Vegan Carrot and Prune Torte

 Vegan Carrot Prune Torte 2

‘Low in fats and diabetic friendly, this torte is loaded with everything that is good for you. It is moist and tastes even better a day or two after baking.  It freezes well for up to 3 months as well as a dessert served with ice cream or fruit, it also makes an ideal breakfast, mid-morning or afternoon snack and is a great addition to a packed lunch. If you have a very sweet tooth, add stevia’

You will need:

1 cup grated raw carrots
2 cups dried prunes
2 cups coconut milk
4 tablespoons linseed [flaxseed]soaked in 12 tablespoons of water
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
vanilla
1 cup agave OR 1 cup stevia [if you wish you can use 1 cup brown sugar]
a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon apple organic vinegar
3 cups self raising flour [use self raising gluten free flour if you wish]
1 cup ground almonds
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest

For the top of the tart:  1/2 cup flaked almonds

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Allow the linseed [flaxseed] to soak in water from 1/2 hour to overnight.
Use a hand held blender to process the mixture and appear consistent. The result is a gelatinous mixture that will replace eggs in this recipe.

Preheat the oven to 170C.

Prepare a tart dish by spraying it with cooking spray or by covering it with baking paper.

Sift twice the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking power into a large bowl. Add the ground almonds, salt, vanilla and cinnamon and mix.

Grate the carrots and chop the prunes into small pieces. Add to the flour mixture and mix gently making sure that the carrots and prunes are covered all over.

Add the apple organic vinegar, orange zest and coconut milk to the linseed and process until the mixture is well blended.

Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and use a large metal spoon to fold in.

 

Pour the batter into the prepared pie dish and scatter the flaked almonds on top.   Place in a hot oven immediately for 25-35 minutes.

Allow to cool completely before serving.

Vegan Carrot Prune Torte 3

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

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Trade Enquiries

Baking Goods, dried fruit and nuts by Good Earth Distributors

Baking spray by Frylight at Rimus Group

Fresh fruit and vegetables by Big Fresh Mosta, Oscar’s Fruit and Vegetables Paola and Barbuto [Organic]

 

Grilled chicken and peach salad

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So many peaches in the market this week. Peach season is now with us. I met local farmer Joseph and the ambundance of peaches on his land is almost surreal. I love the combination of peaches with grilled chicken. Here is something light and a wonderful marriage of flavors.

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You will need :

1 large peach, skin on cut in thin segments
1 scallion (finely chopped)
1 red chili deseeded and finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
4 boneless chicken thighs (cut into chunks)
Arugula according to preference
2 spoons chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon peanut oil and a few drops sesame oil mixed in three spoons of mayonnaise
Handful of cranberries
Handful of toasted flaked almonds
Maldon salt and freshly ground pepper

Arrange the arugula leaves on a plate and place the peach slices around the dish. Put the chunks of chicken into the middle of the plate. I grilled my chicken pieces with just a bit of sea salt, olive oil and freshly ground pepper on baking paper. The boneless thighs are delicious.

Squeeze some lime juice all over. Make the dressing using peanut oil, a few drops of sesame and mayonnaise and three spoons of water. Stir until the mixture combines and has a smooth and even texture.

Sprinkle the ground coriander all over the dish very lightly and then pour the mayonnaise mix sparingly over the chicken. Sprinkle and garnish with toasted flaked almonds and the dried cranberries. Cut a few very fine slivers of fresh red chili and again sprinkle sparingly on the chicken with dressing. Use a lime slice as garnish.

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Gluten Free Date Lemon and Carob Flapjacks (#nutfree #dairyfree #eggfree)

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I made these ever so easy flapjacks yesterday using gluten free oats. The flavor of dates and lemon is divine and these are soft flapjacks, the melt-in-your-mouth type. Instead of sugar I used carob syrup made from the recent new harvest in the village but if it is not available where you live use molasses or golden syrup. I tried these with honey some time ago but the mixture did not bind as well and they were too crumbly. It needs the properties of a sugar based syrup for a good finish.

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You will need:

150g butter
2 tablespoons carob syrup (molasses and golden syrup are also fine)
350g gluten free oats
200g dates, chopped
1 lemon, grated rind only

Baking paper

20cm 8 inches square baking tray or equivalent

Preheat oven to 180C.
Cover your baking dish with baking paper
Place the butter and syrup in a saucepan over low heat until it melts. Do not boil.
Add the oats and chopped dates and grated lemon rind.
Stir and mix until it is consistent.
Transfer to the tin and press down until you have a very compact mixture. Put lots of pressure, thats the secret of having good looking flapjacks.
Bake for 25 minutes
Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Pull the whole piece out as it is on the baking paper amd place on a large cutting board. With a sharp knife cut the pieces in equal sizes according to your preference.

