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Monday, July 25, 2016

Chocolate Cherry Cake with Chocolate Glaze for One


It’s summertime and there’s fresh fruit on every corner. Cherries have been really good this year and I may have bought too many. What to do, what to do…
For the Cake:
6 TBLSP all-purpose flour
3 TBLSP granulated sugar
4 teaspoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch salt
Slosh vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice)
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup dark cherries, pitted and halved
For the Glaze:
1 ounce dark chocolate (that’s about 15 dark chocolate chips, if you don’t have a scale)
1/2 tablespoon hot water
Slosh vanilla extract
Sliced or chopped fresh cherries (for garnish)
Make the Cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 4-inch round cake pan. I often use a single-serving casserole for a cake pan.
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, espresso, baking soda, and salt.
  2. Add the vanilla, vinegar, oil, and water and combine until the batter is smooth.
  3. Stir in the cherries. Plop the batter into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let it cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes and then get all the rest of the way cool before applying the glaze.  
Make the Glaze:
  1. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate. Stir in hot water and vanilla extract and stir until it’s glassy smooth. If the chocolate appears to seize up, keep stirring. After a few minutes, it will turn into a workable consistency.

Assemble the Cake:
  1. With a delicate touch, spread the glaze onto the cooled cake and garnish with fresh cherries.

This cake can be served cold from the refrigerator or at room temperature.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Plum Breakfast Bar for One



This little treat is substantial enough to keep you happy all day. It’s not terribly sweet despite the dates and banana, and get this—you can make it gluten-free, and it’s just as happy a plate of wonderful.
¼ cup whole wheat flour (spelt or almond flour would do just as nicely)
¼ cup oats
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch baking powder
Pinch salt
1 or 2 (depending on their size) dates, chopped
Slosh vanilla extract
1/3 ripe banana
4 teaspoons non-dairy milk (I like almond)
½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 fresh plums, pitted and sliced thinly

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 5-inch baking pan. I used an oval casserole.
  1. In a small bowl. Combine the flour, oats, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Mix them well.
  2. Using a blender or food processor, whirl the dates, vanilla extract, banana, milk, and vinegar for a bit. It will be a little lumpy.
  3. Add the date mixture to the flour mixture and combine it well.
  4. Plop the batter into the bottom of your baking pan and spread it out, making the surface flat. Arrange the plum slices artfully on top.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes before pulling it out of the pan and slicing it. It has just the right amount of chew to go with your cuppa.
Variations:

  • Leave off the plums and add dried thyme to the dough instead of cinnamon, and top it with olives for a savory version. 



Monday, July 18, 2016

Radical Rangoons for One



This little recipe is usually an appetizer, but it’s so good, you’ll want to make a meal out of it. Vegan wanton wrappers are hard to find, but it’s not hard to make your own. They’re not pristine and perfect like the store-bought ones, but you won’t care when the nori recalls the sea to your taste buds and the horseradish makes you glad you were born.
For the Wanton Wrappers:
½ cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
2 TBLSP hot water (not boiling)
For the Filling:
1 TBLSP canola oil, more for frying
1 garlic clove, minced
2 green onions, chopped
5 fresh shiitake mushrooms (or any other kind you like—oyster would be particularly good)
Slosh of tahini or soy sauce
4 TBLSP vegan cream cheese
For Assembly:
For Assembly:
1 nori sheet, cut into 2-inch squared
For the Sauce:
1 TBLSP Dijon-style mustard
2 teaspoons freshly grated horseradish

Make the Wanton Wrappers:
  1. Combine the flour and salt in a small bowl (a cereal bowl will do) and add in the water. Knead it until it’s a supple dough, a little bit shiny and fairly sticky. You may have to add pinches of flour or dribbles of water to get it right.
  2. Roll the lovely dough into a ball, dust it with flour, and wrap with plastic wrap. Let it sit in a quiet corner meditating for about half an hour. (Not in the refrigerator.)
  3. When its time has come, unwrap the dough and plop it onto a lightly floured surface. I like to cover my counter in waxed paper because it makes cleanup easier, but you flour whatever surface appeals to you.
  4. Knead the dough for about 2 minutes. It will seem springier than it did before its rest and have a quiet sheen to it.
  5. Roll the dough into a log about 1-inch thick and slice the log into 1-inch segments. I get 6 or 8, depending on my mood.
  6. Flatten the pieces of dough into little rounds with your fingers, and then hit ‘em with the rolling pin to make them very thin and about 3-inches in diameter. Mine aren’t exactly round and it still works out just fine.
    • Another method is to roll out one big sheet and then cut it into 3-inch squares, and fold the little darlings into triangles over the filling. This way gets a less tender wanton, but it’s still pretty darn good.

