Black Sesame Seed Cake

My mother used to make a sesame seed cake recipe that she found in the NEW YORK TIMES. She frosted it with chocolate ganache and it was so delicious it never lasted more than one meal in our household. I’ve been searching for years trying to find that original recipe without any success. However, recently I’ve found several gluten-free sesame seed cake recipes, one of which I’ve adapted here. Of course, if you can have eggs, go ahead and substitute back the one egg for the flax gel. This makes one 8×8″ square or round cake so for a two layer cake, double the recipe or make it twice.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8×8″ baking pan. In a medium size mixing bowl combine:

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed

3 tablespoons warm water

Whisk together and let sit for approximately 5 minutes until it forms a gel. To it add:

1/2 cup date sugar

1/3 cup Spectrum shortening (or vegan butter or margarine at room temperature)

1/4 cup black sesame seeds (or toasted regular ones if you prefer the taste)

I just used a spoon to mix this cake together but feel free to use a hand mixer. Combine the above until smooth and the shortening is incorporated. Add:

3/4 cup non-dairy milk (minus 1 tablespoon)

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Stir in the liquid ingredients before adding:

2 cups oat flour (make sure it’s gluten-free)

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (or guar gum)

2 teaspoons baking powder

Stir until all ingredients are combined. Spoon into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Frost with chocolate or carob ganache if desired (see recipe under Sauces, Condiments and Dressings).

Roasted Turkey Tenderloin with Fingerling Potatoes

Here’s a very easy and quick to put together recipe for dinner. I’m always looking for new recipes for poultry since I eat a lot of it so I was thrilled to find this one that only needed a few small changes. If you can use white wine, use a cup of that in place of one of the cups of chicken stock.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray or grease (with olive oil) a 10×13 (or larger) baking dish (with 2″ sides). In a 12″ skillet, heat over medium high heat:

1 tablespoon olive oil

While the oil heats, coat:

2 turkey tenderloins (about 1 1/2 pounds)

With about:

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic granules

1/2 teaspoon garam masala (or whatever herb your family likes)

Sear the turkey on all sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Place in the prepared baking dish. Wash and cut in half lengthwise:

24 ounces fingerling potatoes

Arrange the potatoes around the turkey and sprinkle them with:

1/4 cup chopped scallion (whites only) or shallots

Salt and ground black pepper

In a small bowl combine:

2 cups low sodium chicken stock (or 1 cup stock and 1 cup white wine)

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

Pour over chicken and potatoes. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until internal temperature of the turkey is at least 160 degrees and the potatoes are tender. Let the turkey rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting. Pour any remaining stock* over the meat before serving. Garnish if desired with:

4 tablespoons cranberry compote (see recipe under sauces/condiments/dressings)

Makes 6 servings.

*I thickened the remaining gravy with some gluten-free all-purpose flour.

Easy Summer Pickles

My husband loved these pickles. It was the only way I could get him to eat cucumbers so I made them often. It’s a quick and easy thing to do. The longest part of the process is peeling the cucumbers so feel free if the peels don’t bother you to leave them on. And it’s so variable – by simply changing the type of vinegar and herbs/spices used, the taste changes completely. I’ll give you some variations at the end of the basic recipe.

In a 3-cup bowl combine:

1/2 to 1 cup water, depending on how strong you want the pickle

1 cup vinegar (I use a blend of white and rice – a strong and a mild vinegar)

2 teaspoons date sugar

1/4 teaspoon alum (keeps the cucumbers crunchy)

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Add:

6 mini cucumbers, sliced

That’s the basic recipe and they are very good just this way. I like to change it up though so think about adding the following, remembering that spices are always better once they’re a little roasted.

Variations:

1/2 teaspoon of: mustard seed, cumin seed, celery seed, coriander seed or just one of these

2 bay leaves

1/2 small onion, thinly sliced or several scallions, sliced

1 tablespoon of: fresh dill weed or 1 teaspoon of dried dill weed

1 tablespoon of: fresh tarragon or fresh rosemary or fresh thyme or fresh basil or parsley

Using all white vinegar makes for a very pungent pickle where you may want to increase the date sugar or even use a couple of tablespoons of honey or agave nectar

Using all rice vinegar will make a very mild pickle where the date sugar can be totally eliminated

As I said at the top, changing the vinegar, and there are plenty of them out there these days, will totally change the taste of these pickles so use the vinegars your family likes best

Honey Ginger Sesame Noodles

This umami filled dish of noodles takes some preparation in slicing the vegetables but otherwise is very easy to put together. The seeds or nuts add a little protein so if additional protein is desired, some fried tofu, chicken, beef, or pork can be added. And the vegetables can be changed to fit your family’s likes and what you have on-hand. Mushrooms, bell pepper, bean sprouts all would work well.

First, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a small baking pan with parchment and sprinkle with:

1/2 cup raw seeds such as pepitas or sunflower, or nuts if you can have them (peanuts, cashews, almonds, etc.)

Bake for 5 minutes and then toss with:

2 teaspoons sriracha

1 tablespoon soy sauce substitute

2 teaspoons honey

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Bake for an additional 5 minutes. Remove and set aside. Following package directions, cook:

6-8 ounces rice noodles

When cooked, drain, rinse and set aside. In a 12″ skillet with high sides, over medium high heat:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon sesame oil

When the oils are hot, add:

1/2 large (or medium) onion, thinly sliced

3-4 stalks celery, sliced on an angle

3/4 cup chopped or shredded carrots

2-3 baby bok choy, sliced, including greens

Stir to combine and cook approximately 5 minutes until tender but not mushy. Add:

1-2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 small can diced or sliced water chestnuts

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

Cook an additional minute or two. In a small bowl combine:

1/2 cup soy sauce substitute

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon tahini (or seed butter like sunflower or pumpkin)

1 tablespoon molasses

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Whisk to incorporate ingredients and then add to pan of vegetables. Let the vegetables simmer with the sauce for several minutes, 2-3 before tossing in the noodles and, if more heat is desired, add:

1 teaspoon garlic chili sauce

Separate into four serving dishes and top with the seed mixture and:

2 scallions, greens only, sliced

Top with sliced, sauteed meat if desired and enjoy!

Mahogany Chicken

The CHICKEN BIBLE strikes again! Once more, I needed to make changes to the recipe but another delicious, succulent chicken. I was impressed on how moist the chicken stayed even though I think I cooked it about 10 minutes too long. I was also impressed that it didn’t come out as sweet as I thought. Not difficult, a fairly easy recipe to make, very little preparation time, less than an hour, beginning to end. This would also work great for turkey or even duck. I did find the sauce a little bland so I added a dash of hot sauce but some coriander would also work.

In a 12″ skillet (oven proof) combine:

1 cup water

1 cup soy sauce substitute (of course if you are able, you can use regular soy sauce)

1/4 cup chicken stock

2 tablespoons date sugar

2 tablespoons unsulfured molasses

1 tablespoon rice vinegar (or white vinegar)

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)

Whisk to combine and dissolve the sugar. Place in the sauce, skin side down:

4 chicken leg quarters (leave whole or cut between legs and thighs)*

2″ stick of fresh ginger, peeled and halved (lengthwise) then smashed

6 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed

Bring to a boil and simmer over medium low heat for 5 minutes. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. After 5 minutes place skillet in the oven uncovered and cook for 25-30 minutes. Turn chicken pieces over so that the skin side is now up and bake another 15-25 minutes or until chicken reaches 195 degrees. Remove from oven. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside.

At this point, pour the cooking liquid through a strainer to remove the bits of garlic and pieces of ginger. Strain into a fat separator if you have one and let sit for 5 minutes so the fat rises to the surface and can be removed.* Turn the oven to broil.

Add the strained and defatted liquid back into the skillet and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Add:

Slurry made with 1 tablespoon arrowroot (or tapioca starch) mixed into 1/2 cup water (or chicken stock)

Whisk to combine and continue whisking until the sauce thickens, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Pour into a bowl and set aside. Place chicken, skin side up, back into the skillet and place under the broiler for 4-5 minutes until the skin is crispy and crackling. (I put my chicken pieces on a small baking sheet lined with parchment and broiled them while I made my sauce.) Serve with the sauce on the side. Makes 4 servings. Serve over rice or mashed potatoes. I sprinkled some toasted sesame seeds on mine after I served it with the sauce.

*I don’t have a fat separator so I didn’t do this step but there wasn’t a lot of fat in my pan because I trimmed the fat off the thighs before putting them in the skillet.

Spicy Plum Sauce Pork Chops

I have jars of jam in my freezer and since I don’t eat much toast or other things where jam would be good, I’ve been looking for recipes to use up these jams. Here’s one I found for my plum jam. If you do a search on my blog, you’ll find a recipe for strawberry jam (sugar-free of course) which you can use to make sugar free plum jam which is the base for the oriental spicy plum sauce for these pork chops. I served these chops with sauteed bok choy (find recipe under side dishes).

