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.


A quick plate of pasta


A quick plate of pasta, photo CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

Preparing meals does not have to be complicated and making the most of fresh local produce enables us to cook quick meals in a few simple steps. Many of us enjoy the process of cooking in a relaxed way and pasta is the one dish that reminds me of being in my grandmother’s kitchen perched on a…

Source: A quick plate of pasta The Sunday Times of Malta

‘I use Pasta Rummo, only the best when it comes to pasta :)’

Quick Dips for eating outdoors

‘This month is too hot to spend hours in the kitchen and quick dips are always the perfect solution for entertaining a large crowd outdoors.  Here are some quick dips I made on tv recently

Serve with fresh bread, vegetable crudités and galetti.  I like the ones from Good Earth with seeds or spelt flour.’

Artichoke dips goodfoodeveryday.jpg

Artichoke and Spinach Dip with home made herb croutons.  Photo CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

For the warm artichoke dip you will need:

1 cup grated cheese [ I used a mix of parmegiano reggiano and mature edam]
1 cup frozen spinach
1 cup canned artichoke hearts
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup cream cheese or mascarpone
salt and pepper as desired

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Place all the ingredients in a bowl. Use a fork to mix then lightly break down the ingredients and mix again until the mixture appears consistent. Place in an ovenproof dish and heat up in the oven for 20 minutes. Serve hot or cold with croutons, baked sweet potato crisps and fresh vegetables.


Tuna and sweetcorn dip with smoked paprika served with baked sweet potato crisps.  Photo taken during a live tv show by CJ Baldacchino

For the tuna dip you will need:

1/3 cup tuna fish
1/3 cup sweetcorn
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon dried herbs of your choice
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
salt and pepper to season as desired

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and use a fork to lightly break down the ingredients.  Place the mixture in a serving bowl and garnish with a sprinkling of smoked paprika and some more tuna chunks and sweet corn.  Serve with a variety of fresh vegetables, croutons and sweet baked potato chips.

For a quick guacamole dip you will need:


1 avocado, mashed
1 tbsp lemon juice
Small clove garlic
¼ tsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp plain coconut milk

Simply mix all the ingredients together.  No need for a mixer or blender.  Mash and mix.

Spinach and Avocado Dip

This is an ideal dip to use up avocados that are simply over-ripe as the spinach will blend with the avocado to freshen up the colour of an overripe avocado giving a vibrant ‘


Spinach and Avocado Dip, Photography CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

You will need:

1 cup fresh spinach leaves
2 ripe avocados, mashed up
a clove of garlic OR use garlic spray
75ml yoghurt
2 tablespoons fresh coriander OR flat leaf parsley, according to your preference
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
salt and pepper

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and use a hand held blender to process to a smooth paste.  Place in the fridge for an hour and serve with fresh bread, galletti and vegetable crudites.

And here are some more quick dips by whizzing in a blender the ingredients listed and they are ready in a matter of minutes; refrigerate for an hour before serving.

Quick Cheesy Dip

50 g Pecorino
100 g cream cheese
1 tsp chutney
¼ onion finely chopped

Quick Creamy Herb Dip

1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil or mint
100 g cream cheese
2 tbsp plain yoghurt

Quick Curry Dip

100 g mayonnaise
½ tablespoon curry powder
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp yoghurt
1 tbsp chopped sultanas

Quick Smoked Ricotta Dip

150 g ricotta, mashed
1 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp olive oil

Quick Cucumber Yoghurt Dip

½ cucumber, grated
Zest of ½ lemon
200 g plain yoghurt
Fresh ground pepper

Quick Chickpea Dip  [vegan]

1 can chickpeas, drained and mashed [remember to keep the liquid/aquafaba – it also freezes well]
8 tbsp almond milk
2 tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp salt
1 tbsp lemon juice

Quick Olive Dip [vegan]

200 g tofu, mashed
75 g olives of your choice, finely chopped
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tbsp fresh parsley
1 tbsp olive oil
Freshly ground pepper

And links to some more of my tv recipes:

A most delicious Feta Dip

Very Quick Pea and Cashew Dip

Hummus using Chickpea Flour [Gram Flour] instead of Chickpeas

Minty Favetta Dip

Chickpeanut Dip

And a sweet vegan dip of Raw Brownie Batter

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

Trade Enquiries:

Costa D’Oro Olive Oil by J Calleja Import Export Ltd

Mixed Seed galetti, spelt flour galletti, tofu, spices and dried herbs by Good Earth

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


Quick weekday meal …. Pumpkin Soup with Toasted Pinenuts

20140414-071353.jpgI am making an old favourite  with fresh pumpkin. I do not add any butter, cream or oil and the soup gets its texture and creaminess from a sweet potato It is healthy and delicious and I like to garnish it with lightly toasted pine nuts.

