Category Archives: gluten free

Curried Mango Quinoa Salad

I love a good deal.  Whether it’s on clothes, shoes, couches, or books I love knowing that I am saving money.  In fact, my Dad used to tell me that I couldn’t afford to save any more money…but that’s another blog post in and of itself.

So the other day when I was at the store, I came across a great deal on mangoes: a full box (of 12, I believe) for only $5.97! Can you believe it?!?! I know, I couldn’t either! I normally try to avoid buying any produce from the grocery store, but the mangoes mysteriously made their way into my cart and then my fridge.  Imagine that.

My logic went something like this: I bought 12 mangoes for $5.97, or $0.49/each.  Since last week I bought 2 mangoes for $2.99, this deal effectively lowered my cost per mango to only $0.64/each.  Make sense?

The problem with buying 12 mangoes at once (and adding them to the 2 that were already in my fridge) is that they all tend to ripen at the same time.  After eating one a day for a few days in a row, I was getting bored and knew I needed to do something different with the remaining pieces of fruit, lest they start to go bad.  I started pulling things out of my fridge and pantry…a few peppers, some cilantro that was about to knock on death’s door, the last of some black beans, some cucumber, half a lime…and before I knew it I had whipped up a delicious grainy salad to dip into for the week. I hope you do the same.

Wanna see what I made?

Quinoa, mangoes, red pepper, orange pepper, cucumber, red onion, garlic, black beans, cilantro, lime, grapeseed oil, white wine vinegar, mango chutney, honey, curry powder.

Begin by combining 1 c of quinoa and 2 c of water in a pot, and bring to a boil.

Once its boiling, cover the pot and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop up a few peppers.  I used a red one and an orange one because that’s what I had, but feel free to use whatever types you like the most.

Look Ma – no seeds!

I hope you don’t like green peppers the most – they’re gross.

Throw the peppers in a large bowl, then seed and chop about 1/2 of a cucumber.

Throw the cucumber into the same bowl as the peppers, and then chop up a hunk of red onion.

Can’t forget the mangoes!

Add about 1/2 a bunch of cilantro…or however much you have hanging out in your produce drawer.

I had some black beans in the fridge from a different quinoa salad I made earlier in the week, so I threw those in the bowl with everything else and focused my attention on the dressing.

I combined about 1/4 c of grapeseed oil, 3T of white wine vinegar, the juice of half a lime, a big spoon full of spicy mango chutney that had been in my pantry for far too long, about 1 t of curry powder, 1 clove of garlic, and a dab of a fabulous local ginger honey that I am loving these days.

I suppose I could have whisked the dressing together, but I wanted it to be a bit creamier so I blended it in my Magic Bullet instead.

Time to check on the quinoa!

Looks good to me! Fluff the quinoa with a fork and then let it steam with the lid on for about 5 minutes or so.

Once it’s cool, add the quinoa to the veggies/fruit that was prepped earlier, and add the dressing.

Toss it gently, and taste for seasoning.

Does it need more of anything? Salt? Pepper? Curry? A Fork?!?!

You guys.  You seriously NEED to make this salad ASAP. It’s fabulous – bright, fresh, colourful, filling, and healthy.  The curry flavour isn’t very strong – just slight undertones – and is the perfect complement to the other flavours.  And, to top it all off, the whole thing came together in less than 15 minutes.  Bonus!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I hear dinner calling my name…

Jaclyn

Bison-Stuffed Zucchini Boats

If you’ve been reading this blog for longer than 2 weeks, you will probably have picked up on the fact that I often enjoy the challenge of using up what I already have on hand instead of just constantly buying new food.  So, every few months or so, I get the urge to do a complete pantry, fridge, and freezer inventory whereby I pull everything out, asses, and then either dispose or re-home my findings.  It’s a good way for me to see what I have, what I need, and what needs to be used up relatively quickly.

It’s also a good way for me to procrastinate from doing my laundry or cleaning out my car, both of which need to be done but neither of which you want to hear about.

During my last inventory session, I unearthed a package of ground bison in the freezer and a can of pizza sauce in the pantry.  I knew I could build a meal out of those two ingredients without having to run to the store, which is always a bonus since a certain manager at a local grocery store sees me so often he now calls me “trouble”.

So much for ever being incognito, huh?

I pulled out a few zucchini, some cheese, and an onion from the fridge along with some frozen red peppers, and got cooking.  Since it was almost midnight, I knew I had to work quickly so as to not wake M up.

