Aubergine Chocolate Cake Recipe for love or heartache

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Valentine’s Day is coming up which could mean a celebration of love with you wanting to cook a delicious treat for your loved one. And if your loved one or you yourself are a gluten free vegetarian, then right on-the-money and earning you muchos brownie points (pardon the pun) will be baking them a delicious aubergine chocolate cake. I’ve tried it (several times) and can assure you they will likely love you with all of their stomach and taste buds as well as all of their heart!

And if the arrival of Valentine’s Day means it reminds you of heartache and makes you want to eat a whole cake by yourself, you can take reassurance from the fact this amazing cake has no added fat (just from the chocolate as the aubergine gives it the silkiness), no additional refined sugar (beyond the chocolate) and helps you towards your 5 a day of fruit and veg! Love yourself and choose to only make yourself healthy versions of cake.

Chocolate aubergine cake in Harry Eastwood's recipe book

Chocolate aubergine cake in Harry Eastwood’s recipe book

I do believe that this cake is even paleo diet friendly in the more balanced educated versions of paleo such as The Perfect Health Diet if you ensure that the dark chocolate and cocoa powder you buy don’t have refined sugar in them. I’m not sure how raw honey would work but that would make it healthier again.

Healthy cakes have a drawback in that they can be costly to make so please see my post ‘Gluten free cake recipes on a budget’ for advice on how to overcome that.

My favourite aubergine chocolate cake recipe is Heartache Chocolate Cake from Harry Eastwood in her fabulous cookbook ‘Red Velvet & Chocolate Heartache’. I have shared it with you below. The book features tons of yummy vegetable cakes that might sound strange at first but they are superb and much healthier for you than standard cake fodder. Even so, if she does use sugar in a recipe we personally find that we can cut it by another third and it’s plenty sweet enough.

Harry's most excellent adventures with vegetable based cakes!

Harry’s most excellent adventures with vegetable based cakes!

How many?!

The recipe says it serves 14 equating to about 216 kcal and 10g saturated fat per serving. Well my reaction to that is 14 people who don’t particularly like cake or like small portions I’d say. I would say it serves 8 people who like cake or 3 girls at a pyjama party eating it while concentrated on watching a ‘Bridget Jones’ DVD.

Aubergine chocolate cake ingredients:

  • “2 small whole aubergines (weighing roughly 400g)
  • 300g best dark chocolate you can find (minimum 70% cocoa solids essential), broken into squares
  • 50g good-quality cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting [ME – ensure it is pure cocao powder and not hot chocolate drinking powder which will no doubt have copious amounts of refined sugar]
  • 60g ground almonds
  • 3 medium free-range eggs [ME – as ‘free range’ doesn’t actually mean as much freedom of movement for every bird as one might imagine, my advice would be to only buy eggs from trusted sources where it is stated on the packaging that the hens romp around woodland or farmland. And steer clear of corn fed / grain fed for the most natural option]
  • 200g clear honey [ME – personally I’d buy a good quality one to avoid a high water content]
  • 2 tsp baking powder [ME – gluten free of course]
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (or some tears, if you have any in the kitchen) [ME – sorry, this is the stuff Harry writes into her recipes. Anyway in our house this would be Pink Himalayan salt from the health food store for extra minerals and not just sodium]
  • 1 tablespoon brandy (for moral support) [ME – optional]

Equipment you will need:

  • a 23cm-diameter x 7cm-deep loose-bottomed tin [ME – 9” x 2 ¾” and loose bottoms are the very reason if we have cake, it must be healthy!]
  • a skewer
  • a microwave (see Trust Me Tips, below)
  • a blender”

Aubergine chocolate cake method:

  1. “Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line the tin with baking parchment and lightly brush the base and sides with a little oil.
  2. Cook the aubergines by puncturing the skins erratically here and there with a skewer, then placing them in a bowl covered with cling film. Microwave on high for 8 minutes until the vegetables are cooked and limp. Discard any water at the bottom. Leave the aubergines to stand in the bowl until they are cool enough to handle.
  3. Next, skin (I find that the tip of a knife does the job) and purée the aubergines in a blender. Once the warm aubergine is puréed and smooth, add the chocolate, which will mingle and melt slowly. Set aside, covered once again in cling film, until all the chocolate has melted.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk up all the other ingredients for a minute until well introduced to each other and slightly tipsy (bubbly). Fold the melted chocolate and aubergine mixture into the bowl with all the other ingredients. Don’t be afraid of being a little brutal with the spatula – they will get on and fuse.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and place it in the bottom of the oven for 30 minutes, by which time your kitchen will sing with the smell of hot chocolate.
  6. Remove the mixture from the oven and let it cool in its tin for 15 minutes before turning on to a wire rack and peeling off the parchment. Quickly turn the right way up again and sit it on a plate to avoid any scars from the rack.
  7. Sieve a little cocoa powder over the top of the cake before cutting yourself a slice and letting the medicine work its magic.

Trust Me Tips from Harry

If you don’t have a microwave, peel and cube the aubergines and cook them with a tiny splash of water on top of the hob until they are soft and squidgy, taking great care neither to burn them nor to drown them with too much water. Discard the water before blitzing.

Make sure that the aubergine has definitely melted the chocolate – this is not an instance where chunks of chocolate are wanted, I’m afraid. If the aubergine is too cool, simply blitz in the microwave for another 2 minutes before adding the chocolate chunks.

Be very careful to unmould the cake when it is cool rather than warm – it is terribly delicate (just as you are) and could smash easily. A little time to cool down helps make it more robust.

On particularly sad days, this cake will crack on the surface when it’s cooking. Don’t be upset by this – it’s just the heart of the cake breaking too and trying to make you feel less alone.”

A lot of people reviewing Harry’s book on Amazon noted they struggled when peeling the aubergines, but we didn’t have a problem with this at all. Be brave as this cake is so worth it.

Enjoy! I know you will … unless you forgot an ingredient!

Can a vegetarian eat/live together harmoniously with a carnivore?

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The short answer is most definitely yes if there is love, acceptance and a desire for the other person to be satiated/nourished how they would choose to be, not how you would choose. Throw away all notions that you must sit down at every meal together and eat the same food.

Different diets and different food intolerances/health issues

Last night I had bolognese on some left over gluten free spaghetti from Andrew’s dinner the night before. Andrew is my husband. He’s vegetarian (long term choice because the thought of meat and fish disgusts him) gluten free (coeliac) with cheese and I’m gluten free (wheat hurts me) low-carb (to control my weight since I turned 40 and the fat woman in me got really determined to bust out of my body) without cheese (migraine sufferer) exploring non-extreme ‘Paleo for women’ currently (because I want to eat healthier and beat my time of the month headache issue plus wanted to know more about paleo as my body is one that demands heaps of protein – yes, should really have had rice with my Bolognese) so we’re always eating different things to each other which we don’t feel is a big deal. Some might. Perhaps it is about attitude.

A carnivore and vegetarian living happily together

A carnivore and vegetarian living happily together

In fact apart from the short time I tried to be vegan and failed, of being together (most of that six years living together as we moved in together really fast) thus far I’ve still eaten fish and meat at home as well as lots of vegetarian dishes. Andrew would often cook me a cheese free version if necessary.

Our diet was not always so complicated. I started avoiding wheat first and then Andrew 2 years ago was diagnosed with coeliac disease so at least we’re almost the same when it comes to carbs (i.e. gluten free choices) and so there’s common sympathy there. This is except due to recent reading I’m believing more and more that grains and legumes are not great for the human body, especially worse for some of us and therefore trying to eat less of them. Soy I cut out already, when I read how evil it was, with great health benefits yielded immediately.

Andrew sometimes does a special detox and fast for 3 days to sort his gut out when he gets digestive issues. He’s not been able to talk me into any coffee enemas I can tell you, however wonderful for your system they may or may not be, I don’t believe in too much unnecessary messing about – especially if there are any possible side effects. I don’t fast and besides it is a bad idea for women because of our pesky hormones.

