Keto cherry clafoutis

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The hubby bought 3 kilos of cherries back from his trip to Germany last week. They are in season now in Europe and going for dirt cheap! Since then, we have been going berserk on fresh cherries – well, him and the kids to be precise. While cherries aren’t exactly keto-compliant (they are in the same league as blueberries – a little is okay, not too much), cheap and fresh cherries is just too much to resist

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Chocolate souffle

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It was the little man’s sixth birthday a couple of weeks back and he had been asking for souffles. I stalled as much as I could but after a while, I just gave up. Well, watching Masterchef helped his cause as one of the pressure tests was…yes, you guessed it – making chocolate souffles!

Since it was a slow Sunday, I thought hey, why not make some souffles? The hubby had never had any despite being a French (gasp!) and before we knew it, we had some cute ramekins from Daiso, dark chocolate couvertures from the local baking supply shop and eggs.

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Low fat banana cake

Low fat banana cake

In the quest of losing weight the healthy way, I have started to cut back on my diet, revamp my eating habits and regular exercise. The weight loss has been very slow – about 500 gms to 1 kg in three weeks – because I was still eating rather well. So I decided to get a little serious by doing some calorie counting. After just two days of counting calories, I must say that people really do overeat in terms of portions and the food itself. I found myself watching my portions when I cook and trying to stick within the 1200-calories-a-day limit with some success. It really isn’t all that difficult. The key is in finding substitutes and yes, portion control.

Since I have been developing a sweet tooth of lately – no thanks to my diet which has had me being restricted to no desserts and just fruits – I decided to find a low fat banana cake. I modified my own banana-based recipes with the general guidelines of substitution – applesauce for oil and whole wheat instead of bleached white flour. I wasn’t too sure how a 100% whole wheat cake would go down so I opted for the 50-50 approach.

The result is a approximately 130 calorie slice of banana cake – each slice is about 1 cm thick and oh so moist & delish! Noah loved it and kept crawling around the dining table as I was slicing the loaf up, begging for more – he got the crumbs because it was past his breakfast time and I don’t like the kids to eat continously all day long. I’ll give him half a slice for his snack later. I reckon this would go down quite well for breakfast – one or two slices would still leave me a good window for the remainder of the day plus the whole wheat element will keep me fuller.

Low fat banana cake

NOTE: If you’re after a richer indulgence, you can replace the applesauce with melted butter (or vegetable oil if you don’t want to live that dangerously). But that means a higher calorie count! Tehehehe.

Low fat banana cake

Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup cake flour
2 eggs
3 large bananas – mashed
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 applesauce
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp skimmed milk (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C.
  2. In a bowl, mash the bananas before adding in the sugar, applesauce, eggs and vanilla extract. If you’re using milk, add this in as well. Stir until well incorporated.
  3. Add in the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Stir the ingredients with a wooden spoon gently – take care to not overbeat. If the mixture is lumpy, that’s okay.
  4. Pour into a loaf tin or any pan of your choice. Bake for about 20-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
  5. Enjoy them fresh or store in an airtight container to keep.
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Homemade soy milk & soy pudding

Recently, I started thinking of making my own soy milk as the ones available for sale here contain only 6-11% soy. They were marketed as soy drinks/water rather than soy milk and I felt that they just lacked the soy flavour that comes from soy milk that we get back in Malaysia.

My initial hunt on the Internet churned out recipes that used a soy machine but I wasn’t keen on spending €100 minimum on something which I wasn’t consuming on a regular basis. Then I discovered that I had the recipe for homemade soy milk all along in one of my Asian cookbooks. So it was off to get a blender and some soy beans. I found a good deal on a no-name housebrand style blender for €20 and some organic hulled soy beans at the organic shop where I go to regularly to get my supply of grains, legumes and sugar.

Operation Soy Milk-Pudding finally started!

