Carrot cake with a lemon & vanilla cream (No dairy)

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Lets eat cake.

When you’re craving carrot cake (mind you, I’m not talking about a transient, wait-five-minutes-and-it-goes-away kind of craving but rather I-will-fight-you-for-a-slice kind), there’s only one logical solution. You make a carrot cake – stat!

I have fond memories of carrot cake. “Aunty Doreen”, our neighbour and family friend, made the best carrot cake with cream cheese frosting – a rustic looking thing with two layers of brown cake and  thick lashings of off-white frosting between them and on top. Each slice was studded with just the right amount of walnut, and the cream cheese frosting – oh my – you just couldn’t not love it. Seriously, there had to be something wrong with you if you didn’t! Creamy and thick, sweetish and lemony – It was utter perfection.

She always seem to had a fresh cake ready to go each time we were around, and we obliged. Every. Single. Time.

Needless to say, that was pretty much the catalyst for my undying love for carrot cake. You see, I’m not a massive fan of cakes in general… but I go weak in the knees for carrot cake and cheesecake. Those are the only cakes you’ll ever really see me eat because (in my opinion) they’re the best kinds!


As for any other cake, attempting to persuade me to have slice will be, well…useless. You might as well be  trying to sell me a pebble.

I guess what brought around this recent craving was the Instagram feed of an old high school friend, whom just happens to be a dessert queen (Insta handle: @priscillalow). Her cakes are always immaculately decorated and they look so good that I’m positive that her pictures must have subliminally persuaded me, a non-cake-lover, to make cake!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, here it is. The recipe for the carrot cake of my (and soon to be your) dreams that I make with plenty of walnuts and extra virgin olive oil. Trust me, you won’t even miss the butter – the olive oil makes it so moist and fluffy! Oh and by the way, this covered in a delicious lemon & vanilla cream (vegan-friendly too). You’re welcome.   ;)

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This carrot cake also contains the perfect amount of mixed spice and cinnamon to amp up all that autumnal flavour – just the way I like it. Though it is not Autumn at the moment (in fact, Spring will be here in a few days), it is by my favourite month for taking in the trees around me. The pretty shades of burnt orange and browns just calm me – thus the inspiration for this shoot!

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I decorated my completed cake with different sizes of crushed walnuts and one dried fig, sliced up. Honestly though, you could decorate yours with anything (or nothing at all) and I promise you, it’ll still be delicious! Of course if decorating is your preferred route, or if this cake is for a special event, then all you have to do is peruse Pinterest for inspiration! Pinterest once again to the rescue!

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Carrot Cake of My (and soon to be your) Dreams

with Lemon & Vanilla Frosting

Serves 12-16. Makes a two-layered cake.

Ingredients

THE CAKE

400g of grated carrots (approx. 3-5 carrots)

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup + 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 eggs (or 2 flax eggs, if you’re vegan)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups self-raising flour

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

3 tsp mixed spice

1.5 tsp ground cinnamon

A pinch of salt

3/4 cup walnuts

THE LEMON & VANILLA CREAM

1 & 1/4 cups raw cashews

3/4 cup non-dairy milk

2 tbsp sugar

1/2 cup coconut cream

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

 

 

 

Steps

The cake. Preheat your oven to 180°C. Line the base of a high, round 7 inch (18cm) cake tin with baking paper, greasing the sides with a little olive oil. If you don’t have a high tin, use two regular 7-inch cake tins. Set this aside.

Meanwhile, mix your grated carrots, brown sugar, olive oil, eggs and vanilla extract in a large bowl until everything is evenly combined. In a separate bowl, stir together your self-raising flour, bicarbonate of soda, mixed spice, cinnamon and salt. Add your wet ingredients to your dry ingredients and mix until your batter comes together and all the ingredients are evenly mixed through. Stir through the walnuts.

Place in the preheated oven and bake for approximately 50-60minutes or until your cake is golden brown and a skewer, poked into the middle of your cake, comes out clean. Once done, remove from the oven and let cool.

The frosting. Add all the frosting ingredients into a high speed blender and blend until smooth. Alternatively, if you do not own a high-speed blender, soak your cashews in water overnight, drain, and then reduce the amount of non-dairy milk you use by half. Place in the fridge to cool and thicken.

