Category Archives: Sweetie Treatie

* Fig and Macadamia Roll *

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Fig and Macadamia Roll

Croatia. A dreamy, lush paradise basking in the warmth of the Adriatic. From a war torn country to a touristic pilgrimage, Croatia has emerged from the dark days to become a haven for foodies, the intrepid and those who simply want to laze on the beach drinking mojitos and wearing short shorts. This post marks the beginning of a series of recipes from a delightful holiday spent in Dalmatia a few months back.

As my Beau and I strolled through the narrow alleyways of the Old Town in Split, we were struck by the  intense heat of the Old Town, which entraps the hot air within its high brick walls. Sweat-drenched tourists battle on in a sedated state, longing for the next cool fix, like an icy-cold lemonade or a gelato. As is often the case in Croatia, the later in the day it is, the more critical it becomes to seek solace in air-conditioned shops and restaurants to cool off before heading to the next attraction. After watching the spectacle in the Old Town’s Square – a comical period drama of the Roman emperor Diocletian addressing the town folk outside his grand palace – we thankfully stumbled upon a tiny shop selling traditional Croatian gourmet products; sugar-coated almonds, honey lavender shortbread cookies and carob liqueur lined the shelves awaiting our Quality Control.

A generous pour of the customary carob liqueur by the hospitable host certainly did the trick and samples were devoured with great fervor. We had the pleasure of tasting a delectable little morsel of goodness, a fig and walnut roll, which many will attest has always been a heavenly combination. Made with young Dalmatian walnuts and orchard figs, dried in the Autumnal sun, this sweet treat graces many cheese boards in this neck of the woods and is typically matched with a fine local cheese, fresh from the Island of Pag or the farmer down the road.

To put an Antipodean twist on this classic, I created this figgy roll with macadamias and the result is is seriously good – intensely nectarous, wonderfully textured by the fig seeds and crunchy macadamias and lightly spiced by the cloves. The health benefits of figs are outlined in a previous post with a fresh fig recipe Goat Cheese, Figs and Walnuts with Drizzled Honey. The other super food star is the macadamia nut, which is native to Australia, New Caledonia and Indonesia, but is now grown in many warmer places, including our beloved New Zealand. Macadamias are a rich source of mono-unsaturated fatty acids, like oleic and palmitoleic acids, which research suggests increases good (HDL) cholesterol and reduces bad (LDL) cholesterol levels in the blood. They are also a good source of minerals including selenium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, calcium and iron. A true wundernut, indeed.

If the figs have been laying about at the back of the pantry for a while, it works wonders to soak them overnight in some orange or grapefruit juice to freshen them up, hence why it is optional. If they are brimming with freshness, leave this part out. If you are vegan, try this recipe with a vegan cheese or creamy nut paste. This is also delicious as a sweetie treatie with a cup of tea or coffee.

Fig and Macadamia Roll

2 cups of dried figs, chopped

3/4 of a cup of orange or grapefruit juice (optional)

1 cup of macadamias

A tablespoon of honey (optional)

1/4 of a teaspoon of ground cloves

Soak the chopped dried figs in orange juice overnight if required. Drain off excess juice and pulse in a food processor until a sticky paste is formed.

Add the macadamias, honey (if you please) and cloves and pulse lightly, ensuring that some of the macadamias are still in large pieces.

Form into a roll using your hands, wrap in baking paper or glad wrap and keep in the fridge and cut into slices as required.

Alternatively, if you prefer a drier roll, allow to rest uncovered in the fridge or pantry for a few days. I can never wait that long, so I immediately enjoy with a strong cheese or a creamy vegan nut paste.

* Kefir Bananarama Shake à la Fabulous Fermentation Week *

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I’m so into bananarama shakes right now. I simply must have at least one per day, usually straight after work or on weekend afternoons before heading to the Botanics for some frisbee extravaganza action. I usually make my bananaramas with almond milk, but my dear friend and fellow food blogger Kauia Moriaty who writes the wunderbar eat it blog, informed me of the ladies who are spreading the joys of fermenting to the masses. Elenore Bendel Zahn who writes the Earthsprout blog and Sarah Britton from My New Roots are pioneering this fermentastic revolution and provide thorough and informed expositions on the benefits of fermenting fabulously.

I’m fairly new to fermenting, in fact, I’d only ever fermented kefir using cow’s milk and the result was seriously tart – so tart, it was undrinkable. The Fabulous Fermentation Week inspired me to try again and reap the nutritional rewards of these (dare I say) seriously strange grains.

