I realise that some of you may be reclining on the sofa digesting a rather large meal. Feet up, hand on distended belly, telly at full volume (to drown out the clattering of a million dishes being cleaned in the kitchen). You may be kicking back waiting for a second wind; after all, Auntie Jean’s famous sweet potato meringue pie isn’t going to eat itself. *must find a clean plate* Continue reading
It is not very often that I go a bit crazy with my own cooking. Like most cooks and food bloggers I will make stuff, serve it, write about it, but gosh don’t I get embarrassed when people like it. Do you do that too?
It is not that we aren’t grateful for adulation – not at all, please don’t stop – but we can be a bit awkward and weirdly shy. My schtick is that I hem and haw and say something like “oh, it doesn’t have enough salt in it,” or “it was in the oven about five minutes too long” (that was yesterday’s rebuttal to the lemon polenta cake I brought to a class). To some this may smack of false modesty, but I am sure that the majority of the time most of us praise-rebuffers are not fishing for compliments: we genuinely don’t think our offering is worthy of special mention. We’ve made it, we hope it is edible. End of.
But for today and today only, I will retract my inner self-critic and say that I really quite like this frosting AND I will smile politely and say “thank you very much” to anyone who likes it too. I’m quite chuffed with it because, to my knowledge, it is original and, crucially, tastes pretty much like chocolate frosting should taste – creamy, chocolatey, lickable. And the whole food twist? Black beans. Yup, black beans.
Some of you will have made avocado frosting – and that’s really tasty stuff – but recently while cooking some black beans up for a savoury dish I just thought, why not? Why not indeed. They are awesome in black bean brownies (I’ll post my own version soon), so why wouldn’t they be good in something else in the chocolate-cocoa canon?
I knew it would need a wee help with the texture – a bit ‘floury’ on its own – so I added a little peanut butter (although cashew would be even better as it is milder). Melted good quality chocolate in place of the nut butter would be divine, but I wanted to see how ‘pure’ I could get it. I was totally shocked that I didn’t have to immediately stick it in the bin (we have no dog). None of it made it into the bin. My very truthful family helped out with the ‘cleaning up’. If they hadn’t given their thumbs up – or rather fingers in – I would’ve gone no further with this cranky idea.
If you dare to make this up do have more patience than have I: blend the heck out of the frosting. I blended as best as my tiny attention span would allow, but dark flecks are visible. The bold among you could pass them off as chocolate chips (?). Maybe pushing the beans through a sieve or food mill would be even better. You would also be more patient with the spreading and decorating.
It IS a bit nutty, and I wouldn’t recommend whacking it on anything too healthy (date-sweetened oat & chia cookies need not apply), but I think it would be a fun frosting on homemade chocolate cake, fairy cakes, anything with a nut or coffee flavour in need of frosting, even a dip for fresh fruit (it was nice with banana slices). I frosted up chocolate and beetroot muffins for a few nutrition groups and no one guessed the surprise healthy ingredient. The closest anyone got was avocado. Good guess. My next go with this will be to add malt syrup for a Horlick’s/Ovaltine vibe. That might be pushing it…
What weird stuff have you concocted lately?
Last year: Spinach and Walnut Dip (Spinach Pkhali)
Two years ago: Kale-Berry Smoothie
Unusual? Yes. A pretty good doppelganger for the real thing? I think so. If you have had black bean brownies (my recipe soon) you will know that somehow this ingredient works with chocolate and cocoa. I’ve just taken it in a slightly different direction: on top.
This black bean frosting was taste-tested on over 30 people: all thought it was chocolate frosting. With ingredients mainly of the store cupboard variety I hope you try it and give your verdict. Spread it on a decadent cake for a kind of calorie and fat balancing act, or do what we do and use it on my beetroot chocolate cake/muffins.
The following is just a guide – start with these amounts, blend, taste and adjust as you like. Makes enough to spread on one small cake or 9 muffins.
