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Raspberry sorbet, double choc chip ice cream sundae

Here is the first instalment of our Sundae Challenge – a raspberry sorbet double choc chip ice cream sundae with almond chocolate bark! We are going to try a different sundae every Sunday whilst we are in Corona Virus lock-down. This one was definitely a hit with the whole fam!

Raspberry Sundae 2

Raspberry sorbet, double choc chip ice cream Sundae

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the raspberry sorbet:
3 cups frozen raspberries
15ml / 2 tbsp maple syrup
5ml / 1 tsp lime juice
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

Method
Place the frozen raspberries, maple syrup, lime and orange juice in a food processor or high speed blender and blend until smooth. You might need to use the tamper and don’t blend for longer than is necessary, or it will start melting. Scrape into a container and freeze for 4 hours.

For the choc chip ice cream
500ml (2 cups) milk of your choice (hazelnut milk works well)
250ml (1 cup) double (heavy) cream
60ml (1/4 cup) maple syrup
pinch of salt
5ml (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract
5 medium egg yolks
160g 70% dark chocolate, finely chopped
handful of dark chocolate chips

Method

  1. Heat the milk, cream and maple syrup over medium heat until steaming.
  2. In a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks with the salt and vanilla, then slowly whisk in the hot milk mix.
  3. Clean the saucepan, pour the egg-milk mix back into the saucepan and place over a low heat. Cook, stirring regularly, until the mixture thickens – if the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon, it’s done. (If you do this step over a water bath, there is less chance of the mix curdling.)
  4. Lastly add the chopped chocolate and stir until it has melted. Transfer the mix to a chilled bowl and stir to cool. If your mixture looks slightly grainy, pass it through a sieve first.
  5. Add the choc chips and freeze in an ice cream maker, then place in the freezer for 4 hours (or freeze in a container, whisking the mix every 20 minutes or so until frozen).

For the raspberry coulis
Blend 3 cups of fresh raspberries in a blender (add a touch of honey if your berries are not sweet enough), then pass through a sieve to get rid of the seeds.

For the chocolate bark
1/2 cup raw almonds
100g 70% dark chocolate, very finely chopped
1 heaped tablespoon cocoa nibs
sea salt flakes

Method

  1. Roast the almonds at 180˚C for 15 minutes or until the nuts are toasty. Remove and let cool, then roughly chop.
  2. Melt half the chopped chocolate in a small bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove the bowl from the steam, then add the rest of the chopped chocolate and stir until this too has melted.
  3. Get a baking tray ready and line it with parchment paper. Spread the chocolate out on the paper, using a spatula to ensure it is a thin layer. Sprinkle the almonds and cocoa nibs over the chocolate and sprinkle a few sea salt flakes on top. Set aside to cool and harden. If you’ve tempered the chocolate properly, it will set and have a nice snap to it.

Assemble and enjoy!

 

 

 



Mango, lime and ginger sorbet

What better way to celebrate the change in seasons and fight off various bugs than with a zingy mango, lime and ginger sorbet? A dear friend brought me some gorgeous ripe Alphonso mangoes today and just as we were about to devour them as a snack, my little one suggested making ice cream instead. And boy, was it worth the change in tack.

Mangoes are high in fibre and a great source of vitamins A and C. They also contain folate, B6, iron and a little calcium, zinc and vitamin E. Mangoes are a good source of antioxidants, containing certain phytochemicals such as gallotannins and mangiferin which have been studied for their health benefits. A study by the Journal of Nutrition also found that adding mango to your diet could improve gut microflora, due in part to the high fibre content of mango. The phytochemicals have also been studied for their gastroprotective effects, offering both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties to the digestive system, and may even help reduce inflammation in conditions like ulcerative colitis.

Mango sorbet

Mango, lime and ginger sorbet

Serves 4

Ingredients
flesh from 3 ripe Alphonso mangoes
zest from 1 lime
juice from 2 large limes
1/2 peeled ripe avocado
30ml (2 tablespoons) raw honey
1 teaspoon finely grated ginger

Method

  1. Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until pureed.
  2. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions or place in a container in the freezer, removing every hour or so to give it a whiz in the blender. This breaks up the ice crystals and ensures the sorbet remains smooth.
  3. For those of you with a high-speed blender, you could also pour 2/3 of the mixture into a small lipped tray or baking sheet and freeze. Once frozen solid, chop roughly into small’ish cubes and place in the blender with the remaining (unfrozen) third. Use the tamper to press the mixture into the blades until you have a smooth sorbet.

