Sunday, August 31, 2014

Fudgy Chocolate Beet Cake with Chocolate Avocado Frosting

(recipe from

For the cake:
2 medium beets
2 cups plain unsweetened almond milk
1 Tbsp. cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups raw turbinado sugar
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups oat flour
3/4 cup almond meal
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
pinch of kosher salt

For the frosting:
2 ripe avocados, halved and pitted
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp. melted coconut oil
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Few pinches kosher salt
2 Tbsp. strong brewed coffee (optional)

To roast the beets:
Preheat the oven to 400F.  Chop the stems off your beets, as well as the tips if they are long.  Scrub clean.  Wrap in foil and roast until a fork slides easily to the center of the beet, 60-75 minutes.  Remove, unwrap, and set aside until cool enough to handle.

Once cooled, peel the beets by pushing the skins off with the back of a knife.  They should slide off easily.  Cut the beets into chunks and place in the bowl of a food processor.  Puree, scraping down the sides as necessary.  You may have to add a bit of water to encourage the beets to puree.  Scoop out 1 cup of puree for this recipe - the rest is leftover.

To make the cake:
Lower the oven temp to 350F.  Coat two 8-inch cake pans (or one 9-inch cake pan) with cooking spray.  Line with parchment paper (trace the bottom of the tin onto parchment paper and cut out so it just fits in the bottom) and spray again.  Set aside.

Whisk together almond milk and cream of tartar in a large bowl.  Let sit about 5 minutes to curdle.

To the almond milk mixture, add 1 cup of beet puree, sugar, coconut oil, and vanilla extract.  With a hand mixer, beat until foamy.  (This is important so that the coconut oil does not separate and solidify.)

Sift in remaining dry ingredients.  Beat again to incorporate.

Divide between the cake pans.  Bake at 350 until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with fudgy crumbs, 30-35 minutes.

Remove and cool completely in the pans on wire racks.  Then, if time allows, transfer pans to the fridge to cool further.  Run a knife around the edge of the cake pan before inverting the cake and peeling off the parchment paper.  (Be sure to allow the cakes to cool completely before removing, or they will not hold together!)

To make the frosting:
Scoop out the flesh of the avocados and place in the bowl of a food processor.  Puree until smooth.  Add remaining ingredients and puree again, scraping down the sides of the bowl.

To assemble the cake:
Place the first layer on your cake stand or serving plate.  If the top is uneven, carefully even it off with a knife.  Smooth on about half of the frosting, and top with the second cake layer.  Smooth on remaining frosting and add any decorations you like.  (If you made one 9-inch layer, you will have enough frosting to coat the sides, if you want.)

Refrigerate before serving.  The cake can be served immediately, but I like it best after being refrigerated overnight.

(I made this cake for Ashley's 40th birthday, at her request.  It's actually very good, and easy to make, and keeps well in the fridge overnight so it can be made well ahead.  I added more sweetener to the frosting - a bit more maple syrup and a little bit of sugar - to make it more to my taste.  I also baked my cakes a little longer than stated, about 10-15 more minutes.  The finished cake is moist and dense.  Easy to follow instructions and a somewhat healthy cake!)

Arctic Char with Charmoula

(recipe from Food and Wine magazine)

3 unpeeled garlic cloves
1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
2 Tbsp. chopped green olives
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. paprika (I used smoked paprika)
Kosher salt
Four 5-oz., skin-on arctic char or salmon fillets (I used salmon)

In a small skillet, toast the garlic over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the skins blacken, 7 to 8 minutes.  Let cool slightly; discard the skins.

In a food processor, puree 1/3 cup of the oil, the garlic, parsley, cilantro, olives, lemon juice, cumin and paprika until smooth.  Transfer the charmoula to a bowl and season with salt.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 2 Tbsp. of oil.  Season the fish with salt and pepper and place it skin side down in the skillet.  Cook the fish over moderately high heat until the skin is golden, about 3 minutes.  Flip the fish and cook just until it flakes easily, 2 to 3 minutes.  Drain briefly on paper towels.  Serve the fish with the charmoula.

(After coming across this recipe, I read a post on David Lebovitz' lovely cooking site {} about the spicy sauce called chermoula, so I had to try it!  I noted the ingredients in David's recipe, and sort of combined the two, tweaking the amounts of things, adding red pepper flakes, keeping the green olives, etc.  The sauce is very flavorful, and a nice addition to the salmon.)

Tomato-and-Peach Salad with Crisp Tofu

(recipe from Food and Wine magazine)

2 serrano chiles, thinly sliced
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. sugar (I used honey)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 cup plus 3 Tbsp. canola oil (I used olive oil)
6 oz. extra-firm tofu, drained well and cubed
2 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
2 peaches, cut into wedges
1 cup arugula or mizuna
1/2 cup basil leaves

Put the serranos in a small heatproof bowl.  In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil with the vinegar, sugar, and 1/2 tsp. of salt, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Pour the brine over the serranos and let stand for 15 minutes, until cooled to room temperature.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the soy sauce, lime juice, ginger, mustard and 3 Tbsp. of the oil.

In a large cast-iron skillet, heat the remaining 1/2 cup of oil until shimmering.  Add the tofu and cook over moderate heat, turning, until crisp, 5 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.  Season with salt.

Arrange the tomatoes, peaches, arugula and serranos on a platter.  Drizzle with the soy-lime dressing, scatter the tofu and basil on top and serve.

(This is a kick-ass salad.  There are many steps, but worth it!  Tangy, sweet, spicy.  I kept all of the components separate and was able to eat several salads over several days, though the sliced tomatoes don't keep too long in the fridge.)