NY Style Blueberry WOW Cheesecake

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People around here are trying to find the summer, it is nowhere to be seen. Rain is our constant companion and dark mornings are to be expected and so, instead of colourful salads, we are all thinking about baking. No need to be fit if the bikini is safely stored away.  The first time I tried a New York style baked cheesecake I was living in London. I was curious, so i looked up a recipe and gave it a go. It was the BBC good food website one, which later became the object of a popular campaign when the BBC announced their intention to close the site. Luckily for us, all britons and some adopted Londoners like myself signed a petition to stop this from happening and today you can still find some of the best recipes in the world up on the net, for everyone to enjoy.

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This cake rocked my world. I had until then only tried non bake cream cheese cakes with homemade strawberry jam my mum used to make and it although it was a good cake, it just couldn’t compete with the fluffy creaminess of this amazing creation.

Ever since, I tried the cake in a famous bakery in NY and in pretty much all the restaurants that feature it on their menu, with various results. I have a low carb, low fat alternative to this recipe that I have posted before but this one, is the original, absolutely scrumptious version by BBC, to which I have made a couple of changes (the icing on that one was not a blueberry one) and I am happy to present to you today.

Absolute showstopper. Enjoy!

For the crust

  • 85g butter melted, plus extra for the tin
  • 140g crumbed digestive biscuit
  • 1 tbsp sugar

For the cheesecake filling

  • 900 gr cream cheese
  • 250g golden caster sugar
  • 1½ tsp vanilla extract
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon (about 2 tsp)
  • 1½ tsp lemon juice
  • 3 large eggs, plus 1 yolk
  • 200ml soured cream

For the cheesecake topping

  • 100 gr frozen blueberries
  • 20 gr of sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Fresh blueberries and mint to decorate

How to…

Position an oven shelf in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to fan 160C to 180C. Line the base of a 23cm springform cake tin with parchment paper. For the crust, melt the butter in a medium pan. Stir in the biscuit crumbs and sugar so the mixture is evenly moistened. Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan and bake for 10 minutes. Cool on a rack while preparing the filling.

For the filling, increase the oven temperature to fan 200C/conventional 240C/gas 9. In bowl beat the soft cheese at medium-low speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low, gradually add the sugar, and a pinch of salt, scraping down the sides of the bowl and the whisker twice.

Continue by adding the vanilla, lemon zest and juice. Whisk in the eggs and yolk, one at a time, scraping the bowl and whisk at least twice. Stir in the soured cream until smooth, then measure 200ml. Continue on low speed as you add the measured soured cream. Whisk to blend, but don’t over-beat. The batter should be smooth, light and somewhat airy.

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Brush the sides of the springform tin with melted butter and put on a baking sheet. Pour in the filling – if there are any lumps, sink them using a knife – the top should be as smooth as possible. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to fan 90C and bake for 25 minutes more. If you gently shake the tin, the filling should have a slight wobble. Turn off the oven and open the oven door for a cheesecake that’s creamy in the centre, or leave it closed if you prefer a drier texture. Let cool in the oven for 2 hours. The cheesecake may get a slight crack on top as it cools.

In a pot boil the frozen blueberries, the sugar and lemon juice for the topping for 10 minutes, then leave to cool and add the pectin or agar agar and whisk with a fork. leave to cool almost completely and then spread over the cheesecake right to the edges. Cover loosely with foil and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Run a round-bladed knife around the sides of the tin to loosen any stuck edges. Unlock the side, slide the cheesecake off the bottom of the tin onto a plate, then slide the parchment paper out from underneath.

Mushroom Croquetas

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Throwing away food is a crime. The rich minority of the world expects their tomatoes to be perfectly round and red, immaculate carrots, zucchinis, aubergines… all our fruit must look like it came out of a food magazine. The ugly vegetables get thrown away, together with tons of food that runs out of date both in the supermarkets and at home.

When legislation on food is there to protect us, there are some things that hace been taken too far. Recently we started having expiration dates on eggs for God’s sake! If an egg is bad, you will know. A bad egg stinks to the point of making you sick. I have known people to throw away perfectly fine eggs just because they were 3 days overdue. I have eaten the equivalent to a gallon of out of date yogurt while growing up. I am here, I am fine, I have no allergies and I have a strong stomach. Please don’t go around now thinking that it is ok to eat rotten food, but we should definitely reexamine our standards and be better at managing our supplies.

