July 31, 2015

French Toast with Peaches

A plate of French toasts and fresh fruits on a wooden background

We sometimes buy bread but wait a bit too long to eat it, and it then turns rock solid. When this happens, I try not to let it go to waste and there are usually two things I tend to do: I will either make croutons to top up a salad or soup, or French toasts. And this is when the magic happens: transforming a hard loaf of bread into something utterly delicious. I often like to imagine how people first came up with a recipe, and I can totally relate to those situations when you’ve left an ingredient on the countertop for a wee bit too long but it is still edible. Making French toasts with stale bread is the perfect example for this, and a breakfast I am definitely fond of. It can be prepared in minutes, but nicely dressed with a pile of fresh/cooked fruits, and you’re on for a breakie similar to what you could have been served in a fancy café. In this instance, I prepared a topping by reducing peaches into a simple compote and sprinkling ruby red currants on top, making it a super vibrant plate. An invitation to slow down and savour long summer days...

A plate of French toasts and fresh fruits on a wooden background

French Toasts with Peach Compote – serves 2
•6 peaches, peeled and sliced
•A squeeze of lemon juice
•3tbsp unrefined raw sugar + 2tbsp
•2 eggs, beaten
•200ml plant milk
•6 thick slices stale bread
•Coconut oil or ghee
•A handful fresh red currants
•Honey, to serve

1.Start by making the compote: place the peaches, lemon juice, 2tbsp water and 3tbsp sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil, cover with a lid and leave to cook on a low heat for 15-20min until tender. Set aside.
2.In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the plant milk and 2tbsp sugar.
3.Heat a knob of coconut oil or ghee in a large frying pan. Dip the bread slices (3 at a time) in the egg mixture until soft and add to the pan. Cook for 2/3min on each side until golden, then dish out on a plate. Repeat with the remaining slices of bread.
4.To serve, top up the bread with a few spoonfuls of peach compote, sprinkle with red currants and add a drizzle of honey. Enjoy while still warm.

Pain Perdu & Compote de Pêches – pour 2 personnes
•6 pêches, pelées et coupées en tranches
•Jus de citron
•3cs de sucre complet + 2cs
•2 œufs, battus
•200ml de lait végétal
•6 larges tranches de pain rassis
•Huile de coco ou ghee
•Une poignée de groseilles rouges
•Miel

1.Préparer la compote : mettre les pêches dans une casserole avec le jus de citron, 2cs d’eau et 3cs de sucre. Porter à ébullition, couvrir et laisser cuire à feu doux pendant 15-20min, jusqu'à ce que les pêches soient tendres. Mettre de côté.
2.Dans un saladier, battre les œufs avec le lait végétal et les 2cs de sucre.
3.Faire chauffer une noix d’huile de coco ou de ghee dans une poêle. Tremper les tranches de pain (3 à la fois) dans le saladier, jusqu'à ce qu’elles ramollissent, puis les ajouter à la poêle. Cuire 2/3min de chaque côté et mettre sur une assiette. Répéter avec le reste du pain.
4.Pour servir, ajouter quelques cuillérées de compote de pêches sur le pain, parsemer de groseilles et arroser de miel. Manger chaud.

July 20, 2015

Sweet Potato Crust Pizza with Courgettes & Cherry Tomatos

A round pizza on a white background

Pursuing a healthy lifestyle is all but boring. One of the reasons is that you get so many opportunities to experiment. The kitchen becomes a bit of a laboratory for all sorts of wonderful and delicious creations (I’ll admit there are a few failures sometimes, but this is all part of the fun). I find really enjoyable to take classic dishes, and see how I can ‘healthyfy’ them – it often only takes a bit of tweaking, such as using wholesome and fresh ingredients instead of more processed ones. This is where this pizza comes into the equation. We do love a good pizza in our home, like I’m sure many of you do, and although I wouldn’t say no to a ‘classic’ pizza once in a while, I often find that they leave me bloated and with a feeling of overeating, that will take a few hours to dissipate. When I first read about vegetable-based pizza crusts (i.e. cauliflower, courgette, etc.) I thought this was totally genius, and I haven’t failed to experiment various recipes. Not only does the pizza get extra flavour from the ingredients used in the base, but it also leaves you feeling nourished but light as a feather. Here is a recipe for a sweet potato crust with a topping of courgettes, tomatoes and hazelnuts. You could of course change the topping to whatever other vegetables are in season where you live. Purists might not call this pizza, but I will dare and challenge you to try it and let me know what you think!

Have a great week!