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Cut as much as you need as you can store the rest uncut until you require it. This keeps it fresher and more moist.

They keep in an airtight container for up to a week.

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Oats are so rich in protein and high in gum content, a great source of dietary fiber.

Glorious flavors of July … Caper Pesto

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Home grown mint and parsley cut just five minutes before blending with a bit of lemon juice and last season’s preserved capers given to me by the Mayor yesterday, to make the most heavenly caper pesto. These are the flavors that I love, and it is indeed one of the best things life has to offer to be able to eat such fresh food.

We are now approacing the middle of a Mediterranean summer. Although many people tell me that it is too hot, this is perfect for me. The sunshine gets me strength both mentally and physically. Hell for me would be a cool place with dim lighting. The sunshine gives me energy as does the vibrancy of the colorful environment, the light on the island is amazing and one of the reasons why I think that photographs are so appealing even those from a regular ipad with no special lenses. We see a rose colored world here without any need of the specs !

Caper season is here and the yield from our garden was less than last year but we can harvest some more after an interval of a week. It is hard to believe that a flower so delicate and beautiful produced a fruit that is quite undistinctive in appeareance while it is still on the tree, but after preservation in brine and salt, the fruit comes to life again, both in flavor and color as it takes on the hue of green olives and the flavor that is an acquired taste to most becomes alive. Not to us islanders though as it is a flavor we have known all our life.

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I had a great cooking session with the Mayor this week and with the produce from his village, here is a recipe for caper pesto.

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2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 cups capers
1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 cup chopped fresh mint, leaves picked
1 cup flaked almonds
12 tablespoons really good extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 lemon squeezed
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino cheese,

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Roughly chop the garlic, capers, parsley and herbs and put them into a bowl. Add all the other ingredients. Blitz with a hand blender or in the food mixer. Balance the flavours with freshly ground black pepper, a bit of salt and maybe a sweetener of your choice if you find it too tart (sugar, stevia, honey, the tip of a teaspoon is enough)

This recipe is vegetarian, vegan and gluten free.

And on last Monday’s show, the Mayor and I on local food ….

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And in this week’s paper with Claudette Abela Baldacchino

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Chocolate hazelnut tapioca (Dairy Free)

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This dessert is gluten free, dairy free, egg free, has no added sugar and no added fat and I made it specially for Good Earth

It is amazingly decadent although i used completely natural ingredients… And what i especially liked about is the texture. You get the hazelnut flavor from the delicious milk but the added ground nuts give it a hint of a bite, a bit of a surprise for those who eat tapioca often 🙂

You will need:

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100g tapioca
1 liter Alpro Hazelnut Milk
50g ground almonds
6 while hazelnuts to decorate
1/4 orange, you just need the grated peel
1 small dairy free chocolate
Add sugar, honey or sweetener of your choice, i did not add any in ours and it was sweet enough for us
Some mint leaves to decorate

In a saucepan, pour the hazelnut milk, add the ground hazelnuts and leave them in the fridge for at least an hour to soak. You may wish to leave them overnight. Add the tapioca and start to cook on low heat.

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When it starts to thicken add the grated orange peel. Keep stirring and finally add the dairy free chocolate and stir until it melts.

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Remove from heat and pour immediately into individual glasses. Decorate with a whole hazelnut and two mint leaves. Serve hot or cold.

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Pumpkin, lentil and orange soup with sage flowers

Image

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A light lunch today and mum’s delcious recipe of fresh pumkin, orange lentils and a bit of grated orange to finish off with such a good result. It is gluten free, egg free, has no added fat and if you leave the fresh goats’ cheese out, it can also be dairy free. Quick and easy, all in one method plus the blending to make a smooth consistency with a hint of texture. You will need:

1kg pumpkin, peeled and chopped
200g orange lentils
1 onion roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, as they are
Add a vegetable stock cube if required
Grated rind of 1/4 orange
Sea salt and pepper freshly ground pepper
optional fresh goats cheeselet
optional sage leaves, if you prefer or they are not available use parsley

Immerse the onion, garlic, pumpkin and lentils in water and bring to boil. leave to simmer on a gentle boil on low heat for 40 minutes.

Turn off heat and allow to cool slightly.

Add the grated rind of 1/4 orange
I use a hand blender and whizz it until the soup has a consistent appearance.
Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Reheat when ready for use.
Drop individual goats cheeses just before serving. This is optional and it is still delicious without.
I garnished with the flowers of sage that are at the prime of their cycle at the moment. Used sparingly, these are wonderfully delicious.

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Edible flowers are underused. They have been around forever and in the Old Testament we see a reference made to a bitter herb referring to dandelion, the Romans loved rose petals in their food, the Greeks served glasses of wine with floating violets and the Ottamans used edible flowers in most of their desserts and main courses.