If you’re not using them right away, wrap the circles (or squares) individually in plastic wrap and then let them enjoy the quiet and darkness of the refrigerator. They’ll keep about a week, so it’s definitely something you can do the night before.
Make the Filling:
  1. In a small skillet, heat the TBLSP of canola oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and sauté them for 45 seconds or so, until they start to smell fabulous.
  2. Add in the mushrooms and cook, stirring merrily, until they’re tender.
  3. Add the tahini or soy sauce and remove from the heat.
  4. Add in the cream cheese and combine until thoroughly mixed. The heat will melt the cheese a bit.
  5. Set aside until it’s completely cooled.

Make the Sauce:
  1. In a small bowl, vigorously stir the mustard and horseradish.
  2. I made a second sauce (equal parts—about 1 TBLSP each—of tahini, mirin, rice vinegar, and miso, tossed in a little garlic powder and whisked until smooth), which is my go-to dipping sauce, but it was too bland for these little minxes. You’ll want the fire of the horseradish, so I didn’t include the recipe for the second sauce in the ingredients section.

Assemble the Rangoons:
  1. In a large skillet, heat about ¼-inch of canola oil over high or medium-high heat.
  2. Peel one of the wrappers up from its little plastic wrap so you know that it’s inclined to roam freely, and then set it down again. You might try stretching it a bit while it’s up in the air, just enough to get it roundish and about 3 inches. I tried loading them up in my hand, but the heat of my hands made the dough stick and we had to have a serious conversation about cooperating. So put the wrappers down again.
  3. In the center of your wrapper, place a square of nori. In the center of the nori, place a blop, maybe a scant teaspoon, of the filling.
  4. Wet your finger (I put a little bowl of water there to prevent wasting water or getting glop all over my faucet), and trace the circumference of the wrapper with your wet finger.
  5. Fold the little darling into a semi-circle (or triangle), pinching or folding the edges together. The water will help. Try to avoid the filling pushing its way out. It will be petulant and try, but you’re in charge here. The nori will fold in half on the inside and make a sturdy spine for the little thing, if you do it right.
  6. Repeat with the rest of the wrappers and filling.
  7. Fry the assembled rangoons in the hot oil, turning them over when the first side is golden.
  8. Let the finished rangoons rest in splendor on a paper towel and then serve immediately with the prepared sauce.


 


Friday, July 15, 2016

Bean and Rice Meatless Balls for One



These delicate little balls have a very mild flavor. You could go nuts with seasoning, or, if you’re like me, go nuts with a flavorful sauce.

2 TBLSP olive oil
¼ small yellow onion
2 ounces sliced mushrooms (about ½ cup), button, cremini, Portobello—whatever you have
½ shallot, sliced thinly
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup cooked beans (black, garbanzo, navy—whatever you like, even lentils!)
2 TBLSP fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves only
1/3 cup cooked brown rice
2 TBLSP breadcrumbs (use gluten-free, if you like, so long as they’re fresh)
½ teaspoon tapioca starch (which is the same thing as tapioca flour)
¼ teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
Canola for frying
  1.  In a non-stick pan, add the olive oil and sauté the onion and mushrooms until they’re lightly browned. 
  2. Add the shallots until they begin to soften and brown.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for one minute, until just fragrant. Transfer the onions and mushrooms to a food processor.
  4. Add the beans, parsley, rice, breadcrumbs, tapioca starch, salt and pepper to the food processor and pulse until the mixture just barely comes together in a ball. Taste for seasoning and adjust. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. It seems to help with the frying.
  5. With your hands, form the mixture into 1-2-inch balls. There should be between 6 and 10 of them.
  6. In the same non-stick pan you used before, heat some oil for frying—it’s not deep-fry, but there should be plenty of oil in there to make the cooking go quickly. Panfry the balls in a single layer, about 2 minutes on each side. Depending on the size of your pan, you may need more than one batch. 
  7. Let them rest on a paper-towel-covered plate while you prepare whatever vessel and sauce they’re going onto.


Shown here with Stroganoff Sauce(immediately above and below) and Portobello Mushroom Sauce (up at the top).

It’s nice served in a sauce (I like mushroomy sauce, like Mushroom Gravy, but you might also try pesto or a tomato sauce), on a sandwich slathered with pesto or mustard, or dipped into a ranch-style dressing on the end of a toothpick. Oh, and why not put them on top of a big pile of pasta or on a pizza, while you’re at it! 


 You could also make this into two burger-sized patties and fry or bake for a hamburger experience.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Chocolate Tofu Cake with Peanut Butter Drizzle for One



This cake is moist, VERY chocolatey, and has just the right amount of sweetness to make any dessert-monger happy without making your dentist nervous. You might want a more traditional frosting—I liked the lumpy bumpy glaze-style frosting because I’m not very good at frosting cakes, and this way, it could be the glaze’s fault.

For a Single-Layer Cake:
7 TBLSP all-purpose flour
6 TBLSP granulated sugar
3 TBLSP cocoa powder
1/3 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
¼ block silken tofu (about 4 ounces)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 TBLSP water
For the Drizzle:
1 TBLSP peanut butter
1 TBLSP non-dairy milk (I like almond, but any will do)
6 TBLSP confectioner’s sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line the bottom of a 5-inch cake pan (I use a single-serving casserole pan or a mini-loaf pan) with parchment paper and mist lightly with cooking spray. Don’t forget the sides!

