Quick Chocolate Muffins with no refined sugar and no added fats

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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

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

Fresh Herb Amaranth

amaranth 3

Fresh Herb Amaranth instead of polenta or mashed potato [Photography Felix Cesare, the food in this photo was cooked during a live tv programme]

‘Everyone loved this fresh herb Amaranth.  It has a consistency of polenta when cooked and the uncooked grains are similar to quinoa.  I  use water as a base instead of cream or milk as the consistency is so creamy.  It is gluten free and protein rich.  I served it with chick peas and fresh broad beans’.

You will need:

1 cup amaranth
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1 natural stock cube
1/2 clove garlic
1/2 onion, finely chopped
6 tablespoons mixed fresh herbs and I use a mix of mint, basil and tarragon
pinch of dried provence herbs
1/2 cup red cabbage, finely shredded and chopped
Black pepper to taste
4 tablespoons olive oil

Prepare the herbs by finely chopping them and the red cabbage by shredding and chopping then immersing completely in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and leave aside.

Saute the onion on low heat in one tablespoon of olive oil.  When it becomes translucent add the garlic but do not cook for more than one minute to avoid burning and retain a gentle flavor. Remove from heat.  It will carry on cooking once it is added to the amaranth.

Bring the water with the stock cube to boil and add the amaranth. Add the dried herbs. Reduce the heat and cook using a wooden spoon to stir constantly. After 5 minutes, add the cooked onion and garlic.  Keep cooking and the mixture will get thick and bubbly. Keep a jug of water near you and add water a little at a time as it gets absorbed. Taste to check if the amaranth is cooked enough then add the herbs, finely shredded herbs and olive oil. Lightly stir in and serve as an accompaniment to your main dish.

‘Tip: Add a couple of spoons of amaranth to thicken a soup’

My ingredients for this recipe are by Good Earth with fresh vegetables and herbs by Big Fresh.

Oat Soup

broad bean and pea soup with poached egg

Fresh pea and broadbean minty yoghurt soup with poached egg [Tableware by C&H Bartoli, photo Yan Schembri]

‘I use fresh seasonal ingredients for my soup today and in its simplicity this makes a wonderful meal.  The freshness of the peas and broad beans laced with mint leaves reflects the genuine and honest produce of this island blessed with so much.
For the creamy consistency I use oats, not too much, just enough that when cooked and pureed  result in a creamy consistency without the richness. And to finish off a crimson fruit salad of pomegranate, blueberries, strawberries and more, vibrant and so refreshing’

You will need:
1 tablespoon olive oil and extra for drizzling
1 onion, roughly chopped and sauteed in the olive oil
2 handfuls of  very fresh mint leaves
2 handfuls of very fresh flat leaf parsley
some other fresh herbs if desired and I used a sprig of fresh basil too
1 bay leaf
500ml water with one all natural vegetable stock cube
300g fresh broadbeans, peeled
200g fresh peas, peeled
50g oats
125ml yoghurt or if lactose free use unsweetened almond milk
1 lime, juice and zest
1 poached egg per person poached in water and 1 tablespoon of apple organic vinegar
salt and pepper
Place the water in a large pot with the stock cube and bring to boil.  Add the sauteed onion (do not allow it to brown when you are cooking it in the olive oil, cooked slowly on low heat to soften it up and bring out the sweetness).

Cook for 5 minutes on a low boil, then add the oats.  Lower the temperature.  Stir constantly and cook for 10 minutes.  Add half the broad beans, half the peas, and a quarter of the fresh mint leaves, parsley and other fresh herbs if you are using.
Cook for 5 minutes.  Season with salt and white pepper, add the dried mint and cook for another 2 minutes.  Turn off the heat and allow to slightly cool down.  Add the remaining herbs keeping some back to garnish and blend to a smooth puree using a hand blender.  Add half of the remaining broad beans and peas and reheat.
Place a poached egg in each soup bowl.  Pour over the hot soup and scatter some more broad beans and peas on top.  Garnish with fresh mint leaves.


And to finish off a fruit salad.  We will be celebrating Strawberry Festival in the Northern village of Mgarr very soon and to celebrate the 10th anniversary of this feast and from today you can follow my daily series of new strawberry recipes.