You will need :

1 kg Pumpkin
1 Onion
q sweet potato peeled
1 clove garlic (optional)
Pinch of cumin
A teaspoon of toasted pine per portion to garnish
Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper

Peel and chop the vegetables roughly. Place in a large pot and immerse in water, just enough to cover the vegetables. keep topping the water as it cooks. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat and let it cook for 40 minutes. Test the potatoes to make sure they are soft and fully cooked. Turn off heat. When it is a bit cooler, blitz everything with a hand blender or liquidizer until it is very smooth and satiny. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Garnish with toasted pine nuts to serve.



Spilt Pea and zucchini soup


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.


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.

A quick weekday meal…. Aromatic Vegetable Quinoa

I came home late from work one day last week and found a very welcome meal awaiting my arrival. A rare occasion with my son cooking a quinoa dish which without doubt was a very pleasant surprise which i hope will happen more often. We ate it warm for supper and it was even tastier the day after as a salad. I possibly prefer quinoa to couscous and i am preparing it for our main meal today….

For two persons, you will need :

100g quinoa
200g long green beans
1 yellow pepper, sliced or chopped
1 orange pepper, sliced or chopped
2 large tomatoes
400g mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
1 teaspoon cumin
Pinch of cinnamon
1 clove garlic, optional, if you do not like garlic leave out
1 onion, finely chopped
Drizzle of olive oil for frying
Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper.

Bring quinoa to a boil and simmer according to instructions on your pack. sauté the garlic and onion on low heat in a touch of olive oil. Add the spices, mushrooms and peppers and cook for 8 minutes, stirring often. Add the cooked quinoa. Finally add the string beans and cook for 4 minutes and add the chopped tomatoes. Turn off heat and stir. Serve warm or refrigerate and use as a salad. This dish is great as a main course or a side to accompany a main.

I made this leopard print chocolate sheet this morning as the transfers are now available for domestic use…. Simply melt some white chocolate and add two spoons of oil with every 300g. Spread onto the transfer and allow to cool. Peel off and voila ! Lovely as a topping or garnish for desserts or to eat as it is !

Vegetarian Farfalle with arugula from mum’s garden… A quick weekday meal !


Back to the weekday routine and a quick easy meal for today. This pasta is so simple yet delicious and I use a mix of cooked and uncooked ingredients. I like using farfalle with this dish as they do not become soggy and this pasta is also wonderful as a salad if you have left overs.

Zucchini are in season on the island and very cheap in the market and I used arugula that mum grows. The local variety has a stronger taste and aroma than what you are probably used to. The leaves are larger and tougher but I chop it and stir it into the pasta at the very end and it has a ‘bite’ both in texture and flavor !

With 10 minutes start to finish prep time and ready to eat, you will need

Farfalle 1 pkt of 1 lb or 454g, I use Barilla
2 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
8 zucchini, chopped into medium chunks
4 large tomatoes, chopped with skin ok
4 cups arugula, chopped roughly
150g goats cheese, chopped up, I use the local fresh goats cheeselets
Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive oil

Prepare the pasta by following the instructions on the pack. Do not overcook.
Wile the pasta is cooking, sauté the garlic on low heat otherwise it will burn for a minute or two. Add the chopped zucchini and keep stirring. I like them cooked on the outside but still crisp inside.

Drain the pasta and place in a large container. Stir in the zucchini and garlic mix. Add the tomatoes, arugula and goats cheese and stir through gently ,asking sure you do not break the cheese up. Season with some sea salt, a drizzle of virgin olive oil and lots of freshly ground pepper. Serve immediately but leftovers are wonderful as a pasta salad.

And mum’s arugula, crisp and tangy, straight from the garden into the pan, there is a new flavor called freshness !


Quick weekday meal.. if you are in a hurry, a very simple eggplant bake !


