Apricot Crumble Slice [gluten free, vegan]

apricot crumble slices squares

‘Another glorious Maltese summer is here to stay and with it comes an abundance of succulent and sweet summer fruits, slowly and naturally ripened by the Mediterranean sun making them so juicy and moist like no other greenhouse varieties.  They may appear imperfect, uneven in shape and size, sometimes slightly bruised but bursting with flavor.   After all beauty is not meant to be perfect and cloned.  

For this recipe I use a mix of fresh, ripe apricots and dried apricots. This is one of the easiest things to bake with a soft flapjack base made with poached fresh and dried apricots.  These are topped with fresh apricots and a crumble topping of ground almonds and coconut pulp.  

You can use any berries or stone fruit for this recipe.  Wash the apricots thoroughly and leave the skin on ‘

You will need:

250g ground almonds
250g oatmeal
120g soft dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons coconut oil
4 tablespoons coconut pulp
500g fresh ripe apricots
a pinch of salt
1 vanilla pod
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons stevia
150g dried apricots
To brush the top:  1 tablespoon of coconut oil mixed with 1 tablespoon of agave plus 75g nuts [I used cashew flakes]

apricot crumble slice dried apricots

Prepare an ovenproof dish by lining it with baking paper.  Spray it with cooking spray.

Remove the stone from the fresh apricots and cut into quarters with skin on.  Place half of them together with the vanilla pod in a saucepan.  Chop the dried apricots and add them to the saucepan.  Immerse in just enough cold water and bring to boil on low to moderate heat.  As soon as the mixture starts to boil, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes for all the fruits to soften up.  Remove from the heat.  Add the grated lemon zest.

Use a large bowl to place the ground almonds.  Mix the oat meal with it and then pour the melted coconut oil and softened coconut pulp.  Use your fingertips to rub in the coconut oil and pulp into the ground almond and oatmeal mixture.  Add the soft brown sugar and mixed spice and vanilla seeds.  Mix with a metal spoon so that the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.

Add two thirds of this mixture to the poached apricot mix and stir until it is has a smooth consistency.  Pour the mixture into the prepared ovenproof dish and use a plastic spatula dipped in water to smooth the surface.  If you have time cover the dish with cling film and place in the fridge for an hour.  [At this stage, you can also leave the dish in the fridge overnight and carry on preparing the rest of the recipe the following day.]

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Assemble the remainder of the chopped fresh apricots on top of the base.  Brush the surface of the fruit with the mix of agave and coconut oil.  Scatter the rest of the crumble mix on the top.  Do not press it down.

Bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes then take out of the oven, brush again with the agave and coconut oil mixture and scatter the chopped nuts on top.  Return to the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes.

Allow to cool and cut up into squares.

apricot crumble baked

Serve warm with ice cream or cut up into squares for lunchboxes and picnics or simply instead of a cereal bar for breakfast or a snack

Store in the fridge for up to 3 days in the summer and 5 days in the winter.  Freeze for up to a month although I do not like the thawed texture which becomes slightly soggy from freezing.

Trade Enquiries:

Fry Light  Butter Flavour Cooking Spray and Mornflake Oatmeal via Rimus Group

Ground almonds, naturally dried apricots, dried fruit, spices and baking goods via Good Earth Distributors Ltd

Coconut Oil and coconut pulp via J Calleja Ltd

My fresh succulent apricots come from Big Fresh in Mosta

Lea’s Good Food Everyday is aired on Smash TV every day and you can also follow on facebook 🙂  Photography by CJ Baldacchino during an unedited live tv show cooking in real time.

Quick frozen desserts in today’s Sunday Times

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You will find recipes for my easy summer frozen desserts in today’s Sunday Times of Malta.  This photo was taken by Stefan Stafrace during a live tv show.

‘Food gives us enjoyment when we prepare it, share it and eat it. During our hot summer days, there is nothing more welcoming than a frozen dessert. Preparing desserts should be fun, but so many people seem to get overwhelmed..

Source: Sunday Times: Quick frozen desserts

 

My ice cream comes from Carrefour at GS Superstore, fresh fruit by Big Fresh,  spices by Schwartz, icing sugar by St Georges Brand and kitchenware by Tescoma.

Baked bananas with Quick Banana Ice Cream

baked bananas 3

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]

Hot Baked Bananas with quick Banana Ice Cream

For the baked bananas you will need:

 

1 banana each portion
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 tablespoon of your favourite liquor or use 1 tablespoon aronia liquid concentrate
1 tablespoon muscovado sugar
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
a pinch of cinnamon
1/2 vanilla stick
1/4 teaspoon olive oil

¼ teaspoon butter

 

Prepare an ovenproof dish with non stick baking spray.

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Peel the bananas and slice in half lengthwise.  Lay them on the ovenproof dish. Mix together the vanilla and liquor or aronia, cinnamon, olive oil, melted butter,  nutmeg, lime juice and rum and pour half of the mixture evenly over the bananas. Sprinkle the muscovado sugar over the bananas. Drizzle the remainder of the liquid ingredients on top. Cook in a preheated oven for 25 minutes.

