Cold Cured Salmon

gravlax 1 charles vassallo

Home made cold cured salmon, photo Charles Vassallo during a live tv show

‘I love to make Cold Cured Salmon because it is so economical in comparison to buying it prepared and sliced.  To get the best result you need to use very fresh fish.  If you are having a large crowd, this will be a big hit !

I made it during the tv show and it proved to be very popular.  You can keep in the the fridge for up to 4 days after curing it but it also freezes very well and it is always welcome in sandwiches, salads and to enhance a weekend breakfast or brunch.’

You will need:

50g sea salt
70g sugar
a large bunch of fresh dill
2 tablespoons vodka
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black peppercorns
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon apple organic vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon crushed pink peppercorns

A large piece of boneless salmon fillet with skin on [around 500g]

To serve:  Lemon Wedges and Seed Bread

Cold Cure Salmon home made

Home Made Cold Cured Salmon, photo Stefan Stafrace during a live tv show

In a bowl mix together the sea salt, sugar, fresh dill, pink peppercorns, tarragon, coriander seeds, apple vinegar, vodka and ground fresh pepper.

Place the salmon, skin side down, on a large piece of cling film.  Cover the salmon with the mixture of herbs and spices making sure that it is completely covered.  Place the bay leaves on top.  If the piece of salmon is very large, cut in half and place the two pieces on top of each other with the skin side outside.  Wrap the fish securely in the cling film and place it in a large container skin side down.  Place another large dish on top of the salmon and weigh it down with some food cans to compress the salmon while it is being cured.  Place in the fridge for 36-48 hours.

gravlax sliced

Thinly sliced salmon, photo Stefan Stafrace during a live tv show

To serve, remove the weights and unwrap the salmon.  Discard the cling film and remove any excess of the cure mix.  Place on a chopping board and use a sharp knife to cut thin diagonal slices and serve on a platter with seed bread and lemon wedges.

 

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

Trade Enquiries: Spices and dried herbs by Good Earth Distributors

Fresh Fruit and Vegetables by Big Fresh Mosta, Oscars Fruit and Vegetables Paola and Barbuto [organic]

Fresh Fish by Adam’s Gourmet Fish Shop Mosta

Apple Vinegar Monari Federzoni by J Calleja Import Export Ltd

Fresh Herb Soup with Turmeric Rice and Soft Maltese Gbejna [gluten free, diabetic friendly]

fresh herb soup with turmeric vegetable rice 2

‘Fresh herbs are abundant this month.  And with the exception of fresh mint, basil and parsley many of us worry about what to do with big bundles of fresh oregano, tarragon, marjoram and thyme.  Antida gave me a large basket of mixed herbs from her garden this week which also  included ‘English’ curly parsley and purple basil.  I wanted to make the most of them while they were fresh and use fresh herbs as a main ingredient, rather than as a garnish, nearly an afterthought.  I also used organic seasonal vegetables that are delivered to my door every Thursday from Barbuto in Sicily, 60 miles away from us.

The fertile volcanic soil of Sicily make it an agricultural dream and it is comforting to know that the produce is pesticide-free with no artificial additives to enhance it.

The soup is a puree of lightly cooked fresh herbs and organic vegetables topped with a quick rice stir fry of the same finely diced vegetables that are in the puree and to give a nutritional boost as well as enhance the color and flavors I add fresh turmeric root.  If this is not available, use turmeric powder.  The contrast in the texture of the same ingredients in the puree and stir fry bring out different flavors it makes a great meal in itself, with no second courses required.   To make it more local I finished off the soup with  soft Maltese Gbejna Cheese and a garnish of fresh herbs.  I could not eat enough of it !’

fresh herbs goodfoodeveryday

Herbs from Antida’s garden.  All my photos are taken during a live tv show

For the pureed organic vegetable soup will need:
[Serves 4]

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion
1 natural garlic and herb stock cube and 1 litre of water
2 courgettes
2 light green marrows
1 potato
2 carrots
1 pak choi
100g mixed fresh herbs of your choice
a pinch of dried mixed herbs
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Salt and Pepper

Barbuto veg 2

Fruit and vegetables in Barbuto’s organic box this week.  For the soup, choose vegetables of your choice or use seasonal vegetables

For the Turmeric Rice Stir Fry you will need:

1 tablespoon olive oil
150g cooked basmati rice
1/2 onion
1 courgette, diced
1 marrow, diced
1 carrot, diced
6 fresh broad beans, peeled
1 teaspoon grated fresh turmeric root or 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

