Pear-topped carrot cake

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Ingredients (links are to the ones I used, and unless noted, I don’t get any payment)

Topping:
1-2 pears, thinly sliced (peeling is optional)
2 tbsp golden syrup (or honey)
1 tsp ghee oil (or melted butter)
a few dashes of powdered ginger
optional: 1 tbsp sweet ginger bits

Wet ingredients:
1 1/2 cups grated carrots (can also include some grated parsnips for a bit of zing)
1/4 cup raisins and 1/4 cup craisins soaked in 1/4 cup rum (zap in microwave for 30 sec for instant plumping)
3 eggs
1/4 cup ghee oil (or melted butter, coconut oil, or light olive oil) (I found the ghee oil at a reduced price at Imperfect Foods — using this link will give you and me both $10 off)
1/4 cup golden syrup (or honey)
1 tsp double-strength vanilla
optional: 1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Dry ingredients:
1 3/4 cups almond flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground mace (or nutmeg)
1 tsp sodium-free baking powder

  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. Line a 9″ round cake pan with greased parchment paper (I used a bit of ghee)
  3. For the topping: Spread the 2 tbsp golden syrup on the bottom of the prepared cake pan. Arrange the pear slices over the golden syrup in whatever pattern you like (you can add a few thin slices of carrot if you want to add color to your design). Sprinkle the pears with ghee. Sprinkle powdered ginger and ginger bits.
  4. Put pan in 400F oven for 10 minutes or until the pears are starting to get golden. Remove from oven and let cool while you prepare the rest of the cake.
  5. Reduce oven to 325F.
  6. Mix together all the dry ingredients.
  7. Mix together all the wet ingredients.
  8. Mix the wet mixture into the dry mixture. The batter will be like a soft cookie dough, not a pourable cake batter.
  9. Carefully plop and spread the batter into the pan, being careful to disturb your pear pattern as little as possible.
  10. Bake at 325F for 30 minutes.
  11. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes.
  12. Turn cake over onto serving platter and peel off the parchment paper carefully to maintain your pear pattern. If any pear slices stick to the paper, just peel them off and put them back where they came from. Cool completely.

“There’s Green Stuff in the Fridge” Callaloo Soup

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I had a bunch of leftover greens in my fridge: a huge bunch of broccoli rabe and a smaller, but still substantial, amount of chopped kale. I was wondering what I could do with them before I forgot about them and they turned into a green liquid mush at the bottom of my vegetable drawer. Then it came to me: Callaloo!

Callaloo is a soup popular in the Caribbean, usually made with the leaves of the plant also called callaloo (or amaranth), but in Martinique at least, it’s common to substitute whatever leafy greens (especially dark greens like spinach and kale). My broccoli rabe and kale would be perfect for this.

Callaloo soup also usually includes okra (or as they are called in French, gombos — whence the Cajun “Gumbo”). The okra gives Callaloo its smooth, silky texture and provides some thickness to the broth. I did not have any okra. So I rooted around the pantry and found the perfect substitute: canned chickpeas, with their aquafaba — that slimy nutritious liquid that vegans prize as a replacement for egg whites.

Callaloo is also usually made with a big old meaty hambone, but that adds too much sodium (and besides, I didn’t have any on hand), so I diced up a few slices of low sodium turkey bacon.

So I went to work on it and came up with this lovely low sodium and very nutritious soup, with stuff I had on hand in the kitchen. And it tasted really good too.

Throw all of these ingredients into the Instapot (on SautĂ©), or into a pressure cooker, or large soup pot at medium-high heat. By the time the last ingredient goes in, the broth should be boiling. Everything is going in the blender at the end, so nothing needs to be chopped or sliced super thin — big chunks are fine for everything except the celery. Stir well after each addition.

  • 4 cups of low-sodium chicken broth (use vegetable broth for a vegan version)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 whole (uncut!) scotch bonnet peppers or habaneros
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 3 shallots, chopped or sliced (red onion can be substituted, or 3 tbsp of Penzey’s air-dried Shallots, which I always keep on hand)
  • 2-3 slices of low-sodium turkey bacon (omit or replace with some textured vegetable protein for a vegan version)
  • 1 can of chickpeas, including the liquid
  • 2 tablespoons cornflour or tapioca flour, diluted in enough water to make a liquid paste (optional)
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup of sliced celery (you want these to be fairly thin to avoid strands of fiber)
  • 4 to 6 cups of chopped dark leafy greens (broccoli rabe, kale, spinach, collard greens, or even callaloo if you’re lucky enough to find it in an international market)

Cover the pot or Instapot. For the Instapot, set it to pressure cooking at high for 15 minutes. For a regular soup pot, lower the heat to simmer and let it cook for an hour.

Remove the bay leaves and hot peppers.

Using an immersion blender or a food processor, process the soup well. It shouldn’t be completely liquid: there will be small chunks of vegetables and bacon that provide texture to the soup.

The hot peppers kept whole will provide a nice flavor but not a lot of spicy heat to the soup. Give it a taste. If you like a spicy soup, add half of one of the peppers and process  some more. Like it very spicy? Keep adding a half pepper at a time and taste until it’s perfect for you. (I used one of the peppers and it was perfect for me and my taste-tester: distinctly zingy without being fiery.

If desired, you can add a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt to your bowl of soup for an even creamier soup.