For the banana ice cream you will need:

Allow half a ripe banana per portion
vanilla
¼ teaspoon fresh lime juice

To serve: Fresh raspberries, strawberries and blackberries

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 this will turn creamy and very thick, just like soft serve ice cream. You can also put in an airtight container and freeze to solidify like traditional ice cream or serve as it is.

To assemble:

Scatter some fresh blackberries and strawberries onto the serving dish.  Lay 2 baked banana halves on top of the berries.  Then pipe some soft serve banana ice cream or use a tablespoon if you have refrozen it.  Dust with icing sugar and serve.

This recipe is gluten free.

 

 

Burrata with Strawberries and Orange Zest

Burrata and strawberries

Simplicity is best: Burrata with Strawberries and Orange zest topped with Agave Syrup Photo: Illumina Media

‘Simplicity is always best and if you have not yet tasted Burrata make a point of doing so :).  You will then find out why it is known as the queen of cheeses’

For 2 persons will need:

burrata (I use small individual ones)
Lots of fresh strawberries and orange zest
Agave or honey

To assemble, cut the burrata in half.
Arrange on a plate
Scatter orange zest and drizzle agave or honey.  Garnish with mint leaves.

burrata and strawberries goodfoodeveryday

As seen on TV, Fresh Burrata from Puglia is flown in to Malta every day, Photography Illumina Media

 

Raw Carrot Gluten Free Coconut Balls

‘Sweet potatoes are grown locally and they are becoming more popular as an ingredient.  The variety we used for this recipe had white flesh and if you use sweet potato with yellow flesh instead, the coconut balls will be a brighter yellow.  There are so many varieties of sweet potato and I believe our white ones here are known as the ‘Hannah’ variety.’

fit for a queen carrot

During the kids corner in the kitchen, they made Carrot Coconut Balls

For the Carrot Coconut balls you will need:

3 cups of sweet potato, cooked and mashed
3 cups coconut
5 tablespoons honey
1/2 packet apricots
1/2 vanilla pod
1 cup shredded carrots
a grating of nutmeg
a pinch of ginger
1 pinch of mixed spice
grated zest of an orange
And
2 cups coconut to cover

Mix all the ingredients together. Use a hand blender to make a smooth paste. Leave in the refridgerator for at least an hour. Form balls and roll in coconut. Leave in the fridge overnight before serving.

I use spices and vanilla by Good Earth, honey by 3 leaves and vegetables and fruit by Big Fresh Mosta

Sicilian Cuccidati, getting ready for Christmas

Sicilian Cuccidati Photography Ian Noel Pace

Sicilian Cuccidati
Photography Ian Noel Pace

I adore mince pies but this is a Sicilian version I like to add to our Christmas baking. You may find recipes for Cuccidati that require cooking the filling with added sugar. I have not added any sugar to mine and whizzed the filling to produce some amazing textures. You will need:

For the pastry

250g flour
115 g butter
80g sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon tangerine zest
2 tablespoons milk

cuccidati ian noel 3

Sicilian Cuccidati As seen on TV Photo Ian Noel Pace

Sieve the flour into a large bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces. Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, zest. Mix. Add the eggs and start to bind the pastry. Add the milk. A spoon at a time until you have the right consistency. Add more if necessary as the temperature and humidity levels of where you live make a difference to how much liquid the pastry needs.

For the filling
150g dried figs
1 tablespoon honey
50g raisins
100g dates
Zest of a tangerine
120g almonds, I used skinless untoasted
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
35g grated dark chocolate
2 tablespoons dark rum
2 tablespoons juice of a tangerine
1 tablespoon oats
Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Use a handheld blender to whiz into a paste. place in the fridge for an hour.

To assemble:

Divide the pastry into two pieces. Roll out it out into a long strip on a floured surface. Place the filling in a long strip in the center.

Preparing Cuccidati

Preparing Cuccidati

Roll it and seal it with a brush and some water. Cut the log into the size of your choice. I made mini rolls here but you can make longer ones and shape them into a crescent which is another traditional shape.
Place the cookies on an oven tray lined with baking paper.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 20 minutes.
If you do not intend to ice the surface, remember to brush them with egg wash before baking.

Icing:
1 cup icing sugar
3 tablespoons milk
Few drops clear vanilla extract
Coloured Sprinkles

Mix the icing sugar with the milk and vanilla extract until you get a smooth paste. Drizzle over the top of the cooled down pastries. Immediately top with some sprinkles or dip them for a more intense color.

Tahini Walnut Cake with oranges and honey (lactose free)

#Tahini Walnut Cake Photography Ian Noel Pace As seen on TV

#Tahini Walnut Cake
Photography Ian Noel Pace
As seen on TV

This cake is one of my usual all-in-one, just folding in the liquids with the dry ingredients, barely mixed using a large metal spoon. I use no added sugar or butter and the cake is ready in no time at all. Result: looks great and tastes even better than it looks. All those Mediterranean flavors mingled together in a light and fluffly consistency.

