Friday, 8 August 2014

spiced blueberry cobbler

I have never posted frequently on this blog, maybe every 4-6 weeks, but I have been silent since January, which is the longest I have been absent. Last November we moved from Luxembourg to the UK and the oven in our new home wasn't quite agreeing with me. I had to adjust all baking temperatures and baking times for my recipes and found myself reluctant to experiment with recipes until I had tried another UK kitchen; another oven. Then we moved within the UK and now I have two wonderful ovens and I don't have to adjust anything. Well, I was quite busy unpacking but at some point I will start sharing more recipes. It's the blueberry season so let's start with this dessert from Ani Phyo's book Ani's Raw Food Desserts. I don't have many books on the raw cuisine but this one is definitely one of my favourites. All you need to make this one is a food processor.

SPICED BLUEBERRY COBBLER

INGREDIENTS

CRUST

  • 1 cup (250 ml) dry almonds
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup pitted (semi-soft Medjool) dates

FILLING

  • 4 cups blueberries
  • optional: ¼ cup agave syrup

METHOD

  1. Start with the crust: If you don't have Medjool dates, soak regular ones in water for 30 minutes
  2. Combine the almonds, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor. Pulse into coarse pieces
  3. Add the Medjool dates (drain the water if using regular dates) and process until mixed well
  4. Sprinkle half of the crust into the bottom of a loaf pan or a pie dish
  5. To make the filling: Combine the blueberries and agave syrup (if using) in a mixing bowl and toss to mix well
  6. Scoop the blueberries into the loaf pan. Top with the remaining crust, press gently and serve
  7. To serve the cobbler parfait-style in a glass: Start with about ½ cup of cobbler in the bottom of a glass. Add a scoop of you favourite ice cream and top with another ¼ to ½ cup cobbler
  8. I store the dessert in the fridge until I serve it with whipped cream, organic or home-made ice cream, or Greek yoghurt

Thursday, 23 January 2014

banana walnut bread

My love for walnuts knows no boundaries. I like keeping a jar of chopped walnuts in my kitchen and top my yoghurt with some (they are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids). When we moved to the UK I discovered an organic brand called Yeo Valley and that's the yoghurt I use now in all my recipes. By the way, they did not pay me for saying that; I will gladly support that brand on my blog. As I was baking this bread over the holidays, I realised that I had never shared the recipe on my English food blog, only the Icelandic one, which I started sooner. I got the recipe at Starbucks in Canada a few years back and I have made some changes, of course. I found it a bit interesting that they said the fat content had been reduced, yet the original recipe contained ½ cup vegetable oil, which I find way too much. The nuts are fatty enough so there is no need for all that oil (you can also use pecans). I hardly have to tell you that I have reduced the sugar content as well and added pure maple syrup, which I also love. In the original recipe it says buttermilk but usually I use natural yoghurt.

BANANA WALNUT BREAD

INGREDIENTS

  • 260 g (2 cups) spelt flour (I like mixing fine and wholegrain)
  • 1 tablespoon gluten free baking powder (½ if using regular)
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 100 g (½ cup) organic raw cane sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup or agave syrup or organic raw cane sugar
  • 1 large free-range egg
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract or organic vanilla sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons organic natural yoghurt or buttermilk
  • 3 large bananas or 4 small (the original recipe says ripe)
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts + 1 handful to top the batter

METHOD

  1. Blend together the spelt flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside
  2. In another bowl, mix together the egg, sugar, syrup and coconut oil
  3. Add the flour mixture and gently mix with a spatula (don't worry if it looks a bit dry)
  4. Mash the bananas and add them to the mixture with the vanilla extract and yoghurt/buttermilk
  5. Fold in the ½ cup chopped walnuts
  6. Line a loaf tin with parchment paper and pour the batter into it
  7. Top with a handful of chopped walnuts (the original recipe says ⅓ cup but I find it too much)
  8. Bake at 175°C/325°C/gas mark 3 for 50-60 minutes (if you stick a fork into the centre and it comes out clean your bread is ready)
  9. Allow to cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before removing from the loaf tin

