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.

Strawberry and Coffee Biscuit Trifle

strawberry coffee gateau

Stawberry and Coffee Biscuit Trifle, photo by CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

You will need:

2 packets Nice Biscuits
4 tablespoons instant coffee
2 cups boiling water
1 vanilla pod
100g butter
80g sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 punnets strawberries
500ml whipping cream

strawberry coffee gateau 2

Use an electric mixer to beat the cream.  Remove from the bowl and mix in the seeds from a vanilla pod.  Keep aside.

Place the water in a saucepan with the remaining vanilla pod and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and add the coffee powder, mix with a large spoon, then add the cocoa powder and brandy.

Place the softened butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream together until the mixture is white and fluffy.

Fold in the whipped cream and vanilla.  Place the cream mixture in a piping bag and keep aside.

Slice the strawberries.

Assemble the trifle by dipping the ‘Nice’ Biscuits into the coffee mixture and line the bottom of the container.

Work neatly and pipe a layer of the cream mixture.  Flatten with a spoon, then top with a layer of sliced strawberries.

Repeat with a layer of coffee-soaked ‘Nice’ biscuits, a layer of the cream mixture and strawberries until you have used all your ingredients.

I usually fill up the whole bowl with these layers, but due to time constraints of live tv, I finished off with a layer of strawberries before we reached the top and had lots of left overs to make more trifles !

Cover with cling film and Refrigerate for at least 6 hours before serving.

Trade Enquiries

Rimus Trading Agency  for Nice Biscuits by Regal, President Butter and Cream

Good Earth Distributors for pure vanilla pods and raw cocoa powder

Big Fresh  Mosta for all my fresh fruit and vegetables

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

Vegemince Loaf with Sweet Potato and Oatbran

vegemince loaf

Vegemince Loaf with Sweet Potato, a great wholesome weekday meal.  Photo by CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

‘This vegemince loaf is healthy comfort food and proved to be a crowd pleaser satisfying many dietary requirements.  It is an very quick recipe to prepare and looks amazing when brought to the table.  It is also delicious served cold the next day’

Linda McCarthney's Vegemince

I use vegemince by Linda McCartney Foods to make my Vegemince Loaf with Sweet Potato and Oatbran

You will need:

400g vegemince
1 onion
1 clove garlic
250g tinned chopped tomatoes
150g fine oatbran
4 eggs
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon dried herbs of your choice
1 sweet potato
Butter Flavour Cooking Spray
some fresh mint leaves for garnish
Salt and Pepper to season
Large Loaf tin [900g]
baking paper

Use a spray oil to coat a large frying pan.  Chop finely the onion and garlic and cook in the pan over low heat, stirring frequently until the onion becomes translucent.

Add the vegemince and cook for a few minutes then add the tinned chopped tomatoes, and dried herbs.  Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.

In the meantime beat the eggs in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Prepare the loaf tin by covering with baking paper.

Add the oatbran to the vegemince mix and then the eggs. Combine and add the lemon zest. Pour the batter into the lined loaf tin and press down with a wooden spoon.

Wash the sweet potato and chop into thin slices with skin on. Arrange over the top of the loaf tin and press down again. Spray with butter flavoured cooking spray and use a brush to spread all over. Bake in a preheated oven for 35 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before removing from the loaf tin by easing it out of the tin by pulling the baking paper. Place on a serving dish and garnish with fresh mint leaves.

 

Trade Enquiries:

Rimus Group for Linda MacCartney Food, X-Tra Polpa and Tomato Products, Fry Light Cooking Spray and Mornflake Stoneground Oat Bran

Good Earth  for dried herbs and spices

Big Fresh in Mosta for fresh fruit, eggs and vegetables

Deyma Shop Gzira: Table

Loft Naxxar: Tableware

Tescoma: Kitchenware

AMC: Baking paper and disposables

Lea’s Good Food Everyday is available in most bookshops and via Midsea Books

Spaghetti Squash Bowl filled with Creamy Shredded Chicken

spaghetti squash illumina media.jpg

Twice baked spaghetti squash bowl with cheesy chicken, photo Illumina Media during a live tv show

‘the raw flesh and skin is similar to butternut squash but after it is cooked, the skin becomes shell-like, a sold outer layer that holds its shape even without the flesh.  The cooked flesh can be pulled apart into ribbon-like strands which I mixed with a creamy cheesy chicken and used to fill the shell and bake again.  If you are feel like a change from pizza, this is the recipe for you.’

