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).

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!

Korean Style Ground Turkey with Cabbage

Super quick and easy, especially if you buy the pre-shredded cole slaw mix at the supermarket. The only other thing that needs dicing is the small onion and that doesn’t take long. This dish is a little sweet, spicy and tangy and the ground turkey, unless you really overcook it of course!, stays moist and succulent in the sauce. I apologize for not sprinkling the finished dish with scallion as it should be but I didn’t have any in the house and wasn’t up to going to the store today. Excellent even without them! As usual, feel free to mellow or increase the spices to fit your family’s tastes.

First, in a deep skillet (3″ or so), heat over medium high heat:

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 tablespoon sesame oil

When hot reduce heat to medium and add:

1 pound ground turkey breast

Break up the turkey and sauté for about 2 minutes before adding:

1 small onion, diced

1 cup shredded cabbage*

1/4 cup shredded carrots (in the cole slaw mix if you use that or most supermarkets now sell pre-shredded carrots)

2 teaspoons minced garlic (or 2 minced garlic cloves)

Stir to combine and cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 4-6 minutes until the cabbage and onion are softened.

While the dish simmers make the sauce by combining in a small bowl:

1/2 cup soy sauce substitute** (of course if your family can have soy, use regular soy sauce but reduce to 1/4 cup)

2 teaspoons tapioca starch (or flour)

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (or 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger)

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1-2 tablespoons date sugar depending on how sweet you like it

1/4 teaspoon garlic chili sauce (or 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or 1 teaspoon siracha)

Whisk to combine. Remove cover from the turkey mixture and add in sauce, stirring constantly until it thickens which should be about 5-10 seconds. Remove from heat to a serving dish, top with toasted sesame seeds and/or sliced scallions. Serve over rice. Makes 4 servings.

*If cabbage isn’t a favorite in your family, add a small can of sliced bamboo shoots and a can of sliced water chestnuts. Or some thinly sliced bok choy would also work.

**See recipe under sauces. I generally have several 1 cup jars of it in the freezer.

Baked Asian-style Halibut

I’m always looking for new ways to cook fish to make it more interesting and succulent. Here’s one that’s really mouth wateringly good! And so easy to make and quick to make. In less than 45 minutes, you can have dinner ready with this one. While I used Halibut, any dense white fish will work like haddock or cod. Make sure your fish steaks are at least an inch thick.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray that will comfortably hold the fish (I used my 5″x 8″ dish). Dry with paper towels:

2 halibut steaks (6-8 ounces each)

Place them in the prepared baking dish. In a small bowl mix:

1 teaspoon sesame oil

3 tablespoons date syrup (honey, agave, etc., would also work)

3 tablespoons soy sauce substitute (see recipe under sauces)*

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 teaspoon lime juice (juice from 1/2 lime)**

1 teaspoon grated or finely minced ginger

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon chili sauce (or 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce) [Optional]

Whisk to combine and pour over the fish. Sprinkle over the fish:

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Bake 20-30 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish. After about 15 minutes, open the oven and baste the fish with the surrounding sauce. When cooked, remove fish from oven and let sit for a couple of minutes before serving. Garnish with:

thinly sliced greens from 2 scallions

**zest from 1 lime (zest before slicing and juicing the lime)

*Of course, use soy sauce instead of the substitute if there’s no allergy to soy. Use 2 tablespoons soy and 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce in place of the soy substitute sauce.

Serve over rice to soak up the tasty sauce. Makes 2 servings.

Sesame Turkey with Green Beans and Shitake Mushrooms

Here’s another recipe amended from the CHICKEN BIBLE, modified a little since I don’t like really hot and spicy foods. Once the vegetables and turkey are diced, the recipe is very fast and simple to put together. It only took me about 15 minutes to put together, after about 45 minutes of cutting and dicing! Be sure to follow the temperature instructions or it will take longer to cook and the turkey breast meat may get dried out.