I soaked the beans yesterday afternoon in cold water and changed the water again before I went to bed. This morning, when I woke up, the water was less cloudy and the beans were quite soft. With Noah watching me in the high chair – we had just finished breakfast – I set to work on grinding up beans with clean drinking water until they resemble a paste or thick batter of some sort. I ground the beans up twice to ensure that I broken the beans down to a fine paste which would mean that I would be able to get more “milk” out of them.

Now here’s the tough part. I squeezed out every single drop of soy milk from the okara (the soy bean pulp) by hand with the aid of an unused cotton cloth nappy. The okara is placed aside; I plan to oven dry it and keep it as a flour to be used in baked goods as okara is high in calcium, iron and other nutrients. The resulting milk is then placed over the stove top to boil and cook – important as crude soy milk don’t go down very well.

(If you have a soy milk maker, you won’t have to do all this as some machines can churn out milk with just dry soy beans. But we all know why I don’t have a soy milk maker!)

The result is a very nice and creamy soy milk that isn’t too thick. It doesn’t have much of a taste to it – maybe because I didn’t add a lot of pandan essence (I wanted to retain the natural soy flavour) but sweetening it with agave syrup or honey made it much more palatable!

Homemade soy milk

Homemade soy milk

Ingredients

250 gms yellow soy beans
1.5 liters water
1-2 drops of pandan/vanilla essence / some fresh pandan leaves

Method

  1. Soak the beans in cold water overnight or for 8 hours minimum. I did it for around 16 hours just to be on the safe side. When ready, wash and remove any debris or skin. Place aside.
  2. Blend the beans together with some water in a food processor or blender until the beans are finely ground and form a paste or thick batter. Add more water into the blender if necessary. Repeat until all the beans are ground – this takes about three tries. When they are done, blend the paste again to ensure a good fine grind.
  3. Using a cheesecloth or muslin (I used traditional white cotton nappies which are made from cotton muslin), squeeze out the liquid from the soy paste. Patience is a virtue at this stage. Place aside the okara (ground soy bean pulp) as it can be used as a flour or in omelettes, etc.
  4. When ready, heat the soy milk over a medium fire until it comes to a boil. Add in the pandan/vanilla essence or fresh leaves and turn the fire down to allow the milk to simmer. Continue to cook the milk on low heat for at least 15 minutes.
  5. Once ready, place the milk aside to cool and store in the fridge. You can serve this with some sugar, syrup or honey to add sweetness to it.

NOTE: Because this is homemade and do not contain any preservatives, please consume within 48 hours.

This is a recipe for a soy pudding or tau foo fah with a twist. Instead of making tau foo fah with gypsum powder or GDL (Glucono delta-lactone) – I can’t seem to find them here in Dole (I might have better luck in Lyon) – I made mine with agar agar, the vegetarian sister of gelatin. I didn’t really follow any recipe but instead just the instructions at the back of the packet.

The resulting pudding is a little firmer than what I would like it to be and I did forget to remove the “skin” off the surface as it was cooling down. Still, it makes for a nice dessert, especially when paired with the ginger sugar syrup that I made. For the syrup, I used a mixture of sugars that I have at home. Do note that coconut sugar isn’t the same as palm sugar. Coconut sugar is made from the coconut flower bud whereas palm sugar is made from the sap of the palm. Coconut sugar has a very lovely fragrant and dark honey colour to it and I find it to rival the flavour of palm sugar.

Noah had a few spoonfuls of this and was screaming for more when the bowl was empty! I reckon it’s the fragrant, smooth yet textured feel of the soy pudding that he likes.

Soy pudding / Tau foo fah

Soy pudding

Ingredients

(A) Pudding
600 ml soy milk (see recipe above)
1/2 tbsp agar agar

(B) Ginger syrup
1″ ginger, thinly sliced
25 gms white sugar
30 gms brown sugar
50 gms coconut sugar
10 gms palm sugar
Approx 30 ml water