Using up what you already have and making a quick and delicious meal? A good thing indeed.

Zucchini, red onion, garlic, red peppers, ground bison, cheese, pizza sauce, Italian seasoning

Wash and halve a few zucchini’s lengthwise, like so:

If need be, cut a small slice off of the bottom of each half so that the zucchini sits nicely.  Mine were ok, and I couldn’t be bothered to make them perfect so I didn’t.  Use a spoon to hollow out the zucchini, but leave a 1/4″ border or so for stability, and because zucchini is delicious.

Give the zucchini innards a rough chop, and set them aside.

Next, chop up a red onion, while trying not to cry.

I found a bag of frozen red pepper strips in my freezer, so I chopped up a few handfuls of those too.

Throw all of the veggies into a pan with a drizzle of olive oil, and saute for a few minutes.  Add a few cloves of minced garlic too, for good measure.  If you have any veggies that are knocking on deaths door, this would be a great way to use them up.

Surely I am not the only one that ever has vegetables go bad in their fridge.

When the veggies have started to soften, add the ground bison. If you don’t have any ground bison, try ground beef, or turkey, or chicken, or pork.  This is all about using up what you have, folks!

However, if you aren’t familiar with ground bison and would like a reason to be, you should give it a try – it’s fabulous!  Check out this post where I talk about some of it’s attributes, or just take my word for it.

Since bison is extremely lean, it doesn’t give off much fat (i.e. probably no need to drain the meat).  Open up a can of pizza sauce, or tomato sauce, or diced tomatoes, or whatever you find in your pantry, and add it to the skillet.

Next, a healthy sprinkling of Italian seasoning.  If you don’t have any of that in your posession, give a few good shakes or basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, or whatever sounds good to you.

Give it a stir, and reduce the heat to low.  Let the meat mixture simmer for about 20 minutes or so to allow the flavours to all blend together in a way that’s just magical.

I heard that said on TV once, although I’m not sure if it’s true or not.

Once the meat has thickened up like this…

…taste it for seasonings, and add more of whatever it needs.  I debated adding some cooked quinoa to the filling, but decided against dirtying another pot.  If you have any leftover grains already cooked in your fridge, now would be a good time to use them up.  It would also stretch the meat a little further, which is never a bad thing.

Grab the zucchini boats and put them on a baking sheet, and then fill with the meat mixture.

Sprinkle liberally with cheese, because cheese makes everything better.

Sing with me now…mozzarella and cheddar!

Up close and personal, just the way I like it:

After about 20 mins at 350-degrees, dinner was served!

And I didn’t care that it was 11:48pm; I dug right in!

Yummm…these bison-stuffed zucchini boats feel both healthy and decadent at the same time, which I will never complain about.  M and I both loved these (“These are fantastic!” he proclaimed the next day) and fought over who could have the last one.

He won, by the way.  I figured it was only fair to let him win since he often puts up with me cooking in the wee hours of the morning.

Please contain your jealousy.

Until next time…

xoxo

Jaclyn

 

 

(Spicy) Baby Bok Choy

I am a firm believer that our bodies will tell us what they need.  Yesterday, mine was screaming for me to eat something green, so I listened.

In the spirit of transparency, it should also be noted that it often screams for chocolate.   I usually listen, however, even I need a good detox from sugar every now and then.

So, in the spirit of obedience, I picked up some lovely baby bok choy at the market, brought it home, and in less than 10 minutes had dinner on the table. And you know what? It was perfect.

Come cook with me!

Baby bok choy, ginger, garlic, chili paste.

Trim the ends off of the bok choy, and separate the ribs.

Rinse it well, and set it aside for a few minutes.

Chop up some fresh ginger and garlic.  You’re wondering how much? I went with about a 1/2 inch knob of ginger and 2 cloves of garlic, but you should do whatever feels right to you.  If it turns out too gingery, just called it “gingered bok choy” and no one will be the wiser.

I was out of sesame oil (I know, collective gasp) so I had to use good ol’ canola.

I should know better by now.  I need to think of a better kitchen inventory sysem.

Saute the ginger and garlic in your oil of choice for a minute or two until they become softened and fragrant.

Add a spoonfull of chili sauce/paste/whatever you have, and stir it around in the hot pan for a minute to wake everything up.

Add the bok choy back to the pan, along with about a tablespoon of water to help it steam.  Be careful though, it will splatter! This is not the point in time when you want to lean in and inhale deeply, trust me.

