Tag Archives: almonds

V.E.S.P.A. Cake

Unfortunately this is not a cake in the shape of one of those cute Italian hipster scooters. No, this is something as equally hipster, but not as cute. In fact, it came out rather ugly, but very tasty and moist, especially for a vegan baked good. Vegan baked goods tend to be dry due to the lack of eggs, but this was very dense and moist.

Why is it named V.E.S.P.A. cake then? Well, it’s an adaption of the Vanilla Yogurt Pound Cake from the Veganomicon. I never seem to be able to follow a recipe exactly. I always need to change something a little bit to make it my own or I’m lacking an ingredient, or maybe I just like being deviant. V stands for Vanilla & Vegan, E stands for Extract & Eggless,  S stands for Spelt, P stands for Pound Cake, and A stands for Almond Milk and Almond Extract. It is definitely not as pretty as the one from the Veganomicon because I used spelt flour, but I bet its just as tasty.

Here it is the V.E.S.P.A. Cake

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup vanilla soy yogurt
  • 1/2 cup blended silken tofu (blend before measuring)
  • 3/4 cup almond milk (the original recipe called for soy milk)
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 sunflower oil (original recipe called for canola oil)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (original recipe called for 1/2 tsp. orange extract and 1/2 tsp. lemon extract, but I wanted to do almond)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (original recipe called for 2 cups all-purpose flour)
  • 1 cup whole grain spelt  flour
  • 3 tablespoons arrowroot powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon (I used kosher)

1. Pre-heat the oven to 325º F. Lightly grease and flour a loaf pan. Blend tofu.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the soy yogurt, tofu, almond milk, sugar, oil, and extracts. Using the whisk attachment on the mixer, mix until everything is smooth (about two minutes). I still had some chunks of tofu, but I don’t think this mattered too much in the end.

3. Sift in the flour, arrowroot powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir to combine, and then beat for about two minutes or until batter is very thick. Do not overmix.

4. Pour battered into prepared loaf pan. Baking for 60-65 minutes, until a sharp knife comes out clean. In the Veganomicon they recommend not opening the oven for the first forty-five minutes. I opened the oven just to make sure my bakeware wasn’t going to explode (I couldn’t see if the ceramic I was using was ovenproof, so I wanted to check this) and everything turned out fine. But do err on the side of caution always.

5. Remove from the oven and and let cool in the pan for about ten minutes. Run a knife or spatula along the sides to loosen the cake. I flipped mine over onto a silicone baking mat to cool off. You could gently lift it out of the pan and put onto a wire rack to cool, but I do not own a wire rack and I am not good at being gentle with my baked goods. Once it is cool slice it and enjoy.

Turkey with Dried Apricots, Blue Cheese, and Almonds

A couple nights ago I made turkey with dried apricots, blue cheese and almonds. I served this with asparagus, yellow rice with saffron, and mustard. I defrosted my turkey for too long in the microwave so it ended up coming out a little dry. I would really like to try this recipe again some other time with chicken.

The rice I made was amazing. It’s sort of like Rice-A-Roni but much better. It comes pre-packaged with spices already in it and contains a lot less sodium than Rice-A-Roni. Seriously, this stuff is addictive. The asparagus turned out really nice as well.

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless skinless turkey breast cutlets
  • reduced-fat blue cheese crumbles (however much you want)
  • 6 dried apricots
  • a handful of sliced almonds
  • five asparagus spears
  • one package of Yellow Rice w/ Saffron

Procedure

Pre-heat the oven to 375º F. Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Defrost turkey if necessary. Place turkey cutlets in baking dish. Cover with cheese, apricots, and almonds. Trim asparagus and place next to turkey cutlets. Cook for about fifteen minutes until turkey is cooked through and cheese is melted. Follow directions on Yellow Rice packet. Serve with dijon mustard.

