One of my favourite things in the world to do is host dinner parties. Whilst I’m not exactly the ‘hostest with the mostest ‘ (although I do try) they used to be a regular occurrence (try once a week) particularly when we lived in Chicago – I miss my American chums – but have been a little scarce of late due to us settling back into London life. Still adjusting but we’re getting there.
Even in Cornwall we were marginally more sociable and enjoyed having friends and family over for drinks, nibbles and homecooked grub. I’m a self diagnosed feeder. You come to mine, be prepared to eat.
I don’t why then it’s taken us so long to have a guest over to our new London abode. It’s silly really. Of course, my parents came to stay over Christmas and I did plenty of cooking and feeding then but that doesn’t really count because well, they’re my folks, not guests. Not that I don’t treat them like guests but……ach, you know what I mean. Talking myself in circles again!
Anyway, we had a guest. I went with a (loosely) Mexican theme (it wasn’t ‘themed’ per se, just inspired by, if you get my drift…) and started with some guacamole and chips – blue corn, from a fancy grocery store in East London, called unsurprisingly The Grocery. Catchy!
I’d been marinading some potato wedges all day (cumin, cayenne, smoked paprika, chilli, salt and pepper and a little oil), which I roasted until golden – they would’ve been perfect had my guest showed up on time….
The wedges accompanied the main event, which was a large dish of enchilladas (spring greens and kidney beans – ooh, that rhymes!), which were pretty freakin’ spicy but also pretty freakin’ tasty. As this was our guests first vegan meal I kept the menu relatively safe and I think it paid off, having got a resounding thumbs up, which I believe was genuine. Or at least I hope so. If not, I know where they live…
A dinner party wouldn’t be a dinner party without afters and so I popped a little vegan cake in the oven. A coconut, lime flavoured number made with polenta and gr0und almonds – and some white flour but this could easily be subbed to make the cake entirely flourless. Let me know if you try this!
Our guest was surprised how moist it was, which never fails to surprise me – I mean their surprise surprises me, not that I was surprised the cake tasted good…. there I go again!
I’m not exactly sure where this notion all vegan baked goods are dry as cardboard has emanated from, do you? Maybe I haven’t had the misfortune yet to sample such underwhelming morsels but I can honestly, truthfully say I prefer vegan cakes, cookies, etc to their ‘normal’ counterparts. Besides, the good news is, apparently you wouldn’t know this cake is vegan until told so as per the words of our guest. He can come again.
Here’s how the recipe goes…..
1/4 cup white flour (or any of your choosing)
1/4 cup fine polenta (cornmeal)
1/4 cup ground almonds
1/4 cup palm sugar
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp bicarbonate soda
zest of one lime
1 mashed banana
1/2 cup coconut milk (from a can) including some of the water
1 tbsp coconut oil
juice of one lime
pinch of salt
pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius/350 fahrenheit.
place the flour, polenta, ground almonds, palm sugar, desiccated coconut, baking powder, bicarb, salt and zest in a bowl. Gently mix to incorporate.
Whisk the mashed banana, coconut milk, coconut oil and lime juice together in a separate bowl.
Prepare a cake tin by either lining or greasing it.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the coconut, banana mixture. Using a spatula fold gently to incorporate fully and immediately transfer to the cake tin. Tap the tin on the surface a few times to get rid of any air bubbles. Place in oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, turning after 20 minutes to ensure it bakes evenly. After the recommended time insert a skewer into the centre – when it comes out clean, it is ready.
Allow to cool fully before piercing the top all over with a cake skewer.
For the drizzle….
1 tbsp coconut oil
juice of one lime
2 heaped tbsps palm sugar or agave nectar
bring to a boil and then reduce to a rapid simmer allowing it to reduce for a few minutes until you achieve a syrup like consistency.
Gently pour over the syrup allowing it to seep into the holes – I also like to use a pastry brush to ensure even coverage. Do this in two steps until all the syrup is used.
Before the second drizzle, layer the cake with freshly sliced lime and use the pastry brush to coat them with the sugary syrup – this will make them almost like candied limes.
Sprinkle with desiccated coconut and serve. Would be excellent with some sweetened whipped coconut cream or do as we did and have a dollop of banana soya yoghurt on the side, yum!