60g (slightly heaped 1/3 cup) cooked and rinsed black beans or adzuki beans
1 ½ tbsp cocoa or cacao powder
1 very heaped tbsp smooth nut butter (cashew would be mildest but I used peanut butter with good results)
2 tbsp (+) runny acacia honey or maple syrup
Pinch of fine salt
¼ tsp vanilla powder or paste (extract is to strong here – you taste the alcohol)
Enough warm water to get a smooth frosting (I used about 1 teaspoon)
METHOD: Pop everything into a blender and blend like mad. Keeps for four days, refrigerated in a covered container.
I’ve given the recipe sharing a break for a couple of weeks but this week I would like to include this unusual sweet over at Mark of Javelin Warrior’s Cookin’ W/ Luv Made With Love Mondays, and to Heather for her Sweet Wednesday Link Party. Please go and visit their great sites for ideas and more.
After the excesses of last week’s ingredient-fest that is gado-gado, we are down to earth. Quite literally. You can’t more down to earth than beetroot, can you? Continue reading
Botanically identical to tender-skinned summer squashes, winter squashes are my unsung hero of autumn-winter eating. Not only do they keep well – you can forget about them for over a month and they will still love you – they are just about the most useful and delicious of the cold weather crops. Butternut squash, acorn, Delicata, kabocha, Hubbard, sugar pie, red kuri, spaghetti, Hokkaido – and loads more – their tough unyielding armour holds rich, sweet, nutritious flesh. Continue reading
For many of you labneh will need no introduction. Anyone keen on Middle Eastern food will have no doubt at least come across a mention of this delicious and creamy cheese in the food press, or even some cookery programmes. You may even have had a smear of it as part of a mezze in a Lebanese restaurant. But did you know that it is ridiculously easy to make? And make really well? Continue reading
Those summer squashes (zucchini/courgettes) that throughout the lazy summer months were tender and thin-skinned enough for anointing with cream in delicate gratins, and ribboning raw into salads? Well, they are now lumpen beasts; their mass, weight and tough facade seemingly only useful as weapons. Perhaps light-sabres, perhaps clubs, perhaps bricks – variety depending.
And it seems to happen overnight. As any gardener will tell you, nearly all varieties in the Curcubita pepo family will bulk from 99 gram weakling into the Incredible Hulk with very little encouragement. But late summer squashes – big and lumbering though they are – come to make soup, not war.
Regular readers will know I am a bit of breakfast-head. If breakfast were a religion I would be proselytising on a street corner, shoving avocado-smeared toast in your hand as you rushed by, late and ratty for your train. In other words, a bit evangelical. Small e, mind.
Happily, I’ve noticed in my nutrition groups that when we discuss breakfast and its importance for blood sugar control (and consequently weight control), energy and basically running on all cylinders, I am preaching to the choir. A calm, unratty, insulin-controlled choir. Hooray! Big H. Continue reading
Polenta cakes are stupidly easy to make. I don’t mean this as an insult to polenta cakes, you, or anyone else for that matter. But, really. Dumping everything in a stand mixer and pressing ‘on’ is pretty easy. And sometimes – even although you may be the best baker in your family, in your workplace, in the world – stupidly-easy is what you need. If and when that situation arises, polenta cake is there for you.
This is my science-updated take on an old Ayurvedic treatment beloved of Indian grandmothers. Treatment for what, you may wonder. Just about everything. Although clinical evidence supporting its cure-all reputation is scanty (not many big studies have been funded), what is around looks very promising. Very promising indeed. And with 14 centuries of culinary and medicinal use, perhaps grandmother really does know best. Continue reading
What’s the first thing that springs to mind when I say/write ‘vinegar’? In Britain it would definitely be ‘fish and chips’. In an eco-warrior’s house it might be ‘cleaning spray’. I don’t think many people would say ‘fruit’.
I may be showing my age but I wouldn’t be without a bottle or two of fruit vinegar. Just as I like to see a sticky shelf lined up with mismatched bottles of homemade jams (very Little House On The Prairie), I now like to see a few bottles of brightly-coloured, sharp-sweet fruit vinegar alongside. I used to think they were only good for drizzling over fancy salads, but I have come to find that fruit vinegars are as useful to me as ‘regular’ vinegar – just in different ways. In fact, it is a very inexpensive way to make lots of things more special. Continue reading