Apple and Molasses Cake

Apple and Molasses Gluten Free Cake

Cake 1

If you’re a usual reader, you know I love fruit cakes, specially candied fruit. My favorite cake is the portuguese bolo-rei, so you know my peculiar taste.

I’m that guy that never enjoyed fast-food. Believe it or not, I’m sure I could use my 20 fingers to count how many times I had food on a McDonald’s. And from those 20 times, I could probably use my 10 hand fingers to count how many times I had burgers. I used to be that guy who orders a McFlurry or an apple pie, just to join the others.

Tarte Tatin

I love apple pies. Well, any time of apple cake, actually. But it was just after joining the hostelry and cooking school that I realized how crappy the McDoanld’s apple pies were. There’s nothing better than a homemade apple cake. Specially tarte tatin with crunchy puff pastry. Even if tarte tatin is a stupid name. Just like any other french name.

When I would go have dinner at some friends place, I would make apple or banana tarte tatin for dessert. Everybody would love it and be super impressed with my baking skills, but, in fact, I would just caramelize some pieces of apple or banana. Puff pastry and ice cream would be store bought. Do you really think I would waste my time baking pastry and making ice cream for a bunch of drunk people? Now that I think about it, that’s actually what is all about being a professional chef.

I am an idiot

I started my first chef internship at the bakery of Pestana Palace, Lisbon.

At Pestana, we used to use these huge convection ovens, that you could fit some sort of car in to carry the trays. It was the first time I saw that in my life. On my first trainee day, I was in a dead angle, and I crossed with a girl carrying one of these cars. So, as the gentleman I am, I helped a turning the car. What I didn’t know was that that car had just came out of the oven. I burnt both hands.

At Pestana Palace, the pool was the old lake of the palace and, for that reason, people use to call the Lake House to the pool bar. Every morning we would serve a different cake at the Lake House. In a certain morning, I got the task of baking an apple pie to serve there. When the pie was ready and nicely packed, I took to the Lake House. On my way there, I slipped and fell in the middle of the floor. Me and the apple pie.

And this was my first week as a trainee.

Ingredients:

Dry:

1/2 Cup of Buckwheat Flour
1/2 Cup of Almond Flour
3/4 Cup of Oatmeal Flour
1/4 Cup of Potato Starch
1 TSP of Baking Powder
1 TSP of Baking Soda
1/4 TSP of Salt
1/4 Cup of Raw Brown or Coconut Sugar
1 TBSP of Cinnamon
1 TBSP of Chia Seeds
2 TBSP of Grounded Flaxseeds
Pinch of grounded nutmeg, cardamom, ginger and cloves

Wet:

10 Dates
2 TBSP of Coconut Oil
1 TPS of Lemon Juice
1/2 Cup of Applesauce
1/2 Cup of Vegetable Milk
1 ou 2 TBSP of Blackstrap Molasses

Cake 2

Instructions:

  • If you don’t have almond or oatmeal flour, you can just make your own on the coffee grinder or food processor;
    • If you grind the almonds too much, you’ll get almond butter instead of flour;

Cake 2

  • Since you’re making such a great job using the grinder (I know you also use to grind weed sometimes, but I won’t tell), just grind your brown sugar;
    • Yes, I kid you not – grind the brown sugar until it becomes like powdered sugar;
    • Make sure to use raw sugar, not the soggy brown sugar;

Cake 3

  • In a big bowl, mix all the dry ingredients, except the chia and flaxseeds;

Cake 4

  • Rinse the apple (yes, you’re supposed to rinse your food before you eat it) and cut it in four pieces;
    • Dice 3/4 of it;
    • Slice the remaining 1/4 for decoration;

