Friday, September 22, 2017

Lemon Velvet Cake

Lemon Velvet Cake

I've made this cake a lot lately....turns out lots of people really like lemon, so it keeps getting requested! I think I have perfected the recipe and as such it's time to record recipe for future bakes! 

Cake recipe adapted from Rock Recipes, with addition of lemon syrup soak, lemon curd filling and lemon buttercream. A fluffy yet moist cake bursting with lemony lemonness. You will need 4-6 lemons for all the components, depending on how big and/or juicy your lemons are.

Lemon Cake

·         1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
·         1 1/2 cups cake flour
·         1/2 tsp baking soda
·         1 1/2 tsp baking powder
·         1 tsp sea salt
·         1 1/2 cups sugar
·         2/3 cup vegetable oil
·         1/3 cup vegetable shortening (room temp)
·         1 tsp good quality vanilla extract
·         4 large eggs
·         1 1/2 cups buttermilk OR almond milk if you want to make it dairy-free
·         2 Tbsp lemon juice
·         zest of one large lemon

A few hours before (or the day before), put sugar in a bowl, zest lemon and rub zest into sugar. Cover.
Grease and flour 3 nine inch round cake pans.
In a large bowl, sift together both flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
In another bowl or measuring cup, measure out the milk and mix in lemon juice. Let sit for 15-30 minutes.
In the bowl of an electric mixer beat together the vegetable oil, shortening, sugar, and vanilla. Beat well at high speed with whisk attachment until light and fluffy.
Beat the eggs in one at a time.
Fold in the lemon zest.
Fold in the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk: Add dry ingredients in three divisions and liquid ingredients in 2 divisions. It is very important to begin and end the additions with the dry ingredients. Do not over mix the batter. As soon as it has no lumps in the batter, pour into the three prepared 9 inch cake pans.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 22 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. While cakes are baking, prepare lemon syrup:

Lemon Syrup

·         ½ cup lemon juice
·         2 Tbsp lemon zest
·         ½ cup sugar
·         1 tsp vanilla
Bring to a boil in small pot. Cool slightly.
When cakes are done, cool for 5 minutes then use toothpick to poke holes. Pour half of the warm syrup over warm cakes while still in pans. Cool for additional 20 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks and pour remaining syrup over other side of cakes. Cool completely.

Paleo Lemon Curd

from What the Fork
·         4 large eggs, room temperature
·         6 Tbsp coconut oil
·         2 Tbsp butter (or earth balance for DF version)
·         zest of 2 lemons
·         1/4 C honey
·         2 Tbsp raw sugar
·         1/4 tsp fine sea salt
·         1/2 C lemon juice, freshly squeezed ( 2-3 lemons)

Add all ingredients to a pot. Whisk together until all ingredients are combined, while gently heating (on 5 or so). By the time it starts to boil, it should be nice and thick, this takes about 8-10 minutes. Strain through fine mesh sieve and cool in fridge with plastic wrap on surface to avoid skin.

Lemon-Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

·         3/4 cup salted butter OR earth balance for DF version, cool but soft (out of fridge for 30 min or so)
·         ¼ cup shortening
·         1 tsp vanilla
·         2 Tbsp whipping cream OR coconut cream
·         4-6 cups icing sugar
·         Pinch salt

Beat all ingredients together until light and fluffy. Fold in ¼ of the lemon curd.


If cake layers are not flat, trim them. On bottom cake, spread 1/3 of the remaining lemon curd. Dollop and spread some buttercream overtop. If you have done DF version, skip the buttercream as it will deflate with curd and get soupy, and then cause you no end of troubles.  Repeat with next layer and top with last cake layer. Cover with a crumb coat of buttercream and chill for at least an hour. Store buttercream in fridge but take out 20 min before next step.  Coat cake with a good layer of buttercream and decorate. Chill to set.

You can also make this as cupcakes, in fact the DF version is better as such, since you won't have to worry about the structural integrity of high-moisture-content buttercream (or lack thereof). Just cut the baking time to about 17 minutes (test with toothpick after 15). For decorating, fill a piping bag with the lemon curd, using a large tip. Now here's where you have to get intimate with your cupcake. Shove the tip into the centre of the cupcake, going about as deep as you figure the mid-point is, and force a squeeze of lemon curd in. The cupcake will resist a bit, but don't squeeze TOO hard, as you will suddenly feel it give and the cupcake will poof a bit. Pull out carefully and go on to the next.