Monday, 16 December 2013

chocolate frosting or sauce

One of the most viewed recipes on the blog is my chocolate tray bake and for quite some time I have been meaning to share a chocolate frosting that I now use when serving the cake. I use the same recipe to make a chocolate sauce that I sometimes serve with the meringue tops that I also posted today. When making the sauce I add a bit more water (you can use the sauce on ice cream as well). Just make sure you prepare the frosting/sauce about one hour before serving.

CHOCOLATE FROSTING OR SAUCE

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder, preferable organic/fair-trade
  • 1½ tablespoon organic raw cane sugar
  • 2½ tablespoon agave nectar
  • 3-3½ tablespoons water (4½-5 tbsp = about 75 ml if making chocolate sauce)
  • a small piece organic dark chocolate or milk chocolate (about 20 g)
  • optional: pinch of sea salt, fine

METHOD

  1. Put all the ingredients into a small pan or saucepan
  2. Bring to the boil over medium heat, stirring gently. Then remove from heat
  3. Pour the chocolate frosting/sauce into a bowl and let it sit for about one hour before serving

meringue tops (chocolate)

I have done more experiments with meringue recipes than I care to remember and I have come to the conclusion that a healthier version of meringues is a wishful thinking (this will very likely always be the recipe with the most sugar content on the blog). There are limits to how little sugar can be used with the egg whites without ending up with something that maybe tastes like meringue but has the texture of sponge scourers. (I almost hang my head in shame when I think of some of my experiments!) Over the years I have viewed many meringue recipes and many of them come with advice. To give you some, I find it best to add the raw cane sugar gradually, not in one go, and I add just a little bit of cornflour to the sugar (I have tried baking powder, lemon juice, cream of tartar and a blend of it all). If you are new to meringue making, make sure not a trace of egg yolk goes into the mixing bowl (see tip below the method*). Despite the sugar content the taste of the meringue tops isn't over-sugary. I get six tops from the recipe and I serve them with whipped cream, fresh berries and sometimes home-made chocolate sauce as well.

MERINGUE TOPS (CHOCOLATE)

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 egg whites (use large free-range eggs, at room temperature)
  • 185 g organic raw cane sugar (as fine as possible)
  • ½ teaspoon cornflour
  • pinch of fine sea salt
  • for chocolate meringue tops: ½ tablespoon cocoa powder, preferably organic/fair-trade

METHOD

  1. Separate the eggs
  2. Mix raw cane sugar and cornflour in a separate bowl, preferably with a handle (a measuring cup will also do)
  3. Add a pinch of salt to the mixing bowl with the egg whites and beat them until you get a slightly fluffy texture. Gradually add the sugar until the texture has become thick (the process takes me about 12 minutes)
  4. If making chocolate meringue tops, sieve over the cocoa powder and use a spatula to gently fold it through to create a marbled effect
  5. Line a baking tray with baking parchment and use a spatula to form 6 meringue tops, using slow swirling movements
  6. Bake at 125-140°C/250-275°F/gas mark ½ for about 80 minutes, then turn the oven off, open the oven door and let the meringue tops sit in the oven for another 10 minutes
  7. Serve with whipped cream and fresh berries
  8. If you want to serve the meringue tops with chocolate sauce then prepare the sauce while the tops are in the oven, as it needs to sit for an hour before serving

*If you are new to meringue making or maybe a bit clumsy then separate the eggs while they are still cold, one at a time: Use separate bowls for the egg whites and yolks. After cracking each egg, transfer the egg white from the bowl to the mixing bowl before cracking another one. If using cold eggs, cover the mixing bowl with a plastic film or a plate when you are done and wait for about 30 min. until you start beating the egg whites.
the meringue tops before going into the oven

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