Method

  1. In a pot, heat up 300 ml soy milk until it begins to simmer. Add in the agar agar and stir well. Add the remainder of the soy milk and bring the mixture to a boil for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat and pour into a mould, ramekins or pan of your choice using a sieve. Place aside for a few minutes to cool before removing the “skin” (a skin would form over the surface – you could leave it as it’s edible but for appearance sake, it looks better removed).
  3. Allow the mixture to set – about 2-4 hours – before placing it in the fridge.
  4. Place all the ingredients for the syrup in a small pot and slowly heat over a medium-low fire until the sugar has dissolved. Use a whisk to stir and incorporate the sugar with the water.
  5. Once the mixture bubbles, turn down to a low heat and allow it to simmer for a further 5 minutes. Be careful not to let it come to a boil.
  6. When ready, remove and store in a clean, glass jar. Allow the syrup to cool before storing it in the fridge.
  7. Serve your soy pudding with drizzles of the syrup – it goes down well hot or cold.
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Lemon-Coconut Vegan Cake

Lemon-Coconut Vegan Cake

Surprisingly fluffy, this cake was quick to whip up – I did it in 10 minutes after a quick search on the Internet and in between hunting around for some flexible tubing (don’t ask) – and it uses just about everything I had in my pantry. The original recipe called for vegetable oil but I decided to use the organic sunflower oil. It has a certain flavour of its own. Either that or it has gone rancid on me without me knowing. Hahaha.

Still, it makes for a good cake, especially when drizzled…or rather swimming in plenty of lemon glaze. I love the moist fluffy inside with the crunch on the skin, sides and tops. On hindsight, thirty minutes at 200°C is too much. I’d probably bake it for 20-25 minutes instead.

I also added some dessicated coconut to cut back on the flavour of the oil. There is something about eggs that makes baked goods taste ultra rich and yummy. Without it, baked desserts are definitely not the same but you can get a little bit more flavour by adding in things like nuts and dried fruit. If I do make this again, I’ll be adding coconut directly into the batter and spread it around instead of just the top portion.

Lemon-Coconut Vegan Cake
From The Ethical Chef’s Vegan Lemon Cake recipe here

Ingredients

275 gms self-raising flour
100 gms brown sugar
60 gms castor sugar
100 ml vegetable oil (I used sunflower oil)
170 ml cold water
1 tsp baking powder
Zest and juice from 1 lemon
A handful of dessicated coconut

Method

  1. Preheat the oven at 200°C and prepare a loaf pan.
  2. Put flour, baking powder, sugar and zest into a bowl and mix well before adding the oil, juice and the water.
  3. Mix thoroughly by hand – there is no need for an electric mixer – to make sure all is combined well.
  4. Pour into a lined cake tin and bake for 30 minutes until fully cooked. For an added tang, drizzle the top of the cake (once it has cooled) with a simple lemon glaze made with lemon juice and caster sugar.

Lemon-Coconut Vegan Cake: The ultra fluffy texture

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Lemony Madeleines

Lemony Madeleines

I haven’t baked in a long time. Being on a no-dairy and no-egg diet makes it such that desserts are, well, very limiting. A few days ago, I started testing the no-dairy waters by trying yogurt made from goat’s milk. Surprisingly, Noah showed no reaction so it does look like it’ll be a keeper for me. Trouble is that goat’s cheese is common, goat’s milk and goat’s milk yogurt isn’t. I have to look in the organic section at hypermarkets and am limited to one or two choices. The other option would be to go to the organic store in town but again, it’s limited to just a brand or an item. Still, at least I can have some dairy in my diet! I miss it too much!

Since I’m the primary cook in the house, the hubs and Eva has gone without baked goods for a while. As Nil was on leave today, I thought it would be nice to pass the kids to him to manage while I whip up something yummy instead of settling for my assignments on sterkly videos. Originally, I wanted to cook up a lemon tart since we have three to four organic lemons sitting in the fridge but after much thought, I decided to try something which I haven’t made in a while – madeleines!

These turned out yummy – light, lemony and just sweet enough. I double up on the recipe below and cut back on the sugar by about 25-30 gms. I used a mix of unrefined cane sugar and castor sugar – the ratio is probably 1:2. The hubs, being a madeleine fan (my mother-in-law makes them ALL the time for him), finds it to be just perfect. The lemon flavour is there and it’s not too sweet. Eva loved it too! She couldn’t stop asking for seconds and thirds. My first batch of 12 disappeared in under 15 minutes! For a moment, Nil was worried that we would never be able to fill the container I took out with madeleines because Eva kept pinching one for herself and one for him!

