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Fresh Fig and Amaretto Clafoutis

12 Aug

s4I love fresh figs. I love the smell of them when they are on the trees. It smells like coconut sun cream when I run past them with the dog. Like Hawaian Tropic. I also think Jo Malone’s perfume, Wild Fig & Cassis, smells like coconut too. That’s my favourite summer fragrance, in case you were wondering. Which you weren’t. That and Clarins Eau Dynamisante.

fig

So back to figs. That actually may be the smell of them rotting on the ground. That’s the thing with fig trees, you always end up with a glut of figs. We are coming to the end of the early season figs here at the moment called “Brevas”. They are larger and darker coloured whereas the later season ones “Higos”, that are starting to ripen now, are smaller and light green.

brevas close

So what do you do with a mountain of fresh figs? I do have a lot of recipes using fresh figs like this Fiery Fig Chutney, this Fresh Fig & Goats Cheese Quiche, and this Fresh Fig & Almond Ice Cream.

Fresh Fig & Amaretto Clafoutis

But my favourite at the moment is this clafoutis. It’s quick, easy and not at all bad for you really. Amaretto aside, of course. But a world without Amaretto would be a much sadder place don’t you think?

Fresh Fig & Amaretto ClafoutisFresh Fig & Amaretto Clafoutis Recipe

Makes 3 small individual, double recipe for 1 large one

  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 4 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp wholemeal spelt flour
  • 1/2 Tbsp ground almonds
  • 165 ml (3/4 cup) goat’s (or Greek) yoghurt)
  • grated zest of 1/4 orange
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • a few drops of almond essence
  • 2 tsp amaretto liqueur
  • 2 or 3 figs quartered
  • flaked almonds

Preheat oven to 180C and oil & flour your tins or terracotta dishes.

Separate the yolks and the whites into 2 bowls. Whisk the yolks and honey until pale and creamy. Gently fold in the flour & ground almonds and stir in the yoghurt, essences, amaretto, salt & orange zest.

With an electric whisk, whisk the egg whites until firm and fluffy like meringue. Add a little of the whites to the other mixture to loosen it then carefully fold in the rest of the whites trying not top deflate them too much. When the white is incorporated into the rest, pour the mixture into the prepared dishes and top with the pieces of fig.

Bake for about 15 minutes then scatter over a few flaked almonds and bake for another 5 minutes until cooked. Longer for a large clafoutis.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Fresh Fig & Almond Clafoutis

Enjoy!!

Natalie

Chewy Fruit and Nut Muesli Bars

28 Feb

Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

This is the next recipe in my Sweet & Healthy series. I used to buy muesli bars all the time, I took them to work and college to snack on in the afternoon, you know when you get that craving for something sweet. The companies that make these spend millions on packaging and marketing to make you believe that they are the healthy alternative and are actually good for you.

So no true.

Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

Nearly all of them are packed with sugar and oil or butter so that any goodness you might be getting from the fruit, seeds and nuts is completely irrelevant. You might as well buy a toffee apple with a side order of candy floss.

Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

Making your own is really quick and easy, you have complete control over what goes in them and you aren’t paying for fake organic looking packaging and advertising campaigns with sunny farms in them. If you don’t like raisins leave them out, prefer hazelnuts to almonds then put them in instead.

Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars Recipe

Makes 8-12 depending how you cut them. Vegan, Gluten-free

  • 1 large very ripe banana
  • 90 g (1 cup) oats (gf)
  • 5 Tbsp grated coconut
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 Tbsp (1/2 cup) flax meal
  • 1 Tbsp honey/agave syrup
  • 4 Tbsp oat milk (or your choice of milk)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) raisins
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) sunflower seeds
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) dried cranberries
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 175C and line a baking sheet with baking paper brushed with a little oil.

Put the chopped banana, oats, coconut, vanilla, flaxmeal, cinnamon and honey in a food processor and pulse together slowly. Add the milk a tablespoon at a time until it comes together. Add in the rest of the ingredients and pulse together again. You can blend it really well or leave some bits chunky.

Tip the mixture out onto the lined baking sheet and shape it into a flat, even square about 1/2 cm thick with a spatula. It takes a bit of time & patience to make it even but they will be easier to cut into squares or rectangles later. Top with a few more flaked almonds and sunflower seeds and press them down a bit.

Bake for 11-13 minutes until the edges are just starting to brown. Cut into 12 squares or 8 rectangles while still warm. Leave to cool and store in an airtight container.

Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

It is my first Healthy Baking with Chocolate Workshop this Saturday 2nd March 5pm-9m. We will be making and tasting:

Chocolate Butterfly Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Filling

Dark Chocolate & Orange Almond Torte

Chocolate, Date & Walnut Energy Truffles

Chocolate, Hazelnut & Date Caramel Tart with an Almond Crust

Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk & Hazelnut Cookies

All of these recipes use wholemeal spelt flour or ground almonds rather than processed flours. We use coconut oil or olive oil instead of butter and use honey, maple syrup or miel de cana instead of refined sugars.

