appetites or rather in this case a grandparent who loves to cook.   Needless to say, Mamie Jacotte spends a lot of time in the kitchen.  She's a wonderful hostess who adores entertaining too and you can usually find her with a glass of bubbles in her hand.

One nice thing is coming home from a long day, stepping off the elevator and being enveloped by the warmth and aroma of her cuisine.  The best part is opening the door to the apartment to be greeted by her and to feel so thankful all that warmth and aroma is coming from my own home.

 

Homemade Gnocci

INGREDIENTS//Serves 5-6

• 650 grams mashed potatoes
• 2 eggs (1 whole egg, 1 egg yellow)
• 1/4 tspn nutmeg
• 200 grams flour

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large mixing bowl with your mash potatoes, stir in the nutmeg and the eggs.

Slowly add some flour, a tablespoon or two at a time to combine with the mash potatoes.

Keep adding the flour and gently knead with your hands until you get a dough-like consistency and until the dough does not glue to your finger or the sides of the bowl.  You still want the dough to be slightly sticky but firm enough to hold its shape.

Once you have a ball of dough, you can quarter it, take a piece and roll it into a thin, long log.

On a floured surface, place the log shaped dough in front of you and cut it into 1-1 1/2 inch size pieces.

With the back of the fork, gently press into each piece to create the ridges. 

Sprinkle the dough with a litte flour.

In a large pot of boiling water, add a bit of salt.

Add a batch of gnocci in the boiling water for about 2-3 minutes or until they rise to the top and use a slotted spoon to scoop it out.  Continue to cook in batchfuls.

Season with some salt and pepper, sprinkle with your favorite cheese and drizzle on some olive oil.

 

NOTE

I used our left over mashed potatoes in this recipe which was already seasoned with dallops of crème fraîche, olive oil, nutmeg, and salt.   It brought out more flavors in the gnocci. 

 



 

Beetroot Crackers

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  I'll be celebrating on Saturday with friends.  As the years go by in Paris, I find myself defeated against upholding a traditional fanfare feast each year.  The thought of basting a Turkey—which I don't even eat—for hours and preparing all the side dishes that go along with it just plain 'ole fatigues me.

The fact that it is celebrated on a Thursday is another challenge.  We obviously don't get the long weekend to recuperate from all that feasting, but we don't even get the turkey Thursday off to feast.   But of course, I'm in France.  What do I expect?  What does anyone expect around me?  What does anyone expect from me? 

You got it...nothing.

I try to give a nod to turkey Thursdays, as there is a whole lot to be thankful for.  I've been reduced to taking the family out to a local "American" diner called Breakfast of America (BOA) in the Marais where they usually serve turkey plates on this particular Thursday. 

The ironic thing is that my French husband usually winds up being the only one ordering the turkey plate.  My kids don't have any recollection of a moment when their mum comes out of the kitchen with the star turkey and places it on the table along with the beautiful side dishes that match.  Ooh, and stuffing, well I never got the traditional stuff as I grew up in an Asian household and our turkeys were stuffed with sticky rice but at least I grew up with the concept and nostalgia of stuffing.  Stuffing is for stuffed animals as far as my children are concerned.

This is the time when I miss my family the most.  I miss the football playing on the t.v. screen (it's just part of the background scene), Nat King Cole singing in the background, adults drinking, kids playing, and the scent of sweets and spices tickling our noses—Mmmm, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, sweet potato marshmallow mash.... 

So this is just another Thursday in Paris, France...no turkey day recipe here.  Like I said, I'll be celebrating on Saturday, we'll be creating new traditions.

Beetroot Crackers

INGREDIENTS//Yields 20 pieces

• 100 grams beetroot, raw and finely grated
• 30 grams chia seeds
• 60 grams oats
• 70 grams sunflower seeds
• 20 grams flax seeds
• 10 grams poppy seeds
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon cumin

PREPARATION

Let the chia seeds sit in 12 tablespoons of water for about 15 minutes.  It will become gelatinous.
 

INSTRUCTIONS

In a food processor, pulse your beet. 

In a medium size mixing bowl, combine your beets and chia seeds.

Then stir in your oats, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and poppy seeds.

