31 July, 2011

Carrot Oat Spelt Cake


Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present you my latest cold weather cake. Made entirely from ingredients that I found in  the house during our stay at the North Sea on one of the countless cold and rainy days. Mixed together without a proper measuring cup even. It turned out delicious: we had the cake warm straight from the oven, with a thick smear of cream cheese frosting and a warming cup of coffee in the afternoon.
The whole spelt flour works very well with carrot cakes. Its nutty flavor goes beautifully with the added nuts in  the cake. The oats add some extra nutrition. I made the cake again when my grandparents came to visit us. They are over 80 years old and had lots of cakes in their lives. They were impressed by my cake and I take that as a big compliment. The proportions of the ingredients in this cake are just perfect. I can imagine replacing the carrots by grated zucchinis and add some lemon zest or cocoa powder for flavor. What a  versatile and healthy recipe!
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CARROT OAT SPELT CAKE

3/4 cup whole wheat or whole spelt flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup boiling water
1/4 cup butter, roughly  chopped

1/3 cup palm sugar
2 eggs

1 1/2 cups coarse grated carrots
1/3 cup chopped almonds or walnuts

Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup cream cheese
3 tablespoons maple syrup

Yields 1 loaf
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Preheat oven to 175C/375F. Line medium-sized loaf pan with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, cover oats with boiling water. Place the butter on top of the oat water mixture so it will melt. Let stand for about 10 minutes to soak.

In another bowl, combine flour salt and baking powder. Set aside. Whisk the eggs lightly, then add the palm sugar and beat until mixture is fluffy. Add the egg mixture to the oat mixture and stir until combined. Now combine wet and dry ingredients. Fold in grated carrots and chopped almonds.

Transfer batter to prepared loaf tin. Bake for 40 minutes or until bake tester comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then take out. Let cool completetely on wire racks.

Just before serving, combine cream cheese and maple syrup until smooth. Apply frosting evenly on top of the cake. Ready to serve.
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28 July, 2011

Honeyed Goat Cheese with Dried Fruit and Walnuts


I have weakness for quirky ingredients or flavor combinations. You might have noticed along the way.
However, for quite some time I have cooked more or less "regular" dishes. This will end today, as I want to share a recipe for home-made and honey-sweetened goat cheese with you. I'll be honest with you: it wasn't love at first sight. Goat cheese had always been a savory ingredient to me. Sweetening it with dried fruit and honey sounded good, but my palate had to get used to it. However from the first bite on, there was something about this cheese, that made me go back to it and have another bite, another spoonful spread on some bread, etc. Before I knew the first batch was eaten up.

There is something about making your cheese at home. It's so easy and rather quick. After that it's up to you if this cheese will have a subtle or bold sweetness: by adding more or less honey and by deciding which dried fruit you want to add. The nuts give it a crunch that goes well with the creaminess and sweetness of the cheese. I love it in the morning or as snack between meals. Bon appetit!
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HONEYED GOAT CHEESE WITH DRIED FRUIT AND WALNUTS


1 litre/quart goats milk
1/2 lemon, juice of

1 tablespoon honey (or to taste)
1/4 cup dried fruit, finely chopped (e.g. apricots, cranberries, figs)
1/4 cup roasted walnuts, finely chopped

extras: cheese cloth or clean kitchen towel

Serves 4-6
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Bring goat milk to a boil over medium heat. Take off the heat. Immediately stir in the lemon juice. Leave standing for about a few minutes, so the milk can curdle. Pour the milk lemon mixture into the cheese cloth (or alternatively a clean kitchen cotton towel), that has been laid out in a bowl. Tie the ends of the cloth together so it becomes a bag. Hang it on a wooden spoon and let the bag hang free over the bowl. The whey should be able to strain out of the cheese cloth for at least two hours.
Before taking the cheese out of the cloth, squeeze the cloth itself to extract more liquid from the cheese. Transfer the cheese from the cloth to a bowl. Stir in the honey, dried fruits and walnuts. Ready to serve.

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24 July, 2011

Raspberry Crisp

 
Germany's summer seems to have hit the lowest point: It's 12C outside and it's wet wet wet. It's anything but summer. Idon't think it can get much worse than this. But I won't complain. There is still so many things that I will enjoy while I am here, that I will not have in Dubai. Like local food.

