Category Archives: Sweetie Treatie

* Nectarine and Orange Blossom Chia Jam *

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Nectarine and Orange Blossom Jam

Nectarines are rocking my world right now. As the summer weather comes to a close here in New Zealand, orchards and gardens are heaving with delicious fruit, ripe for the picking.

Nectarines have always been my most treasured of the stone fruit bunch. Sweet yet tart, soft with a bit of bite, I often mourn their presence when supplies slowly dwindle after summer. I’m making the most of them while I can and I suggest that you do as well if you are living in this part of the world.

Nectarines are a super food star as they are high in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that converts into vitamin A, which helps keep your skin radiant and teeth strong. They are also high in vitamin C, which is essential at this time of year to protect your body against sickness; as well as fibre and potassium, which ensure the body is functioning optimally.

The addition of orange blossom water instantly takes me back to my time in the Jordan and the wonderful way that traditional Middle Eastern delicacies use a hint of a floral fragrance to transport you somewhere exotic and far away. Much time was spent wandering the different neighbourhoods of Amman, soaking up the sights, scents and sounds of the Old Town, popping into eateries when I needed to be refreshed, creating some of my most perfectly enduring food experiences. I treasure these memories, when the Middle East was much more peaceful and stable, and live in hope that this harmonious state will return.

The key to using orange blossom water (and rose water) is to use it sparingly – you want a subtle hint, not an extreme sensory punch. Orange blossom water is widely available these days, in the international section of the supermarket, delicatessen or Middle Eastern store.

Making a chia-based jam is a healthy way to get your jam jamming as the chia seeds “gelatinise” when mixed with liquid, so the jam doesn’t require a thickening agent like pectin or an immense amount of sugar to set, as is the norm with a traditional jam. This lusciously floral fruity jam freezes well and will last for about two weeks in the fridge.

Nectarine and Orange Blossom Chia Jam

4 cups of nectarines, chopped (about 1.5 kgs)

1/2 a cup of coconut sugar

A tablespoon of orange blossom water

A tablespoon of lemon juice

4 tablespoons of ground chia seeds *

Blanch the nectarines until the skins split (about a minute or two). Refresh with cool water and peel.

Chop the nectarine flesh into small pieces, transfer into a saucepan and slowly bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes until the fruit starts to break down and become syrupy. Add the coconut sugar, orange blossom water and lemon juice and cook for a further 5 minutes. You can make the jam as smooth or chunky as you like by mashing the mixture until it is the desired consistency.

Take off the heat and stir in the ground chia seeds and allow to thicken. It will become obviously thicker at this point (and slightly more once fully cooled), but if you would like a thicker consistency, add an extra teaspoon of ground chia seeds.

Transfer into glass jars once the jam has reached room temperature and pop into the fridge. Enjoy the jam on toast with lashings of butter or on Greek yoghurt, ice cream or creamy dessert.

*You can use normal chia seeds, but I prefer ground when making jam as the chia seeds blend into the mixture better.

 

* Lemon, Berry and Coconut Puddings *

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Lemon, Berry and Coconut Puddings

Lemon, Berry and Coconut Puddings

Serves 4

My Mum and I share the philosophy that lemons are worth their weight in gold. No other fruit comes close to being so versatile in both sweet and savoury dishes and has the ability to lift any dish it touches. Berry and lemon is a stellar combination and one of my all time faves, complementing each other beautifully. Throw velvety, sweet coconut cream in the mix and – voilà! – a dreamy dessert is created. These lemon, berry and coconut puddings are light, refreshing and most importantly, decadent without being too heavy.

* Note:  You may prefer to use white chia seeds (whole or ground) for the lemon curd if you would like a less speckled lemon layer. Also, if you would like a more decadent dessert, add the leftover egg whites (beaten) to the coconut layer to form a coconut mousse.

Lemon Layer

2/3 of a cup of lemon juice (about 5 large lemons)

The zest of two lemons

1/3 of a cup of honey or maple syrup

5 free-range egg yolks

1 free-range egg

1 teaspoon of vanilla paste

1 heaped tablespoon of white chia seeds*

Place all of the ingredients into a thick-bottomed saucepan and whisk together at a low to moderate heat.  Whisk constantly until the mixture thickens, usually about 5-6 minutes or when the mixture sticks to the back of a spoon. Take off the heat, transfer into dessert glasses and allow the mixture to set in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours.