Add the salt and cumin.

Pre-heat your oven to 150° celsius.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper and then spread your mix onto it.

Use a spatula to spread and flatten the mix flat to form a rectangular shape, and don't forget to score it into square bite-size pieces.  Thiis will make it easy to break into cracker shapes afterwards.

Place it in the oven for an hour.   Your crackers should harden up around this time.  If not, leave it in longer.

Take out your ready made crackers and let it cool down.  

Break your beetroot sheet along the lines you have scored for bite size cracker shapes.

 

 

 

 

Homemade Kefir Cream Cheese

1. Start with your cultured kefir milk.

1. Start with your cultured kefir milk.

I can't believe I have just made soft cream cheese.  Crazy thing is that I went back to the land where my kefir grains came from—Thailand!—to learn how to make this soft kefir cream cheese.

2. Seperate the kefir grains from the kefir.

2. Seperate the kefir grains from the kefir.

Remember in my previous post I had a friend, SIlvia, who brought me these wonderful kefir gems?   She traveled all the way from Bangkok to Paris bestowing me with these lovely gem of grains. 

3. Ready-made kefir milk.

3. Ready-made kefir milk.

While visiting her in her home in Bangkok recently, one of her neighbor-friends popped up with some homemade cream cheese for us to taste.   She too shares the same family of kefir grains.  I was excited to do the same with my kefir grains.

4.  Pour the ready-made milk kefir into a cheesecloth lined sieve hanging over a bowl. Tie it up and place it in the fridge overnight.  You will be left with whey, the liquid at the bottom of the bowl.

4.  Pour the ready-made milk kefir into a cheesecloth lined sieve hanging over a bowl. Tie it up and place it in the fridge overnight.  You will be left with whey, the liquid at the bottom of the bowl.

Boy, I didn't realize what my kefir grains were capable of.  Not only have these grains grown and been shared across continents, they are now my supplier for cream cheese. 

5.  After the whey has seeped out, you will be left with a lump of soft cheese.

5.  After the whey has seeped out, you will be left with a lump of soft cheese.

There was a moment I was drowning in kefir milk.  Now, I can take it one step further and make a cheese that spreads easliy on crackers and bread, and can easily be used as dips.   The possibilities are endless: herb spreads, vegetable spreads, veggie dips, cinnamon and spice cream...yum!  I'll have to try to make a cheesecake with my newfound love too.

6. Soft cream cheese ready to use as a spread.

6. Soft cream cheese ready to use as a spread.

Homemade Kefir Cream Cheese

PREPARTION

• One cheesecloth or a cotton tight-weave cloth
• 1 plastic sieve
• 1 bowl

INGREDIENTS//Yields one cup

• 4 cups ready-made kefir

INSTRUCTI0NS

Line your sieve with the cheesecloth and hang the sieve over the bowl.

Pour the ready-made kefir into the cloth lined sieve.

Tie up the ends of the cloth and place it in the fridge overnight.

When you untie your cheesecloth on the next day, you will be left with a lovely lump of soft cream cheese.  The liquid left at the bottom of the bowl is whey.  Apparently there are ways to use this whey.  I haven't gotten there yet but when time comes, you'll be sure to know!

NOTE

Homemade kefir cream cheese has more of a sour taste than the store-bought ones.   It's also softer.  I noticed that if I leave the kefir cheese in the fridge longer to strain the whey it hardens up.

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake and Cashew Frosting

I don't know if it's the sudden change in weather from cold to freezing—ahem, it snowed on Monday—or the nerves on edge leading up to America's election day that I suddenly find myself in a state of shock today realizing that President Obama is about to hand over the keys of the White House to Donald Trump.

I've been baking up a storm and you can call it comfort food or not.  Either way, my apartment smells like carrots and spices and it calms my senses.  I posted a carrot cake recipe last week too.  Here's another to consider, it's gluten-free and just as moist and tasty.  I don't build walls between gluten and gluten-free food camps (I am not allergic to gluten!).   I just like a varied and moderate diet and love to experiment with ingredients. 

I have used chestnut flour as an alternative to all-purpose wheat flour.  It has a similar starchiness to that of traditional flour and has a sweeter and slightly nuttier flavor to it. 