Cake 5

  • Pit the dates;
    • If you’re using less juicy dates, I would recommend you to soak them in water for a couple hours;
  • Mash the dates with a fork;
  • Add in the ramaining wet ingredients and also the chia and flaxseed;
    • It is a good ideia to melt the coconut oil in the microwave before adding in;

cake 6

  • Mix it well;

cake 7

  • Fold in the diced apple;

cake 8

  • Sieve the flour using a… a sieve…;
  • Keep adding in the flour, a little at a time;
  • Pour the content of the bowl into a bread tin;
    • I recommend using a silicone tin, as it doesn’t require using fat;
    • If you’re using a metal or disposable tin, I recommend greasing it with some coconut oil and dusting it with some flour;
  • Top the cake with blackstrap molasses and sliced apple;

cake 9

  • Bake it in the oven on 180ºC, for about 1 hour;
  • Allow the cake to competely cool down before removing it from the tin and slicing it;
  • The feast is on;

cake 10

cake 11

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cake 12

Caloric Breakdown:

(1 Service = 1/15 of the recipe)

Blue – 56% Carbs

Red – 36% Fat

Green – 8% Protein

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Soy Milk

Soy Milk

“If I could spend the rest of my life with my people, I would do it over and over again.”

 

It was school day and I would wake up quite early in the morning. I’ve always been a mornings person, I would never wake up in a bad mood. Mom would help me dressing and prepare my breakfast while I brush my teeth. Normally I would have some toasts with a glass of chocolate milk or breakfast cereal with milk.

After that, mom would walk me to school and drop me there. Her job was just on the other side of the street.

Nasal Noises

On my way to school I would feel my belly bloated, I would feel sick and nauseated. I would make weird noises with my nose, like trying to relieve some pressure through the nose. I don’t know how to explain this and don’t even why, but I would feel a bit relieved by doing that. Even nowadays I would do the same.

“Those weird noises again? What now?” – Mom would scold me. Because this was not a single or sporadic episode, no, this struggle would repeat nearly every day.

Mom used to think that my morning sickness was dued to nervousness for going to school. And so did I, but I could never understand why. I actually used to enjoy going to school.

Calf

While growing I started hating having breakfast.

It was not until I was 17 or 18 when I realized that the problem was not the breakfast, but what I would have for breakfast.

I was asthmatic for many years and I was submited to a gazillion allergy tests, from cutaneous to blood testing. As far as I know, I don’t have allergies to any food, medicine or animal. The only allergy I’ve always had is to house dust mites. But the truth is that I found out that it was the milk that was ruining my mornings.

I can say I have lactose intolerance… or maybe I’m just not a calf.

Ingredients:
1 liter of Milk

1 Cup of Soy Beans (dried)
5 Cups of Water (plus some more to soak, boil and rinse)
1 TSP of Vanilla Powder (optional)
Maple or date Syrup, agave or any other sweetner of your choice (optional)

Instructions:

  • Rinse your beans;
  • Soak them in cold water for about 8-12 hours;
  • Drain the water;
  • Cook your beans in high heat;
    • Let it boil for about 10 minutes or until they’re soft and cooked;
    • The amount of water used to cook them is not important… though they should be at least covered in liquid… I think;
  • Drain the water and throw the beans in the blender;
  • Add in 5 cups of cold water;
  • Zzzzzzzttttttt;

soy 1

  • Do not blend it too much or it will be harder to filter;
    • Too much means that you don’t want to make a capuccino in your blender;
  • Use a cheese cloth or something similar to filter the milk;
    • Do not squeeze or twist the cloth too much or you’ll probably end up ripping it appart and you’ll make a mess;
    • This process requires some patience;
  • Keep the pulp that remains in the cloth;
    • This pulp is known as okara in Japan and can be used to prepare many recipes;
    • Google for recipes with okara, you will find a lot of things;
    • You can store your okara for about 3 or 4 days in the fridge or for over a month in the freezer;

soy 2

  • Pour the filtered milk into a sauce pan;
  • Cook the milk one more time, for 10-15 minutes on medium heat;
    • The soy milk has the tedency to form a thin skin on the top, just like that disgusting skin when you bring whole cow’s milk to boil;
      • This soy skin is known as yuba and sold fresh or dried and used in many different recipes in China, Japan, Korea and other asian countries;
    • If you don’t want to store your yuba to use later, you can just remove it or simply mix it again in the milk. Contrary to ordinary cow’s milk, this one dissolves!;

soy 3

  • When your milk is ready, taste it and check if you want to add in some vanilla or sweetners;
  • Allow the milk to cool down before storing it in a closed jar;
  • Fresh soy milk can be kept in the fridge for 3-5 days;

soy 4

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soy 5soy 6

Caloric Breakdown:

(1 Cup)

Blue = 23% Carbs

Red = 43% Fat

Green = 34% Protein

Note:

  • These values are for plain soy milk, with no sweetners added;
  • If you add sweetners like maple syrup, agave or others to it, remember that you’re also adding some more calories;

 

Thai Chickpea and Pumpkin Curry

 

Thai Pumpkin and Chickpea Curry

But isn’t curry Indian?