Here’s a preview of the cookies. If you are lucky I might have time to share the recipe with you next week…

Vegan Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk & Hazelnut Cookies

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Apple, Pear and Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins

18 Feb

Apple Pear & Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins

This is the next recipe from my Sweet & Healthy series that I didn’t realise I was doing until I just looked at all the recipes and photos I had waiting to publish and noticed that they were all sweet treats that are good for you. The previous recipe in the (now) series was for this Vegan Banana Bread with Dates & Almonds.

Apple Pear & Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins

This is because The Washer Up likes something sweet to take to work with his lunch and I always end up snacking on whatever it is too, so it has to be healthy. These are brilliant for breakfast if you don’t have time to make anything and terrific for that afternoon tea break when you need a sweet fix.

Apple & Pear Oatmeal Muffins

They are like sweet apple and cinnamon porridge in a handy portable muffin disguise. And the oats really do keep you full for longer, it’s true. There is no butter and no sugar in these just olive oil and honey for sweetness. I made them using ground almonds to keep them gluten-free but you could use wholemeal spelt (or normal) flour instead.

I adapted the recipe from an amazing website called The Healthy Chef. I have the feeling it won’t be the last time I use one of her recipes if these muffins are anything to go by.

Apple Pear & Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffin

Apple, Pear & Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins

Makes about 12 muffins. Gluten-free. Adapted from The Healthy Chef

  • 200 g (2 cups) rolled oats (GF)
  • 125 g (1 cup) ground almonds (or wholemeal/spelt flour)
  • 25 g (1/4 cup) flax meal (ground flax seeds)
  • 80 g (1/2 cup) raisins (I used moscatel, so juicy)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 250 ml/1 cup (2 small pots) goat’s (or Greek) yoghurt
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large apple, grated
  • 1 pear

Preheat oven to 160 C and line your muffin tin with paper cases.

Add the oats, flax meal, raisins, yoghurt, oil, vanilla, baking powder, cinnamon, honey and beaten eggs to a bowl and mix together. Leave to soak for 10 minutes to soften the oats.

Then grate in the apple with the skin and any juice up to the pips and mix through. Then add the ground almonds (or flour) and fold in gently.

Use an ice cream scoop (or large spoon) to fill the muffin cases then sprinkle over a few oats. Bake for 15 minutes then slice the pear into thin circles and place one on top of each muffin. Return to the oven for another 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Brush the tops with a little honey while still warm. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store in an airtight container.

Apple, Pear & Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins

Coming up soon in my Sweet & Healthy series: Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars and Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk & Hazelnut Cookies.

Hasta Pronto!

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Vegan Banana Bread with Dates and Almonds

11 Feb

Vegan Banana Bread with Dates and Almonds

This delicious banana bread is vegan and it also has the virtuous label of no added fats. There is no butter, oils, eggs or refined sugars either. I have added one tablespoon of honey to the whole loaf but you could use agave syrup or leave it out altogether if you like.

The sweetness comes from using very ( or even over) ripe bananas and lovely squidgy Medjool dates. I made it using a combination of wholemeal spelt flour, ground almonds and flaxmeal. This makes it healthy, wheat-free, moist and tasty. You can’t go wrong really.

Vegan Banana Date & Almond Bread

It is perfect for breakfast or to take to work for that mid afternoon pick me up without the guilt. It is lovely toasted and drizzled with a little honey but is just as satisfying as it is. The more mature the bananas (i.e.: blackening) the better, it makes them easier to mash and they taste more sweet and banana-y.

Vegan Banana Bread

Vegan Banana Bread with Dates & Almonds Recipe

Makes 1 loaf. I used a 1 litre capacity loaf tin. Vegan, Wheat Free, Oil Free, Refined Sugar Free

Adapted from Love Food Eat

  • 2 Tbsps. flax meal mixed with 6 Tbsps. warm water
  • 135 g wholemeal spelt flour
  • 15 g (1 Tbsp) flax meal
  • 110 g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 large Medjool dates, stoned and finely chopped
  • 2 very ripe bananas, well mashed/blended
  • 1 Tbsp honey/agave syrup (optional)
  • flaked almonds for the top
  • sesame & flax seeds for the top (optional)

Mix the 2 Tbsp flax meal with 6 Tbsp warm water and leave for about 10 minutes until gooey. This is known as flax egg. Preheat the oven to 175 C and line the loaf tin with some baking paper.

In a large bowl mix together the flour, 15 g flaxmeal, ground almonds, cinnamon, baking powder, soda and salt. Then stir through the chopped dates.

Add in the mashed/blended bananas, the flax egg mixture and the honey/agave syrup if using. Mix together until combined to a stiff dough but don’t over work. Tip this into the lined tin, spread it out evenly and top with some flaked almonds, sesame seeds & flax seeds, if using, and press them down a bit.

Bake for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and leave to cool completely before slicing if you can. It is easier to slice when cool.

Banana Bread with Dates & Almonds

Don’t be alarmed it doesn’t rise much but is delicious all the same. Store in an airtight container or wrapped in a tea towel somewhere cool. Toasting it comes into play if it lasts longer than a few days and has become a little stale. It brings it back to life and is enhanced even more by some of this vanilla apple sauce or honey.