Berry Layer

1 1/2 cups of mixed berries (fresh or frozen)

1/4 of a cup of honey or maple syrup

1 tablespoon of chia seeds

Place all of the ingredients in a saucepan and let it simmer over a low heat for five minutes with a tablespoon or two of water, until the berries are soft. Allow to cool, then blitz the mixture in the food processor or blender until it reaches a smooth consistency. If you’re not a fan of pips, strain through a sieve, rubbing the mixture through with the back of a spoon. Delicately spoon the berry mixture on to the chilled lemon layer.

Coconut Layer

1 can of coconut cream, chilled in the fridge overnight

1 – 2 tablespoons of honey or maple syrup

1 teaspoon of vanilla paste

Leftover egg whites from the lemon layer (optional)*

Flip the chilled can of coconut cream over and open. The contents will have separated in to water and hardened cream. Pour out the liquid and keep for smoothies or curries. Whip the coconut cream, vanilla and honey or maple syrup until soft peaks are formed. If you would like to create a more decadent dessert, beat the egg whites until they too resemble soft peaks and gently combine. Spoon in to the glasses and refrigerate until ready to be served.

 

* Elderflower and Vanilla Apéritif *

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Elderflower in full bloom

Here in the southern isle of the Antipodes elderflower season is nigh. Peppered around the city, elderflower is in full bloom clambering through gardens and forests, waiting to be picked and turned into liquid gold, just in time for Christmas. For me, the smell of elderflower epitomises summer – the fragrance a heady burst whilst a batch is in the fermenting swing.

For many years now we’ve been making elderflower fizz and I must admit, we’ve got it down pat. We’ve tasted our first batch of the season (the other one is on the way) and my goodness, it’s good. Seriously good. We’re big fans of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstal, so it was an easy decision to go with his elderflower fizz recipe (though slightly adapted).

Over the years we’ve searched high and low for the perfect elderflower patch. After serious scrutiny, we pick from North Dunedin alongside the banks of the Leith river. The elderflower’s habitat has to be as pure as possible, preferably living in a lush, sunny patch away from busy traffic and litter. It’s best to pick elderflower whilst the sun is out as it’s the key to a more flavoursome brew (an old wives’ tale which I’m sticking to).

A word of warning – making elderflower fizz is a dangerous business and should be treated with extreme caution. We’ve had a few explosions and although we’ve not lost any eyes, there have been a few very close calls. The golden rule is to keep the elderflower bottles contained in a chilly bin, or better still, kept in the drinks fridge.

At this time of year, we serve this elderflower and vanilla apéritif to guests or take it to one if the many Christmas soirees of the season. If you’re not a fan of vanilla, serve with normal vodka and top up with a dash of soda.

Elderflower and vanilla apéritif

A 750 mill bottle of freshly brewed elderflower fizz *

150 – 200 mills of vanilla vodka

Lemon zest and fresh mint to garmish

Soda water is optional if you prefer a mellower drop

Gently mix the elderflower fizz and desired portion of vodka together. Pour into champagne glasses, add a few cubes of ice and garnish with lemon zest and a sprig of fresh mint. Serve before a light summer lunch or dinner with lovely friends.

 

* Elderflower fizz à la Hugh

Four litres of hot water, plus an extra two litres of cold water

700 grams of sugar

The juice and zest of four lemons

2 tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar

15 elderflower heads in full bloom

A pinch of dried yeast (if needed)

Boil the jug and put the boiling water plus some cold water (to make up 4 litres of water) into a clean bucket or large container and stir in the sugar until it dissolves. Add the additional two litres of cold water.

Add the lemon juice and zest, apple cider vinegar and elderflower heads and stir gently.

Completely cover with a clean muslin cloth and leave to ferment in a cool, airy place for a couple of days (the bathroom is a good option). Check the brew and if it’s not becoming a little foamy (i.e. fermenting) add the pinch of yeast.

