Lemon Sunshine Cake

Easter is upon us. For me, it is a reminder that we can all have a fresh start.  After days and days of grey, gloomy wet weather, that stretch into weeks with nary a ray of sunshine, you think you can’t bear to put on your trench coat and rubber boots yet again.  Then, all of a sudden, the days grow longer and the sun pokes its head out more; tulips, daffodils and fragrant hyacinths are in full bloom.  And that is when I feel the stirrings in my heart of new possibilities.

Easter - Lemon Sunshine Cake from Kake2Kale 2

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Valentine to a Golden Birdie

It wasn’t love at first sight, not even second sight. My “date” was quite verbose, but I was seduced by his vulnerability, the ease with which he stripped his….heart bare (clothes stayed on). Once I fell into his grasp, I fell hard for him. My husband knew of this love affair, and was fine with it because the object of my affection is a book, The Goldfinch. I devoured it for hours at a time, good thing I don’t have kids, otherwise I would surely have Child Services knocking on my door. I was swept away by the raw beauty of Donna Tartt’s writing, and how the main character wooed me into his inner life. The story unwound itself page by page and wrapped itself around me in sensurround. The Goldfinch in the title of the book refers to an actual painting that became very dear to the main character, but please go read it for yourself if you haven’t already.

I wanted to make an edible Valentine to The Goldfinch, and thought something lemony would be fitting. I decided to create golden cupcakes that are tart and sweet, which is one of the book’s messages, that is – even though your life may be sour, sweetness can still be found. Because the book is so substantial in content and length I wanted my cupcakes to be dense and substantial, almost like a pound cake quality.  For the love of The Goldfinch, below is my Valentine cupcake recipe.

Sweetheart Muffin Kake2Kale

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From the Culinary Trail – Sailing and Savouring the Gulf Islands Part 2

Does kitchen size matter? In Amsterdam (The Netherlands), we lived in a small top floor apartment of a canal house that was built in the 17th century.   My partner and I loved this cozy flat particularly for its location, that is – in the historic center of the city and overlooking one of the grand canals.   It had a lot of nice features, such as a roof deck and a wood-burning fireplace.  But, like so many small flats in the city, our place had a teeny-tiny kitchen. It measured roughly 3 x 4 feet and included a dual burner electric stove, sink, short counter, and mini-fridge.  Only one person could squeeze into the L-shaped space to prep/cook; but we managed to make elaborate and gourmet meals….and, without an oven!  I didn’t miss the baking…after all, I’m the {Kale} in this blog and prefer savoury dishes.

Typical sailboat galleys are no bigger than our old Dutch kitchen. There is a common misconception that the confined galley space limits your cooking to simple or camp-like meals.  Not at all.  In my view, the quality of our culinary creations has never been affected by the size of the kitchen or galley.  Even though I am pretty creative with menu planning and provisioning for our sailing trips, I am always interested in cookbooks that focus on galley-friendly options.  I recently discovered a cookbook that is fantastic and worthy of sharing with our blog circle.  It’s a fairly new cookbook from Vancouver Island called “Sea Salt: Recipes from the West Coast Galley“.  This cookbook has received rave reviews and won ‘Best Fish + Seafood Cookbook in Canada’ and ‘Third Best Fish + Seafood Cookbook in the World’ by Gourmand International.   During our Gulf Islands sailing trip on the Amritha Catamaran, we had the pleasure of meeting two of the cookbook’s authors.  We were sailing with a friend from a yachting magazine and because he was preparing an article about the cookbook and interviewing the authors, our group was able to experience a unique dinner prepared by the authors and based on the cookbook’s recipes.  This part 2 of 2 posts is my recap of our spectacular culinary evening and includes a recipe of a dish that we sampled from the cookbook.
sea salt cook book - kake2kale
The mother-daughters collaboration behind this successful cookbook is made up of Lorna, Hilary and Alison Malone.  They are a family of sailors and reside in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.  Alison, an accomplished lifestyle writer and editor, is one of the daughters but was not available to join us. We met Lorna, the mom and avid racer, and the other daughter, Hilary, a chef and an expert food styler.  Both are incredibly down to earth and their passion for their project and the local food/wine scene shows when you meet them.

The award-winning Sea Salt cookbook is a collection of over one hundred sea worthy recipes which are fast and delicious, whether aboard in the galley or at home on land.  I love that the eight chapters are logically organized by the time frame of a sailing trip.  My favorite chapters include: i) Chapter one (Breakaway) highlights recipes with fresh ingredients on the first nights, ii) Chapter five (Entertaining: On the Dock and Rafting Up) showcases recipes for appetizers, dinners and desserts that are ideal for sharing, and iii) Chapter six (North) features recipes of food with a longer shelf life that can be used near the end of a trip.  There is a lot more to enjoy from their cookbook, from stocking and provisioning tips, suggestions about markets to the stunning food photography by Christina Symons.  But, what stands out is that the recipes are inspired by the freshest local flavours of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Products from twenty artisan producers of food, beer and wine are featured and stories of the producers are included with various recipes. Our 4-course Sea Salt dinner comprised of:

Balsamic Beets and Goat’s Cheese Crostini with beets from a Nanaimo farmers market, chive flowers from the Malone garden, goat cheese from the Salt Spring Island Cheese Company, and red fife sourdough bread from Bodhi’s Artisan Bakery
sea salt cook book 2 - kake2kale
Seared Qualicum Beach Scallops with Sweetcorn-Basil Purée and Heirloom Tomato Salad with Qualicum Beach scallops from Island Scallops Ltd.
sea salt cook book 3 - kake2kale
sea salt cook book 4 - kake2kale
Pacific Cioppino
with mussels from Island Sea Farms on Salt Spring Island and sea salt that is hand-harvested and natural from Vancouver Island Salt Co.
sea salt cook book 5 - kake2kale
Cranberry and Hazelnut Coffee Cake
with hazelnuts from Foote’s Hazelnut Farm
sea salt cook book 6 - kake2kale

Four wines, handpicked by Lorna, accompanied this amazing meal.  My favourites were the Averill Creek’s Cowichan Black and Joie Farms 2011 Pinot Noir.

There were so many superfoods in our Sea Salt dinner.  Scallops, clams, mussels, salmon, prawns, beets, tomatoes, hazelnuts and cranberries were just a few of them. Go to our list of favourite superfoods to see the nutritional benefits.

I highly recommend the Sea Salt cookbook, whether you’re a sailor or not, and regardless if you cook in a small or large kitchen.   I wish the Malones continued success with their cookbook and I look forward to trying all of their recipes!  Thank you to Lorna and Hilary for an unforgettable culinary experience.

The Seared Qualicum Beach Scallops with Sweetcorn-Basil Purée and Heirloom Tomato Salad recipe and cookbook cover photo are courtesy of Sea Salt: Recipes from the West Coast Galley by Alison Malone Eathorne, Hilary Malone and Lorna Malone, with photographs by Christina Symons, Harbour Publishing, 2013, www.harbourpublishing.com

Travel Far, Explore More! – {Kale}

Ginger Kale Cake

Kathy and I have been friends for the longest time, since we were children playing with our Barbies.  Our families immigrated from Hong Kong to Canada when we were just kids.  There was a close knit group of Chinese families that met up regularly for parties, mah jong, generally just to be together because they wanted to create a mini Hong Kong.  Assimilation into Canadian society looked different in each of our families.  Kathy’s Mom worked at an office job during the day and taught Chinese Cooking to eager Canadians at night.  While my mom studied Radio and TV broadcasting, taught piano and in her spare time baked her heart out trying to be a good housewife in this new land.

To prepare for life in Canada my Mom took a baking course from a professional baker, I remember her bringing home cakes with clowns, elephants, a Barbie cake, it felt like Christmas every time she came home from her baking class.

To inaugurate our blog I thought it would be fitting to make a ginger kale cake and to lend some sophistication to the humble kale, a limoncello icing.  It is a little sinful, but it is offset by superfoods:

Kale – high in calcium, high in antioxidants, vitamins A, C, and K, anti-inflammatory

Ginger – helps with digestion, anti-inflammatory

I have baked a spice kale cake twice before with wonderful results, it didn’t taste much different from a carrot cake.  It seems intimidating to eat a cake with this pungent hardy veggie, but the taste of the kale fades into the background while giving the cake a bright verdant hue.

This cake is a moist dense cake, you can certainly add more grated ginger if you’d like, or add 1 tsp of lemon extract if you want more lemony flavor in the cake.  This recipe actually had enough to make one Bundt cake and 5 cupcakes.  Just check the cupcakes after 20 minutes.  – {Kake}

Ginger Kale Cake

Ginger Kale Cake Ingredients Serves 10-12

  • 2/3 c. grapeseed oil
  • 2 c. kale (4 big leaves with stem removed, blanched and shocked)
  • 2 3/4 c. spelt flour
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 3 T. grated fresh ginger (peeled)
  • 1/2 c. honey
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 c. ginger ale
  • 1/3 c. plain yogurt
  • 1/2 c. chopped crystallized ginger
  • zest of two lemons

Directions: 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a bundt pan.
  • Put oil and kale in a food processor or a good blender and puree, set aside.
  • In a medium size bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, crystallized ginger and lemon rind.
  • In a large bowl, mix honey, eggs, yogurt, grated ginger, beat until blended.  Mix in kale puree and ginger ale.
  • Next add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just combined, don’t over mix.
  • Pour batter into the prepared Bundt pan.   Bake for 45 -50 minutes.  Do the toothpick test to see if it comes out clean.
  • Then cool in pan for ten minutes, then flip onto plate and let it continue cooling. Once cooled, ice the cake, then devour with your 10 friends!!

Limoncello Icing

  •  2 c. icing sugar
  • 2 T. Limoncello
  • Juice of one lemon juice
  • 1/3 c. cream cheese
  • pinch of salt.
  •  Put all the ingredients in bowl and mix until smooth.

Ginger Kale Cake