Kefir is fermented milk made with kefir grains, which is a symbiotic culture of yeasts and good bacteria. It’s believed to have originated in the Caucasus mountains and is increasing in popularity as people are waking up to its incredible health benefits. Kefir is highly nutritious, full of gut-aiding probiotics and has a good dose of B12, which is good news for vegans and vegetarians whose diets are usually lacking in this integral vitamin. It also contains vitamins B1, B6, D, as well as folic acid, iodine, calcium and iron. Kefir can also be made from various types of milk, including coconut, almond, rice, seed, soy or dairy and can also ferment fruit juice and coconut water.

I purchased whole milk kefir from the organic store and sat it on the bench for a couple of days until the cauliflower-esque grains appeared and the kefir had started to form. As I wanted to make an almond milk kefir, I strained the kefir and washed the wee grains thoroughly and started the kefir process again, by putting the kefir grains and a good dose of almond milk in a jar, popping the lid on and allowing it to sit for a day or two.

If you find it really hard to stomach uber-tart food or beverages, disguising kefir is the key. Bananas are a great way to disguise the tartiest of tart flavours and coconut milk provides a creamy hit to balance the shake. LSA (Linseed, Sunflower, Almond mix) fortified with buckwheat, quinoa and chia provide an extra nutrient hit and the honey (or agave, maple syrup) gives the bananarama shake a nectarous finish.

Kefir Bananarama Shake à la Fabulous Fermentation Week                                                                                                                                                                

A cup of kefir, any which way you please

A cup of coconut milk

2 very ripe bananas

2 tablespoons of LSA

A tablespoon of raw honey, agave or maple syrup

A few cubes of ice

Put all of the ingredients into a blender and whizzz. Serve on the deck in the sun with your dearest or if you’re in the cooler climes, watching the snow and dreaming of summery pastures new.

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* Cherry and Almond Clafoutis with Lemony Coconut Whipped Cream *

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Cherry and Almond Clafoutis with Lemony Coconut Whipped Cream

To me, there is nothing more quintessentially French than clafoutis. The wunderkind of French desserts, clafoutis (kla-foo-tee) lies somewhere between a frangapine tart and a baked custard. Clafoutis hails from the Limousin region of France and is traditionally baked with the pits of the cherries still in tact, in order to ‘saveur le flavour’. To protect your precious pearly whites, my recipe requires the pits to be laboriously removed. This initial slaving over the stove is short-lived, as the simplicity of this dessert is its saving grace. A spread, a splash, a whisk, a sprinkle and viola! Pop it in the oven and await the sweet cherry almond scent to permeate the house.

Cherries are aplenty right now. The cream of the crop are grown in Central Otago, just a few hours away from where we live in Dunedin (New Zealand). These cherries are renowned for being the sweetest, juiciest, shiniest you’ve ever had the pleasure of laying your mitts on. Cherries are however not just a pretty face – they are one of Mother Earth’s most powerful anti-inflammatory sources due to the presence of anthocyanins, which research has unveiled prevents free radical damage and improves memory. Cherries also contain melatonin, a hormone which assists in regulating sleep cycles.

I’ve made this dessert with almond milk which works superbly, but clafoutis also works well with other milks especially cow’s milk. I’ve adapted the recipe from the Australian Taste website and given their clafoutis recipe a Super Foodie makeover, ensuring the recipe is dairy-free (if you prefer), gluten-free and using a minimally refined sugar. I’ve used coconut palm sugar, but you can use any sugar you like, as long as it’s not the over-processed, bleached and filtered white variety. Coconut palm sugar is made from coconut tree nectar and has a naturally low glycemic index compared to other sugars. It also has a higher nutrient content and is a source of potassium, zinc, iron and magnesium. When choosing coconut palm sugar, ensure it is the purest you can find in the organic section, as some brands can be mixed with cane sugar.

This photo was taken by my delightfully Hilarious Sidekick Rachael Lawrence Lodge, who provided the creative direction for the shoot. Before we demolished the clafoutis, naturally. Dankeschön, Liebling!

Cherry and Almond Clafoutis 

Coconut oil for greasing the dish

500 grams of fresh cherries, pitted

2/3 of a cup of ground almonds

1/2 a cup of coconut palm sugar or coconut sugar

A tablespoon of honey

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups of almond milk (or cows milk if you prefer)

A vanilla pod, deseeded or a teaspoon of vanilla essence or paste

The zest of a lemon

Lemony Coconut Whipped Cream

A can of refrigerated coconut cream

A vanilla pod, deseeded or a teaspoon of vanilla essence or paste

The zest of a lemon

A teaspoon of honey

1/3 of a cup of sliced almonds

A sprinkling of fruit, a sprig of fresh mint or lemon zest for garnishing

Heat the oven to 180 degrees. In a frying pan, toast the almonds until golden brown and allow to cool. Grease a large dish with coconut oil. Pit the cherries and place evenly in the greased dish. In a bowl, mix the ground almonds and sugar together and form a well.

