I’m a month into being very diligent about following a gluten-free and dairy-free diet. When in India, being gluten-free isn’t so hard, especially when you are as fortunate as I am to have an amazing woman who loves experimenting with food sending me a tiffin everyday. I get things like gluten-free puran puri (gari rotli as I knew it as a child, I learned of the name puran puri from Amdavadis), and gluten-free bhature for my cholle! [You can see some of the pictures of this food on my instagram]. But I have a sweet tooth, and there frankly aren’t that many options if you want “western” dessert that is both gluten-free and dairy-free. BUT here is where following food blogs and writing down recipes came to my rescue! I’m not sure where I got the original recipe from (and there are plenty of similar recipes), here’s the recipe for my dairy-free gluten-free (and paleo) no bake Strawberry Vanilla Cheesecake.
Don’t get put off by the fancy dietary adjectives – this cake was LOVED by all – especially those that don’t have my dietary restrictions.
This cake is very rich, and very delish. No preservatives, no sugar, full of nuts, fruit and other goodness. Not recommended for young children because of the honey content. [Friends who are nutritionists have told me that young children shouldn’t consume honey, but you can do your own research].
- 1/2 cup almonds (mine happened to be stored with some nutmeg, which added to the flavor of the almonds)
- 1/2 cup dates without the seeds
- pint of salt
- 1.5 cup cashews, soaked for at least 5 hours
- up to 4 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup honey (use another sweetener if you want it to be vegan)
- 1/3 cup coconut oil
- 1 cup of fresh strawberries (make sure they are dry, else they will create more a yoghurt texture)
- 1/3 cup of strawberries (to decorate)
- Grease your spring-form pan with a bit of coconut oil. If you don’t have a spring-form pan, use a pie plate.
- Place almonds and dates in a food processor with salt and blend together until well-mixed. Take a spoonful in your hand and make into a ball – if it holds, you are good to go. If it feels too dry, add another date or two.
- Spoon the mixture into the pan and press down to make into an even crust. Cover the base of the pan completely.
- Warm coconut oil and honey in a saucepan until liquified
- Blend cashews with coconut oil and honey, add vanilla extract and 2 tbsp of lemon juice on high speed until very smooth. Taste the mixture and add remaining lemon juice if needed.
- Pour half of the mixture from above onto the crust and smooth out with a spatula. Gently shake the pan like a sieve to smoothen out the bumps.
- Add the strawberries to the remaining mixture in your blender. Add more lemon juice per your taste and depending on the sweetness of the strawberries.
- Pour the mixture on top of the vanilla layer.
- Place in freezer for an hour or two for it to solidify.
Decorate & Serve
- Remove the cake from the freezer about 30 minutes before you want to serve it. Top it with fresh sliced strawberries or this strawberry topping.
- For easy cutting, run a smooth, sharp knife under hot water before using it to cut slices.
- Store leftovers in the fridge.
I’ve been reading about healthy eating from Dr. Sachin Patel
and inspired by all the great recipes on his blog
, yesterday I was craving veggies and a healthy dinner. My kitchen only had a few veggies available – beets, carrots and onions. But also had vegetable stock and tomato puree. So I searched some soup recipes and took inspiration from several to create this soup that turned out delish!
I had this with baked homemade garlic fries and it was perfect. The beets give a wonderful colour to the soup.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 1 beet, chopped
- 1/2 cup tomato puree
- 1 vegetable buillion cube
- 1 1/2 cups water (or just 1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth)
- 1 teaspoon oregano seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup whole wheat rigati pasta
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 0.5 cm ginger, grated
- Warm the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat
- Add the carrots, onion, and garlic and saute until onions are transluscent and carrots are soft.
- Dissolve buillion cube in water to make vegetable broth.
- Add beets, tomato puree, vegetable broth, pasta, ginger and seasonings. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
- Simmer for 15 minutes.
- Serve hot!
After a long hiatus, I baked again and I baked a lot. I wanted to share an awesome new recipe that I tried out – Poached Apple Cinnamon Cake. This cake apparently is the best cake I have ever made.