Give it all a stir to get the bok choy properly acquainted with the other ingredients.

Cover the whole thing with a lid to allow it to steam for 3-4 minutes, or until it’s tender-crisp.

Sometimes I eat right out of the pan, but this time I decided to use a plate.

I’m classy like that.

I even garnished with some gomashio to make up for my lack of sesame oil.

Spicy baby bok choy? Don’t mind if I do!

Ahh…just what the doctor ordered.  I feel healthier just for eating this, and I bet that you will too.

So, what shall we make next?

Please submit any and all suggestions on the “Ask Martha” tab and I will do my best to deliver.

Until next time…

xoxo

Jaclyn

Peanut Butter Cookies

When I was younger, it didn’t take much for my Dad to convince my Mom to whip up a batch of peanut butter cookies – they were one of his favourites, and she was always happy to oblige. I always thought she was crazy – all it took was a mere mention a slight hankering for them, and 15 minutes later she’d have a fresh batch coming out of the oven.

Goodness me, I miss living at their house sometimes. You would too if you tried my Mom’s baking.

As a sidenote, it is purely coincidental that I live in elastic-waist yoga pants while at their house.  Their dryer seems to shrink jeans, so what choice do I have?!?! Bizarre, I know.

Unfortunately, since I live exactly 2733.14 miles away from my parents, I don’t have the luxury of having my Mom bake me cookies whenever I feel like them.  Thankfully, she agreed to write out some of her closely guarded  family favourites with the understanding that we wouldn’t give away her trade secrets under any conditions.

Oops.

Anyways, Mom’s cookies are delicious, but I wanted to modernize them a bit since it’s no longer 1987 and since it’s just what I do.

Sorry Mom, nothing personal! Please don’t go on strike anytime soon.

So here ya go – from Momma C’s kitchen to mine to yours – bon appetit my loves!

The cast of characters:

Butter, Peanut Butter, Brown Sugar, White Sugar, Vanilla, Egg, Barley Flour, Quinoa Flour, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Salt, Dark Chocolate Chips, Fleur de Sel.

Sift or whisk the dry ingredients together:

You’re looking at ½ c barley flour, ¾ c quinoa flour, ½ t baking powder, ¾ t baking soda, and ¼ t salt.

Let’s talk about different flours for a moment, shall we? I grew up with (as most of us did) with good ol’ all-purpose flour with the occasional sprinkling of whole-wheat.  I still use AP flour, but like to experiment with different options that aren’t as heavily refined and processed, and that have higher nutritional value.  I chose quinoa and barley flours for these cookies because both have stronger flavours that the PB could stand up to.  In other words, if you had “eat less wheat” on your New Years Resolutions list, you should make these cookies. They are basically health food.

In case you hadn’t noticed by now, I can justify anything.  I’m thinking about becoming a lawyer when I grow up.

In a separate bowl, cream together the following:

That would be ½ c butter, ½ c all-natural PB* (I like crunchy), ½ c brown sugar, ½ c white sugar, and 1 tsp vanilla extract.

*Yes, you can use regular PB if that’s what you have, I just typically prefer to drink my hydrogenated oils in the form of French Vanilla Coffee Creamer instead of eating them in my PB.

When everything has gotten acquainted, add an egg…

And then the dry ingredients.

Stir everything together, and then add 1/2 c chocolate chips/chunks.  I used dark, but milk would also be good.

My Mom never added chocolate to her cookies, much to my chagrin.  However, one cannot go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate.  This I know for sure.

Stir the dough to incorporate the chocolate, and then roll into balls and place on a cookie sheet.

Use the tines of a fork or the bottom of a potato masher to flatten the cookies slightly.  This is KEY to successful peanut butter cookies.

But wait!

You all know how much I love swalty things, so before I flattened the cookies I sprinkled some fleur de sel on top of each one.

After 7 minutes @ 375-degrees, cookies were born!

Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes to set a little more, and then transfer to a cooling rack.

Or eat directly off the cookie sheet; I won’t judge.

In fact, I might even join you…if I can find my yoga pants that is.

 

Chili For People Who Don’t Think They Like Chili

As a child, I was never really a fan of chili – likely because I had not yet acquired a sophisticated enough palate to fully enjoy any type of beans.  Whenever my Mom made it, she used to dish out a bowl before she put the beans in, and then laughed as I basically ate spaghetti sauce by itself.  Since then, my taste buds have evolved to the point where I can tolerate some types of beans, in certain circumstances.  Given that I’m not much of a fan of beans, chili doesn’t usually enter my radar screen.