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake and Cashew Frosting

INGREDIENTS//YIeilds 10 muffin size cakes

• 2 eggs
• 1/2 cup brown sugar
•  3/4 cup vegetable oil
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
• 1 cup chestnut flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder (use a brand that uses cornstarch not wheat flour for gluten-free option)
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 1/2 cup carrot, finely grated
• 1 tablespoon flax seed (optional)
•  1/2 pecans, walnuts, Brazil nuts, chopped (optional)

Cashew frosting

• 1 cup raw cashews, soaked
• 1 teaspoon lemon juice
• 2 tablespoons maple syrup
• 1/2 cup almond milk
 

PREPARATION
Soak the cashew nuts in a glass bowl and cover overnight.


INSTRUCTIONS

In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the first five ingredients.

Then add in the chestnut flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Stir in the carrots and then fold in your flax seeds and nuts (optional).

Preheat oven to 350°F (175° C).

I used a muffin tray on this particular day but it's perfect in a loaf mold too (fills one 9.6 x 4 inch mold).

Pour the batter a little more than halfway into your mold.

Bake for 30 minutes or until you can poke a skewer in the carrot cake to see if it comes out clean.

While your muffins are in the oven, you can prepare the dairy-free frosting.

Drain and rinse your soaked cashews. 

Place in a processor along with the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.  You can add a little bit of water if needed.

Once the carrot cake is cooled, you can frost them.
 

 

Moist Carrot Cake

Baked and styled by Mila and Viktor.

Baked and styled by Mila and Viktor.

This is one of those cakes that doesn't last very long in our household.  It is easily eaten for breakfast, snack time, and for dessert. 

My kids are starting to get their hands involved, not only on the cooking front but on styling ideas and taking pictures of food.  This is their first project together from beginning to end.  It was an all day affair which kept them busy.  I turned a blind eye to my messy kitchen and devoured one of the most delish carrot cakes ever.

CarrotCake4.jpg

Moist Carrot Cake

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, walnuts, or Brazil nuts (optional)

 

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, sugar, and vanilla extract.

Then gradually mix in the flour.  Add the baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

Stir in the carrots and then fold in your nuts (optional).

Preheat oven to 350°F (175° C).

Pour the batter a little more than halfway into a loaf pan or a round baking pan.   I have a silicone loaf pan so I don't need to grease my mold.

Bake for 40 minutes and check by inserting a knife to see if it pulls out cleanly.

I use a 9.6 x 4 inch mold.  I get two carrot loaves out of this recipe.

 

Heart Shaped White Chocolate with Black Sesame Filling

This is a simple and fun recipe to make with kids by converting a chocolate bar into fun heart shaped chocolates.  

My kids and I paired white chocolate with black sesame filling and loved the black grit that's left behind in the teeth.

We love wrapping them up in transparent bags tied with a pretty ribbon around it and offering it to friends.

White Chocolate with Black Sesame Filling
 

INGREDIENTS

• 1 bar white chocolate
• black sesame paste

INSTRUCTIONS

If you have a double boiler, go ahead and melt your white chocolate.  I don't have one so I use a heat-proof mixing bowl over a saucepan of boiling water to melt my chocolate.  Make sure the bowl fits snugly and doesn't touch the bottom of the saucepan. 

Fill each heart shaped mold a little less than halfway with the melted chocolate. 

Use the back of the teaspoon to coat the sides of the mold with chocolate.   Finish up coating the bottom and sides of the heart molds and then place it in the refigerator for 10-15 minutes.

After the chocolate has hardened into place, fill the center with the black sesame paste.  Be careful not to overfill.

Cover the filling with the rest of the melted white chocolate and place it back in the fridge for another round of 10-15 minutes.

When hardened up, pop the chocolates out of the mold.  Let it sit at room temperature before serving.

 

 


 

Vegetable Filled Tofu Pockets- Inari Sushi

When I was a kid, this was one of my favorite things to eat.  Although I must admit my choice in toppings back then were not quite the same as today.  Abura age is a slightly sweetened, fried tofu pocket that is usually found vacuum packed or in tins and is used for inari sushi.  You can find this easily in any Japanese or other Asian food market.