A round pizza on a white background

Sweet Potato Crust Pizza with Courgettes & Cherry Tomatoes – serves 2 to 4
•1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed
•1tbsp chia seeds
•125g almond flour
•60g rice flour
•1tsp baking soda
•Salt and pepper
•1tsp oregano
•2tbsp olive oil
•3tbsp tomato purée
•100g mozzarella, grated
•1 small courgette, cut into ribbons
•A handful cherry tomatoes, quartered
•2tbsp hazelnuts, roughly chopped
•Basil leaves

1.Cook the sweet potato in a pan of boiling water for about 20min until tender. Drain, rinse under cold water and mash until smooth. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
2.In a small bowl, mix the chia seeds with 3tbsp water and set aside for 5min until it forms a gel-like texture.
3.In a large bowl, mix together 125g of the mashed sweet potato, the almond and rice flours, baking soda, a pinch of salt, oregano, 1tbsp olive oil and the chia gel, in order to obtain a slightly sticky dough.
4.Spread the dough on a baking tray covered with baking paper into a thin circle, using the back of a spoon or a spatula to flatten the disk. Place in the oven for 30min.
5.Spread the tomato purée on the pizza disk, then sprinkle with the grated mozzarella. Add the courgettes, tomatoes and hazelnuts. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with 1tbsp olive oil. Place in the oven for 10min. Serve with a green salad.

Pizza à la Patate Douce et sa Garniture de Courgettes & Tomates Cerises – pour 2 à 4 personnes
•1 patate douce de taille moyenne, pelée et coupée en cubes
•1cs de graines de chia
•125g d’amandes en poudre
•60g de farine de riz
•1cc de bicarbonate de soude
•Sel et poivre
•1cc d’origan séché
•2cs d’huile d’olive
•3cs de concentré de tomates
•100g de mozzarella, râpée
•1 petite courgette, coupée en rubans
•1 poignée de tomates cerise, coupées en quartiers
•2cs de noisettes, émincées
•Quelques feuilles de basilic

1.Faire cuire la patate douce dans une casserole d’eau bouillante pendant 20min, jusqu'à ce qu’elle soit tendre. Egoutter, rincer à l’eau froide et écraser au presse-purée. Préchauffer le four sur 200°C.
2.Dans un petit bol, mélanger les graines de chia avec 3cs d’eau et laisser de côté 5min jusqu'à l’obtention d’un gel.
3.Dans un saladier, mélanger 125g de purée de patate douce, l’amande en poudre, la farine de riz, le bicarbonate de soude, du sel et du poivre, l’origan, 1cs d’huile et le gel de chi, jusqu'à l’obtention d’une pâte légèrement collante.
4.Etaler la pâte en un cercle fin sur une plaque à four recouverte de papier cuisson à l’aide d’une spatule ou du dos d’une cuillère en bois. Mettre au four pour 30min.
5.Sortir la pizza du four, y étaler le concentré de tomate et parsemer de mozzarella. Ajouter les rubans de courgette, les tomates cerise et les noisettes. Assaisonner de sel et de poivre et arroser d’une cuillérée d’huile d’olive. Remettre au four pour 10min. Servir avec une salade verte.

July 02, 2015

Summer Smoothies

Three different summer smoothies

Throughout my pregnancy, I have really enjoyed snacking on smoothies. I have found that I can’t digest large meals very easily, and feel much better when spreading my food intake throughout the day. So for my mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks, I’ve naturally opted for healthy options to nourish mine and my little babe’s body, and this is when smoothies have been the perfect partner.

Admittedly, with the weather being scorching at the moment, a cool and hydrating drink is the obvious option. Below you will find three different ideas, using beautiful summer produce. Don’t hesitate to share other favourite of yours in the comments.

Happy summer! x

Summer Smoothies - Smoothies d’été

A red smoothie in a jar in the grass

Watermelon & Strawberry Smoothie – serves 2
•4 ice cubes
•½ medium watermelon, peeled and cut into chunks
•2 handfuls strawberries, hulled
•A sprig of fresh mint leaves

1. Put the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Smoothie Pastèque-Fraise – pour 2 personnes
•4 glaçons
•½ pastèque, pelée et coupée en cubes
•Une poignée de fraises, équeutées
•Quelques feuilles de menthe fraiche

1.Mettre les ingrédients dans un blender et mixer jusqu'à l’obtention d’une texture lisse. Servir.