However, sometimes I decide things on a whim; things that may not make sense to most people. Things like…dying my hair really dark brown. Or renting out my house and moving into a commune. Or painting my toenails orange. Or becoming a vegan. Or selling all of my stuff and living out of my car.

Or, in the case of tonight, making chili and instead of picking out all of the beans, liking it just the way it is.

Come join me on my journey 🙂

You’re looking at bacon, onions, red pepper, yellow pepper, celery, mushrooms, garlic, chili powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, cayenne pepper, lean ground beef, stewing beef, red kidney beans, black beans, diced tomatoes, and tomato puree.

As with many good things that are born from my kitchen, begin by chopping up 6-8 slices of bacon.

Place the bacon into a very large pot and let it start to crisp up over a medium flame.

Traditionally, chili is made with ground beef.  However, if I’m going to eat chili I want to have a little more textural interest, so I grabbed a 1.5 lb package of beef chunks to include.

Cut the chunks into bite-size pieces if needed, and season generously with salt and pepper.  BAM!

 

Next, start chopping up the veggies:

2 onions…

2 stalks of celery…

1 red pepper + 1 yellow pepper…

A handful of mushrooms – I used 8 buttons because they were forgotten in the produce drawer for too long, but you can use whatever you have.

And last but certainly not least, 9 cloves of garlic.

Now that that’s out-of-the-way, it’s time to check on the bacon.

Oooohhh baby – if love had a smell I’m pretty sure this is what it would smell like. In fact, I think I might try to bottle the smell of bacon and market it.

If you don’t hear from me for a few months, it’s probably because I’ve become a millionaire and am living on a tropical Island somewhere while my eau-de-bacon fragrance flies off the store shelves.

Remove the bacon and set it aside, and drain almost all of the fat into a separate dish.  Don’t you dare throw it out though!!!

My sources tell me that some people keep a jar of bacon fat in their fridges at all times.

I think I just discovered my New Years resolution. It’s important to have high aspirations in life, you know.

Add about half of the beef chunks to the pan that the bacon just came out of. I know what you’re thinking, and no, you cannot add all of the beef at once to the pot unless you have restaurant-sized cooking vessels at your home. Overcrowding the pot will allow the meat to steam instead of brown, and that would just be gross.

Now – listen up because this is very important – RESIST THE URGE TO STIR! I know that it’s hard, but we want to beef to develop a lovely outer crust and it won’t happen unless we give it it’s space.

After a few minutes though, you can stir. You have my permission.

See what I’m talking about?!?!

Good. Now remove the beef from the pot and repeat the whole process with the remaining beef chunks.

Add the onions, peppers, celery, and mushrooms to the pot, along with a tablespoon or so of the bacon grease if you feel so inclined.

Let everything sweat for about 10 minutes – the vegetables should be softened and starting to brown.

Add 1lb of ground beef and the minced garlic to the vegetables, and continue cooking until the beef is no longer pink.

Let’s talk about spices for a minute, shall we?  I wanted the chili to have a balance of flavour but not be too hot for my delicate palate, so I decided to go with cumin, chili powder, red pepper flakes, and oregano.

I used 1/2 T of cumin, but if you like it more than me you could probably add up to 1T. I also only added 2T of chili powder because I figured I could always add more later if it needed it, but once again, if you like things spicier feel free to add up to 1/4 c.  A pinch of red pepper flakes and 1t of oregano sealed the deal for me, but if I had had any coriander I would have added a good shake of that too.  Oh, and for those of you that want to kick it up yet another notch – add about 1/2 t of cayenne pepper.  Go ahead, I dare ya!

Add the spices – whatever they may be – to the chili and give it a good stir while you open up the 4 cans that are going to join the party soon.

 

Since a chili really isn’t a chili without tomatoes, add 1 large can each of diced tomatoes and tomato puree.  I used the biggest cans my grocery store had – 28-oz I believe.  I also added 1 can each of red kidney beans and black beans that I drained and rinsed. Oh yes, and I added the cooked beef chunks and bacon back too.

All together now!

Bring it to a boil and then put a lid on it to simmer for an hour or so.  After an hour has elapsed (this is very scientific you know) take the lid off and allow it to simmer for another hour or until it’s at a consistency that you can live with.  Check for seasonings – too spicy? Too mild? Does it need more salt? Now’s the time to take care of business.