In a small bowl (2 cup) combine the sauce ingredients:

1/2 cup chicken stock

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

5 teaspoons date sugar

1-4 teaspoons sriracha*

1 tablespoon soy sauce substitute

2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon arrowroot, tapioca (or cornstarch)

1 minced garlic clove

Whisk to combine and set aside. In another small bowl (1/2 to 1 cup size), combine the garlic mixture:

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 minced garlic cloves

1 teaspoon grated (or minced) fresh ginger

Mix to combine and set aside. In a medium bowl (or I used a gallon food storage bag) combine the seasoning mixture:

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

3 teaspoons soy sauce substitute

1 teaspoon arrowroot, tapioca (or cornstarch)

Add:

1-2 turkey tenderloins (1 1/2 pounds), cut in bite size pieces

Mix to coat the turkey with the season mixture. In a 12″ (or larger) high sided skillet (or a wok if one if available), heat over medium heat:

2 teaspoons olive oil

When shimmering, add half the turkey and stirring constantly over HIGH heat, brown for 3-4 minutes. Remove to a bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel and repeat with the other half of the turkey, removing the second portion to the same bowl and recover with towel. Into the empty skillet, heat over medium heat:

1 tablespoon olive oil

When shimmering (this will only take a second since the pan should already be sizzling hot from the turkey), add:

1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut on the bias into 1″ pieces

Cook, stirring constantly over medium high heat for a minute or two. Add:

8-10 ounces sliced shitake mushrooms

Stir constantly until mushrooms start to brown and beans are slightly crunchy. Move the beans and mushrooms to one side of the skillet and add the garlic mixture and heat until you can smell the garlic, about 30-45 seconds. Mix into the vegetables then add the turkey and any juices back into the skillet. Whisk the sauce mixture and pour it into the skillet. Stir constantly until it thickens, about 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with more sesame seeds if desired or sliced green scallions. Make 4 servings. Serve over rice or quinoa.

*Most Sriracha sauces contain cane sugar. If you, like me, wish to avoid cane sugar, I found one sriracha sauce at Whole Foods, YELLOWBIRD Blue Agave Sriracha Sauce which has no sugar in it but uses Blue Agave syrup instead. If like me, you prefer your food to be on the mild side with just a little spice, use 1 teaspoon of sriracha sauce. It gave me just a hint of heat in the back of my throat. I might increase it just a little in the future, especially if I make the dish for my grandson who likes things, the hotter the better!

Crispy Sticky Asian Chicken Wings

Like ribs, wings are high on my favorite foods list. I usually just bake them and barbecue sauce them (see recipe under Appetizers and Snacks) but I wanted to do something a little different today so I found three or four recipes for Asian wings and took what I liked from each to get you this divinely mouth-watering succulent wing recipe. In fact, I enjoyed them so much I went to the store and bought another package of wings just so that I could make them again! If you want to make them a meal, serve with cooked rice and some sauteed bok choy (see recipe under side dishes).

First, if your wings are whole, cut off the mini pointed section (the wing tips) and then cut the wing between the mini wing and the drumette. Throw the wing tips in the garbage and the other two parts into a gallon food storage bag. You should have about 2 pounds of wings.

Second, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a medium size baking sheet by spraying it with non-stick spray. Next, add to the bag:

1 tablespoon all-purpose gluten-free flour

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon paprika (more or less depending on your taste)

Seal the bag and shake to coat the wing sections. Place each piece on the prepared baking sheet. Best to make sure they don’t touch. Bake for 30-40 minutes. While the wings bake, prepare the sauce. Mix together in a small saucepan:

1 teaspoon avocado oil

1 teaspoon ginger juice (don’t have ginger juice? Peel and finely mince a thumb size piece of ginger)

1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons chili sauce (depending on the heat level you want in your wings)*

2 tablespoons honey

2-4 tablespoons date sugar, depending on how sweet and sticky you want them

1/3 cup soy sauce substitute

1/2 tablespoon minced garlic

Whisk together and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook for about 5 minutes until slightly reduced. Remove from heat and set aside.