I modified the recipe for Spiced Pear Cake
from Passionate About Baking, who is in turn had gotten the recipe from Food Network Canada
There are two parts to this cake – the poached apples and cake itself. You can place whole poached apples into the cake, but I cut mine up into quarter slices and spread them around. Next time, I cut an apple into 4 quarters and further slice each quarter into 2 to 3 pieces so that you can get pieces of apple in each bite.
As I am writing this up, I realized that I used WAY less water than was stated in the original recipe for poaching, but it worked out fine!
Next time I am going to try making this without sugar (using honey instead) to make it a sugar-free, vegetarian dessert!
Here is my eggless version:
Poached Apple Cinnamon Cake
Makes 2 – 4 X 8 inch cakes make in a loaf pan
- 2 medium apples (cut into quarter slices, cut further after poaching)
- Juice of 1 small lemon (mine was a circular lemon about 1.5 inches in diameter)
- 1 cup water (original recipe says 4 cups of water)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup ground almonds / walnuts
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 pinch salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 apple puree
- Peel the apples and slice into quarters.
- Place the apples in a bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice. Set aside.
- Place the water, sugar and cinnamon in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Add the apples and the remaining lemon juice.
- With the syrup barely simmering, poach the apples until tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Transfer to a plate and let cool to room temperature.
- Return apples to cooled poaching liquid.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Lightly grease and flour pan.
- In a bowl, combine the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, spices and salt. Set aside.
- In another bowl, cream the butter with the brown sugar. Add apple puree and mix until smooth.
- Measure out 1/4 cup of the poaching liquid.
- Add the dry ingredients, alternating with the poaching liquid.
- Pour the batter into the pan. Place poached apple pieces in the batter.
- Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the cake between 2 apples comes out clean.
- Let cool on a rack and unmould gently.
Through some random clicking through links on my list of food blogs, I came across Red Chillies’ Vegan Chocolate Cake, which is originally from Allrecipes and was submitted to Madhuram’s eggless baking with vinegar event.
I wanted to make some easy and quick cake to take for some friends I was meeting after a long time and decided to give it a try. Unlike Red Chillies’ experience, I found this cake to be quite moist. I made it in my bundt cake pan and perhaps did not grease it properly so ended up with lots of cake with no shape. I’ve made vinegar chocolate cake before and my opinion is that they are more like brownies than cake (that might also be because I used whole wheat flour, so they are denser..)
BUT since it was moist, it was very easy to shape with my hands without the addition of frosting or anything else. Inspired by Priya’s Hearts for Valentine’s Day event, I came up with these heart shaped mini cakes. These of course are being submitted to the event and is my first submission to a food blogging event =)
So I made 1cm thick circles and used a heart shaped cookie cutter to cut out hearts. Layered two hearts together with some frosting (not too much as generally people find its addition to be too sweet here) and topped with strawberry topping I made a day ago. It’s the perfect size for a dessert without being too much or too little. I would perhaps next time also cover with a chocolate ganache.
Great thing about this recipe is that you can make it all in one flour or even the pan (if using a cake pan)
Note: I predominantly use whole wheat instead of all-purpose flour (or maida in India). Everything tastes delicious though it may be denser. This was no exception. I would recommend the switch. It’s healthier =)
Mini Whole Wheat Chocolate Heart Cake
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
- 1 cup water
- (vegan) frosting as needed
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Take a loaf pan and grease it thoroughly.
- Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt.
- Now add the oil, vanilla, vinegar and water. Mix together until smooth.
- Pour into prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
- Remove from tray and crumble together. Make 1 cm thick rounds that are larger than cookie cutter. Cut out hearts, using excess from the side to make more.
- Top one heart with frosting and place another heart on top of it.
- Serve with strawberry or any fruit topping.
Its technically spring, but winter like weather and fruit season in India. Lots of sweet strawberries, kiwis (well they are almost gone), pears, chickoo, pineapples and more. I tend to buy strawberries every time I go to my fruitwalla. Sometimes though, I dont get around to eating them.
I had a 200g carton of strawberries that needed to be used up, so I decided to make some fresh strawberry topping that I could use sometime in the next week or so, as long as I kept it in the fridge/freezer. I’ve actually kept this in the freezer for longer in the past. As long as you can prevent freezer burn, it should keep.
