Plummy Blueberry Cherry Cake

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s been a while since I’ve made one of my famous raw cakes, much to the distress of my poor husband, who then has to resort to junk-food sweets to stave off his inner sugar-monster. Part of the problem has been my new blender. I was kind of dreading facing the reality of having swapped out a seriously mean machine for a pathetic piece of you know what.

It’s part of being a mum. When your son says how much he loves and misses the blender (after he moves out) and you know he probably won’t eat fruit otherwise, it’s hard not to resist giving him the mean machine. The things that love does. Sigh.

So I went shopping for a new blender/food-processor and was mildly traumatised to discover they no longer stock Ninjas. Honestly, what is wrong with these people?! The best they could come up with was a Nutribullet, and me, not knowing any better, bought it. To be fair, I LOVED the book and recipes that came with it, but that ‘thing’ is completely incapable of whizzing a frozen banana, even when you chop the banana into small pieces… which takes all the fun out of fruit smoothies for me.

Sauces, though, it can handle with fair aplomb, and I’m eternally grateful for the lemon tree in my back yard, which, when added to any nut, with a dash of salt and some water, makes for a delicious sauce, cream, dressing, liquid cheese, (whatever fancy name you want to give it) depending on the consistency, ratio of ingredients and what herbs you add. My favourite herb to add is basil (think pesto) but I made a pretty good pasta sauce the other night using tofu, macadamia nuts, lemon, salt and fresh mint.

Cakes. What about cakes? That was the big question and I wasn’t feeling confident. I told myself to try whizzing the dry ingredients first, but as usual I was multi-tasking and force of habit got the better of me. Before I knew it, all the ingredients were thrown in, which would have been a non-issue if I was using a Ninja (I really miss that thing).

Before I started, I raided my fridge, freezer and cupboards for possible ingredients. Then I sat down with pen and paper and mocked up a plan. I put my ideas in the left column and left space in the right column for the inevitable modifications. Impatient as I am, I’m a complete sucker for a three-layered raw cake. I decided to use less dates because even my sweet-tooth husband says my cakes are too sweet, and the end result has been a resounding success.

I was grumpy about the whizzer not being able to blend properly without me adding a lot more liquid than I’m used to using, but the resultant consistency was lovely. My cakes are usually freezer cakes, pulled out for 5-10 minutes to defrost slightly, but we’ve decided this one is best stored in the fridge, because the softness of the top layer is fantastic at that temperature. Obviously they won’t store as long in the fridge, but this will be polished off within days anyway!

Here’s the recipe below. If your blender is pathetic like mine, you might need to add more non-dairy milk if you want a smoother finish. My husband and I prefer a more chunky consistency because we enjoy the different textures and flavour surprises. A chunky base is particularly satisfying, so I never over-blend the base.

BOTTOM LAYER

1/4 cup of oats (skip this, obviously, if you are sensitive to oats!)

7 x medjool dates, pitted

1 cup of almonds

1/2 cup of walnuts

1 tablespoon of coconut or any other non-dairy milk, or water

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlend your ingredients together. You can actually use any nut, these are just my favourites. If you have a brilliant whizzer-upperer, you don’t necessarily need any liquid, but if you do, using creamy liquids like coconut milk or nut-milks, often makes for a better consistency than adding water. I used coconut as my liquid throughout each layer. Decadent bliss!

Spread your blended mix into the bottom of a dish. If you want to, you can press whole blueberries into this later, like I did. It can help to put the dish in the freezer while you are making the next layer, to firm it up a little.

MIDDLE LAYER

1/2 cup almonds

1/2 cup of macadamia nuts

6 x medjool dates, pitted

1/2 cup of coconut or any other non-dairy milk, or water

1/2 to 1 cup of blueberries

Blend everything up! Use more liquid if the consistency isn’t as smooth as you’d like it to be. An optional extra might be a dash of vanilla essence, or if you love vanilla beans like me, the inside of one vanilla pod.

Pop the dish back in the freezer while you make the last layer.

TOP LAYER

1/2 cup of walnuts

1/2 cup macadamia nuts

1 plum, chopped into pieces

1/2 cup of cherries

And however much liquid (non-dairy milk or water) you need to blend

In essence, I was just using the fruit I had available in my fridge and freezer! I also added a ‘secret’ ingredient which I felt really made a different to the flavour: 1 heaped teaspoon of dried hibiscus, rosella and rosehip petals from my dried herbal tea collection. As a herbalist, I LOVE adding dried herbal teas to my raw cakes! This ingredient isn’t imperative, but any one of these three herbs would be fine, if you can get hold of them.

