Raspberry Plum Clafoutis

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As seen on TV plum and raspberry clafoutis [Photography, Illumina Media]

‘Clafoutis is so easy to make.  The best result is to make the batter and leave it to rest for an hour before using.  If you are expecting guests, prepare the fruit and the batter in advance and just before dinner you can mix the clafoutis and bake it to serve warm with ice cream.  I like to use self raising flour and this makes it more cakey but still retains its pancake texture’

For the clafoutis you will need:
250g plums
150g raspberries
3 eggs
1/2 cup self raising flour
the seeds of one vanilla pod
a few drops of almond essence
a pinch of cinnamon
a few drops of rosewater
4 tablespoons stevia
330ml milk

a shallow oven proof dish prepared with baking spray

Preheat the oven 180ºC.

Prepare the fruit.  Cut up the plums into thin slicing leaving the skin on.

Use a hand blender to mix the eggs, vanilla, almond extract, stevia and milk.  Add the flour and carry on blending until  you have a smooth consistency.  Allow to rest for an hour if you have time.

Arrange the plums on the dish and pour the batter over the plums.  Then add the raspberries.

Bake the clafoutis for around 35 to 40 minutes until it sets.  Because I use self raising flour it will rise slightly.  For clafoutis the traditional way use plain flour.

Serve hot with ice cream or cold with a cup of tea.

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I used the left over batter to make mini clafoutis in a muffin tin [Photography Illumina Media]

Cooking with stevia

Blueberry Traybake [Photo: Felix Cesare]

Stevia is the answer if you want your sweet treats with less calories. For the past few years I have focused on creating recipes that eliminate the use of processed sugar and butter. Although there are a number of alternative natural sweeteners available, such as agave, maple syrup, coconut sugar…

Source: Cooking with stevia, Sunday Times of Malta

Photography: Stefan Stafrace and Felix Cesare

Pasta e Ceci

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Used a mix of fresh and dried chickpeas.  To add texture and heighten the flavor I cook half of the fresh chickpeas and add more during the last 5 minutes of cooking time and of course raw chickpeas are added to top the dish just before serving.  Tableware: C&H Bartoli

This dish is made with ordinary ingredients found in nearly every Mediterranean kitchen.

The fresh chickpeas [ciccri tal-qatta] are in season right now, a very short season. I use a mix of fresh and dried chickpeas and when fresh chickpeas are not in season, this pasta is just as delicious with dried chickpeas.

Pasta e ceci 1

Fresh chickpeas are sold in large bundles.  You need patience and time to shell them but it is worth it.

Use approximately equal amounts of fresh and dried chickpeas.

Cook the dried chickpeas in plenty of water.  If you have not soaked them, add 1/4 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda once the water starts to boil, then lower the heat and cook until they soften.

You will need:
500g pasta
200g fresh chickpeas
200g  chickpeas (cooked and drained)
4 large tomatoes, chopped
70g pancetta, chopped
2 anchovy fillets
natural no-additive stock cube
1 large onion finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, grated
150g canned chopped tomatoes
a handful of fresh mint leaves
a handful of parsley
olive oil
salt and pepper
freshly grated pecorino cheese to serve

Drizzle some olive oil into a heavy pan and gently cook the chopped garlic and onion on low heat. Add the pancetta and anchovies, cook for 5 minutes.  Add half the cooked chickpeas, then half the parsley and mint. Add the stock cube and 400ml water. Cook for 10 minutes.

Add the pasta and top with more water just to cover the pasta. Stir and add the tinned tomatoes and half the fresh chickpeas.
When the pasta is nearly cooked add half of the rest of the chickpeas and keep some aside to garnish the dish.
pasta e ceci 9
Drizzle some olive oil. Garnish with fresh mint and parsley, some fresh chopped tomatoes and some fresh uncooked chickpeas.  Season with ground pepper and serve immediately with grated pecorino cheese.

Pie crust using bananas

‘this crust is perfect for a Banana Cream Pie and I eliminate butter, oil and dairy products for this pastry. The result is crispy and light and you can roll it out to a very thin pastry. It is easy to work with and I demonstrated it on tv this week. The secret always is not to over knead the pastry. This one certainly does not need it and to leave it in the fridge for an hour before using. Try to use on the same day.’

You will need:
500g plain flour
250g very ripe or over ripe bananas (it does not work with firm bananas)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon apple organic vinegar
cold water
3 tablespoons stevia
vanilla (optional and only if you are making a sweet pastry)
grated zest of half a lemon
juice of half a lemon

Start by sifting the flour twice into a large bowl. This produces a lighter pastry. Peel the bananas and drizzle the lemon juice. Mix. Add the bananas to the flour mix.

