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 to beat this heat

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Quick ice cream in filo cases, photo by Stefan Stafrace during a live tv show.

During these very 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 about making ice creams.  There are many short cuts without going through a lot of work or indeed without having to use an ice cream maker.  And when you make something at home, you can add all your favourite flavors and leave out everything you do not like or cannot eat.

These recipes are recent ones I made on TV.  The photos are unstaged and taken during the live tv show, the reason that some of the ice creams appear close to melting stage due to the summer heat and strong studio lights.  I hope you will enjoy making these quick frozen desserts and get even more pleasure from eating them.

[Photograpy Stefan Stafrace, Ian Noel Pace, CJ Baldacchino, Charles Vassallo, JLI]

Old Fashioned Date Ice Cream

dateicecream low res no logo cj

Date Ice Cream with no refined sugar

You will need:

410ml evaporated milk [not condensed]
250g dates
1 tablespoons powdered gelatin
a few drops of vanilla extract or a vanilla pod
100ml water

Chop up the dates into small pieces and put them in a large bowl.  Pour over the evaporated milk and add the vanilla.  Cover with cling film and place the bowl in the fridge overnight so that the dates have time to soak and soften.  [Alternatively you can heat the mixture up in a saucepan until the dates soften and allow to cool down before carrying on with the rest of the recipe]

Remove the date and milk mixutre from the fridge.  Place the powdered gelatin in a saucepan with the water on low heat and stir until the gelatin has completely dissolved.

Pour the gelatin mixture with the dates and milk and stir.  Cover the container and place in the freezer for a minimum of 3 hours.  Remove from the freezer and use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment to beat the mixture until it doubles in volume.  Pour into a container and freeze again for a few hours or overnight before serving.

This recipe is gluten free.

Kulfi Style Ice Cream

quick ice cream credit jli photograph

Kulfi, quick easy and a touch of the exotic, photography JLI during a live tv show

Kulfi is traditionally made by simmering milk for many hours and reducing it until it becomes creamy with a hint of a taste of caramel.  It is a time-consuming process and this is a great shortcut. To make a kulfi-style dessert use a good quality ready-made ice cream.

You will need:
250g pistachio ice cream
100g raw pistachios chopped
30ml almond milk
1 cardamom pod
1 tbsp rose water
1 fresh mango
Honey to serve

Place the pistachios on a baking sheet and roast them for 5 minutes. Toss and roast them for a further 2 minutes.

Allow to cool completely.

Heat the almond milk in a small saucepan. Open up the cardamom pod and crush the seeds. Add to the milk and bring to boil. Turn off the heat. Add the rose water. Allow to cool completely.

Chop the pistachios. Use small tumblers to make the kulfi.  Line the tumblers completely with large pieces of cling film so that it hangs over the side of the glass. Remove the pistachio ice cream from the freezer and allow to soften up a little without allowing it to melt. Put the ice cream into a large bowl. Add the cooled down milk mixture, three quarters of the chopped pistachios and mix using a large metal spoon. Immediately, fill the prepared tumblers with the ice cream mix, press it down with a spatula and place in the freezer for a few hours or preferably overnight.

To serve put the ice cream in the containers in the fridge for 15 minutes, then pull the cling film to remove the ice cream from the tumblers. Arrange on a plate, garnish with honey, more pistachios and cut up fresh mango wedges.

This recipe is gluten-free.  For lactose-free and vegan options use a dairy-free ice cream.

Quick Pineapple Turmeric Ice Cream

Not only is it delicious, this iced dessert is healthy and quick to prepare.  I have given it a boost of goodness by adding a small quantity of fresh turmeric.  And to finish off some Maltese grapes, in season now.

pineapplebananaicecream low res

Pineapple Banana Ice Cream with Turmeric

You will need:

3 large bananas
juice of 1/4 lemon
1 fresh pineapple
1/4 teaspoon grated fresh turmeric root
1 teaspoon agave [optional]

Peel and chop the pineapple.  Peel and chop the bananas and coat them with the lemon juice.

