Monday, August 13, 2012

c’est le dernier cri: cilantro inspired salad and chocolate basil cake with balsamic ganache

we are back from tenerife and i have some new freckles and a deepened love affair with cilantro. i adore cilantro. so when i discovered mojo sauce, well, i was swept off my feet. mojo sauce, like enchilada sauce, is either red or green. the red sauce features red peppers and the green sauce is more or less cilantro pesto sans nuts or cheese. i warned christian that upon our return home, i might be a little mojo obsessed. traditionally, mojo sauce is served with potatoes but it's equally delightful slathered on bread. i envision tacos, enchiladas, burritos, and vegetables bejeweled with it. the experimentation shall commence shortly.

meanwhile, the mister and i love salad and we have not had enough of it lately. we were craving fresh crunchy vegetables something awful. and so for lunch, i made a super salad, complete with cilantro, that left us feeling ready to take on the world.


salad is good. 


i gathered the following:
2 carrots
1 head broccoli
1/4 cup quinoa (uncooked)
bunch of cilantro
half bunch of parsley
dried cranberry
1 lime
olive oil

in the food processor, i chopped the living daylights out of the carrots, broccoli stem, parsley and cilantro. while i was busy with that, the florets were steaming. i prepped a bowl of cold water and once the broccoli turned a magically vivid green colour, i drowned them in the cold water to stop the cooking process. they were drained and chopped and set aside. then i used the water from the steamer to cook the quinoa.

IMG_3099once the quinoa was cooked and fluffed and cooled, i threw it all together with the raisins and the cranberries. i made a dressing with the juice of one lime, some honey, and a healthy splash of olive oil.


i served the veggies on a bed of spinach with strawberries and a few slices of avocado for good measure.


and then... we had plans to meet with friends for some pétanque (bocci ball) so i decided to bake a cake.   ive had it in my head to combine chocolate and basil and balsamic vinegar... so i gave it a whirl.

the cake recipe itself is a pretty standard vegan chocolate cake recipe (though i use half the sugar and salt).  the trick was adding the basil.

i went onto the balcony and plucked our basil plants until i filled a small bowl (roughly a cup-ish) with leaves. into the food processor went the leaves along with the sugar.  i ground them together and made a sticky green mixture.

3 cups flour (680 grams)
1 cup basil sugar (225 grams sugar + about one cup basil)
6 heaping tablespoons cocoa (100 grams)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 cup cold water

dry ingredients were combined, wet ingredients were combined, and then all the ingredients got together in one bowl and had a good time blending.

next, i greased a cake pan with olive oil and instead of flouring it with, er, flour, i used cocoa powder. i poured in the batter and baked it for about 40-ish minutes at 350/175 degrees.


while the cake was baking, i made ganache for the frosting.

some folks swear by making their ganache with cream but i use butter.

this time i used:
200 g baking chocolate
100ish g butter
lively splishysplash of milk (this helps keep the ganache spreadable. with a 2:1 ratio, the frosting can be a devil to spread)
2+ tbsp balsamic vinegar

melt the butter on the stovetop, or warm the cream if that's what youre using, and once melted/heated through, pour over broken-up chocolate bits. then, whisk until the chocolate is melted and combined, and the whole thing has a nice shine.

i let it cool for a bit then stuck it in the fridge.
once we got to the park, i realized the knife i brought to frost the cake seemed to have run away with the spoon and the dish. luckily, i was with a gathering of swiss folk and lo and behold, there was also a swiss army knife. i frosted the cake during a game intermission and i dont think lionel the lion has ever seen his knife used in such a fashion. i promised him i'd get the knife clean of chocolate. i let him cut the cake too.
and there were smiles all around.

the basil added a whole new dynamic to this cake. it almost had a peppery taste, and it sure was divine. for folks who are neither basil or balsamic vinegar enthusiasts, fear not: later in the evening, my father-in-law, hardly a devotee of either of those specific flavours, devoured his slice of cake.

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