Meal choices

Here is how dinner works. We’ll say what we were each thinking of making and often share elements such as kick ass quinoa. What we don’t seem to share is the same attitude to choosing what we will eat. It would be boring if it were all roses and symmetry, wouldn’t it? My choice is dictated by use-by-dates in the fridge. Perhaps this stems from an East European drive (I’m of Polish heritage) not to waste food, make do and mend.

Andrew is purely motivated by what he fancies which can be a very bad thing. Not only because I’ll suggest a perfectly good meal or even three for me to cook for us us if he’s tired, but he just won’t be ‘feeling’ it so I give up trying to hit his lordship’s button and eventually driven by hunger he’ll come down to have something random such as leftover mushy peas on toast with mango pickle.  But also because in ignoring my more ordered use-by-date approach, he had a long life gluten free chickpea curry 5 months past its use by date the other week and we both paid the price with flatulence galore affecting both our sleeps that night!!! However sometimes he does compliment me for rustling up a tasty meal for us both out of leftovers he’d have never thought of, which he thoroughly enjoyed eating.

It can be fun being in the kitchen cooking together, a happy bi-product of eating differently to each other, and we always eat together in the lounge in front of a recording of one of our favourite TV shows. I know we should be eating at a table but that’s how we unwind after a busy day and there just is not enough hours in the day to do everything we want to do, so it kills two birds with one stone.

Lunchtime (we both work at home all day running an ecommerce site selling ladies belts together but each have our own office so get our space) he’ll have been focused on having protein shakes at the precise time needed after working out, so I just get on and have my lunch whenever I feel like it. I might make some extra salad for him if he asks me to. If something is going in the oven I may ask if he wants me to put something in the oven for him too.

We don’t feel compromised but here are the compromises

There’s no resentment or wishing the other ate the same (okay may be when I have cooked something carnivorous that tastes out of this world I would love to have him try it, this statement then does not ring true). We just work with and accept whatever each person’s current flavor of the month diet is (as long as we do not think it is unhealthy) within the boundaries of I’m not allowed to cook smelly fish at home (I have tinned tuna, smoked salmon, pre-cooked salmon/trout or oven bake frozen fish fingers/cod fillets instead) as he hates fish smells plus he is not allowed stinky cheese either (gag) or to cook certain spicy food when I’m at home as it affects my breathing.

Pans and utensils get cleaned very thoroughly. Andrew may even clean the pan again to be satisfied that disgusting meat and fish won’t be bothering him. I think it helps a little that I try to choose meat that is high quality, sometimes organic and certainly from animals allowed freedom to roam, grass fed therefore and not fed crappy stuff that then passes into the food chain and out of us in our excrement into the water supply, so when it cooks it doesn’t ooze the yukky stuff a cheap burger would for example.

We don’t feel like we have to eat what the other is, not that he’d be eating meat or fish anytime ever (even as he works towards a six pack) and as 3 days of migraine would follow, there’s no way I’d touch anything with cheese. It would make his life and mine so much easier though if I could eat cheese. I tease him of late sometimes that the muscle growth would be more forthcoming if he had a nice steak but it is just banter. I often opt for what Andrew is making because he’s an amazing cook and I actually find cooking a real chore but I do adore good foo. For us it works really well in that we both feel that we eat like kings at home and that we have not compromised. We’re all good.

Girl’s top tip for choosing a partner to spend your life with: find one that cooks like a dream whether vegetarian or not!

Christmas pasty that’s vegetarian and gluten free

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Christmas Pasty – vegetarian and gluten free

Gluten free vegetarian pasty

Gluten free vegetarian pasty

This recipe was made up as Andrew went along. A meandering invention that tasted so good when I tried a cheese free one, I made him recount what he did before he forgets. He kept adding things until it was moist enough and had enough flavour. I would feel free to replace items, add items and play around with it until it tastes good to you. If we’d had chestnuts they would have gone in too.

Andrew served them with garlic mash, broccoli and gravy but you could serve these with the Christmas Day/Thanksgiving dinner instead of the turkey. Andrew is freezing one (that has been baked already) to have this Christmas Day. Fingers crossed that works out. Fresh out the oven they are very yummy. Should last 3 days otherwise if you keep them in the fridge and warm before eating.

