Quick Coconut and Lemon Muffins [diabetic friendly, gluten free, lactose free, no added refined sugar

COCONUT MUFFINS 1

Quick healthier coconut muffins, photography CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

‘these muffins have a deep and  intense coconut flavour from coconut oil, coconut paste, shredded coconut and coconut flour.  They are gluten free and perfect for lunch boxes or a healthy snack to take to work and eat at your desk.  The taste of these muffins improves the next day’

You will need:

50ml coconut oil
50g coconut paste
4 eggs
100g self raising flour [I used gluten free flour on tv but you can use regular self raising flour]
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
100g coconut
50g coconut flour
vanilla
a pinch of salt
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon stevia or 2 pellets stevia

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Preheat the oven to 190C.

Sieve the self raising flour, baking powder and coconut flour twice into a mixing bowl.  Add all the other ingredients and combine them with an electric mixer for one minute and not any more.  This is quite a thick batter.  Use two spoons to place the batter in the muffin cases.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Allow to cool before serving.  These muffins taste better the day after they are made.  They remain moist and dense, very much like coconut macaroons.


 

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

Fit for a Queen

‘Coconut balls are so popular at Christmas here and we made a variety of gluten free balls during our show.  We used mashed potato to make a few batches and also some dark chocolate and tahini coconut cake pops.’

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A selection of Coconut Balls, Lifestyle&Co TVM2 every afternoon

For the White Tropical Coconut Balls you will need:
3 cups mashed potato
3 cups coconut
5 tablespoons honey
1/2 packet of dried pineapple
1/2 vanilla pod
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
a pinch of cinnamon
2 cups coconut to finish off the balls

Mix all the ingredients together. Blend to a puree using a hand blender. Leave the mixture in the fridge for an hour. Form balls and roll in coconut. Leave in the fridge for a few hours or overnight before serving.

For the chocolate Coconut balls you will need:
3 cups mashed potato
3 cups coconut
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3 tablespoons honey
150g dates
half a pod vanilla
1/4 teaspoon mixed spice
And to cover: 2 cups coconut

Mix all the ingredients together. Make into a puree using an electric hand blender. Place the mixture in the fridge for an hour or 2. Shape into balls and roll in coconut. Refridgerate overnight preferably.

For the Chocolate Tahini Cake Pops with coconut you will need:

3 cups self raising flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup tahini with chocolate, I used prepacked
1 cup stevia
a few drops good vanilla extract
4 eggs
Enough water to add to the batter for dropping consistency, keep aside
1 spoon sesame seeds to sprinkle on the surface before baking

Sieve the flour and cocoa powder in a large bowl and the bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. Give a good stir to mix in the ingredients to an even consistency.

In a separate bowl place the eggs, tahini with chocolate (I use a shop bought mix) and the rest of the ingredients. Use a hand blender to make a puree.

Add the liquid mix into the dry ingredients and fold in using a large metal spoon. Add 2 spoons of water at a time until the mixture achieves a dropping consistency (a thick consistency that drops off the spoon).

Pour the batter into a 23cm springform cake dish with a film of non stick baking spray. Bake in a preheated oven at 170C for 35 minute. Check the center by piercing with a skewer.

Allow to cool completely. Break up the cake. Add 2 tablespooons of tahini with chocolate and 2 cups of coconut. Refridgerate for an hour. Form balls and roll them in two cups of coconut. Place in the fridge for another hour. Melt some dark chocolate and dip the balls in the dark chocolate. Place them on a dish covered with baking paper. Allow to cool and refridgerate until it is time to serve.

fit for a queen blog 1

Which were Brian’s favourite ones? Lifestyle&Co, every afternoon TVM2, Cakestand available at Paperparties, Lea’s clothes: Punt Roma, Styling: Rodianne Borg, Hair: Maria Genovese at Vogue Hair by Maria, Nails: Diane Ghiller

You can watch us every afternoon via live streaming

Chocolate Coconut cake with reduced sugar and no butter

All in one chocolate coconut cake with reduced sugar

All in one chocolate coconut cake with reduced sugar

Some of my readers tell me that they are not able to get used to the taste of Stevia. Of course Stevia is not processed sugar and our tastebuds need to adjust. This chocolate coconut cake which I made during our show this week has equal quantities of sugar and stevia, with the idea of gradually eliminating sugar.