Assembly. Once your cakes are completely cooled, remove them from the tin. Then cut the cake, horizontally, into two layers using a knife. You will not have to do this if you used two separate cake tins. You may also wish to cut off the dome of the cake(s) so you have a perfectly straight top of the cake. Now place some of the cream on top of the first layer cake, followed by the following layer of cake and more cream. Spread a thin layer of cream around the sides of the cake to “lock in the crumbs”. This will help your final layer of frosting to have no crumbs in it! Place your cake into the freezer to set for an hour or two just so the cream can harden a little. Next, top with the remaining icing. Decorate as you please – I topped mine with crushed walnuts and a few slices of dried fig. Store in the fridge until ready to eat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blueberry & Lavender Cheesecake (Vegan. No bake. Easy.)

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Vegan cheesecake…

A new idea? No, not by a long shot.

Contentious? Mostly to cheesecake purists.

Groundbreaking? Well…yes, it sort of is! Even if you haven’t and don’t ever intend to get on the vegan cheesecake train, you must admit that turning the humble cashew nut into cheesecake mixture is pretty awesome and inventive.


Cashews were made for this.
100% Cheesecake material.

If you open yourself to the idea, you might even find yourself, dare I say, loving this stuff… but who am I kidding, chances are if you’re clicking on this recipe you’re probably already a convert! So, I’ll just move along, shall I?

It really only takes the juice of a lemon or two, some non-dairy milk and some maple syrup to turn a bunch of raw cashew nuts into a pale, creamy, very delicious, cheesecake mixture.


The addition of blueberry and lavender is really just the cherry on top of it all.

I’ve finally found the perfect amount of lavender to use in the recipe for a subtle floral hint – so guys, I am stoked to be able to share this recipe with you all! It’s a goodie!

I, myself, do not add coconut oil into my raw cakes as I find the coconut flavour to be over-domineering. In my opinion, it overshadows all the other ingredients and makes everything taste like coconut oil. Ick, no thank you.

Onwards, we go!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Blueberry & Lavender Cheesecake

VEGAN. NO BAKE. EASY.
Makes 16 rectangular pieces. Time: 1hr + set overnight.

Ingredients

BASE

1.5 cup walnuts

3/4 cup dried dates + 2 tbsp boiling water, cover and let soften for 5 minutes*

(Alternatively, use approx. 1 cup of fresh pitted medjool dates)

A small pinch of salt

MAIN COMPONENT

3 cups soaked cashews (at least 5 hours or overnight)

3/4 cup non-dairy milk

1 cup maple syrup

(Or 1/2 cup maple syrup and 1/2 cup honey)

1/2 cup + 3 tbsp lemon juice (2-4 lemons)

1/4 cup frozen blueberries

2-3 tsp lavender tea

(1/2 cups boiling water  + 1.5 tsp dried lavender [make sure this is suitable for tea], steeped for 10 mins and then remove the lavender bits)

 

Steps

Making the base. Pulse the walnuts and salt in a food processor for 10-15 seconds or so until the walnuts resemble large crumbs. Add in your dates and blitz  for another minute or so until your mixture comes together.

Line a rectangular brownie tray with baking paper then distribute your walnut mixture evenly throughout the tray. Press the mixture gently but firmly into the tray, making sure its relatively even. You may use the bottom of a small container or a second tray to help you compress the base evenly. Set aside.

Making the filling. Add your cashews, non-dairy milk, maple syrup and only 1/3 cup of lemon juice into a high speed blender. Blend until very smooth. Taste and add more lemon juice gradually until it reaches your desired taste!

Now, pour half of the cashew mixture over your base and pop it into your freezer to set slightly. You may also set aside 1/4 cup of this to pipe the top with for decorative purposes.

Keep the remaining half of the cashew mixture in the blender and add in the 2-3 tsp of lavender tea and blueberries. Blend until very smooth. You may have to stop halfway to stir through any blueberry skin/seeds that have stuck to the sides. When it is smooth and ready to use, take your tray out of the freezer and pour the blueberry layer over the white layer. Set in the freezer overnight before cutting it into 16 rectangular pieces with a clean knife. Wipe the knife clean in between slices to keep the sides of your cake clean and crisp!

Optional: Pipe the tops with the reserved cheesecake mixture. Keep the slices in the fridge or freezer until ready to eat. Decorate the tops of your cake with some flowers just before serving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Ginger & Clove Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich (Vegan)

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You know when you experiment with a recipe over and over and get it perfect? When it’s finally just the way you like it, no more tweeks needed?


Spice-packed, chewy cookies with warming ginger notes sandwiching the smooth, cold, creamy vanilla classic. Vegan-friendly too.