Blend everything up, and spread this mix over the existing two layers. Top with blueberries and sprinkle with chia seeds and dried flower petals, if you have any.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ta-dum! Keep your raw cake in the fridge, covered, and consume within days. If you aren’t going to gobble it all up this quickly, keep it in the freezer. We often like to freeze to a certain firmness where it’s easy to cut into portions which can later be removed and defrosted as needed.

 

 

 

 

Lavender Fudge Cheesecake

2015-07-19 14.43.13BASE

1 cup macedamia nuts

1/4 cup toasted buckwheat groats

1 tablespoon of unhulled tahini

8 pitted medjool dates

Put all of these ingredients in your food processor and crush/blend until the mix looks like cooked cake crumble or fresh bread crumbs. To check whether you need more dates, pinch some of the mix between your fingers to see if it squeezes together and holds together if you roll it into a ball in your hand. A taste test at this stage helps too! Is it sweet enough for you?

“Why do they have to be medjool dates?” my husband asks.

“Because they are THE dates. Manna from heaven!”, I replied. They aren’t just sweet, they make everything stick together. It’s got to be sticky enough to firm a fairly firm base in the bottom of your dessert dish, without being too sweet. Add coconut oil or prunes for extra moisture if your food processor isn’t powerful enough to pull this off. Not water- that makes the cakes icy instead of creamy. These are freezer cakes, so keep in mind that they won’t shrink and pop neatly out of a cake tin when you turn it upside down, so be clever about the dish you choose to put your mix into.

MIDDLE

1/2 – 1 *banana

1 cup of walnuts

1 cup of cashews

12 pitted medjool dates

Vanilla essence or seeds (a splash or 1-2 seedpods)

*Bananas are surprisingly strong in aroma and taste, so their use needs to be careful, if you don’t want it to over-power other flavours, but they do give you more bulk without needing extra nuts. If you don’t like the taste of banana in this cake, replace the banana with another cup of nuts

Blend everything in the food processor. Keep going until it clumps together and becomes fairly smooth. I actually prefer texture in most of my meals/dishes, so I don’t make it completely smooth. More moisture does help with smoothness so if you prefer your cakes this way, add coconut oil or use cashew butter instead of cashews.

Remove 1/4 of the mix and put it aside (in the freezer) to use as the base for the ‘icing’ (the top layer).

Now add 1 tablespoon of cocoa or cacao powder to the remaining mix and blend again (Use even more if you really love chocolate and your food processor is tough!) Yum! Spread this mix over the base layer and put your dish into the freezer.

TOP

1 tablespoon of melted cacao butter

1 tablespoon or more of lavender flowers

You can adjust the lavender quantity and add more, but lavender is powerful, so a little bit goes a long way. Stir these ingredients into the 1/4 mix you had set aside in the freezer. If you want some more vibrant colour in this layer, mash/stir/blend in some blueberries.

Spread this mix over the middle layer of your cake and your cake is finished! Put your cake in the freezer over-night and serve the next day. These cakes can last months in the freezer, but do keep them covered.

My daughter (the tea-tasting expert) suggests having a cup of lavender or cocoa husk tea with this cake. We love cake with tea! The flavour balancing is so much fun!

Enjoy

Love Om

Flowers and Berries Ice-cream Cake

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Being a herbalist I often don’t see much distinction between food and herbs. They all contain the same phytochemicals and can have a therapeutic effect, they are simply used in different ways. Many herbs used in herbal medicine are also considered foods and visa versa, such as oats, nettles, dandelion leaves, artichoke, aniseed, rosemary, turmeric, alfalfa, fennel, ginger, garlic, kelp, tamarind, peppermint and so on. For me, the lines tend to blur between them at times. I delight in pondering the herbal actions of specific foods and exploring the food-like uses and qualities of herbs. And when I’m in the kitchen, this merging of herbs and food can be a lot of fun! Continue reading

Scrambled Tofu and a discussion about soy

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI made some yummy scrambled tofu today. I made up my own recipe. First I sautéed some garlic, using extracted oil for a change, instead of cooking with water. It’s a lovely treat to cook with oil on the very odd occasion. So many meals can be done without it, like the curry I made last night. I cooked the vegetables in water and curry spices and then I added coconut water at the end after I turned the heat off. I also added some pasta made from konjac. Very yummy!

