Friday, December 4th, 2009 at
If there ever was a comfort food for husbands, spaghetti and meatballs will be the one.
I prefer a vegetarian diet, with lots of juices and salads, but my husband craves for pasta and meat. When you are in love with the man, you only have one option: preparing his favorite food, but…..and there is a big BUT here, make it unforgettable.
First, stop using old tasteless boring recipes and take a leap into a more creative as well as healthy approach to this dish. When you try my recipe, let me know if it didn’t bring a smile to his face when you served it. Oh, I nearly forgot, watch out for the tomato saucy slurping kiss that will follow! You have been warned!
This dish is wheat and gluten free, I also chose lamb because they are fed on grass and the meat doesn’t contain as many antibiotics or any other kind of chemicals that as beef. To an healthier diet!
Corn Spaghetti with Lamb, Garlic and Parsley Meatballs
Ingredients for 2 serving:
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 small carrot, finely chopped
- 1 small celery stalk, finely chopped
- 1 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- 30g unsalted butter, (1oz)
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 2 tbsp dry sherry
- 16 lamb garlic and parsley meatballs, defrosted (see following recipe)
- 250g corn spaghetti, (9oz)
- 1 tsp flat leaves parsley, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Â½ tsp sea salt
- Â¼ tsp pepper
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in a non-stick frying pan.
- Add the chopped onion until translucent, then add carrot, celery and cook gently for 5 minutes.
- Add the chopped rosemary and the butter. When the butter is fully melted turn the heat to high then add the dry sherry.
- Cook it through for a few minutes then turn the heat to medium, add chopped tomato. Rinse the can of tomatoes with 2 tbsp water and add it to the pan.
- Add the tomato puree, salt and pepper then bring to a gentle simmer.
- Add the defrosted meatballs and leave to cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
- In the meantime cook the spaghetti. When cooked, drain well, stir in 1 tbsp oil and 2/3 of the chopped parsley. Keep warm.
- Carefully remove half of the meatballs from the pan and a couple of tbsp of sauce. Keep warm.
- Stir the remaining sauce and meatballs with the spaghetti. Serve in hot plates, topping with the reserved meatballs , sauce and the remaining chopped parsley.
- To achieve best results, time carefully when to start cooking the pasta.
- Make sure you have a large enough saucepan full of water on the hob when you start to cook the sauce. Then add sea salt and bring to the boil.
- You should add the pasta to the boiling water when you add the meatballs to the sauce.
- If the pasta is taking longer to cook, turn down the meatballs, stiring well to make sure that you don’t dry them out.
- To get the right consistency for the sauce, add 1 or 2 tbsp of water and keep cooking gently until your pasta is ready.
- If you prefer your sauce with a richer flavour just add another generous tsp of butter.
Lamb, Garlic and Parsley Meatballs
Ingredients for 8/10 serving:
- 1 Kg lamb mince, ( 2lb 3oz)
- 1 free range or organic egg, slightly beaten
- 3 tbsp flat leaves parsley, finely chopped
- 2 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 tsp sea salt
- Â½ tsp pepper
- Â¼ tsp nutmeg freshly grated
- pinch chilli flakes
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- In a large bowl combine all the ingredients and with a fork mix them well.
- Press gently all the ingredients in one big ball then cover with cling film and leave to rest overnight in the fridge. This step will help the flavours to develop.
- Remove the meat from the fridge, then start to roll into even size meatballs, more or less like the size of a large cherry.
- Meat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat and cook the meatballs in batches for 5 minutes or until cooked through.
- These meatballs are perfect for home freezing. All you have to do after cooking them properly, is leave them to cool. Then place them in a freezer bag, trying to expel as much air as possible then seal.
- Freeze for up to 3 months. Before reheating, thaw the meatballs in the fridge overnight.
Thursday, November 26th, 2009 at
The mistletoe might not be hanging on top of the door yet, but surely we have all started to be more indulgent with our food and especially the cakes. Oops!