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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

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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

Vegan Baci, italian hazelnut kisses x

As seen on tv gluten free Baci with reduced sugar and reduced fat

As seen on tv gluten free home made italian chocolate kisses x Baci x with reduced sugar and reduced fat

Nearly every celebration finishes with Baci here, either the delicious ready bought ones all the way from Perugia or home made ones made with condensed milk.  This recipe still produces Baci with a marvelous taste but they contain no added sugar, no fats, no lactose or dairy products and they are vegan ‘

You will need:

2 packets gluten free plain biscuits
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
100g crushed hazelnuts
2 tablespoons ground hazelnuts
3 tablespoons agave
4 tablespoons coconut
2 tablespoons brandy/rum OR Aronia liquid concentrate
100ml coconut milk
200g chocolate with no added sugar [Valor]
50g whole hazelnuts

baci 2

Hazelnut italian kisses are a must at Christmas x Baci x As seen on TV
Photo: Roger Azzopardi

Crush the biscuits very finely.
In a bowl mix together the biscuits, cocoa powder, crushed hazelnuts, coconut, honey, rum and skimmed milk. Mix well.
Bind the mixture into very small balls. On top of every ball put a hazelnut.
Leave to set for 4 hours or overnight in the fridge before you cover using the melting chocolate.  Leave to set overnight in the fridge before serving.

The baci you see in the photos are from our live tv show which runs for 2 1/2 hours every afternoon.  Nothing is staged and all the food is prepared from scratch, everything you see is made in real time with the participation of a live audience.    If you make these baci allowing the time required for the filling and then the chocolate to set, your hand chocolates will be even more beautiful 🙂

Saute of Prickly Pear Paddles

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We always await each summer for prickly pears to come into season, so ripe, juicy and colorful.   The cactus features against the rubble walls in most photos that identify Maltese countryside.

The health benefits of prickly pears  are endless and very much sought after all around the world and classed nearly as a superfood. My favurite way of using it this summer was to pick fruits of the same colur and liquidize them, pass them through a sieve and you end up with a vibrantly colured thick juice which you can water down and drink as it is or add to fruit teas and refrigerate. I love red prickly pear juice with rooibos tea, chilled and served over ice with a slice of lime.

The concentrated juice is so attractive when poured over plain yoghurt andserved in individual glasses.

On the island we have a few different varieties and I loved the miniature variety which are rather unusual and produce bite size fruits.

I cooked the paddles this summer to make different dishes but the most versatile one is the saute and you can serve it like you would a vegetable as a side dish. It is a common ingredient in Mexico (Nopales) and I will start to use it more often as I liked the results. I was not keen on the taste of raw pads used as an addition to salads.

For the Saute of Prickly Pear Paddles you will need:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large prickly pear paddle, freshly cut
1 large white onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 giant cloves garlic or 4 small ones
1/4 teaspoon oregano
Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper to season

prickly pear pala

Preparing a saute of Prickly Pears

Rinse the paddle under some running water. It is best to wear gloves. Soak the paddle in a large container of cold water for at least an hour. Remove and use tweezers to remove the thorns. Use a sharp knife to remove the bumps, tough bits and uneven surfaces as well as to completely cut around the areas where the thorns were. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the dark green skin. Peel it as you would a carrot, no need to remove all the dark green surface and it gives a good flavor if there are still traces of it.

Place the paddle on a chopping board and cut around 2 cm of all the edges and about 4 cm from the thick base.

Once it is cleaned out you will need to dice it into small pieces. Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan on moderate heat and add the onion and garlic finely chopped. Cook until the onion is translucent but do not let it crisp. Add the diced prickly pear paddle and stir. Lower the heat and cook for around 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes. It will ooze a liquid that is slightly gelatinous.