Eat your chili plain if you’re a purist, or top with sour cream, cheese, green onions, cilantro, avacado…well, you get the idea. Here goes nothing…

This chili is super flavourful, hearty, and textually interesting.  I really, really like it – I’m just full of surprises aren’t I?!?!  Truth be told, this is one dish where I can’t wait for the leftovers, since chili is supposedly better a few days later.  It’s official – I’ve been converted.

And that, my friends, is a very good thing.

Green Goddess Salad

I’m baaacckkk! I know you all missed me, so lets just skip over the pleasantries and get cooking!

A few weeks ago a friend of mine asked me if I ever cook with tofu.  I said yes, because I’m certainly not opposed to it. However, after I said that I realized that I can count my encounters with tofu on one hand – I’ve tried it in smoothies a few times and put it in a stir-fry another time, but that has basically been it.  Speaking of tofu in smoothies, I’d like to just clear the air and reveal to all of you who insist that you cannot taste the tofu in a smoothie, YES YOU CAN!!! Let’s just stop pretending that it magically disappears, ok?  I do not buy for one second the belief that one cannot detect coagulated soy milk in their smoothies. Kudos to those of you who have been brainwashed cannot tell, I’m just not part of that camp. Mind you, I put spinach in my smoothies so I suppose I’m hardly the one to talk.

Wait a minute! This is MY blog and I can talk about whatever I want!!! Mwah ha ha…

So back to the salad.  The other day I was flipping through an old Cooking Light magazine – circa 2005 or 2006 I think – and I stumbled upon a recipe for a quinoa salad with tofu, beans, and a basil vinaigrette.  It jumped out at me because (a) it contains quinoa, which I love, (b) it contains tofu, which means I could blog about my adventures conquering the soy block that often has me tremouring in fear, and (c) it would keep in the fridge for a few days, which would mean less cooking on a daily basis.  How could I go wrong?

(Please don’t answer that, or ask to see the scars on my hands from knife slippage.  I’m sensitive.)

Time to round up the troops!

Let’s see…that would be some quinoa (be honest – how many of you so that one coming?!?!), a carrot, a lemon, some green onions, garlic, tomatoes (grown in my garden, as proven by their stickers), tofu, basil, Dijon mustard, black beans, edamame, olive oil, sugar, salt, and pepper.

First things first: we must cook the quinoa.  Wait – scratch that – we must talk about what quinoa actually is! I could give you the long and drawn out answer, but my guess is that your Google skills are as good as mine and if you are truly curious you won’t pay any attention to what I say because you’ll be Googling like it’s your job.  If you’re not familiar with it, all you need to know is that it is a delicious grain that is a complete protein source.  It’s light and fluffy when it’s cooked – similar to couscous but 100x more nutritious. Oh yes, and in case you’re wondering, it is pronounced Keen-Wah, not Quin-Oh-A. Got that?

Some quinoa needs to be rinsed; mine didn’t. I suggest you read the package on yours before following my lead and ruining your salad.

Is it even possible to ruin salad?!?!?

Sometimes I make no sense. I’m ok with that. Hope you are too.

Dump about 1.5 c of quinoa and 3 c of liquid into a pot and bring it to a boil. You can use water, chicken stock, or vegetable stock. Or – this option is only for the truly adventurous – a combination of the three.

Once it’s come to a boil, stick a lid on the pot, reduce the heat, and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. While you’re at it, stick another pot of water on to boil – we’ll need it for the edamame.

Next, we shall conquer tofu. Together.

I bought the extra-firm tofu for this salad, and you should too.  Do not – I repeat, do not – purchase or use soft tofu. The moisture content is too high, and it won’t fry up properly and would just be plain gross. Even though I’m using the extra-firm kind, I still wanted to drain it. So I did.  It’s just how I roll.

To drain tofu, unwrap it from its package and place on a few layers of paper towels.

Place a few more layers of paper towels on top, and then weigh the whole thing down.

Can you imagine if we were using soft tofu? We’d all be witnesses to tofu being splattered everywhere…think tofuicide. **Shudder** I’m sorry for that mental picture. If you can’t sleep tonight, you can call me and I’ll talk you through it.

Moving on…to the onions!

Green onions, more specifically.  Chop some up – 1/2 c or so, depending on your taste buds and preferences.

