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.

Gluten-free & lactose-free Christmas treats [with Vegan Baci] in today’s Sunday Times

escape-healthier-christmas-treats-making-baci-2-george-aquilina

Vegan Baci.  Photo taken during a live tv show by George Aquilina

Gluten-free, lactose-free and reduced sugar diets are hot topics these days. The drive for ingredients to suit a large number of food intolerances comes from consumers and with such a large choice in the market, guests no longer have to feel they are a burden to their hosts and be apologetic…

Source: Sunday Times Gluten-free & lactose-free Christmas treats

escape-healthier-christmas-treats-christmas-cake-george-aquilina

Gluten free and lactose free Christmas Cake with no added refined sugar.  Photo taken by George Aquilina during a live tv show

 

Quail and Quinoa

quails by marconia.jpg

‘I cooked quails during our show yesterday. Simply roasted with no stuffing, and served them on a bed of warm quinoa salad.  This recipe is gluten free, diabetic friendly, nut free and dairy free.’

You will need:

6 quails

6 slices of parma ham

1/2 teaspoon butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

Season the quailswith salt and peper and wrap them with one slice of parma ham and meltthe butter in a pan. Add the olive oil. Saute the quails on both sides lightly for around 3-4 minutes on each side.

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Place the quails on an ovenproof dish covered with baking paper.  Roast in the oven for 20 minutes. Baste halfway through with its own juices.  Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving with a warm quinoa salad.

For the warm quinoa salad you will need:

a mix of chopped cherry tomatoes, grated raw sweet potatoes, cooked mushrooms, fresh parsley, fresh mint, and a mix of the following vegetables all sauteed together in the same pan used to cook the quail:  onion, garlic, pumpkin, butternut squash, cauliflower, zucchini, green marrow.

2 cups quinoa

Prepare the vegetables of your choice.  Place the quinoa in a saucepan and immerse in cold water.  Season with salt and bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes until some of the outer quinoa casings pop. Remove from heat and drain any excess water. Season with salt and pepper and gently mix in the vegetables.

quails #goodfoodeveryday.jpg

Quails by Ta Ciancu Butcher, Zejtun  Photo during a live tv show by C J Baldacchino]

This is a gluten free, lactose free, egg free recipe.

I use Quinoa by Peak’s Free From, Butter by Merci Chef, Herbs and Spices by Schwartz, fresh fruit and vegetables by Big Fresh, tableware Loft, kitchenware Tescoma

Easy and healthier blueberry muffins

blueberry muffins 4

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins using pumpkin flour, lactose free with no processed sugar

‘ These blueberry muffins are made with a mix of pumpkin and coconut flour and brushed with warm maple syrup.  They are also lactose free.  The pumpkin flour gives them an orangy colour and crumbly and light texture.  Do not overmix, that is the secret, just fold in using a large metal spoon until barely mixed and definitely no electric mixers.’


You will need:
200g pumpkin flour
100g coconut flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon cornflour
a pinch of cinnamon
vanilla pod
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
a pinch of salt
equivalent of 100g stevia
4 eggs
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
50ml coconut milk
1 apple
1 tablespoon apple organic vinegar
300g blueberries

Preheat oven to 160C.
Sift the pumpkin flour, the cornflour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder into a large bowl. Add the salt, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and stevia.  Mix well.

In a separate bowl, use a hand held blender to beat the eggs, olive oil, coconut milk, apple and apple organic vinegar.  Blend until the mixture is smooth.

Prepare a muffin tin with muffin cases.  Use a large metal spoon to quickly and gently fold in the liquids into the dry ingredients.  Do not overmix.  Then add half the blueberries.

Pour the batter into the muffin cases.  Do not fill it to the top to allow room to rise.  Put into a hot oven to bake immediately after topping each muffin with some more blackberries.

Bake at 160C for 25 minutes.  Remove from oven and before they cool down brush lightly with some organic maple syrup.
blueberry muffins 3

Flatbreads and wraps made from Chickpea flour

socca or farinata cj

Chickpea flour wraps, #gluten free, photo CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

‘During this morning’s show I made farinata [or socca] using chickpea flour.  I first came across it in Nice and it is one of my favourite recipes.

socca 1

Socca or Farinata Flat breads made with  Chickpea flour #glutenfree

The trick
If you do not have a cast iron pan, you can use any non-stick pan or pancake pan and, instead of cooking them in a hot oven, you can prepare them on the stove. The secret to getting that slightly charred flatbread is to have an extremely hot pan with minimal fat. It is best to rub the pan all over with a piece of kitchen towel dipped into some olive oil or simply use a non stick baking spray. You can also store the batter in the fridge and have the batter ready for use to make enough flatbreads as and when you need them.

The recipe
130g gram flour (chick pea flour)
280ml water
a pinch of salt
a pinch of cumin powder
a pinch of coriander powder
3 tablespoons olive oil
freshly ground black pepper.
Mix all the ingredients and use a hand whisk to make a smooth paste. Allow the batter to rest in the fridge for an hour. Heat a non stick pan until it is very hot. Lightly brush with olive oil or use non stick baking spray. Pour enough batter to cover the bottom with a thin film of mixture. Allow them to cook thoroughly and turn them over. They should be pale with slight charring at the edges. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Unlike pancakes, they retain no moisture.