I enjoy inari sushi without rice and just fill my tofu pockets up with veggies nowadays.  If you are using rice, fill the tofu pocket a little less than half way maximizing most of the pocket with fresh vegetables so that you can optimize on all its nutritional value.

There are plenty of toppings for you to choose from.  You can add shrimp, smoked salmon, fish roe, crab, ground meat, etc. to your list of toppings.  Just balance it out with some colorful veggie so that it pops out and is inviting to eat!

Vegetable Filled Tofu Pockets—Inari Sushi

INGREDIENTS//Yields 16

• 1 pack of abura age (slightly sweetened tofu pouches)
• 1 1/2 cup rice, Japanese sushi rice, uncooked (optional)
• 1 egg, yolk only
• 1 small cucumber, diced
• 1 zucchini, julienned or spiraled (think zoodle!)
• 1 carrot, julienned or spiraled
• 1 red pepper, diced
• 1 tin corn, small
• 150 grams edamame beans
• 1/2 avocado smash with yuzu and poppy seeds

PREPARATION

To prepare the egg omelette, we use only the yolk.   Seperate the egg white from the yolk in a small bowl.
Give the yolk a quick stir (optional- you can add a smidgeon of sugar to this mix).  Heat up your skillet, add a little bit of butter to the surface and pour your yolk in the skillet.  Cook for about a minute on each side and slide it off onto a flat cutting board.  Slice across your flat yolk omelette horizontally and vertically a few times to cut them into strips.  Kitchen shears come in handy for this too. 
 

INSTRUCTIONS

If you are using rice, cook it first and then let it cool down.  You can add a little bit of sushi vinegar to it if you like but I find that the abura age is sweet enough.

Prepare all your vegetables and egg and line them up in a bowl.

Open a tofu pocket up, and using wet hands ball up a small portion of rice and place it into the base of the pocket.

Complete the top up with your choice of vegetable fillings.

 

NOTE

For any leftover veggies, I just simply cut them up and prepare a small salad on the side.
 




 



 

 

 

Chard and Kale Chips

This is not something I would normally make but given its popularity over the past few years and then seeing the cost of a 35 gram bag (6 euros!—Well ok, 5.99 euros but still... ) at the Veggie World trade fair recently, I thought I would give it a go and make it myself.

I'm not quite convinced on these chard and kale chips but I suppose it's a great option for those looking for something healthier than regular potato chips.  Though there's no comparison since potatoes, kale, and chard don't taste the same anyways.  If you are going for the crunch factor then I suppose these offer a healthier crunch.

It seems like the more I eat them, the more I enjoy them or perhaps I am subconsciously telling myself that since I am the only person in the family eating them.  To be fair, my husband hasn't tasted them yet and my eldest is away on a class trip.  So that just leaves my youngest and me.  Viktor was more amused by the fact that he was eating a feuille, a leaf that is.  He is entertained in thinking he has eaten a leaf from a tree.

It's on my list to make in the future and to place it along side with other dips and tidbits during apéro with friendsthen I will know if it is well-received or notKeep ya posted!

Chard and Kale Chips

INGREDIENTS

• 1 cup or 50 grams kale
• 2 leaves swiss chard

FLAVORING FOR KALE

• 1 teaspoon sesame oil
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/2 teaspoon mustard
• 1/2 teaspoon of tamarind paste
• 1 teaspoon lemon juice
• 5 grams roasted buckwheat
• coarse sea salt (according to taste)

FLAVORING FOR CHARD

• 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
• 5 grams fried onions
• coarse sea salt (according to taste)

 

INSTRUCTIONS

Wash your chard and kale leaves, then make sure they are completely dried off.

For flavoring the kale:

In a medium size mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the buckwheat and and salt for flavoring the kale.

Add the kale and rub in the flavored sauce making sure to coat it well.

Then add in the buckwheat and the salt and toss it around.

On a baking tray with parchment paper, lay out each leaf of kale making sure it has its own space.

Place it in the oven at 135° Celsius for 30 minutes with a convection setting if you have one.

Take it out of the oven and let it cool before serving.

For flavoring the chard:

Add all the ingredients in a medium size mixing bowl.