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Back in the day, no food turned to waste, we just couldn’t afford it and so, many recipes were born out of women’s creativity to turn leftovers into a meal. One the most famous recipes in Spain for this, is Croquetas. They are small balls of bechamel, white sauce if you prefer, cooked with whatever had been leftover from a bigger meal. It could be scraps of cured ham, maybe cod crumbles, maybe chicken from a broth… It is quite a messy recipe, it does make your kitchen dirty and it takes a bit of patience. On top of this, they are not healthy food at all. They are fried and breaded so I will not go around recommending them for people that want to lose weight but they are absolutely delicious  and as such, I thought I would share with you this lovely recipe so you can make it for your friends and celebrations.

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They good thing is that they can be prepared in advance, frozen and once you make them, you will have plenty for a while.

Ingredients (makes 25)

2 tbsp. plain flour

1 litre of full fat milk

25 gr. of butter

1 small onion

125 gr. mushrooms

Olive oil

1 egg

1 cup of breadcrumbs

salt & pepper

How to…

Peel and chop the onion very finely, fry in low heat with a small amount of olive oil until they turn transparent. Add the clean sliced mushrooms and salt. Let cook until they loose most of the water in them. Then add the butter, let it melt and add the four and toast it until it looks golden brown.

It is now time to start adding your milk, little my little, about half a glass of milk each time and in between, do no stop stirring the mixture so it starts blending like a normal bechamel. Every time it starts to dry out, add more milk. You want to do that until you run out of milk, correct the salt level and keep stirring until the bechamel is thick enough and doesn’t stick to the pan any more. It can take up to 30 minutes of continuous stirring, so it is pretty labour intense.

Once the sauce is done, pour it on a large plate or tray and cover with transparent film making sure it doesn’t leave any pockets of air between the film and the mixture, this is in order to avoid a “skin” from forming on top of it.

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Let it cool down completely, even overnight.

In a bowl, beat up the egg and in another bowl pour the breadcrumbs, then take the film of the mixture and with a spoon, start making balls of around 2 to 3 centimetre diameter. It will be easier to do it you oil your hands before to stop them from sticking to your hands. Once you are happy with the ball roll it in egg, then in breadcrumbs and then keep aside. Once you are done with all the croquetas you can fry them or keep them for later in the fridge for about 5 or 6 days or frozen for up to 6 months.

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To fry them, you have to either use a frier or a small pan with enough oil to cover the balls up to the middle (about 2 to 3 fingers of oil). The oil needs to be very hot and they need to be fried in small batches to keep the oil temperature up and so they are not too close together, since they could break.

You only need to fry them for about 45 seconds to 1 minute on each side, until they are golden brown.

Mediterranean Hake

 

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If you live by the sea you will know what I am talking about. It’s a sound every child that grew up with the scent of sea salt in the nostrils can identify. It is a faint, almost fading eerie sound of bells that come from the sea at down. Some days are clear but where I come from, fog is generally the background setting for the fishermen that return to shore. It grows in intensity as the waves rock the small boats and the engines buzz their way into the port. It means fresh fish. It means tired men. Fishing is done at night, is then when hakes are catch. They live fifty meters under the surface of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and they are closely related to cods. They are long, thin, slippery predators that feed on lanternfish on the continental shelf. They eat, and they are eaten, the circle of life.

They have a subtle flavour, soft and flaky that makes is a commercially important species and the star of a myriad of traditional dishes in the old continent. Modern fishing techniques, on those giant boats that carry no bells, have polluted the water with anisakis making a parasite that was seldom found in the fish an everyday problem. You see, I recently discovered why, apparently fish are processed as they are caught and the byproduct of the cleaning of the fish, it’s thrown back to the sea, where other fish feed on it. Sounds as an intrinsically good idea, until you realise that we are spreading a disease that was naturally contained before in the fish and that actually causes severe allergic reactions on human beings, well done us. Again.

If you buy your fish at a decent fishmonger, they will be able to spot the parasite if it’s there and remove it, and it is totally safe to eat. It is a highly nutritious fish, low in fat and very good for children. It doesn’t have too many bones and it’s not too “fishy” (if you know what I mean).