Smoothies in small glass bottles

Cucumber, Pineapple & Basil Smoothie – serves 2
•½ pineapple, peeled and cut into chunks
•½ cucumber, cut into chunks
•A sprig of fresh basil leaves
•250ml coconut milk

1. Put the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Smoothie Concombre, Ananas et Basilic – pour 2 personnes
•½ ananas, pelé et coupé en cubes
•½ concombre, coupé en cubes
•Une poignée de feuilles de basilic fraiches
•250ml de lait de coco

1.Mettre les ingrédients dans un blender et mixer jusqu'à l’obtention d’une texture lisse. Servir.

A green smoothie in a Kilner jar

Layered Green Smoothie with Raspberries – serves 2
•2 handfuls fresh raspberries
•Juice of ½ lime
•250ml rice milk
•2 peaches, peeled and cut into chunks
•½ avocado, stoned and peeled
•1 large handful baby spinach leaves
•1tbsp hemp seeds
•1tsp spirulina (optional)

1. Place the raspberries at the bottom of each glass with a squeeze of lime juice and muddle until mashed. Place the rest of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Carefully pour over the raspberries and serve.

Smoothie Vert et Rose – pour 2 personnes
•2 poignées de framboises
•Jus d’1/2 citron vert
•250ml de lait de riz
•2 pêches, pelées et coupées en cubes
•½ avocat, pelé, dénoyauté et coupé en cubes
•1 grosse poignée de pousses d’épinards
•1cs de graines de chanvre
•1cc de spiruline en poudre (optionnel)

1. Mettre les framboises au fond des verres avec le jus de citron et écraser les en purée. Mettre les ingrédients dans un blender et mixer jusqu'à l’obtention d’une texture lisse. Verser doucement le smoothie sur les framboises. Servir.

June 26, 2015

Growing Fresh Herbs - Toolbox

Thyme in a pot

If you’ve ever liked the idea of growing your own food but are feeling a bit intimidated by it or don’t know how to go about it, growing fresh herbs/aromatics is a good place to start. There is no need to be an accomplished gardener or to have a lot of space available; a small pot or two on a windowsill or kitchen counter is enough to start with.

Fresh Mint Plant

Why grow fresh herbs?
There are many advantages to grow your own aromatics, but number one would probably be to have a fairly constant supply at your disposal to use in your cooking. Fresh herbs are sometimes all it takes to boost the flavour of a dish, they are very commonly used in cooking and for medicine use and they come with an array of health benefits, being filled with antioxidants and nutrients. When you know that half the nutritional value of herbs is lost within 30min of harvesting, growing your own will allow you to harvest small amounts only as and when you need them. You can also make sure your herbs are grown in a totally organic and natural way, without the use of any toxic fertilisers.

Growing your own is also a money-saving option, when you think of the price tag of fresh herbs at the shop.
Finally, growing your aromatics is fun, a great way to involve children, and will allow you to reconnect with nature and where your food comes from.

Basil seedlings in a zinc pot on a windowsill

How to grow fresh herbs?

Varieties
First and foremost, you’ll need to choose which herbs you want to grow! There are many different types of aromatics available. Common ones include basil, parsley, chives, coriander, rosemary, thyme, sage, tarragon, mint and dill. Depending on how much space you have available, you might pick only one or two varieties or decide to have a more comprehensive choice of herbs. My advice would be to grow herbs which you tend to use regularly in your cooking, in order to prevent waste. However, do not hesitate to get off the beaten track in terms of the varieties that you pick, and your taste buds will be amazed by what nature has to offer. For instance, did you know that there are over 600 different varieties of mint in the world?  You might want to give a try to Chocolate Mint, Bergamot Mint or Arabic Mint to name only a few...

Mint in a container

Planting & Care
You can then decide whether you will grow your herbs outdoors or indoors and in open ground or in pots. Starting growing herbs in pots is often the easiest way of having fresh herbs available year round, however, they will provide less yields than outdoor gardens.

Use organic peat-free soil-based compost, and place a small layer of clay balls or small stones at the bottom of the pot, if growing in containers, to help with drainage. If you are a beginner at growing your own food, buying already grown plants will be the easiest option. You can also grow them from seeds, following the instruction on the packet for when and how to sow them, but although I have found that some plants such as basil and parsley are pretty easy to grow from seeds, other such as thyme or tarragon have proven more challenging. Garden centres are the obvious place where to go buy your plants, but it is definitely worth considering other places too, such as farmers’ markets or plant fairs, where you might be able to find locally grown plants, a much larger choice of varieties, and most importantly will be able to get precious advice from the grower as for how to care for your plants. The internet is also a good place to get organic seeds, and you might even be able to find seed-swapping websites. When buying already grown plants, dip them (up to the rim of their pot) in a bucket of water for about 10min before transferring them to their container/soil. Then, when in place, water again.