A slice of Tahini Walnut Cake As seen on TV this week Photography Ian Noel Pace

A slice of Tahini Walnut Cake
As seen on TV this week
Photography Ian Noel Pace

You will need:

3 cups self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
a pinch of salt
1 cup walnuts
1 cup sultanas
1 cup tahini with honey, I used prepacked
1 cup stevia
1 tablespoon orange liquor
2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
a pinch of allspice
a pinch of cinnamon
a few drops good vanilla extra
grated zest of an orange
4 eggs
Enough water to add to the batter for dropping consistency, keep aside
1 spoon sesame seeds to sprinkle on the surface before baking

Sieve the flour in a large bowl and the bicarbonate of soda. Add the stevia, walnuts (keeping 10 walnut halves aside to decorate the top), nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon and salt. Give is a good stir to mix in the ingredients to an even consistency.

In a separate bowl place the eggs, tahini with honey (I use a shop bought mix) orange liquor, fresh orange juice, vanilla extract, orange zest and sultanas. Use a hand blender to make a puree.

Add the liquid mix into the dry ingredients and fold in using a large metal spoon. Add 2 spoons of water at a time until the mixture achieves a dropping consistency (a thick consistency that drops off the spoon).

Pour the batter into a 23cm springform cake dish with a film of non stick baking spray. Sprinkle some sesame seeds on the surface and decorate with the walnut halves. Bake in a preheated oven at 170C for 35 minute. Check the center by piercing with a skewer. Brush the surface with teaspoon of warm honey.

Allow to cool before serving.

#Malta

Bakewell Cake with Mincemeat

I’ve just finished writing a piece on the history of Victorian baking and the good old bakewell came to mind again.  This week I used more or less the same ingredients of the tart filling and with the addition of my homemade mincemeat and made a Bakewell Cake. I reduced the sugar and fat content but still left enough to give that rounded taste.

Apple Bakewell Cake

Apple Bakewell Cake

You will need:

200g ricotta
35g butter, melted (just)
250g self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
100g ground almonds
50g finely chopped almonds
grated zest of half a lemon
juice of half a lemon
a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
a little bit of vanilla
1 tablespoon apple vinegar
Enough water added a little at a time until you achieve dropping consistency
4 eggs

For the surface
9 x 1/2 teaspoons mincemeat
35g flaked almonds
1 spoon warm honey to brush the surface after baking

Use a non stick baking spray to make a film over a loose bottomed cake mould. I used a square 18 cm loose bottomed tart dish here.

Melt the butter. Remove from the heat. Mix the lemon juice and zest. Add the vanilla and stir.

Beat the eggs. Add the ricotta and use a spoon to mix until the mixture is consistent. I used sheep’s ricotta that is so creamy and mild and stirring it in is enough. If you use a ricotta with a more compact consistency mash it beforehand. Add the apple organic vinegar stir and leave aside.

Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl. Add the ground almonds and the nutmeg. Make a well in the middle and add the butter mix. Stir and fold in the ricotta mix.

Pour the batter into the prepared dish. Put 9 teaspoons (over an 18cm square dish) of home made jam on the surface spread evenly over the surface. Sprinkle the flaked almonds around the apple jam and bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes at 170C.
Before the cake cools down brush with a thin film of honey.

My flour comes from St Georges Brand, flaked almonds from Good Earth, apple organic vinegar by Fiorentini, spices by Schwartz

Chocolate Coconut cake with reduced sugar and no butter

All in one chocolate coconut cake with reduced sugar

All in one chocolate coconut cake with reduced sugar

Some of my readers tell me that they are not able to get used to the taste of Stevia. Of course Stevia is not processed sugar and our tastebuds need to adjust. This chocolate coconut cake which I made during our show this week has equal quantities of sugar and stevia, with the idea of gradually eliminating sugar.

For the chocolate coconut cake you will need:

2 cups self raising flour
1 cup coconut
1 cup stevia
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup olive oil
half a cup plain yoghurt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
a few drops vanilla
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee
3 eggs
1 cup water

In a saucepan gently heat the yoghurt, olive oil, water, coffee powder, vanilla and sugar. Stir and do not allow to boil. Remove from heat and stir.

In a separate bowl sieve and mix together the self raising flour, coconut and stevia.

Sieve the flour

Sieve the flour

Prepare a 23 cm tin lightly greased with butter and then dusted with flour. Remove excess flour.

Mix the liquid ingredients with the dry ingredients and fold in.

Adding eggs :)

Adding eggs 🙂

Stir in the eggs. Pour the batter into the prepared cake dish. Sprinkle coconut on the surface.

Chocolate Coconut cake prior to baking

Chocolate Coconut cake prior to baking

Bake at 160C for 35 minutes.

While it was still hot, i brushed mine with warm honey and dusted more coconut powder. The keep will keep moist for around 10 days if kept well in a air tight container.

Photography Ian Noel Pace