 

 

 



Banana bread (gluten-free, and no added sugar)

We all have our go-to banana bread recipe that we fall back on when the brown bananas start attracting fruit flies in the bowl. I have been playing around with different recipes for the longest time. I make a sugar-free, grain-free version with a dark chocolate ganache for all the kids’ parties. It’s very moist and very delicious. In fact, many children prefer this cake to the more traditional chocolate cake that is most often also on offer. But this recipe, with the addition of roast pecans and a little bit of flour (gluten-free in my case), is also really, really good. Again, with the sweetness from the bananas, there is no need for any added sugar, and it tastes like a real treat, especially if you decide to add dark chocolate chips.

 

Banana bread 2

Sugar-free banana bread

Makes one large’ish loaf

Ingredients
180g pecan nuts (or use walnuts)**
2 eggs (or replace with 2 chia eggs)
60ml (1/4 cup) olive oil or melted coconut oil
550g mashed bananas (about 6 large bananas)
150g flour of your choice (spelt and gluten-free mixes work well)
1 slightly heaped teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
50g dark chocolate chips, optional

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180˚C. Grease and line a medium-large bread loaf pan.
  2. Roast the pecan nuts on a baking sheet for 8 – 10 minutes or until lightly toasted. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a large mixing bowl whisk the eggs and oil into the mashed bananas. Stir in the flour, baking soda, salt and cardamom.
  4. Put just over half the roasted pecan nuts in a mini blender or food processor and grind into a flour. Roughly chop the rest by hand, but ensure there are no big pieces. Stir both of these into the mix together with the chocolate chips, if using, and scrape the mixture into the prepared loaf tin.
  5. Bake for 55 – 60 minutes, but cover with foil after 30 minutes to prevent the loaf from getting too dark on top. Test with a skewer for doneness.
  6. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before turning out. Allow to cool completely before cutting.

**Note: you could also use ground almonds instead of the 90g ground pecan  or walnuts, and just roast and chop 90g of pecans.

Banana bread 3

 

 



Roast cauliflower with green sauce

Cauliflower took over from kale as the “must eat” superfood a few years ago, and was then bumped up another notch when cauli rice became the new, well, rice. It was lent ever more glamour when caulifower steaks hit the vegan scene and whole roast cauliflower appeared on dinner tables instead of roast pork. It does all sound incredibly faddy… But here’s the thing – I really, really like cauliflower. Always have. Always will.

Sure, it can be a little bland and needs careful handling (NObody likes waterlogged cauliflower!), but it is soooo versatile and sooooo healthy and sooooo good with bold flavours. This is my version of the whole roast option. It seems like a lot of effort, but it’s really not too bad, considering the end result is so incredibly delicious. It’s very good with a bitter leaf salad and a few sliced oranges, or perhaps some roasted grapes.

Cauli 2

Whole roast cauliflower with green dressing

Serves 4 -6 

Ingredients for the cauliflower

1 large whole cauliflower

butter and / or olive oil

salt & pepper


Ingredients for the dressing

60g walnuts, plus extra for serving

30g watercress

30g chives

30g parsley

30g coriander (cilantro)

1 clove garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons raisins

2 tablespoons capers

olive oil

salt & pepper


Ingredients for the yoghurt sauce

125g natural yoghurt (not Greek) of your choice

45ml (3 tablespoons) tahini

juice from half a lemon (reserve zest for serving)

salt & pepper


Method

  1. Trim the base of the cauliflower and remove most of the outer leaves, then place in a large pot on its base with 2cm (or an inch) of water, cover and steam for 10 minutes or until just tender, but not soft. Drain and replace the lid. Set aside for a few minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 200˚C. Place the now dry, par-cooked cauliflower in an ovenproof dish, drizzle with olive oil (and dot with butter, if you like), and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 30 – 40 minutes or until completely, meltingly soft and golden all over.
  3. While the cauliflower is roasting, make the dressing. Place the walnuts on a small rimmed baking sheet and pop in the oven with the cauliflower for five minutes, or until fragrant. Be careful not to let them burn. Set aside to cool. 
  4. Roughly chop all the herbs, then place in a food processor and pulse a few times to chop. Add the chopped garlic, toasted walnuts, raisins and capers, season well. With the motor running, pour olive oil through the chute until you reach the desired consistency. You are aiming for a chunky, spoonable sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  5. For the yoghurt sauce, stir all the ingredients together. If the sauce seizes a little because of the tahini, add a little room temperature water to loosen it. Adjust seasoning and spread on the serving plate. 
  6. Carefully place the roasted cauliflower on the yoghurt sauce using a large spatula. Serve, drizzled with green sauce and  some additional chopped nuts.