When the wings are cooked, remove from the pan to a medium size bowl and pour over the sauce.** Mix together with a serving fork or large kitchen spoon. Add:

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Move to a plate and garnish with:

1/2 cup sliced scallion greens

Serve hot.

*I used 2 teaspoons and it was quite spicy but not overly hot, just the way I like it. And the addition of the sesame seeds and scallions help cool the wings a little.

**I used only half the sauce for my 1 1/2 pounds of wings.

Sesame Chicken with vegetables

I’ve talked about how much I love Chinese food and here’s another luscious, mouth watering, easy to make dish. It’s a little spicy with the chili paste (or hot sauce) and grated fresh ginger but not too spicy but feel free to leave those out if you don’t want it spicy. And be sure to check before purchasing oriental chili paste because most of them (all the ones I looked at in the store) contain wheat flour and therefore gluten. Serves 2-4 depending on serving size and the vegetables you add.

First prepare the chicken:

12 to 16 ounces boneless chicken breasts and/or thighs

Remove skin and whatever fat and silver skin you see. Cut into bite-size chunks and place in a gallon food storage bag. Add:

1/3 to 1/2 cup corn starch (or arrowroot)

Close the bag and toss the meat around to make sure it’s entirely covered by the starch. Place in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes.

In a small saucepan combine:

2 tablespoons soy sauce substitute (see recipe under sauces)

1 1/2 tablespoons ketchup (sugar free)*

1/2 teaspoon chili paste (or hot sauce which is what I used)

1 1/2 tablespoons date sugar

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger (or 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger)

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Stir to combine. In a small bowl whisk:

1/3 cup stock (chicken or vegetable)

2 teaspoons cornstarch, arrowroot or xanthan gum

Whisk to make a slurry and then pour it into the saucepan. Heat the sauce over medium heat, whisking often until it starts to heat up and you see a few bubbles from a slow boil then whisk constantly until the sauce is thickened. Remove from heat and add:

2 tablespoons TOASTED sesame seeds (you can buy them that way)

Stir in the sesame seeds and set the sauce aside. Over medium heat, heat a 12″ skillet with:

1 tablespoon olive oil

When shimmering hot, add the cubed chicken. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, spread out the meat so it’s in a single layer in the pan and cook, stirring often, for 5-7 minutes until the meat is cooked through (time will depend on how large the cubes are). Once the chicken is cooked, pour in the sauce and mix to combine. Cover and remove from heat.

For vegetables, whatever your family likes will work. I used 1/2 cup of shredded carrots and 1/2 cup of frozen peas which I zapped in the microwave for 2 minutes before adding to the chicken mixture. But broccoli, bok choy, snow peas, celery, onions, water chestnuts, green beans, will work just be sure to cook them before adding to the sesame chicken. Or if you prefer, leave out the vegetables and serve a vegetable dish on the side. I served this over brown rice but again, Thai noodles or linguini would also work.

*For those of you unfamiliar with the product, Organicville makes a ketchup containing agave nectar instead of sugar. No one I’ve ever served it to knew it wasn’t “real” ketchup.

Sweet and Sour Chicken Salad

I often buy a rotisserie chicken, it’s a quick and easy meal. I’m careful of course, all rotisserie chickens are not equal. I read the ingredients until I found one that had no soy, canola, or corn oil. But since I live alone, this chicken always has lots of meat left over. I do so love chicken salad but even that can get boring when always made the same. I’ve added curry powder and made curried chicken salad which is delicious but I recently tried using a sweet and sour dressing, much like one used for coleslaw. Delicious, very easy and tasty at the end of summer when we’re getting tired of the same old salads.

