Sweets

Boiled Orange Cranberry And Chocolate Cake

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2 whole ORGANIC oranges
2 and 1/4 cups ground almonds
1 cup coconut sugar 
4 free range eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup roughly chopped good quality dark chocolate

Place whole oranges in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to the boil and continue the boil for 1 hour.

Drain. Let cool (apparently patience is virtous)

Preheat oven to 160 C

Cut oranges in half and place in a food processor (skin, pith, flesh errythang) with ground almonds, coconut sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and baking soda then process until smooth.

Turn the food processor off, unless you want to die and using a spoon, gently mix in the cranberries and chocolate (leaving a handful behind for topping)

Pour batter into a baking-paper lined cake tin, top with remaining cranberries and chocolate and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a fork comes out clean when inserted.

Let cool completely before removing from tin.

Note: using organic oranges is vital here seeing as you’re going to be eating the whole thang. Also, the thinner the orange skin, the sweeter.

Enjoy! Let me know how it goes and don’t forget to tag me in your creations xx

Today Is The Day

My parents arrive TONIGHT! In Japan for their first time! YAY! Naturally, as Anisa does, I spent last night baking for them. I baked my “Bluberry and Lemon Yoghurt Loaf” into muffins using raspberries in place of the little blue babies. And, I made my “Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes” into a loaf, with the addition of macadamia nuts mixed both through the batter and sprinkled on top of the thing. Also, at one point I had a mini, okay major, panic attack because I’d so obviously overfilled my muffin tray and visual evidence clearly indicated that they were destined to merge into one giant cookie, which on second thoughts wouldnt be that bad a thing (hehe) but thank heavens for the brilliant invention of the silicon tray cos I managed to get them out just fine and look at that.. now they’re sporting, perhaps the sexiest muffin-tops I’ve ever seen ;)
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An Entire Post Dedicated To Baklava

Before I begin, some context:
Naw-Rúz (literally, new day) is the first day of the Bahá’í calendar year and one of nine holy days for adherents of the Bahá’í Faith. It occurs on the vernal equinox, on or near March 21. Historically and in contemporary times, Naw-Ruz is also the celebration of the traditional Iranian New Year holiday and is celebrated throughout the countries of the Middle East and Central Asia such as in Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iraq, Armenia, Georgia, Russia, Afghanistan, Syria, and Tajikistan. Thanks Wikipedia.

This morning, I was surprised by my dear dear Israeli friend, Lifa and his gorgeous wife and sweet son with an absolutely mouthwatering plate of baklava! Posted by Lifa’s mother all the way from Haifa, especially for moi! Amazing. Here in rural Japan, is an Israeli, the nationality I was taught to hate (from the mere age of 7!) by my Iranian school and teachers, surprising me on a Bahá’í and Iranian holiday. Wishing me a joyful New Year. Making sure I am okay, happy and well so far from my family and friends. Love is everything. “So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.”

I am so utterly grateful. I will forever remember this day.
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A Healthier Potato Salad and Cheesecake

Both recipes inspired by Petite Kitchen 

Potato Salad:
3 large potatoes of choice
1 small-medium cucumber
2-3 medium gherkins/pickles (chopped small)
A handful of dried blackcurrants
1/2 cup of raw pistachios (chopped small)
A large handful of fresh mint (roughly chopped)
Juice of one lemon
4 tbsp natural yoghurt
a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Pepper

Scrub potatoes well then cut in to small cubes. Place in a large saucepan, cover with salted water and bring to the boil. Then simmer, uncovered until just cooked. Be careful not to overcook!

When ready, strain potatoes and set aside to cool.

Once cooled, combine and toss all ingredients in a large bowl.

Cheesecake: 
6 free-range eggs
1 cup natural yoghurt
1 cup of mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup of honey or maple syrup
1/4 cup of almond meal/almond powder
juice of half a lemon
1 tsp vanilla essence

Topping:
Note: alternatively, you can use 100% store-bought fruit jam. 
1 cup of fresh or frozen strawberries
2 tbsp honey
1/4 cup of water

Decoration:
Silvered almonds and flowers

Preheat oven to 180C

Grease a round cake tin then line with baking paper -grease that a little bit too.

Combine all cake ingredients in a food processor and blitz until combined. Since my blender couldn’t fit/handle all the ingredients at once, I managed this part by blending in batches at a time.

Pour batter into a cake tin and bake for about 45-50 min or until set. Note: batter will be very runny, this is normal.

