Thursday, May 28, 2009

Chocolate Cups With Almond Cream And Berries

I wanted to make a birthday dessert for someone who doesn't do wheat, rarely does dairy, and is cutting back on sugar. As someone whose dessert repertoire leans heavily on butter, sugar, and all-purpose flour, I was a little stumped. Then, wandering through the stacks at Powell's during a recent trip to Portland, I noticed Ani's Raw Food Desserts by Ani Phyo. The design was cute, the photos were pretty, and the recipes were not only simple, but also consistently wheat-, dairy-, and gluten-free. So, I decided to give it a shot.

The recipe I chose was "Almond Frangipane Kream," which I planned to serve as a pudding topped with fresh berries. How simple was it? Put some raw almonds in a blender along with agave nectar, vanilla, and water, and process for about 30 seconds (or until smooth). That's it.

The result was a pleasantly sweet, smooth blend that tasted of almond and vanilla. I really liked it, but I was worried that the dessert might need a contrasting flavor, and so I ran out at the last minute and bought some little chocolate bowls. (Yes, the bowls were a cheat, both in terms of being store-bought and in terms of containing some sugar and dairy...) In retrospect, my concerns were unfounded, as the berries themselves provided a good contrast to the cream.

This is the only recipe that I've tried from the book to date, but, so far, I'm pleased with my selection. The instructions are clear and easy to follow, and the book is accessible even to someone who isn't a raw foodie. Other recipes I'd like to try in the future include Pineapple With Ginger And Lime, Lavender Chocolate Bars, and Raspberry Ganache Fudge Cake (!!!).

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Socca (Chickpea Pancakes)

I'm not very big on pancakes for breakfast, but I've discovered that I really like having pancakes for supper - or, at least, I like dining on socca (pancakes made with chickpea flour). The socca recipe is simple, requiring only chickpea flour, salt, pepper, olive oil, and water. After the batter rests briefly, the pancakes are poured into a skillet coated lightly with olive oil, then cooked for three minutes on one side and one minute on the other. One half-batch serves two people. Rhubarb and I ate them topped with zucchini and tomatoes, which were roasted with olive oil, garlic, and rosemary. Very simple, but also very satisfying.