Curry or kari is the name given to the mix of spices that are the base to the dish with the same name. This mix can vary a lot from country to country and culture to culture.

In India it is common to use dried spices to make the curry spice mix, In some cultures, it’s even tradition each family having their own curry mix. The ingredients more often used are turmeric (which have nothing to do with saffron, by the way), curry leaves (murraya koenigii), cardammom, coriander seeds, ginger, cummin, cloves and cinnamon, all dried. This spices are normally grounded and mixed in ammounts that may vary a lot from recipe to recipe. Cayenne pepper, jamaican pepper and other hot pepper varieties are also normally used, depending on how hot is the curry recipe supposed to be.

In Thailand the curry is normally made with fresh ingredients. Different kinds of fresh hot peppers, galangal, ginger, garlic, shallots, kaffir lime leaves, coriander roots and sometimes even shrimp paste. These ingredients are normally mashed by hand in a mortar, until it becomes a thick paste.

Spitting Fire

I remember the first time I made thai curry. Until then, I was solely used to the indian curry spices parfume.

Don’t get me wrong, Indian curry can be extremely hot sometimes, but most likely will be kind of harmonious and sweet, full of fragrancy and spicy tastes.

Thai curry is different beast. Due to it’s fresh ingredients paste, it tends to be very powerful and sometimes will punch you the face like a motherf*cker.

Somewhere in a faraway summer, I worked with my friend João in a beach shack. Every sunday we used to have thai chicken curry with roasted peanuts. By that time, I was quite young, and I used to think that super hot food was for real machos.

The first time I made thai curry for my friends, me and Diogo end the up the dinner wearing nothing but boxers, the girls didn’t go further than the first bite and my friend Midário made me cook some chicken breasts for him.

The first time I made thai curry for my family, not even my father could eat. And he enjoys his piri piri sauce. The next day I took the rest of the food to my uncle’s coffee, in the Island where I’m from, and none of my father’s tough bearded friends could touch it.

Nowadays I like my food much less hot. Even Joana enjoys hotter food than me. In my opinion, when the food is too hot, you just miss all the other flavors. But I understand that in some cultures people are used to eat food so hot that they developed a higher endurance and addiction to it.

Today’s recipe is harmoniously balanced between fresh, hot and sweet. If you like spitting fire, you can always add more hot chilli peppers to it.

Ingredients:

1 Red Onion
3 Garlic Cloves
1 Red Hot Chilli Pepper
2 Cm of Ginger
1 Lemongrass stick
4 or 5 Kaffir Lime Leaves
1 Bunch of Coriander (with roots)
800 gr. of Pumpkin
450 gr. of Broccoli (clean)
2 Cups of cooked Chickpeas
1 TSP of Grounded Cummin
2 TBSP of Mustard Seeds
1 TBSP of Grounded Coriander Seeds
1 TSP of Coconut Oil
1,5 TBSP of Brown Sugar
250 ml. of Coconut Milk
3 Cups of Vegetable Stock (or water)
Tamari or Shoyu

Instructions:

  • Chop the garlic, onion, ginger and chilli peppers;
  • Chop the coriander and set aside;
    • If your corianders have roots, chop the roots and keep separate;
  • If you own a mortar, you could always mash the chopped garlic, onion, ginger, chilli peppers and coriander roots into a paste;
  • Dice the pumpkin;
    • If you’re using hokaido pumpkin, leave the skin on;
  • Prepare the broccoli;
    • By preparing I mean cutting the stem off and separating the florets in small pieces;
  • In a hot pot, fry the garlic and mustard seeds with the coconut oil;
  • When the garlic is starting to look golden, add in the onion, ginger, chilli peppers and chopped coriander roots;
  • Let it fry, always stiring, until the onion is nice and tender;
  • Add in the brown sugar and let it fry a bit more;

curry 1

  • Add in the vegetable stock, diced pumpkin, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, cummin and coriander seeds;
  • Let it cook covered for a while, until the pumpkin starts to get softer;
  • When you notice the pumpkin is just a few minutes away from being ready, add in the broccoli, cooked chickpeas and coconut milk;
  • Let it cook until the broccoli are tender;

curry 2

  • Season with tamari or shoyu to taste;
  • Serve it with the chopped coriander and yasmin rice, brown or white;

curry 3

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curry 4 curry 5

Caloric Breakdown:

(1 Service = 1/4 of the Recipe)

Blue – 57% Carbs

Red – 32% Fat

Green – 11% Protein

Note:

  1. The sodium ammounts will vary a lot depending on the vegetable stock (it may contain salt or not) and the shoyu/tamari you’re using;
  2. These values are for one service of this recipe, with no rice;
  3. This recipe is quite caloric and high in fat, due to the coconut milk. This isn’t something I would recommend for someone looking to lose weight;

 

Tzatziki

Tzatziki – Cooking 101 #5

Tzatziki. A spectacular name for shredded cocumber with yogurt. It even sounds that you really know how to cook when you present such food – “Do you wanna come over for dinner? I’ll make my tzatziki, it will blow your mind!”. Yes. Except, that it’s just shredded cucumber with yogurt.

Man, tzatziki even sounds like some sort of legendary sword from the Ottoman Empire. Something like – “Bahadir, son of Behram, raising the mythical blade, Tzatziki, made all the caliphate tremble.”. Except, that it’s just shredded cucumber with yogurt.

Jokes apart, I actually like tzatziki, a lot. It goes along very well with many recipes and it is a great dip for bread.

Cucumber it’s kind of a boring ingredient for most people. And I must agree. I’m also not a big fan of cucumber in it’s purest form, but it is a very versatile ingredient. It is quite tasty in oriental stir-fries or pickled, for example. And, besides that, it is the star of our recipe, today. And it’s not everyday that you can call tzatziki to something.

Tzatziki 1

Ingredients:

2 Cucumbers
200 gr. Vegetable Sour Cream or Yogurt (unsweetned of course
1 Garlic Clove
Lemon Juice
Salt
Black Pepper
Chopped Dill
Chopped Spearmint

Instructions:

  • Peel and shred the cucumber;
  • Squeeze the water out of it;
    • Press the shredded cucumber against a fine drainer or use a cheese cloth;
  • Chop the garlic, spearmint and dill;
  • Add in the cucumber, sour cream, garlic, spearmint and dill to a bowl and season it with salt, black pepper and lemon juice;
    • Remember to taste it and check if it needs more seasoning;
  • Serve it with bread, hummus, falafel, salad, what ever you may fancy;

Tzatziki 2

Tzatziki 3

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Tzatziki 4

Caloric Breakdown:

(1 service is about 100 gr.)

Blue – 29% Carbs

Red – 66% Fat

Green – 5% Protein

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Miso Soup

 

Miso Soup with Shiitake Mushrooms and Edamame

I spent many, many nights of my childhood/youth in chinese restaurants. Actually, in a certain chinese restaurant named Dragão Dourado (Golden Dragon), to be more precise. But these are stories for another post – maybe one about chinese food. Because, to be very honest, man, when I was a kid, I didn’t even knew the difference between japanese, chinese or korean food.

Goku

Naruto

I knew Goku was japanese, I mean… I think I knew. I don’t know. I don’t remember spending much time thinking about that when I was a kid. But I know I became more interested in japanese culture when I started watching Naruto. By that time I was on my sweet sixteen, maybe seventeen. Also by that time, was when ADSL became avaiable on the portuguese market, something that culturally speaking opened many doors. Yes young people, before the rise of the broadband internet, people like me would have to watch anime on TV. And I didn’t even had cable, so it was that or buying DivX piracy. And when I needed to educate myself about something, I would have to use the computers in the library or proceed to that archaic method called reading a book.