Around this time you would start the preparation of the Christmas pudding! Even thought I love its all British cute look and the flamboyant if not melodramatic entrance that it performs every year at the Christmas table I can’t put up with the long preparation. The soaking of the fruits in alcohol or juices for days and days….and then the steaming of the cake..sorry, not for me! I have shopping to do!
However, I promised myself a nice rich and aromatic fruit and nut cake. So, I am delighted to be able to give you the recipe of this super easy, super fast, super delicious , no gluten, no dairy and no sugar fruit and nut cake. If you are not familiar with xylitol and agave syrup this is your chance to catch up on natural sweetner that don’t change you blood sugar, don’t destroy your teeth and they don’t create the classic havoc in your digestive system. Let’s get baking!
Agave Syrup, Fruit and Nut Slice
Ingredients for 12/14 serving:
- 150g pecan nuts
- 100g peeled and roasted hazelnuts
- 100g whole blanched almonds
- 200g sultanas
- 300g dried apricots chopped
- 150g halved glace’ cherries
- 100g xylitol
- 100g gluten free flour
- 60ml agave syrup
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- ½ tsp gluten free baking powder
- ¼ tsp xantham gum
- 2 tsp mixed spices
- 4 large free range or organic eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- grated zest of 1 small untreated lemon
- grated zest of 1 small orange
- pinch of salt
- icing sugar to dust
- Preheat the oven to 150°C, 300°F or gas mark2.
- Lightly butter and lined with baking paper a 9-by-5 inch loaf tin.
- In a bowl combine nuts and dried fruits thoroughly.
- Sift over the flour, spices, xantham gum and baking powder. Stir in the xylitol until fully combined.
- Whisks eggs with the vanilla, citrus zests, agave syrup and maple syrup. Add to the dry mixture and stir until well combined.
- Spoon the batter in the baking tin and smooth the surface with the spatula.
- Bake for 1½ hours or until a cake skewer insert into the center comes out clean.
- Cool the cake in the pan for 5/10 minutes.
- Turn the cake onto a cooling rack and gently peel of the baking paper to cool completely.
- To serve top thickly with icing sugar and cut into thin slices.
- Another way to finish this cake is to brush 125ml of nice quality rum on the top of the cake while is cooling. Then proceed as per above.
- This cake will keep wrapped tightly in foil for up to 2 weeks.
Tuesday, November 17th, 2009 at
A warm slice of apple tart can make you forget about the cold weather! But when the apple tart has a crunchy almond topping just browned in the oven over layers of gently saute’ sweet apples, well… who cares about the weather. Just enjoy it!
Apple Nougatine Tart
Ingredients for 8/10 servings:
For the sweet pastry:
- 75g (Â½ cup) fine polenta
- 75g (Â½ cup) rice flour
- 75g (2/3 cup)corn flour
- 1 heaped tsp xanthan gum
- pinch of salt
- 150g (5 oz) butter
- 100g (Â½ cup) xylitol or sugar
- grated zest of 1 untreated lemon
- 1 large organic or free range egg lightly mixed with 1 tbsp runny honey and Â½ tsp vanilla essence
For the filling:
- 1.4kg (3 pounds) thinly sliced organic apples with the skin still on, different variety if possible
- 100g (Â½ cup) xylitol or sugar
- 50g (2 oz)butter
- juice and the zest of 1 small lemon
For the topping:
- 2 large free range or organic eggwhite
- 100g (1 cup) sliced almond preferably with the skin still on
- 75g (1/3 cup) xylitol or sugar
- pinch salt
- Â¼ tsp almond essence
- icing sugar
Start this recipe by preparing the pastry dough.
- Sift the rice flour, fine polenta, cornflour, xanthan gum, xylitol and salt into a bowl and mix well. Add the cubed butter and the lemon zest and rub into the flour mixture until it resemble small peas.
