October 16, 2014

Cacao & Cardamom Amaranth Pudding

Today, I’d like to introduce you to amaranth. This tiny seed was very well known by the Aztecs who cultivated it and ate it thousands of years ago. Like its cousin quinoa, it is a gluten-free seed with very interesting nutritional value, such as being very rich in protein and calcium.

Amaranth can be eaten as replacement for grains in soups, stews, porridge, or as a side. Here I’ve prepared it in a super creamy and chocolaty pudding. You can even have it for breakfast. Yes, you’ve read well, pudding for breakfast! If you’re not a banana fan, you could of course leave it out, but I find that it adds extra creaminess. We had it warm (my favourite option) and cold, and topped it up with coconut shavings and pomegranate seeds. Pomegranates are in full season at the moment and I cannot get enough of them. We saw a tree laden with them in our neighbourhood, and maybe, maybe, one day I’ll dare ask its owners whether they wouldn’t mind me picking a couple…

Weekend is nearly here… Have a lovely rest of the week and don’t forget to try this amazing amaranth pudding ;)

Cacao & Cardamom Amaranth Pudding – serves 4
•250g amaranth, soaked overnight, if possible
•2tbsp maple syrup
•1/2tsp ground cardamom
•2tbsp raw cacao powder
•1 banana, mashed
•Seeds from 1 pomegranate
•Coconut shavings

1.Place the amaranth in a saucepan with 2½ times its volume of water. Bring to the boil, cover and leave to cook for about 20-30min, until all the liquid is absorbed.
2.Take off the heat. Add the maple syrup, ground cardamom, cacao powder and banana and mix well.
3.Spoon into small bowls or ramequins and top up with pomegranate seeds and coconut shavings. Serve.

Dessert d’Amarante au Cacao et Cardamome – pour 4 personnes
•250g d’amarante, trempée pendant une nuit, si possible
•2cs de sirop d’érable
•1/2cc de cardamome moulue
•2cs de poudre de cacao cru
•1 banane, écrasée
•Graines d’une grenade
•Copeaux de noix de coco

1.Mettre l’amarante dans une casserole avec 2½ son volume d’eau. Porter à ébullition, couvrir et laisser cuire environ 20-30min, jusqu'à ce que tout le liquide soit absorbé.
2.Retirer du feu. Ajouter le sirop d’érable, la cardamome, la poudre de cacao et la banane et bien mélanger.
3.Transférer dans des petits bols ou ramequins et parsemer de graines de grenade et de copeaux de noix de coco. Servir.

October 07, 2014

Early Autumn Roasted Vegetables & Chickpea Soup with Purple Crisps

If I had to choose my favourite way of cooking vegetables, I think roasting them would win. Not only this method allows preparing a big batch in one go, but I also love how they become incredibly tender and tasty. And did I mention how easy it is? All you have to do is chop them, season them, put them in the oven, and let it do the work. So naturally, I often tend to roast veggies to prepare soup. With evenings now getting darker and colder, I’ve been in the mood for warming dishes such as this one. The addition of the chickpeas as well as a side of bread (homemade fig foccacia in my case), makes a wholesome dish for this autumn’s dinners. I accounted for a pretty big batch of soup, however, this can easily be halved for a smaller amount. As for the purple crisps? I was instantly attracted by the potatoes’ awesome colour and thought they would stand out sprinkled on the soup. They are optional of course but make a pretty addition to the dish.

With love x

Early Autumn Roasted Vegetables & Chickpea Soup with Purple Crisps – serves 6 to 8
•3 yellow peppers, deseeded and chopped
•2 sweet potatoes, cubed
•4 carrots, chopped
•1 aubergine, cubed
•1 red onion, peeled and quartered
•4 cloves garlic, peeled
•2 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped
•1tsp dried chilli flakes
•Salt and pepper
•Olive oil
•300g cooked chickpeas
•2L vegetable stock
•A handful small purple potatoes, peeled

1.Preheat the oven to 200˚C.
2.Spread the peppers, sweet potatoes, carrots, aubergine, red onion and garlic on two baking trays. Sprinkle with rosemary, chilli flakes, salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and use your hands to coat the vegetables in oil.
3.Place in the oven and cook for 30min. Take the trays out of the oven, add the chickpeas and place back in the oven for another 10min.
4.Transfer the vegetables to a large cooking pot, add the vegetable stock and blend until smooth, using an immersion blender. Heat on a low heat for a couple of minutes before serving.
5.To make the purple crisps, using a vegetable peeler, cut very fine slices. Put them in a bowl, add a drizzle of olive oil and mix with your hands to coat the potatoes in oil. Spread them on a baking tray covered in baking paper and place in the oven on 200˚C for about 20-25min until crispy. Sprinkle over the soup.