To finish: 1/2 fresh gbejna per portion, cut horizontally, fresh herbs and a drizzle of olive oil [if gbejna is not available use feta or ricotta]

For the Soup
Heat the olive oil in a large pot and add the roughly chopped onion and vegetables. Stir and cook on low heat for 5-10 minutes. Then add the stock cube, the roughly chopped fresh mixed herbs and the pinch of dried herbs and cook for another 5 minutes on low heat, then add the water. Bring to a boil then simmer on low heat for around 10 -15 minutes until the vegetables soften. Do not overcook. Season with salt and pepper then use a hand blender to puree to a smooth consistency.

turmeric rice.jpg

For the Turmeric Rice
Heat the oil in wok over medium heat. Add the diced onion and vegetables and cook for about 5-10 minutes, stirring constantly until they cook through. Do not overcook. Add the cooked basmati rice and mix everything together very well. Cook until it is heated through for around another 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Top with the fresh broad beans.

To serve the soup:
Slice the gbejna cheese horizontally into 2 and allow one slice per portion.
Gently reheat the pureed soup if necessary. Use a ladel to fill individual soup bowls. Spoon some of the turmeric rice on top, then arrange the slice of gbejna cheese and garnish with fresh herbs. Drizzle a few drops of olive oil and serve immediately.
fresh herb soup with turmeric vegetable rice

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

Trade Enquiries:
Basmati Rice by Grandi at J Calleja Ltd
Kallo Stock Cubes at Good Earth
Fresh Herbs by Big Fresh Mosta
Fresh Organic Vegetables by Barbuto in Sicily

Granny’s Fruit Loaf with Chia Seeds [no refined sugar and no butter, lactose free]

Granny's fruit loaf slices

 ‘I wake up very early every morning to the smell of freshly baked bread from the small village bakery across the road. The aroma gives a sense of belonging, just what you may associate with being in a cosy home and it is a good start to the day.

Malta is well known for its crusty sour dough bread which is a staple in the local diet. Customers start to arrive before 6am to pick their own loaf and from across the road I watch as the village starts to awaken. I love the buzz and sense of community that comes with being in the heart of an old village and hope that the process of modernization can be avoided and village life on the island is preserved.maltese bread felix.jpg

My bake today is a traditional old-fashioned fruit cake adjusted to suit modern day preferences. I use stevia and pureed fresh apples to sweeten the fruit loaf and it is butter-free. When I made it on tv this week, I used tofu but if you prefer you can swap the same amount with ricotta instead. I add Chia Seeds which are high in antioxdidants and Omega3 to boost the fruit loaf with extra nutritional value and fibre but these are optional and if you do not like the idea, leave them out. The oven temperature needs to be reduced to 160C to retain their nutritional value. ‘

Granny's fruit loaf 2

You will need:

250g self-raising flour
100g tofu [you can use ricotta instead of tofu]
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 large apple, peeled and roughly chopped
Juice of half a lemon
3 large eggs separated [if eggs are small use 4]
8 tablespoons stevia [OR use 150g golden raisins soaked in water overnight and pureed]
250g dried fruit of your choice (raisins, sultanas, candid peel, cherries, currants)
vanilla
1 tablespoon vinegar [I prefer Apple Cider vinegar but you can use any vinegar]
A pinch of salt
Grated zest of a lemon
Grated zest of an orange
A pinch of mixed spice

[Optional:  4 tablespoons chia seeds]

Granny's Fruit Loaf

Preheat the oven to 160C. Prepare a loaf tin by spraying it with Cooking Spray.

Sift the flour twice into a large bowl.

Add the tofu [OR ricotta] crumbled into pieces and olive oil and use your finger tips to rub in the olive oil and tofu into the flour in the same way as you are rubbing in butter.

granny's fruit loaf slices 2Add the vanilla, salt, citrus zest and mixed spice. Then add the dried fruit and mix well until all the pieces of fruit . In a separate bowl, use a hand blender to puree the apple with the egg yolks, the lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. Beat the egg whites until they are stiff. Add the bicarbonate of soda and the cornflour to the tofu and flour mix. If you are using Chia Seeds, add them now. Use a metal spoon to mix.

granny's fruit loaf slices 3

Then add the apple and egg yolk mix and finally fold in the egg whites using a large metal spoon.