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I have paired my hake today with fresh tomato relish with herbs (and no sugar) and some wholegrain couscous. The fish has been cooked in the microwave (steamed) and has a lemon rind, fresh basil and olive oil dressing. All those flavours are very Mediterranean and pair perfectly with one another. It can be made in advance and just heated up in the oven so it’s great if you have people over, pretty easy and fuss free. This recipe is gluten free and low GI which makes it appropriate for low carb diets and diabetic patients. Should you be vegan and not eat fish, tempeh is a great alternative for this recipe.

Ingredients (serves 2):

2 large ripe tomatoes

2 fillets of hake

60 gr. of gluten free couscous

1 bush fresh basil

Fresh Oregano (or dried if you cannot get hold of it)

1 lemon

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt & Pepper

How to…

Chop the tomatoes in small square pieces and cook them in 1/2 tsp. of olive oil with a pinch of salt and pepper and the fresh herbs also chopped. Let the water evaporate until the it acquires the consistency of a sauce, tomatoes are very high in water and it could ruin your dish later on.

Prepare the couscous according to the packaging instructions, usually is twice the volume of water that the one of couscous, pinch of salt and a dollop of butter, you can use olive oil too instead. You can add some sultanas and some toasted pine nuts to the couscous to make it more a more substancial meal (for lunch instead of dinner for example).

Clean the hake fillets and wash them. To cook them in the microwave set them in a tray with 3 tbsp of water per fillet and cover them with transparent film. Cook at 800w for 2 minutes and check if they are ready. Be careful and don’t put them for too long the first time around because it is very easy to overcook fish in the microwave. You can always put more time on them if needed.

For the fish sauce: grate the lemon rind and put it in a mortar, add the fresh basil and mash with pestle. Add a pinch of salt, dash of lemon juice and then carefully mix in 2 tbsp. of good extra virgin olive oil. serve the dish as per the picture if you wish or get creative.

Bon appetit!

Protein Green tea Nice cream with Cacao Nibs

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I come from the best place in the world. It’s not (only) me who says this, we are very privileged, and i like to remind myself of that as often as possible. Being grateful is part of being happy. I was born in a misty coastal region in the most septentrional part of the Iberian peninsula, this place, never conquered, never surrendered is called the Basque Country.

Nested between mountains and green as an emerald, this land goes to die in the winding, rocky cliffs of the Atlantic Ocean. Not a turquoise, sky reflecting sea… a wild, severe and feisty one more like that was claimed the lifes of many fishermen and sailors through the centuries. It’s an ancient land, one were its people speak the oldest, most mysterious language in Europe, of unknown origins. A secret language catalogued by the UN as “the hardest language to learn in the world” followed by Mandarin.

It rains a lot, that is why it’s kept it so clean and beautiful and the reason why the land blesses the inhabitants with flavourful vegetable products. The ample cold waters of the sea provide some of the tastiest fishes in the world, our green pasture feeds excellent cattle and we serve our steaks over coal in pieces that are in excess of 1 kilo of weight.

Maybe that is where my love of food first come. It is difficult not to be a foodie in the Basque Country, and it is difficult not to be disappointed when you travel. From here, I want to invite you all to come and visit my beautiful, peaceful and fantastic part of the world, you wont regret it.

Today, I want to share a small snack recipe that can double up as a breakfast of post workout meal. It is made with green tea, since Japan is one of the few places that I have travelled to and felt that the food culture was equally respectful of the raw material as my own. Different yes, but similar in its perfectionism, and for that, here is my Matcha Nice cream with Vanilla protein. I hope you like it.

Ingredients (serves 2)

1 frozen chopped banana

1 scoop vanilla protein

1 tsp Matcha green tea

Dash of coconut milk

2 mini matcha choc chip cookies

Cacao nibs

Rose petals (dried)

How to…

In a blended, mix the banana, vanilla and matcha with a dash of coconut milk. Adjust the milk to your desired consistency, I wanted mine a bit firm so I put a little less.

Serve and adorne with japanese choc chip cookies, cacao nibs and rose petals.

Your children will love it, since it was cookies and everything is super healthy so win win! Have a lovely week peeps!