Soupe de Début d’Automne aux Légumes Rôtis et Chips Violets – pour 6 à 8 personnes
•3 poivrons jaunes, épépinés et coupés en morceaux
•2 patates douces, coupées en cubes
•4 carottes, coupées en morceaux
•1 aubergine, coupée en morceaux
•1 oignon rouge, pelé et coupé en quartiers
•4 gousses d’ail, pelées
•2 branches de romarin, émincées
•1cc de piment séché concassé
•Sel et poivre
•Huile d’olive
•300g de pois chiches cuits
•2L de bouillon de légumes
•Une poignée de petites pommes de terre violettes, pelées

1.Préchauffer le four sur 200˚C.
2.Etaler les poivrons, patates douces, carottes, aubergines, oignon et ail sur deux plaques à four. Parsemer de romarin, piment, sel et poivre. Arroser d’huile d’olive et mélanger avec les mains pour bien imprégner les légumes d’huile.
3.Mettre au four pour 30min. Sortir les plaques du four, ajouter les pois chiches et remettre au four 10min.
4.Transférer les légumes dans une marmite, ajouter le bouillon de légumes et mixer à l’aide d’un mixeur plongeur jusqu'à l’obtention d’une texture lisse. Réchauffer à feu doux quelques instants avant de servir.
5.Pour faire les chips violettes, couper de très fines rondelles de pomme de terre à l’aide d’un couteau éplucheur. Les mettre dans un bol, arroser d’un filet d’huile et bien mélanger. Les étaler sur une plaque à four recouverte de papier cuisson et mettre au four préchauffé à 200˚C pendant 20-25min jusqu'à ce qu’elles soient craquantes. Parsemer sur la soupe au moment de servir.

September 30, 2014

Slow-Roast Tomatoes - Toolbox

It’s time for a new article for the toolbox. As autumn is now starting to settle, it is perfect timing to still enjoy the last few remains of summer flavours and preserve produce. Tomatoes are still available, but can now lack the amazing sun-drenched taste they had in the summer. One of the best ways of enhancing their flavour it to slow-roast them. They shrivel during the roasting process and get packed with aromas, in what makes a supra-delicious staple, that you will always want to have available in your pantry.

So, to make the slow roast tomatoes, make sure you have plenty of time ahead of you at home, as the oven will stay on for a looong time, on a low temperature. Only a few ingredients are needed, and you might notice that the roasting time varies depending on the size of your tomatoes. Small tomatoes such as cherry toms will only need about 4 hours, while if you use large ones, they might need about 6-7 hours. As the oven will be on for a while, it can be a good idea to double the quantities and make a big batch in one go. The tomatoes will keep for a week or two in a glass container in the fridge, but if you’d like to keep them for longer, you can easily freeze them for later.

To eat the slow-roast tomatoes, you can include them in salads, sandwiches, tomato sauce or as a pizza garnish, amongst other things.

Let’s celebrate nature’s abundance and take time to slowly prepare, preserve and savour our food.

Slow-Roast Tomatoes
•1kg tomatoes
•2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
•1tbsp herbes de Provence
•2tbsp brown sugar

1.Preheat the oven to 110°C.
2.Cut the tomatoes in half and place them on a baking tray covered with baking paper cut side up.
3.Sprinkle them with the garlic, dry herbs and sugar and place in the oven.
4.Leave to cook in the oven for some time between 4 and 7 hours, depending on the size and water content of the tomatoes (cherry tomatoes will need the least time whilst big ones will need longer).
5.Leave to cool down then keep in a glass jar in the fridge for up to a week.

Tomates Confites
•1kg de tomates
•2 gousses d’ail, pelées et émincées
•1cs d’herbes de Provence
•2cs de sucre complet

1.Préchauffer le four sur 110°C.
2.Couper les tomates en deux et les mettre sur une plaque à four recouverte de papier sulfurisé, côté bombé en dessous.
3.Parsemer d’ail, d’herbes de Provence et de sucre et mettre au four.
4.Laisser confire au four pendant de 4 à 7 heures, en fonction de leur taille et de leur contenance en eau (des tomates cerises prendront le moins de temps et les grosses tomates le plus).
5.Laisser refroidir et garder au réfrigérateur pendant environ une semaine.

September 22, 2014

Spelt Flatbreads

Flatbreads are found in many forms in different cultures all over the world, and consist of a simple mix of flour, water and salt, flattened into thin dough. While preparing and cooking the flatbreads, I imagined myself working at a street food stall somewhere in the Middle East or Asia, with flour all over my kitchen, the steaming hot skillet on the hob and the breads piling up on the side. Back to the reality of my own kitchen, I found these fantastic as the base for a lunch or dinner. The flatbreads are versatile and can be used a bit like a pizza base, with toppings, or rolled into a wrap/sandwich. I opted for two different toppings. The first had a base of ricotta and top cherry tomatoes with olive oil and seasoning and rocket leaves. The second consisted of sautéed courgettes and pine nuts. Only a few examples of what you could have them with.

Happy cooking!

Spelt Flatbreads – makes 10
•300g spelt flour
•A pinch of salt
•200ml water

1.Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the middle. Add the water and mix until you form a ball of dough.
2.Knead the dough on a floured work surface for about 10min, then place in an oiled bowl for about 30min.
3.When ready to cook the flatbreads, divide the dough into 10 smaller balls. One by one, using a rolling pin, flatten them into a thin circle on a floured work surface, then pass them from one hand to the other to shake off the excess flour. Heat a skillet or griddle pan on a high heat. Place one flatbread in it. Cook for about 20-30sec, then flip it over with a spatula and cook for another 20-30sec. Set aside on a plate and repeat until all the flatbreads are cooked.