Leave the covered mixture to bubble and brew for a further four days. Strain the liquid through a sieve lined with muslin and pour into sterilised strong glass bottles or Grolsch-style stoppers, or sterilized screw-top plastic bottles (you need strong bottles as a lot of pressure can build up).

Seal and leave to ferment in the bottles for at least a week before serving, chilled. The fizz should keep in the bottles for several months (although it never lasts this long in our house). Store in a cool, dry place. Release the pressure every day or so to prevent an explosion.

* Chocolate Kamut Crackles *

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Chocolate Kamut CracklesI recently completed the 30 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge (actually, it was in May, but I’ve been on hiatus) – and my goodness, what a challenge it was. The biggest challenge was not having time for much else apart from hitting the studio and practicing, as I work full time and life is busy. Other challenges included the lethargy, the insatiable hunger, the injured hip and the constant washing of towels (“it looks like a Chinese laundry around here!” remarked my Beau on more than a few occasions.) Alas, I made it and I felt pretty damn good in the end. It is an incredible mental and physical challenge and now I’ve done it, I don’t feel the need to ever do it again.

When practicing yoga, and especially when I did the challenge, I need high energy, light food before class. You’re not supposed to eat for 2 – 3 hours before practicing, but I feel better if I sneak a wee snack in. I came up with these chocolate kamut crackles to fill the void and I’m super pleased with the result – they’re decadent, healthy and seriously moreish.

Chocolate crackles are an old school, retro favourite and if you grew up in New Zealand in the 80’s and 90’s, you’ll know all about them. They’re a blessing for busy people as they require no baking and are ready in a flash (parents – take note.) They’re also a great way to get a good dose of high quality cereal in your diet – especially if the cereal is as impressive as kamut.

Kamut® is a trademarked ancient grain, otherwise known as khorasan wheat. It’s closely related to durum wheat and it’s been discovered that many people with traditional wheat allergies or sensitivities are able to tolerate kamut. Kamut packs a powerful protein punch and is high in fibre, which aids digestion and helps lower cholesterol. It also contains considerable amounts of magnesium, manganese and zinc, as well as your daily recommended dose of selenium. Kamut is naturally sweet and the puffed variety actually tastes like honey puffs (but is genuinely good for you). Kamut puffs (kamoot poofs) are available in all good health food stores, organic markets and specialist supermarkets.

Chocolate Kamut Crackles

1/2 a cup of coconut oil

1/2 a cup of honey or rice malt syrup

1/2 a cup of raw cacao or cocoa powder

4 cups of kamut puffs

3/4 of a cup of seeds, nuts or dried fruit (optional)

A pinch of pink Himalayan rock salt

In a large saucepan, slowly melt the coconut oil and honey or rice malt syrup. Take off the heat and add the raw cacao or cocoa powder and mix until it resembles melted chocolate. Gradually add the kamut puffs and optional extras (if you have any) and combine until the kamut puffs are covered in chocolatey goodness. Transfer in to cupcake cases and allow to set in the fridge. A batch keeps well in the fridge, although be warned – they won’t last long.

* Embas Bread *

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Embas Bread

I’d been searching for a wholesome, super healthy bread recipe for a long, long time, as bread was one of the only foods I ate that I didn’t make from scratch and I like to know what’s really in my food. Store-bought, overly processed bread just does not seem to agree with me and although I do indulge occasionally, it is best avoided. I was overjoyed when this recipe for Life-Changing Loaf of Bread popped into my mail box from the beloved My New Roots blog, as it saved me many, many hours in the kitchen and gave me some serious inspiration to bake.

I’ve called my take on this recipe ‘Embas Bread’, as in stark contrast to regular wheat bread, this keeps you going for hours, much in the same way that Lembas Bread kept those wee Hobbits trekking for days. And my other name (no, not Super Foodie, the other one) is Em.   Ta da!

I’ve adapted the original recipe by increasing the ratio of flaxseeds and decreasing the sunflower seeds, oil and salt. I’ve also made two versions of this bread, a savoury and a sweet. The sweet option is my fave and is reminiscent of the Müsli-Brot that was a weekly staple whilst living in Berlin. It’s laden with figs and dates, spiced with cinnamon and mixed spice and is perfect for breakfast as banana on toast. The savoury version is also rather delicious and certainly keeps the Other Half happy. I make them both at the same time and store them in the freezer, sliced and ready to tuck in to.