In a jug, whisk the eggs and add the almond milk, vanilla and the zest of one of the lemons. Gently pour the liquid into the sugar and almond well and combine. Pour into the dish and sprinkle with toasted almond flakes.

Cook for 30 minutes or until the middle is springy. Allow to cool until slightly warm.

Separate the creamiest part of the coconut cream by gently spooning it out of the refrigerated can (use the  surplus liquid for smoothies or Banana, Date and Coconut Baked Porridge).

Add the vanilla, zest of the second lemon and honey and whisk to form peaks. Transfer into a serving bowl and refrigerate. Garnish with whatever you please and serve with the warm clafoutis. Bon Appetit!

* Christmas Cake with Creamy Cashew Icing *

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Christmas Cake

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Wow, the silly season has really lived up to its name this year. So many dinner invites, Christmas shopping, BBQs, elderflower fizz cocktails, a wedding, driving ten hours to reach my family’s place in Kaiteriteri, Motueka. One hardly has time to think, let alone bake the annual Chrissie Cake.

If you’re like me and you love to leave things to the very last minute, this Christmas cake is a winner. I mean, look at how late I’m posting this and you’ll still have time to shop for the fruit, have a big pot of tea and cake at your favourite café, soak the fruit overnight, cook the cake and wrap all your pressies whilst drinking a sherry! Last year I whipped this cake up on Christmas Day whilst entertaining a crowd of twenty and it went down a treat.

A lovely lady called Ellie Henderson gave me this fruit cake recipe when I was a wee lass, out on a neighbourhood stroll in Kaiteriteri one day. I popped in and proceeded to devour a good portion of the Christmas cake the good host had offered me. To avoid a repeat, she kindly handed me the recipe. I couldn’t believe that this fruitcake that tasted so damn good had no fat or refined sugar.

I’ve tweaked the original recipe by adding a decadent twist of creamy cashew icing. The creamy icing is made up of cashews, which you can read how amazing they are in my recipe for Dreamy Lemon and Blueberry “Cheeseake” . The high content of dried fruit offers a generous dose of fibre, which will assist in cleansing the system after all the indulgent Christmas goodies. As this cake does not contain lard (eeek!) or mounds of sugar like a traditional Christmas cake, you’ll be able to eat a good portion and not feel like a nap afterwards, as your blood sugars should remain consistent. Until the Champagne Breakfast.

Christmas Cake with Creamy Cashew Icing

For the Christmas Cake:

1 kg of dried fruit (whatever you fancy… dates, currants, apricots, cranberries, sultanas, raisins, Goji berries, cherries, prunes.)

2 cups of good quality orange juice or tea

A teaspoon of cinnamon

A teaspoon of mixed spice

2 cups of self-raising flour

For the Creamy Cashew Icing:

2 cups of activated cashews

3 tablespoons of coconut oil

2 tablespoons of honey

The juice and zest of a lemon

A teaspoon of vanilla

A pinch of Himalayan rock salt

Water as needed

In a bowl, soak the cashews overnight in water. In another large bowl, soak the dried fruit in the orange juice, tea, or a mixture of the two. Add the mixed spice and cinnamon and stir well. Leave overnight in the refrigerator and give a stir every so often.

Heat the oven to 150°c. Line a large cake tin with baking paper. Add the self-raising flour and mix well. Spread the mixture into the lined tin and pop into the oven for 2 hours.

In a blender, combine all of the icing ingredients (apart from the water) and mix well. Add water as needed to reach the desired smooth consistency. Ice the cake and eat!

* Super Grain Pancakes with Strawberries and Coconut Whipped Cream *

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Sunday brunch. It’s somewhat of an institution here in New Zealand. The weekend is celebrated with a long, lazy breakfasty lunch, often amidst the chaos of a café, or if you’re like me, in the quiet comfort of your sweet home, surrounded by National Radio and lashings of Lady Grey tea.

I’m a sweet brunch girl – pancakes, fruit salad and Bircher muesli being on my list of hit picks. My Beau, like so many others out there, prefers a Brunch with The Works: Eggs, bacon, sausages, hash browns, roasted tomatoes, mushrooms, baked beans and toast (with marmite and cheese). That just ain’t how I roll. This recipe for brunch is perfect as it’s not too sweet and includes a hearty dose of super foods, which makes for two very happy campers.