photo-49

Continue reading

Sticky vegan cheese (no nuts!)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is a vegan cheese recipe I found in the ‘Vegan Health and Fitness’ magazine, in an article by Dr G. Dr G (Brooke Goldner Tadlock MD). Brooke found this recipe on the VeganYumminess site. The original called for peeled potatoes and carrots. Brooke’s variation keeps the skins on, which I love, if you can source organic, of course! If it isn’t organic, you might decide to peel them after all. I found it a little too mild for my palette after the last cheese I made, so I added more lemon juice, as well as a whole clove of garlic. Here is the recipe:

2 medium potatos

2 large carrots

Steam the potatoes and carrots until they are soft, then put them in a blender or food processor with the following ingredients:

1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbs lemon juice

1 and 1/2 teaspoons of salt

optional: 1 clove of garlic

Post-note: I made this earlier today and it has a serious dent in it already. Everyone has tried it and they love it. My son, who still eats a little dairy from time to time, says that it’s spooky how much it tastes like real cheese. My husband and daughter enjoyed it as a spread on toast. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Om’s lentil patty recipe

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

These are always popular with non-vegan family and friends because they have a familiar and reassuring meat-like texture and flavour.

You can use tinned lentils, or cook your own from scratch. When I cook them myself, I tend to flavour them with spices as though I were making a dahl.

Use 3 to 4 cups of cooked lentils. The trick is to make sure they aren’t too wet before you start adding the other ingredients. They need to be well drained.

1 finely cut onion.

Instead of eggs, use 1-2 heaped teaspoons of Organ’s egg replacement powder. This helps the mix stick together, but mashing the lentils slightly as you blend everything together really helps too. If you use too much egg replacement powder, your patties will become rubbery.

For flour, you can use Orgran’s gravy powder or a gluten free flour. Start with a couple of heaped tablespoons. Taste test as you go to make sure it doest become too salty. If you use the gravy powder, you won’t need to add any salt. If you have use plain flour, add salt or all purpose seasoning.

My favourite flavours to add are a fairly generous splash of cumin (at least 1 teaspoon), and an equal quantity of rosemary leaves. I don’t know why, but these two combined make for a really good flavour.

This is a truly indulgent food guaranteed to make the inner child happy. Just like raw vegan cakes! *happy sigh* And for a bit more happy indulgence, cook them so they are crispy. The crispy outside makes all the difference, eliciting groans of pure happiness from your guests. Well what do you know, maybe vegans don’t starve themselves after all!? Haha!

I could have made a vegan cheese to go with these but I’m mad about avocados, so I made a delectably thick avocado dressing to go with this meal. My avocado mash contains lemon juice from my own back yard, garlic, and a little salt.

(The patties are often nicer if you add plenty of finely chopped onion, some chopped mushroom, and some even some breadcrumbs.)

Coffee Caramel Cake in Ireland

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA10-15 pitted dates (medjool and/or organic)

1 and a half cups of almonds

Combine and pulse together in food processor until the mix becomes crumbly. Taste test for preferred level of sweetness- add dates gradually as you go. If your dates are a bit dry, the mix won’t be sticky enough so you will need to add a little water, or pre-soak the dates.

1 cup of almond paste

1 vanilla pod (or some vanilla essence)

4-6 dates

pinch of salt

Blend together in food processor, until it becomes smooth. Add water if you need to. Again, taste as you go: I’m writing this recipe from memory! Spread over the base and put in freezer while you are preparing the next layer.

Teaspoon of coffee. (I used a mix of real and dacaf)

Heaped tablespoon of cacoa or cocoa

1 cup of hazelnut spread

approx 6-8 dates

A handfulor walnuts

A heaped teaspoon or two of coconut oil

Blend everything together in food processor until relatively smooth. Add water if need be. Spread over the previous two layers and put in the freezer to set. Cut into chunks when set.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Coconut Cheese Cake

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Last friday a friend gave me some fresh young coconut meat that she was given by a man at the local markets. This was an ingredient I had tried previously to source with no luck, so I was absolutely delighted by her gift and it inspired an evening spent in the kitchen being creative.

First I made a coconut cheese cake with the fresh young coconut meat. No nuts! Lots of people are allergic to nuts so it’s lovely to invent dessert recipes that don’t include them. My recipe was inspired by Emily’s von Euw’s coconut cheese cake recipes, but I changed a few things! The problem is, I can’t find the envelope I scribbled this recipe down on so I’m going on memory here. This place is crazy at the moment with us packing for the Europe trip! Continue reading