Well, that’s what happened with my spiced ginger cookies. And then a few days ago I sat down and planned this ice-cream sandwich recipe and realised hey! I never did write down that recipe for said perfected ginger spiced cookies.

I DIDN’T WRITE IT DOWN.

Which only meant I had to get back into the kitchen and come up with ‘Ginger Spiced Cookies 2.0’

Of course it was all worth it in the end. It’s hard to have a bad time when you have a heck of an ice cream sandwich in your hand.

For the sake of full disclosure I will say this: I am notorious for forgetting to write my recipes down, and Gray (my significant other) tells me off for it every time!

Write down your recipes, he says.

Okayy, okayyyy, I will…, I say.


Ah, my famous last words.

In my defence, I hate having pen and paper in the kitchen, especially when I’m doing some kneading or hand-rolling. The pen always ends up covered in oil/ batter/sauce/something or another! Does anybody else share my problem? If you’re some sort of genius and have discovered a magical and life-changing way to write your recipes down whilst cooking please let me know! I need it in my life ASAP.

Oh and look, it’s time for dessert!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ginger & Clove Ice Cream Sandwich

VEGAN FRIENDLY. APPROVED BY NON-VEGANS.
Makes 4 palm-sized sandwiches. Time: Overnight (ice-cream).

Ingredients

VANILLA ICE CREAM

1 can (400g) of coconut cream

3/4 cup almond milk

85-95g of icing sugar

1/2 tsp of vanilla extract *

The alcohol in the extract keeps it from freezing into an ice block during the setting process

A small pinch of salt

GINGER & CLOVE COOKIES

1 cup oat flour (blended oats)

1/3 cup plain flour

A small pinch of salt

1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda

1.5 tsp ground ginger

Pinch of ground cloves

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 flaxseed egg (1 tbsp ground flaxseed + 3  tbsp water, let sit for 5 minutes or until gloopy)

3 tbsp of water (in addition to the flax egg)

1/4 cup coconut oil

2 tbsp molasses

 

Steps

 Vanilla ice cream. Whisk the coconut cream, almond milk, icing sugar, vanilla extract and salt together in a large mixing bowl for a minute or two to aerate the mixture and combine the ingredients. Pour your mixture into your frozen ice cream bowl and churn according to your machine’s instructions. This can take anywhere from 10-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, line a large container with baking paper (helps you take out the slab of ice cream later). N.B. This container should ideally be large enough to make four circles of ice cream to match the size of your cookies… however, you could just use a loaf tin and scoop your ice cream out with an ice cream scoop before pressing in between your cookies. Anyway – Once your ice cream is done churning, work quickly to transfer the ice cream into the container/loaf tin with the aid of a rubber spatula. Cover the top of the ice cream with another piece of greaseproof paper. Pop it into your freezer and let set overnight.

Gingerbread cookies. See here.

Assembling the ice cream sandwich. Use a cookie cutter (using the one you used for your cookies will ensure a uniform look) or a ice cream scoop to cut/scoop out a portion of ice cream. Press it gently in between two cookies. You might have to thaw your ice cream slightly (5 mins or so depending on the temperature it is in your house) to get it to the perfect consistency to do so. Serve immediately or freeze for another time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Falafel Waffle Sandwich

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Falafel and tahini – good.
Waffles – also good.

What about a falafel waffle sandwich with roast eggplant, salad and tahini sauce

…do I even dare?

I love a good chickpea. They’re nutty, nutritious and totally underrated so I hope I’m not alone here when I say that I eat them by the bowl.

That’s right. Unseasoned. Straight out of a pot. Utensils optional.

 One reason why I love chickpeas? They make herby, crispy-on-the-outside falafels.

If you don’t like falafel, we’re going to have to have words because falafel in pita with some crisp lettuce, fresh tomato, a drizzle of creamy tatziki and warm, thick pita is the stuff of my dreams. It’s hard to imagine making falafels any better than the classic but then I had this crazy idea: a falafel waffle. A falafel waffle sandwich, to be exact. A falafel-affle-wich? The FWS?

HEY. We gotta think big sometimes, right?