We recommend using pasty molds and cling film as gluten free pastry can break easily because it has no real stretch. Well that’s the technique Andrew has mastered and is happy with. Yes, he cooks and I share it on the internet!

christmas-pasty-vegetarian-gluten-free

1) Prepare your pastry.

  • Glutafin pastry mix (sadly discontinued) but you could use other options. We’re on a mission to find a good recipe for pastry now – let us know if you have one please.

2) Pre-cook vegetables.

  • Boiled handful of sprouts and 1 parsnip (until soft)
  • Microwaved 2cm thick slice of swede (2-3 mins)
  • In a large frying pan fried onion, large garlic clove, 2 sweet baby peppers (or half normal pepper) and handful of sliced chestnut mushrooms (until soft)

3) Then to the large frying pan, add the other precooked vegetables and remainder of the ingredients (except the cheese):

  • Handful Quorn chunks (best if you can defrost first and chop into small bits)
  • Two handfuls of fresh cranberries
  • 1 table spoon cranberry sauce
  • Generous pinch of vegetable bouillon powder
  • 2 tablespoons of engevita yeast
  • Shake of Rosemary and garlic seasoning
  • Shake of Marjoram
  • Chopped fresh parsley
  • Chopped fresh large tomato
  • Shake of lemon juice
  • Squirt of maple syrup
  • Squirt of tomato puree
  • Squirt of Ketchup
  • Squirt of Worcester sauce
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Blue veined cheese (optional)

4) Cook for a further 10 minutes or until cranberries soften. Allow to cool away from hot hob while you roll out pastry.

5) Find your pasty molds – Andrew used various sizes. Roll out pastry on cling film into shape slightly larger than the mold. Slide onto pastry mold complete with cling film. Wet outside of pastry where it will join together with a little water. Put filling onto one semi circle half. Choose one size to be the cheesey ones and crumble on a little blue cheese like Stilton. Push mold together – this squeezes the pastry together creating your pasty. Cut off excess pastry and peel off the cling film. Place gently onto a baking tray covered in baking parchment.

6) Brush top with milk or egg. Prick top once in centre.

7) Bake for 20 mins at 200 C. Leave to cool for 10 minutes and enjoy.

Andrew after the event wearing flours in his hair!

Andrew after the event wearing flours in his hair!

Is Quorn really a healthy option or bad for you?

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Eating soy over the long term was very bad for me personally (and is banned in the Endo Diet) and I felt heaps better as soon as I gave it up so then we are left with Quorn as a source of vegetarian protein that imitates meat. Not vegan as it uses eggs.

I noted someone said in passing they would never eat soy or Quorn so have been trying to read up on whether Quorn is bad for you and why. Well first of all it is a heavily processed food and not really natural as they like to describe it. But is that so bad as it is awfully hard to avoid processed foods. All flours, gluten free or not, are processed heavily.

It is definitely bad for some people who are violently ill when they have it and there’s even campaigns to class it as an allergen to warn people of a possible reaction or not sell it at all.

Currently Quorn is not a ‘safe’ food for those who are coeliacs but many still eat the versions where it is made without wheat derivatives in a factory that also handles gluten etc. and feel no side effects.

My conclusion is that I will continue to have it occasionally but not regularly, treating it the same as all processed/modified foods.

A heartening update to this is that my friend KC who has been a vegetarian for ages told me “Isn’t the upset stomach thing sorted now? For the first few years of Quorn I could not eat it without stomach cramps as was the case with a lot of people, and it was a well understood problem by the manufacturers which is why a few years ago they managed to modifiy the production of it and it does not cause problems for many people any more. I certainly noticed it didn’t give me problems after the change.” If websites are going to quote people’s complaints they should really put the date of the complaint too. That’s the trouble with the web – you cannot date the food propaganda always.

And on another happy note we found Quorn hotdogs without wheat in them in Sainsburys the other night. We love veggie hotdogs and since becoming gluten free have been eagerly waiting to be able to have them again.