Keep a good eye on the prize, if the top starts prematurely browning because your oven is shit like mine, use a sheet of tin foil to cover the top.

As your cake bakes, add all topping ingredients to a saucepan, bring to the boil then simmer until juicy and thick- set aside to cool.

Once both topping and cake have cooled, bring the two together in the most perfect union using the back of a tablespoon..

Decorate with silvered almonds and small flowers. Last but definitely not least, Instagram it.

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A big shout out to Daniel and Mariko for having me over, listening to all my Japan problems and giving me kind brotherly and sisterly advice and my tummy, vegetarian gyoza and perfectly cooked brown rice!

New Recipes

I have been experimenting…

1. Savory oats. Basically, make porridge as usual then crack a free-range egg into it, stir for a minute and season with salt and pepper. This time, I also added a tablespoon of home-made basil pesto. Finished with pumpkin seeds and avocado. The verdict? GOOD!
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2.Coconut baklava balls. It’s almost Persian New Year (March 21st) and so, the perfect time to attempt to healthify my favorite Iranian sweets. These turned out pretty amazing (if I can say so myself). Next, I’ll try healthifying (like how I made up a word?) the original baklava, as well.
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1 1/2 cups unsweetened desiccated coconut plus a little more for coating
1 cup almond powder
4 tbsp melted coconut oil
4 tbsp honey or maple syrup
juice of half a lemon
1 tsp rose water (optional)
1/2 tsp cardamom or more depending on taste
a pinch of sea salt

Blend all ingredients together in a food processor or blender for 1-2 min or until the mixture starts to come together like a dough.

Use your hands to form small balls (wet them to prevent sticking).

Roll the balls in the extra coconut until well coated then transfer to a plate.

Refrigerate for at least 30 min before nomnom.

One fruit crumble to rule them all.

It’s safe to say, if I can say so myself, which I can, seeing as this is my blog, that I know how to make a good fruit crumble. And by good, I mean real good. With real ingredients free of dairy, gluten(if you want it to be) and refined-sugar.
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Last night, I made said crumble and took it to my dear friend and neighbour, Kaori’s house. Though this has become a recurring habit of ours, nevertheless, it was for a special occasion and that special occasion is Ayyam-i-Ha.

Ayyam-i-Ha, or the Intercalary Days, is a multiple-day Bahá’í festival. It typically falls around the end of February and the beginning of March and is joyously celebrated by Bahá’ís (that’s my religion) in countries and territories all over the world.

It is a period dedicated to being social, hospitable, generous and joyful. In addition, it is a time to prepare for the upcoming Bahá’í fast come March (2nd) though more on that soon!

So, Kaori, her daughter, Emma and I spent last night in yin-yang spirit by consuming a vegan, gluten and refined-sugar-free crumble alongside a huge scoop of budget ice-cream in the same bowl.image[3]
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Last thing, before I get to the recipe, which I know is why you’re all here anyway, is that this morning, I woke up with a terrible cold and so, was forced to cancel my entire weekend plans. WAH. Nevertheless, it’s giving me some MORE time to work on my blog (as if I don’t harass you all enough) and combine all of my crumble recipes into one neat one, below. Sorry for all the ranting! GO GO GO:

To make the recipe GF, simply use GF oats and ground nuts in place of flour.

Filling:
3 Large apples or pears or a combination, peeled, cored and chopped medium.
1 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries, blackcurrants or raspberries or a mixture of all.
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp pure vanilla essence

Crumble:
1 cup jumbo oats
1/2 cup of quick oats
1/4 cup of flour (I usually use wholemeal)
1/2 cup of chopped raw nuts of choice (I like walnuts)
1/2 cup of raw seeds of choice (I like pumpkin seeds)
1 tbsp cinnamon
a pinch of each ginger powder, nutmeg and cardamom
1/3 cup of pure maple syrup or honey
1/2 cup of coconut oil, melted.

In a small pot cook the apples/pears with 1/2 cup of water on med-high heat until soft (about 15 min).

Add berries, cinnamon and vanilla essence and continue to simmer for another min or two.

The secret to a crunchy crumble is a relatively “dry” filling so transfer the fruit mixture to a round cake tin with as little of its water as possible. You can drink that (that is if you have any excess liquid) or use it in another recipe, if you will.

Combine all crumble ingredients together in another bowl until nice and sticky.

Assemble on top of fruit.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and crunchy at 180C.

**Do keep an eye out so it doesn’t burn.

Oishi desu yo!

