December 21, 2013

Solstice Superfood Truffles

Treats that are good for you? In this festive season where sweets, cakes, biscuits and chocolates are a galore, it is nice to know that you can make treats and eat them without feeling guilty about it. Yes, really. The two main ingredients of these babies are no other than dates and tahini. To be fair, they are probably closer to fudge (both in taste and texture) than truffles, but because it’s Christmas, I wanted them to feel festive. The added bonus is the superfoods that perfectly blend in the recipe.

If you’ve never heard of superfoods (although not a scientific term as such), these are foods found in nature which are highly nutrient dense and come with a plenty of health benefits. Various types of superfoods include green superfoods, fruit and nuts superfoods, bee superfoods, seaweed superfoods and herb superfoods. Let me introduce you to three of them today:

• Hemp seeds: the hemp seed is a high protein seed containing all the essential amino acids that the body cannot produce. It is very rich in essential fatty acids, including Omega 3 and Omega 6, as well as iron, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus. It is also considered as a vegetarian protein that is easily digestible. You could use the seeds to top up your breakfast, in a smoothie, in pesto, in salads, etc.

• Maca powder: maca is a root, grown in the mountains of Peru. Maca’s benefits have long been valued. It is rich in vitamins B, C and E and a great source of calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and amino acids. It is often known as an aphrodisiac as it promotes sexual functions for both men and women, as well as balancing hormones and increasing fertility. Last but not least, when consumed on a regular basis, maca can increase energy levels and stamina, making it a favourite of athletes.

• Raw cacao powder: raw cacao is filled with iron, dietary fibres, calcium, zinc, potassium and antioxidants. It helps releasing neurotransmitters that release feel-good hormones and stimulates the secretion of endorphins for a mild mood boost.

Today is the winter solstice, and at this time of year filled with magical energies, what is better than sharing the gift of food with loved ones, such as these energy balls, filled with superfoods to make you feel and look good?

Wishing you a happy solstice and a very happy Christmas xx

Solstice Superfood Truffles – makes 18 to 20 truffles
• 20 medjool dates, pitted
• 2tbsp tahini
• 2tsp raw cacao powder
• 2tsp maca powder
• Hemp seeds

1. Place the dates, tahini, cacao powder and maca powder in the bowl of a food processor. Turn on and process until the mixture comes together into a ball.
2. Scatter hemp seeds onto a plate. Take 1tsp of the date mixture and roll it in your hands to shape a truffle. Roll it into the hemp seeds until it is covered in seeds. Set aside and repeat until all of the date mixture has been used.
3. Place in the fridge for 2 hours to firm up and enjoy. Can keep in the fridge (if they last that long) for a few days.

Truffes aux Superaliments – pour 18 à 20 truffes
• 20g de dattes medjool, dénoyautées
• 2cs de tahini
• 2cc de poudre de cacao cru
• 2cc de poudre de maca
• Graines de chanvre

1. Mettre les dattes dans le bol d’un robot avec le tahini, la poudre de cacao et la poudre de maca et mettre en route jusqu’à ce que le mélange forme une boule.
2. Répartir les graines de chanvre sur une assiette. Prendre 1cc du mélange et le rouler entre les mains pour former une petite boule. La rouler dans les graines de chanvre jusqu’à ce qu’elle en soit couverte. Mettre de côté et répéter jusqu’à épuisement.
3. Mettre au réfrigérateur pendant 2h, puis déguster. Se garde au frais pendant quelques jours.


December 09, 2013

Discover Exeter (for Foodies)

If you’ve been caught in the Christmas madness, I invite you to take a break and find out a little bit about my home town and where to find its best food places.

Exeter, Devon, United-Kingdom is where I’ve called home for the past four and something years. When we moved here, the place was new to both Luke and I and we didn’t think we would stay for very long. It has taken us a little bit of time to fully appreciate Exeter and discover it from the inside out. It is a medium size city, which still has got plenty of independent shops and eateries. Over the past year or so, by chance or by word of mouth, we’ve found out about a few gems, our favourites often being places that don’t necessarily catch the eyes at first sight, and are truly authentic.

Here is a list of some of our favourite cafés, restaurants, food shops, etc. There are still many to discover and if you know of any special place, feel free to share in the comments below.

Cafés & Restaurants:

• Dinosaur Café (5 New North Road, Exeter, EX4 4HH): Turkish restaurant and mezze bar, very friendly staff, delicious and authentic food

Mashawi (44 Sidwell Street, Exeter, EX4 6NS): favourite Middle-Eastern restaurant, try the falafels wraps

• Herbies (15 North Street, Exeter, EX4 3QS): cosy vegetarian restaurant, daily board in addition to menu

The Plant (1 Cathedral Yard, EX1 1HJ): another vegetarian hangout, yummy cakes and lemonades

Curry Leaf (50-51 North Street, Exeter, EX4 3QR): south Indian specialities

Tye Pye Dong (175 Sidwell Street, Exeter, EX4 6RH): Asian noodle bar, communal tables, cheap and fuss free

• Jamie’s (15 Magdalen Road, Exeter, EX2 4TA): one of Magdalene Road’s independent eateries, cheap, friendly & delicious

The Coffee Cellar (22 The Quay, Exeter, EX2 4AP): down on the quays, sit outside and enjoy toasted tea cakes for breakfast

Boston Tea Party (84 Queen Street, Exeter, EX4 3RP): often busy, but always great for cakes, smoothies, teas and salads

Café Espresso (12 Castle Street, Exeter, EX4 3PT): tiny café near the castle that makes great toasted sandwiches

