CARDAMOM TEFF CAKE WITH APRICOT PRESERVES & CASHEW CREAM

Brunch, to me, is always homemade. As much as I get the appeal of being served (especially in the morning hours), the best breakfasts are the ones I've made myself or for others. This cake, inspired & adapted from "Liz Prueitt's tartine cake", includes little pockets of apricot jam dolloped throughout (a truly lovely use for the preserves in your fridge.) Although I've only just begin experimenting with Teff flour, I can already see it becoming a staple in my kitchen.  It's whole-grain & earthy, something that could easily take the place of buckwheat in my own recipes.

The cake is somewhere between a layer cake and tea cake, slightly sweet, but still decadent. So, it's perfect for a special occasion or brunch (Mother's Day perhaps?).  It's topped with a orange blossom cashew cream & toasted pistachios for crunch (& the pop of color doesn't hurt). If you do dairy, this would delicious with whipped cream because really, what isn't? 

Almond Teff Cake with Apricot Preserves & Cashew Cream (Gluten-free, Dairy-free)

Cake:

  • 3 cups almond flour
  • 1 cup teff flour
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cardamom
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup plant (or dairy) milk
  • 2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 7 small spoonfuls apricot preserves (about 1 tsp. each)
  • 1/3 cup toasted pistachios, chopped

Cashew Cream

  • 1 cup cashews, soaked for 4-6 hours
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, soaked for 4-6 hours
  • 1 cup plant (or dairy) milk 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon orange blossom water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, cardamom and salt.

Measure out plant milk in a pyrex of small bowl, then add apple cider vinegar & set aside.  In a separate bowl, whisk together coconut sugar, maple syrup, eggs, and vanilla.  Whisk vigorously for 1 minute or a ribbon of beaten eggs should trail back into the bowl.   Stir both wet ingredients into dry and mix to combine well - making sure there are no lumps.  Zest 2 teaspoons worth of orange zest into the batter & mix well.

Pour batter to a greased 9 inch springform pan. If your preserves are too thick, dilute with a little water to thin.  Dollop about 7  spoonfuls (about 1 tsp. each) evenly overtop the cake.  Bake for 40-45 minutes or until browned.  The cake will bounce back slightly when you press it & a toothpick (poked into the center of the cake) should come out clean.

For cashew cream,  drain soaked nuts and rinse.  Add to a high-speed blender with remaining ingredients.  Blend very well - until super smooth and whipped.  Serve cake with toasted pistachios and cashew cream.

This post is in collaboration with Bonne Maman, a kitchen staple & one I've loved & used for many years.

Thank you for supporting brands that support Sassy Kitchen.

(P.S. They are giving away some amazing sets of Le Creuset & Bonne Maman On their site right now!)

RED CABBAGE & FENNEL SLAW WITH TOASTED PISTACHIOS & TANGY MUSTARD DRESSING

For a long time I didn’t know how to explain my sensibility with food.  I always loved to cook, but I never considered myself a “food person” until my health issues began.  From then on, I was on a rather dismal quest to find things that didn’t make me ill.  I tried a million diets which kept me constantly trying new vegetables, weird ingredients - looking for the few things in the market that were “free” of all the things I needed.  My love for food didn’t start from a rich family or cultural history, but as a result of chronic pain.  Limitation has always been my menu.

Although I’ve had periods of “indulgence” - wanting to cook / eat / bake everything I never had (or could eat) - I always come back to a sensibility that can only be described as Californian (where I’m from).  I relate to avocado, to any kind of sprout, and basically anything that can be described as “1970’s Topanga Canyon vegetarian”.  I would self describe it as hippie food with a bit of culinary curiosity.  

And it’s what I always come back to that helped me understand who I was.  I’ve been having some stomach issues lately that have left me craving comfort.  What I seem to grab in these occasions, when I’m looking for something healing rather than “good”, is always something simple in a bowl. It could be some vegetables, a grain, maybe some avocado.  Usually arugula (my favorite green, especially when my digestion is off).  It’s my own version of comfort food; simple meals that feel like “home”.

California Red Cabbage & Fennel Slaw (gluten-free, vegan) serves 4

  • 4 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 1 cup sliced fennel, thin on mandolin
  • 3-4 radishes, sliced thin on mandolin
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup sliced chives
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/3 cup pistachios, toasted and roughly chopped
  • Fennel fronds, to serve

dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 lemon, juice
  • About 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper

In a large bowl, mix together cabbage, fennel, radishes and all herbs.  Squeeze over the juice of one lemon and toss to combine.  Set aside.    

To toast pistachios, add to a skillet and toast over medium heat until browned or add to a baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees until browned and smelling nutty (about 10-12 minutes).

To make the dressing, whisk together all ingredients until emulsified (until it’s a thick, cohesive dressing).  