I can't believe I said all that with a straight face. Ice with butter cream and decorate.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Egg Roll Stir-Fry

I haven't posted in ages but am compelled to share this, if only to remember it for myself. I tend to go through food phases, and then totally forget about something I previously loved until 5 years later I see it on a blog and think, oh YEAH I can't believe I haven't been making that. So, I bring to you, my take on the Egg Roll Sir-Fry.

A lot has happened since I posted last. Has it really been three years?? I got engaged, planned and executed a perfect wedding day including making my own cake (it wasn't brilliant but I had a lot going on that day lol), had an amazing honeymoon in New Orleans (lots of awesome food and music, so perfect for us!), applied and was accepted to grad school (finally, currently underway), started a new job that's not so new anymore (and that I love), renovated and sold our condo (which looked flippin' AMAZING after renos), bought a house (which does not look at all amazing but will someday) with a huge yard (turns out I have a real green thumb, woot!!), developed major gut issues which seem to be related to a terrible dairy intolerance, which led to much mourning for cheese (I can have a little now, but not much), and currently planning for a major kitchen reno. All that, and I still had time to gain back all the weight I had lost previous :S. Well, the only failure is not trying, right? So I try....I know what works for me, just have a really hard time sticking to it.I blame the microbes in my gut  but until they come up with some killer cure, it's up to me.

This dish makes it look easy's lower in carbs and fat, chock-full of veggies and lean protein, and a total flavour-bomb in your mouth! I have recently discovered kimchi and gochujang, both being good sources of probiotics, and as a bonus make everything they come into contact with delicious. They are a terrific add, but even without them it's a yummy dish, just not as cool, because well fermented stuff is pretty cool these days. I named it for its resemblance to the inside of an egg roll, and the internet supports it....this is not the first or only egg roll stir-fry out there! I contend it may be the best ;).

Egg Roll Stir-Fry

1 Tbsp oil of choice (I use avocado or olive)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced thin
1/2 head green cabbage, shredded
2 large carrots, julienned
2 bell peppers, julienned (I like red and yellow)
1/2 cup kimchi, chopped small
1 Tbsp gochujang (or sriracha, if you can't find it)
1 tsp chicken or "no-chicken" Better Than Boullion
2 tsp sesame oil
3 green onions, sliced
2 small wads mung-bean vermicelli (a.k.a. bean threads or glass noodles)
1 pkg tofu cut into cubes or 1 lb ground turkey
1-2 Tbsp soy sauce or Bragg's aminos (GF and less sodium)

In a large fry-pan or wok heated to medium, add 1 tsp of the oil, garlic, cabbage, and celery. Stir-fry for 5 minutes and then add carrots and peppers. Cook for 5 minutes longer or until veggies are all tender but not too soft. Add the kimchi, gochujang, boullion paste, sesame oil, and green onions, combining well.

Meanwhile, soak vermicelli in water and heat a separate pot of water to boiling. Once boiling, drain the vermicelli and snip them so that they are shorter threads, about 3 inches long. Add them to the boiling water and boil for one minute, then drain and place in a large holding bowl.

Once the veggies are done, place them in the holding bowl as well and stir everything together.

Return the frypan to the stove and add the remaining oil and ground turkey or tofu. Fry until browned. Add soy sauce and fry until evaporated. I usually do both (separately), and divide the veggies into two to create both vegetarian and meatatarian versions.

Add the veggies back into the frypan with the meat or tofu, and combine well. Done!

At this point it looks like a massive amount of food, but it's actually just 5 servings, at 365 calories each! Compare to a similar amount of, say, pad thai, and its a third of the calories. Yet, totally deliciously satisfying.

Calories 365
Fat 15 g
Protein 29 g
Carbs 31 g
Fibre 5g
Sodium 568 mg

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Cauliflower Crust Pizza (CCP)

It's no secret that I love pizza. There are a couple of pizza recipes already on this blog, so this one is not the first and won't be the last. The thing that makes it different is the crust - it's made of cauliflower! Examine the gorgeous toastiness, the well-formed roundness. It's looks tasty, doesn't it? Well, it WAS. This recipe truly belongs here in Yummyland. The pizza got a firm two-thumbs-up from all of us at the dinner table. And crazy enough, this recipe is vegetarian, gluten-free, low-carb, in high in awesomeness. 