I think we need some carrots too, for colour if for nothing else. Once again, a 1/2 c of so should be sufficient.

And tomatoes…3-4, depending on what you feel like.  Remember to remove those pesky homegrown stickers prior to cutting the tomato, unless you are particularly skilled at puzzles.

Throw everything into a large container along with one can of black beans (drained and rinsed please):

Set the veggies aside, and take the opportunity to dump a bag of frozen shelled edamame into that pot of boiling water you put on at the same time as the quinoa. Cooking Light suggested lima beans, but I figured since I was using tofu I might as well go big or go home in the soy department. No quitting at half-time as far as this salad is concerned!

Quick! We only have 3.5 minutes before the edamame is done, and we need to make a vinaigrette pronto.  You know what that means? Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

Oh ya baby…it’s time for the one and only Magic Bullet.

Disclosure #1: the folks at Magic Bullet land have no idea who I am, nor did they pay me to endorse their product. I just like it.

Disclosure #2: writing about the Magic Bullet just made me crave a frappuccino, so I just made one.  Would you be interested in a post exclusively on Magic Bullets? I’ll let you get back to me on that one.

Here’s what went into the bullet…

About a cup of fresh basil, 2 cloves of garlic, the juice of 1 lemon, about 2 T of olive oil, 1/2 t of sugar, about 2-3 t Dijon mustard, and some salt and pepper.

After a few pulses (courtesy of my 4 yr old sous chef), here’s what came out!

Yummy!

If you don’t have a Magic Bullet, have no fear. Just use your blender or food processor, or chop up your basil and whisk everything together. No biggie. I’m just too lazy to do that when there is a perfectly good appliance at my disposal.

I have a nagging feeling I’m forgetting something…

Oh yes! The tofu! Remove it from its drainage station (official culinary term, for those of you wanting to know), and dice it up. I diced it pretty small, because the thought of eating a large cube of tofu is completely unappetizing to me I’m new to the tofu game, but if you’re more experienced than me please feel free to keep the pieces larger. Encourage your sous chef to dialogue with you about what it feels, looks and smells like, and then hide your shock when he pops a cube into their mouth. No clue where he got that idea!

Heat up a drizzle of oil and saute the tofu for a few minutes until it gets nice and golden brown. Don’t forget to season with salt and pepper while it’s cooking – tofu needs all the help it can get in the flavour department.

While the tofu is doing its thing, drain the edamame and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process and help keep it bright green.

Want to see the cooked quinoa? I know you do, so here it is!

All light and fluffy, just the way I like it. And the way its supposed to be, unless you’re into sprouting raw quinoa but that’s another post for another time.

Time to mix everything together…

We’ve got the (cooled) quinoa, the edamame, and the dressing…

…and then everything else that I’ve talked about but forgot to take a picture of!

Once it was all mixed together, here’s what it looked like:

Hmmm…it’s colourful, full of protein and complex carbohydrates, and interesting enough for my palate.  I feel healthier just looking at this, so in my books that makes Green Goddess Salad a good thing. Let me know if you agree!

P.S. Cooking Light Magazine called this salad something else, but I think they should have consulted me – Green Goddess Salad feels more appropriate.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Over and out.

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Coulis

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the studies that prove that chocolate is good for us.  Dr. Oz says that we “need dark chocolate with 70 percent or more pure cocoa to reap the benefits of flavonoids…the really powerful, vitamin-like substances that dilate the arteries of the body”.  As smart as I am, who am I to argue with Dr. Oz?

So, now it has been established that chocolate is a health food, let’s talk about dessert.  Nibbling on a chunk of chocolate never fails, but sometimes, cake is the only thing that will fit the bill.  I don’t know about you, but I appreciate a good piece of chocolate cake.  No, not the pale-brown spongy stuff that if it weren’t for the colour you might not know what you were eating, but the rich, dense, almost black kind.  True, what I’m about to show you is hardly what many of us consider cake – especially without any flour – but it will show that craving who’s boss in no time flat. Are you brave enough to join me?

The cast of characters:

Eggs, chocolate, butter, vanilla, and espresso powder. Sometimes simple really is best.

As with most baking, preheating your oven is the first step – 325 in this case.

Next, we must get the pan prepared. Using a springform pan is easiest; line the bottom with parchment paper and grease the sides. We’re going to cook the cake in a water bath – more on this in a moment – so wrap the outside of the prepared pan in tinfoil while you’re at it, ok?