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Healthy Strawberries & Cream

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Not all strawberries are created equal. Nowadays they always look big red and gorgeous but they don’t always taste as they should. The best way to know if the strawberries are flavourful is to smell them! If they smell potently like they should, then you are on to something good.

Even so, if you want to make your strawberries shine and take them to a whole new level, or simply save some that weren’t all that good to start with, all you have to do is “confit” them.

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The problem with Strawberries & Cream is generally that the cream is incredibly high in saturated fat and well, it isn’t something to eat everyday in all honesty. The good news is that I found a great substitute that is super creamy and sweet but has a lot less fat than the original recipe.

For the Strawberry confit:

500 gr fresh strawberries

1 lemon ( the juice)

1 tsp. sucralose (or your sweetener of choice)

For the “cream”

340 gr. Fat free Greek Yogurt

50 gr. Mascarpone cheese

How to…

Chop the strawberries in very small pieces and place them in a bowl. Squeeze the juice of one lemon, and the sweetener and heat them up in the microwave for 30 seconds. Take them out, whisk them with a fork to mix in the juices and then heat them up another 30 seconds. Leave them out to cool down and then keep them in the fridge.

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To make the cream, whisk the yogurt and the mascarpone together and split into 3 to 4 portions depending if you want it as dessert, snack or light breakfast. This is a high protein non added sugar recipe so feel free to give it to the kids, awesome way to eat more fruit!

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Blue Protein Nice Cream

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I write. I have been writing since I was about 11, when I finished reading The Lord of the Rings. I have always had a thing for fantasy and sci fi and a while ago. I have decided that maybe it would be a good idea to share some tales with you.

So since the aim of this blog is to provide nutritional advice to acquire and maintain a healthy weight, but in a delicious way, sharing tales is not really something you would expect from me. However, I am asking for permission, to all of you. I wonder if you would mind me doing so? And if you don’t, I would like you to challenge me with themes!

Hit me with your best shot and I will do my best to make a short tale with it. Who knows, maybe together we will come up with something good.

For now, let me share with you this protein nice cream recipe, perfect for the coming summer months! Low in fat, slow burning carbs, vegan and high in protein. No added sugar or nasties, great to make for the kids, and for the not so young too 😉

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Ingredients (serves 2)

1 frozen banana

1 scoop vanilla protein powder

100 ml coconut milk

1 tsp. blue matcha

How to…

Mix the blue matcha in the coconut milk and let it sit for 5 minutes. Stir and filter to remove any solid residues. In a blender, mix the frozen banana, the blue milk and the vanilla protein. Mix well and place in a metallic container and back to the freezer for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, check the consistency and if the nice cream is firm, scoop out with an ice cream spoon and serve with frozen berries.

Easy and delicious!

Mango Parfait & Food Pics

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There are very few things that beat the sweetness of a ripe mango. When I was little and globalisation wasn’t yet a thing, we only got local fruit and veg in my region. I am from the north of Spain, so that means a really good assortment of citrus, berries, melons and watermelons, and pretty much anything that grows in my sunny land.

However things like mangoes, passion fruits and avocados where completely unknown, we didn’t even know how they looked like!

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My dad on the other hand had to travel to exotic destinations for work and he brought some of those things for us to try when I was about 6 or 7. I remember that the first time I tried a Mango, I thought it tasted like “pine tree”. I was very creative describing flavours but i didn’t have any other reference. Let’s just say I wasn’t a big fan at the time. Nowadays it’s one of my favourite fruits and I get very protective of a good ripe mango I have been keeping for a special moment.

These pictures are 3 different settings with 3 different light situations for the same parfait. The breakfast is made of a layer of home made granola, greek yogurt, raspberry coulis and Mango.

To make the raspberry coulis you have to boil 1 cup of frozen raspberries with 1/2 cup of water with the juice of 1/2 a lemon and some sweetener, I used sucralose in this case. Let simmer for 10 minutes and then use a ricer to remove the seeds. You can keep it in the fridge for up to 10 days and use as sauce for cheese, yogurts, cakes etc.

Lots of protein in this recipe, good sugars (very good pre or post workout) and fibre from the granola and the fruit.

About the photography, I just wanted to show you how much can a setting and the light change the look of a dish! Which one is your favourite??

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