Baked Fig Ricotta Cheesecake (gluten free)

fig cheese cake illumina media.jpg

Baked fig cheesecake, photo Illumina Media [the tart in this photo was baked during a live tv show]

‘There are a few varieties of Maltese figs and these in my cheesecake are known as ‘bajtar ta’ San Gwann’ [St John’s Figs] and come to harvest at the end of spring and beginning of summer.  This fig does not develop the rich flavor, sweetness or vibrant colours of the other two varieties that ripen later in the summer.  The colour is greenish white and although they are delicious, they lack the sweetness to produce a dessert without the use of additional sweetener.  If you live on the island, enjoy them when you find them as the season is very short.  Summer is here.’ 

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The beauty of the island from the fields of Ghajn Tuffieha.  One of the first signs that summer is really here, ripe, juicy, luscious figs ready to harvest

You will need:

For the base
120g oatcakes
2 teaspoons cold pressed coconut oil
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons peanut butter

For the filing
500g fresh figs
juice of 1/2 lemon
500g ricotta
200g mascarpone
200g yoghurt
vanilla
4 eggs
Stevia [the equivalent of 120g, check the conversion table on your packet]
2 tablespoons cornflour

[21 cm springform dish]

To decorate, an extra 200g of fresh figs and 4 tablespoons of warm maple syrup

Heat the oven to 200C. Melt the coconut oil on low heat and add the chocolate powder.
Use a blender to grind the biscuits and add the peanut butter. Mix all the base ingredients in and bring it to a smooth paste by using a hand blender.

Line the bottom of a springform dish with baking paper. Place the mixture in the tin and press down using a large spoon dipped in water. Place in the freezer to set.

Make the filling by mixing all the ingredients together and blending until you have a smooth paste. Pour the batter over the base of the cheesecake. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes until the mixture sets. Turn off the heat and leave the cheesecake in the oven until it cools down. Place in the fridge overnight preferably. Decorate with quartered fresh figs and leave the skin on. Brush with warm maple syrup just before serving.

‘Tip:leave the cheesecake to cool slowly in the oven to avoid a cracked surface ‘

Bajtar ta San Gwann (Breba Maltese Figs).jpg

Bajtar ta San Gwann [Maltese Breba Figs] in season around late May/beginning of June  [Photo Illumina Media, this photo was taken during a live tv show]

Lea’s Good Food Everyday airs on Smash TV everyday and you can follow on facebook

fig cheesecake shine

Baked Fig Cheesecake #glutenfree Photo Marconia Schembri during a live tv show

Oats by Mornflake at Rimus Group

My figs, lemons and eggs come from Big Fresh in Mosta

Fresh Herb Amaranth

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Fresh Herb Amaranth instead of polenta or mashed potato [Photography Felix Cesare, the food in this photo was cooked during a live tv programme]

‘Everyone loved this fresh herb Amaranth.  It has a consistency of polenta when cooked and the uncooked grains are similar to quinoa.  I  use water as a base instead of cream or milk as the consistency is so creamy.  It is gluten free and protein rich.  I served it with chick peas and fresh broad beans’.

You will need:

1 cup amaranth
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1 natural stock cube
1/2 clove garlic
1/2 onion, finely chopped
6 tablespoons mixed fresh herbs and I use a mix of mint, basil and tarragon
pinch of dried provence herbs
1/2 cup red cabbage, finely shredded and chopped
Black pepper to taste
4 tablespoons olive oil

Prepare the herbs by finely chopping them and the red cabbage by shredding and chopping then immersing completely in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and leave aside.

Saute the onion on low heat in one tablespoon of olive oil.  When it becomes translucent add the garlic but do not cook for more than one minute to avoid burning and retain a gentle flavor. Remove from heat.  It will carry on cooking once it is added to the amaranth.

Bring the water with the stock cube to boil and add the amaranth. Add the dried herbs. Reduce the heat and cook using a wooden spoon to stir constantly. After 5 minutes, add the cooked onion and garlic.  Keep cooking and the mixture will get thick and bubbly. Keep a jug of water near you and add water a little at a time as it gets absorbed. Taste to check if the amaranth is cooked enough then add the herbs, finely shredded herbs and olive oil. Lightly stir in and serve as an accompaniment to your main dish.

‘Tip: Add a couple of spoons of amaranth to thicken a soup’

My ingredients for this recipe are by Good Earth with fresh vegetables and herbs by Big Fresh.

