Chocolate Tart, what a beauty.

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I logged in to the blog yesterday after a really long act of disappearance. I come back with a few strands of white hair in my temples, I blame my job which is the same reason why I haven’t been around for a while. Loving what you do can make you overdo it at times. Taking advantage of the holiday period, I want to update you on what I have been up to in life and in the kitchen. I bring you, a delish chocolate tart that can be made in advance and it is perfect as desert for these busy holidays.

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Also I want to say hi to Simon, who sent me a super sweet hello yesterday after I had a look at what you guys had been up to. It is great to know that I have been missed a little bit 🙂

I have trying different photographic styles for my photography lately. If you have followed the blog until now it has mainly been a full of light, white background fest. I work with natural light, so getting moody, contrasted images is sometimes a bit of a challenge, so I hope you like these.

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For this cake, which can be made in advance and kept frozen, you need to make some choices before you start.

The base can be made in two different ways, either a pastry dough or with a mix of almond meal and coconut flour. The first one is a little bit more time consuming and the second one is a little bit more difficult to work with due to it being more crumbly but it is healthier. If you want the second version, you can use the base of the cheesecake i published a while ago, here today, i will leave the time consuming version which is a little different.

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Ingredients (serves 8)

85g unsalted butter or coconut oil

2 tbsp coconut sugar

1 medium free-range egg yolks

2 tbsp ice cold water

125g wholegrain spelt flour

For the filling

250g sugar free chocolate, broken into smaller pieces

2 free-range eggs

100ml non dairy milk

175ml double cream

Method

To make the pastry. Mix the butter and the flour in a food processor until it looks like a crumble. Beat up the egg with the sugar and water and add to the flour/butter mixture. Pour into a surface and work into a dough. Make a ball and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.

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Place the cream and the milk in a large heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Add the chocolate chunks and stir with a whisker until completely combined.

Take the dough and work it into a thin round shape, line the pastry case with the dough cover with aluminium foil and fill with ceramic beans. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and the beans and return to the oven for 5 more minutes. Leave to cool in the tin.

Whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Pour onto the chocolate mixture and quickly whisk together. Pass through a sieve while you pour into the cold pastry case.

Bake for 15 minutes in an oven at 180C and then leave in the over for a further 45  minutes. Then take out and cool.

If you prefer a shiny top layer, you can melt more sugar free chocolate and when the tart is cold, pour and spread. To decorate, make a circle with sliced pistachios and rose petals.

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Healthy banana bread

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Not very popular where I come from, making cakes with things like banana and carrot is not something I did when growing up. Now that I have been living abroad for a while and I have been exposed to many other baking styles, carrot cake is absolute favourite cake.

Only a couple of years a loaf style cake caught my attention in a cafeteria, Banana bread said the sign. The bread part is a ruse, non english native speakers, it’s a proper cake. And a good one too! So I started to search for a good recipe and I ended up at the BBC good food site, which quite frankly has all the answers when it comes to culinary questions. I have since adapted it of course, to a sugar free wholegrain version that is a little bit healthier than the original and absolutely delicious.

This is my take on a traditional banana bread…

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Ingredients

  • 285g wholegrain spelt flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 110g butter or coconut or sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing
  • 200 gr birch sugar (xylitol)
  • 2 happy chicken organic eggs
  • 4 very ripe mashed bananas
  • 85ml buttermilk (works as normal milk with 1½ tsp of vinegar)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

How to..

Preheat the oven to 180C. Mix he flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and birch sugar together until light and fluffy, bear in mind that if using xylitol this won’t happen as with sugar and it will keep being somewhat separated. Don’t worry, it will work out in the over when heated.

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Add the eggs one by one mixing well each before adding another, then the mashed bananas, buttermilk and vanilla extract to the butter and sweetener mixture and mix well. Fold in the flour mixture carefully.

Grease a 20cm long loaf tin and pour the cake mixture into it, then put in the oven and bake for about an hour, for the last 20 minutes you might need to cover it with tin foil to stop the cake from darkening in excess. Insert a pick in the middle to know if it’s properly cooked. It should come out clean.

Remove from the oven and cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before serving.

If you like the bananas on top as decoration, cut one in half alongside and place before putting in the oven.

Enjoy!

Sugar Free Peanut Butter Cups

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Give me a thousand shy Autumns like this one to cosy up in near a window with a cup of tea and watch the world go orange, red and a myriad shades of copper. I have been busy lately. Crazy busy I would say even, flying around, stressed out, digging up documents, chasing people and trying to organise a move. And thus, I haven’t updated this blog in ages, even my Instagram activity has suffered, and I endeavour to be better, but I am still in the middle of it and I can’t actually commit to it.

I have been writing too, the second part of a novel I wrote a while ago, and this is again an Autumn feeling. It is the nostalgia and quietness of it all that calls to me, that sends me spinning into the depth of my deepest darkest longings, back to my childhood.

As such, I have rescued a simple candy recipe, replicated over social media a million times, to share with you. Peanut butter cups. The scary bit is when you look at the nutritional values of the commercial brand Reese’s, so much everything you really don’t want to be eating too much of it.

These variation is a non added sugar one, I have used a sugar free chocolate brand as a base and no added sugar peanut butter and it just implies melting and pouring.

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Ingredients (for 15 cups)

1.5 No added sugar dark chocolate bars (150 gr)

3 tbsp of no added sugar peanut butter

2 tbsp. cocoa butter/coconut butter

2 tbsp of cocoa nibs

a pinch of salt.

How to…

In a small non metálico jar, put the chocolate broken in pieces and one tbsp of cocoa butter. Melt in the microwave for about 1.5 minutes or more if needed.

Line a small tray that fits in your freezer or fridge with small metallic chocolate liners and pour the melted chocolate on them, filling them up to 1/3 of their capacity.

Put them in the freezer and let them cool down for 5 minutes and in the meantime, melt the peanut butter with the rest of the cocoa butter and a pinch of salt in the microwave. Bring out the liners and fill them with the mixture for another 1/3. Cool down again, melt the chocolate and fill it up to the top and sprinkle with cocoa nibs.

The cocoa nibs add an extra crunchiness and fibre that is very yummy!

Enjoy!

Totally Healthy Brownies

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Chocolate comes from the Cocoa Tree which is original from Mexico. Legend has it that Quetzalcoatl gave it as a present to mankind and so its name means God’s Food in greek. It had enormous political, social and religious meaning all across Central America and it first came to Europe in the hands of the Spanish conquerors.

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Initially it was consumed mixed with cane sugar and a pinch of cinnamon, and it was a beverage. It remained a liquid pleasure until 1928 when cocoa butter started to be extracted and at the end of the XIX century the first pralines were born.

There is something warm and cosy in a cup of hot cocoa in a rainy day, this might be because it is sweet and delicious but also because cocoa has a good dose of fibre and micronutrients that produce a feeling of wellbeing.

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Brownies came later. Most people that enjoy a healthy dose of chocolate know that the darker the better and that it’s not the healthiest thing you can eat, so for all of us that love a bit of that nutty, utterly chocolaty flavour, here you have a healthy version.

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Gluten free, refined sugar free, Low GI and very low carb. Win win win win and vegan.

I hope you like it. Best served with a cup of tea.

 

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Ingredients (makes 9 brownies)

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil 
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 60 gr. unsweetened dark chocolate 
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 eggs or flax eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 espresso coffee
  • 10 walnut halves, crushed

How to…

In a pot, melt the oil, and the chocolate and add the cocoa powder. Then add the sugar, salt and the coffee. Let cool down for 5 minutes and then add the eggs and the rest of the ingredients and bake at 180C for 25 minutes.

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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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