Keep cooking until this starts to reduce. This is a similar process to cooking mushrooms. Remove from the heat and serve. I believe it is an ideal accompaniment to fresh fish.

prickly pears time

Red ones are the most popular here, but surprisingly when cooked they are the least attractive color with yellow and white fruits producing more attractive jams and preserves

 

 

Photography: With thanks to Ian Noel Pace and Gino Galea

St Martin’s Loaf

Our larger than usual version of St Martin's loaf TVM2 Lifestyle & Co Lea's styling by Rodianne Borg, Lea's clothes by Punt Roma, Hair by Inglot

Our larger than usual version of St Martin’s loaf
TVM2 Lifestyle & Co
Lea’s styling by Rodianne Borg, Lea’s clothes by Punt Roma, Hair by Inglot
Photography Stefan Stafrace

This coming Sunday the feast of St Martin is celebrated and sweet yeast loaves together with nuts, clementines, figs and more are given to children in bags brimming at the seams to signify the abundance and bounty of this glorious land.

St Martin's extra large loaf as seen on TV #Malta

St Martin’s extra large loaf as seen on TV #Malta

Rather than the small loaves, we made one big one and Brian decorated it with liqorish sweets.

You will need:

400g plain flour
a pinch of salt
1 sachet dry yeast (11g)
50ml olive oil
35g sugar
35g stevia
half a pod vanilla
250ml lukewarm milk
a sprinkle of sesame seeds for the top pre-baking
1 tablespooon warm honey to glaze after baking
a handful of multi-colored liqorish sweets

Sift the flour and add the salt. Add the olive oil, dry yeast, sugar, stevia, vanilla and mix. Then add the luke warm milk and combine using a wooden spoon to make a sticky dough. Cover and leave to rise for 2 hours or leave overnight and you will find you will not need to knead the dough at all.

Then turn the dough out on to clean work surface (you shouldn’t need any flour) and punch out the air.

Now divide the mixture into the number of loaves that you would like. We made one large one instead of small ones.

Take each piece of dough and shape it into a round then roll it to form a smoothish round ball.

Arrange the loaf or loaves on a greased baking sheet. Leave to rise once more for an hour. The loaf should double in size again.

Sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 20 minutes.
You can glaze the surface with some warm honey by using a brush.
When the loaf cools slightly, place the liquorish sweets neatly on the surface by poking them into the surface of the loaf.

You can watch us on demand via streaming online from anywhere in the world !

You can watch us on demand via streaming online from anywhere in the world !#TVM2

Garibaldi biscuits made with olive oil (lactose free, diabetic friendly)

Home made garibaldi biscuits, no butter and no processed sugar

Home made garibaldi biscuits, no butter and no processed sugar
As seen on TV

We made Garibaldi biscuits today. Quick, fresh and delicious. Nothing beats home baking and I added spices and fresh citrus zest to the pastry/

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Garibaldi biscuits with olive oil and stevia instead of sugar and butter

You will need:

120g self raising flour
a pinch of salt
25 ml olive oil
the equivalent of 50g sugar in stevia (check the labeling to find out the conversion of 50g of sugar)
2 tablespoons honey or agave
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 egg
zest of half a lemon
zest of half an orange
a pinch of cinnamon
half a vanilla pod
70g currants

1 egg white to brush the surface

Cooking Spray [Fry Light]

In a large bowl sift the flour. Add all the other ingredients except for the currants. Use a large metal spoon to stir together. Bring together to form a dough. If dough is too dry add a few drops of water until you get the right binding consistency.

Place in a bowl and cover with cling film and rest in the fridge for a minimum of an hour.

Preheat the oven to 180C

Prepare an oven dish by spraying it with a non stick baking spray.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll it out until it is thin, gently don’t allow it to tear.

Sprinkle the currants over half the surface and then fold the other half on top and gently roll the pastry out, tapping it lightly until you can see the currants through the pastry but be careful not to allow the pastry to tear.

Trim the pastry neatly using a sharp knife.

Cut this into fingers approximately 3cm by 6cm.

Place the biscuits on the baking sheet, brush with a little egg white (optional sprinkle a small pinch of sugar on each biscuit, I left it out in mine) and bake on the center shelf of the oven for 15 minutes.

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Bougainvillea, bantam and babies Photography: Benny Scerri

Bougainvillea, bantam and babies
Photography: Benny Scerri

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Fry Light Cooking Sprays by Rimus Group