These sage leaves are full of flavour and turn a dish to have the wow factor ! They taste of a mild sage, no flowery taste or stromg flavors and unlike the leaves, much milder….

This week’s paper

A Tunisian Hazelnut Dessert called Bouza [diabetic friendly, gluten free, egg free, lactose free, vegan]

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As I dig deeper into the Mediterranean kitchen I become more familiar with the cuisine of Tunisia.

I was served this dessert by a Tunisian friend at a dinner to promote Tunisian business a few years ago. For me this hazelnut cream beats the classics like creme brulee.  This dessert is egg free, gluten free and vegan.  If you wish you can also use regular milk.

It is very easy to make. The cream is poured into glass containers while it is still warm and it sets beautifully. If you want to stretch a bit further and have time on your hands, try the bouza cream in a hazelnut crust and it is to die for.

The cream is flavoured with flower water and you can leave this out if it is not available or if you do not like the idea of flower waters and simply add vanilla instead.

tunisian bouza cj baldacchino

Photography CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

For the hazelnut cream you will need:

1 litre hazelnut milk
200g hazelnuts
1 vanilla pod
4 level tablespoons cornflour
3 level tablespoons stevia OR sugar
Optional: A few drops of flower water, either orange flower or rose water

Grind the hazelnuts in a food processor.

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The consistency should be grainly rather than a dust.

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Mix the cornflour in 250 ml of the milk. if you are usimg flower water, add a few drops now.
Mix the ground hazelnuts with the milk, vanilla and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil on low heat.
Add the cornflour mixture and keep stirring.
Remove from heat.
f you are serving traditional bouza, pour into individual glasses while it is still warm.
Decorate with chopped nuts before it cools.
Allow to set in the fridge for at least an hour.

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Hazelnut Cream in a Hazelnut Crust [this crust is NOT Vegan]

The wild roses in our garden, another ingredient, not a vegetable or a fruit as we know it but a fruit of the earth and edible petals are underused. If used correctly, sparingly combined with the right ingredients the result is incredible. Visually another example that nature is great and no human manuipulation can possibly match it.

for the hazelnut pastry you will need

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400g plain flour
200g butter
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons chopped hazelnuts and extra chopped hazelnuts for sprinkling on top of the tart
Pinch of salt

Sieve the flour and add the butter or margarine cut into pieces
Rub in until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the chopped hazelnuts.
Add pinch of salt and mix
Add the beaten egg and bring together with a knife
Add a few drops of water if necessary to achieve the right consistency, a spoonful at a time.
Wrap in cling film and allow to rest in the fridge for half an hour.
Roll out on a floured surface and line the tart dish by rolling the pastry around the rollimg pin, lifting it gently and easing it into the tart dish. Trim the sides but leave them to overlap.

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There is no need to grease it as the pastry has a high fat content but i do very lightly just in case.
Pierce the pastry evenly and there is no need to bake it blind.
Bake in the oven at 160C for 20 minutes.
Take out of the oven. Trim the pastry by applying pressure with the rolling pin onto the edge of the tin.

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Return to the oven for 5 minutes.
Allow to cool completely before filling.

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A busy kitchen at the offical residence of Tunisia in Malta 🙂

I hope you will be tempted to try bouza 🙂

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

Trade Enquiries:

All ingredients by Good Earth

Gluten free, egg free macaroni with broccoli and pecorino

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I received a packet of gluten free pasta to sample for my Healthy Saturday column in the Press

I cooked this pasta for lunch yesterday. Suitable for a vegan diet, it is made with rice and corn and it is free of soy, wheat, egg, yeast and dairy. i thought it was delcious, a very clean taste, no after taste, was filling and substantial but did not make you feel overbloated. My family all loved it.

And thinking of healthy food, I was so pleased to find a Stevia plant at the local garden centre which i brought home to plant. Because it is calorie and fat free and 300 times more potent than sugar, I cannot wait to make all sorts of things with it… I am excited !

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We ate the broccoli pasta hot and i have some left over in the fridge which we will have as a salad at lunchtime today

You will need:

1 packet gluten free pasta (250 g)
1 broccoli steamed for 3 minites
3 clives garlic, minced or finely chopped
1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
freshly grated Pecorino cheese
Maldon salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive oil
2 spoons chopped flat leaf parsley

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Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and keep warm.
Remkve the stalk from the broccoli and break up into small florets.
Steam for 3 minutes, drain and keep aside.
Drizzle some olive oil into a warm lan and saute the garlic on low heat.
Add half the chili.
Add the broccoli.
Stir gently until it is heated through. Add the pasta, stir, heat through for about a minute.
Add the rest of the chilli.
Turn off heat.
Sprinkle the chopped parsley on top.
Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Sprinkle some freshly grated Pecorino
Serve warm or cold.