This is a gluten free, dairy free and egg free recipe.

you can use any non-stick pan or pancake pan

Trade Enquiries: Good Earth

good earth logo 2

 

Hummus bi Tahini using chickpea flour

hummus made with chick pea flour

Hummus made with chickpea flour #goodfoodeveryday as seen on TV

‘from Turkey to Israel, this Middle Eastern dip originates from Egypt and has become the most popular dip in the world today.  

So many versions around but I always follow the Lebanese recipe from my childhood.  The difference in my recipe today is that instead of using chickpeas I use gram flour [chickpea flour or besan] which gives a creamier texture and is so economical and easy to make’

You will need:

  • 1 cup gram flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • a pinch of paprika and another pinch for garnish
  • 50ml yoghurt
  • salt and pepper

Add the water to the sifted chickpea flour and use a hand whisk to mix.  Place in a saucepan over very low heat and keep whisking so that you have a smooth texture with no lumps.  Keep adding water if necessary.  There is no magic formula for this recipe and I found that absorption of liquids depends on the freshness of the flour and the humidity in the environment.  Keep stirring and bring it to a boil.  It will thicken but you do not want a very stiff texture.  Add more water and stir.

Remove from heat and completely cool down.  It will set to a jelly-like texture.

Once completely cool, and you can store this in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week, place the mixture in a food processor or use a hand held blender.  Add all the remaining ingredient.  Blend until you get a very smooth puree and if necessary add more water.  There is no need to add more oil or more tahini.  The texture should be thick and creamy.

Transfer to a container and refrigerate for an hour.  Add a few drops of olive oil just before serving with pitta bread, water biscuits and vegetable crudites.

‘It is also delicious with grilled meats.’

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

Trade EnquiriesGood Earth

Vegan curry with coconut milk

black eyed bean coconut curry

Black eyed bean curry finished off with coconut milk and roasted veggie balls  Photography: Illumina Media Services

‘I like using when possible dried beans.  The flavor and texture of cooked dried legumes is far superior to canned ones and you can control the amount of added salt.  This coconut flavored curry makes an ideal weekday winter meal’

You will need:

  • 200g black eyed beans, soaked and cooked
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • a pinch of chili flakes
  • 2 tablespoons cold pressed coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon mild curry powder
  • 3 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • 500ml water
  • 2 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves
  • juice of one lemon
  • 150ml

Melt the coconut oil on very low gentle heat and add all the spices and stir continuously for a few minutes so that they flavours are released. The mustard seeds will start to pop and then add the onion, garlic and fresh ginger. Stir and add the black eyed beans. Add the water, bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes again on very low heat. Add the lemon juice and the coconut milk. Heat through and leave to rest covered for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and some more coconut milk.

We served ours with some roasted veggie balls and perfect basmati rice.

perfect coconut basmati

Perfect Coconut Basmati, as seen on TV.  Photography: Illumina Media Services

Gluten free vegetable muffins made with chickpea flour

Chickpea flour muffins

Vegetable muffins made with chickpea flour. I use a mix of steamed kale, barely cooked cauliflower, raw carrot and roasted butternut squash, as seen on TV

‘an ideal addition to a picnic, kids’ school lunch boxes or a treat with a salad during the working day.  I just love chickpea flour, the flavor, the texture, the natural colour…  These are so easy to make that you can have fresh muffins every day.  Don’t be tempted to freeze them as the texture changes’

You will need:

  • 3 cups gram flour (chickpea flour)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups fresh vegetables of your choice  of your choice, I used steamed kale (finely chopped), barely cooked cauliflower (barely cooked, broken into little florettes), raw grated carrot and butter nut squash (caramelized with skin on and cut into small cubes)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped sundried tomatoes (remove all the salt)
  • a pinch of minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon herbs de provence
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 50 g  grated and 50 g grated hard white gbejna (if you do not live on the island use a white goat’s cheese)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (gf)

Sift the gram flour.  Add the bicarbonate of soda and baking powder.

Prepare the vegetable and mix them gently in a bowl.  Add the minced garlic and herbs and seasoning.
Mix the olive oil with the eggs.
Add the vegetable mix and half the grated cheeses to the gram flour and gently mix until they are coated all over but make sure you do not break the vegetables up.
Add the egg mixture to the dry mixture.  Gently mix in but do  not over mix.  Add enough water a little at a time to achieve dropping consistency.
Prepare a muffin tray with paper cases.
Spoon the mixture into the paper cases.
Sprinkle with grated cheese on top, just a little, do not over do it.
Bake at 180 C for 12 minutes.
Allow to cool before removing from the muffin tray

‘They are soooo delicious’

Fresh Strawberry Muscovado Heaven

muscovado heaven

As seen on TVM2 #goodfoodeveryday

I give credit to Prue Leith as her muscovado heaven has been adopted by many of us cooks and the combination with local sweet strawberries that cannot be fresher is heaven multiplied by 2.

You will need:

Equal amounts of double cream and yoghurt
For 6 persons I used 500 ml of cream and 500ml of plain yoghurt
strawberries
150g muscovado sugar

Whip the double cream and fold in the yoghurt using a metal spoon. Pipe or spoon the yoghurt mixture into clear glasses or a clear bowl.
Sprinkle the muscovado sugar on to the surface.

Leave in the fridge overnight.

The muscovado sugar will melt into a fudgy syrup, then top with fresh strawberries.