First, preheat oven to 350 degrees then make the plum sauce by combining in a small saucepan:

1 1/2 cups plum jam

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons date sugar

1 tablespoon dried onion (flakes or granules, both work)

1/2 teaspoon spicy chili sauce (or 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes)

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Whisk to combine and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, over medium high heat. Once it boils, remove from heat.

In a 12″ skillet, over medium high heat, heat:

1 tablespoon olive oil

When shimmering, add:

4 pork chops, about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thickness

Sear on all sides, including the outsides, until browned. Place in a 9×9″ baking dish (or whatever size fits your pork chops) and cover with the spicy plum sauce. Bake, uncovered, for 30-45 minutes depending on the thickness of your pork chops. Serves 4.

Honey Mustard Asparagus

Here’s a very quick and easy side dish if you like mustard and asparagus. Use either green or white, makes no difference. If your asparagus is more than pencil size, peel it to get rid of the tough skin. I used spicy brown mustard which is my favorite but feel free to use any mustard that your family enjoys. The same with the herbs – I used thyme because it’s my favorite but most herbs would work well in this recipe, either fresh or dried.

First, prepare by peeling and/or removing the woody portion at the bottom:

1 pound asparagus

Place in a steamer and cook until fork tender but still a little crunchy, about 4-7 minutes depending on the size of the asparagus spears.

While the asparagus steams, make the sauce in a medium bowl by whisking together:

2 teaspoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon honey (agave nectar or date syrup would also work)

1 tablespoon mustard

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh herbs or 1/4 teaspoon dried herbs (I used thyme)

Once asparagus is cooked, remove from heat and add to the bowl of sauce, toss to combine. Serve hot or cold. Serves 2.

Chicken and Vegetables in Plum Sauce

Had a little of the soy substitute sauce left over from the recipe a couple of days ago so thought I’d make some choy mein. But there wasn’t quite enough sauce for that and I’d gotten a jar of plum jam out of the freezer and added some of that and oh my goodness, how mouth-watering is this! Like adding a little pear or apple to a pork or chicken gravy, adding a little plum to this Chinese sauce turned out luscious. Don’t have any plum jam around the house? Stew up 2 plums (skin too if organic) along with about 2 tablespoons of date syrup and then puree it and you’ve got plum jam!

Just like with most Chinese recipes, the first step is always to cut everything up!

Peel:

1 small to medium onion, slice in half thin slices

1 large o 2 smaller carrots, slice on the diagonal

2 garlic cloves, minced

Trim:

2 whole stalks or 4 stalks from the celery heart (about a cup altogether), slice diagonally

6 ounces of shitake mushrooms, sliced

Put the vegetables in a bowl and set aside until ready to cook. Trim the fat and slice:

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts*

Place the slices in a food storage bag and add:

2 tablespoons soy sauce substitute (see recipe under sauces)

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot

1/4 to 1/3 cup plum jam

Seal and refrigerate 15-30 minutes until ready to cook. When ready to cook, heat over medium heat in a 12″ skillet:

1 tablespoon olive oil

Add the vegetables and cook, stirring frequently, for 1-2 minutes. Cover and lower heat to medium low and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring often, until carrots are tender. Remove the vegetables to their bowl, turn the heat back to medium and add to the skillet:

the marinated chicken and marinade

Cook stirring constantly until the chicken is cooked through, about 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add the vegetables back to the skillet along with:

1 cup chicken or vegetable stock

Stir to combine and continue stirring until sauce thickens, about 1 minute. Serve with brown rice or rice noodles.

*Want a vegan entrée? Substitute firm tofu or your favorite plant-based protein.

Chicken with Bok Choy and Red Peppers and Crispy Noodle Cake

Here’s another recipe adapted from the Chicken Bible. It’s somewhat spicy due to the abundance of freshly grated ginger as well as just a 1/4 teaspoon Vietnamese chili sauce.* The original recipe called for 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes so use those if you can’t find a chili sauce that works for your family. I also cut back slightly on the amount of freshly grated ginger – the original recipe called for 1 tablespoon but I used only about 1 teaspoon and it was sufficient for my tastes. This is a recipe that may sound difficult and complex but if you follow the steps, it’s really quite easy to make and oh so worth the effort – just as good as any dish in your favorite Chinese restaurant.

First, cut up everything:

1 pound bok choy (I used three medium sized baby), cut off the stems and cut into bitesize pieces and then separately chop the greens and put them in a separate bowl

2 small sweet red peppers, cut in thin slices

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced as thinly as possible (if the breasts are partially frozen, they will slice much easier although the hand holding the meat will get quite chilly!)