The local fruit and vegeables are so good, they have a hard time to make it into a pot or pan. We eat them just on their own and raw: strawberries, cherries, overripe gooseberries, plums, raspberries, red currants, everything tasting like in my grandma's garden when I was a kid when we would eat them right there, freshly picked from the trees and bushes.
During our holidays at the seaside I got hold of a flyer of a farm where we could pick raspberries, red currants and gooseberries ourselves. I couldn't wait to see how my kids would like it. They are real city slickers. We plant our traditional tomatoes and green beans in the garden in winter, but beyond that they hardly get to see food growing.We ended up with two pounds of each raspberries and gooseberries in our boxes. Another pound went straight into our mouths as we picked.

Only this time we had a little too many fruit in our house that needed to be used up quickly. I made a raspberry crisp out of it. A dessert that fills the house wit the smell of cooked raspberries while it'sstill in the oven. Best eaten warm straight from the oven. Put some ice cream or whipped cream on top if you feel indulgent. The best dessert, and very suitable for cold summer days.
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RASPBERRY CRISP


1 lb fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons palm sugar (optional)

Topping
1/4 cup butter at room temperature
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup palm sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Serves 4
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Preheat oven to 180C.
In a bowl, sprinkle cornstarch over raspberries. Mix gently until well coated. Sprinkle with sugar if raspberries are more on the sour side. Transfer raspberries to 4 individual ramekins.

For the topping, combine all ingredients in a bowl. Use your fingers to rub the butter and the other ingredients together until you get a crumbly mixture.

Top each ramekin with the oat mixture. Bake for 20 minutes or until raspberries are bubbling and the oat mixture looks golden brown. Best eaten warm or at room temperature. Top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
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22 July, 2011

Leek Potato Soup


Our German holiday weather is taking no mercy on us. It's back at cold, rainy and extremely windy weather. We are back to board games, dice games, card games. My sister and I finished a 1500-piece puzzle in 3 days. It's that horrible outside. Tomorrow we are going back to Hamburg. Out of 14 days, we had about 4 good ones, weatherwise.

I thought I could spare today's recipe until winter but I have no choice. The current weather in Germany just calls for soup. Here is an old classic: leek potato soup. We keep this soup as simple as possible and really just throw in leeks and potatoes. Fancy herbs, garlic, onion? No thanks. It is our lazy day soup, it involves little chopping, little stirring. It can be on the table in 20 minutes or so.
Just what we needed these days, so we can crawl back under the blankets on the sofa as quick as possible.
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LEEK POTATO SOUP

(Print Recipe)

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 large leeks, white and light green part only

1,5 litres vegetable stock
salt to taste

splash of cream
nutmeg to taste

Serves 4-6

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Wash the leeks and cut into rings. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the leeks and fry until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Add chopped potatoes and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer on medium heat until potatoes are cooked and very soft, about 10 minutes. Take off the heat and blend the soup in a food processor until smooth. Transfer soup back into the pan. Stir in a splash of cream and season to taste with salt and freshly grated nutmeg. Serve hot with bread.
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20 July, 2011

Chickpea Rice Pan Bread

Every year in summer we escape the heat of Dubai for a month. Any weather is welcome and Germany is always good for a change in climate. All we want is fresh air. The wind at the seaside usually does the trick. I  feel almost dizzy from the fresh and clean oxygen that has  filled my lungs during long walks outside on the beach, in the dunes or forests.
For the third year in a row we spend 2 weeks at the German seaside, before we go and visit the family (which takes another 2 weeks). We love those 2 weeks where it is just us: me,  my husband and the kids. My sister is the only family member allowed during those two weeks. 14 days of peace and calm, with all of us carrying our books wherever we go. And whenever we sit down, we read while the kids do their own thing. Bliss!

The weather was actually quite miserable for a week, we finally had a couple of warm sunny days! Only my kids were braving the 16C cold water of the North Sea. I wouldn't let the water go beyond my ankle level. After a week of rain and warming soups and bean stews,  I am happy to spend more time outdoors (rather than in the kitchen), with plain simple picnic-style meals that go along without big fuss: fresh breads, olives, cheeses, fruits and veggies as they are.
This bread is a quick no-fuss bread that is made in no time. It's made from gluten-free flours. The chickpea flour gives it a lovely earthy flavor. Eat it warm, straight from the pan, with a dip or just some butter or cheese.
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CHICKPEA RICE PAN BREAD

3/4 cup chickpea flour (besan)
1/4 cup brown or red rice flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 to 3/4 cup water