Eggplant reminds me so much of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking and very few are those who dislike it. I remember when we had to salt eggplant slices to remove moisture and bitterness before cooking but the variety we find in most stores these days does not require any of this preparation and therefore here is the most simple, most delicious, wholesome, hearty and yet healthy bake that needs no preparation at all apart from slicing the vegetables and opening a can. I have not even added any Parmegiano or grated cheese as I wanted a very healthy option. I added dried oregano and it gives it a pizza taste without the obvious calories. i also used whole plum tomatoes rather than ready chopped, somehow I feel they have more flavor. You will need :

For 2 persons

1 Eggplant sliced
6 medium potatoes, sliced with skin on
1 large can peeled tomatoes
1 teaspoon Oregano
Flat leaf parsley, torn not chopped
A drizzle of virgin olive oil
Some baking paper
Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper

Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Drizzle some oil and layer the sliced potatoes in the center. Leave the skin on, it’s delicious
Arrange the eggplant on top, season and drizzle with a touch of olive oil.
Place in a preheated oven at 150 C for 30 minute.
Take out of the oven and arrange the canned tomatoes on top.
Pierce them with a knife so that the juices ooze out.
Scatter the dried oregano on top and another drizzle of olive oil and return to the oven for another 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and garnish with flat leave parsley.
Serve immediately but I also had left overs and they were so delicious the day after!
and peel off the baking paper and all you need to do is to rinse the tray.
Nice, quick, easy and delicious…





Welcome to the Year of the Horse … Crispy beef and broccoli noodles

Today marks the first day of the Chinese New Year. Goodbye to the snake and welcome to the horse with celebrations for the next two weeks …

There are a number of Asian food stores on the island and I popped in to Mr and Mrs Wang’s store yesterday as they stock authentic asian ingredients and brands.


I love Asian food and when I am in Mr Wang’s store I feel that I am back in the Far East. It is no different and we are so lucky to have access to all these great ingredients on the island. Mr and Mrs Wang are from the North East of China and they have been living on the island for 13 years now. They are always so helpful and willing to share their knowledge.

We were fortunate to have a Chinese nanny when the kids were young. She was a wonderful cook and most of the Asian dishes I make are originally her recipes. I am making Crispy Beef and Broccoli noodles today. It is a much lighter version to the usual dish and I use a good quality minced beef and cook it until its crisp, therefore avoiding any additional flour, cornstarch or batter and everyone who has tried it loves it.


You will need :

2 tsp chopped garlic
1 spring onion or 1/4 onion, finely chopped
2 tsp chopped ginger
Pinch of sugar
Soy sauce, according to your preference
250g good quality ground beef
2 teaspoons fish sauce
200g broccoli, steamed and set aside, make sure you do not overcook them as you want to keep some texture
1 tablespoon sesame oil
A little vegetable oil for crisping the beef
Noodles of your choice, cooked according to instructions on packet. Do not overcook. I used cellophane rice noodles.

Heat a wok or a large frying pan until hot and add a little vegetable oil.
Add the minced beef, cook and stir constantly to avoid it sticking until it becomes crispy.
Drain in a colander so that you get rid of most of the surplus oil.

In the same wok add the garlic, onion and ginger and stir fry quickly without letting them brown.
Add the beef, the fish sauce and soy sauce and heat through. Add a pinch of sugar,
Add the cooked noodles and stir to combine the meat.
Finally add the steamed broccoli.
Add the sesame oil and stir through and finally drizzle some more soy sauce.
Serve immediately. This recipe serves 4 but of course it depends on the size of your appetite.


A quick weekday meal …. Roberto’s Perfect Puttanesca


Jane and I made this pasta last week with Roberto and I am making it at home for our supper tonight.

Jane will also be cooking this for her son Owen when he returns from the USA this week. Owen hosts a chat show here, One Night Stand every Tuesday evening and his guests have included the First Lady, Mrs Margaret Abela and HE the Ambassador of the USA, Gina Abercrombie Winstanley (in photo above with Owen)…

Here is Roberto’s recipe for a perfect Puttanesca and scroll all the way down for the irresistible result! This is a store cupboard pasta, something quick, easy and wonderfully delicious that can be prepared in no time at all. In fact rather than being a whore’s pasta, I prefer the version that the name is derived from ‘Facci una puttanata’… all about making something ‘cheaply and quickly’ !!!!

You will need :
Spaghetti or pasta of your choice, allow 110g per portion, I use Barilla thick spaghetti
150g green olives, finely chopped
4 anchovy fillets
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, finely chopped
200g tomato polpa
1 spoon capers, chopped
1/2 glass white wine
Parsley,chopped finely for garnish
Sea salt and ground pepper
Drizzle of olive oil

Sweat the garlic and onion in the olive oil over medium hear. Add the anchovy, capers and olives. Stir and add the white wine. As soon as it starts to bubble, add the tomato polpa and cook for 10 minutes. In the meantime cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Remove the sauce from the heat and immediately stir in the sauce. Season and garnish with chopped fresh parsley.


Sweat the garlic and onion….

Add the tomato polpa and mix through ….

Toss in the pasta …..

With a large serving fork and spoon, roll the spaghetti around the fork …..

And perfect puttanesca !


And Saturday’s newspaper