Cauli

 



Winter salad with pears and edible flowers

I love a good winter salad, especially a really pretty one (ever tried edible flowers?), with hits of sweetness (like pear, citrus fruit or apple), bitter undertones and something crunchy, aka toasted nuts or seeds. And they come into sharp focus in my life around the middle of January every year, when my jeans start feeling a little too tight and my energy levels drop. Usually I try to stick to a plant-heavy whole foods and gluten-free diet – because my autoimmune issues flare up if I don’t – but during the Christmas holidays, it is nigh impossible. That is where winter salads come in. Add a well balanced, sharp dressing and a few herbs, and you’ve got yourself an awesome post-indulgence feelgood dish.

In fact, it is the dressing that can take a salad into the realm of superfood stardom. Your body needs the fat in the dressing to absorb the fat-soluable vitamins in the fresh vegetables and fruit – without it you may as well be eating cardboard (well, you know what I mean). Monounsaturated fat, like olive oil and avocado oil, is the most efficient at supporting carotenoid absorption in the body.

Don’t be tempted to buy ready-made dressings – making your own is so easy, quick and delicious. Plus, by making your own you are avoiding lots of additives, gums, thickeners, colours, flavours and preservatives that commercial dressing often contain. Try your hand at the dressing below, or replace the orange juice with apple cider vinegar and add a touch of honey or maple syrup. Lipsmacking.

Salad 3

Winter salad with pears and edible flowers

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients for the dressing
zest and juice from one large orange – should yield 60ml (1/4 cup) orange juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
grinding of black pepper
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
heaped teaspoon grated ginger

Ingredients for the salad
1 large packet baby leaves
3 small perfectly ripe pears, thinly sliced
handful of walnuts (raw or lightly roasted), roughly chopped
small bunch of mint
5 radishes, thinly sliced
edible flowers
crumbled blue cheese, optional

Method

  1. Put all the ingredients for the dressing in a jar, screw the lid on tightly and shake well.
  2. For the salad, arrange all the ingredients on a large plate, then scatter over the edible flowers and crumbled cheese, if using.
  3. Dress shortly before serving.

Salad 4

 



Healthy lunch box ideas

Lunch boxes take me back to my school days and the AMAZING lunches my mum used to pack for us whenever we had after school activities, and couldn’t eat lunch at home. When I moved out, first to study, then to live and work abroad, I adopted the all too common approach of regularly skipping breakfasts, grabbing something quick and ready-made for lunch, and ending the day with a very late, and very large dinner. But the traditional saying “breakfast like a king and dinner like a pauper” is proving rather accurate, as the mounting research† in favour of intermittent fasting shows.

Frontloading your calory intake to the first half of the day reduces risk factors for heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes. People who don’t eat large meals in the latter half of the day also tend to sleep better, suffer less digestive issues and show less signs of ageing. This, and all the research I have been reading about children performing better at school, being better behaved and less prone to falling ill when they have a healthy breakfast and nutritious lunch, has convinced me to start making an effort to pack my family some decent lunches. Here are some ideas, which I put together for the team at Compass Fostering to help inspire parents to pack a punch on the lunch box front.

 

Version 2

Lunch boxes 1

Lunch box 1

Fruit water (cucumber and mint)
Tangerine
Lightly salted popcorn
Rainbow wrap
Boiled egg

Ingredients for the rainbow wrap

wholemeal wrap or flatbread
1 – 2 tablespoons hummus or red pepper hummus
small handful baby leaf spinach
1 small carrot, coarsely grated
1/4 red pepper, cut into long strips (the long Romano variety works well here)

Method
1. Spread the hummus evenly onto the wrap, leaving a border along the top end.
2. Place the spinach leaves down in a single layer, pile grated carrot into the centre and lay pepper sticks across.
3. Fold the bottom half over the fillings, ensuring you have a tight roll, then roll upward towards the top end. Cut in half or slice into thirds.