Serves 6
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In a bowl, mix the flours with baking powder and salt. In another bowl, mix lemon juice and olive oil. Add to the flour mixture, then slowly incorporate the water, little by little. The mixture should have the consistency of a very thick batter, rather than a dough.
Transfer the batter to a medium sized non-stickpan, spreading it like a 1 inch thick disc and flatten it as even as possible. Over medium heat, cook the bread for 3-5 minutes or until cooked and lightly browned on the bottom side, Flip over and cook for another couple of minutes. The pan bread should rise a little in the cooking process. Cut in wedges. Serve warm or within 12 hours.
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16 July, 2011

Zucchini Chickpea Feta Fritters


Piled up pancakes and fritters look really good on photos. But honestly, I wouldn't want to feed a whole family with them. Not if I have to cook them. I'd stand in the kitchen for an eternity. the bottom ones are probably cold by them time the last ones are cooked. I tell you a secret: I usually make them, when I just have to feed myself.

Summertime is zucchini time. They are packed with vitamins and minerals. They  a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, C, B6 and K, Folate, Magnesium, Potassium and Manganese.

Because zucchinis don't have much flavor, they can be put into anything: cakes, side dishes, savory tarts. Or fritters. My fritters get a twist from added chickpea flour. It makes them gluten-free, and the chickpea taste goes really well with the feta. An ideal protein-rich and delicious lunch or dinner, that keeps you full with all the right foods.
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ZUCCHINI CHICKPEA FETA FRITTERS

1 cup zucchini, coarsely grated

1 egg
1/2 red onion, finely diced
3 tablespoons chickpea flour
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
freshly ground pepper

olive oil

Yields about 6 small fritters
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Whisk the egg lightly. Stir in flour, onion, feta cheese, salt and pepper. Add grated zucchini. Let stand for a few minutes.

Lightly grease a non-stick pan with olive oil and heat over medium high heat. Drop about 1 heaped tablespoon of the batter into the pan. Flatten slightly and cook for about two minutes. Turn over and cook until cooked through. Transfer fritter to a plate and cover with silver foil to keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining batter. Serve immediately.
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13 July, 2011

Traditional Oat Porridge

It's already been a week since we landed in Germany for our vacation. It wasn't the smoothest of all vacations in the beginning. All is fine now. We have settled into our holiday house at the North Sea. Been to the beach, watched the tides and even got minor sunburns. Which could have been avoided.

When you come from Dubai, where the sun is out and shining for 350 days a year, with temperatures rising to 45C in summer, you would not think to apply sunscreen for a walk on the beach at 20C. Oh, we were wrong. The sun was much more aggressive than it would ever be in Dubai, and the cold wind blowing from the sea was very deceptive. Well, lesson learned. Now we even have time to heal our sunburns as temperatures dropped to 15C today and it hasn't stopped raining since morning. The weather forecast predicts exactly the same for another 4-5 days. Summer in Germany? Not existent. Any sunburn on the planet can heal in this time.

15C is about as cold as it gets in Dubai in winter. At night. And what poured down here today is probably as much as came down in Dubai in the last two years.
I don't mind the rain. We never have it in Dubai. I can keep the kids and myself busy indoors for a couple of  days. It's comfy. And as wrong as it may sound, I enjoy sitting down. Not running errands. We play checkers, ludo, and memory. And keep the meals plain and simple to keep time in the kitchen as short as possible.

However, coldish weather calls for warming meals. I made a bean stew, that we will heat up for dinner. I had traditional hot oat porridge for breakfast. My kids have this for breakfast everyday, when my son is going to school. I can make it in my sleep. In fact, it is so easy that you probably would not need a recipe for it. I want to include it in my blog's recipe collection, as it is a simple, easy, rustic and healthy breakfast. Sweetened with raw mashed banana only. It will keep the blood sugar levels down and keep you full for a long time. At the same time, it is very light on the stomach. Therefore, it is also my favorite "hospital food", when I don't feel well. 

I hope the German weather forecasters are wrong, and weather will improve rather soon. There is so much to explore. In the middle of today's rain we ventured out to the weekly farmer's market, and returned drenched, with my 3-year-old daughter holding a soaking wet breadroll in her hands. I didn't even bother to take my camera. There are organic sheep farms to visit that will show the kids how to make cheese. There are islands to explore. Please sun, come out again soon. We'll put on sunscreen, I promise!

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TRADITIONAL OAT PORRIDGE 

1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup milk (or soy/rice/oats/almond milk)

1 medium ripe banana

optional
fresh berries
chopped nuts

Serves 1-2
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In a small pan, combine oats, water and milk. Over medium high heat bring to a boil. Stir occasionally. Turn down the heat and let simmer, stirring every now and then, for about 3 minutes or until consistency becomes creamy.Take off the heat.
Mash the banana, then stir it into the porridge. Transfer to serving bowls. Top up with fresh berries and/or chopped nuts (optional).
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11 July, 2011

Yogurt Date Tart

I missed my own birthday! Blog birthday that is. Can you believe it? It simply got lost in all the misadventures of the last few days that came along with our vacation in Germany.