Both versions of the bread are extremely nutritious and get a big Super Foodie tick of approval. Psyllium husks are high in both soluble and insoluble fibre and keep those bowels in top form. Flaxseed and chia are tiny seeds with mighty powers which provide a solid protein hit, as well as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the plant-based omega-3 fat which is very good for your heart. There is also no flour in these recipes, the base being made up of rolled oats, which are renowned for sustained energy release to keep you powering through the day.

As well as being a Super Foodie dream, this recipe is also easy. No kneading, no rising, no finicky measures. Just bang it all in a bowl or pan, wait a couple of hours or overnight, bake and await the glorious scent of fresh bread wafting through your home.

Sweet Embas Bread

1 1/2 cups of rolled oats

3/4 of a cup of flaxseed (a mix of whole and ground if you like)

3/4 of a cup of sunflower seeds

A cup of figs and dates, rustically chopped (you can also add nuts too)

4 tablespoons of psyllium husks

2 tablespoons of chia seeds

A teaspoon of cinnamon

A teaspoon of mixed spice

1/8 of a teaspoon of fine Himalayan rock salt

2 tablespoons of honey, agave or maple syrup

2 tablespoons of oil (coconut, olive or rice bran)

1 1/2 cups of water (you may need a touch more if you are using ground flaxseed)

Savoury Embas Bread

1 1/2 cups of rolled oats

3/4 of a cup of flaxseed (a mix of whole and ground if you like)

3/4 of a cup of sunflower seeds

A cup of nuts and/or other seeds (pumpkin, poppy and sesame seeds work well)

4 tablespoons of psyllium husks

2 tablespoons of chia seeds

1/4 of a teaspoon of fine Himalayan rock salt

A tablespoon of honey, agave or maple syrup

2 tablespoons of oil (coconut, olive or rice bran)

1 1/2 cups of water (you may need a touch more if you are using ground flaxseed)

Grease a loaf pan or line with baking paper. Mix all of the dry ingredients in a bowl or in the loaf pan. Mix all of the wet ingredients together, add to the dry ingredients and mix well. If using a bowl, transfer mixture into the loaf pan. Spread evenly in the pan and allow to rest for anywhere between 2 – 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 160° c fan bake. Place loaf in the oven and cook for 25 minutes. Remove the loaf from the pan and place upside down on the oven rack and cook for a further 25-30 minutes. The loaf is ready when it’s a wonderful golden brown colour and sounds hollow when tapped.

* Club Mate *

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Club Mate

As we set off from sleepy Papnat in the the searing heat, we passed flourishing market gardens, animals laying sedately under the canopy of trees and the occasional car with tourists, naturally (the locals wouldn’t dream of leaving the house mid afternoon.) After cascading down a hairpin windy road, we reached the beach of all beaches, the local’s secret of Korcula.

We headed down a secret garden kind of path to the glorious beach, aquamarine water sparkling in the bright, bright sun, this certainly was a paradise dreams were made of. We found a space, hit the water and explored the bay, swimming into wee coves and climbing up and down the rocks.

As a keen swimmer, Croatia was an absolute wunderland. Every morning I’d set off on an exploratory mission. With bikini underneath and goggles in hand, I’d jog around the bays and find a cordoned swimming area, which are found all along the coast. There is something so invigorating about doing laps in the sea, surrounded by other keen swimmers and placid fish bobbing around in the waves. In Croatia, swimming is a part of everyday summer life – the men practically live in their speedos and more often than not, the teency, figure-hugging lycra is patriotically designed with the Croatian flag on, proudly for the world to see.

After a long swim in the ocean, we were parched and in desperate need of refreshment. We headed to the beach watering hole ‘Club Mate’ and met the local lads. What is ironic is that the Club-Mate that I’m used to, is the famous carbonated yerba mate tea drink I practically live on when I’m in Berlin (along with half of the population there.) Club-Mate is derived from the leaves of the yerba mate tree native to South America. In its usual guise it is a hugely popular tea in Argentina and other parts of South America. However, in Germany and other parts of world lucky enough to have it, it’s a low sugar, highly stimulating and refreshing drink, which goes perfectly with vodka and an afternoon playing table tennis on the banks of the canal. Yerba mate contains a serious dose of antioxidants and is highly caffeinated, but without the usual jitters and crash that is associated with coffee.

