Sunday, September 28, 2014

Vegan Coffee Crumble Cake

I had a friend from America who visited me in Tangier a while back. We were making plans with another friend of mine and while on the phone with him, I said "So are you still in the coffee?" My friend looked at me funny and said "Excuse me, what did you just say?"

"I asked if he was in the coffee- that's normal, right?"

Apparently I've forgotten how to speak english. Because here in Morocco, are you in the coffee is a perfectly acceptable way to ask if you are at a cafe.

And let me tell you- the cafe culture here is huge. Somedays, I wake up and leave my apartment around 9am and while walking past the cafe just next door, see an old man in his kandora with a glass of cafe au lait in front of him and a smoking cigarrette nestled in the ash tray. I go out, do my thing around the city, and coming back around 4 or 5pm, see the same man with what appears to be the same glass of coffee and the same cigarette, still burning at the same length.

At night, instead of overflowing bars and clubs, you'll find hundreds of chatty cafes filled with teens drinking cappuccinos, juices and hot chocolate. Sometimes on particularly social weekends, instead of bar-hopping like I would do in University, I find myself cafe-hopping to see different friends. I kind of love it.

Needless to say, I drink a lot more coffee here than I ever have in my life. And as if drinking loads of coffee wasn't enough, why not consume it in an edible form as well? This is not just coffee cake as in you-eat-it-with-a-cup-of-coffee cake. This is coffee-infused deliciousness.

Cinnamon Coffee Crumble Cake

makes 1 loaf cake

100 ml soy milk
150 ml strong coffee- cooled
60 ml vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon juice
225g granulated sugar
210g flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

4 tbsp flour
50g brown sugar
30g cold vegan butter
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 180º C and grease a loaf pan. In a large bowl, mix together the soy milk, coffee, oil, vanilla, lemon juice and sugar. Sift in the remaining dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Don't over-stir! Pour the batter into your pan and stick in the oven- it will bake for about 30-40 minutes total or until a tooth pick comes out clean.

Make the crumble topping as soon as you put the cake in, by combining all of the ingredients in a small bowl with your fingers. After the cake has been in the oven about 20 minutes, take it out, sprinkle the crumble on top and let it bake the remainder of the time. If you put the topping on right away, it will sink into the cake and, granted, still taste great, but won't look as pretty. Let the cake cool, slice, and enjoy with more coffee!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Triple Berry Crumble

What happened to summer? Usually it is the time when I stay at home and relax, pick up some restaurant shifts, chill with friends, ya know. But ooh no this summer was quite the beast.

Not only did I travel around Europe a bit, experience Ramadan in Tangier, and film an upcoming dance video, but I also visited this strange place called the USA for three weeks. Besides the fact that I almost forgot how to speak english and my frequent exclamations of "why is everything so big??" it was wonderful to be back and spend time with family and friends. 

I spent a week in Minneapolis, riding my bike as much as possible without my legs falling off and soaking up that bizarre, bittersweet nostalgia that comes with going home after a long time. Then my parents and I drove up to Montreal to see my brother in his amazing new life at the École National du Cirque. After a week of exploring and developing a huge crush on that city (blog post to come...), I flew to New York. Upon arrival, I felt like I was flailing around trying not to drown in a sea of people, so I promptly took a bus to Boston to escape the madness and see my cousin. 

That is where the food comes in. My cousin, her girlfriend and I visited the greatest farmers market where berries were cheaper than water. We bought boxes and boxes and the only thing left to do was bake with them. Voila, the triple berry crumble was created. And devoured. 

Triple Berry Crumble 
adapted from Baker's Royale

170g (6oz) raspberries
170g (6oz) blackberries
170g (6oz) strawberries, chopped
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar

150g spelt flour
3 tbsp brown sugar
4 tbsp chopped pecans
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
4 tbsp cold vegan butter substitute (I use earth balance) chopped into pieces

Start by making the filling- combine all of the ingredients in a sauce pan and stir over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Pour into an 8x8" pan (I used a weird 5x10" but both totally work) and let cool while you make the crumble. 

In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients, then add the butter substitute either with your fingers or a pastry cutter. You want it to be clumpy and crumbly. Let it sit in the fridge while you preheat the oven to 200ºC. Once it is ready, sprinkle the crumble evenly over the fruit and bake for 25-30 min, or until the top is golden brown. Let cool and eat your heart out. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Istanbul Flashbacks

Waah so I have a lot of catching up to do, you guys. I am currently in Boston (in the States? What??), but before I get to that I'm gonna jump back to my week in Istanbul.

I seriously loved that city. I was there back in the beginning of July visiting my wonderful Moroccan friend from my days in Tangier part one, who moved to Istanbul about 8 months ago. Currently, he's teaching English classes, being passed off as an American from LA. Classy. So while he was working, I was out exploring on my own and he got to show me his favorite nooks and crannies on the weekend.

Let me tell you, there was an overwhelming amount to see. And most importantly, eat.

My friend was lucky enough to live relatively within walking distance (I say relatively meaning like 20 minutes, but I'm a crazy fast-walker) to the hip, bustling Taksim Square. So my first sights were wandering around the big open center and off onto the crowded shop-laden side streets.

Here I discovered a shop with the best Turkish Delight I've ever had called Haci Bekir, watched some guy make a whole show out of serving a little girl a scoop of ice cream, went to some great little local bars with my friend, and ate a lot of street food- my favorite being these clam shells stuffed with rice, clam meat & spices with a squeeze of lemon. Everyone I tell this to says "oh my god, you ate seafood from the street??" Meh. It was delicious and I'm still alive.

Later in the week my friend took me to a restaurant also around the Taksim area that had the most amaaazing Turkish food that was like stuff your imaginary Turkish mother would make you. There's a whole buffet of dishes to choose from and you can pick up to 5 for a ridiculously cheap price.

Most of the more touristy things I did on my own, and honestly found them to be a bit underwhelming. I saw the Aya Sofya Mosque from the outside which was lovely, but didn't want to wait in line (bein' lazy), especially when you could just breeze on into the blue mosque. So I opted to go into that one instead, which was stunning with intricate blue and red tile-work and lush carpets. The area around these mosques, however, had a few too many aggressive tour guides and vendors yelling at me for my taste.

The Grand Bazaar was near there too- I meandered through the narrow arches for a bit and almost bought a lamp.

I did go on a great boat tour that was just 10 lira and took you around both the European and Asian coastlines for about an hour and a half. You get to see astonishingly intricate palaces and beautiful beachside homes. Plus getting off your feet for that long is the best.

After Rome the week before, I didn't really feel a burning need to go see more museums, but I did check out Istanbul Modern one afternoon. The general collection wasn't exactly my thing, but there was a photography exhibit comparing old and new Istanbul that was beautiful and definitely worth the trip.

Also, if you're down in that area near the museum, walk around and maybe you'll stumble on this awesome staircase, surreptitiously wedged between two large buildings:

Last but not least- do not leave Istanbul without trying the best baklava you will have in your life at this place.

No I did not eat all of that by myself. But I could have.

Anyway, that's all just my humble advice & experience in Istanbul. Go see this city for yourself and tell me what I missed, for next time.