Now we are 2 years old. I just looked at my first few recipes, posts and picture. It made me smile at myself. I've come a long way. My recipes were inconsistent write-ups, the post a bumpy read and the photos plain horrible. But hey, to speak with Edith Piaf's words: Je ne regrette de rien. If I be honest with you, I still find that many of my posts are bumpy reads. At least my recipes got more consistent and my photography has improved. But there is space for more and better. Much space.
Two years filled with learning and exploring foods, cooking and healthy nutrition. Two foodie years that brought me together with countless fellow foodies, either face-to-face or in cyberspace. I wouldn't want to miss any of this. I am feeling honored and privileged. Food and this blog have become a big part of my life.

Alright, enough big words. Let's get the cake out! I am serving you a gluten-free yogurt date tart. If you get raw yogurt where you live, this cake will even be raw. It's delicious, I promise. It's been tested and approved by people who don't care for gluten-free, sugar-free and raw foods. I also served this as dessert at my Come Dine With Me round with Dubai Food Bloggers (read about it here). It might have helped to become runner-up.
This is to all my faithful and new readers: Thanks for coming here, leaving comments or asking questions. I wish I could serve you a piece of cake myself right here and now.
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YOGURT DATE TART

(Print Recipe)

Crust
1 cup raw whole almonds
3/4 cup dried dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1/4 cup desiccated coconut flakes
1 tablespoon water (or as needed) 
Filling
3 cups full fat yogurt
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon orange zest, finely grated

Serves 8
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Crust
Combine whole almonds, dried dates and coconut flakes in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped and crumbly. It should stick together when pressed between two fingers. Add a tablespoon of water if it doesn't stick and blend again. Repeat if necessary. Make sure the dough doesn't get too wet.
With your fingers, press the crust mixture into bottom and sides of a cake pan with removable bottom. Make sure it is evenly covered. Set aside.

Filling
Strain the yogurt through a cheesecloth or clean kitchen towel for two hours. Discard the whey. Mix the strained yogurt with honey and orange zest. Fill into the prepared crust. Let sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours to settle.

Serve with fresh berries or berry coulis (recipe here).
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09 July, 2011

Basil Chickpea Dip with Cucumbers

Hello and welcome from Germany. I am on holiday, finally! Everything is good. Although the journey so far has been not exactly smooth.
Our plane trip was delayed by 2 hours (not cool if you wake up at 4am with two small children in tow). We got a smaller plane than planned, that would not get us through to Germany in one go, and we had to pit-stop in Turkey for a fuel stop. We finally reached Germany after 9 1/2 hours (we were supposed to reach after 6 hours). The food was inedible and simply not enough for 9 1/2 hour journey. This small plane only had two washrooms that were by far not enough to cater for people using them for 9 hours.Well, somehow even these days pass and soon after they were forgotten. Although we still plan to write a nasty letter to the airline, one fine evening over a good glass of wine.

But the next obstacle was just waiting around the corner: one day into our Germany vacation, after a not very healthy take-away dinner, I got seriously sick and was flat on my back in the bed or somewhere around the toilet for a whole day. I am not sure if it was food poisoning or if the dinner coincided with getting a stomach bug. I feel better today, although I still don't really want to eat much or anything other than porridge. And whatever junk food I had for dinner that night, I will never ever have again in my life. Feeling so miserable put me off for the rest of my life.
Today, we drove to our holiday house at the seaside in St. Peter Ording. I booked this for us in January. Hey, why should it go smoothly.... the house and its surroundings looked lovely. But then, the keys for the house were not in the spot, were they were supposed to be hidden. Thank God, it was just a minor incident. We could just count on German reliability and keys were delivered to our doorstep within 15 minutes. If there is anything elseto complain about, then it will be me sitting almost on the roof of our house to get Internet connection.
That's it so far. Loving the German fresh air, the rain, the breeze, the kids running around on real green meadows and forests. Tomorrow we will check out the sea.

I should actually give you my recipe for my porridge today, as I have been eating nothing else for the last 2 days. My kids love it for breakfast. I will take some pictures of it in the next few days and then share it with you. It is my all-healing hospital food, my kids' favorite breakfast, and simply a good breakfast choice.
Instead, I will give you my latest summer dip recipe today. From the amount of chickpea recipes on my blog, you might get the impression that I am addicted to them. You might be right. This chickpea dip is freshened up with cucumbers, and gets a good twist by adding fresh basil. Good to eat with crackers, breadsticks, or veggie sticks. Bon appetit.