Use the tips of your fingers to rub in the bananas into the flour, just as you would with butter. Work quickly and lightly rubbing in small amounts of the banana.

Add the beaten egg, vanilla, lemon zest, stevia and mix with the knife. Bring the pastry together using your hands. If the pastry is still dry, add cold water, one tablespoon at a time.

I did not need to add water in mine but it depends on weather and humidity levels.

Wrap the pastry in baking paper and allow to rest in the fridge for an hour.

To roll out the pastry, dredge your working surface lightly with flour. Rub your rolling pin with your floured hands. Place the pastry on the work top. Work gently and firmly. You can roll out to have a very thin curst.

Heat the oven to 180C. Use a brush dipped in olive oil to coat your tart dish.

Roll your pastry loosely around your rolling pin. Drop it into the prepared tart dish. Tap it gently with your fingertips into the dish. If you have time allow the pastry to rest in the dish for 5 to 10 minutes in the freezer.
Pierce the pastry all over with a fork if you are baking blind. No need to use beans or weights.

Cook in a preheated oven for 15 minutes.

When you take it out of the oven and while it is still warm, use a rolling pin to apply pressure on the edge of the tart dish to trim the pastry.

Allow to cool. Remove from the dish and place on an oven proof dish covered with greaseproof paper. Return to a hot oven preheated to 200C for 5 – 10 minutes if you are looking for a crisp pastry.

Allow to cool before adding the filling.

For my filling this week I used:

600ml coconut milk
2 ripe bananas
100g coconut sugar
1 vanilla pod
Separately, 80 g cornflour mixed in 100ml water
And fruit to decorate and I used physalis

Mix together the coconut milk, bananas, coconut sugar and vanilla and use a hand blender to bring to a smooth consistency. Gently heat the mixture and bring to a gentle boil stirring with a wooden spoon. Before it reaches boiling point, add the cornflour mix and stir while bringing to a gentle boil. Remove from heat immediately and carry on stirring. Pour over the filling into the crust.

Decorate with fruit of your choice before it cools down completely so that the fruit will set in the tart.

Salad Tart

salad tart

‘And I used the ricotta and hazelnut crust  to make another salad tart.  Simply allow the crust to cool, crumble up 200g ricotta  and arrange it on the crust, top with a mix of finely chopped fresh herbs and chopped nuts and I used a mix of pistachios and hazelnuts  .  Then simple layer hard boiled eggs and tomatoes, a sprinkle of olive oil and some freshly ground black pepper and sea salt.  It makes such a lovely meal’

Using ricotta to make pastry

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Pastry using ricotta instead of butter as seen on TV and studded with chopped hazelnuts [Photo Illumina Media]

‘I eliminate butter for this pastry and use ricotta.  Although delicious, it is a different taste and texture to pastry made with butter.  This pastry  is easy to work with and as you can see can be used to make a very thin crust.  I demonstrated this recipe on tv.  The secret is not to overwork the pastry and if possible to allow it to rest in the fridge for an hour.  This pastry does not freeze well and it is best to make and use.  It is ever so easy’

You will need:

500g plain flour
250g ricotta
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon apple organic vinegar
cold water
3 tablespoons stevia (optional if you are making sweet pastry)
vanilla (optional and only if you are making a sweet pastry)
grated zest of half a lemon (optional)

Start by sifting the flour twice into a large bowl. This produces a lighter pastry. Add the ricotta, cut up into pieces. When the flour mixture appears consistent and looks like fine breadcrumbs, add the salt and mix by using a knife. Never overwork this type of pastry.

Use the tips of your fingers to run in the ricotta into the flour. Work quickly and lightly rubbing in small amounts of the ricotta rather than clumps.

Add the beaten egg, mix with the knife. Bring the pastry together using your hands. If the pastry is still dry, add cold water, one tablespoon at a time. You will probably find you will not need to add any water because of the high content of water in the ricotta but it also depends on weather and humidity levels.

Wrap the pastry in baking paper and allow to rest in the fridge for an hour.

To roll out the pastry, dredge your working surface lightly with flour. Rub your rolling pin with your floured hands. Place the pastry on the work top. Work gently and firmly. If you are going to use nuts as I did during the programme, sprinkle 100g of chopped nuts on the work surface and roll out the pastry on top of the nuts.

Turn your pastry over and if you are using nuts sprinkle another 50 grams of nuts all over. Keep rolling until you have the size and thickness you require.

Heat the oven to 180C. Use a brush dipped in olive oil to coat your tart dish.

Roll your pastry loosely around your rolling pin. Drop it into the prepared tart dish. Tap it gently with your fingertips into the dish. If you have time allow the pastry to rest in the dish for 5 to 10 minutes in the fridge.
Pierce the pastry all over with a fork if you are baking blind. No need to use beans or weights.