For the chocolate coconut cake you will need:

2 cups self raising flour
1 cup coconut
1 cup stevia
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup olive oil
half a cup plain yoghurt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
a few drops vanilla
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee
3 eggs
1 cup water

In a saucepan gently heat the yoghurt, olive oil, water, coffee powder, vanilla and sugar. Stir and do not allow to boil. Remove from heat and stir.

In a separate bowl sieve and mix together the self raising flour, coconut and stevia.

Sieve the flour

Sieve the flour

Prepare a 23 cm tin lightly greased with butter and then dusted with flour. Remove excess flour.

Mix the liquid ingredients with the dry ingredients and fold in.

Adding eggs :)

Adding eggs 🙂

Stir in the eggs. Pour the batter into the prepared cake dish. Sprinkle coconut on the surface.

Chocolate Coconut cake prior to baking

Chocolate Coconut cake prior to baking

Bake at 160C for 35 minutes.

While it was still hot, i brushed mine with warm honey and dusted more coconut powder. The keep will keep moist for around 10 days if kept well in a air tight container.

Photography Ian Noel Pace

Coconut Chocolate Bakes, no added refined sugar, no added fats

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This bake contains no butter and no added refined sugar.  You will need:

  • 200g flour
  • 100g  coconut
  • 125g ricotta
  • 2 tablespoons agave
  • 2 drops good vanilla extract
  • grated zest of half an orange
  • 1 egg
  • cold water
  • 200g dark chocolate and 1/2 tablespoon olive oil to decorate plus roasted chopped almonds (optional)

coconut and ricotta bakes with  chocolate

Preheat the oven to 170C.  Sieve the flour.  Add the ricotta/  Rub it into the flour using your fingertips.  Add the coconut and honey and mix well.  Add the other ingredients except the water and egg and mix.  Now add the beaten egg and mix using a knife.  Add the cold water, starting with three spoons and mix and then add a spoon at a time until you form a dough. Wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge for half an hour.  Cut small pieces of dough and press into the almond shaped non stick moulds.  Flatten the surface.  Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool down. Melt the chocolate and add half a spoon of olive oil.  Place in a small jug.. Hold the jug firmly and drizzle the chocolate over the bakes moving your arm quickly backwards and forwards until they are uniformly and neatly decorated.

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They are soft and moist.

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My kitchenware comes from Tescoma, flour and baking goods from St George’s Brand, chocolate by Valor.

Strawberry & Coconut Tart with a butter free pastry

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Here we have strawberries on a coconut cream inside a coconut crust. I am usg desiccated coconut, flaked coconut, fresh coconut shavings and coconut milk. The fruit is left as close to it’s natural state as possible, no glaze, not overly manipulated, an appreciation of what nature has given us.

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Following a Mediterranean Diet and reducing the processed ingredients I have used ricotta to make the pastry instead of butter and you will need:

Making the pastry using ricotta instead of butter

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500g flour
100g dedicated coconut
250g ricotta
1 heaped spoon unrefined sugar
1 spoon honey
2 drops good vanilla extract
Rind of half an orange
2 eggs
cold water

After refrigerating the dough you will need:
3 spoons flaked coconut (lightly toasted)

Sieve the flour
Add the ricotta
Rub it into the flour using your fingertips
Add the coconut and sugar, mix
Add the other ingredients except the water and eggs and mix.
Now add the beaten eggs, mix using a knife.
Then add the cold water, start with three spoons and mix, then add a spoon at a time until you form a dough.
Wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge for half an hour.
Roll out onto a lightly floured surface.
Sprinkle the toasted coconut on to the flour.
Place the dough on top and roll it out.

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I use a 23cm loose bottomed tart dish.
Grease the dish.
Roll the pastry around the rolling pin and cover the tart dish.
Pat it around gently to take the form of the dish.
Pierce it all around with a fork.
Trim the edges but leave it hanging over the rim.
Bake at 160C for 35 minutes.
Leave to cool.

Making the coconut filling

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1 large can Coconut Milk (400ml)
400 ml milk
100g unrefined sugar
1 heaped tablespoon honey
50g dedicated coconut
2 drops vanilla extract
Rind of half an orange
Separately, 90 g cornflour mixed in 120 ml water
And of course the strawberries, as many or as few as you like ….

