January 05, 2010

What we did (and ate) on our winter vacation ... part 2 / apple cake

Whenever we're in the Fort Lauderdale area, we always dine at the internationally known vegan restaurant, Sublime. In the past I've noted that Sublime tries very hard to appeal to non-vegetarians by simulating familiar meat-and-chicken-based dishes instead of focusing on the creative use of fresh vegetables, but as the only veg restaurant for miles around, I can understand their position. They've managed to be successful as a vegan restaurant in a steak and seafood world. And I really liked their new menu, which seemed to have more veggie-centered choices.

Sublime is a beautiful and calming space with very good food, and the waitstaff is friendly and helpful. Dining there is always enjoyable, and our latest visit was no exception, though we started the evening with a slight mishap. My sister-in-law had postcards (which were expiring the next day) offering $10 off two entrées, and we planned to use them to defray the high cost of eating at Sublime. As we arrived, my brother realized that he'd forgotten to bring the coupons. We went back and forth about whether to mention this to our server, but when the restaurant owner came to our table to greet us, we told her about the oversight. At first she seemed very pleased that her postcard had pulled us into the restaurant, and appeared to be considering what to do. Then she chirped, "I guess you'll just have to come back again tomorrow," and quickly took off. Oh well. It wouldn't have cost her very much to create a little seasonal good will but I guess we all make our choices.

For starters we shared an order of frito misto, shown at the top of the page. This is crispy cauliflower with sweet chili sauce, and it's addictively good. I've tried to duplicate this at home in the past and was very successful, but unfortunately I didn't write down the recipe so I'll have to try again.

For my entrée I chose the portobella stack with sautéed greens and mashed cauliflower. I'm a sucker for portobella dishes and, besides, this entrée came with the most vegetables. The smallish mushroom came layered with spinach, tomato, thinly sliced potato and a brown sauce. It was really good.

My husband chose a salad and the "four sides" entrée option, and he picked barbecued tofu, asparagus, coleslaw and mashed cauliflower. He enjoyed his dinner.

My brother and s-i-l shared a caesar salad and a "steak" sandwich with oven sweet potato fries. The salad came with several small pieces of fried artichoke hearts, which I thought was very clever. I think all four of us enjoyed this year's visit to Sublime (except for the coupon mishap) and will return again when we're back in the area. The food is organic and vegan, and all profits go towards animal welfare.

After dinner, we visited a street in Pompano Beach where every house on both sides of the street participates in extreme Christmas decorating excess. The pictures really don't do justice to the mind-boggling display of light and color.

All vacations must come to an end, so on New Year's Eve we left for the airport at 7:30 a.m. We were conscious of potentially increased security measures following the underwear-explosives incident on the airliner from Amsterdam. I packed very carefully, trying to minimize the chances of having myself or my luggage searched. Security was surprisingly fast and easy in spite of the fact I totally forgot to remove and display my one quart plastic zip-bag of personal explosives. No one called me out or even removed my empty stainless steel water bottle from my backpack pocket to shake it. This seemed rather slack considering the scrutiny I've encountered in the past.

Anyway, we got home in time to have a New Year's Eve dinner with our son, d-i-l, granddaughter and their friends. My daughter-in-law cooked a meal entirely from The Urban Vegan cookbook and it was delicious. Above you can see my plate with chickpea paprikash and spaetzle, snap peas in garlic and olive oil, and salad greens with croutons.

For a brunch at our kids' house on Sunday I made black-eyed-pea salsa (Texas caviar) from this recipe except I cooked the beans from scratch, and used parsley instead of cilantro to accommodate my favorite cilantro-hater.

No slivered almonds on or in my cake (cake #2)

I also made an apple cake from Bryanna Clark Grogan's wonderful blog but with several alterations — I always have to tinker. I'll give you the excellent original recipe (with permission), and then a second recipe with my changes. I ran out of sugar when I made it the first time so used cinnamon and a little agave for the topping, but that results in a pale-looking (but still delicious) cake. Sugar works much better. I also added dried cranberries with the apples, and no almonds on top due to my dislike for nuts in cake. The cake was delicious but tasted too sweet for my warped taste buds so I revised it a bit when I made it the second time. It still tastes sweet to me but everyone else loves it so I think I'll leave it alone for now.

Original recipe:
makes 1/ 9x13" cake

Dry mix
  • 1 and 3/4 cups wholewheat pastry flour PLUS 1/4 c. oat bran
  • OR 2 cups wholewheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 cups chopped apples (I don't peel them if they are organic)
Wet mix
  • 1/3 cup smooth unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 Tbs. oil
  • 1 cup unbleached organic granulated sugar
  • 7/8 cup nondairy milk
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup slivered, blanched almonds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13" cake pan.
  1. Whisk together the dry mix ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.
  2. Stir in the apples.
  3. In a blender, blend the wet mix ingredients until smooth.
  4. Mix the Wet Mix into dry mix, stirring as briefly as possible.
  5. Spread into prepared pan.
  6. Mix the topping ingredients together in a small bowl. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the cake. Bake 35 minutes. Test for doneness.
  7. Cool on a rack and serve right out of the pan, cut into squares.

Apple-cranberry cake (adapted from Bryanna's rustic apple-almond cake)
This cake is so easy and delicious — wonderfully soft and moist — it's destined to become a new favorite at our house!

