Virtue by Way of Cake.

My breakfast lately has consisted of a noble mix of hemp, chia, pumpkin seeds and slivered almonds embedded in yogurt and almond milk, with currants, wild lingonberries and just the slightest kiss of honey.
Chia Pudding
I like to follow it up with a handful of Girl Scout cookies. What can I say?
Moving on.
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This past week has left me with little enthusiasm for cooking, however last night found me wanting to bake.
I recalled my friend Lisa serving up a sliver of her grapefruit olive oil cake some time ago. I’d begged her for the recipe, to which she said nothing, then several days later, I received a link to the blog where she’d discovered it. You can find it, here.
Grapefruit and Fennel Olive Oil Cake with Citrus Glaze

Grapefruit and Fennel Olive Oil Cake with Citrus Glaze

So with a ripe grapefruit already on hand, my mind went immediately to this cake. I’ve made it several times, with little tweaks here and there. This time around, I added a whiff of fennel seed to perfume the cake, not overpowering; rather like a silent partner, giving a little boost from behind the curtain.
The glaze evolved from other items on hand, some candied citrus peel, sugar and sweet-tart Meyer lemon juice.
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This is the kind of cake can easily be justified as breakfast with a healthy dollop of Greek yogurt, goes well with afternoon tea, or any other time when the need for a bit of sweetness strikes.
Grapefruit and Fennel Olive Oil Cake
Enjoy, and much love.
J
Grapefruit olive oil cake with Fennel seeds and Meyer Lemon Glaze
Adapted from Sarah’s recipe for Olive Oil Cake at The Yellow House blog
Ingredients:
For the cake:
1 c granulated sugar
3/4 tsp fennel seed (whole, not ground)
1 heaping tsp grapefruit zest
juice of 1 grapefruit (~1/2 cup)
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
3 eggs
2/3 c olive oil
1 c whole wheat flour
3/4 c all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp each baking soda and sea salt
For the glaze:
1/4 c Meyer lemon juice (you may substitute grapefruit juice, as desired)
1/4 cup each brown and granulated sugars
2 tbsp candied citrus peel (optional)
Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Brush inside of a bundt or rectangular pan, ~9×5 inches; flour. Shake out excess flour and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients; set aside.
  4. Gather a small bowl and, using hands, rub zest and fennel seeds into sugar until fragrant.
  5. Whisk into sugar the eggs, juice, yogurt and olive oil until well-combined
  6. Pour wet ingredients into dry; quickly whisk together until smooth; about 30 seconds
  7. Bake for ~45 minutes, rotating halfway through. Cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Let cool for ~5 minutes in pan, then invert onto serving plate.
While cake is baking, prepare glaze:
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan.
  2. Heat over medium-high, without stirring, until boiling.
  3. Allow to boil for ~60 seconds; remove from heat.
  4.  Spoon glaze over top of cake, and allow to cool completely before serving.

Magic Beans.

Last week, I discovered that I have been treating my body terribly. It was rebelling in ways I’d rather not mention. Needless to say, I needed a redirect. The inextricable link between mind and body is a beautiful thing, and I’m fortunate that I’m able call that in from time to time, giving attention and respect to the remarkable gift of intuition.
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I found myself craving simple clean food comfort food; beans rice, warming spices. I also felt the need to reel in my sweet tooth a bit. There’s an insatiable hunger that, like a switch at the ready, activates as soon a I put a bit of pastry, a piece of candy or chocolate or some other sweet in my mouth.
It works for a while.
Until it doesn’t.
It’s manageable when other areas of my life are in balance. For example, when I’m running regularly, when I’m in a good place emotionally, mentally, spiritually. However, put a nick in any one of those precious spindles and I without fail dive wholeheartedly into a vat of sugar.
Not to mention, my skin was looking terrible, undoubtedly influenced by a dry winter and lack of good healthy fats in my diet. And so this past week I’ve been eating more oily fish, avocados and eggs, steering clear of bread and sweets.
For now.
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I’d been dreaming of making mujadarrah, a simple dish with lentils, rice and onion when I’d discovered Melissa Clark’s post on The How and Why of Dal (you can find the link, here)
It couldn’t have been more appropriately timed. Mujadarra is a typical dish that I go for, as is dal, however the marriage of rice and beans in kichri was perfect, so soothing, nourishing, a blanket for my tummy. I made a few adaptations based on what I had available in the pantry.
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I’d also felt the need to rebalance my gut with some healthy bacteria, so I whipped up some radish and beet pickles.
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And then there was the hummus: I know that hummus is rather ubiquitous, however I’d been pondering making some spicy fried chickpeas and became curious as to how they might work in a puree. The blistered skin of the chickpeas, the aromatic scent of cumin as it popped away in hot cast iron met well with the astringency of the tahini and bright flavor of lemon. I added a pinch of cayenne and toasted garlic to give it a little kick.
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As I nibble on dried persimmon and tap away at the keyboard, I’m more than certain I’ll be knocking on Pastry’s door again soon. However, for now I’ll adhere to a bit of Ayurvedic wisdom and give my body what it needs.
For now.
Enjoy, and much love,
J
Spiced Lentils with Rice (adapted from Melissa Clark’s Kichri with Massour Dal )
Note: I prefer the smaller French lentils for their distinctive texture, however brown will work. Red lentils are great in dal, and would produce a slightly creamier consistency when cooked with the rice in this dish). Kichri is highly adaptable and can incorporate other vegetables, such as tomatoes, potatoes, okra and the like. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a generous dollop of yogurt and toasted cumin seeds.
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Ingredients:
1 c. dried lentils (I prefer the smaller French lentils, however brown will work)
2 c. basmati rice
1/2 tsp cumin seed
4-5 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp peppercorns
1/2 tsp chili flakes
2 tbsp ghee, or olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
sea salt
Rinse rice and lentils well; soak the rice and lentils for at least an hour. Drain and rinse again.
Set a skillet over medium heat and add ghee or olive oil.
Add remaining spices and cook until fragrant; ~2-3 minutes. Fold in chopped onion and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Combine spices with lentils and rice in a large pot with 4 cups of water, along with 1 tsp salt.
Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer for ~20 minutes (less, if using red lentils).
Remove from heat and let stand for ~10 minutes, then aerate with a spatula to evenly distribute the flavors and serve.
Toasted Hummus
Note: I’m a fair-weather fan when it comes to garlic, however heating the garlic with the chickpeas tames it a bit and works well with the other smoky flavors in the spread.
 

Ingredients

1.5 c garbanzo beans, cooked, rinsed and patted dry
1 tsp cumin seed
1-22 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup tahini
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 c water
Pinch of cayenne
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
Method:
Place a large skillet on moderate heat. Add olive oil. When olive oil starts to shimmer, add the chickpeas and cumin. Shake pan occasionally and cook until chickpeas are blistered and lightly browned; about 7-9 minutes. Remove pan from heat and allow beans to cool slightly.
In a food processor, combine all ingredients except olive oil and pulse to combine, scraping sides down as necessary. While the machine is running, slowly add olive oil. Taste; season with additional salt and lemon juice as indicated.