- Make a well in the center and carefully add the egg and honey mixture using a fork. The dough should start to come together, so discard the fork and bring into a ball with your hands. Don’t be tempted to add extra liquid at this stage. Although rather damp pastry is easier to handle and roll out, the resulting crust can be tough and may well shrink out of shape in the oven.
- On a lightly rice or cornflour floured board, gently knead the dough with the heel of your hand for a few minutes to form a disk. Then wrap in cling film and refrigerate for minimum 1 hour or for up to overnight.
- To line a the tart tin, place the chilled disk of dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out 1/8 inch thick, rolling from the center toward the edge in all directions. Lift and rotate the dough a quarter turn every few strokes to discourage sticking, and work quickly to prevent the dough to become warm. Lightly dust the work surface and the dough with extra flour to prevent sticking.
- Carefully transfer the rolled out pastry in the tart tin 28 inch diameter lightly greased with butter and ease it into the bottom and sides by pressing gently into place. Trim the excess dough with a knife then place the tart in the freezer for 5/10 minutes.
- Remove the pastry from the freezer then line it with baking paper and fill with baking beans. To ensure better results fill the tart with baking beans up to the borders. Place in a preheated oven to 180Â°C, 350Â°F or gas mark4 for 20 minutes. To check how the pastry is cooking lift a corner of the paper.
- Remove the pastry shell from the oven, remove the beans and the paper and return to the oven for a few minutes more to dry the bottom.
- To prepare the apple filling start by using an heavy based saute’ pan, melt the butter on high heat, then add the xylitol and when it starts to caramelise add the apple to the pan. If you are using a smaller saute’ pan you might have to do this in batches.
- Saute’ the apple in a single layer until soft, turning them a few times with the spoon. The timing will depend on how thick you have cut the apple and from the kind of apple you are using.
- When they are softer pour them in a clean bowl then deglaze the pan by increasing the heat to high and by adding a few large tbsp of water. Scrape all the caramel and bits from the bottom, let the juice reduce and pour over the apples.
- Add the lemon juice and zest to the apples and pile them in the pre-baked pastry shell. Shake the tart to ensure an even filling and smooth the top with a spoon.
- To make the topping, combine the almond, xylitol, eggwhite, salt and almond essence in a small bowl. Spread the topping evenly over the apples, extending it to the edges of the tart.
- Bake the tart until the top is browned, about 20/25 minutes.
Remove from the oven, let it cool completely before serving and sprinkle with a generous amount of icing sugar.
Friday, October 30th, 2009 at
There is nothing more Italian than a fruit crostata. Less so if we make it gluten free and add rosemary and cinnamon to the wine caramel but the results is simply wonderful.
I cannot cook without herbs and rosemary is so versatile because it’s great in savoury as well as in sweet dishes. Take it from me, try this recipe and you will fall in love with crostate immediately!
Italian Mini Crostate with Plums in Wine Caramel, Rosemary and Pinenuts
Ingredients for 6 generous servings:
For the crostata:
For the plums:
500g plum, ripe but firm 1 pound and 1 oz
1 small bunch of red seedless grapes
1 strip of untreated lemon rind, only the yellow part
110g xylitol sugar ½ cup
1tbsp rosemary leaves
1 cinnamon stick about 5cm, 2inches long
2 peppercorns bruised
60ml good red wine ¼ cup
2 tbsp roasted pinenuts
Start by making the crostata dough by sifting the rice flour, fine polenta, cornflour, xanthan gum and salt into a bowl and mix well.
Add the cubed butter and rub into the flour mixture until it resemble small peas. Add the xylitol, few drops of vanilla essence and lemon zest and quickly mix it in.
Make a well in the center and carefully add the egg and water mixture using a fork. The dough should start to come together, so discard the fork and bring into a ball with your hands. Don’t be tempted to add extra liquid at this stage. Although rather damp pastry is easier to handle and roll out, the resulting crust can be tough and may well shrink out of shape in the oven.
