Guinness Gingerbread Cake

guinness gingerbread

Not that I really needed more sweets and desserts after Christmas, but I was rather restrained over the holidays and wanted to challenge myself by coming up with a gingerbread cake as a treat for my sweetie and best friend Basil. I am more of a cook than a baker, so I was a little apprehensive about drafting my own recipe. Well, the result was heavenly and my gingerbread aficionados declared this to be one of the best renditions of gingerbread they have ever enjoyed.

Deliciously moist, unlike many gingerbread recipes, and not overly sweet, even this savory girl was coming back for seconds. This is my first time using Guinness for baking and surely it won't be the last. The stout adds a nice depth of flavor that compliments the fresh ginger. You may of course use ground ginger, but for the complete gingerbread experience, I highly recommend going fresh.

guinness gingerbread cake

Guinness Gingerbread CakeGuinness Gingerbread Cake
Recipe by
Published on December 30, 2012

Rich, moist, flavorful and not-too-sweet gingerbread cake made with Guinness and fresh ginger

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  • 1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup agave syrup or honey
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 cup Guinness or other stout
  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached white or spelt flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamon
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups plain yogurt
  • icing sugar for dusting
  • Generously grease a standard 10-inch bundt pan and preheat an oven to 350°.

  • In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, syrup, molasses and Guinness, and stir over medium-low heat until the butter is melted and the mixture is well combined. Remove from heat and set aside.

  • In a large bowl, whisk the together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamon and ginger. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and yogurt and transfer to the flour mixture along with the butter and sugar mixture. Whisk until everything is combined and the batter is smooth.

  • Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven until a cake tester comes out clean — about 50 to 60 minutes. Let sit in the pan for 20 minutes on a wire rack and then invert the cake onto a serving platter or plate. Dust with icing sugar and serve with whipped cream if desired.

Makes one 10-inch cake

guinness gingerbread

More gingerbread delights from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Healthy Gingerbread
Chocolate Brownies with Fresh Ginger
Fresh Gingerbread Cake with Lemon Icing
Gingerbread Muffins

On the top of the reading stack: How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You

Audio Accompaniment: Lux by Brian Eno

Brown Rice and Quinoa Cakes with Parmesan

From time to time, I like to share my spontaneous late night cooking experiments here, especially when they are particularly successful and pleasing to the palate. This is a rather unorthodox recipe I suppose because I fused together leftover grains, mixed in a blend of spices and herbs, incorporated some chickpea flour into the mix and then added some Parmesan cheese. Certainly a unique combination of flavors and textures that comes together in a surprising way that turned out to be a palate pleaser. The layering of spice is nicely tempered by the grain and cheese, and the herbs are understated but make their presence known in a low lying sort of way to complete the experience.

rice quinoa savory cakes

Crispy, slightly dense due to the addition of besan flour, but still moist inside, I'll be making these again and again because the possibilities are endless and I always find leftover grains a welcome challenge to dress up and make into a second meal, appetizer, side or snack. I think goat cheese is coming in the near future. Other options to be considered are various combinations of grains, spices and herbs, fresh chilies, onion, sun-dried tomatoes, quinoa flour, spelt flour and anything else that strikes your fancy when the craving hits. Don't be afraid to experiment and don't wait until you have leftovers — cook up some grains and come up with your favorite savory grain cakes.

Brown Rice and Quinoa Cakes with ParmesanBrown Rice and Quinoa Cakes with Parmesan
Recipe by
Published on December 28, 2012

Crispy golden brown rice and quinoa cakes with a chewy and flavorful inside seasoned with spices, herbs and Parmesan cheese — a great way to use leftover grains

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  • 1 cup leftover cooked brown rice (1/3 cup uncooked)
  • 1 cup leftover cooked quinoa (1/3 cup uncooked)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • pinch of mustard powder (optional)
  • pinch of asafetida (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup chickpea (besan) flour
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • oil for frying
  • Combine the rice and quinoa in a large bowl. In a small bowl, beat the egg until frothy and then beat in the ground spices, herbs, salt and black pepper. Transfer to the bowl with the rice and quinoa and stir well to combine.

  • Now add the chickpea flour and stir until the mixture comes together. Add more flour as needed to make a uniform mixture that is moist but dry enough to shape into small patties.

  • Flour your hands and shape the mixture into roughly 2-inch round patties.

  • Heat a 1/4 inch of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the shaped patties and fry for about 5 minutes or until the bottoms begin to turn golden brown. Flip and fry for another few minutes to brown on both sides. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain and serve hot with your favorite chutney or dipping sauce.

Makes about ten 2-inch patties
rice quinoa patties

More delightful fried and baked savories from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Baked Italian Brown Rice Balls (Arancini)
Corn Cakes with Blue Cheese and Honey
Spicy Baked Chickpea Koftas
Northeast African Millet Patties

On the top of the reading stack: How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You (the answer is yes)

Audio Accompaniment: Robert Rich

Baked Eggplant Stuffed with Curried Vegetables

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
stuffed eggplant

This space will likely be rather quiet until the new year as I spend time with my family and recover from a particularly stubborn and nasty chest cold.

In the meantime, I want to share my latest experiment with eggplant. This spicy, stuffed and baked dish makes for a most satisfying vegetarian meal, especially when served with a steaming hot bed of rice. It is rather easy to prepare and yet another excuse to warm the kitchen and your body too because it has some extra kick to really highlight the eggplant and vegetables that make up stuffing.

You likely will have more filling than you need, depending on the size of your eggplants. If you do, serve it along side the stuffed eggplant or save it for the next day and serve over a grain of your choice.