1 garlic clove minced

about 1″ of fresh ginger peeled and grated to produce roughly 1-2 teaspoons

2-3 scallions, slice at an angle, add the white parts to the bok choy stems and peppers and set the greens aside in a medium bowl

Next, mix together in a medium bowl:

1 tablespoon soy sauce substitute

2 teaspoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon date syrup

1 teaspoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon cornstarch (or arrowroot)

Whisk together and add the sliced chicken. Mix to ensure all the chicken is coated with the marinade. Refrigerate until needed.

Third, put on a pot of water to boil:

6 quarts water in a large pot

When the water comes to a bowl, add:

1 teaspoon sea salt

9 ounces of noodles (I used brown rice pad Thai noodles)

Cook for only 3 minutes until el dente (or the amount of time on the package of your noodles). Drain and add to the bowl with the green scallion slices. Mix to combine. In a 12″ non-stick skillet, heat over medium high heat:

2 tablespoons olive oil

Add the noodle/scallion mixture and spread out in the pan. Use a strong spatula (or I used a bacon flattener) to flatten the noodle mixture in the pan (see photo below). Cook 5-7 minutes until browned and then using a large spatula, flip and brown again on the second side 5-7 minutes. Remove to an oven proof plate and stick in a 200 degree oven to keep warm.

Now, in a small bowl mix together:

2 tablespoons olive oil

the minced garlic

the grated ginger

In another small bowl make the sauce by combining:

1/3 cup chicken or vegetable stock

2 tablespoons soy sauce substitute

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1/2 tablespoon date syrup

1/4 teaspoon chili sauce or red pepper flakes (or hot sauce!)

1 teaspoon cornstarch (or arrowroot)

Stir to combine. Set aside until needed. Pour into the empty skillet and heat:

2 teaspoons olive oil

Add:

sliced chicken (and marinade)

Cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly and turning frequently until the meat is cooked, about 2 minutes. Remove to a dish and set aside. Into the same skillet heat over medium heat:

the olive oil mixture with the garlic and ginger

When hot, add:

the bok choy stems

red pepper slices

scallion whites

Cook over medium high heat stirring frequently until they just begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add:

the bok choy greens

Cook just until the greens begin to wilt, add the cooked chicken along with any juice in the dish. Whisk the sauce mixture to be sure it’s still combined and pour over the chicken in the skillet. Stir continuously until the sauce thickens about 30 seconds and the chicken is reheated. Remove the noodle cake from the oven and cut into wedges. Serves 2.

*I had a lot of difficulty finding a chili sauce that didn’t contain either sugar or soy. I finally located one (at the 4th store I checked!) – Tuong Ot Toi Viet-Nam Chili Garlic Sauce. It’s VERY hot so the amount used should be to the level of your taste buds. I don’t mind spicy but super hot is not to my liking therefore the recipe calls for just 1/4 teaspoon.

Eggless Hollandaise Sauce

This is a very easy recipe to make, unlike egg yolk and butter based Hollandaise which can break very easily. But even without the egg yolks and butter, it has an unctuous mouth feel and an almost umami satisfaction. It’s a simple white sauce with some added vinegar and lemon zest. Great for topping asparagus (I used white, sorry the photo doesn’t have more color, I have to limit my intake of green vegetables), peas and onions, chicken or turkey breast instead of gravy, or almost any fish (although you might want a little more lemon with fish).

In a 4 cup or larger saucepan, whisk together:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (best to grate with a microplane rather than a box grater) [this comes to the zest of about half a lemon]

pinch paprika (wasn’t enough for me so I added about 1/4 teaspoon)

3 tablespoons of gluten-free all purpose flour

Dash of sea salt

This should whisk to a fairly smooth consistency except for the lemon zest. Slowly add while whisking:

3/4 cup cold non-dairy milk (any kind except soy which won’t thicken)

Put over a medium heat and whisk until the mixture begins to thicken. When it’s quite thick, whisk in:

1/2 cup non-dairy milk

Reduce heat to low and continue cooking for 8-10 minutes until the sauce is again somewhat thick (thinner than pudding), it should coat the back of a spoon. Serve hot, makes 1 1/2 cups.

TIPS:

*I added several dashes of herbamare to my sauce

*Gently brown some minced garlic in the oil before adding the remaining ingredients for a roasted garlic flavor (this won’t have a creamy smooth mouth feel)

*Some thyme, Italian herbs, or other herbs in small amounts would work well in this sauce and give it a slightly different flavor. Sage would be good if you want to serve it with chicken or turkey.

*For an eggless “Eggs” Benedict, pour over some Canadian bacon and tomato slice(s) on a gluten-free English muffin for a hearty breakfast.