I had a conversation today about pizza, and how even the thinnest of thin-crust is still relatively high in carbs and so not a great choice for those with diabetes or pre-diabetic, which relegates it to the rare-treat department. Which got me to thinking about the vegetable-based crusts that are out there these days....which is the best? And at it's best, can it be anywhere near as good as the "real thing"? So I did a quick cruise around the interwebs and found this one. By all accounts it seemed like a good choice. I haven't credited the original site because there are so many versions of this out there, I have no idea where it came from originally. Several people who posted on it mentioned the importance of squeezing the water out of the cauliflower really well...listen to them. I may not have squeezed adequately and so the centre didn't get crispy like the edges, needed more time to brown and firm up, but as the edges were already brown I didn't want to cook too much longer so I ended up with a pale undercrust. Next time I will squeeze more and remember to heat up pan or stone before placing the crust on it, and get that gorgeous golden crust all over. Was it the same as wheat-crust pizza? Well it was less different than expected. Was it as good as wheat-crust pizza? Hmm I didn't think it would be, of course not, but you know what? It is equally delicious! And because of it's healthiness, even better. The kind of better that makes your mouth AND body happy. 

So here it is, without further adieu, my take on the popular cauliflower-crust pizza! Welcome to Yummyland, CCP! 

1 small head cauliflower (about 500g)
¼ cup parmesan cheese
¼ cup mozzarella cheese
¼ tsp sea salt
½ tsp Italian herbs
½ tsp garlic powder
1 egg

Place a pizza stone in the oven, or baking sheet if you don’t have a pizza stone. Preheat oven to 450ºF. On a cutting board, place a large piece of parchment paper and spray it with olive oil (Mr. Misto is a great oil spray jar, get two and use one for olive oil and one for canola or other vegetable oil wih a higher smoke point and you will be set!).

Wash and dry a small head of cauliflower. Cut into florets. Pulse in your food processor for about 30 seconds, until you get powdery snow like cauliflower. You should end up with 2 to 3 cups cauliflower “snow”. Place the cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl, cover and cook on high for 8 minutes OR steam in a steamer pot on the stove top, whichever you prefer. Dump cooked cauliflower onto a clean tea towel and allow to cool for a bit before attempting the next step.

Once cauliflower is cool enough to handle, wrap it up in the dish towel and wring the heck out of it. This is the exact instruction from three or four different recipes....and it's maybe the most important step. You want to squeeze out as much water as possible. This will ensure you get a chewy pizza like crust instead of a soggy crumbly mess. So squeeze and squeeze and then when you are pretty sure your hands can't take any more squeezing, tag off and get someone else to squeeze some more. 

Dumped squeezed cauliflower into a bowl. Now add Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, sea salt, dried herbs, garlic powder, and a dash of red pepper if you want. Mixy mix, form into ball. 

Now the fun part. Use your hands to form the dough into a crust on your oiled parchment paper. Pat it down thoroughly, you want it well-compressed and smooth around the edges and a nice thin-crust thickness. 

Using a cutting board, slide the parchment paper onto your hot pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 8-11 minutes, until it starts to turn golden brown. Remove from oven.

Spread with a simple pizza sauce (see below), cheeses, and whatever toppings you like, just not too much or your crust will get too weighed-down. Slide parchment with topped pizza back in the hot oven and cook for another 7 to 10 minutes until the cheese is melted, bubbly, and slightly golden.

Cool for a few minutes before cutting, then behold your delicious grain-free cauliflower crust pizza! Cut and serve wit ha big ole salad. This was such a great dinner, and not even a treat dinner, just a regular everyday healthy dinner! Who knew. Cauliflower is my new favourite thing. Remind to tell you about cauliflower rice sometime soon!

Nutritional info: for 1/3 of the crust recipe above, there are 136 calories, 6g fat, 13g protein, 8g carbs (woot!), 3g fibre, and 450mg sodium. The toppings are up to you!

Simple Pizza Sauce: 
1/3 small can tomato paste, 2-3Tbsp water, 1/2 tsp dried Italian herbs, 1/8 tsp cayenne, dash of salt and pepper. Combine in bowl, should be thick but not pasty, but good a spreadable. I find this sauce is great for pizza as it has lower moisture content (you can control that) and so does not make the crust soggy, especially important with this one. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Split Pea and Barley Soup

I guess fall is on it's way, as today was a bit chilly and seemed like a Soup Day. Yay I love soup! We love split pea with ham around here, but with that being a three-day process (well the proper way!) and with the girl being a vegetarian, I decided to do a split pea with lots of veggies and some barley for good measure. It was warm and comforting and pretty delish, but we did miss the ham :).

