Friday, June 22, 2012

Grain-free Chocolate Cake.

My attempts at grain-free cakes have really come a long way.  Those of you who have ever made a grain-free cake know that it's not the easiest thing ;)  I started my journey with some of Elana's recipes at Elana's Pantry.  The results were better than I hoped, but I knew I could make it better.  Over the past three summers, I've made a couple versions of her chocolate cake.  I've scoured a countless number of other food blogs, drawing ideas from what other real food bloggers have done in grain-free cake land.  I've experimented with the amounts of liquids and ratios of flours and other ingredients, changing it as I went along, longing for a certain taste and mouth feel of cake.  Now I finally have a recipe entirely my own.  Each time I've learned something new, and now this is a cake I am really happy with.  I cannot say more about this cake's texture, flavor and ease of cooking.  I know that you'll love it too.

Grain-free Chocolate Cake.
    makes two nine inch round cakes

  3/4 cup  organic coconut flour
  1/2 cup  blanched almond flour
  1/2 cup  cocoa powder - I used Ghirardelli
  12  real eggs
  1 cup  maple syrup - grade B
  1 cup  organic coconut oil, melted
  1 Tbsp  vanilla
  1/2 tsp  baking powder
  1 tsp  baking soda
  1 tsp  unrefined sea salt

  4 cups  organic powdered sugar
  1 stick  unsalted butter - I used KerryGold
  ~1/2 cup  raw whole milk
  1/2 tsp  unrefined sea salt
  optional: extract of choice for flavor, here I used mint extract

Chocolate Ganache, or use my Paleo Ganche recipe:
  1 - 12 oz  package chocolate chips - I used Trader Joes brand - feel free to use unsweetened also
  1/2  stick unsalted butter - I used KerryGold

Here's the final product! Cake assembled and frosting+ganache set.

To make your chocolate cake:
  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees convection.
  2.  In a small bowl, combine cocoa powder, coconut flour, almond flour, sea salt, baking powder, baking soda. Whisk until there are no lumps.
  3.  In another bowl, whisk together eggs (room temp), maple syrup, melted coconut oil (make sure it's not hot), and vanilla.
  4.  Combine wet into dry ingredients until just combined.
  5. ****Grease and flour the sides of the pan - use butter (best) or coconut oil (ok). 
  6.  Pour equal amounts of cake batter into 2 9" round cake pans.
  7.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes or until top springs back lightly when touched and sides are pulling away from the pan.
  8.  Let cool only until you can handle the pans, then run a knife around the edges before gently inverting the cakes and removing them from the pan. If you floured and greased the sides well, getting the cakes out of the pan shouldn't be an issue, but if you didn't, you might get only the top of the cake out!

To make your frosting and ganache:
  1.  For the frosting, with room temperature butter, cream butter and powdered sugar until fluffy. Add milk slowly as needed into the sugar and butter.
  2.  Add vanilla, extract (optional).
  3.  For the ganache, in a double boiler melt chocolate chips and butter. Remove from heat when 80% of the chocolate is melted. Stir. The heat will melt the remaining chips.
  4.  Let ganache cool, but still be spreadable.

Cake assembly:
  1.  Remove cake from the pans. Place one on a large plate.
  2.  Frost with one layer of frosting on the top of the cake.
  3.  Place the remaining cake on top of the frosted layer.
  4.  Frost with remaining frosting on top and sides of both layers.
  5.  Place cake in the fridge for the frosting to set.
  6.  Spread ganache on top of the cake. Return to the fridge and allow ganache to set.

1) You can easily cut this recipe in half, and you'll have one 9" cake.
2) Do not make this with runny honey instead of maple syrup. There is less flavor and a bit less sweetness. When I made this with honey it just seemed to be lacking something.
3) Make sure your eggs are on the medium/large side. I've made this cake with small sized eggs, and the end product was a bit more on the dry side than I would like.

Here are some pictures of the first grain-free chocolate cakes I made:

At my house, cake is always served with real ice cream!

There was A LOT of filling inside, and it still wasn't enough ;)

German chocolate cake, completely finished!

This was my first attempt at grain-free chocolate cake. I wish I had remembered to snap a picture before cutting it up!

My brother's birthday is always during the summer, so I always have an excuse to make a cake.  It's my once a year cake indulgence!  However that is beginning to change since I've learned how to make these cakes so nourishing and healthy!  This summer will probably be a little different since my brother and his wife are having twins.  It's very exciting, but I doubt a birthday celebration with cake and ice cream will be the last thing on their mind ;)  This past week I made this cake in a banana version with peanut butter frosting!  It's so nourishing, low in sugar and high in protein, and I've been eating it with my yogurt and berries for breakfast.

Happy summer! Cake away :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Squash Fries.

