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Every once in a while I try a recipe that turns out so much better than I anticipated.  It usually ends up being a recipe that I crave days, weeks, or even months after I make the dish.  This is one of those meals, and it stunned me.  Sure, I expected it to be tasty, but to be honest I was more focused on the health benefits when I decided to make these cakes.  I didn’t expect the flavors to be so vibrant, the taste so fresh. And I had no idea that my family would love them as much as I did.

I was drawn to this recipe the moment I read it.  It is loaded with healthy ingredients that I generally keep on hand, contains Indian spices, and it’s in a tiny cake-form.  That’s right, I’m not above making a dish because I like little cakes.  Hey, they’re fun.  Another nice aspect to this dish is that is works as both a side accompaniment to a larger meal, or as the centerpiece with a salad or fruit.  Or how about this?  Stuff a couple of the cakes into pita bread along with some fresh vegetables like cucumber, tomato, and red onion.  Top with the sauce and it’s a perfect lunch to take to work, the park, or wherever you like.

The extra cakes from the recipe keep very well and heat up easily  without loosing any their wonderful texture.  It really is a nice meal to make at the beginning of the week that you can come back to over several days.  Just a note, you can roast a head of garlic for the raita (sauce).  I decided to use fresh garlic in the sauce, and it was incredible.  I substituted 2 cloves instead of the whole head, as fresh garlic is much more pungent.  Also, the roasted garlic need not be mixed into the raita, but can be served on the side.

The Recipe: Indian – Spiced Lentil Cakes with Raita

(2-4 servings)

Raita

1 -2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds (substitute ground, if necessary)

1 cup plain low-fat yogurt

1/4 cup finely chopped peeled and seeded cucumber

1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint

1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon seeded jalapeno

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (or more)

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Lentil Cakes

1/2 cup mix dried legumes (lentils, chickpeas, mung beans, green or yellow split peas all work well)

1/4 cup brown basmati rice

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger

1/2  jalapeno, seeded and minced

1 cup leaves from pea tendrils, arugula, or spinach, chopped

1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed and chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup chopped scallions

3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

To prepare the Raita: Toast the cumin seeds in a dry skillet for 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown and fragrant.  Let cool.  Pulverize with a mortar and pestle or finely crush with a sharp knife.  Mix the yogurt, cucumber, cilantro, mint, jalapeno, cumin, and 1 teaspoon lemon juice.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

To prepare the lentil cakes:  Rinse legumes; place in a medium bowl with rice and cover with 3-inches of water.  Let mixture sit at room temperature for 3-5 hours.  Drain mixture and transfer to a food processor.  Add garlic, ginger, and jalapeno.  Process until grainy paste forms (add 1-2 tablespoons water, if necessary).  Transfer to a large bowl; mix in your choice of chopped greens, peas, cilantro, scallions, mint, salt and pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.   Fill a 1/4 cup measuring cup almost full and gently compress it.  Tap mixture out onto your hands, careful to keep it’s shape and gently place into the hot skillet.  Reduce heat to medium and saute until golden brown and cooked through, add 1 more tablespoon of oil (if necessary) and flip.  Cook about 4-5 minutes per side, of whenever they are your desired color and doneness.  Repeat with remaining oil and mixture.   Top with raita — enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from the September 2011 issue of Bon Appetit Magazine

Have a great day!

Laurie

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Notice anything different?  Look at the URL (and blog title) above.  That’s right, my blog is now ‘Relishing It’, with the profanity in my web address (though it provided a few chuckles) now gone.  Let me know what you think.

On to today’s post.  Oatcakes?  No doubt the title of this recipe alone is so inviting that you can’t wait to try it.  Alright, it may not sound exciting, but these little creations are incredible.  I want implore you to make them to prove that even with a title like ‘oatcakes’, these are delicious.  Did I mention that they’re also easy and convenient?   I stumbled across these hearty cakes in another recently published cookbook, Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson.  Heidi authors the blog 101 Cookbooks  , which I’ve been following for some time.  This book is fantastic, with a concentration on healthy and vegetarian foods.  I’ve made these oatcakes several times over the last couple of weeks, as my family (mostly my husband) devours them.  These are most certainly not muffins.  To be honest, I’m not really a muffin fan.  While they’re sweet and cake-like, I find that I always choose something else if given the option.  Yes, these oatcakes have that tell-tale ‘muffin shape’, but the comparison ends there.  These are very dense, hearty, and flavorful, though not particularly sweet.  Even better, they’re filled with ingredients that are nutricious and tasty.  You’ll see that the recipe contains a few items that you may not have on hand.  Don’t let that stop you from making them.  My guess is that once you have the ingredients on-hand, you’ll make this recipe again and again.

Whole grains, oatmeal, and whole wheat pastry flour provide the heft here.  The original recipe also called for whole flax seeds, though my variation relies on flax meal.  Whole flax seeds are too hard for your body to break down.  They simply pass through, without giving you the healthy benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and antioxidants that you get in the ground form.  Whether you use whole seeds or ground meal, store them in the refrigerator once opened.  Heart-healthy walnuts add a nutty crunch to the cakes, and also contain omega-3 fatty acids that are good for you.  The cakes are sweetened with raw cane sugar, honey, and maple syrup– a sublime combination.  Here I deviated from the original recipe as well, as it called for just the maple syrup and sugar.  I was feeling a bit stingy about my dwindling maple syrup supply being depleted by another 3/4 cup, so I substituted half with honey.  It really paid off, as the honey and oat combination is heavenly.  There are also two different oils that keep the cakes moist– butter and extra virgin coconut oil.  The latter is emerging as a healthy alternative oil that’s seeing more use in cooking and baking.  You can read about some of it’s health benefits here.  When you go to purchase it, take note that it will not be a liquid.  It will be white and solid.

These oatcakes are a perfect snack for your busy summer.  They keep well and transport easily.  Take them on walks, bike rides, camping, or for a simple morning breakfast.  They are very filling, and they’ll satisfy your hunger for longer than you think.  I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

The Recipe: Oatcakes

(makes 1 dozen)

3 cups rolled oats

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or spelt flour

1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/4 cup flax meal

3/4 cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted

1/3 cup extra virgin coconut oil

1/3 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup  (Note:  just to be clear — 3/4 cup total of equal parts maple syrup and honey)

1/2 cup raw cane sugar or natural cane sugar

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 325°F with a rack in the top third of the oven.  Butter a standard 12-cup muffin pan.

Combine the oats, flour, baking powder, salt, flax meal, and walnuts in a large mixing bowl.

In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine the coconut oil, butter, honey, maple syrup, and sugar and slowly melt together.  Stir just until the butter melts and sugar has dissolved, but don’t let the mixture get too hot.  And if it does, let it cool a bit – you don’t want it to cook the eggs in the next step.

Pour the coconut oil mixture over the oat mixture.  Stir a bit with a fork, add the eggs, and stir again until everything comes together into a wet dough.  Spoon the dough into muffin cups, nearly filling them.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the edges of each oatcake are deeply golden.  Remove pan from oven and let cool for a couple of minutes.  Then run a knife around the edges of the cakes and tip them out onto a cooling rack.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  They are especially good with a smear of butter and a drizzle of honey.  Enjoy!

Source: Adapted from Super Natural Every Day Cookbook by Heidi Swanson

Thanks again for stopping by!

Laurie

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