Nourishing comfort food in today’s Sunday Times

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Healthier Lax Pudding and other comfort food in today’s Sunday Times  Photo C J Baldacchino during a live tv show

In the cold winter, we all want warm and healthy food that is comforting and nutritious, yet still quick to prepare. According to Webster’s Dictionary, the term ‘comfort food’ first appeared in the 1970s and we associate it with home-cooked meals that are nostalgic and foods that boost our mood…

Source Sunday Times: Nourishing comfort food

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Amaranth Porridge Bowl with Berries

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Amaranth Porridge with berries and cashew milk.  This photo was taken by CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

I love Amaranth because it is such a versatile ingredient.  During our tv show I have recently popped it, serve it instead of mash and use it to thicken soups.  I particularly love this amaranth porridge.  As a rough guide use 1 part amaranth to 3 parts liquid and cook until all the liquid is absorbed.  Remove the mixture from the heat to prevent it from becoming overcooked and gummy in texture. Is there a better way to start the day during a cold winter?

You will need:

1/2 cup amaranth
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup cashew milk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon agave or stevia [or honey for non-vegan]
vanilla
1 cinnamon stick
a pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

Top with:  200g mixed berries and I use blueberries, strawberries, pecans, hazelnuts, mint leaves

Soak the amaranth overnight in water if you have the time.  Rinse then place in a saucepan and add 1 1/2 cups water.  Add the vanilla, cinnamon stick broken in half, lemon juice and a pinch of salt.    Bring to boil and reduce to heat.  Cover and simmer for 25 minutes stirring constantly.  Add the cashew milk and cook for another 5 minutes.    Remove from the heat and add the agave/stevia or honey.   Stir and add the lemon zest.

Pour half the mixture into a bowl.  Puree half the berries and add to the other half of the amaranth porridge.  Mix it in then pour it into the bowl and use a fork or knife to make some swirls to create a marbled effect.  Decorate the amaranth bowl with a mix of berries, nuts and mint leaves.  Serve while still hot.

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My fresh fruit and vegetables today come from Oscar’s Fruit and Vegetables in Paola.  My Tunisian fresh dates come from Deyma Shop Gzira

My cashew milk by Alpro and amaranth come from Good Earth.  My daily selection of fresh fruit and vegetables comes from Big Fresh in Mosta, Oscar’s Fruit and Vegetables in Paola and Barbuto in Sicily for organic vegetables.

Black Forest Smoothie Bowl fortified with Aronia

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‘Nothing tastes better than fresh ingredients and this black forest smoothie bowl is the ultimate breakfast or dessert.  I poured melted chocolate over the ice cold mix and it solidified in a few seconds.  My photos are taken by CJ during a live tv show’

You will need:

1/2 purple raw carrot
1/2 cooked beetroot
4 dates
2 kale leaves
1/4 peeled apple
2 frozen bananas
2 cups mixed frozen cherries and cranberries
1 teaspoon agave
2 tablespoons aronia concentrate
2 cups cashew milk
3 tablespoons oats

Top with : 100g fresh cherries, 50g dry roasted flaked almonds and 50g melted dark sugar free chocolate, baby chard

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Add all the ingredients to the blender and combine until it is a smooth consistency.

While you are doing this melt the dark chocolate in a bain marie.

Pour into a bowl.

Arrange the fresh cherries on top of the smoothie mix.

Add some dry roasted flaked almonds.

Pour melted chocolate on the surface of the smoothie mix. It will solidify and makes the smoothie mix taste even more amazing.

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My fresh fruit and vegetables come from Big Fresh, frozen fruit from PJ Sutters, nuts, oats, agave and cashew milk from Good Earth, sugar-free chocolate by Valor and aronia concentrate from J Calleja Import Export Ltd

Fortifying food with fresh ginger

Fresh ginger is one of the most widely used spices in both eastern and western cuisines and is known for its medicinal properties. I like its versatility as it blends well with breakfast cereals and savory or sweet dishes. It can be pickled, made into tea, gingerbread, cakes, sweets and beer. If…

Source Sunday Times: Fortifying food with fresh ginger

What to eat in January

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What to eat and drink in January in today’s Sunday Times.  Photo CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show. 

January sees us spending more time indoors to recharge our minds and bodies after the recent festivities. The fresh food we find shifts by season and there is a distinct difference in the market especially when it comes to fresh fruit, herbs and vegetables.

Source The Sunday Times : What to eat in January

I use fresh fruit and vegetables from Big Fresh in Mosta and Oscars Fruit and Vegetables in Paola, meats by Ta Cancu Butcher in Zejtun and Majjal ta’ Malta [KIM].  My organic produce comes from Barbuto .  I use natural food ingredients by Good Earth.

Spaghetti Squash Bowl filled with Creamy Shredded Chicken

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Twice baked spaghetti squash bowl with cheesy chicken, photo Illumina Media during a live tv show

‘the raw flesh and skin is similar to butternut squash but after it is cooked, the skin becomes shell-like, a sold outer layer that holds its shape even without the flesh.  The cooked flesh can be pulled apart into ribbon-like strands which I mixed with a creamy cheesy chicken and used to fill the shell and bake again.  If you are feel like a change from pizza, this is the recipe for you.’

You will need:

1 spaghetti squash
3 cups chopped cooked chicken
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1 tablespoon jalapino peppers [optional]
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 all natural stock cube
1 fresh tomato, chopped
1 cup mixed grated cheddar and mozzarella
1/2 cup Greek Yoghurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
1 small onion, chopped
1 small clove garlic [left whole and removed before assembling dish]
1 tablespoon fresh coriander, chopped

To finish off before re-baking: 150g black olives, chopped
2 tablespoons rocket leaves
salt and pepper

Pierce the skin of the spaghetti squash all over with a fork.
Place it in the microwave for 3 minutes
Allow to cool completely

Preheat the oven to 200C.
Once cool, cut the spaghetti squash into half.
Place the two halves of squash face down on a non-stick baking sheet.
Bake in the oven for 45 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Use 2 forks to scrape the flesh which comes away from the shell in ribbons/spaghetti-like strands.