Pour the batter into a cake loaf tin. Bake for 40 minutes at 160ºC.’

 

 

Lea’s Good Food Everyday airs on Smash TV everyday and you can follow on facebook . Photography by CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show.

Trade Enquiries:
Baking goods, chia seeds, dried fruit, vanilla and other spices by Good Earth Distributors
Olive oil by Costa D’Oro at J Calleja Ltd
Butter Flavour Fry Light Cooking Spray by Rimus Group
Fresh Fruit by Big Fresh Mosta and Oscars Fruit and Vegetables Paola and Barbuto for organic fruit and vegetables
Kitchenware by Tescoma

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.

Vegan Chocolate Muffins

vegan chocolate muffins

‘I use linseed as an egg replacement for these very chocolaty and moist muffins.  If you are looking for a diabetic friendly alternative use stevia instead of sugar. What I like about these muffins is that they really rise’

For the muffins you will need:

250g self raising flour [for a gluten free recipe use gluten free self raising flour]
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
75g cocoa powder
a pinch of coffee powder
a pinch of cinnamon
a pinch of salt
250g soft brown sugar
300ml hot water [not boiling]
3 tablespoons linseed
1 tablespoon vinegar
50g coconut oil
30g coconut pulp

Preheat oven to 160C.
Prepare a muffin tin by lining it with muffin cases. [Optional: On tv, I sprayed the muffin cases with Butter Flavour Fry Light Cooking Spray which is vegan for those who miss a buttery taste!]
Sieve twice the self raising flour, bicarbonate, cinnamon.
Add the salt and mix.
Place the water, linseed, coconut pulp, coconut oil, vinegar, brown sugar and coffee in a liquidizer and turn on until the linseeds are broken up and the mixture appears consistent.
Use a large metal spoon to fold in the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients.
Use a spoon to fill the muffin cases and place in the oven to bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Allow to cool and top with the icing or serve as they are.

vegan chocolate muffins 3.jpg During the tv programme today I used a bar of lactose free milk chocolate but if you want vegan icing use dark chocolate.

For the icing [optional], you will need:
75ml water
50g coconut pulp
50g soft brown sugar
a pinch of coffee powder
a pinch of cinnamon powder
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
150g chocolate

12 fresh cherries [optional]
Cocoa Nibs to sprinkle on top [optional]

Place all the ingredients in a saucepan on low heat. As soon as it start to boil, remove from the heat. Keep stirring until you have a smooth, glossy consistency. Allow the muffins to cool completely before pouring the icing on top of them.
Sprinkle some cocoa nibs and decorate with a fresh cherry.
Chocolate vegan muffins.jpg

Trade Enquiries:
Cocoa nibs, cocoa powder, spices, brown sugar, linseed, bicarbonate of soda, self raising flour by Good Earth
Valor Chocolates, Govinda Stevia, Govinda Coconut Oil, Govinda Coconut Pulp by J Calleja
Fry Light Cooking Spray Butter Flavour by Rimus Trading
Fresh Fruit by Big Fres Mosta

Photography by CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show.

Quick Chocolate Muffins with no refined sugar and no added fats

chocolate muffins 3.jpg

Quick Chocolate Muffins with no added sugar and no added fats.  Photography CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

‘quick and easy chocolate muffins sweetened with dates.  They contain no added fats and are moist and delicious’

You will need:

250g dates
200ml warm water
250g self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vinegar
4 eggs
a pinch of cinnamon
a pinch of coffee powder
a pinch of salt
vanilla
4 tablespoons chocolate powder
3 tablespoons cocoa nibs [optional]

Soak the dates in the warm water. Prepare a muffin tin with paper cases.
Use a hand blender to bind the dates with the water until they form a smooth paste.
Sieve the self raising flour,chocolate powder and baking powder twice. Add the vanilla, salt, cinnamon and coffee powder. Mix the ingredients together until the mixture is consistent. Beat the eggs and add them to the blended dates. Add the vinegar and mix well to get a consistent mixture. Add the liquid ingredients to the flour mixture and use a large metal spoon to fold in without over mixing. If you are using the cocoa nibs add them. Pour the batter into the Pour the batter into the muffin cases and bake for 25 minutes.
Allow to cool slightly before taking the muffins out of the tin.

I topped my muffins with a mix of fresh berries.