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And we ended the week welcoming HE The Ambassador of Tunisia for the paper’s prizegiving and here we are with Saverina Grech and our Editor.

Traditional Irish Stew

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St Patrick’s day has become very big on the island. When I first arrived here a couple of years ago, I remember my surprise one sunny day in March driving down the coast road during St Patrick’s weekend. I could not get over the crowds, different shades of green gathered for an evening of joviality. As the hype soared the traffic came to a standstill and I sat in my car absorbing the electric atmopshere, the anticipation, the excitement brought on by the sense of expectancy.

So is St Patrick’s big here because of the Catholic connection or is it simply an excuse for more merriment ? I somehow feel that the current Ambassador of Ireland and Mrs Hennessy promote Ireland exceptionally well and as the highlight of the Irish year approaches, I share my pieces with you about Irish food. The Ambassador and Mrs Hennessy are donating a generous hamper to my readers for liking and sharing the Embassy’s Facebook page.

And with pleasure, I have been doing a fair bit of traditional cooking to mark this day so special in the Irish Calendar.

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After all every celebration, irrelevant of culture, revolves around food and for me it is food that makes my world go round !!

I spent Saturday with a team I work so well with. They come as a package, a small team made up of Charles the Manager, Carl the chef and Adriana and Nadia, my two very best girls EVAAAA ! …a pleasure to be with.

I will go straight into Carl’s recipe for a delicious Irish stew and I will tell you more about our assignment in the next few days to come.

You will need :

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800g lamb shoulder cut into cubes
150g onions
150g leeks
150g parsnips
150g celeriac
Finely chopped parsley for garnish
2 large cans Guinness ( ours were 440ml each)
500ml stock, your preference
Rosemary
100g butter
100g flour
400g potatoes
Some oil for frying

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Brown the chopped lamb in some oil

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Take the lamb out of the pot and keep aside

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Chop the vegetables. Sauté the vegetables in the same oil.

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When they are cooking heat up the stock. Lift them out of the pan and keep aside.

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Then make a roux in the same pan where you cooked the lamb and vegetables by adding some butter and mixing in the flour.

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Add the stock little by little and then the meat, vegetables and potatoes. Bring to a boil, season and simmer for 45 minutes.

You should end up with soft potatoes soaking in a full bodied stew of vegetables and lamb that melts in your mouth.

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And her are some more recipes with this lovely team and more

International Women’s Day … Iceberg Hunk with Walnuts and Stilton

I will not go into the obvious about International Women’s Day as many better writers will address this today but I micro-focus on my daily working life in an industry that is male-dominated on the island and I often ask myself why are women with a voice sometimes labelled as combative? I hope this will change soon and there will be room for women’s thoughts so that they are given a chance to bring in fresh ideas which are, as everyone knows, needed ! That is my rambling of the day and just a thought before I go out to cook with the boys, but do have a look at this well researched history of International Women’s Day .
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Saul cut this iceberg lettuce for me so it could not be fresher and I sliced it right across and left it in a big hunk to make a very pretty salad. It looks wonderful plated.

You will need:

One iceberg lettuce, and slice into three, whole as it is after washing and removing external leaves
250g Stilton or blue cheese of your choice, crumbled
150g walnuts, pan roasted and broken into chunks
Cherry tomatoes, allow 3 per person, sliced
Olives, allow 4 per person, sliced
Grapes, allow 6 per person, halved, deseeded
Capers, leave out if you do not like, but we love the bitter flavor with the sweetness of the grapes

Dressing
500ml Greek Yoghurt and here we use the local variety as it is delicious and a fraction of the price
Olive oil, 100 ml
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
Two tablespoons low fat mayonnaise, and you can also leave this out but the mayonnaise gives the dressing a sweeter taste
Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the salad, place each hunk of lettuce (you should have three large thick slices out of every lettuce) on a place. Trim the rounded side off the bottom on the two side bits so that they sit firmly on the plate.

Remove a few leaves from the centre and arrange them around the hunk of lettuce. It will look like a flower with pretty green petals.
Arrange a few slices of tomatoes, olives, some capers and grapes inside each leaf (petal) around the hunk.

Prepare the dressing by mixing all the ingredients together. The center of each hunk of lettuce should have room for the dressing, as you have taken out some of the leaves in the center to place around the hunk. Fill the center cavity with the dressing and it will also serve as a dip in the centre.

Top with pan roasted walnut pieces and crumbled Stilton.

Season with Maldon Salt and freshly ground pepper.
I served this with breadsticks for dipping into the dressing.

This recipe is vegetarian, gluten free, egg free if you leave out the mayonnaise.

And Spring is in full bloom already …

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