Add your cut up chard leaves and rub in the flavored sauce making sure to coat the leaves well.

Be sure your chard leaves are big enough so that they lay flat and that thefried onions and salt can sit on it.

Line your baking tray with parchment paper and lay out each leaf side by side.

Place it in the oven at 135° Celsius for 30 minutes with a convection setting if you have one.

Take it out of the oven and let it cool before serving.

 

NOTE

I don't have a food dehydrator, so baking these chard and kale leaves in the oven in low heat and over a long duration of time is another way to dehydrate food.

 

 

 

Avocado Smash with Yuzu and Poppy Seeds

Yuzu is a citrus fruit that is the size of a mandarin.  It resembles a small grapefruit with uneven skin and is usually yellowish to greenish in color.  It's tart in taste with a delicate accent of grapefruit and lime-like flavors.

Yuzu originates from East Asia and is most commonly cultivated and used in Japan.  It is not eaten like a whole fruit but the juice and the zest are widely used in Japanese and Korean cuisine.  Similar in use as that of the lemon it can be found in pastries, teas, jams, dressings, sauces, beers, etc. 

Try replacing lemon with a dash of yuzu for something different.  It's subtle on the palate and less citrusy.

YuzuAvocadoPoppySeed3.jpg

This is a great simple twist to plain avocado using yuzu juice in place of lemon juice.  Don't forget to sprinkle some poppy seeds for some added texture and decoration.

Avocado Smash with Yuzu and Poppy Seeds

INGREDIENTS//Serves 2-3

• 1 ripe avocado
• 1/2 teaspoon of yuzu juice, concentrated
• 1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
• 1/2 clove garlic (small clove)
• a pinch of coarse sea salt (adjust according to taste)

 

INSTRUCTIONS

Halve your avocado and scoop out the flesh with a spoon and place it in a small bowl.

Add your yuzu juice and garlic.

Start to mash the avocado with the back of a fork.  Make sure not to mash it up too much.  It's nice to have bits and chunks in it.

Add your salt and your poppy seeds. Give it a final whirl in the bowl.

I used an ice cream scooper to give this avocado some shape. 

Plop it on a plate and it's ready to be served.

 

 

Buddha Bowl #1. Eat Bold and Bloom.

Buddha bowls have been the rage in healthy living in the past year or two.  I never knew what I had been eating actually had a name to it.  I like to think of it as a gratitude bowl.  Now, I'm not trying to get hippy-dippy on you, but it is a bowl of goodness for your health, mind, and body so we should be grateful for what we have on this earth and for what Mother Nature gives to us.

Brown rice and quinoa mix topped with hijiki tofu patties, beetroot, cucumber wakame sunomono, red cabbage, spinach, crushed avocado with yuzu and poppy seeds, and carrot ginger dressing.

Brown rice and quinoa mix topped with hijiki tofu patties, beetroot, cucumber wakame sunomono, red cabbage, spinach, crushed avocado with yuzu and poppy seeds, and carrot ginger dressing.

This is a one meal bowl with an emphasis on plant based foods.  There are 4 basic components to it: grains and/or nuts and seeds, protein veggies, starchy vegetables, and a dazzling dressing or sauce.

You can use plant based proteins such as avocado, beans, nuts, seeds, and tofu.  Other protein substitutes may be egg, sustainable fish and lean meats (for those who need a little more).  Play around with the textures of your veggies which can easily be achieved by the way you cook them (boiled, steamed, sautéed, raw, roasted) or cut them (diced, cubed, sliced, julienned). 

The combination between texture and taste is something you can be mindful to while eating.  A mix of raw vegetables and lightly cooked, steamed, or roasted vegetables add different dimensions to a bowl.  Be generous to yourself and be abundant in your veggie servings.

What's great about it is that you can reincarnate any leftovers and recreate new bowls. 

Buddha Bowl #1

INGREDIENTS// 1 meal bowl

• brown rice and quinoa mix
hijiki tofu patties
• beetroot, raw and grated
cucumber wakame sunomono
• red cabbage, marinated
• spinach or chard
crushed avocado with yuzu and poppy seeds
carrot ginger dressing


INSTRUCTIONS

Choose a special bowl and assemble all your elements of goodness on top and around your grains.