Baked Yogurt Chicken and Sweet Iranian Rice

This was a rather complicated and time consuming dinner to make. I wanted to cook something that was different than what I had been eating for the past few days (jambalaya rice and beans) and something out of my around the world cookbook. I had never cooked Middle Eastern food before so I tried out two recipes out from that section and invited my friend Ian over for dinner. He is a garbage disposal so I figured that if it turned out bad he would still eat it.

Baked Yogurt Chicken

Now this recipe originally called for poussins. I’m not exactly sure what a poussin is. I think its a young spring chicken. Whatever it is Safeway doesn’t generally carry it. What Safeway was carrying on sale yesterday was chicken leg quarters. Six of them for $2.50! I used these instead of poussins. I found that the dish lacked a little flavor. Perhaps this was due to my exclusion of the saffron threads.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup yogurt (I used non-fat)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil (I used vegetable oil since I didn’t have olive oil)
  • 1/2 large white onion, grated
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 2-3 saffron strands (now I didn’t use saffron because it is expensive, but I bet it gives amazing flavor and color)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 chicken leg quarters, fat cut off and washed
  • salt and pepper

1. Blend together yogurt, olive oil, onion, garlic, paprika, saffron (if you’re using it), and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Place the chicken leg quarters in a shallow dish, pour over the marinade and then cover and allow to marinade for at least four hours in the fridge. I told you this recipe was time consuming.

3. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Arrange the leg quarters in a foil lined baking dish and bake in the oven for 45-55 minutes, basting until cooked.

Sweet Iranian Rice

Texture wise this was one of the best rice dishes I’ve ever prepared. Rice never turns out well on my stove top. This one turned out light and fluffy with the nice crunch of carrots and slivered almonds. I found the dish to be too sweet as the only side to almost bland chicken. I think it would be nice served with some other dishes as well or as a dessert.

Ingredients

  • 1 orange
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. melted butter
  • 3 carrots cut into julienne strips
  • 1/2 cup mixed pistachios, almonds, and pine nuts (I only had almonds)
  • 1 cup basmati rice soaked in salt water for two hours
  • 2-3 saffron threads (again I didn’t use these)

Procedure

1. Cut the peel from the oranges in wide strips using a peeler, then cut the peel into thin shreds.

2. Place the strips of peel in a sauce with enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Simmer for a few minutes, drain and repeat this process until you have removed the bitter flavor from the peel. It took me three times.

3. Place the peel back in the pan with 1 tbsp. of sugar and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and then simmer until water is reduced by half. Set aside.

4. Heat 1 tbsp. of melted butter in a frying pan and fry the carrots for 2-3 minutes. Add the remaining sugar and 4 tbsp. of water and simmer for 10 minutes until almost evaporated.

5. Stir the carrots and half of the nuts into the orange peel and set aside. Drain the rice, boil in salted water for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat and simmer very gently for 10 minutes until half cooked. Drain and rinse.

6. Heat the remaining butter in the pan and add 1 tbsp. of water. Fork a little of the rice into the pan and spoon on some of the orange mixture. Make layers until all the mixture has been used.

7. Cook gently for 10 minutes. Put a lid on the pan and steam for another twenty minutes.

A Cookie Recipe

I love to bake.  While baking is a lot more exact than other kinds of cooking, I still try to find room to experiment. I tried out this recipe for New Years Eve and found it to be a great success. The original recipe was taken from the Martha Stewart Living Cookbook.

Ginger Lemon Almond Cookies

Ingredients

  • 8 tbsp.  (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. superfine sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp. lemon zest
  • 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1/4 cup blanched sliced almonds

Procedure

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. with two racks centered. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy. Add the egg; mix on high to combine. Add the zest; mix to combine.

2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, ground ginger, baking soda, salt, crystallized ginger, and almonds. Add to the butter mixture; mix on low speed to combine.

3. Drop about two teaspoons of dough on cookie sheet, spacing each cookie about three inches apart. Place a piece of crystallized ginger and slivered almond on the top of each cookie. Bake for seven minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for another five to seven minutes.