Make the Cake:
  1. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 
  2. Blend the tofu into the flour mixture with a fork, crumbling it up. The batter will be wet but very thick.
  3. Add in the vanilla and water. You might use more or less water, depending on how batter-like the mixture is. Dispense the batter into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean from the center.

Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Make the Drizzle:
  1. Put the peanut butter into a microwave-safe bowl and nuke it for 30 seconds. (You can heat it on the stove just as well.)
  2. Blend in the milk until the mixture is fairly smooth (if you’re using chunky-style peanut butter, you just have to be able to tell which lumps are peanuts and which need to be addressed.)
  3. Add in the powdered sugar, half at a time, until it reaches a loose glaze consistency. You can make it thicker with more peanut butter and thinner with more milk, depending on whether you like it to be more like frosting or more like glaze.

Assemble the Darling:
  1. Plate the precious cake and drizzle the peanut butter goodness over the top. Be as tidy or as neat as you like. I melted a few chocolate chips in the microwave, sloshed in a tiny bit of almond milk, and made a happy little hat with peanuts for my two-layer cake. Yummm.


Variations: 
  • Make a layer cake. Double the batter (as described below) and split it into two pans. Bake for a little longer and level off the tops of the cakes when they’re properly cooled. Make the much larger amount of Drizzle (as described below) and slather it on the top of one cake. Perch the other one on top and slather or drizzle on top of that.

For a Two-Layer Cake:
¾ cup plus 2 TBLSP all-purpose flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
6 TBLSP cocoa powder
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
Pinch salt
½ block silken tofu (about 7 ounces)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup water
For a Two-Layer Drizzle:
3-5 TBLSP peanut  butter
2-3 TBLSP non-dairy milk
1 cup confectioner’s sugar

Follow the directions as written, although you’ll want to adjust the cooking time by a few minutes because the cakes are larger.



Thursday, July 7, 2016

Broccoli and Kale Burger for One



This burger is quite delicate and nearly falls apart when you touch it with the fork. But don’t let that dissuade you—a soft burger is a delight to the palate as well as to the tummy.

½ TBLSP olive oil
2 TBLSP chopped yellow onion
2 chopped green onions
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
4 teaspoons coarsely chopped button mushroom (about 2 large-ish ones)
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup broccoli (florets and stems)
¾ cup kale
½ slice bread
1 teaspoon peanut butter
2 TBLSP walnut pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil for frying
  1. In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat, and sauté the onion and green onions. This should take 3-5 minutes, just until the onion begins to soften. Toss in the mushrooms and cook until most (but not all) of the water has released and evaporated, about 3 more minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and let it cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, just until fragrant.
  3. Remove the onions and mushrooms from the heat and stir in the cumin. It will smell fabulous.
  4. In a food processor or blender, whirl the broccoli, until it’s broken down into little pellets but isn’t mush. Place this in a bowl. Repeat the blender-to-bowl activity with the kale and the bread. They don’t need to end up in separate bowls because you’re about to mix them.
  5. Add in the peanut butter and walnuts and mix it all together. Taste it and add salt and pepper, if needed.
  6. Form the mixture into a patty (or two, depending on your mood) on top of a piece of plastic wrap. Cover with wrap (wrap with wrap) and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. (Otherwise, it will be too soft to fry.)
  7. In a small skillet, heat the olive oil and fry the patty for about 5 minutes on each side.

Serve with carrot salad, on a bun, with a side of rice and corn (as shown), or break it up to put on top of a nice crispy salad.

Variations:
  • You could make the same kind of patty using equal amounts of spinach, chard, or whatever your favorite green is.
  • Stuff a pita bread with the broken-up patty and some veggies. Tahini sauce is pretty good with this.



Thursday, June 30, 2016

Cherry Frozen Mousse for One


It’s summertime, and the cherries are everywhere. I love them, and I may have bought too many. Here’s a good treat for when your cherries are starting to fade but are still flavorful and lovely. Oh, and if you can’t wait for it to freeze, it’s still wonderful!

4 ounces (about 1/4 package) silken tofu
¾ cup pitted and frozen cherries
½ teaspoon maple syrup, agave nectar, or confectioner’s sugar (regular sugar will make it grainy)
  1.  Chop the cherries a bit, to make the work of the food processor a little lighter.
  2. Place all the ingredients into a food processor or blender and whirl until it’s well combined and creamy.
  3. Place into a freezer-happy vessel and let it freeze for ½ an hour to 1 hour.


Enjoy topped with fresh fruit and a sprig of mint! Or maybe some chocolate chunks or chocolate sauce.
Note: This recipe makes about ¾ cup, about half-again what’s shown in these photos.

Variations:

This would be great with blueberries instead of cherries, or try blackberries, strawberries, or even plums, peaches, or nectarines!