Lemony Madeleines

Ingredients

150 gms castor sugar
150 gms self-raising flour, sifted
2 eggs
125 gms margarine/butter
Rind and juice from 1 lemon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Method

  1. Preheat the oven at 170°C and prepare a madeleine tray by oiling or buttering it (if you’re using a metal tray).
  2. Beat the sugar and eggs with the vanilla extract & lemon juice until the mixture is pale and thick. A drip test will give you thick ribbons of batter.
  3. Add the rind before adding in the flour and margarine. Alternate between the flour and margarine. Fold until well-incorporated.
  4. Spoon into the mould and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Once cooked, remove from the mould and cool before storing in an air tight container. Enjoy fresh with a glass of tea or coffee!

NOTE: You can leave the batter to chill for at least 1 hour or overnight but it’s not a must – it’ll give you a more “fat or bulging” Madeleine which I’m not a fan of.

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Summer Strawberry Cake

Summer Strawberry Cake

Deb from smitten kitchen calls it a strawberry summer cake; lack of brain cells resulted in me calling it a summer strawberry cake. Same but different.

I took the shortcut way out and cream butter that came out straight from the fridge with brown sugar. The trouble with the sugar I use is that it takes forever to “melt” so every time I do any creaming with butter, it either takes forever or it clumps up – no matter how soft or hard my butter is. As such, the resulting batter was a little bordering on soft cookie dough which resulted in some addition of milk just to make it a little bit more fluid and easy to pour into the pan. Still, it was a super thick batter – I might just revisit this recipe again and tweak it a little.

I also cut back on the sugar – using about 3/4 cup of brown sugar instead which made for a not-too sweet cake. I reckon this would go great with some hot ginger tea or even cool ice lemon tea, if you like. My hubby would have it with his morning coffee. Eva enjoyed downing a slice for breakfast – it wasn’t too dry and the strawberries on the top gave it a nice visual effect. All in all, a good outcome for this recipe. If anything, the fact that I have about one quarter left within 24 hours is a good indication that everyone likes it although it’s not exactly fab for the waistline (time to dig out my yoga mat bag and get cracking again!)!

Summer Strawberry Cake
From Smitten Kitchen’s recipe here

Ingredients

1/2 cup gms butter
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
450 gms strawberries, hulled and halved

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and prepare a 9″ DEEP cake pan.
  2. Whisk flour, baking powder together in a small bowl until well incorporated. In a larger bowl, beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined before adding the flour/baking powder mix gradually.
  3. Mix until just smooth (take care to not overbeat – it’ll result in a dense cake).
  4. Pour into prepared pie plate. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer before sprinkling some sugar over the berries (optional).
  5. Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 170°F and bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 55 minutes.
  6. Cool in the pan on a rack. Once ready, cut and serve on its own or with some whipped cream – if you’re all for indulging in a sinful treat!

Summer Strawberry Cake

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Finally a picture…

…to the recipe here. It’s not very pretty – I must admit. I snapped it as soon as I got it out of the pan and didn’t have time to decorate the top or smooth out the sides. What it lacks for in appearance, it makes up for in taste. Eva loved it and kept going on and on about “ice cream cake” – since it looked like ice cream. Hahaha.

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It’s not all too sweet as I cut back on the sugar. I have to remember to find that sweet spot when it comes to the timing of whipping up the cream, creaming the cream cheese AND preparing the gelatine as my cake is not as firm as I would like it to be. It can still stand on its own tho. All in all, a nice recipe – just remember to use an 8″ pan. I used a 7″ and ended up with a slightly thicker crust than usual and leftover cheesecake batter (enough to fill in a ramekin mold). Mind you, I cut back on the recipe by reducing the base total to 200 gms and the cream cheese by 200 gms as well.

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