I use ingredients by Good Earth

Soft and Chewy Granola Bars with Sweet Potato

healthy granola bars.jpg

Healthy chewy oatbran granola bars.  Photography by CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

healthy granola bars 4.jpg

‘These dense, moist and chewy granola bars can be made using your favourite cereal and putting in them exactly what you like.  They are loaded with seeds and I bind them by using a mix of dates and sweet potato.  The chocolate and nut topping is optional.  If you prefer a crunchier texture, cut the granola bake into bars when it cools down and bake them in a hot oven for 12 minutes on each side in the same way you would do with biscotti’

healthy granola bars 3

You will need:

300g dates
150g sweet potato
400g oatbran granola
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 vanilla pod
50g gogi berries
50g sunflower seeds
50g cocoa powder
100g pumpkin seeds
100g linseed [flaxseed]
30g Chia Seeds

Preheat the oven to 170C.

Spray a baking tin [20cm square or similar] with cooking spray and line it with baking paper.

Remove the stone from the dates and roughly chop them up.

Peel the sweet potato and roughly chop it.

Place the dates and sweet potato in a saucepan and cover with cold water.

Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for about 7-10 minutes until the potato is soft and the dates are mushy.  Make sure that there is enough water during this process.

Remove from the heat, puree by using a hand held blender and allow to cool.

In a large mixing bowl mix the granola with the gogi berries, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, linseeds and chia seeds.  Add the mixed spice, vanilla and cinnamon.

Mix well so that the mixture is consistent.

Add the date and sweet potato mixture to the granola and seed mix and combine by mixing well.

Place the mixture in the prepared baking tin and use a spatula to press the mixture down.  Then use your clean hands to press down tightly.  Bake in a preheated oven for 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Optional topping:

300g dark sugar free chocolate
1 tablespoon olive oil
250g mixed nuts

Chop the nuts roughly and use a very hot pan to dry roast them.

Melt the chocolate in a bain marie or in the microwave.  Add the olive oil and stir until it is smooth and glossy.

Pour the chocolate on to the granola bake and scatted the nuts on top.

Allow to cool and then cut into bars or squares.

You can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks and in the freezer for up to 3 months.

        I use Oat Bran Granola by Mornflake at Rimus Group, nuts, spices and seeds by Good Earth, olive oil by Costa D’Oro and sugar-free, lactose-free chocolate by Valor

Cooking with millet

millet salad

I cooked a few meals recently during the tv show using millet, which is one of my favorite gluten-free foods. The grain-like seeds originated in Africa and have been eaten since prehistoric times. They are a pale yellow color and have an earthy taste. You can eat millet simply plain with a bit of olive oil or butter and it can also be added to soups, salads and stir-fried meals.

Millet is packed with nutrients and also makes an excellent breakfast in place of oats. It is rich in B Vitamins, magnesium and insoluble fibre, which promotes a good digestion and prevents gall stones.

Millet was rare to find some time ago but as quinoa has become so popular, other grains and seeds are more readily available in most supermarkets and grocery stores today.

To cook a cup of millet, add two cups of water or stock, ¼ teaspoon salt and either one teaspoon butter or a tablespoon olive oil. If you have time, lightly dry roast the millet seeds in a hot pan until they start to turn golden then add the rest of the ingredients.

Bring to boil, then simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Allow to rest for 10 minutes in a covered pot before serving.

Three Bean Eggplants with Chicken and Millet

You will need:
200g cooked millet
2 eggplants
1 tbsp olive oil
200g diced cooked chicken breast
½ onion
1 clove garlic
¼ tsp smoked paprika
200g mixed cooked beans of your choice [I used a mix of pinto, haricot and lima beans]
a handful of baby spinch leaves
salt
2 tbsp grated Parmegiano Reggiano

Preheat the oven to 200℃. Brush an ovenproof dish with olive oil. Cut the eggplants in half and place skin side down on the baking sheet.

Bake for 25 minutes until the flesh softens up.

Allow to cool and scoop out the flesh and chop it.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan. Cook the onion and garlic on low heat and add the chopped eggplant flesh. Add the paprika and a pinch of salt.

Cook until the onion becomes translucent. Remove from the heat and add the chopped cooked chicken breast and mixed beans.

Use a large bowl to mix together the cooked milled and chicken and bean mixture. Add half the spinach leaves and mix gently. Season with salt.

Spoon the mixture into the cavity of the eggplants and top with grated Parmegiano Reggiano. Bake for 10 to15 minutes until the cheese melts. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with more spinach leaves.

This is a gluten-free, diabetic-friendly recipe.