Mint in a pot

Most herb gardens do not require the use of fertilizers; however, adding a small layer or good organic compost to the soil (when growing herbs outdoors) twice a year will provide a good amount of nutrients to the plant. Check whether your plants will need to be exposed to direct sunlight or not. Water them in the morning (ideally with collected rain water), when the soil is dry.

Some herbs are perennial such as rosemary, thyme, mint, marjoram or tarragon. It can be useful to cut the plants just above soil level in the late autumn, and they will start growing again fresh shoots in the spring. Other varieties such as basil, chervil, coriander or dill are annual and will need a new plant every year.

For specific instructions on growing different varieties of herbs, do not hesitate to refer to a gardening book or to get advice from an experienced gardener, as each plant has got specific needs.

Let me know if you grow your own herbs or have any tips to share and happy gardening!

Basil in a zinc pot

June 12, 2015

Black Cherry Scones

A circular scone cake, sliced

Going for a wander or a drive in the inland Basque Country, the chances that you will see a lot of cherry trees, wild or cultivated, are very high. Black cherries are indeed a local delicacy, and a village of the name of Itxassou has even made it its speciality, and is famous for its black cherry jam that locals enjoy with slices of ewe cheese.

A bowl of black cherries, on a bench

Cherries are a fruit which I affectionate a lot, a symbol of seasonal eating. Their season is short and roughly extends from May till early July, depending on where you live. The pleasure of biting into a plump and juicy cherry is one of life’s little pleasures which comes back as a delight every year. Cherries vary in colour, shape and taste, from tart to very sweet, and they go along savoury dishes as well as sweet ones. Cherries offer many health benefits: they are rich in minerals including potassium, calcium, iron and copper. They are also packed with antioxidants and fibres - a real powerfood!

Slices of black cherry scones on a wooden background

To say that I am slightly obsessed with cherries at the moment would be a bit of an understatement, but it is one of these foods which you need to make the most of during the short period of time when they are available. A fellow blogger posted a photo for cherry scones on Instagram the other day, and the photo couldn’t get out of my head...I had to bake cherry scones! This was easily done, scones being such a quick and simple baking project. They were at their best fresh out of the oven, smeared with a dollop of berry jam. I imagine that adding dark chocolate chunks would make a lovely addition too, but even without, this was a treat made in heaven!

Slices of black cherry scones and cherries on a wooden background

If you love cherries, you might want to check recipes from the archives such as Coconut Cherry Clafoutis, Chocolate & Cherry Muffins, Cherry & Rocket Salad with Ricotta or Wild Cherry & Fromage Blanc Verrines. Enjoy!

Black Cherry Scones – makes 8
Note: I used rice cream in my recipe, but you could very well use dairy heavy cream instead
•125g light spelt flour
•125g wholewheat flour
•2tsp baking powder
•50g unrefined sugar
•A pinch of salt
•2 handful black cherries, pitted
•125g ricotta
•125ml cream

1.Preheat the oven to 220°C.
2.In a large bowl, mix the flours with the baking powder, sugar and salt. Add the cherries, ricotta and cream, and mix until you obtain a dough.
3.Transfer the dough to a baking sheet covered with baking paper and flatten it into a 3cm-high circle. Cut 8 wedges into the circle. Place in the oven and bake for 15-20min until golden and cooked through.
4.Take out of the oven and serve while still warm.

Scones aux Cerises Noires – pour 8 scones
Note : j’ai utilisée de la crème de riz dans ma recette, mais vous pourriez très bien la remplacer par de la crème fraiche épaisse.
•125g de farine de petit épeautre
•125g de farine de blé complet
•2cs de poudre à lever
•50g de sucre complet
•1 pincée de sel
•2 poignées de cerises noires, dénoyautées
•125g de ricotta
•125ml de crème

1.Préchauffer le four sur 220°C.
2.Dans un saladier, mélanger les farines avec la poudre à lever, le sucre et le sel. Ajouter les cerises, la ricotta et la crème et mélanger jusqu'à l’obtention d’une pâte.
3.Transférer la pâte sur une plaque à four recouverte de papier cuisson et l’étaler en un cercle de 3cm d’épaisseur. Couper le cercle en 8 parts. Mettre au four pour 15-20min jusqu'à ce que les scones soient dorés et cuits.
4.Sortir du four et servir encore tiède.

A black cherry scone cake, sliced