Gently heat the first 7 ingredients and bring to a gentle boil stirring with a wooden spoon. Before it reaches boiling point, add the cornflour mix and stir while bringing to a gentle boil. Remove from heat immediately and carry on stirring. Pour over the coconut filling in the tart and leave it to cool down slightly.

Decorate with strawberries before it cools down completely so that they will set in the tart. I also used flaked fresh coconut sparsely, fine shavings in between the strawberries. Place in fridge to chill before removing from tart dish. Serve as it is or you can dust lightly with icing sugar or brush with warm honey for a glaze.

I personally prefer the first option, I like the rustic look, untouched strawberries as nature meant them to be.

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Will this be tempting enough for your loved one ?

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And click here for the recipe in Maltese

Coconut pops

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I made coconut pops in the weekend by baking this moist all-in-one coconut cake and breaking it down to make some pops. I used about 3/4 of it, froze the rest of the crushed cake.
To make the cake for the pops you will need:

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
2 drops good vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup coconut
2 spoons milk

Cream the butter and sugar. Add all the other ingredients and carry on beating until the mixture combines but do not over process.

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Bake in a preheated oven 175C for 35 minutes

To make the pops:

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Allow cake to cool. Break it down into a crumble, not too dine. Add two spoons cream and a spoon of water. Combine and make sure moisture is not soggy. Prepare a tray covered with baking parchment. Scatter 2 cups of coconut onto the tray. Form balls. Roll the balls in the coconut. Serve.
These balls are suitable for eating on the day they are prepared.

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Spilt Pea and zucchini soup

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The soup today is mum’s recipe. It is made with zucchini and dried green split peas which I always have in my store cupboard. Split peas are very high in protein and low in fat and they give the soup a distinct earthy flavor. All you need to do is soak the split peas overnight and if you wish to speed up the time they take to soften add 1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to 125g of dried split peas during the boiling process, not before when you are soaking them as this destroys the vitamin content. When you boil the split peas use a large pot with plenty of water on medium heat to prevent sticking. It may sound like a lot of trouble but it is worth it and if you are at home anyway, they can boil away while you do something else.

Mum uses off-the-bone gammon in hers.

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You will need:

125g dried split peas, soaked, boiled, softened and rinsed
1 kg zucchini, chopped up
1 bay leaves
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 large potato, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Drizzle of olive oil
Fresh thyme
Squeeze of lemon
100g off the bone ham or if you are vegetarian, substitute with a vegetable stock cube
Water, enough to completely immerse everything plus 3 cups

In a large pot drizzle some olive oil and sweat the onions, add the garlic, stirring occasionally.

Add the zucchini, potato, bay leaf, thyme and softened split peas, salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring occasionally.

Add the stock or water, the chopped up gammon (this is optional), squeeze of a lemon and bring to boil. Simmer and cook on low heat for an hour. Do not forget to keep stirring occasionally.

Remove the bay leaf.

Transfer the soup to a food processor. I use a hand blender and puree until smooth, processing in batches until you have a smooth purée. If it is too thick, add more water. If you would like a richer texture add milk or single cream. We tend to avoid this especially during the week !

To serve, reheat the soup but do not boil.

Serve the soup into individual bowls and if you like garnish with crispy bacon ..

This soup freezes well.

Truffles, truffles and more truffles…

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Today unexpectedly ended up being a bumper truffle-making day, over 1000 of them … a variety of flavors and colors, and looking at them on silver platters, a feast and it feels like Christmas is really coming now…. decadent, to-die-for truffles and just cannot wait. The smell of chocolate is making me nearly delirious.

I dream of Prestat in London and how I am usually thrilled to go into the shop to get inspired.

I always enjoy making truffles but I admit I have never made so many. I somehow found it comforting to roll all that soft gooey chocolate in my hands and a bad start to the day ended being a happy truffle-making day. I wore latex gloves but discarded them after 15 minutes. There is an enjoyment about feeling all that chocolate in your bare hands, it is nearly like giving each mouthful a personal touch. It is a pleasurable journey, the thought process, the flavor planning, the sourcing of ingredients, the touch and feel and the gazing, admiring and appreciation. Then the gift, and again there is something so satisfying about giving and sharing. Then comes the longing and air of expectancy… the taste … will it disappoint or will it be something memorable with sparks and fireworks ? Today I have fallen in love with my truffles…. merely just looking at them is nearly enough….