Baked Breakfast Millet with Forest Fruits and Pistachio Nuts

You will need:
150g cooked millet
1 cup frozen berries of your choice
½ cup cashew milk
vanilla
¼ tsp cinnamon
½ cup stevia
2 tbsp honey
To garnish:  ¼ cup pistachio nuts.

Preheat the oven to 180℃.

In an ovenproof dish mix all the ingredients together. Stir and bake in the oven for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Top with pistachio nuts and serve.

For a vegan recipe use agave instead of honey. This is a gluten-free recipe.

Warm Salad of Millet and Beef

You will need:
200g cooked millet
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small white onion
250g sirloin steak
1 grated garlic clove
1 bay leaf
½ tsp coriander seeds
4 leaves kale or cavolo vecchio or kohlrabi leaves
1 large tomato
1 all-natural stock cube
1 cup water
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
¼ tsp freshly grated lemon zest
2 tbsp freshly grated Parmegiano Reggiano
2 tbsp olive oil
a pinch of salt

Chop the sirloin steak into strips and keep aside.

Peel the onion and finely slice. Chop the tomato and keep aside.

Prepare the leaves by removing the tough centre stem and chop the leaves. Keep aside.

Place a tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan or wok. Cook the beef strips and remove from pan. Keep aside and in the meantime cook the onion on low heat. Add the garlic and crushed coriander seeds. Stir, then add the cooked beef strips. Add the stock cube dissolved in water and the bay leaf. Cook until the liquid reduces. Turn up the heat and add the chopped leaves and grated ginger. Stir for a few minutes until the leaves start to wilt then assemble the warm salad. Place the cooked millet in a large mixing bowl. Add the beef stir fry, the chopped tomato and the chopped parsley and gently mix the ingredients into the millet. Finish off by adding the freshly grated lemon zest and Parmegiano Reggiano. Serve while still warm.

This is a gluten-free, lactose-free and diabetic-friendly recipe.

Butternut Squash Soup with Millet

You will need:
1 medium butternut squash
2 medium carrots
1 onion
1 clove garlic
1 natural stock cube
5 cups water
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly grated ginger
Some fresh thyme
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups cooked millet

Roughly chop the butternut squash with skin on. Peel and roughly chop the onion, garlic and carrots. Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the onion, garlic, carrots and freshly grated ginger and cook for five minutes on low heat. Stir and add the stock cube dissolved in the water. Add the thyme and bring to boil and simmer for 35 minutes. Use a hand held immersion blender to puree the soup until it is very smooth. Serve and add a few tablespoons of cooked millet to garnish.

This recipe is a gluten-free, vegan and diabetic-friendly recipe.

Trade Enquiries:

Millet, dried herbs and spices, Kallo natural stock cubes by Good Earth Distributors Ltd

Olive oil by Costa D’Oro at J Calleja

Fry Light Cooking Spray and President Butter by Rimus Trading Agency

Fresh fruit, herbs and vegetables by Big Fresh Mosta, Oscar’s Fruit and Vegetables Paola and Barbuto for Organic produce

Fresh Meat and Poultry by Ta’ Cancu Butcher Zejtun and Majjal ta’ Malta

Lea’s Good Food Everyday airs on Smash TV Everyday and you can also follow on facebook . Photography by CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show.

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

Cooking with Aquafaba

LGFE aquafaba sponge slices with rhubarb compote and pomegranates (Stefan Stafrace)

Aquafaba sponge slices with aquafaba cream and rhubarb compote

Aquafaba must be one of the most amazing culinary discoveries of all time and it is the name that refers to chickpea water.

I must sing my praises to the humble chickpea, because I find it to be the most versatile ingredient. We use chickpeas in soups, salads, stews and dips. I even use a purée of chickpeas as a substitute to flour in cakes.

I also love chickpea flour, which is made from ground chickpeas. This is frequently used in Indian cuisine, but it is also a great, gluten-free alternative for making the most delicious crépes or pancakes and it also makes wonderful omelettes. Chickpea flour is also often used commercially in ready-made mixes to hold the mixture together.

What exactly is aquafaba? When you cook and soak chickpeas to make them soft, the slimy water can be whipped and it becomes meringue. So many possibilities emerge from the idea of using chickpea liquid as an egg replacer and cream substitute.