See those yellow things?   No they are not french fries... They're SQUASH fries!  Also known as my version of "real food french fries."  Squash fries have no trans fats, acrylamides, or toxic omega-6 vegetable oils.  They are super easy to make and are a definite crowd pleaser.   They are Paleo and Primal.  Your friends, family, spouses and children will have NO IDEA that they are eating something healthy and nourishing.  You'll never go back to eating normal french fries again.  Well maybe not true, but you'll definitely consider the thought -- they're that good!  My family could not rave about them more.

The other foods in the picture are homemade venison burgers with fresh chopped onion, parmesan cheese and spices.  And the white stuff is not rice, but cauliflower rice, which is simply steamed soft cauliflower mashed with a fork and mixed with grass-fed butter, and salt and pepper.  Deliciously Primal and Paleo!  I can't believe ketchup didn't make it into this picture :)  We love ketchup at my house and that would be a perfect addition to this meal.   I am sure I doused my plate in it after snapping this photo ;)  Dipping these nourishing squash fries into real ketchup made this meal a highlight of my culinary year.   I am so excited to (finally) be sharing it with you... I've been making these for almost a year.

Squash Fries
    makes four servings

    2  organic delicata squash
    unrefined sea salt
    organic black pepper

To make your squash fries:
  1.  Prep the squashes:
             1)  Wash the outside of the squash well.  You will be consuming the skin.
             2)  Cut both ends off of the squash and then cut in half lengthwise.
             3)  Scoop out the seeds from both halves.  Slice lengthwise into small strips
  2.  On a hot cookie sheet that has already been in the oven (can be lined with a Silpat), broil the squash fries on high, watching carefully so that they don't burn and moving them so they don't stick to the sheet.  Having the sheet already hot helps them to come out more crispy.  You can also bake these around 425 until they are cooked, as well.
  3.  Serve to your wonderful family with condiments of choice.  I like sprinkling some more unrefined sea salt on mine and then dipping them in ketchup.  If you do have leftovers, they keep very well in the fridge for a couple of days.  Eat them cold :) or warm them up!

YUM!  So easy and so delicious!  They make a great primal snack!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

What Is Up and What Is Down.

To say that this has been a busy season of life for me would be a little bit of an understatement.  I've got a lot to tell you about, but I'll keep it short, because I've got more interesting things I should write about, like the grain-free granola I made this week...

This semester was my last of undergrad.  I knew Senior Spring would be very busy and it was.  Besides classes I tried to do as much as possible (not knowing how long I would really still be in California) like hanging out with my friends, going new places, and trying to figure out the next step for after graduation.  The latter was the most hard.  I know my passions, but couldn't figure out how i should use them.  For years I have been thinking about pursuing graduate work in nutrition or going to medical school to become a Naturopathic doctor.  As the semester unfolded it was looking like I was going to stay in California (not move home to the East Coast), find a job, work, and save up some money before going on to whatever graduate school path I decide.  So I applied to jobs, I applied to internships, (one of them was on a old agricultural estate, ie, an organic working farm in Tuscany, Italy), but nothing worked out.  Then during Spring Break I was visiting a friend and I was in the area of an naturopathic school and so I decided to visit.  It really opened my eyes, and when I got back to school I applied to three different naturopathic schools in three days.  And so from the beginning of April to the beginning of June, I juggled finishing up undergrad and planning for medical school in the Fall.  This preparation largely consisted of visiting all three schools for personal interviews.  I traveled to Tempe, AZ,  then to Seattle, WA, and after graduation, to Portland, OR.  All of this within a mere six week period.  I was admitted to all three schools, and given scholarships to two.  And so I am officially, officially, going to naturopathic medical school.  I know this is what God wants me to do.  I feel so much peace and excitement when I think of pursuing this new path.  I'm doing this because I believe He has given me talents and a calling.  My arms are open and I am excited for everything new and all the adventures that await me around the bend.

And that explains just why you haven't been hearing for me.  On top of all that my parents are moving, and my older brother is having TWINS next month.  My life is very full right now, which is such a blessing.  So dear reader, know that I am busy, and with all these changes in my life I have no idea what path my blogging is going to take.  Lately it's been the last thing on my mind.  I still cook and bake, and I still read my favorite food blogs, but as anyone who blogs will tell you, blogging takes time and effort.  After a long day lifting boxes or making phone calls or studying, sometimes is the last thing I'd like to do.  Thanks so much for all the comments you've left over the last few months.  It is so great to know that my recipes are making a difference in your lives.  That's why I have this blog.  Helping people make something taste good and have it work for their dietary restrictions and also be healthy (which they thought wasn't possible), really gets me excited.  Keep reading, and I promise you I will keep sharing.  It may not be as frequent, as you've already witnessed, but I will share.  Thanks for sticking around!  I am excited for what's next!  And if you don't already, try following me on Twitter... sometimes I can more easily update that than write a post.

I hope to get a few recipes up this week... stay tuned!!