This is the right time to make them, a lovely gift for family and friends over the next few weeks. Nothing nicer than receiving something home made. After all, few are those who can resist a chocolate truffle.

I made two new flavors today, Bee Pollen Truffles using Willie Harcourt Cooze’s chocolate. He messaged me recently to agree that it made sense to use bee pollen with my Baracoa Chocolate Tart because the honey notes in his Cuban chocolate compliment the bee pollen. And his approval encouraged me to add Mediterranean bee pollen to the Baracoa chocolate mix.

The other new flavor was Rosé Peppercorn Truffles using the berries from the Baies rose plant (Euonymus phellomanus) that grows prolifically on the island. They are slightly peppery but sweet at the same time. I like to include local and seasonal Mediterranean ingredients in my recipes.

I adore truffles from No Chewing Allowed in New York and my truffles today are a close second best… Rich, melt-in-your mouth pureeeeee lusciousness.

These two new flavors taste terrific and are very striking. My recipe is the base for all the flavors of today…. I hope I have encouraged you enough to enjoy your own truffle-making day very soon.. Be creative and try new flavors …. so highly recommend it ! This is food for the mind and soul…..

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You will need :

500g dark chocolate (high quality, 62% cacao or higher) chopped into small pieces. I personally love cacao by Artisan chocolate farmer Willie Harcourt-Cooze
1/2 cup of heavy double cream
1 can sweet condensed milk (usually 397g)
few drops good vanilla extract

Truffle coatings of your choice and match flavorings in the truffle mix according to the coating.

In a small, heavy saucepan bring the double cream and condensed milk to a simmer (this may take a while, be sure to stir and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula every few minutes).

Place the chocolate in a separate bowl and melt gently in the microwave. Otherwise pour the cream over the chocolate, add the vanilla, and allow to stand for a few minutes then stir until you have a smooth ganache.

Allow to cool, then place in the refrigerator for two hours. Remove and with a teaspoon roll out balls of the ganache. Roll in your hands quickly and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Roll in cocoa powder or chopped nuts or coating of your choice. Refrigerate if not using immediately and take out of the fridge at least an hour before serving.

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Cacao Brandy Truffles

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Coconut Cacao sprinkled with bee pollen

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Coconut Truffles

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Hazelnut Cacao Truffles

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Simply Cacao Truffles

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Chestnut Cacao Truffles

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Rose Baille Strawberry Truffles

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A feast of truffles

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Coconut Green Tea Truffles

From an island bursting with sunshine in the Fall, a very moist lemon coconut tray cake….

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Those who follow my blog know about my passion for making all sorts of condiments, chutneys and jams using local fruits and vegetables. I get enormous pleasure out of cutting the fruit myself and producing these preserves that have virtually no carbon footprint. And how can you beat the freshness and purity of pesticide-free fruit that goes from the tree straight into the pan usually on the same day, all the goodness captured securely in a jar….

I always have a surplus of lemon skins as I use the juice to make natural pectin. And I preserve the skins, first in salt and then in sugar, a process that requires a bit of patience. Recently I started to add fresh herbs to the sugar in which I roll the lemons at the last stage as this simply adds more flavor.

Today I am making a lemon and coconut tray cake and I am visiting my colleagues at the newspaper. It is always a pleasure to share my recipe testing with such a convivial team. My tray cake is made with the local unwaxed lemons I was able to admire alive on the tree, lovingly nurtured by the golden sun and the Mediterranean soil that make them unique.

As my kitchen fills with the aroma of coconut and lemon enveloped in a soft cake batter, I am writing the easiest cake recipe you will ever have…… not only the easiest, but the softest, moistest cake using no mixers, no creaming or rubbing in methods, just everything stirred together with a wooden spoon. An all-in-one that does not fail …

You will need :

3 cups self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1cup desiccated coconut
3 tablespoon grated lemon rind
2 cups caster sugar
200 g butter, melted
4 eggs
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a 20 cm deep round cake tin.
Combine all ingredients in bowl, mixing well with wooden spoon until batter is smooth.
Pour mixture into cake tin and bake for 40 minutes until light gold in color.

I covered mine in glacé icing and sprinkle dried coconut shavings and grated preserved lemons.

The newspaper this week …

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And thumbs up from the team … They like it !

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