Dry mix
  • 2 cups white wholewheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp spice mix* (or cinnamon) see note below
  • 2+ cups apple, chopped into 1/2" pieces (Don't peel if organic) (I used two med.-lg. apples)
  • 1 cup whole cranberries (mine were frozen), each berry cut in half or 1/2 cup dried
Wet mix
  • 1/3 cup smooth unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 Tbs. oil
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup unbleached organic granulated sugar (evaporated cane juice) If using dried cranberries, the cake is very sweet. If you like cake less sweet, use 1/2 cup.
  • 7/8 cup nondairy milk or amazake (Amazake gives great texture.)
  • 1/4 cup evaporated cane juice
  • 1 tsp. spice mix* (or cinnamon) see note below
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13" cake pan.
  1. Whisk together the dry mix ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.
  2. Stir in the apples and cranberries.
  3. In a blender, blend the wet mix ingredients until smooth. (I just beat them with a spoon.)
  4. Fold the wet mix into dry mix, stirring as briefly as possible. The batter will be very thick.
  5. Spread evenly into prepared pan.
  6. Mix the topping ingredients together in a small bowl. Sprinkle half the topping evenly over the cake. Swirl in gently with a knife. (Don't knock yourself out with the swirling; the batter is too thick for real swirling.)
  7. Sprinkle on the rest of the topping.
  8. Bake 35 minutes. Test for doneness.
  9. Cool on a rack and serve from the pan, cut into squares.
Note: *I used speculoos spice mix from Seitan is my motor (except mine has allspice instead of cloves, and extra coriander) to flavor the cake. (to make a batch: 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. ground allspice, 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom, 1/4 tsp. ground coriander, 1/8 tsp. ground ginger, 1/4 tsp. fresh ground nutmeg) Follow this link to find out more. I had previously mixed a lot to keep handy with my other spices so it was right there waiting for me when I made the cake.


  1. It all looks soooo good! Thanks for sharing.
    Debra @ Vegan Family Style

  2. That cake sounds really good and I love that last picture of the tree covered with fairy lights, very pretty.

  3. Wow, the food looks great! I love Christmas lights. There's a street nearby that does the same thing - all of the houses there go all out on the decorations and tons of people go by to gawk at it all. :-)

  4. Debra - The best was the frito misto. Every time I see the picture I want some.

    Jac - The cake IS good. :) In person, you couldn't see the wires or limbs, just lights. I was surprised how the photos exposed the underpinnings.

    Chow vegan - Yes, gawk is what we did. Parked the car and walked around shamelessly gawking.

  5. Oh, the food at Sublime all looks and sounds absolutely delicious! Too bad you didn't get to use the coupon. I love the Xmas lights photos, they are all so beautiful. Thanks for the recipes for both cakes, they both sound wonderful. I'll definitely give them a try very soon:)

  6. The food at Sublime looks wonderful, particularly the fried cauliflower, but it sounds like the customer service is a little rough...

    Thank you for the tip about Flying Apron. If I could go and try their baked goods for myself, I'd know whether it was worth following the recipes at all. I found mixed reviews online--some people really love them, but I think some gluten-free people get so excited about being able to eat bread and pastries that they confuse "delicious" with "edible."

  7. PLEASE sort out the recipe for the sweet and sour cauliflower! I so want to try it!
    The Christmas lights reminded me of the over-the-top lights we like to go and mock in our Christmas traditions (mentioned in my blog)! :)
    I LOVE apple cake and I am definitely going to try out this recipe.

  8. Oraphan - It would have been nice to use the coupon but hopefully the money we would have saved went to animal welfare, instead. I hope you like the cake - try the first one if you have a sweet tooth, the second if you like your desserts a little less sweet. (It's still sweet, though.)

    Mary - The waitstaff at Sublime is actually, usually, really nice.

    I think Flying Apron tries to make their baked goods without using the additives (various hard to spell gums, etc.) that others use to improve the texture and taste of gluten-free baked goods. Hence, the unimproved texture and taste. There can be a heaviness and grittiness that can be interpreted as unappealing. I'm not gluten-free, but I love the chocolate chip cookies with their slightly sandy texture. However, some of the other stuff is too weird even for me. If I were gluten-free, I might convince myself to like that stuff, too, but I probably wouldn't serve it to others.

    Penny - Every time I look at the cauliflower photo I feel a little pang of hunger. I'll try to make a version of it soon.

    I might be addicted to the cake. Darn.

  9. Happy New Year, Andrea! Your meals at Sublime look wonderful. I would have ordered the same as you, but maybe asked for extra mushrooms!

    I'm traveling next week and preparing to be pat down, but I hope I get to breeze through like you did.

    I love apples and cranberries together - your cake looks fantastic!

    PS I got a Sony Cybershot camera.

  10. Thanks for the apple cake recipe(s) - it looks amazing. I'm going to have to alter it slightly to accomodate my wheat allergy, but I think I can make it work.

  11. Diann- I did get patted down on the way to Florida because I was wearing a rather fitted sweater that the TSA said "looked a little bulky." Hope your travel is easy and pleasant.

    We have company coming tomorrow which may justify making this cake again - any excuse to have some on hand ...

    I'm looking forward to seeing more of your photos.

    Angie- Your welcome! Anyone who can read a book a day can surely alter a recipe with ease! Can you eat spelt? Thanks for visiting my blog.

  12. Too bad about the coupon mishap, but the dishes you ended up with do sound great! And those Xmas decorations--talk about over the top! Bryanna's cake (and your variation) look really good, too. So much yummy food to start off the year!


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