Tag Archives: local

Vegan Chocolate Loaf with yogurt, warmed cherries, and chocolate balsamic

6 May

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Because it’s Tuesday.

Because I’m in the thick of finals (last semester of grad school!).

Because I like to eat “healthified cake” for breakfast. 

Because sometimes, I like to plate my food up fancy. 

I ate a slice of this chocolate loaf for breakfast today. No shame. Vegan chocolate loaf cake with some plain, low fat yogurt, frozen cherries that were warmed in the microwave and poured on top, the juices seeping into the cake, and a final glug of chocolate balsamic vinegar that I re-discovered I had in the cabinet. This could easily be dessert.

Healthy decadence is my jam.

Nicole from CucinaNicolina and I are on the same page in terms of our mindset that life is too short not to have a slice of something sweet, especially when that sweet something is homemade, with a little bit of health mixed in. Throwing in some whole wheat flour and a sprinkling of ground flaxseeds helps make cake an acceptable breakfast in my opinion. Oh, and there’s a cup of coffee in hiding in the loaf, too. I always have a little extra from my morning French press, so this was a great excuse to use it up.

This weekend, I tasted the Brooklyn based White Moustache yogurt in sour cherry flavor. The yogurt company is a father-daughter business, and the yogurt is made from Hudson Valley Fresh whole milk and live probiotic cultures. While the price is steep, this yogurt was a real treat, and was worth every penny. Plus, you get to keep the container to re-use.

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This sour cherry combo got me craving cherries. Since cherry season is not quite here, I found some frozen cherries and just heated them up and poured them over this vegan chocolate loaf. Cherries, chocolate, and creamy yogurt were meant to be together!

Since I gobbled down my jar of White Moustache yogurt, I served the cake with my other favorite brand, Wallaby Organic Plain Low-fat Greek Yogurt. If you want to keep everything vegan, just omit the yogurt or make some sort of coconut based cream.

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Vegan Chocolate Loaf

adapted from Cucina Nicolina

makes 1 loaf or ~8 servings

Nicole says, “As always, replace the whole wheat pastry flour and/or spelt flour with all purpose if that’s all you have. A non-dairy milk or plain water can be swapped for the coffee, but I love the coffee note in there and would be loathe to miss it.” I used whole wheat and all purpose flour to keep things simple, and yes, I LOVED the coffee note.

1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup dutch processed cocoa powder

2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds

3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar (I used slightly less)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup room temperature coffee

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350 F. Grease a standard sized loaf pan with oil or butter (omit butter if keeping this vegan) and lightly dust with flour.

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, cocoa powder, flaxseeds, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together coffee, olive oil, and vanilla.

Dump the wet ingredients all at once into the dry and whisk until just combined. The batter will be more firm than wet.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely before serving.

Serve with a dollop of yogurt, some warmed cherries, and a glug of chocolate balsamic vinegar (regular balsamic vinegar would work, too). 

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Farro Salad with Roasted Asparagus and Overwintered Spinach

4 May

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Grain-based salads are my norm, my go-to, my default. Paired with seasonal veggies and a little protein from cheese or nuts or an egg, grain-based salads are a great dinner-to-lunch-the-next-day meal.

I work at a bakery that also carries some miscellaneous knickknacks for purchase like NYC soil, cocoa nibs, kale chips, random books on bicycles, dog toys, kombucha, and…emmer Farro from Cayuga Pure Organics! After gawking at the farro for weeks and weeks, I finally brought some home to “sample” the product.

Farro is one of those nutty grains that when cooked should be soft with a slight bite to it. Farro is typically combined with Italian or Mediterranean flavors, but you could definitely experiment. Some people even like to make a risotto using farro, or to sweeten it and call it breakfast.

I recently listened to an episode of WNYC’s Leonard Lopate Food Fridays show about grains that I found very interesting…check it out here. In that same episode, he speaks to Melissa Clark from the NYTimes Dining section about packing lunch, and she has some good words to say about farro.

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One of my nutrition professors recommended buying the overwintered greens at the farmer’s market right now. From what I’ve read, overwintered greens are super sweet and only available for a short time…right NOW! These are greens that have been planted in the fall, their shoots and leaves die off in the winter frost, but the roots remain and lend new stems emerging from the sweet roots.

I never knew about this before, and after tasting this spinach, it really is a treat.

Very anxious for spring produce, which is just barely starting to show up in the markets now, I was excited to try this overwintered spinach in combination with the first asparagus of the season. Indeed this is a transition meal, as the weather is finally starting to be consistently “nice” here in NYC.

I added some Vermont Creamery goat cheese to the salad, which I imagine would be perfect with spring strawberries (which I hope to see at the market soon…we still just have apples here in NY…), drizzled with some aged balsamic.

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Farro Salad with Roasted Asparagus and Wintered Spinach

**NOTE: if you don’t have farro, you could always substitute with Israeli couscous, orzo, quinoa, millet, rice, wild rice, wheat berries…etc.

1 cup farro, soaked in water for at least 4 hours

1 bunch asparagus

1 clove garlic

3 handfuls overwintered spinach

1 scallion or spring onion or a 1/4 shallot, thinly sliced/diced/slivered

2 oz goat cheese

extra: salt, pepper, drizzle of balsamic, dash of pesto…

Drain the water from the soaked farro. Place farro in a pot and with water to cover the farro by about an inch. Bring to a boil, and then simmer on medium-low heat for about an hour or until soft but still has a slight chew, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Roast the asparagus with a small drizzle of olive oil and salt for about 15 minutes. Take out of the oven, let cool slightly, and chop on the diagonal into bite-size pieces.

Heat a skillet with a little olive oil. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted, about 4-5 minutes.

To assemble: Combine the cooked farro, the asparagus bites, and the garlicky spinach. Toss with crumbled goat cheese, salt, pepper, balsamic, and a dash of pesto. Enjoy!

**You could also make a runny egg and top the farro with it!