You will need:

1 spaghetti squash
3 cups chopped cooked chicken
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1 tablespoon jalapino peppers [optional]
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 all natural stock cube
1 fresh tomato, chopped
1 cup mixed grated cheddar and mozzarella
1/2 cup Greek Yoghurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
1 small onion, chopped
1 small clove garlic [left whole and removed before assembling dish]
1 tablespoon fresh coriander, chopped

To finish off before re-baking: 150g black olives, chopped
2 tablespoons rocket leaves
salt and pepper

Pierce the skin of the spaghetti squash all over with a fork.
Place it in the microwave for 3 minutes
Allow to cool completely

Preheat the oven to 200C.
Once cool, cut the spaghetti squash into half.
Place the two halves of squash face down on a non-stick baking sheet.
Bake in the oven for 45 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Use 2 forks to scrape the flesh which comes away from the shell in ribbons/spaghetti-like strands.

Place the spaghetti strands in a bowl.

In the meantime place one tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan. Add the chopped onion, the whole garlic and stir. Add the stock cube and then top up with 150ml water. Bring to a boil and then add the cooked chicken pieces followed by all the ingredients except the cheeses. Simmer the mixture for 5 minutes. Then add the cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, stir and finally remove from heat.

Place the empty squash shells face up on a baking tray.

Mix the shredded spaghetti squash with the creamy chicken filling. Top with grated mozzarella and cheddar and  bake for a second time in the oven for 30 minutes.  Serve hot or cold.

spaghetti-squash

Spaghetti squash

I use Spaghetti squash by Big Fresh, chicken by Ta Cancu Butcher Zejtun, mozzarella cheese by Zappala, spices by Schwartz, olives by Belazu Ingredient Company all at PJ Sutters, cold pressed olive oil by Costa D’Oro at J Calleja Import Export Ltd and kitchenware by Tescoma.

Carrot Cake Smoothie with Maca Powder [vegan, lactose-free, gluten-free]

carrot-cake-smoothie-cj

Carrot Cake Smoothie, vegan, gluten free and lactose free.  This photo was taken during a live tv show by CJ Baldacchino

‘More carrot cake follows the overnight oats of yesterday , this time in liquid form.  This is a smoothie based on most people’s favourite cake.  It contains no added refined sugar and it is gluten free, lactose free and vegan.  A meal in itself with the addition of maca powder.  I use the carrots from my organic box that arrives every Thursday from Barbuto in Sicily.’

You will need:

1 raw carrot
1/2 frozen banana
1 cup home made almond milk
1 tablespoon oats [gf]
1 teaspoon coconut
1/8 teaspoon ginger
vanilla
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
a pinch of fresh grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon maca powder
1 tablespoon agave

For garnish: chopped pecans, shavings of sugar free dark chocolate and grated carrots

Place all the ingredients in a high powered blender or Nutribullet and blend until the consistency is very smooth.  If it is too thick, add more almond milk or water.

Garnish with pecans, savings of sugar free dark chocolate and grated carrots

Serve immediately.

Maca Powder is available at Good Earth

Borage, Mushroom and Potato Omelette

borage-omelette-marconia

Borage, Mushroom and Potato Omelette.  This photo was taken during a live tv show by Marconia Schembri

I used borage [in Maltese fidloqqom] during the show for the first time today.  It was brought to me with my organic box that arrives from Barbuto in Sicily every week.  I was curious and very pleasantly surprised because it is delicious.  The raw leaves are hairy and I cooked them in the same way you would cook spinach.  

I added no salt or seasoning as I wanted to taste the natural flavour.  I drained the leaves in a colander.  The cooked leaves remained whole and intact.  The colour intensified to a more vibrant green and the texture was smooth and satiny, the hairy surface and stem smoothed out.  And the taste?  Just delicious, and I am nearly sure I prefer it to kale, spinach or chard.  