On a lightly rice or cornflour floured board, gently knead the dough with the heel of your hand for a few minutes to form a silky- smooth ball. Then wrap in cling film and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. This step is crucial to make the pastry much less elastic and easier to handle.
While the dough is chilling preheat the oven to 180C°, 350°F or gas mark 4 and prepare the plums.
Combine the xylitol with 200ml of water in a deep heavy-based pan. Stir over medium heat until the xylitol has dissolved, then add the lemon rind, peppercorns, cinnamon stick. Bring to a simmer without stirring until the mixture form a light caramel syrup. It will take up to 10/15 minutes.
Add the plums, rosemary and wine. Stir gently until all plums have being dipped in the syrup. Add the grapes then cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and cook very gently for a few minutes. Don’t overcook the fruits and make sure that you stir it gently to avoid breaking it up.
Transfer the plums and grapes to a bowl with a slotted spoon and leave to cool. Let the syrup simmer for a further 5 minutes then strain through a sieve and leave to cool separately.
Take the pastry dough out of fridge and cut it in 6 equal smaller dough balls. Roll out each small dough ball on a lightly floured surface to a size of 12cm.
Gently fit each pastry dough into a lightly butteres aluminum ring 9cm diamater, making sure to keep the borders straight against the side of the ring. Position all the crostate on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
Fill each crostata with a generous amount of plums and grapes. Fold over the edges and gently press them in a pleating effect as you go. Brush the pastry with egg wash, then bake until golden brown, 20/25 minutes.
Leave the crostate to cool in their aluminum ring then scatter a few roasted pinenuts on each crostata and drizzle with the caramel syrup. Serve warm or at room temperature with optional ice-cream.
Wednesday, April 15th, 2009 at
Saffron and almond cake with goat's yoghurt lemon glaze
Ingredients for cake: (Serves 2/3)
- 200g soft goat’s butter 7oz
- 250g light brown sugar – just over 1 cup
- 4 large organic or free range eggs
- 250g goat’s sheep yogurt 1 cup
- 75g finely ground pistachios 2.5oz
- 75g ground almonds 2.5oz
- 75g corn flour 2.5oz
- finely grated rind of 1 lemon not treated
- 1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
- ½ tsp saffron treads moistened in a tbsp warm water
- 250g icing sugar 1⅔ cups
- 2 tablespoons of goat’s yogurt
- 1 or 2 tsp lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 160°C, 320°F or gas mark 3.
- Cover a 28cm fluted tart pan with goat’s butter. Cover the base with a circle of baking paper.
- Beat the egg and the butter together until pale and fluffy with an electric mixer.
- Add the egg one at the time and beat well until fully incorporated before adding the next.
- Add the moistened saffron, lemon zest and yogurt and beat to combine.
- Add the almonds, pistachios, corn flour and baking powder and fold in the mixture with a spatula.
- Spoon the cake batter in the fluted pan and bake in the oven for 25/30 minutes or until golden and a toothpick come out clean when testing the center of the cake.
- Leave to cool for 15 minutes then remove the rim of the pan. Take a wire rack big enough to fit the all cake and gently put it on the top of the cake with the feet facing up.
- With a fast turn and using both hands turn the cake upside down on the wire rack. Leave to cool.
- Meanwhile for the yogurt glaze, sieve the icing sugar in a bowl then add the yogurt and lemon to combine.
- Keep stirring the mixture until glossy and smooth. If the glaze doesn’t have a drizzling consistency add a bit more of lemon juice.
- Put the cake on a serving plate, remove the bottom of the fluted pan and the baking paper making sure not to damage any of the delicate edges then drizzle the cake with the glaze.
- If you want, top with a few scattered pistachio halves or lemon zest.
- This cake is particularly delicious and fragrant if served hot, otherwise serve at room temperature.