Cook in a preheated oven for 20 minutes.

When you take it out of the oven and while it is still warm, use a rolling pin to apply pressure on the edge of the tart dish to trim the pastry.

Allow to cool before adding the filling.

Seasonal produce from Mġarr

Seasonal fresh produce from the Northern village of Mgarr, [Photo Stefan Stafrace]

Besides strawberries, the village of Mġarr offers alluring natural beauty, history and heritage, as well as a wide variety of fresh produce. A visit to this year’s Strawberry Festival, now in its tenth year, is a must today. Mġarr is a showcase for Maltese farmers and the local…     Source: Seasonal produce from Mġarr

Quick Strawberry Strudel with Tahini

STRAWBERRY FEAST 7B

Easy strudel with strawberries and tahini

‘Do not miss Strawberry Festival in Mgarr today!  and here today you can get a  glimpse of the preparations for today’s feast.  With thanks to Stefan  for the shoot’

For my easy strawberry strudel you will need:

70g pistachios
1/2 packet filo pastry
2 tablespoons tahini mixed with 4 tablespoons honey
5 tablespoons olive oil
300g strawberries
1 pod vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon citrus zest


Preheat oven to 220 degrees C). Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish.
Toss together cinnamon, vanilla, citrus and pistachios. Brush an ovenproof dish (20cm) with olive oil.


Place two sheets of filo in the bottom of the prepared dish.
Lightly brush with olive oil. Top with sliced strawberries. Drizzle half of tahini and honey then scatter half the pistachio mix. Repeat by placing 2 more sheets of filo pastry. Brush with olive oil Add a layer of strawberries, then the nut tahini mix and nuts.

Cover with 2 sheets of filo and brush with olive oil. Bake in a hot oven for 15 minutes.

No Bake: Cardamon, White Chocolate & Tahini Cookies

no bake cardamon cookies

No bake cardamon and white chocolate cookies [Photo: Illumina Media]

 

‘Although I love to bake, I also really enjoy making the no-bake healthier cookies and cakes and these cookies freeze well and can be taken out for the occasional treat.  White chocolate and cardamon are amazing together’

You will need:
3 cups oats
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup tahini
1/2 cup coconut milk
3 tablespoons agave (of if you wish to use processed sugar 2 cups or equivalent in stevia)
200g white chocolate
a pinch of salt
1 stick vanilla
1 cup coconut


 
Simply melt the white chocolate.  Remove from heat and add the coconut oil. Crush the cardamon seeds.  In a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients together.  Add the white chocolate mixture.  Stir until the mixture is consistent.
Line a dish with baking paper.
Wet the tips of your fingers and use a scoop to measure out equal portions of cookie dough.  Form cookies and lay on the baking paper.  Cover and place in the fridge for a few hours or overnight or in the freezer for an hour.  Serve when required and they keep well in the freezer for a couple of months.
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No bake chocolate cookies:) so quick, so delicious ! [Photo: Illumina Media]

Baked bananas with Quick Banana Ice Cream

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Baked Bananas with Soft Serve pure bananas on a bed of blackberries and strawberries [Fruit by Big Fresh, Tableware C&H Bartoli, Disposable tableware  AMC]

 

For the baked bananas you will need:

1 banana each portion
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 teaspoon of your favorite liquer
1 tablespoon muscovado sugar
a light grating of fresh nutmeg
a pinch of cinnamon
1/2 vanilla stick
1/4 teaspoon olive oil

Prepare an ovenproof dish with non stick baking spray.

Peel the bananas and slice in half lengthwise and place them on the overproof dish. Pour Lay the pieces into a buttered 9x13x2-inch ovenproof dish. Mix the lemon juice with the vanilla and liquer, cinnamon, olive oil and nutmeg juice and rum evenly over the bananas. Sprinkle the muscovado sugar onto the bananas. Drizzle the liquid ingredients on top. Cook in a pre heated hot oven for 20 minutes.

For the soft serve banana ice cream you will need:

half a ripe banana each portion
vanilla
a few drops lime juice

Peel the bananas and chop them roughly. Add the lime juice.
Cover with cling film and freeze for a couple of hours. Add the vanilla
Use a hand blender to process the bananas.
The mixture will break up, keep going and eventually will turn creamy and very thick, just like soft serve. You can also put it back into the airtight container and freeze to solidify like traditional ice cream.

To assemble:

Scatter your fresh blackberries and strawberries on your serving dish.  Lay 2 baked banana halves on top of the fruit.  Then pipe or spoon on some soft scoop banana ice cream.  Dust with icing sugar.