Place the spaghetti strands in a bowl.

In the meantime place one tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan. Add the chopped onion, the whole garlic and stir. Add the stock cube and then top up with 150ml water. Bring to a boil and then add the cooked chicken pieces followed by all the ingredients except the cheeses. Simmer the mixture for 5 minutes. Then add the cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, stir and finally remove from heat.

Place the empty squash shells face up on a baking tray.

Mix the shredded spaghetti squash with the creamy chicken filling. Top with grated mozzarella and cheddar and  bake for a second time in the oven for 30 minutes.  Serve hot or cold.

spaghetti-squash

Spaghetti squash

I use Spaghetti squash by Big Fresh, chicken by Ta Cancu Butcher Zejtun, mozzarella cheese by Zappala, spices by Schwartz, olives by Belazu Ingredient Company all at PJ Sutters, cold pressed olive oil by Costa D’Oro at J Calleja Import Export Ltd and kitchenware by Tescoma.

Triple Ginger Orange Muffins

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Ginger orange muffins, no refined sugar and butter free.  Photo taken during a live tv show by Marconia Schembri

‘A very quick, all-in-one method, these muffins can be prepared and baked in 20 minutes from start to finish.  I used a mix of grated fresh ginger, ginger powder and crystallized ginger which resulted in the most rounded ginger flavor laced with orange and drizz;ed with melted dark sugar-free chocolate and more crystallized ginger pieces.  These are the best muffins for a cold January, the ginger will give you instant warmth’.

You will need:

250g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
50ml olive oil
50ml yoghurt [if you don’t like yoghurt used a plant-based milk]
4 tablespoons stevia
4 tablespoons agave or honey
3 eggs
1 tablespoon ginger powder
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1 tablespoon crystallized ginger
zest of an orange
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon apple organic vinegar
a pinch of salt

After baking:  150g dark melted chocolate and more crystallized ginger

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Healthier Ginger orange muffins, photo taken by Marconia Schembri during a live tv show.

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Sift the self raising flour and baking powder twice. Place in the bowl of an electric mixer.

Crop the crystallized ginger into very small pieces.  Add to the mixing bowl together with all the other ingredients.  Whisk everything for a minute on high speed.

Line a muffin tin with muffin cases and immediately fill the muffin cases.  Scatter some more crystallized ginger pieces on top.  Bake for 15 minutes [depending on size and up to 25 minutes for giant muffins].

Remove from oven.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave or over a bain marie.  Add a couple of drops of olive oil and drizzle the chocolate over the muffins.  Scatter a few small pieces of crystallized ginger and allow the chocolate to harden up.

Prepare your cup of tea !

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The magical silent city of Mdina on an island blessed with so much.  Photo Marconia Schembri.

 

I use crystallized ginger by Good Earth, ginger powder by Schwartz, fresh ginger and orange by Big Fresh, sugar free chocolate by Valor, Stevia by Hermesetas and flour by St George’s Brand.

Cooking with borage in today’s Sunday Times

I was delighted to find borage in my organic box delivery recently and I put it to good use. Borage (fidloqqom) is also known as starflower and is easily recognisable by its edible, bright blue flowers with five pointed petals. It attracts pollinators and acts as a natural fertiliser as it…

Source Sunday Times: Cooking with borage

Lea’s new book  Good Food Everyday is available via Midsea Books and major bookshops in Malta and Gozo.

I use borage from Barbuto Sicily and Big Fresh in Mosta

Borage Flower Ice Cubes

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Borage ice cubes in citrus flavoured water, photo during a live tv show by CJ Baldacchino

‘having used organic borage very recently for some new recipes, I was given a box of fresh borage flowers by my friend Antida this week.  Borage flowers are usually bright blue but you can find creamy white ones and pink ones too.  Borage is also known as starflower because of the 5 pointed petals.   A few years ago I went through a phase of using edible flowers in ice cubes but could not resist making them with borage flowers on tv this week’

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Borage flowers from Antida’s garden, photo by CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

Once you have picked the flowers and while they are very fresh, gently remove the stem.  Be careful not to damage them.  Place them in a bowl of water to make sure there are no insects.  Fill up an ice cube tray with bottled or filtered water.  I found that the best method is to place the flowers on top and push them down gently with your finger.

There are other methods to freeze half of the ice cubes and top with water once the flower freezes but doing it in one go produces more crystal clear ice cubes and is much quicker.  When the ice cubes are completely frozen, add them to your drinks.  The flowers are edible.

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Borage flowers in ice cubes,  photos taken during a live tv show

Lea’s Good Food Everyday airs on Smash TV and you can also follow the page on facebook

I use organic borage from Barbuto.  With thanks to Antida at Big Fresh Mosta for the borage flowers.  

You can also try this with natural organic drinks available from Good Earth Distributors

 

 

 

Flavours from Tunisia

Photo Marconia Schembri during a live tv show

Exploring the food from other Mediterranean countries gives the experience of new flavours, not necessarily from the use of obscure ingredients, but by mixing ordinary ingredients in a different way. The food of Tunisia is strongly influenced by French and Arab culture.  If you walk down the…

Source The Sunday Times: Flavours from Tunisia


My handmade Tunisian Sweets during ‘Good Food Everyday’ come from Deyma Shop, Gzira