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Chocolate Quinoa Ricotta Bread

quinoa chocolate ricotta bread

For years found only in natural food specialty stores, quinoa can now be found in every supermarket thanks to its growing reputation as one of nature's healthiest foods. It's a popularity that's well deserved. With a nearly perfect amino acid balance, its protein profile is the highest and most complete of all grains, making quinoa an important food for vegetarians. It's also gluten-free and a good source of fibre, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, antioxidants and vitamins B and E.

But it's the light, fluffy and slightly crunchy texture and delicately sweet and nutty taste of cooked quinoa that's helped make it a staple in so many households these days. Delicious on its own, quinoa also pairs easily with any number of vegetables, fruits, nuts and seasonings, making it a versatile ingredient to have on hand for all kinds of simple side dishes and breakfast porridges. Quick cooking, substitute quinoa for rice in any recipe. It's also ground into a flour that can be used as a gluten-free substitute for wheat flour in cookies, muffins and loaves. Turns out that quinoa flour is perfect for baking with and great as a gluten-free alternative. And if you do still visit the natural food stores you can find quinoa pasta as well as the more exotic and earthier-flavored red and black varieties of quinoa.

Chocolate Quinoa Ricotta BreadChocolate Quinoa Ricotta Bread
Recipe by
From 500 Best Quinoa Recipes: 100% Gluten-Free Super-Easy Superfood
Published on December 18, 2012

Simple, moist, chocolatey gluten-free cake made with quinoa flour

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  • 2 cups quinoa flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2/3 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 cup loosely packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup peanut or sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips or carob chips
  • Preheat an oven to 350° and grease an 8-inch loaf pan.

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, ricotta cheese, oil and almond extract. Gradually whisk in the milk.

  • Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl and stir until just combined. Fold in the chocolate or carob chips.

  • Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan, smoothing the batter evenly with a spatula.

  • Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for at least 5 to 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool. Can be served warm or cool.

  • This loaf with keep for about 5 days if wrapped well in foil wrap or plastic wrap and stored in the fridge.

Makes 1 loaf (10 to 12 thick slices)
quinoa chocolate loaf

More chocolate treats from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Chocolate Nut Butter No Bake Fudge
Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake
Peanut Butter Chocolate Squares
Flourless Chocolate Cake

On the top of the reading stack: For the Time Being, Annie Dillard

Audio Accompaniment: Vladislav Delay

Tomato Tamarind Soup (Rasam)

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
tamarind tomato soup

Though this delicate yet most flavorful soup could appear on menus all year round, it is particularly comforting during the winter months. Easy to prepare, thin and often watery rasams are typically served as the second course of a South Indian meal. Tamarind, tomatoes, and lemon or lime figure prominently. In this case, I had some homemade sambar powder in the cupboard that really worked just as well as rasam powder, and I skipped the citrus though you may want to include some. I made this a bit thicker than traditional rasams, so feel free to adjust the water to achieve your desired consistency.

As is the case with most soups, this one tastes even better the next day as the flavors have a chance to meld together.

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Indian Tomato Chutney with Spices

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
tomato chutney with sesame seeds

As I have been enjoying a healthy dose of savory Indian pancakes of late, there is always a good supply of chutneys and sauces on hand in the house. This cooked tomato includes vinegar, so it will keep for quite a while in the fridge in a well sealed container. Fragrant, spicy, and good for the mind and body, this chutney should certainly be considered a staple — it is a perfect multi-layered condiment that will enhance and complement any Indian savory food.

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Chickpeas with White and Wild Rice, Cranberries and Spices

chickpea wild rice salad

Yotam Ottolenghi's first two cookbooks — Ottolenghi and Plenty — occupy treasured spaces on my cookbook shelves as much as for the distinctive and accessible recipes as for the stunning photographs that illustrate them. With this year's release of a new cookbook, this was the easiest present to buy for myself.

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Indian-Style Black-Eyed Peas with Roasted Squash

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
black-eyed pea and squash curry

This rather quick and easy curry is an ideal way to take advantage of winter squash and a good excuse to turn on the oven to warm up. There is a healthy dose of nutrients in this dish and lots of spice to help cure ailments which is surely important this month as the colds that are going around are most persistent indeed.

Roasting the squash not only adds some heat to your kitchen but also brings out the natural sweetness of this treasured vegetable. More so than years past, I have been exploring and enjoying various types of squash. I am still amazed how filling it is, especially when paired with beans and grains.

Serve with rice and savory Indian flatbreads or, as I did, cooked quinoa for a not so traditional pairing but certainly your body will thank you either way. Lots of goodness in the meal and that is just what this time of year calls for. Also a good choice for your holiday tables as well. I am particularly smitten with the blend and amount of spices in this dish, but of course, feel free to adjust accordingly to suit your palate.

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Santa's Panforte

Santa's Panforte

This nut and dried fruit chunky, sweet and chewy treat I assure you is highly addictive. The little bites will keep at room temperature for up to three months if wrapped well in plastic wrap and up to a year if kept in the fridge I am told by Zel Allen, the author of Vegan for the Holidays, from which book this recipe is adapted. This means you could get a jump start on your Christmas baking and I foolishly thought that if I made up a batch back in September, I would have some left over for Christmas. Uh, no. They didn't last for even a month, especially as I had friends and family around to enjoy them too. Darn, I'll just have to make them again.

Though an ideal holiday treat, I think you ought to have them on hand all year around for a quick and really rather healthy snack. When visitors drop by, you won't have to fuss and bother, but just serve up a few squares of this heavenly bark.

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