Chocolate, Zucchini & Fig Cake

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I love one bowl cakes. Fast, easy and less cleanup at the end. Just keep adding the ingredients until everything is mixed well and it’s done.  I saw huge figs at the market the other day and got some to decorate this cake. They were so nice and sweet.  For the batter, I used dried figs and shredded zucchini which I squeezed until it was dry. This cake is very moist and I love the little crunch that the fig seeds give.

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This recipe is for a 21cm cake mold.

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

1 ½ cups of all-purpose flour

1 cup of sugar

¼ cup of cocoa powder

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1 teaspoon of baking soda

Pinch of salt

1 egg

1 tablespoon of vanilla essence

1/3 cup of vegetable oil

1 cup of shredded zucchini, squeezed dry

¼ cup of milk

6 dried figs, chopped

For decoration:

1 or 2 fresh figs, thinly sliced

Mint leaves

Honey for brushing over the fig slices

 

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Line the bottom of the cake mold with parchment paper.  Lightly grease and flour the edges of the mold.

In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, vanilla and egg. Then add the zucchini and oil. Mix well. Then add all the dry ingredients. Finish by adding the milk and figs. Mix until everything is combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake mold. Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Once the cake is baked, allow it to cool down completely. Then remove it from the cake mold. Arrange the fig slices over the top of the cake. Brush some honey over each fig slice and finally decorate with some mint leaves.  Store it, covered in the fridge.

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Beet, Carrot and Wheat Berry Salad with Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette

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As a child, my mom would make wheat berry as a stew with tomato sauce.  That’s pretty much the only way I remember eating it as a kid. Then I kind of forgot about it, and only started eating wheat berries again about 1 year and a half ago. I still make it the way my mom does, but this time I wanted to make it into a salad with these beautiful vegetables from my local market.

Just make sure you keep the purple beets separate from the rest so it doesn’t turn the rest of the salad purple.  The vinaigrette is quite thick because of the figs and the balsamic reduction.  If you have never made a balsamic reduction before, it is very easy to make. It is just reducing it until it has become a syrup. I tend to always have it in my pantry, since I like to drizzle it over salads. It is a very wintry kind of salad and it is great for the holidays as the colors really pop and you can make it in advance.

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Ingredients:

For the salad:

400gr wheat berry

4 golden beets (3 roasted, 1 raw)

2 purple beets (1 roasted, 1 raw)

1 yellow carrot, sliced

1 purple carrot, sliced

150gr of gorgonzola, crumbled

1 pomegranate

6 sprigs of thyme

Olive oil

Salt

Pepper

For the Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette:

2 shallots, chopped

4 dried figs, chopped

1/3 cup of balsamic reduction

½ cup of extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup of white vinegar

1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon of honey

¼ cup of water

Pepper to taste

Salt to taste

To make the salad:

Reserve 1 golden and 1 purple beet for later. Wrap the rest of the beets in aluminum foil and roast in the oven at 180C/350F for 2 hours, until they are tender.  Allow to cool, then peel and slice them. You can roast the beets in advance.

Rinse the wheat berries under cold water and then boil for 1 hour. Drain and set aside.  You can also cook the wheat berries a few days before.

In a medium pan, over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the carrots, thyme and sauté for a few minutes, until tender.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Peel the raw golden and purple beet that you reserved earlier. Slice them as thin as you can, then chop them into thin strips and then into really small cubes.  Do them separately, so the colors don’t get stained. Set aside.

To make the vinaigrette:

First make the balsamic reduction, pour 250ml of balsamic vinegar into a pan. Reduce over medium-low heat until it has reduced to about 1/3 of a cup.  Don’t let it get too thick though, as it will thicken as it cools down.  You can make this in advance.

In a small pan, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the shallots and figs. Cook for about 3 minutes over medium heat.  Add 1/3 of a cup of the balsamic reduction and cook for 30 seconds. Then pour it into a medium bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend.  Taste if it needs more salt or pepper.

To assemble the salad, mix the vinaigrette with the wheat berry in a bowl.  In another bowl, mix the roasted beets with a bit of olive oil and salt.

Serve the seasoned wheat berries on each plate. Then top with some of the crumbled gorgonzola, roasted beets and carrots. Finally add some of the pomegranate seeds and the raw chopped beets.

I do all of this separate only to show the different colors of the vegetables. Feel free to mix it all if you don’t have the time, but the purple beets will stain the whole salad.

 

Fig, Ricotta and Gorgonzola Tart

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This is a nice way of using fresh figs before they are gone from the markets.  It is a savory tart with a bit of sweetness from the honey and salty goodness from the bacon. I also added a bit of wild peaches since I love the combination.  It’s a super easy meal.

Ingredients:

1 sheet of puff pastry (about 30x25cm)

250gr Ricotta

150gr Gorgonzola, cut into little blocks

100gr bacon (fried till crispy, then chopped)

3 figs, sliced into 6 pieces

2 wild peaches, sliced without the pit

1 egg

2 tablespoons of honey

¼ teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon of dry thyme (you can also use fresh)

Pepper

1 egg for the egg wash

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Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

Cook the bacon until crispy, then chop it.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Extend over it the sheet of puff pastry. Using your fingers fold in about one centimeter of the edges to create a crust. Pinch the inside of the pastry with a fork.

In a small bowl, mix in the ricotta, gorgonzola, honey, egg, salt, pepper and thyme.

Spoon the ricotta mixture over the pastry. Sprinkle the bacon  and then arrange the figs and peaches.

Brush the edges of the pastry with the egg wash.

Bake until the edges are golden, about 25 minutes.

Serve warm. I like to eat it with a simple arugula salad.