Naturally, I had to fill this delicious (and slightly over the top) invention with beetroot and almond dip, fresh tomato, alfalfa sprouts and a creamy cashew cheese sauce! Think of it as a fancy sandwich – delicious and definitely worth trying. Cue the falafel-affle-wich.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Falafel Waffle Sandwich

w/ Beetroot & Almond Dip, Tomato, Alfalfa and Cashew Cheese Sauce

Makes 3 sandwiches

Ingredients

FALAFEL WAFFLES

1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight

1 cup dried chickpeas

1/4 cup parsley

2-3 stalks of coriander

1/4 small onion or 1 shallot

3 cloves of garlic, smashed (so there are large chucks in your waffles)

1 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp salt

Pinch of black pepper

3 tbsp plain flour

Oil for brushing waffle maker

 

SANDWICH FILLING

1-2 fresh tomatoes

Alfafa sprouts

Beetroot & Almond Dip (30 second recipe right here)

Extra Parsley

Cashew cheese sauce or tzatziki

These are just my choice of fillings for this recipe but you can fill it whatever you like/have on hand. Leftover roast vegetables would be lovely in this!
Steps

 1. Drain and rinse your chickpeas and add it to a food processor along with all the other falafel ingredients. Pulse for approximately 1-1.5 minute or until your falafel mixture looks like small crumbs or a really chunky, thick dip consistency. The mixture should hold shape pressed together.

Heat up your waffle maker. Next, brush or spray a little olive oil on it and then cook about 1/4-1/3 cup of batter at a time for 5 minutes or so until golden brown on the outside. The time it takes to cook your falafel waffle will vary based on your waffle maker.

2. Assemble your falafelafflewich by filling the waffles with your desired fillings!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Ginger & Clove Spiced Cookies

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“Crap! I’m never going to be able to make as good a ginger cookie anymore.”


Or at least that’s what I told myself after I lost my ginger cookie recipe – Gray’s favourite cookie recipe. And of course by lost, I mean I forgot to write it down as I made the recipe…Silly, right?

Anyhow! It might have been a blessing in disguise because you guys, this recipe (‘Ginger Spiced Cookies 2.0‘) is even better than version 1. In fact, not only are these better tasting but they’re also surprisingly healthier because I used mostly oats in place of white flour- WINNING!

These ones are tender and beautifully laced with just the perfect amount of ginger and clove to give you that warming and mouth-watering feel similar to the one you get after drinking a cup of decadent, silky hot chocolate.

So good that no doubt these will be a repeat offender in my house for months to come. Not that anybody will complain of course – these are good. In my opinion, these get even better a day or two after they’re made because the flavours of ginger and clove meld together with time and even seem to intensify ever so subtly.


That being said…Let us eat cookies!


 

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Ginger & Clove Spiced Cookies

Makes 16 regular-sized cookies or 8 extra large (palm-sized) cookies.
Larger cookies are great for ice cream sandwiches.
Time: 20 mins

Ingredients

1 cup oat flour (blended oats)

1/3 cup plain flour

A small pinch of salt

1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda

1.5 tsp ground ginger

Pinch of ground cloves

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flaxseed + 3  tbsp water, let sit for 5 minutes or until gloopy)

3 tbsp of water (in addition to the flax egg)

1/4 cup coconut oil

2 tbsp molasses

Steps

 1. Preheat your oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

2. Meanwhile, add your oat flour, plain flour, salt, bicarbonate soda, ginger, cloves and brown sugar to a large mixing bowl and stir to evenly distribute the ingredients.

Next, add your flaxseed egg, additional water, coconut oil and molasses to your dry ingredient and stir to combine.

3. For smaller cookies, scoop about 1.5 tbsp of cookie dough into your hand at a time and roll into dough balls. Place it down onto the baking tray and press it down gently into your desired cookie shape. For larger cookies, take around 2.5-3 tbsp of cookie dough into your hand and roll into a ball slightly smaller than a gold ball. Put it down onto the baking tray and press it flat until it  is roughly the size of your palm. Repeat for the remaining cookie dough and bake in the oven for roughly 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool completely before eating. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Vegetarian Laksa

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Laksa has always been a hit or miss for me.


Sometimes I loved it and other times the strong waft of sardines made me want to bolt in the other direction. More recently, I’ve started craving laksa again and since becoming mostly vegetarian a few months ago, the desire to bother with this shockingly bony fish has reached an all time low.

Anyhow, it was clear to me I needed to make a vegetarian laksa recipe. Well, it was clear to me that I needed vegetarian laksa in my belly ASAP…but since one kind of led to the other I knew I had my work cut out for me.

I tried to vegan-ise this curry laksa recipe but the spices alone just didn’t do it for me… Something was missing. So I settled for “vegetarian” and used fish sauce and lime juice to deepen the range of flavours and to impart an umami that I found there to be lacking without it.