Top it off with your special dressing or sauce. 

Eat bold and bloom.

 

Cucumber Wakame Sunomono

CucumberWakameSunomono2.jpg

Wakame is a delicious seaweed often found in soups, salads, and side dishes in Japanese cuisine.  It is rich in vitamins and minerals, notably: calcium, magnesium, iodine, riboflavin, folate, vitamins A,C,E,K—all the stuff that's good for the bones, energy production, muscle contraction, iron metabloism, and for pregnant ladies (folate!)  

In Korea, Miyeokguk, a seaweed soup, is often served to women as postpartum care.  It is strongly believed that it cleanses the blood, contracts the womb, and increases milk production though one should watch out for the high sodium content.  Also, wakame has some beneficial components like lignans and fucoxanthins which are linked to lower levels of breast cancer,  prevents fat accumulation, and aids in burning fatty tissue.

You can find this cucumber wakame sunomono served as a starter or side dish in many Japanese restaurants.  Su is vinegar in Japanese and sunonmono is usually referenced to vinegared dishes.  Now you can enjoy this simple recipe at home.

Cucumber Wakame Sunomono
 

INGREDIENTS//Serves 2

• 1/2 English cucumber or Kyuri (Japanese cucumber)
•  10 grams wakame, dehydrated
• 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
• 1/2 teaspoon sugar
• ginger, grated or finely sliced matchsticks (garnish, optional)

PREPARATION

To rehydrate your wakame, soak your wakame in a cup of room temperature water for about 10 minutes.  Drain and squeeze out any excess water.

Cut your cucumber in half lengthwise.  Deseed it.  Use your mandoline to thinly slice the cucumbers.  Add salt and let sit for 15-30 minutes.  Drain the water, rinse, and then give the cucumbers a squeeze to get rid of any excess water.
 

INSTRUCTIONS

In a small bowl, combine cucumbers and the rehydrated wakame. 

Combine your rice vinegar and sugar in a small separate bowl.  Stir until the sugar dissolves.

Pour the vinegar mix in with the cucumber and wakame, add salt accordingly.   Toss and let it sit for 10 minutes before serving.  Garnish with sesame seeds or ginger.
 

 

 

 

Matcha Cookies with White Chocolate Chunks

I participated in a Japanese tea ceremony in Kyoto once.  I fell in love with the ritual, the serenity, the aesthetics, and all the equipment involved but I never mastered the way of tea.  I do enjoy my green teas (teabags please) at home and I sometimes whisk up some matcha (special treat to myself) when I have a moment to just sit and do nothing but sip my matcha. 

I sit and reflect as the weight of the matcha (I prepare it thick) sits on my tongue and glides down my throat.  I savor the bitterness that coats my palate and then fades away as I continue to take another sip.  This is my way of tea.

Matcha can easily be incorporated in smoothies, baked goods, ice cream, and lattes.   If you find yourself with some at home,  here's a recipe for you to try.

 

Matcha Cookies with White Chocolate Chunks
 

INGREDIENTS//Yields 35 cookies

• 350 grams (2 cups) flour
• 125 grams butter (room temperature)
• 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
• 1/4 cup granulated sugar
•  2 eggs
• 1 tablespoon matcha powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 100 grams white chocolate chips

INSTRUCTIONS

In a medium size mixing bowl, add your butter and sugars.  Mix together until it starts to get creamy.

Add your eggs and continue to mix.

In a separate medium size mixing bowl, sift your dry ingredients together: flour, matcha powder, baking soda, and salt.  Combine well.

Then add this dry mixture in with the wet ingredients and mix together.

After everything is well combined, add your white chocolate chunks.  Use a spatula to fold them in.

Chill this cookie dough in the fridge for an hour or more.

Prepare your baking sheet. 

Scoop out a tablespoon full of dough and roll it into a ball and place it on a baking sheet two inches apart from one another.

Once your oven is pre-heated to 175°C or 350°F, place your baking tray in the oven for 8-12 minutes.

Every oven varies, I put mine in for 10 minutes. 

Take out your cookies and let it cool.

NOTE
These cookies come out soft and moist.