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BASIL CHICKPEA DIP WITH CUCUMBERS


1 can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed), keep the liquid
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves*
1 small cucumber, quartered lengthwise and deseeded
salt and pepper to taste

* The basil flavor can be quite overpowering when you keep the dip in the fridge overnight. Use 1/4 cup basil when you want to serve the dip the next day, and 1/2 cup when you  serve the dip immediately.

Serves 4-8
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In a food processor combine chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and washed basil leaves. Blend until smooth. Roughly chop the deseeded cucumber, then add to the chickpea mix, and pulse again, until cucumbers are finely chopped. They should keep a little texture. If the mixture seems to dry, add some of the retained chickpea liquid. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately or keep in airtight container in the fridge.
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05 July, 2011

Banana Date Spelt Bread

The last week before a holiday is as stressful as all the time together since the last holiday, it seems to me. I am going on a one-month holiday tomorrow. I got everything done. Finally. I am feeling like I really deserve a holiday now, especially after the last week. My kids are too young to see what it takes to have everything in place when needed: Someone needs to look after the cat. Those several freelance jobs of mine have to be somewhat completed before a leave. Germany (where we are going) needs different kind of clothes than Dubai. While I am happy to wear the same pair of jeans that I have worn in previous years, my children outgrow their Germany-clothes and need new ones. On top of that, I had a car accident last week that required police reports and involved insurance companies. The last thing on your mind when you are supposed to look forward to a holiday. And then there is a million other small things. I can't even name them now.
To cut a long story short, I spent a lot of time in the car in the last week. My bag filled with fresh fruit, nuts and a thick slice of this Banana Date Spelt Bread to get me through the ordeals mentioned above. A life-saver, I am telling you.
But everything is done: bags are packed, alarm set for 4am, taxi ordered to take us to the airport and then hopefully everything will just go smoothly and we'll be in Berlin tomorrow at lunchtime. The city were I went to university and tested life to the fullest. Can't wait! See you in Germany!
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BANANA DATE SPELT BREAD

1 1/4 cups whole spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 cup dates, pitted and chopped
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup boiling water

2 ripe bananas, mashed
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 egg whites

3 tablespoons hazelnuts, chopped

Yields 1 loaf
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Preheat oven to 175C/375F. Grease or line loaf tin with parchment paper. 

Place chopped dates and baking soda in a medium bowl. Pour over the boiling water. Let stand for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, In a bowl, sift together, flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Set aside.
Mash the bananas. Beat the egg whites lightly. Stir the olive oil into the date mixture. Add mashed bananas and egg whites. 
Add wet ingredients to flour mixture. Stir until just combined. Transfer batter to prepared loaf tin. Sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts.
Bake for about 45 minutes, or until cake tester come out clean. Let cool on wire rack.
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03 July, 2011

Coconut-Kissed Almond Date Truffles

These truffles are a by-product of my Raw Lemon Cashew Cheesecake. I was playing around with the proportions of the crust ingredients, that left me with a whole batch of nice "truffle dough" the first time, as it got slightly too wet to be used as a crust. The second time round I had some leftover crust dough, which I turned into truffles.
I didn't even bother to flavor them, because they are delicious as they are. The coconut comes through beautifully and I love it in combination with the dark deep sweetness of dates.
These little balls are good and delicate enough to be a dessert. A guilt-free one, that is. But I also like them as a snack before or after my workouts. Dig in, they are good for you.

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COCONUT-KISSED ALMOND DATE TRUFFLES


1 cup raw whole almonds
3/4 cup dried dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1/4 cup desiccated coconut flakes
1 tablespoon water (or as needed)

Coating
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Yields about 30
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Combine whole almonds, dried dates and coconut flakes in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped and crumbly. It should stick together when pressed between two fingers. Add a tablespoon of water if it doesn't stick and blend again. Repeat if necessary. Make sure the dough doesn't get too wet.
Roll teaspoons full of the dough to balls. Coat each one in with either coconut or cocoa. Place in mini cupcake holder. Repeat until all dough is used up. 
Keeps well in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Becoming Raw: The Essential Guide to Raw Vegan Diets   Ani's Raw Food Essentials: Recipes and Techniques for Mastering the Art of Live Food  Raw Food Made Easy For 1 or 2 People
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