I like to pulse my cooked chicken in my food processor to produce a slightly chunky chicken. Don’t take it to the extent of puree, just a fairly rough chop, almost like cooked ground chicken meat. For 4 servings, dice or pulse:

2 cooked chicken breasts, of medium size

Remove from food processor or cutting board into a bowl. Dice or pulse:

4-5 stalks celery, cleaned and quartered

4-5 scallions, cleaned and quartered

1/2 cup shredded carrots (or diced carrots)

Add to the chicken meat. I also add:

1/2 cup cooked baby peas

Mix these ingredients together. In a separate smaller bowl make the dressing using:

1 cup vegan mayonnaise

1 good dash hot sauce (optional)

2 tablespoons vinegar

2 tablespoons honey, agave nectar or date syrup

2 tablespoons dill pickle relish (or minced dill pickle)

Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk the dressing to combine and then add to the meat mixture. Mix well, chill and serve over a bed of mixed greens. Tomatoes and avocado on the side are a nice addition to this meal. I’ll often also garnish my chicken salad with pumpkin seeds or mix into the salad sesame or poppy seeds.

Chicken with Pumpkin Seed Sauce

Another recipe adapted from my chicken bible. If you don’t like green food, this isn’t the recipe for you! LOL! Either boneless skinless breasts or thighs can be used, just be sure to trim off any fat. It’s a fairly quick and quite simple recipe and if you like cilantro and limes, you should really enjoy this recipe. I don’t like cilantro so I used flat leaf parsley which also worked.

Put a 12″ skillet on medium heat and when hot add:

1/3 cup sesame seeds

1/2 cup pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)

Roast in the dry pan until aromatic, about 7-10 minutes, being sure not to burn the seeds. Remove to a bowl and add to the skillet:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small or 1/2 large onion, diced

1/2 teaspoon sea salt or herbamare

Cook over medium high heat until onion softens, about 3-5 minutes. Add:

6-8 small tomatillos, peeled, washed and chopped

3 teaspoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon fresh thyme (leaves removed from the stems) or 1/4 teaspoon dried

1 can mild to medium jalapeno chilis, drained and diced (4-6 ounces)

1 1/2 cup chicken stock

And most of the seeds, reserving about 1 tablespoon for garnish. Cover and cook over medium heat until the tomatillos have softened, about 10 minutes. Add:

4 small chicken breasts or 6 thighs, boneless and skinless, fat trimmed

Salt and pepper the chicken before adding. Push the chicken into the sauce so the pieces cook evenly. Flip them over midway through cooking. Cook the chicken in the sauce for 15-20 minutes depending on size of the chicken pieces (to 160 degrees). When cooked, remove to a plate, cover and let sit while the sauce is finished.

In a blender, combine:

1 cup cilantro (or parsley)

juice from 1 lime (about 1 tablespoon)

1 teaspoon date syrup (or date sugar)

Sauce from the skillet

I ladled the sauce into the blender until most of it was in before pouring the remainder from the skillet. This will be HOT so be sure to cover the blender lid with a towel before blending. Blend until almost smooth, about 1 minute.

Arrange chicken on platter and ladle sauce over, garnish with the reserved seeds. Serve with rice and remaining sauce.

Crusted Tilapia

I’m always looking for new recipes for fish. This one is very tasty and very easy to make. It reminded me of fried fish but is baked in the oven. That’s because of the high fat content in the mayonnaise. Feel free to use any fish, adjusting the proportions to fit the size of your fish portions. I used tilapia but the original recipe used halibut so it works for pretty much any fish. Simple and quick to make. Serves 4.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl mix:

3/4 cup mayonnaise*

1/3 cup gluten-free bread crumbs

2 tablespoons dried parsley (or 1/4 cup fresh chopped)

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme and basil (or 1 teaspoon of each fresh, chopped)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk to combine. In a non-stick baking dish** (again size depends on type of fish you use, mine was a 9×12), arrange:

1 pound of fish filets (with the tilapia, that’s four large pieces)

Spread the mixture equally over each piece of fish, covering the top completely. Bake in preheated oven 20-40 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish (the tilapia is quite thin and only took 20 minutes). Serve with lemon wedges or tartar sauce.

*If you’re allergic to eggs like me, there are now several brands of vegan mayonnaise available which are delicious and work well in this recipe.

**There’s enough fat in the mayonnaise so greasing the pan isn’t necessary.