If you are looking for a vegetarian version though, this one rocks! The barley makes it extra-hearty.

Note: This recipe is super-simple and easy...but if you decide "hey I want to make pea soup for dinner" at 6:20 pm, expect to be eating dinner at about 9. Yikes. And don't try to rush it, crunchy split peas are all kinds of yuck.

Split Pea and Barley Soup

1 cup chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried marjoram
1L vegetable stock (or chicken if you are not fussed about vegetarian-ness)
3L water
1 cup barley
1 cup yellow split peas
1 cup green split peas
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 cups diced potato
2 cups chopped carrots

In a big ole soup pot on medium heat, saute onion and celery in the olive oil until onion is translucent, about 15 min. Add dried herbs and saute one minute longer. Add stock and water, barley, and split peas. Bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add potato, simmer 30 min longer. Add carrots, simmer 20 min longer. Add pepper and taste; add salt if needed (will depend on how much salt is in your vegetable stock). I like to add "better than boullion" instead of salt, as is my general habit. It adds tastiness and saltiness at the same time, so you end up needing less saltiness than you thought :). Add sparingly though, just a teaspoon will probably do the job!

And now to pack up all the remaining soup for lunches. Man I love soup lunches.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Chocolate Quinoa Cake

Chocolicious Quinoa Cake {gluten-free}
Adapted from Oh She Glows

 This recipe has so many great features – chock full of quinoa, gluten free, real whole ingredients – and seems pretty darn easy at first glance. Cook quinoa. Blend quinoa with some other stuff. Add to some sifted dry ingredients and mix. Bake. Easy peasy right? Well it is easy, but this recipe is one finicky lady. The tendency is to become a dense fudgey brownie-like brick. Not bad, but not really the intention; you should get a fluffy yet moist deeply chocolaty not-too-sweet cake. Here’s how!

2 cups COOKED quinoa*
1/3 cup almond milk or hemp milk or whatever milk you like
4 large eggs (cage-free of course, otherwise you can taste the misery)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup melted butter (or vegan margarine, if you want it vegan/ dairy-free)
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1 cup organic raw cane sugar
1 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1.5 tsp baking powder (or 2 tsp if your powder is more than 2 months old)
1/2 teaspoon salt

 1.Preheat the oven to 350°F and then line two 8” round cake pans or one large (14”) round springform pan with parchment paper.
 2.In a food processor or blender, combine the eggs, milk, melted butter and oil, and vanilla extract then blend for ten seconds to combine.
 3.Add the 2C cooked and cooled quinoa then blend the heck out of it until completely smooth, about three minutes (or three periods of one minute to let blender engine cool down in between).
 4.Sift together the dry ingredients in a large bowl (cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt).
 5.Add the wet ingredients** in the blender to the bowl with the dry and mix together until very well-combined.
 6.Spread into pans and bake for 37 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Larger pan will likely take a bit longer, depending on your oven; mine in convection and still takes 37 minutes. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool.

For mini-cupcakes, bake 13 minutes.
For regular cupcakes, bake 15 minutes.
For smallish cakes, bake 18 minutes.

 Secrets to Awesomeness

 *Cooking the quinoa: approximately 3/4 cup dry quinoa will yield 2 cups cooked quinoa. I like to make a double batch: 1.5C quinoa and 3C water. Bring to boil, cover, and reduce heat to low so that it’s barely simmering at all, like for rice, for 35 minutes. Check towards the last 10 min to make sure it’s not getting crunchy on bottom, add a bit more water if bone dry but not too much. You want the quinoa fully soft, not at all crunchy, but dry at the end. Dry is important. Then measure out two cups of the cooked quinoa for the recipe and use the rest for a pilaf or something. I don’t know why but making a bigger batch helps it get drier and fluffier.

 **When extracting the quinoa mix from the blender, do not be tempted to add more liquid to make the task easier or to make the batter more like what you expect from a cake batter. It’s not. The batter is thick and uncooperative, you just have to show it who’s boss. Use a rubber spatula to remove from blender (watch out for blade!!) and use plenty of muscle when mixing into the dry ingredients. The batter should be very thick and you have to spread it in the cake pans rather than pour. It seems wrong but trust me it’s right! Oh She Glows also has a coconut milk-chocolate frosting to go with the cake. I cautiously recommend it…it’s heavenly when it turns out right and only has two ingredients (1 can coconut cream solids and 1 pkg (280g) semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips, melted then cooled) but the chances of it turning out right are actually pretty slim. The coconut milk has to be the exact right kind – it has to be chilled to 4 degrees, the solids must completely separate from the liquids, the chocolate must be melted but no longer warm, you must beat on med-high  and watch carefully for it to change, and the stars must align exactly right in order to achieve a fluffy yummy frosting rather than liquidy goop or worse. You may want a nice reliable buttercream. What, you say? You don’t know of a nice reliable chocolate buttercream icing recipe?? Guess what, it’s butter and cream and icing sugar. Ok a couple other things too.