Yes, yes, fish sauce is a feared ingredient because of it’s pungent smell but if you see past the waft of stinky fish, it is always well worth it (especially in Thai curries – yes please)! Contrary to the smell, fish sauce doesn’t taste fishy in the finished dish because its generally used in relatively small amounts. So, peg your nose with a clothes peg if you have to because fish sauce is the key to some pretty rocking flavours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I used a mortar and pestle to pound my spices because I love how it makes me feel in touch with the traditional way of making food. Sure, it takes a ton of patience and a decent forearm… and yes, I’m not impartial to the convenience of a food processor myself…but there’s just something so ritualistic about pounding your spices by hand. The fact that my mortar and pestle was made of stone was just a happy coincidence adding to the primal-feel of it all. Maybe it’s the hard work that goes into the pounding that makes the finished product even more rewarding to eat?

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P.s. Did I mention that my wonderful mother grows lemongrass in her backyard? Yes, lemongrass. Loads and loads of lemongrass.  When I found out, I literally squealed with excitement and made a bee line straight for the plant with my DSLR in tow… and behold, the lemongrass plant/bush/goldmine/stash!

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It may not look like much but the picture to the right shows over 20 sticks of lemongrass just waiting to be harvested! Needless to say, I was overjoyed. Guess that means I’ll be cooking Thai food and lemongrass dishes for the next month – Yessssss!
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A little toasting of the spice paste and a little simmer of a stock later, and we have ourselves a very fragrant and tasty finished product!

I topped my plate with some freshly made chickpea tofu (recipe to come), sweet potato, cabbage, fresh mint and coriander leaves, and a cut of lime. The laksa broth itself was quite mild in terms of chilli but word to the wise – don’t top yours with extra chilli like I did unless you know you can handle it! My mouth was absolutely, positively, on fire.

Happy eating, guys! :)
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Vegetarian Laksa

Serves 2.  Time: 30 mins

Ingredients

A thumb size piece of ginger

2 cloves of garlic

3 shallots (or 1/2 red onion)

1 stalk of lemongrass, chopped finely

1 small red chilli, deseeded

4 coriander roots, washed well

2 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tbsp vegetable oil

750ml Vegetable stock

2 tsp fish sauce

Juice of 1/2 a lime

5 kaffir lime leaves

200ml coconut milk

1/2 a carrot, sliced thinly

1/4 a block of firm tofu, cut into strips *

YOUR CHOICE OF VEGETABLES

Beansprouts, purple cabbage, bokchoy, Chinese cabbage… They all go nicely in this dish but just use anything you have on hand! I used sweet potato, balled using a melon baller, and some purple cabbage.

 

GARNISHES

The remaining 1/2 a lime, cut into wedges

A few coriander leaves and/or mint leaves

Optional: extra chilli, to garnish

 

 

* Instead of using firm tofu, you could use a packet of fried tofu (more authentic), cut into halves. Blot the extra oil off them with paper towels before adding them to your soup.

 

Steps

  1. Finely chop the ginger, garlic, shallots, lemongrass (chop the lemongrass as finely as you can or it may be woody), chilli and coriander root. Save the coriander roots for the stock.

Starting with the the lemongrass and ginger, pound in a mortar and pestle until it begins to resemble paste. Then add in the garlic, shallots, chilli, coriander roots, and ground coriander and cumin to the mortar and pestle and continue to pound into a paste. This will take approximately 10-15 minutes. Alternatively, you can just blitz all your spices and aromatics in a food processor.

Add a tablespoon of oil to your soup pot over medium heat and fry off your spice paste for a minute or so, until fragrant.

2. Add stock and coconut milk to the spice paste. Now, use the back of your knife or your pestle to lightly bash your kaffir lime leaves to help release the oils within the leaves. Add the kaffir lime leaves, coriander stalks (reserved from earlier) and sliced carrot to the stock and continue simmering uncovered for an additional 15 minutes. At this point, you may taste your broth for seasoning, adding more lime juice for acidity or fish sauce for saltiness if needed. Remove the kaffir lime leaves and the long pieces of coriander stalk. Gently lower the tofu into the stock and let come up to temperature. Depending on what vegetables you use, you may cook them in the stock with the carrots or with the tofu – depending on how long they take to cook.

3. Rehydrate your rice noodles as per packet instructions and divide into your serving bowls. Remove the tofu from the soup and place them on top of your noodles along the vegetables of your choice. Ladle the stock over your noodles and vegetables. Serve with wedges of lime, a few leaves of coriander and mint, and some extra chilli if you wish.