Archive for October, 2009

Recipe: Chocolate Chickpea Cake


Chocolate Chickpea Cake

I’ve been making this cake for many years now. I first stumbled upon it long ago when I was on a high fiber weight loss diet and was tired of putting wheat bran in everything for extra fiber..yes the diet worked.

This recipe is amazing,and I’m not easily impressed. You will not believe this cake has no flour or that it is made with chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans). It’s moist, rich & chocolaty with a texture between cake and brownies and needs no frosting to jazz it up. You can start with dried beans  if you must and cook them till they are tender OR just use canned beans-they work perfectly and are so much faster.

I’m no longer on the diet but I still make this cake because it’s a darn good chocolate snack cake. And since this is a flourless cake, it’s perfect for gluten free diets. Trust me on this one.

2 cups cooked, drained chickpeas/garbanzo beans (I use canned)
1/3 cup orange juice
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Cooking spray or oil

Optional (but really unnecessary) add-ins: 1 cup chocolate chips or chopped nuts)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray or oil an 8″ round  or squarecake pan and line bottom with a circle of waxed paper.

In a food processor, process chickpeas and orange juice until very smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, pulsing after each addition.

In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and baking soda. Add to processor and pulse until just blended.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove cake from oven and let cool on a rack for 15 minutes before removing from pan. Dust with powdered sugar if desired before serving.


Recipe: Pomegranate and Lentil Soup


Native to the Middle East,  pomegranate season in North America is autumn. Almost like a puzzle to eat, the brilliant red seeds (arils)  of the pomegranate are sweet, tart and burst with juice. They’re well worth the trouble to free from the white pith that hold everything tightly together. Clinical studies suggest the health benefits from the high antioxidant levels in pomegranates may be beneficial for the prevention of variety of ailments from heart disease to some cancers. 

There are many classic Middle Eastern recipes that use pomegranates as an ingredient.  The following soup combines pomegranate juice with lentils for a dense soup that’s perfect for cool autumn suppers served with pita bread and a cucumber salad. 

Pomegranate and Lentil Soup 

This is a beautiful soup with origins in Persia. Omit the meatballs and use plain water or vegetable stock for a vegetarian version that is equally delicious.


3/4 cup lentils

2 tablespoons butter or oil

1 large onion peeled and chopped

1 cup uncooked rice

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon paprika (hot or mild)

8 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup whole fresh parsley leaves

1/2 cup scallions, chopped

2 cups pomegranate juice or 1 cup pomegranate molasses mixed with 1 cup water

1 tablespoon dried mint

Salt and pepper to taste


½ lb ground beef

½ lb ground lamb

1 egg

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper 

Suggested garnishes:

Fresh pomegranate seeds

Golden raisins

Preserved lemon strips


Pick over lentils for the occasional bits of debris, then wash them in several changes of clean water. In a very large saucepan or stockpot, sauté the onion in the butter or oil over medium heat until light brown. Add the lentils, rice, turmeric, paprika and all the broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, simmering until lentils and rice are tender, about 45 minutes. 

Combine the meatball ingredients and form into 2 inch meatballs. Lightly brown on all sides in olive oil. Remove from pan and drain.

Add the meatballs, parsley, scallions, and pomegranate juice to the soup. Simmer another 15-30 minutes or until soup reaches your preferred consistency. Add mint and heat through. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish as desired with raisins, preserved lemon and pomegranate seeds as desired.  

Serves 6

Recipe: Spicy Candied Bacon


Spicy Candied Bacon 

Particularly good for bacon cheeseburgers or as a special snack when watching football on television. Omit the cayenne pepper if you like and it’s something extra special for breakfast or brunch. 

Any bacon will work, but the better the quality you begin with the more special the end result will be. Baking the strips on parchment paper (or non-stick aluminum foil) will make the clean up easy. 

12-16 slices bacon, medium thickness

1 cup light brown sugar

Cayenne pepper 

 Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Lay each strip flat on a piece of parchment paper. Press approx. 1 teaspoon brown sugar onto each strip Bake for 12 minutes turning halfway through. Remove from the oven and sprinkle about another ½ teaspoon brown sugar over each strip. Dust lightly to taste with the cayenne pepper, return to the oven and continue to bake till rich brown color. 

Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack (do not drain on paper towels, the bacon is very sticky and will adhere to the paper which will be impossible to remove). Bacon will crisp as it cools.

Recipe: Cornmeal Ricotta Waffles


Cornmeal  Ricotta Waffles 

Who doesn’t love a hot crispy waffle? This version is a substantial, dense waffle that’s great served with fruit and syrup for brunch or breakfast, but we like this one best for dinner served with creamed chicken, creamed chipped beef or Southern style sausage gravy over the top. 

These are perfect for feeding a crowd. They can be made ahead and reheated directly on an oven rack at 350 degrees until heated through.

1 1/4 cup flour
1/2  cup cornmeal
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup ricotta, drained
2 eggs
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup yogurt (plain or vanilla flavored)
1/4 cup water or milk

Combine the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl. In another bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and combine until just smooth (don’t over mix). Bake the waffles in a waffle maker till golden brown. 

Leftover waffles freeze beautifully; just re-crisp in a toaster or toaster oven before serving.