Alright, time to get the party started!  We need 1 lb of best-quality chocolate for this cake, and you can use semi-sweet, bittersweet, or a combination of the two with equally good results. I used a 100-g bar of 70% cocoa (Dr. Oz approved) to start things off:

And then coarsely chopped up some good-quality semi-sweet chocolate to total 1 lb:

Now, just a word to the wise (aka you): this dessert has a very limited ingredient list, which means that the quality of each individual ingredient matters more than it would if we were making something else.  If you’re going to make this cake, please don’t skimp on the chocolate – use the best you can afford to buy!

Speaking of only using the best, it’s time for the butter to be cubed up:

That would be a total of 1c of butter, for those of you keeping track.

Add the butter to the bowl with the chopped chocolate to keep yourself from doing continous quality control sampling on the chocolate shards.

Remember the instant espresso powder? It will help accentuate the chocolate, so measure 1 TBSP into the cutest espresso cup you own:

Dissolve the espresso powder by adding 1 TBSP of pure vanilla extract to the mug and stirring it for a few seconds.

Add the espresso/vanilla mixture to the same bowl with the chocolate and butter, and set it aside for a minute.

Time to crack those eggs! I used Omega-3 eggs, hence the bright orange yolks, but you can use whatever kind you like as long as they’re cold.  Crack 8 into a bowl.

Beat the eggs on medium-high speed for abour 5 minutes or until they’ve doubled in volume…this will take 5-7 minutes depending on whether you’re using a stand mixer, a hand mixer, or your biceps.

While the eggs are doing their thing, we need to melt the chocolate.  My preference is to use a double boiler or bain-marie, but you can use your microwave if you must. But really, must you?!?!

If you’ve never used a bain-marie, all you need to do is place your (heatproof) bowl on top of a pot of simmering water.  So easy!

Now would be a good time to boil a kettle of water for the water bath, too.

Want to see what the chocolate looks like as it melts?

Hmmm not QUITE there yet…let’s give it another minute.

(cue Jeopardy music…)

Ta-da!!!

Please resist the urge to grab a straw and drink this delicious looking and smelling concoction as-is.  Thank you in advance for your co-operation.

Better not forget about the eggs – how do you think they’re looking by now?

Gently fold about 1/2 of the beaten eggs into the melted chocolate mixture:

When almost all of the eggs have been incorporated, gently fold in about 1/2 of the remaining eggs and then repeat one more time until all of the eggs have been folded in.

Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan like so:

Put the springform pan into a large roasting pan and then pour boiling water all around it until it’s about half-way up the sides of the springform pan. This, my friends, is what I meant when I said we were going to bake the cake in a water bath.

I know what you’re thinking – why bother with the water bath? Quite simply, using a water bath will help ensure that the cake reaches a safe temperature to ward off any salmonella without developing hard edges around the exterior of the cake.  Equally important, it will also allow you to receive a steam facial while baking a cake.  Aren’t you glad you asked?

Bake the cake for about 22 – 25 minutes – the edges will just be beginning to set, and the middle will still look undone.  Just have faith, I promise this will work out even though it would appear that you will be serving your guests raw cake batter.

Remove the cake from the water bath and let it cool on a wire rack until it reaches room temperature.

While the cake is cooling, I suggest we make some raspberry coulis.  Feel like joining me?

Throw 12-oz of fresh or frozen raspberries, 5 TBSP of sugar, 1/8 tsp salt, and 1/4 c water in a pot.

Simmer for a few minutes until the berries are thawed (if using frozen), and then mash up with a potato masher.

Let the whole mixture cook down for a few minutes until its thickened up, and then pour it into a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl and allow it to drain.

Eventually, all that will be remaining will be the seeds, which you can either discard or feed to the neighbourhood children.

Juice a lemon, and add about 2 tsp of juice to the coulis to brighten everything up.

Check it out – my favourite colour is below:

Are you ready for cake yet? I am.

Since presentation is very important, put the cake on a pedastal and dust the top with a little bit of icing sugar…

Cut into 4 slices (if serving women) or 16 (if serving men).  Place a slice in the middle of some of the raspberry coulis, and then garnish with some whipped cream, raspberries, and mint if you feel so inclined.

And the verdict?

As you can see, everybody hated this cake.  You probably will too, if you hate things that are dense, rich, smooth, and satisfying.  In fact, you probably shouldn’t make this.  BUT if you do, will you save me a slice? Please?