Place in the freezer for a few hours until they are completely frozen.  Then put all the ingredients together with the turmeric and agave [optional] in a high-speed blender and process until the mixture is creamy.

You can serve immediately [soft serve] and I usually use a piping bag to serve in individual glasses or refreeze in a large bowl as I did on tv and once it is frozen use an ice cream scoop to serve.

This recipe is vegan, lactose free and gluten free

Ice Cream in Baked Filo Crust

Photo: Stefan Stafrace

You will need:
4 large sheets of filo pastry
3 tbsp olive oil
200g ice cream
60g fresh strawberries
40g mix of raw pistachio nuts and almonds
60g mixed fruit of your choice to decorate
You will also need a muffin tin.

Prepare the ice cream filling by mixing the ice cream with a large metal spoon. Add the strawberries, the almonds and pistachio nuts and return to the freezer to solidify.

Prepare the muffin tin by brushing it with olive oil.

Open up the filo pastry and use a pair of scissors to cut into wide strips and then cut the strips into squares.

Brush each square of filo pastry with olive oil and cover the bottom of each mould in the muffin tray.  Repeat with another layer of filo squares, each time brushing with olive oil and add them on top of each other to make another layer of filo squares.

Repeat again with the rest of the filo pastry and gently push the top layer with the tips of your fingers so that the pastry takes the form of the mould.

Preheat the oven. Place the muffin tin on the middle shelf and bake for 5 to 6 minutes. Keep an eye on them as they will easily burn.

Remove the muffin tray from the oven and allow to cool completely.  Once you are ready to serve, place the pastry cases next to each other on a large platter or use individual plates.  Fill each pastry case with a scoop of ice cream and top with fresh fruit.

For a gluten-free option use gluten-free pastry and roll it out very thinly, with one layer required for the crust. Replace the nuts with chocolate chips for a nut-free option and, for a lactose-free and vegan recipe use a dairy-free ice cream.

Pina Colada Ice Cream Slice

pina colada slice george aquilina

Preparing frozen Pina Colada Slice, photo George Aquilina during a live tv show #goodfoodeveryday #icecream

You will need:
1kg vanilla or coconut ice cream
100g coconut or coconut flour
150g tinned, chopped pineapple
50g maraschino cherries
1 vanilla pod
6 pineapple rings and 6 maraschino cherries for assembling the ice cream
Cling film and a large loaf tin

Soften the ice cream by leaving it in the fridge for 15 minutes. In the meantime, line a loaf tin with cling film and let it overhang from the sides. Place the pineapple rings next to each other on the bottom of the loaf tin. In the centre of each pineapple ring place a maraschino cherry.

Put the coconut in a blender and grind it until it becomes very fine. Instead, you may wish to  use ready-made coconut flour which already has a very fine texture and  is easily available in most supermarkets.

Empty the ice cream into a large bowl and mix it with a large metal spoon. Chop up the pineapples and maraschino cherries into small pieces and add to the ice cream. Add the coconut. Use a large metal spoon to mix the ice cream until it is consistent. Pour the ice cream mix into the loaf tin and press down by using a spatula.  Top with pineapple rings next to each other and a cherry in the middle. Cover with cling film. Freeze to firm up for at least 4 hours but leaving it in the freezer overnight is better.

Photo: Charles Vassallo

To serve, take out of the freezer and remove from the loaf tin by pulling the cling film. Place on a serving dish, allow it to soften for 5 minutes before slicing it. At this stage the ice cream could be stored in the freezer again for a few hours before it is served.

This recipe is gluten-free and nut-free.  For lactose-free and vegan options use a dairy-free ice cream.

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

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For more Healthy frozen desserts:

Apple Mango Blueberry Ice Lollies for Kids

Frozen Yoghurt

Simply Banana Ice Cream

Trade Enquiries:

X Kidz 100% Fruit Smoothie by Plasmon at Vivian Corp

Plant based drinks by Alpro at Good Earth Distributors

Fresh fruit and vegetables from Big Fresh Mosta, Oscar’s Fruit and Vegetables Paola and Barbuto for organic

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