The pancakes include Quark (or Kwark), which is possibly an ingredient that if you haven’t lived in Europe, you’ll probably be thinking “what on earth?” right about now. Quark is a soft cheese, similar to cottage cheese, although it’s not made with rennet like cottage cheese and has a smoother consistency. There are different grades of quark – minimal fat, regular (20% fat) and creamy (40% fat). In this recipe, the Super Foodie panel of experts advises that the minimal fat option is the winner. Quark is high in both protein and calcium, ensuring a satisfyingly healthy brunch that’s good for your bones, whilst pleasing many a palate.

Recently I’ve come across some exceptional Healtheries (brand) products, which are a welcome change from the traditional LSA (linseed, sunflower, almond) mixtures. The LSA used in this recipe has the added benefits of black chia, buckwheat and quinoa flakes, which provide extra fibre, antioxidants and essential omega-3 fatty acids. It also works super well sprinkled on yoghurt for an afternoon snack and appears to make everything just taste better. I should know – I’ve almost gone through a whole pack in 10 days.

The coconut whipped cream is a take on the delectable version that I’ve seen on Brandi’s blog The Healthy Flavor. I get very inspired by the dedicated food bloggers that are beavering away in various parts of the world, creating interesting and innovative dishes. Unfortunately, many of you won’t be able to enjoy the summer strawberry season here in New Zealand, however, a berry coulis (made from frozen berries) would also make a yummo substitute. Roll on the weekend!

Super Grain Pancakes with Strawberries and Whipped Coconut Cream

1/2 a cup of LSA with Super Grains

1/2 a cup of oat bran

A teaspoon of baking powder

1/2 a cup of quark

3 free-range eggs

3/4 – 1 cup of milk (depending on whether you’d prefer them large and flat, or small and fat)

Coconut oil for frying

A can of refrigerated coconut cream

A teaspoon of vanilla extract/paste or a vanilla pod, de-seeded

A punnet of the freshest, juiciest strawberries you can find

Agave or high-quality maple syrup

In a bowl, mix the LSA, oat bran and baking powder together. Beat the eggs together with the quark and milk and combine with the dry ingredients. Allow to rest for a few minutes. Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan and spoon the mixture into the frying pan to create pancakes of the desired size.

Whip the refrigerated coconut cream and vanilla in a beater or food processor until it forms peaks. Slice the strawberries. Layer or roll the pancakes with the strawberries and top with the coconut whipped cream. Douse in agave or maple syrup and devour.

Serves 3 really hungry people or 4 relatively hungry people.  

* Dreamy Lemon and Blueberry “Cheesecake” (Raw + Vegan) *

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Happy World Vegan Day!

To commemorate World Vegan Day, which marks the start of World Vegan Month, I thought that I’d celebrate by paying homage to the traditional German ritual of devouring cake most afternoons, usually at 1600 hours on the dot. In café’s and Bäckereien up and down the Vaterland, whether in a sleepy country village after a hike in the hills (with hiking poles, naturally) or street-side in the leafy green city of Berlin, people are honoring this tradition of “Kaffee und Kuchen” by eating cake.  Lots of cake.

Now that I’m back in New Zealand, I really appreciate these German niceties. New Zealand has an exceptional “café culture”, with more cafés than is actually necessary, but our rituals are not as defined as in Germany. I like to hold on to these traditions in my home country in a determined effort to feel closer to the Northern climes. Other European rituals I practice include drinking freezing vodka, listening to techno at any given opportunity and recycling with fervent intensity.

I’ve been lucky enough to have been exposed to some pretty damn good cafés in my time and my recent trip to Europe was most inspiring. There is a real movement towards eating healthier and more holistically. Naturally, the progression towards raw and vegan food was well noted, as organic shops, super markets, café’s and restaurants are offering more raw and vegan options. For more information on the benefits of eating raw, have a squizz at my recipe for Sprouted Quinoa, Pistachio and Pomegranate Salad.

A wonderful café that I’ve had the privilege of working at is Goodies on Warschauer Straße in Friedrichain, Berlin. The food is amazingly innovative and the café is run like a well-oiled German ship. The raw + vegan cakes are absolute works of art and taste exceptional. Similarly with this Lemon and Blueberry “Cheesecake”, the main ingredient in a raw + vegan cake is nuts, predominantly cashews for the “cheese” mixture. The cashews give a super creamy texture and taste, without being high in saturated fat like your average cheesecake. Cashews have a lower fat content than other nuts and comprise of about 75% unsaturated fat acids. A good proportion of this is oleic acid, which promotes cardiovascular health. So you can “have your cake and eat it too” as the old saying goes.

