Saturday, February 23, 2013

Upside Down Apple Cardamom Cake with Salted Caramel Sauce




Recently I fell in love with a new gluten free bakery, Cloud 9 Specialty Bakery. For the last few months, I’ve had several people ask me if I had heard of the new gluten free bakery in New Westminster, as it’s been in the news a lot lately. I may go to Vancouver a lot these days, but I don’t venture out that far. So when I was sent to Burnaby for two weeks for work training recently, I made sure to make a token visit to this new bakery (as it was 8 minutes drive from my hotel). Well I made my token visit and then several more because it’s so good! They make mostly dessert treats, but so far everything has been delicious. Their Nanaimo bars, peanut butter brownies, and cupcakes are all perfect. They don’t make a lot of breads, but the ones I tried were what kept me going back. They have an amazing cheese/onion bun and piccalo mini loaves, which go so well with melted butter and soup/chilli. Yum.

On my last visit (sad face) there before returning back to home base, I noticed that they were having a baking contest. Since it’s small and local I thought I’d give it a shot. Here is my contest entry:


Mini Upside Down Apple Cardamom Cake with Salted Caramel Sauce 
(can be turned into cupcakes or doubled to make one large cake)

1 1/2 cups Cloud 9 All Purpose GF Flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup grape seed oil
1 apple, sliced or rings

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix first 8 dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a small bowl whisk together remaining 4 wet ingredients. Pour wet into dry and mix until evenly incorporated. Get out a 4-6 ramekins and grease them. Place slices or rings of apple on the bottom of the ramekin and then pour in cake batter on top. Bake for ~45 mins. Once cake springs back upon touch and toothpick comes out clean, remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 mins. Then place upside down on a wire rack and cool further. Remove from ramekin. 

While cake is baking you can make your salted caramel sauce.

2 cups granulated sugar
12 tblspn unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon Himalayan pink salt

Add the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a heavy saucepan. Heat the sugar over medium-high heat, whisking as it melts. Continue to whisk sugar as it turns a deep amber colour and reaches 350 degrees F. Once the caramel reaches temperature add the butter and whisk until completely melted. Then remove from the heat and whisk in cream and salt. Set aside and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.

Pour caramel sauce over cake and serve.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Homemade Pasta Sauce


Well folks, I only made it 17 days out of 21 on my sugar free diet kick. As I mentioned before, the first time I did the diet the first week was hell but after that it was pretty good. This time was different, this time I only got better for a bit and then went straight back to feeling unhealthy. I was showing all the signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia. As soon as I went back to eating normally (with a few less sweats) my headaches, nausea, lightheadedness, exhaustion, etc all went away. I still think the diet is a good one if you are trying to break the habit of eating junk food all the time; it just wasn’t working for me. I get that you are supposed to detox and get similar symptoms for the first bit, but I was pretty sure you were supposed to feel better at some point. 


Once I brought some of those lovely carbs back in, like quinoa pasta I was able to create some relatively healthy homemade food. One dinner recently was just spaghetti sauce and quinoa pasta but I’m starting to enjoy making my own homemade sauces. I can’t trust most of the prepackaged sauces as the creamy ones upset my stomach, and other ones usually have something in them that’s not quite right. So today I bring you home made pasta sauce. The basic recipe is simple and you can do all sorts of variations with it.



HOMEMADE PASTA SAUCE

Base:

1 – 156ml can of tomato paste
75 ml water
1 – 796ml can of diced tomatoes, drained
2 tablespoons (or more) of Italian Herb mixture or Herbs Du Provence
¼ teaspoon of sugar (optional, takes away the bitterness of the tomatoes)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Optional:

Olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 sweet pepper, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 – 398ml can of black olives
1 package of Hertel’s gluten free hot Italian sausage, sliced into bite size pieces

Instructions:

In a large deep skillet, pour enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom and prevent anything from sticking. Next place sausage and fry at medium high heat until almost cooked and then add the onions. Once onions are golden and soft and the sausages are cooked, place a lid or plate over the pan and strain any excess grease away. Place the skillet back on the stove and lower to medium heat and then add your can of tomato paste. Fill the can half way with water and add that to the skillet. Stir in the water and paste until it comes to a saucy consistency. You may need to add more water, but wait until the diced tomatoes are added (doing that now) to see how much water they add to the mix.  Next add herbs, salt and pepper and remaining vegetables. Allow too simmer (you may need to lower the heat even further) until vegetables are tender (approximately 10-15 minutes). Scoop finished sauce onto gluten free pasta of your choice and top with fresh grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy.

If you want you can just do the base recipe and add any other ingredients you like or keep it plain.  Make this base thicker by adding less water and cutting out the diced tomatoes and you’ve got a nice pizza sauce as well.