Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Vanilla Cake...Let Me Count The Ways

This weekend a few people from RFC decided to make the White Chocolate Orange Cake from my book Just Desserts, for Project Raw. Since it's been ages since I've made this cake, and since we had out-of-town company, I thought it would be fun to jump on board!

I went for a bit of a different look this time, using a regular bread pan, lined with parchment paper, in place of the round spingform pan. I thought this was a fun look - I love seeing all the layers of each slice. I thought about garnishing with orange segments, but it just didn't happen as we were too eager to dive in, so it just got dusted with cacao powder.

If you've got Just Desserts, and you enjoy chocolate and orange together, give this recipe a try! I'm really not sure why I don't make it more often, like Carmi (it's her fave and she makes it about every few weeks!) I also have a similar version in the book, exchanging the orange cream for a strawberry one. It's great too, but I prefer it during the summer when strawberries are in season.

I also like using the cake from this recipe, to make other things. For example, you might remember the cupcake kick I went on a while back, where I used this vanilla cake as a base for the non-chocolate cupcakes. Mmm, I've got to make some of those again soon, they're so much fun!

Ok, so another recent project was jelly rolls! Actually, I always thought they were gross - ya know, the cooked cardboard cake kind. But I got inspiration from who-knows-where to make a raw version, hehe. Using my vanilla cake, I rolled up whipped cream, and berries for a deliciously moist roll. Yumm! These are seriously delicious!

Jelly Berry Roll

-1 Recipe vanilla cake
-1 Recipe raw whipped cream of choice
-1 large rectangle of banana leather
(pureed banana, dehydrated)
-Berries of choice, lightly mashed

-Spread the cake (as thick as you prefer) on the banana leather.
-Spread the chilled whipped cream evenly on top.
-Now spread the berries over the cream. Avoid spreading them all the way to far edge, or they'll squish out as you're rolling.
-Gently begin rolling (just like nori rolls), using enough pressure to keep a tight roll.
-Chill the roll for a few hours to firm the whole thing and soften the banana slightly so that it can be sliced.
-Now time to eat!

Here are a few ways with vanilla cake...what ideas do you have?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Happy Valentines!

...Or should I say Happy Belated Valentines? In any event, I hope yours was a great one, spent with that special someone(s) in your life.

I was very fortunate to get a double V-day whammy! On Friday night, Darwin and I headed an hour away to get the festivities started with good friends, Marcy and Andy. It was fondue time! Yee Haw! I brought a raw caesar salad, and we made a cheese fondue complete with all kinds of dipping items. I considered bringing cheddar cheese dip for myself, but decided to just go with the salad and "extra" dessert ...hehehe
Here's my Caesar Dressing, created quite some time ago, but it's still my fave - there's often a jar of it in my fridge! I don't often like black pepper in my food, but in this case, I think it helps to "make" it! :)

2 medium avocados
½ c cashews
½ c water
¼ c lemon juice
¼ c olive oil
2.5 tbs acv
2 tbs nutritional yeast
1-2 tsp sea salt
1-2 tsp black pepper
2 medium cloves garlic
1 large date

Blend all ingredients until smooth, starting with the lower amount of salt and pepper. Taste, and reseason if needed.
Parmesan Cheese
½ cup brazil nuts
½ cup cashews
1 tsp nutritional yeast
1 small clove garlic, minced
¼- ½ tsp sea salt

Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until almost ground and crumbly. I keep a jar of this stuff on hand in the freezer for easy access.

Now what would Valentines be without chocolate? I made raw chocolate fondue, and served it with: bananas, strawberries, oranges, dates, walnuts, almonds, and my raw chocolate chip cookies. Yum yum, it was fun and messy - love it!

The fondue was made out of: cacao powder, cacao butter, agave, vanilla bean, and thick cashew milk. The bananas and oranges were definately my favourite....Mmmm, just thinking about it makes me salivate, LOL.