Nonalcoholic Sangria

Last night for our nabe party, Mi-chan made nonalcoholic Sangria using my recipe. It was super delicious AND pretty. I love this drink because it is a nice and spicy alternative to plain fruit juice and, once you’ve drank all of its liquid you still have half a cup of fruit left to enjoy.

I won’t give exact measurements as it really depends on the jar/jug you use..

but basically…

two different 100% fruit juice (I like pineapple and grape or grape and apple or cranberry and orange)
soda water
2 cinnamon sticks
juice of one orange
2 or more tsp agave nectar (according to taste)
small cut fresh fruit: blueberries, pineapple, orange, strawberries etc

Fill your jar halfway with a mixture of the two fruit juice

Then almost full, with soda water.

Add everything else, mix well to combine and refrigerate for at least 5-6 hours before serving with ice.

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We have to remember what’s important in life:

…friends, waffles, and work. Or waffles, friends, work. But work has to come third. -Leslie Knope

SUNDAY
BRUNCH
Perhaps two of the most delicious words in history and together, saliva inducing. Today, I made healthy waffles using THIS recipe and served them with home-made apple and raspberry compote and coconut oil and honey fried bananas, yoghurt, macadamia nuts and fresh strawberries.

So, speaking of friends and waffles and waffles and friends. My dear dear friend Lifa made this absolutely gorgeous piece of art, a one-off personal chopping board for me. Which, was gifted to me by his adorable son (my valentine) straight on arrival accompanied by the cutest”I love you” I’ve evereverEVER had the pleasure of hearing. TOO CUTE. This kid is driving me insane. Friends are everything. Wow, how incredibly lucky am I? Just look at it. So pretty! Made from local Hinoki Cypress, it’s light, smooth, warm and inviting! I look forward to using it again and again and again. Thank you, Lifa.

To see more of Lifa’s artistic creations, click HERE and while you’re at it, follow his Instagram, for all things wood (not that kinda wood), Japan, and KAWAII (Oz-kun – oh and of course, his beautiful wife, Akiko-san).
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compote:
3 apples, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cups raspberries
2 tbsp honey, maple or agave syrup (optional)
juice of one lemon
1 tsp cinnamon

In a large saucepan over medium heat, add apples, raspberries, honey and cinnamon, and ONE cup of water. Bring to the boil, then simmer until thick. When nice and pulpy, stir in lemon juice. Can be eaten hot or cold.

fried nanas:
1 tbsp coconut oil
3-4 bananas, peeled and chopped, medium
1 tbsp honey

Melt coconut oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add bananas and honey and GENTLY stir-fry until nice and yummy 3-5 minutes.

Love, Cake and Gyoza

Far from my “home”, family and friends in a country where I cannot manage a simple errand without succumbing to a pathetic pool of tears, I was, and I am, simultaenously surrounded by an infinite source of 愛 (LOVE). Last night, that love came from an Israeli (the country I was taught to hate by my Iranian primary school), a loving Japanese and their adorable son, a global citizen, Oz-kun. How incredibly lucky am I? And what did I do to deserve all this? Thank you Lydon family and thank you, God!

Aki prepared vegetarian curry, one spinach-based, one tomato and yet ANOTHER amazing salad, this one had hemp-seeds and raisins. Oz-kun, Aki and I (but really, mostly Aki) made completely home-made naan and vegan gyoza filled with onion, spinach and quinoa. Last, I made a gluten, dairy and refined-sugar free chocolate raspberry cake adapted from the Petite Kitchen website (recipe after the pictures).
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Cake
3 free-range eggs
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/3 cup runny honey
1/2 cup of thawed frozen raspberries (fresh even better)
1 1/2 cups of ground almonds
1/2 cup of raw cacao powder
1 tsp pure vanilla essence
1 tsp baking soda

Glaze:
1 block of good-quality dark chocolate, chopped
the creamy top from a can of full-fat coconut milk

Preheat oven to 170C

Place cake ingredients in a food processor and blitz to combine

Pour batter into a greased cake tin and bake for about 30-40 minutes or until done

Let cool completely before glazing.

To prepare the ganache, add the chopped chocolate and coconut cream in to a small saucepan over extremely low heat. Whisk continuously until melted together then immediately remove from heat

Let cool slightly (1-2 min)

Using a spatula, spread deliciousness evenly on  cake, allowing it to drizzle over the edges

Last but not least, decorate with berries and fresh flowers