Lunch box 3

Lunch box 2

Fruit water (lemon and lime)
Pineapple wedges, raspberries
Wholemeal pesto pasta salad with salmon and peas
Natural Greek yoghurt with pumpkin seeds and raw honey

Ingredients for the pasta

medium bunch basil
small bunch dill, thickest part of stems discarded
medium bunch parsley, thickest part of stems discarded
1 small garlic clove, peeled
salt and pepper
about 80ml (1/3 cup) extra virgin olive oil
cooked salmon (left-overs work well here)
cooked wholemeal pasta (save some of the cooking liquid)
handful of frozen peas

Method

  1. Put the herbs, garlic, pinch of salt and black pepper in a food processor and blitz until roughly chopped.
  2. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil until you reach your desired consistency (the green “pesto” sauce should be loose enough to fold into cooked pasta).
    Combine the pesto with cooked pasta, cooked salmon or deboned trout, and defrosted frozen peas.
  3. Add a little more olive oil and pasta cooking liquid if it needs it.

Lunch box 4

Lunch box 3

Fruit water (raspberries and blueberries)
Cucumber and carrot sticks with guacamole
Trail mix (sunflower seeds, coconut chips, chopped dates)
Mini frittata with broccoli and feta

Ingredients for the frittata
2 eggs
1 tablespoon water
small pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
small knob of butter
handful of steamed broccoli florets (left-overs are great for this) 25g crumbled feta

Method

  1. Whisk the eggs with the water, salt and pepper. Stir in the sliced spring onions.
  2. Heat the butter in a small ovenproof skillet or pan over a medium heat until sizzling, then pour the egg mix into the pan, and scatter over the broccoli and feta cheese.
  3. Cover the pan, turn the heat down and cook for 5 to 10 minutes or until the egg has just set.
  4. Pop the pan under a hot grill for half a minute if you’d like, to add some colour. Cool, turn out and slice to serve.

This post was written in collaboration with Compass Fostering. All opinions, words and images are my own.

Intermittent Fasting: the surprising update
Fasting: Molecular Mechanisms and Clinical Applications



Gluten free strawberry and elderflower tart

I have been so busy getting into the rhythm with my new teaching job (which I love, btw), that I have not shared a new recipe since August last year!!! And here I am posting a strawberry and elderflower recipe with both strawberry and elderflower season just about done for this year. Boo! But it is so delicious, that I thought it would be worthwhile adding anyway. Hope you will have a chance to make it!

Strawberry tart

Gluten free strawberry and elderflower tart

Serves 8

Ingredients

185g flour (you can use gluten-free)

75g soft brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla paste or seeds from 1 pod

120g unsalted butter, chilled and diced 

1 medium egg, lightly whisked

40ml double (heavy whipping) cream, chilled

1.2 kg delicious sweet strawberries, hulled and halved

elderflower syrup for drizzling

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 190˚C and line an lipped baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  2. Combine the dry ingredients and mix. Rub or cut the cubed butter into the flour for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the pastry resembles wet sand (you could use a food processor for this). Set aside.
  3. Whisk the vanilla, egg and cream until blended, then drizzle over the flour mixture and mix until it just comes together. Do not over-mix!!!!
  4. Spoon the pastry onto the baking sheet in dollops and spread out evenly with a spatula or the back of a large metal spoon. You might need an extra pair of hands to hold the paper in place.
  5. Scatter over the halved strawberries, pressing them into the pastry slightly, and bake for 20 – 30 min, or until the pastry has risen and is golden and crunchy around the edges. Remove from the oven and serve with whipped cream and a drizzle of elderflower syrup.

 



Fig and almond cake

Ah, a beautiful, juicy fig… and sunshine. And saltwater hugs. It was so good to be back in South Africa, spending time with family and friends. The kids loved every moment (especially the fact that they could wear shorts most of the time) and I enjoyed the slightly more relaxed pace. On our way from Hermanus to Plettenberg Bay, we stopped at a fig farm and bought a whole box of figs for £3.50! We were all salivating in the car the rest of the journey. We enjoyed them in so many different ways: gobbled up whole, sliced into salads, in smoothies, smashed on buttered toast. And then there was the cake, of course. The first piece eaten very quickly with a dollop of mascarpone. The second piece nibbled a little more slowly, savouring its crumbly texture and delicious flavour.