Pains Plats d’Epeautre – pour 10 pains
•300g de farine d’épeautre
•1 pincée de sel
•200ml d’eau

1.Mélanger la farine et le sel dans un saladier et y creuser un puits. Ajouter l’eau et mélanger jusqu’à l’obtention d’une boule de pâte.
2.Pétrir la pâte sur un plan de travail fariné pendant une dizaine de minutes, puis placer dans un bol huilé, couvrir et laisser reposer 30min.
3.Lorsque vous êtes prêts à cuire les pains, diviser la pâte en 10 petites boules. Une à une, à l’aide d’un rouleau à pâtisserie, les étaler en un cercle fin, puis prendre un cercle à plat dans la main, et le faire passer d’une main à l’autre pour enlever l’excès de farine. Faire chauffer une poêle en fonte à feu chaud. Mettre un pain plat dedans. Le faire cuire 20-30sec, puis le retourner avec une spatule et le faire cuire encore 20-30sec. Mettre de côté sur une assiette, et répéter jusqu'à ce que tous les pains soient cuits.

September 15, 2014

Early Autumn Frozen Cheesecake

We’ve been blessed by the most beautiful of Indian Summers. Days are still incredibly hot and sunny and the ocean is at its warmest. September is a bit of a magical month, the time of year when beaches have become empty again, but it all still retains the glory of summer days. At the market I’ve however noticed that the produce on the stalls are more and more tending towards autumnal flavours and colours. There is such abundance to choose from.

I don’t make cheesecakes very often, but I am totally fond of this one, which we had a couple of times already, varying the fruits used. The base layer is so good that I thought it could also be used for making energy bars, if you fancied trying that. The honey marries to perfection with the sheep yogurt, and the lot is vibrant, fruity and refreshing – a purple power cheesecake!

PS: one of my recipes is featured in the latest issue of Yummy Magazine. Click here to read the mag.

Early Autumn Frozen Cheesecake – serves 12
•6 red plums, pitted and chopped
•1tbsp vanilla sugar
•150g sunflower seeds
•150g almonds
•12 medjool dates, pitted
•2tbsp coconut oil
•A pinch of salt
•500g sheep’s milk yogurt (or yogurt of choice)
•100ml runny honey
•Plums, grapes, figs and blood peaches, to top up

1.Start by preparing a plum compote by stewing the plums with the vanilla sugar in a small saucepan on a gentle heat until soft and cooked. Set aside to cool down completely.
2.Preheat the oven to 170°C. Place the sunflower seeds and almonds on a large baking tray and put in the oven for about 10min until fragrant and golden. Leave to cool down.
3.In a food processor, blend the seeds and almonds together with the dates, coconut oil and salt, until you obtain a sticky paste. Spread it across the bottom of an 18cm round loose-bottom cake dish, lined with baking paper. Press the mixture with your hands across the bottom of the dish.
4.Pour the compote over the base, in an even layer.
5.Mix the yogurt with the honey and pour over the compote. To create swirls, insert a skewer in the yogurt and swirl in some of the compote.
6.Place in the freezer overnight to set.
7.Take out of the freezer at least 1hour before serving. Unmold from the cake tin and spread over the fruits of your choice.
8.Place leftovers back in the freezer.

Cheesecake Glacé de Début d’Automne – pour 12 personnes
•6 prunes rouges, dénoyautées et émincées
•1cs de sucre vanillé
•150g de graines de tournesol
•150g d’amandes
•12 dattes Medjool, dénoyautées
•2cs d’huile de noix de coco
•1 pincée de sel
•500g de fromage blanc de brebis (ou yaourt au choix)
•100ml de miel liquide
•Prunes, raisin, figues et pêches de vigne pour décorer

1.Préparer une compote de prunes, en les faisant frémir sur feux doux dans une petite casserole avec le sucre vanillé, jusqu'à ce qu’elles soient réduites en compote. Laisser refroidir complètement.
2.Préchauffer le four sur 170°C. Répartir les graines de tournesol et amandes sur une plaque à four et les enfourner pour environ 10min, jusqu'à ce qu’elles soient dorées. Laisser refroidir.
3.Mettre dans un mixeur les graines et amandes avec les dattes, l’huile de coco et le sel, et mixer jusqu'à l’obtention d’une pâte collante. Verser dans un moule rond de 18cm de diamètre à fond amovible, recouvert de papier sulfurisé. Presser le mélange dans le fond du moule avec les mains.
4.Verser la compote sur la base.
5.Mélanger le fromage blanc avec le miel et verser sur la compote. Pour créer des petits tourbillons, insérer une pique en bois dans le mélange liquide et tracer des spirales pour faire apparaitre la compote dans le fromage blanc.
6.Mettre à prendre au congélateur pendant une nuit.
7.Sortir du congélateur 1h avant de server. Démouler et parsemer de fruits, juste avant de servir.
8.Remettre les restes au congélateur.