The first japanese food I tried was, obviously, sushi. I paid good money for it. By that time there was no all-you-can-eat sushi restaurants and it was not as popular as nowadays. At least not in Portugal. But, speaking the truth, cheap or expensive, sushi has always tasted the same to me – like soy and wasabi. Even though I was a fan. I was also a fan of gyoza, ramen, teriyaki chicken, mochi, miso, amongst other things.

Japanese Food

I know that vegetarian sushi is one of those recipes everybody is looking for when reading a cooking blog. And I will publish it one day, believe me, but I just don’t find my recipe that different from anything else you could find in any other blog. And, to be very honest with you, I am no sushi master. I like doing it at home sometimes, but I never worked with it on a professional level.

There are many interesting japanese recipes to share. Many of them, like mochi, gyoza or even almost every sushi variety, demand great technical skills and lots of hours of practice. That is why I chose to share something incredibly easy but nonetheless tasty – miso soup.

Miso

Miso is a traditional japanese paste obtained through the fermentation of soybeans with salt and koji (some fungus variety). It is also possible to find varieties made from fermented barley or brown rice. In Japan cuisine this paste is used to season meat, fish, prepare sauces, fillings or even soups. Like almost every oriental fermented food, it is quite salty, so you may take it easy on your salt intake when cooking with miso. On the other hand, this paste is super rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins and probiotics. A true spectacle to the gut, I would say.

Ingredients:
For 2 Pax

6 Cups of Water
1 TSP of Veggie Stock powder
1 TBSP of Mustard
2 Kaffir Lime Leaves
Lemongrass stick
1 Piece of Ginger
2 TBSP of Miso
50 gr. of Dried Shiitake Mushrooms
400 gr. of Edamame (just the beans without the pod)
1 Red Bell Pepper
140 gr. of canned Water Chestnuts (or bamboo shoots)
150 gr. of Soba Noodles
Handful of Cashews (and/or sunflower seeds)
Fresh Basil
Soy sauce (to taste)

Instructions:

  • Soak the shiitake mushrooms in 6 cups of warm water for about half an hour;
  • When the mushrooms are soft and easy to cut, well… cut them in quarters or something;
Miso 1

Shiitake

  • Pour the soaking water in a large pot;
  • Peel the ginger and chop it roughly;
  • Add in the mushrooms, ginger, mustard, veggie stock powder, kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass to the water and let it boil;
  • Add in the water chestnuts and let it cook covered in low heat until the mushrooms are soft and tender;
Miso 2

Base

  • In the meanwhile, cook your noodles in boiling water with a pinch of salt you desire so;
  • Sauté the cashews and sunflower seeds on a hot a pan;
    • Be careful – nuts and seeds tend to burn very quickly:
  • Cut the bell pepper in thin slices;
  • Chop the basil;
    • Leave some leaves for decoration if you’re really inspired;
  • Finally add in the edamame to the rest of the ingredients in the pot and let it boil one last time;
    • The reason for this is because such a large amount of beans will certainly lower the water temperature, specially if you’re directly throwing in frozen edamame;
Miso 3

Soup e Soba

  • At last, remove the pot from the heat and add in the miso;
    • I always use a small and fine sieve to dissolve the paste directly in the pot; If you don’t own one, I would recommend dissolving the paste in a small bowl with a bit of warm water and just then adding it to the pot;
    • Like I reffered before, miso is a fermented food rich in probiotics that will help boosting your immune system and gut flora. For this reason we are adding the paste just at last, as the boiling hot water tends to kill most of its good bacteria;
Miso 4

Miso paste

  • Serve the soup with the noodles, chopped basil and cashews;
  • Season with some soy sauce if you desire so;
    • If you’re like me and you like hot and spicy food, give it some sriracha on the top 🙂
Miso 5

Miso Soup

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Miso Nutrition

Nutrition Facts

Caloric Breakdown:

Blue – 48% Carbs

Red – 33% Fat

Green – 19% Protein

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Note: These values are for half the recipe.