Thursday, March 27, 2014

Pineapple Almond Upside-Down Bars

So I thought that making gluten-free and vegan cakes would be the death of me. But in fact, after discovering rice flour and cheap almonds at my favorite little hanut, I've discovered that it's not too bad. It's actually kind of an adventure. And this particular adventure with pineapple and dates and buttery goodness was definitely a success. Upside-down cakes have always been one of my favorite things to make, but the dense consistency of this particular dessert makes it really more bar-like than cake-y. Whatever you call it, trust me when I say you'll want to eat the whole pan down to the last crumb in one sitting.

I teamed up with the lovely Valerie from Nuance & Bubbles for this recipe, combining flavors from her tropical Puerto Rican beaches and my Tangier coastline to create a delicious international fusion. Head on over to her blog for the whole post and the recipe!

More updates on life this weekend. For now, lots to do, lots to do.
Just keep dancin'

Oh, and you can follow Nuance & Bubbles on facebook, twitter, and instagram :)


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

(Almost) Raw Chocolate Orange Torte

Last week I finally was able to wrangle a friend into teaching me Darija (the Moroccan dialect of Arabic) on a weekly basis, and you know what? I forgot how much fun it is to learn a new language. We will put aside the fact that I'm learning it from a cute young Moroccan guy with adorable broken english and just focus on the fact that language is amazing. New sentence structures, grammar, vocabulary- man, I should have been a linguistics major. Granted, every time I try to pronounce the Kh I sound like a cat coughing on it's own fur and when I try to do that throaty R I sound like one of the Muppets, but you know, it's a process. Practice makes... well, better.

It may be difficult, but I love that I'm figuring out that I can make these sounds with my mouth that I didn't even think were possible. It's like biting into a new and delicious and totally foreign piece of fruit with each new word. 

In fact, Darija is almost as delicious as this Almost Raw Chocolate Orange Torte. 

(Did you see what I did there?)

But seriously. This tri-layered torte is smooth, creamy, and just raw enough to sort of trick your brain into thinking this is really more of a health food than dessert so let me just eat one more sliver. Make it two.

(Almost) Raw Chocolate Orange Torte

150g almonds (we toasted them for extra flavor, but that's definitely not raw, so it's totally optional)
3 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp tahini or other nut butter
1 tbsp sweetener (we used dark brown sugar but you could also use maple syrup or raw honey)

200g raw cashews, soaked for 2-3 hours or overnight
150g medjool dates, soaked for 1-2 hours
150g vegan dark chocolate
1 tbsp orange zest

100g vegan dark chocolate
3 tbsp soy or almond milk

Begin with the crust: line an 8" or 9" round pan with a piece of parchment paper. Pulse almonds in a food processor until ground into a meal. Add coconut oil, tahini and sweetener and mix with your fingers until it starts to stick together. Press into the bottom of the pan and stick in the fridge while you make the rest of the layers.

To prepare the filling, melt the chocolate in a double boiler and scoop it into your food processor with the rest of the ingredients. Blend until smooth & mousse-like. Spread the filling evenly on top of the crust and place in the fridge to set for at least 1 hour.

In the meantime, make the ganache by melting the chocolate and soymilk together in your double boiler. Whisk until smooth and set in the fridge to cool until the rest of the torte is set. Once it's all ready, flip the torte & crust out of the pan onto a plate and pour the ganache over the top. Slice, serve & smile.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Love Lists- March

The coming of Spring in Tangier has by no means been a slow and quiet process. The sun and warm weather are aggressively ushered in by strong winds and waves, bending the palm trees sideways and making my ceiling groan while I sleep at night. The wind makes everything feel alive and the colors seem more vibrant. I didn't think this place could get any more inspiring for me, but it just grows and fluctuates so much on a daily basis. I can't help falling more and more in love.

Speaking of which:

March Love List

-Listening to the newest album by Ásgeir on repeat and dreaming of taking another road trip around Iceland...
-This artist's delicate, lovely little watercolors.
-A simple and thoughtful tutorial on food photography as story-telling
-Cake truffles? Yeah. I can roll with that.
-I know this video has been circulating around a lot lately, but I just think it's so wonderfully awkward/sweet/romantic. And I'm not even someone who's into romantic things. Trust me.
-Uum so I think I have a full-on tahini obsession. I can't stop. Especially after seeing these incredible Tahini-Swirled Brownies. Ooh I'm swooning.
-Loving the fluid quality of this choreography.
-This gorgeous short film on the creation and destruction of mountains.
-I've been in the mood to get a bit more ambitious with dinners. On my list to make are this, this, and this.
-My newest blog crush.
-Finally, this song on repeat. It's just too damn catchy.

What have you been loving lately?
Happy Spring beginnings!


Monday, March 10, 2014

Striped Coconut Shortbread Jamprints

My days have been especially rich lately- full of friends visiting, showing them the sights and the craziness of life in Tangier, cooking, brainstorming for new projects, and as always, dancing through the mornings, evenings, and sometimes late into the night. Dance has consumed my life recently, in the most wonderful way. If my body doesn't move in some sort of creative or challenging fashion for more than 24 hours, I get all restless and antsy. 

The thing is, though, I don't do it for the performance. I dance and choreograph for the process. I love creating something original and watching it unfold and meld before your eyes. You feel the push and pull of it, and sometimes feel the push more than the pull when things aren't going so well, but it's amazing how things always come together when you least expect them too.

I think this fascination with process ties in with my love of cooking and baking. The quiet processes of rolling out dough, melting chocolate, folding batter, each one adds to the anticipation and surprise found in the final result. These cookies especially, in the way the dough only begins to stick together after repeated kneadings and squishings. The outcome is a crumbly shortbread cookie, lightly flavored with coconut oil and sweetened by chocolate and jam. Trust the process, relish the cookie. I made these for my dear dancers and they were a happy success. 

Striped Coconut Shortbread Jamprints
vegan & gluten-free 
adapted from Redpath Sugar

makes 1 1/2 dozen cookies

50g rice flour
100g gluten-free oat flour
2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
60g powdered sugar (we made it homemade)
3-4 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp vanilla soy or almond milk
50g dark chocolate
mixed fruit jam

Preheat your oven to 350º (175º C). Combine the flours, cornstarch, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Using your fingers, mix in 3 tbsp of coconut oil and the soy milk, kneading until it comes together in a sticky ball. If the dough is too crumbly, add the extra tbsp of coconut oil. It will take about 3-5 minutes of working it through your fingers for it to start sticking, so you know, don't lose hope. Form the dough into little balls and set them on a baking sheet, pressing down the centers with your thumb. Bake for about 10 minutes or until just slightly golden brown on the edges. 

While the cookies cool completely, melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Generously drizzle the chocolate over the cookies, let it harden for a a couple minutes, and finish up with a little scoop of fruit jelly plopped into each thumbprint center. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Old Friends, Fresh Air: A Day Trip to Asilah

Sometimes you just need to get out of the city. There is nothing like fresh ocean air to clear the mind and wake up the eyes, which is why I was thrilled to have the excuse to go on a day trip to Asilah with my two best friends who are visiting me for the week.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Cinnamon & Sesame Apple Cake

Okay get ready- I'm gonna get a little philosophical on you guys today. Bear with me.

I try to write every day (uh huh sure) and the other morning I ended up writing about how I tend to think of life in chapters. I blame it on excessive reading ever since I was a kid- although what is excessive, really, when it comes to reading? Some of these life chapters are longer than others, but they always open out onto a new page. Fresh ideas, plot twists. Unexpected words put into unexpected sentences.

Ugh, sorry, I'll stop with the extended metaphor.