We have chickpeas, chickpea flour and, now, aquafaba. As well as meringues, I have made macaroons, a range of baked goods with a softer and more moist crumb and dressings for salads – and I am still experimenting. This is all possible simply by using a waste product. For vegetarians and vegans, egg-free recipes with the same results are now a possibility and never again will I discard the liquid from a can of chickpeas down the drain.

How different our lives and eating habits would have been if the basis of our nutrition focused on the chickpea instead of the egg. Eating plant foods and eliminating animal-based ingredients has become very popular here in Malta too.

Aquafaba is also a welcome replacement to recipes that contain raw eggs and heavy cream such as Tiramisu. Cooking with egg substitutes does require some practice, though. I have been testing out many recipes and today I’m sharing a few that have worked out very well. Chickpea water freezes well and three tablespoons is equivalent to one egg.
AquaFaba Meringues

Simply replacing eggs with the water from a can of chickpeas produces the lightest meringue. It is cholesterol-free, nearly calorie-free, egg-free and actually free.
Liquid from out of one can of chickpeas
100g sugar
A pinch of cream of tartar
2 drops vanilla

Use an electric mixer to whip up the meringue by beating the canned chickpea liquid for 10 to 15 minutes until it forms peaks. Carry on beating and add the sugar, a spoonful at a time, until the mixture is firm. At the end, fold in a pinch of cream of tartar and 2 drops of vanilla.

Prepare a baking dish with baking paper. Place into a piping bag or drop large spoonfuls on the baking paper. Bake at 100°C for 2 1/2 hours to 3 hours. Do not open the oven at any time. Turn off the heat and leave in the oven overnight if possible.

Aquafaba mayonnaise

I use this recipe as the base for many dressings and sauces.

You will need:
The liquid of one can of chickpeas
1 tbsp apple organic vinegar
1/4 tsp stevia
A pinch of salt
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
60ml olive oil

Use the liquid from one can of chickpeas. Pass it through a sieve twice to remove any food particles. Place in a clean glass container. Add the lemon juice, Dijon mustard, salt, stevia and apple organic vinegar. Use a hand blender to whizz to a smooth consistency. It will become frothy and then thick and creamy. Add the oil and carry on blending until it thickens and becomes paler, gaining the consistency of mayonnaise.
Pasta with Aquafaba Basil Sauce

For the sauce:
6 tbsp aquafaba
A handful of fresh basil leaves
1 tbsp apple vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp stevia
6 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp freshly-grated pecorino, to serve

Cook the pasta following instructions on the packet. Drain well.

Cook the ingredients of your choice to add to your pasta sauce. To make the sauce, place the aquafaba in a container. Add the apple organic vinegar, stevia, mustard and use a hand blender to make a consistent dressing. Add the olive oil gradually and carry on blending the mixture. When it emulsifies, add the basil leaves and this will turn the sauce into a light green colour.

Mix the sauce with the pasta and gently stir in the rest of your cooked ingredients. Mix in with the pasta gently.
Serve with pecorino cheese if desired.

Aquafaba sponge slices with cream

Chickpea liquid can be used to make a sponge cake and the cream to top it. I made these sponge slices during our TV show and this recipe provides an egg-free and dairy-free option with a reduced calorie intake.

1 cup chickpea liquid
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup stevia
2 cups self-raising flour
A pinch of cream of tartar
The seeds from a vanilla pod
1 tbsp cornflour

Preheat the oven to 120ºC. Line a loaf tin with baking paper. Use an electric mixer to beat the chick- pea liquid. When it starts to become creamy, after about 8 minutes, add the sugar a little at a time and carry on mixing. Add the vanilla.

Sieve the self-raising flour, cornflour and cream of tartar. Add vanilla seeds and continue beating until it reaches almost stiff peaks. Turn off the mixer and use a large metal spoon to gently fold in the flour mixture. Work quickly and gently. Do not over mix. Pour the batter into the loaf tin and use a wet spatula to flatten the top. Bake for 45 minutes.

Allow to cool completely. Then, cut it up into slices and place on a serving plate.

For the aquafaba cream you will need 1 cup aquafaba, 2 tbsp stevia, 1 tbsp rosewater and the seeds from a vanilla pod.

Put all the ingredients into a clean glass bowl and use an electric mixer. Beat until the mixture becomes stiff. Spread onto the sponge slices and decorate with fresh fruit. We loved the combination of pomegranates with the mild rose water flavour.

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

 

 

Trade Enquiries:

Baking ingredients and plant-based milks available at Good Earth Distributors