Figs 2

Figs 3

Ingredients

125g unsalted butter, room temperature
65g (1/2 cup loosely packed) light muscovado sugar
3 medium eggs
160g (roughly 1 cup) whole raw almonds
80g (scant ½ cup) spelt flour or gluten-free flour blend
½ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
zest from 3 large organic lemons
12 figs, stalk removed and quartered

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a medium sized ovenproof dish (or cake tin).
  2. Beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat for another minute or two.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Process the almonds in a food processor until they resemble a coarse meal. Add this, as well as the flour, baking powder and salt to the mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in the lemon zest.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the greased dish, flatten the top with a spatula and press the fig quarters into the batter.
  6. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until golden and crunchy-looking, and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Do not overbake, as it will dry out.

Figs 1



Rhubarb galette with gingerbread spices

This rhubarb galette with gingerbread spices is delicious, straight from the oven, served with vanilla ice cream or slightly sweetened whipped cream. It is easy to make and you can replace the rhubarb with any fruit in season, but remember to take into account how quickly the fruit cooks when deciding on how large to slice or chop it. Slice apples or ripe pears very thinly, pile berries on top, or try chopped pineapple – they all work fantastically well.

Rhubarb galette

Ingredients for the pastry

225g wholemeal spelt flour (I used buckwheat, which works too, but makes the pastry slightly more fragile)
pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder (usually made by grinding the whole dried vanilla pod) or the seeds from one pod
100g cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
40 – 60ml (2 1/2 – 4) tablespoons ice cold water

Ingredients for the fruit topping

5 cups chopped or sliced rhubarb (or other fruit of your choice)
1 cup light muscovado sugar or coconut sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
a few tablespoons ground almonds

Method

  1. In a food processor, pulse the flour, salt, vanilla and butter until it resembles wet sand. You can also do this by hand, by rubbing the butter into the dough with your finger tips.
  2. Now add the cold water little by little until the dough just comes together into a ball.
  3. Remove the dough from the food processor and knead briefly until smooth. It shouldn’t be sticky or crumbly – of too sticky, add more flour, if too dry, add a few more drops of ice water. Shape it into a flat disc.
  4. Roll the dough out between two sheets of baking parchment – you are aiming for a thin sheet about 3mm thick, either round or square’ish, and refrigerate on a baking sheet until firm (about half an hour).
  5. Remove the firm dough from the fridge and place on a large baking sheet (still on the parchment paper). Allow to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F.
  6. Mix together the fruit and spices and as soon as the pastry has reached room temperature. Scatter the ground almonds in a circle in the centre (this will prevent the juices that escape during cooking from making the pastry soggy), and spoon the fruit on top.
  7. Fold over the edges, pinching the pastry here and there to keep it in place, and bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until the pastry is golden and crunchy, and the fruit tender. Allow to cool sightly before serving.


Chocolate bark with macadamia nuts, dried banana and sea salt

Another delicious topping for chocolate bark is a combination of toasted macadamia nuts, dried bananas and flaked sea salt. Drizzle everything with melted milk chocolate and ta-dah!

Choc bark blog 1

Chocolate bark with macadamia nuts, dried banana and sea salt

Makes enough for 2 – 4 little bags

Ingredients

150g dark chocolate (minimum 60% cocoa solids)

large pinch of sea salt flakes

30g (1/4 cup) macadamia nuts, toasted for 5 minutes at 180˚C pre-heated

30g dried bananas, finely chopped

5g popped quinoa, optional

20g milk chocolate

Method

  1. Melt 2/3 of the dark chocolate in a double boiler until just melted, stirring continuously. As soon as it has melted, stir in the rest of the chocolate until all has melted.  You could also melt the chocolate in a microwave in 15 second bursts, stirring after each, until just melted. Do not let the chocolate get warm.
  2. Pour the melted chocolate onto a large piece of greaseproof paper and quickly spread out to about 1/4” thickness with a spatula.
  3. Quickly scatter  over all the toppings  evenly.
  4. While the bark is cooling, melt the milk chocolate in the same way as the dark chocolate.  Either drizzle this over the bark with a spoon or use a small sandwich bag (or piping bag) to pipe the melted chocolate onto the bark. Set aside to cool completely.
  5. Peel away the paper and snap into pieces.