- 200grams fresh strawberries, chopped
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Chop all strawberries and set aside 1/3 of them.
- Place remaining 2/3 strawberries along with sugar and vanilla on medium heat until bubbly. Reduce to low and cook for additional 10 minutes. Be sure to stir regularly to prevent sticking.
- Transfer cooked strawberry mixture to blender and puree.
- Add the uncooked strawberries to puree. Allow mixture to cool on counter.
- Serve over ice cream, pancakes, cakes and more or keep in fridge for use within week, freezer for longer storage.
I ended up using this on the vegan mini chocolate cakes.
Armed with the success of my first yeast product – the onion and cheddar pretzel, I wanted to find a easy whole wheat bread that I can make regularly for breakfast, etc. Allrecipes had a really positively reviewed recipe for a simple whole wheat bread that I decided to try out.
I made some small changes, make 1 loaf instead of 3 and all whole wheat flour, no bread flour and a little more honey. One glitch was that my yeast was not activated properly so it did not rise well, so I ended up with quite dense bread. Its a great with peanut or jam.
- 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
- 2 teaspoons dry active yeast
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 3 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons olive oil or melted butter
- In a large bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and 2 tablespoons honey. Add 2 cups whole wheat flour, and stir to combine. Let set for 30 minutes, or until big and bubbly.
- Mix in 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons honey, and salt. Stir in 1 cups whole wheat flour. Flour a flat surface and knead with whole wheat flour until not real sticky – just pulling away from the counter, but still sticky to touch. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with a dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled.
- Punch down. Place in greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan, and allow to rise until dough has topped the pans by one inch.
- Bake at 180 degrees C for 25 to 30 minutes; do not overbake. Lightly brush the tops of loaves with melted butter or olive oil when done to prevent crust from getting hard. Cool completely
Aparna from My Diverse Kitchen has this fantastic onion and cheddar pretzel recipe that I had to try. When I finally got some good yeast and decided to attempt my first fermented bread, this looked so appealing that I gave this a shot (plus I had medium cheddar cheese in my fridge courtesy of international visitors). Plus it was a chance to try out the kneading function on my food processor. Note: this makes bread making SOOO easy. I was considering getting a bread maker from abroad, but with the food processor, its easy enough that I can do without one.
I made some changes. As usual, I used more whole wheat than the recipe calls for. Instead of topping with sesame seeds, I used 1/4 cup less cheese in the dough and sprinkled it on top and I left out the black pepper, though I would use it next time. She strongly recommends using sharp cheddar cheese, I only had medium, but it still came out great.
I can definitely get used to the smell of fresh bread in my home. It lingered for hours and smelled oh so good. =)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
- 1 1/2 tsp olive oil
- 2 tsp dry active yeast
- 1 1/2 tsp sugar
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
- 1 tsp dried Italian herbs, crushed
- 1/2 tsp
- In a pan, sauté the onions in butter till soft but not brown. Keep aside to cool a bit.
- Set aside 1/4 cup grated cheese.
- Add the sugar and yeast to the warm water, stir and allow to prove. In a mixing bowl (or processor bowl), put the sautéed onion, 3/4 cup cheese, flours, Italian herbs and salt. Mix (or pulse) a couple of times and add the yeast mixture.
- Knead very well, adding more water if necessary, till a moderately stiff dough which is smooth and elastic is obtained.
- Shape into a ball and place in a greased bowl, coating the ball with oil by turning it round in the bowl. Cover and allow the dough to double in volume (about an hour or so).
- Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, letting it rest for 10 minutes. Roll the dough out into a 24″ long smooth rope. Place it on a greased baking sheet and shape into a large pretzel shape. Moisten the ends of the pretzel and tuck them underneath to seal.
- Cover and allow to rise till almost double (about half an hour). Sprinkle top with remaining cheddar cheese.
- Bake at 190C for about 40 minutes till golden brown and the bread sounds hollow when tapped. If the bread is browning too much, cover it loosely with aluminium foil during the last 20 minutes in the oven. Cool completely on a rack.