I got the gang to sit pretty for this pic while they enjoyed choccie goodness :)

On Real Vday, I was showered with the basket of flowers (above) from my hunny :) He knows exactly the colours I like. We had a wonderfully quiet day together - MORE caesar salad for dinner with baked spaghetti squash and raw tomato sauce...and chocolate/fruit for dessert. Couldn't have asked for anything more! How did YOU spend your Valentines Day?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Lemon Berry Cheesecake

I'm proud to say that I've got yet another Cafe Gratitude dessert under my belt. Carmi and I sure put a dent in the list (and some things I've made a few times), but let me tell you, I've still got quite the number of things to make from Sweet Gratitude....Chocolate Mint Cheesecake, Cherry Pie, Hazelnut Amaretto Cups, Strawberry Brilliance Pie, Coffee Cake, White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake, Aloha Cake...Ummm, okay, I think I'm getting a little carried away here...Anywho, while it wasn't something that caught my eye in a serious way, I've noticed the Lemon Cheesecake recipe for a while, especially since it's in both books. Perhaps due to the fact that I was just in the tropics, I wanted to make something light, quick, and easy - something other than chocolate for a change! I decided to do a little revamp though...To switch up the presentation, I turned part of the recipe into an 8" cake, and the rest into mini cheesecakes for a party. Mixed berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspebrries, blackberries) topped it off for a Lemon Berry Cheesecake. If you like lemon - or berries, this would be the cake for you!
I made a very simple crust with almonds and dates. The filling ingredients are (sorry, I can't give the recipe, but I know most of you have the book already ;): cashews, almond mylk, lemon juice, agave, liquid vanilla, lecithin, coconut oil....and I added some lemon zest for added "oomph!". The topping was simple mixed berries, mashed up in the blender (keeping some texture), with a bit of lemon juice (just enough to bring out the flavours), and agave. Voila, easy peasy lemon squeezey!

So if you have Sweet Gratitude, pull it out and give one of their desserts a try - you'll be glad you did!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Adventures in Cuba

I've recently returned from the most wonderful vacation in the south seas. Darwin and I (along with 84 other people) went down for our friends' wedding in Cuba - what a place to get married, it was absolutely beautiful!

We went from -30C (-22F) to almost +30C (86F). How's what for temperature difference?! Outta long underwear and into shorts...ah, heaven. It wasn't quite as hot as I thought it would be though. By the end of the week the weather took enough of a "chilly" spell that I wore a long sleeved shirt on the beach. I complained a bit, LOL, but reeeaaallly, anything is better than -30!
Unfortunately, the country was hit a few months ago with a rough hurricane that wiped out a lot of fruit/veggie crops, meaning a limited supply for the resorts (who get first priority for these things). Consequently, papaya (my favourite!) was only served for the first 2 days of my trip, and lettuce, which is my daily staple, was NOT served every day. I was super bummed, however, I did get plenty of fresh organic (apparently they don't spray down there)ripe fruit every day - watermelon, baby bananas, oranges, grapefruit, pineapple, cucumber, and tomatoes .

Laura and Matt's "Big Day", was perfect, complete with hot temperatures and blue skies overhead on the sunny beach. Laura arrived via horse and carriage looking absolutely gorgeous!

The groomsmen looking dapper in their shorts and ties. My hunny is second from the right :)

The bridesmaids (notice the one male bridesmaid on the far left, hehe).
Finally, the happy married couple, yay!!!

Me and Laney, waiting for the wedding to start!

The highlight of this trip (besides the wedding, of course), was the day we visited a local Cuban's home. When Darwin and I went biking with our friends Elana and Rob, I had to stop when we passed a custard apple tree. Oh how excited I was!!! As I snapped some photos, the owner came out and asked, in broken English, if I liked this fruit. Yes yes, I exclaimed - and he picked one for us to eat. Upon seeing how much I enjoyed it, he picked 2 more and explained that one was ripe for eating today, and the other would be ready in a few days. How sweet of him! Despite the language barrier, Mario and Darwin got chatting up a storm when we discovered that he's a carpenter. He showed us his little workshop (very primitive), and while I stayed outside to eat the fruit, he took Darwin into the house to see a bit of his handy work. The whole thing really touched my heart. Sure, you can travel to these countries and stay in the "bubble" (resort), but I find it so enriching to experience some of the culture.

New buddies, Mario and Darwin.

Ah what a trip - great memories! Can't wait for another adventure south...wonder where that will be?!