 Nice Reliable Chocolate Buttercream Frosting: this one from Kitchen Magpie rocks. 

Add I confess. I lifted this pic from another blog , as it's uncannily similar to how this cake looks, and I don't have a pic myself yet. Kudos to Playing with Flour for a gorgeous cake. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Peppered Pears

If you are looking for an appie for the holidays, maybe something light and refreshing to precede a big holiday meal, this is a surprisingly delicious option. The idea was related to me by the head honcho at my work, I thought it sounded interesting and it was the perfect simple and light appie I was looking for.

You can see on the plate that I served the pears with some prosciutto and cheese (Irish cheddar)on separate skewers. It was widely agreed that the best combination was all three together, pears prosciutto and cheese living in sweet harmony in one bite, so next time I will skewer accordingly.

Peppered Pears
freshly cracked black pepper

Peel/ core pears and cut into bite-size chunks. Squeeze fresh lime juice all over them, covering thoroughly.Sprinkle pepper over all sides and pile on a serving plate. Skewer with toothpicks.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Amaretti Cookies and Cranberry-Pistachio Bark

More Christmas baking, and still more to much for cutting back this year! Every year my mom and my sisters and I bake a bunch of cookies/treats and then do a cookie exchange, making up trays of delectable treats for friends, family and coworkers. This year I resolved to only bake two kinds, but that hasn't worked out for me. I just had to make these cute amaretti cookies from Alive magazine, not only are they made from healthy ingredients but they are also gluten-free, perfect for my mom (we try to make all our xmas baking gluten free so that they can all intermingle without concern). They turned out just like the picture in the magazine, and SO yummy!

The bark is, of course, a Christmas no-brainer. Cranberries, good...pistachios, good...chocolate, definately good! Yup these qualify as all good. And I must get it out of my house before there is none left for our cookie trays. I used craisins and pistachios for both kinds, both dark and white chocolate, but you could use any kind of dried fruit and nuts...cashews and flame raisins would have been nice in the dark chocolate. Next time!

Amaretti Cookies
from Alive magazine

1 3/4 cups almond meal
1/2 cup natural brown sugar
1/4 tsp almond extract
zest of 1/2 lemon, grated finely
2 large egg whites
1/3 cup sorghum flour
1/3 cup natural brown sugar
30 whole almonds (15 blanched and 15 natural)

Combine almond meal, 1/2 cup brown sugar, almond extract, and lemon zest in food processor until smooth (I just did it old-school with a wooden spoon). Refrigerate for one hour. Add egg whites and sorghum flour, combining well; dough will be soft and sticky. Scoop out a teaspoonful and roll between damp palms and then drop into a small bowl containing 1/3 cup natural brown sugar. Gently roll around in sugar, shake off excess. Place on a baking sheet lines with parchment paper and press one whole almond in the centre. Repeat with remaining dough, placing balls 1 inch apart.Bake in a 325F oven for 18 minutes or until golden. Remove to a rack and cool. Sotre in a sealed container at room temperature for up to a week, or freeze them.

Makes 30. The original recipe says 40, but they lie.

Cranberry-Pistachio Bark
This doesn't really qualify as a recipe, it's really just a cheat but man it's yummy and is always a favourite on the cookie tray. Just melt down a block of good chocolate that you've chopped into bits (I did two kinds, Callebaut dark and white). Stir in a good handful of craisins and another of pistachios, you should have about the same amount of nuts/fruit as chocolate. Pour it all onto a cookie sheet lined with wax or parchment paper, spreading it in a thin layer. Stick that in the freezer until it firms up, then take it out and peel it up off the paper. Break it into jagged peices. Done! And no one has to know how easy it was ;).

OPTIONAL: Just to be fancy, I decorated each kind with the alternate colour of chocolate. Reserve a couple of spoonfuls of chocolate after it's melted and before you add the fruit and nuts, then after you've spread the mixture out on the tray, just heap some melted chocolate on a spoon and wave it over the tray so that it drips in fine lines.I know I know, it's all very high-tech.