We sat down and had a natter with Mate, the proprietor, who occasionally got up to blow his whistle and entice those walking past to have a shot of rakia, the house distilled spirit not dissimilar to rocket fuel. In another ironic twist, it was Mate’s family restaurant we’d just visited and were booked in to later that night. We spent the afternoon there, drinking beers with Mate and his friends, who had helped build the beach shack and were making sure that it lasted the summer, by keeping a half-cut but ever watchful eye on the place.

I thought it fitting to replicate Club-Mate, the drink, as an ode to our friend Mate and his kooky beach club. As Club-Mate is practically impossible to come by in New Zealand (one place sells it in Auckland) I’ve had to make it myself in order to indulge my addiction and I’m pretty damn pleased with the result.

Club Mate

2 tablespoons of yerba mate*

A litre of boiling water

A lemon, sliced

A few drops of vanilla extract (optional)

3 – 4 tablespoons of raw honey or agave

5oo mls – 1 litre of cold water or soda water

Steep the yerba mate leaves in boiling water for a few hours or overnight, along with the sliced lemon, vanilla (optional) and honey or agave.

If you have a Soda Stream machine, add the desired measure of cold water and fizz it up. If you don’t have a Soda Stream machine, simply add the desired measure of soda water. Serve on its own with ice or as a mixer with vodka and prepare to dance all night long.

* Yerba Mate is available at good health food stores and organic shops.

* Rose and Basil Frozen Yoghurt *

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Rose and Basil Frozen YoghurtWhilst on holiday on the island of Korcula (kor-chew-la) in Croatia, we came across a beautifully rustic, family-run restaurant which served some of the most delicious food I’ve ever tasted. On a sleepy afternoon, we went for a cross country burn on the scooter in search of a famously remote beach, which is renowned for being a heavenly paradise, free from all those irritating tourists. We stopped off in the sleepy little village called Papnat for a squizz at the local country folk (who must have been having a sensible siesta as they were not in sight) and found this gem called ‘Konobe Mate’.

Set in the front garden of the family home, grape vines and creepers adorned with bright flowers provided a whimsical setting and welcome respite from the sweltering heat. The endearingly genuine service typical of many in the hospitality trade extended here, as the waitress made polite, inquisitive conversation and praised our selection. On such an intensely scorching afternoon there was only one option – the rose and basil frozen yoghurt, washed down with an espresso and a shot of her finest homemade rakia (house distilled fermented fruit, reminiscent of rocket fuel concocted in days gone by).

We tucked into delectably icy pillows of this rose and basil frozen yoghurt, a combination that I’d never thought would go well together, but it just works. It’s so fragrant, with intense bursts of floral and herbaceous notes. Put simply, it’s like feasting on a summery garden, only creamy. We were so enchanted with this delightful restaurant, we made a booking for that evening and set off into the blazing sun towards the coast.

In order to make this frozen yoghurt you need an ice cream maker, which can easily be purchased at an appliance store or in good condition off Ebay or Trade Me. Ensure that the frozen yoghurt is the perfect consistency by checking it often. I’m usually so captivated by the creation of this frozen yoghurt, I can barely tear myself away from watching it. Am I alone here?

Rose and Basil Frozen Yoghurt

2 cups of plain, unsweetened Greek yoghurt

3/4 of a cup of milk

1/2 a cup of good-quality raw honey, warmed

1 1/2 tablespoons of rose water

A teaspoon of vanilla paste or a vanilla bean, deseeded

2 tablespoons of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

A couple of handfuls of fresh, organically grown rose petals (optional)

Whisk together all of the ingredients for a couple of minutes until the mixture becomes light and fluffy. Transfer to the ice cream maker and follow the user instructions until the desired consistency is reached. In the ice cream maker I use, it took about 35 minutes until lusciously textured frozen yoghurt was created. Best eaten as soon as possible.