Add the dressing to the bowl of "slaw" and toss together until well combined.  Season with flaky sea salt, freshly ground pepper and top with pistachios and fennel fronds  Optional toppings: baked tofu, avocado or sprouts ;)

*For simple baked tofu, I add 1 inch slabs to a foil-lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and tamari. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes, flip and bake another 15-20 or until browned and tender.  Season with sea salt  & freshly cracked pepper.

CAULIFLOWER LENTIL GRAIN SALAD WITH PUMPKINSEED PESTO & PICKLED RADISHES (Gluten-free)

It’s been a busy and chaotic year so far.  I can’t believe it’s already July and that Summer is almost halfway over.  It really feels like I’ve blinked and missed it all.  So many exceptions to this year have caused an unusual lifestyle for me -  I have three sisters all engaged, all getting married this year…within 6 months of each other.  Naturally, they all live in LA (where I’m from), and I’m in all the wedding parties.  Anyone who has been part of one knows the…commitment they require on an emotional / physical / financial level.  So, I’ve been traveling a lot, to say the very least.  July is the first month I will not travel to LA since March.  

This 2016 lifestyle of mine has led me to understand certain things about my myself.  I could never be the kind of person who travels all the time and is never home (no matter how many amazing things I could see).  I am incredibly introverted (more than I thought I was) and require a substantial amount  of alone time.  Especially these days, there’s nothing I want more than to have no plans, to wake up early, to cook my meals leisurely and off the cuff.  With all the socializing and traveling, I’m craving aloneness and in a similar realm - slowness, which I can say I almost never want. I’ve always been the high-energy/high-intensity type who only has one speed.  But this shakeup of my schedule and lack of control (my usual nemesis), is causing me to turn the dial down a bit.

This salad came out of one of those moments.  A Saturday with no plans, a ton of vegetables and an appetite.  I spent my time, slowing down - leisurely making pesto, slicing radishes, etc.  These are the moments when cooking feels like everything to me. Those slow weekends when I’m alone in my kitchen - it’s what my soul requires.  So, maybe this salad seems like a lot of steps: pickling, processing, cooking, chopping, but for me - the longer it takes, the better.  It’s a weekend recipe - meant to be prepared with no timeliness at all and savoring each and every step.  It’s an ode to cooking - not just because it feeds you (and often tastes good) - but that there’s something else happening. I believe, something magical.

CAULIFLOWER LENTIL GRAIN SALAD WITH PUMPKINSEED PESTO & PICKLED RADISHES (gluten-free, vegetarian)

  • 1 cup quinoa, dried
  • 1/2 cup french lentils, dried
  • 1 lb. cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, grated
  • 1 cup chopped medjool dates
  • 3 purple scallions, sliced
  • 3 large handfuls of baby arugula
  • 1-2 lemons, juice
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper

PUMPKINSEED ARUGULA PESTO

  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 lemon, juice & zest
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup baby arugula, packed
  • 1/4-1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

QUICK-PICKLED RADISHES

  • 1 small bunch of radishes, sliced thin on mandolin
  • 1 fennel stalk, fronts & stalk roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander (seeds or ground)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup filtered water
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

In a saucepan, bring 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups of salted water to a boil.  Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  Then set aside to cool. In another saucepan, add lentils with enough water to cover by 2-3 inches (salt the water, too).  Bring to a boil, then simmer (covered) about 20-25 minutes or until tender.  Drain and rinse.  Set aside to cool.

For pickled radishes: In a pint-sized jar, add radishes, fennel fronds, mustard and coriander seeds.  In a small saucepan, bring apple cider vinegar, water, maple syrup, salt and pepper to a boil.  Once liquid just boils, carefully pour into the jar, making sure radishes are completely covered in brine.  Cover and set on the counter to cool.  Once it’s cooled, store in the fridge.  They will be “ready” to eat in about an hour.

For Pesto: In a food processor, add pumpkin seeds, garlic, lemon (juice & zest) and parmigiano.  Process until desired consistency (I like mine more on the pureed side).  Then add salt, pepper and arugula. Pulse until entire mixture is green and arugula is well-combined.  While the processor is running, stream in about 1/4-1/3 cup olive oil or until desired texture.  Set aside.

Add cauliflower to a food processor and pulse until it resembles rice (you can use the same one as the pesto).  Add to a large mixing bowl with grated zucchini, dates, scallion, and arugula.  Toss together with quinoa, lentils and arugula.  Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice (to taste).  Toss together to make sure salad is well-combined.

To serve, top each plate with a generous dollop of pesto and pickled radishes.  For some extra decadence, add a drizzle of olive oil, but you don’t totally need it.  Serve immediately or save for later (the leftovers were still great on day 3).