Recipe: Roasted Turmeric Potatoes

roasted turmeric potatoes

Roasted Turmeric Potatoes  

A brief blanching in water laced with turmeric before roasting gives these potatoes a lovely golden color. Brilliantly colored turmeric is a relative to the more familiar common ginger root. Most commonly used as the yellow color in curries and prepared mustards, current news suggests turmeric may have some profound health benefits. Clinical trials are underway to study turmeric as a possible treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. The flavor of turmeric in the amounts used in most recipes is mild but the color it imparts is best described as profound. 

These look-and taste great served with a roast chicken. 

2-3  lbs potatoes

1  tsp ground turmeric

6 whole garlic cloves peeled

coarse sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

½ cup cooking oil or drippings from a roast 

Cut potatoes in large chunks. Place potatoes and garlic cloves in a pan large enough to cover with water. Add the turmeric and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes and drain well. 

Season with salt and pepper and place the potatoes and garlic in a roasting pan with the oil or drippings from a roast. Gently toss to coat well. Roast for 60-75 minutes at 350 degrees F.  till brown and crusty. Sprinkle with additional sea salt and pepper if desired before serving.

Recipe: Wine Brined Chicken


Wine Brined Chicken 

Brining poultry and pork for flavor and juiciness is all the rage these days. A brine is nothing more than a sugar and salt solution that penetrates the meat proteins to break them down reducing fluid loss during cooking. Additions to the brine will enhance the flavor and can be any choice of herbs, spices or aromatics such as garlic, onions or citrus peels. This recipe calls for white wine in the brining liquid but sherry also produces a wonderfully juicy & flavorful bird. Because the acid in the wine speeds the brining process up there’s no need for a lengthy brining period. 

 For this recipe, the chicken has been butterflied or “spatchcocked”. This makes for a shorter cooking time than a whole bird and is easier to carve. It also makes a nice presentation. 

Save your best wine for drinking; for this recipe any domestic bargain dry white wine will give great results. For a delicious pork brine, substitute apple cider for the wine called for in this recipe. 


1 whole chicken butterflied and backbone removed

2 cups dry white wine

2 cups water

¼ cup salt

¼ cup sugar

1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

herbs of choice such as thyme,  rosemary, tarragon or garlic if desired

1 tablespoon oil or softened butter 

Combine everything except the chicken in a large measuring cup to dissolve salt & sugar. Place the chicken in a large ziplock bag or high sided dish large enough to lay the chicken out flat. Pour brine over the chicken and seal the bag. Refrigerate 2-6 hours. 

Remove bird and pat dry with paper towels.  Rub a small amount of oil or softened butter on the skin and season both sides with fresh ground black pepper and any dried herbs of choice. Grill or roast indoors basting once or twice during cooking till chicken is cooked through and skin is crispy (juices will run clear when done). 

Serves 4

Recipe: Candied Orange Peel


Candied Orange Peel 

Great eaten all by itself, as a very pretty addition to a holiday cookie tray or as an ingredient in many holiday recipes, candied orange peel is delicious. One way to use orange peels is to stuff a dried date with a piece of orange peel and almond, then dip the entire thing into dark chocolate. Any variety of citrus peel (lemon, tangerine, blood orange, etc.) can be candied using this method. Candied grapefruit rind is an especially good addition in recipes that call for candied fruit. 

  • 6 thick-skinned Valencia or navel oranges
  • 4 1/2 cups sugar, plus extra for rolling
  • 1 1/2 cups water

Cut tops and bottoms off of the orange and score the orange into quarters, cutting down only into the peel and not into the fruit. Peel the skin and pith of the orange in large pieces, use the orange for another recipe. Using a sharp knife or swivel blade vegetable peeler, cut away the bitter white pith from the underside of the peels. The remaining peel should be approximately 1/8” thick. Do not worry if small amounts of white pith remain.  Cut the peel into strips about 1/4-inch wide. Put the orange peel in a large saucepan with cold water to cover, bring to a boil over high heat. Then pour off the water. Repeat 3 or 4 more times depending up how assertive you want the orange peels to be. Remove the orange peels from the pan.

Whisk the sugar with 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 8 to 9 minutes (if you took the sugar’s temperature with a candy thermometer it would be at the soft thread stage, 230 to 234 degrees F.) Add the peels and simmer gently, reducing heat to retain a simmer. Cook until the peels get translucent, about 45 minutes. Resist the urge to stir the peels or you may introduce sugar crystals into the syrup. If necessary, swirl the pan to move the peels around.  Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow it to cool. Once cool, drain the peels in a colander (reserve the syrup for iced tea or cocktails).


At this point, turn your oven to 200 degrees.  Place about one cup of sugar in a small bowl. Dredge the peels in the sugar until they are coated, and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Add more sugar if necessary. Place the sugar-coated peels in the warm oven and allow them to dry out. This should take approximately one hour, but check them every 20 minutes to ensure that they are not burning or cooking in any way. Alternately, they can be left to sit overnight on a drying rack instead of placed in the oven.

Once peels are completely dry, scrape off any excess sugar clumps. Store them in a dry location and they should keep for at 6 weeks weeks. Candied peels can be dipped in melted chocolate and enjoyed plain, or used in cake, cookie, candy, or bread recipes.