Borage is a big thumbs up from me and if you can get your hands on some, do try it.  I see it becoming as popular as kale very soon’

borage-raw-and-cooked

Cooked borage on the plate with the raw leaves at the side.  This photo was taken during a live tv show by Marconia Schembri

For my omelet you will need:

about 4 large cooked borage leaves, chopped
2 eggs
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons cooked fresh mushrooms, chopped
1 tablespoon cooked onion, chopped
1 medium cooked potato, peeled and chopped
salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a frying pan. Add the cooked onions, mushrooms and potatoes. Add the chopped borage leaves Season with salt and pepper. Lower the heat. Beat the eggs and season. Pour the eggs over the vegetables and potatoes. Reduce the heat and cook until the bottom starts to brown. Invert the omelet or fold it in half. Serve immediately.

borage-raw-leaves

Raw borage leaves, as seen on tv today

 

Organic borage is available from Barbuto, Sicily with deliveries to Malta every Thursday.

Very easy sweet potato and kale muffins

Sweet potato and kale muffins goodfoodeveryday

Good Food Everyday as seen on tv.  Easy Sweet Potato and Kale Muffins with photography by George Aquilina during a live show.

‘A recipe that could not be easier and never fails.  The kale leaves were roasted with some olive oil, sea salt and sesame seeds and added to the muffin mix just before baking’

This recipe makes 12 regular size muffins or 6 giant muffins.

You will need:400g self raising flour (you can also use gluten free flour)

100g teff flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
4 eggs
250g mascarpone
1 tablespoon apple organic vinegar
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and grated
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon dukkah
4 kale leaves, chopped and roasted with some olive oil and sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 180C.

Wash and peel the sweet potato.  Grate it coarsely.

Sieve the self raising flour, the teff flour and the baking powder.  Add the smoked paprika, dukkah and sea salt.  Add the grated sweet potato and mix gently so that the flour coats all the pieces.

In a separate bowl mix the mascarpone, apple organic vinegar and eggs by using a hand blender.

Prepare the muffin tray with muffin cases.

Mix the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients.  Check to see if you have a dropping consistency.  If necessary, add some water [a few spoonfuls at a time] until you have a dropping consistency.

Cut up the roasted kale leaves by pulling the pieces apart with your hands.  Add to the mixture and keep some for sprinkling on top.

Pour the batter into the muffin cases.  Sprinkle the rest of the kale leaves on top of the muffins.  Bake for 20 minutes for the regular muffins and 30 minutes for the giant ones.

Tip: Serve as they are or with a touch of butter.  Serve with a soup to make it a full meal and they are also great to accompany a salad

My self raising flour is by St Georges Brand, teff flour by Peak’s Free From, mascarpone by Zappala, spices by Schwartz, organic apple vinegar by Fiorentini, sweet potato, kale and vegetables by Big Fresh and Farmers Markets, muffin cases and muffin tray by Tescoma

Lemon Ricotta Linguine with Lamb’s Lettuce

22. Quick Lemon Ricotta Linguine LGFE (Illumina Media)

Linguine with ricotta, lambs lettuce and lemon [This photo was taken during a live tv show by Illumina Media]

‘This is a perfect light pasta dish for the summer prepared in the same amount of time it takes to cook the pasta’

500g linguine
salt for pasta water

For the sauce:
1 cup reserved pasta water
150g lambs lettuce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
200g ricotta
75g parmesan
Lemon Pepper to season
To Serve: Freshly grated parmesan

Follow the instructions on the packet to cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water.

Reserve a cup of the pasta water when you drain the pasta.

Place the ricotta, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, half the pasta water and parmesan in a container. Add some lemon pepper. Use a hand blender to combine all the ingredients together until it forms a smooth paste.

Heat the rest of the olive oil on medium heat in a large flat saucepan. Add the blended ricotta mix. Add the linguine and stir gently then the pasta water little by little until the consistency of the sauce is creamy and coats the pasta. Add the lambs lettuce and garnish with more parmesan, lemon pepper and lemon segments. Serve immediately.

‘Lea’s tip: the starch contained in the pasta water produces a thick creamy consistency when added to the sauce without the addition of cream or butter. Omit adding salt to the sauce as the saltiness from the pasta water is usually sufficient.’

I use linguine by Pasta Rummo, ricotta by Zappala, lemon pepper by Schwartz, fresh vegetables by Big Fresh and parmesan and other cheeses by Experia the Deli.