Vegan Banana Date & Almond Bread

Things That Made Me Smile Today

Wild Fennel Flowers

These are some photos I took back in October of the wild fennel flowers that grow alongside the road where I run with the dog in the morning. They’re delicately beautiful.

It turns out that one of the major food trends predicted for 2013 is fennel pollen. It is appearing on a lot of the most forward thinking menus used as an ingredient or garnish with fish or as an aroma (by burning the pollen over the finished plate) on many other exciting dishes. Apparently it is quite difficult to get, you can order it online and it is quite expensive.

Wild Fennel Flowers

Not here it isn’t, it’s free and growing wild at the side of the road! Rufus even likes to have a sniff as he goes down for a drink in the stream. Hilarious isn’t it.

I am definitely researching this more and will be bringing you some recipes featuring “foraged” fennel pollen at the end of the summer!

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Chocolate, Hazelnut and Date Caramel Tart with an Almond Crust

5 Feb

Vegan Chocolate & Hazelnut Caramel Tart

This tart is amazing. Seriously gorgeous, and it’s vegan and gluten-free. It tastes like Millionaires Shortbread with nuts in.

Chocolate date Caramel Hazelnut Tart

There is a crumbly nutty crust made with ground almonds and coconut oil then a layer of date caramel (new favourite thing) filled with toasted hazelnuts. Then it is finished off with a layer of dark and delicious chocolate ganache and a sprinkling of chopped nuts. It’s chewy, sweet, crunchy and crumbly at the same time and it has no butter no refined sugar and no flour. Do you love me?

Chocolate Hazelnut Date Caramel Tart

Be warned though, it is very addictive and quite rich. Like that could be a bad thing. You have to make it just to let your friends and family know how delicious vegan desserts can be. No one would guess and they will all want the recipe.

Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Date Caramel Tart

This is one of the recipes from my Healthy Baking with Chocolate Workshop, the next one of which is on Saturday 2nd March from 5pm – 9pm at the Pepe Kitchen Cookery School in Benalmadena, Malaga.

At this workshop I will be demonstrating how to use olive oil and coconut oil instead of butter in baking as well as showing how to use wholemeal spelt flour and ground almonds instead of bleached white flour. We will also be using honey, maple syrup, molasses and dates instead of sugar for natural sweetness and oat milk replaces cow’s milk and cream.

The chocolate we use is either 70% cocoa solids dark chocolate or pure cocoa powder.

We will be making and tasting:

  • Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk and Almond Cookies made with spelt flour & coconut oil
  • Chocolate, Date & Walnut Truffles with Coconut: delicious little bites of energy & protein
  • Chocolate Butterfly Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Filling: made with spelt flour & coconut oil
  • Moist Chocolate & Orange Cake made with whole oranges & ground almonds
  • Chocolate, Hazelnut & Date Caramel Tart with ground almond crust

Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Caramel Tart

Vegan Chocolate, Hazelnut & Date Caramel Tart Recipe

Serves 8, Vegan, Gluten-Free. Adapted from Gourmande in the Kitchen

  • 250 g (2 cups) ground almonds
  • a pinch of salt (Himalayan if possible)
  • 4 Tbsp maple syrup or miel de cana
  • 4 Tbsp (60 ml) organic unrefined coconut oil, melted

Oil a 9 inch tart tin, loose bottomed if possible. Put the ground almonds & salt in a bowl, add the maple syrup/miel de cana and melted coconut oil and use a fork to blend it together until it is well combined and resembles crumble mix, a few minutes.

Tip this into the tart tin and press it out all over the base and up the sides firmly & evenly with your fingers. Prick all over the base with a fork. Put in the fridge for a t least 20 minutes. Then preheat the oven to 175 C and bake for 15-18 minutes until golden but not too dark. Leave to cool while you make the filling.

  • 10 Medjool dates, soaked in 120 ml (1/2 cup) warm water
  • 2 Tbsp unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  •  a pinch of salt (Himalayan)
  • about 110 g (1 cup) toasted hazelnuts, chopped

Remove the stones and blend the soaked dates with the soaking liquid, melted coconut oil, salt & vanilla until smooth, thick and creamy. Stir through 3/4 of the chopped hazelnuts and then pour/scrape the mixture into the cooled tart case. Spread it out evenly with a spatula. Put in the fridge to set while you make the chocolate layer.

  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) maple syrup/miel de cana
  • 4 Tbsp unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • 50 g raw (1/2 cup) pure cocoa/cacao powder

Blend the maple syrup/miel de cana and melted coconut oil together until well combined. Add the cocoa/cacao powder and blend again, scraping down the sides if necessary, until smooth.

Pour this over the date caramel hazelnut layer and spread out evenly with a spatula. Sprinkle over a little sea salt and the remaining chopped hazelnuts.

Put back in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.

Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Caramel Tart

I thought you might like to see a little YouTube video of my Healthy Baking Workshop (savoury & sweet) that took place on Sunday morning. The next one is on Saturday 23rd March 10-2pm. Just click on the link below…..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=7tU9pZPNnb4

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