This cake is an ode to those Goodies raw + vegan cakes and those honorary Germans eating cake pünktlich in the afternoon all over the world.

Dreamy Lemon and Blueberry Cheese Cake (Raw + Vegan)

2 cups of nuts – any mix you like (I use an even mix of walnuts and almonds)

1/2 a cup of pitted Medjool dates

1/4 of a cup of thread coconut

2 1/2 cups of cashews

1/2 a cup of agave

5 tablespoons of coconut oil, gently heated

The zest and juice of three lemons

1 vanilla pod, deseeded

1/4 of a cup of cold water

2 cups of blueberries (preferably fresh but can be frozen)

In a bowl, soak the cashews overnight or for a minimum 0f 4 hours.  In another bowl, repeat with the other nuts of your choosing. Rinse well, drain and set aside.

In a food processor, pulse the nuts of your choice with the pitted dates until a crumb-like consistency is reached. Sprinkle thread coconut into a decent sized, round pan. Press the nut mixture onto the coconut, ensuring the base is flat and even.

Place the cashews, agave, coconut oil, lemon zest and lemon juice, vanilla and water in the food processor and puree until smooth.

Pour the mixture onto the crust and freeze for a couple of hours or until firm. Remove from the freezer and place the blueberries on top of the cake. Slice whilst frozen and transfer to a serving platter. Defrost for about an hour and serve to amazed friends who won’t believe it’s raw and vegan.

Serves 8.

* Banana, Date and Coconut Baked Porridge *

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Yes, I know what you’re thinking – that’s no’ how ye make porriiidge!

Well, you may be right there, but this is not your average porridge. I’ve been making banana and date porridge in the traditional fashion for years now and loving the satisfyingly sweet warmth first thing in the morning. Porridge season always begins every year on the morning of Anzac Day (which falls on April the 25th) after the 6am Dawn Parade Service, which commemorates the soldiers who fought and died in the world wars. Providing we weren’t spending the New Zealand winter in the Northern Hemisphere, we would generally eat porridge until well into the spring.

Then I discovered baked oatmeal, or baked porridge as it’s called in these parts. Being an avid online foodie follower, I came across a few recipes for baked oatmeal and it’s only recently that I’ve actually started making it. This recipe is a fusion of a few of the recipes I’d seen online, but has been given the usual Super Foodie makeover to ensure that it’s the best possible start to the day (or night). As with most of my recipes, you can play around with the ingredients to ensure it suits your taste and diet, whether you’re vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free or just trying to be healthier.

The coconut cream gives the porridge a luscious richness and through the process of baking, the porridge develops a crispy, biscuitesque crust. It really is an indulgent yet nutritious breakfast or brunch, perfect for kick-starting the weekend. The oats contain high levels of both soluble and insoluble dietary fibre, which has proven to be effective in lowering blood cholesterol and keeping your insides so fresh and so clean (clean). Oats also have a high concentration of balanced protein, as well as a good dose of essential fatty acids, both of which promote longevity and good health. In short, this is verdammt good stuff.

The beautifully designed ceramics featured in the photo are available from Whiteroom – Dunedin’s top design destination.

Banana, Date and Coconut Baked Porridge

2 cups of oats (non-contaminated, gluten-free oats if you are gluten-intolerant)

1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

A heaped teaspoon of cinnamon

1/2 a teaspoon of nutmeg or mixed spice

A handful of sunflower seeds

A handful of chia seeds

A good pinch of Himalayan rock salt

A cup of coconut cream

A cup of milk of your choosing (almond, hazelnut, dairy, hemp etc)

A tablespoon of honey, pure, unrefined maple syrup or agave (optional)

A teaspoon of vanilla paste, extract or a vanilla bean, de-seeded

An egg or equal quantity of egg replacement

2 very ripe bananas, chopped

15 dates, chopped

Greek yoghurt or non-dairy alternative to serve

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a baking dish with coconut oil or oil. In a bowl, mix together the oats, baking powder, spices, sunflower seeds, chia seeds and Himalayan rock salt.

In a separate bowl, mix the coconut cream, your choice of sweetener, vanilla and egg or egg replacement together. Add the bananas, dates and liquid mixture to the dry mixture and mix.

Pour into the baking dish and pop in the oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown and crispy on top.  Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes, cut up and serve with Greek yoghurt or whatever else you fancy.

Serves 4 very hungry people or 6 moderately hungry people.