Gourmandine Crêperie (14 Catherine Street, Exeter, EX1 1EU): when in need of crêpes, this is the place where to go

Tea on the Green (2 Cathedral Close, Exeter, EX1 1EZ): best Devonshire cream tea in town

The Exploding Bakery (1B Central Station Buildings, Exeter, EX4 3SB): the place to go to indulge in cakes or grab a soup before catching your train

Devon Coffee (88 Queen Street, Exeter, EX4 3RP): for coffee lovers, delish cakes, pastries and toasted sandwiches


The Bike Shed Theatre Bar (162-163 Fore Street, Exeter, EX4 3AT): eclectic decoration and great cocktail menu

The Cosy Club (1 Southernhay Gardens, Exeter, EX1 1SG): quirky and another good selection of cocktails

Rendez-Vous Wine Bar (38 Southernhay East, Exeter, EX1 1PE): smart and with a good selection of wines, great food too

Speak Easy Cocktail Lounge (60 New North Road, Exeter, EX4 4EP): if not closed for a private booking, this is another great place to go to for cocktails

The Rusty Bike (67 Howell Road, Exeter, EX4 4LZ): popular pub

Food Shops & Places

The Real Food Store (11 Paris Street, Exeter, EX1 2JB): shop run by locals that sell local foods, in store bakery.

Seasons (8 Well Street, Exeter, EX4 6QR): macrobiotic and healthy little food shop, best place in Exeter for healthy foods

• Best one (120-121 Sidwell Street, Exeter, EX4 6RY): up Sidwell street, good selection of foreign foods and vegetables

• Farmers Market (corner of South Street and Fore Street, every Thursday): weekly market, local, organic and beautiful produce from vegetables to fruits, meats, fish, baked goods and flowers

Whistle Wines (2 Central Station Buildings, Exeter, EX4 3SB): always good advice, great wines, the shop sometimes organises wine tastings

Bon Goût Delicatessen (45 Magdalen Road, Exeter, EX2 4TA) : when looking for something for a special occasion

The Exeter Trails leaflets have recently been launched and provide you with great themed itineraries of independent shops and eateries in Exeter. Check these out!

I hope this will give you plenty of ideas if ever you come to visit lovely Exeter...

December 01, 2013

Red Rice Stuffed Squash

My shopping trolley was super heavy last week when I came back from my weekly trip to the farmers’ market. In it, I not only had a large bag full of apples that my colleague had very kindly given me, but also a load of different squashes. After making the spicy squash muffins, I was keen on using the vegetable in more of a savoury way. We had creamy butternut squash pasta, roasted squash and spaghetti squash and kale bowl just to name but a few. The one recipe that stood out the most for me was the stuffed squash I made at the weekend. A super comforting dish, that looks great when placed on the table. It’s so much fun having your own little squash in your plate! I had made loads and we had them reheated a few nights in a row. I found they were getting better and better each night, as the rice was becoming crispy and the squash flesh incredibly tender. I used different varieties of squash such as harlequin, kabosha and red kuri– a very pleasant way of experimenting with their flavours and texture. I’m feeling a little bit squashed out at the minute, but was really keen of making the most of this wonderful vegetable as long as it’s in season.

With this post I am taking part in an autumnal recipe competition, entitled ‘Couleurs & Saveurs d’Automne’ organised on the lovely blog Epices et moi.

Red Rice Stuffed Winter Squash – serves 4
• 200g red rice
• 4 small squash
• A drizzle of olive oil + 2tbsp
• 100g sunflower seeds
• Seeds from 1 pomegranate
• 50g sun dried tomatoes, soaked in warm water for 20min
• 2tsp sumac
• Salt and pepper

1. Cook the rice according to the packet instructions. Drain and set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 190°C.
3. Cut the squash in half horizontally, about 1/3 of the way down. Scoop out the seeds. Brush the inside with olive oil.
4. Drain the tomatoes, keeping the soaking water. Chop them. In a large bowl, mix the cooked rice with the sunflower seeds, pomegranate seeds and sundried tomatoes. Season with the sumac, salt and pepper, 2tbsp olive oil and 2tbsp of the tomatoes soaking water. Stuff the squash with the rice and place their lid on top.
5. Put in the oven for about 1hour, until the flesh of the squash is completely cooked and tender.
6. Serve with a green salad.

Courges Farcies au Riz Rouge – pour 4 personnes
• 200g de riz rouge de Camargue
• 4 petites courges
• Un filet d’huile d’olive + 2cs
• 100g de graines de tournesol
• Graines d’une grenade
• 50g de tomates séchées, trempées dans de l’eau tiède pendant 20min
• 2cc de sumac
• Sel et poivre

1. Faire cuire le riz selon les instructions du paquet. Egoutter et mettre de côté.
2. Préchauffer le four sur 190°C.
3. Couper les courges dans l’horizontale de façon à obtenir un chapeau qui représentera environ 1/3 de la courge. Evider les courges et brosser l’intérieur au pinceau avec un filet d’huile d’olive.
4. Egoutter les tomates et mettre de côté le liquide. Les couper en petits morceaux. Dans un saladier, mélanger le riz avec les graines de tournesol, les graines de grenade et les tomates séchées. Assaisonner avec le sumac, du sel et du poivre, 2cs d’huile d’olive et 2cs du liquide des tomates. Mélanger et farcir les courges de ce mélange et placer leur chapeau sur le dessus.
5. Mettre au four pendant 1h, jusqu’à ce que la chaire des courges soit très tendre.
6. Servir avec une salade verte.