Quick cooking: homemade burgers and dips

We all spend less time in the kitchen during the hot summer months. When we have family occasions, though, it is usually easier to stay in and dine at home. Today’s recipes will help with preparing some quick, and even perhaps last minute, meals as most of the ingredients are stocked in our…

Source: The Sunday Times of Malta Quick cooking: homemade burgers and dips

Roasted fennel potatoes and chicken bites

Roast chicken breast and potatoes illumina.jpg

Roasted fennel potatoes and chicken bites, photo Illumina Media  [the food in this photo was prepared for a live audience on TV]

‘This one-pot roast with fennel potatoes and bite size boneless chicken pieces  can be prepared in 5 minutes, then roasted in the oven for 55 minutes making a fresh meal in an hour.   You can barely distinguish the chicken from the potatoes after they are cooked and they are also delicious served cold on toothpicks with drinks.   

In Malta roasted fennel potatoes are nearly a must for Sunday lunch.’

You will need:
500g medium size potatoes
500 g chicken breast
1 large purple onion
1 natural stock cube in 50 ml water
2 tablespoons fennel
4 tablespoons olive oil plus more to drizzle prebaking if desired
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
A few fresh marjoram leaves
Sea Salt and Freshly Crushed Pepper

Preheat oven to 200C.
Chop the onion into thin slices.
Lightly crush the fennel.
Cut the chicken breast into bite size pieces.
Wash the potatoes and chop them into bite size pieces skin on.
Add the chicken pieces, lemon zest and onion slices to the potatoes. Add the olive oil.
Use your hands to turn them over a few times so that all the pieces are coated in olive oil Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Prepare an ovenproof dish by brushing it lightly with olive oil.
Place the chicken, onions and potatoes into an ovenproof dish.
Pour the stock.
Scatter the fennel seeds and marjoram leaves on top.
Season again with more pepper.
Drizzle some more olive oil.
Roast at 200C for 40 minutes. Check and if the top is crispy enough for you lower the oven temperature to 180C for the last 15 minutes. (we like ours very crispy)
Allow to rest for 10 minutes uncovered before serving.

Tip: ‘Scatter some pieces of Maltese Sausage meat before you add the fennel seeds for more amazing flavors’

My fresh herbs and vegetables come from Big Fresh, chicken and Maltese Sausage from Falzon Butcher, fennel seeds by Schwartz, natural stock cubes by Kallo at Good Earth and kitchenware by Tescoma.

Vegan Zucchini and Pecan Muffins with Aquafaba

vegan zucchini pecan muffins aqua faba

Vegan Savory Muffins with zucchini and pecans using aquafaba [Photo Illumina Media]   The muffins in this photo were prepared and baked for a live audience on tv

‘Aqua faba is amazing as those of you who use it know.  We made vegan zucchini muffins on tv this week and in this recipe I use aqua faba as an egg substitute.  The muffins can be served with soups, instead of bread and great for work lunches, picnics or kids’ lunch boxes.’

You will need:

3 cups self raising flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup aqua faba (the contents of a regular size can of chickpeas)
2 tablespoons olive oil
200 ml water (to be added a little at a time if needed)
200g zucchini, coarsely grated
1 onion, finely chopped
grated zest of 1/4 lemon
75 g pecan nuts
1 tablespoon apple organic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
a pinch of smoked paprika

Preheat the oven to 150C.  Prepare a muffin tin with papercases.
In a large bowl sift the flour twice, add the bicarbonate of soda, the smoked paprika, the pecan nuts, the salt and pepper and dried mixed herbs.
Grate the zucchini coarsely and place them on a clean kitchen towel.  Wrap the towel round them and squeeze it to extract as much water as possible.
Saute the onion in a tablespoon of olive oil.
In a large bowl, mix the fresh herbs and the olive oil.  Add the grated zucchini, lemon zest and sauteed onion.
In a large glass bowl place the aquafaba and whisk for 12 to 15 minutes until it forms stiff peaks.
Add the flour mix to the zucchini and liquid ingredients.  Fold in with a large metal spoon.  Do not overmix.  Add the whisked aquafaba and fold in.  Now add enough water, a spoonful at a time until the mixture reaches a dropping consistency.
Spoon the mixture into the paper cases and bake in a very moderate oven for 45 minutes.  Test the muffins by piercing with a wooden skewer in the center and if it comes out clean and are a golden colour, the muffins are ready.
Serve warm or great for picnics and lunchboxes.

Tip: When using aquafaba, reduce the oven temperature to 140-150C for baking and 100C to make meringues

I use self raising flour by St Georges Brand, vegetables & fruit by Big Fresh, smoked paprika and dried mixed herbs by Schwartz, pecan nuts by Good Earth, canned chickpeas by Happy Chef, muffin cases and muffin tin by Tescoma.

Coming soon on tv

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Coming soon on tv Lea’s Good Food Everyday, a live broadcast daily available on demand if you live abroad.  Every Friday the program will be in English.    Lea’s Good Food Everyday is sponsored by KitchenAid.

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Lea’s Good Food Everyday is sponsored by KitchenAid