Let’s continue with the theme of sweetness. And summer.
After about 10 days spent with my family in Sweden, where it wasn’t up the usual July temperatures, I subsequently returned to an Ireland which kind of is.
So that inspired me to share this recipe I created a few years ago for a guest posting on someone else’s site, and since I’ve been a little short on time, plus the fact that there are some internal work currently being done to the house I live in (think dust, shambles and loud drilling noises) then coming up with something totally fresh and new felt too challenging.
Here we are with an oldie, but a goodie. Perfect for summer.
In these days of everyone going gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, vegan or paleo it can become a minefield to find something to eat, or serve, which is still tasty, nourishing and made from simple wholefood ingredients.
Personally I don’t believe that adhering to any of the dietary requirements above should mean restrictive and boring. (Nor does it mean that we should attach any other emotional connotations to it either, but that’s a different conversation.)
Rather the opposite in fact. If you have to adhere to any food restrictions for health reasons they can in fact serve as a gateway into a more simplistic, holistic and diverse way of eating.
The question I constantly ask myself is “When did it become so complicated to choose what to eat?”
In the end of the day no matter what latest nutritional trend you follow, doesn’t it just come down to the quality of the food in the end? How it has been grown and produced – with care. How it’s been prepared – with love. And how it’s being served and eaten- with joy!
I don’t follow any particular dietary trend and eat most things which will make me feel good and do something good for my health. And if you’re going to cut something out of your diet for good, cut out the guilt.
Michael Pollan, author of several books on food and the history of cooking, eating, agriculture etc. have the best advice I know, which is really straightforward.
Eat (REAL) food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.
You simply can’t go wrong with that…
Now let’s move on to the recipe.
This is a simple, yet decadent summer dessert which should please the majority of your guests regardless of what they call themselves. what they can or cannot eat.
Coconut Panacotta with Raw Raspberry Chia Jam
Serves 2-4 depending on the sizes of the serving glasses you use
1 can of coconut milk – Preferably organic and additive free
1 ½ tbsp. raw honey – use maple syrup if vegan
1 tsp vanilla bean paste, or vanilla powder
Zest of one organic lemon
2g agar-agar powder – available in healthfood shops
Raspberry Chia Jam:
125 g fresh raspberries, washed & drained
Juice of ½ lemon – optional. Lime would be lovely too
1 tbsp of chia seeds
Place coconut milk, vanilla bean paste, honey, lemon zest and agar-agar powder in a small sauce pan. Bring it to a boil while constantly stirring to make sure the honey dissolves and prevent the agar-agar flakes from sticking to the bottom. Once the coconut milk mix reaches boiling point boil for one min, then remove from to heat and allow to cool. Once the coconut milk has cooled to finger temperature pour it into small serving glasses and allow to set in the fridge.
To make the chia jam; place your berries in a food processor / blender. Squeeze the lemon juice straight into the bowl of your food processor / blender. Blend until smooth. Transfer the blended berries to a container. Add in the chia seeds and stir until well combined. Let the chia jam sit for an hour or two to allow the seeds to gel. Stir a few times.
Add the jam on top of your set coconut panacotta to be served straight out of the glasses it’s set in. Garnish with a sprig of mint or some shaved dark chocolate.
Note* I did not add any sweetener to the chia jam. You can of course do so if you want it less tart.
I have this things for grocery shopping… And trying out new foods… And sometimes this “thing” turns out to be a rather indulgent AND expensive hobby.
I’m still not sure where this love of exploration comes from, though I keep blaming the year I spent living in the Australian bush, where much, the only escape route off the farm was the weekly trip to the supermarket. But that’s now over a decade I go, so it may not really cut it as a valid excuse anymore.
This is definitely where the love affair really took hold though and I’ve carried on with it ever since.
Maybe it is part of a food scarcity things, from that time too? Though at that time I wasn’t restricting what I was buying as I had very few other expenses than buying foods. My accommodation was included in my weekly pay and I didn’t own a car either (and boy does that save you money!). But the downside of not having a car was that I was always depending on others to take me to the shop, which was a good 45 min drive away.
These days things are a little different and, though I live in a rural part of the country I have a car, I am 10 min drive from a town with some very decent food shops, and I am about 30 min from the second largest city in Ireland. No risk of starving or going without. Yet I still get excited about grocery shopping!
The recipe I am sharing here is an inspiration from one of those explorative grocery shopping trips I did last year when I was over in Stockholm, visiting my friend Louise and going to a few different nutrition / foodie events.
When I was in this small delicatessen I saw this beautifully wrapped chocolate that also contained tahini. Got totally sucked in and just had to buy it! Truth be told, it was worth it for the beautiful packaging alone. Clever marketing there, that’s for sure.
Ever since then I have been thinking of trying to re-create something similar at home.
This is it!
I used this recipe as a base, and more or less swapped the peanut butter for tahini instead. If you are not a tahini fan like me, I think using hazelnut butter would make an amazing chocolate. It’s not one I have tried yet myself, but my imagination have no problem conjuring up what that kind of taste explosion that combination will provide. I mean who doesn’t like chocolate with hazelnuts???
Homemade chocolate is surprisingly easy to make, once you’ve invested in the ingredients. And since this type of eating have become a lot more common in the past few years, finding raw cacao and raw cacao butter isn’t impossible.
No, they are not the cheapest ingredients, but you will get a lot more cacao for your bucks than the typical “chocolate” you find sold everywhere.
In writing this post I am also realising that it is a privilege to be able to both have time, money and the opportunity to find these ingredients easy enough. And for that I am grateful.
Raw Chocolate with Tahini
Makes 12 large hearts
50g cacao butter
1 heaped tbsp tahini
2 heaped tbsp raw cacao powder
2-3 tbsp maple syrup – depending on desired sweetness (less works well in for this recipe)
½ tsp ground cinnamon – optional but delicious
Melt the cacao butter in a bowl over a pan of hot water. Once the cacao butter is fully melted add the tahini and stir well. Then add in the maple syrup, the raw cacao powder and the cinnamon, if using.
Stir for a minute or two until you have a really smooth cacao mix. Taste and add a little more maple syrup if you still think it is too bitter.
Remove the bowl from the stove and pour it into a silicon ice-cube tray. Transferring it to the fridge to set. After a few hours your chocolate will have set and you can pop it out of the ice-cube tray.
** If you don’t have an ice cube tray / chocolate moulds, you can pour it on to a small lined tray instead. **
Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Your raw chocolate will keep for a few days in the fridge. Probably longer in the freezer.
If you do make these please let me know what you think, and if you’ve ended up making new creations and taste combinations from this basic recipe!
I think it was about time I shared another sweet recipe here on the blog again. And if you read my last post, about my own personal history with food (sugar in particular) and how I made eventually made peace with it all, then you will know that I love the taste of sweet.
Dates are such a versatile food. They are sweet and sticky and actually good for you with a high amount of fibre, but also the vitamin and mineral content like zinc (for immune system) magnesium (for energy production), iron (for red blood cells) and potassium (for nervous system).
Because of their “stickability” they work really well in all types of raw desserts as they so seamlessly hold everything together. I also love that when we are using dates as sweeteners we tend to use the whole fruit, just like nature intended.
This recipe is based on a typical traditional Swedish recipe and one we made time and time again as kids – Choklad Bollar.
The original recipe calls for butter, sugar, oats and cacao powder. And perhaps a little coffee too.
Here I have replaced the butter and sugar with the dates and added some melted cacao butter as fat. You can use coconut oil too.
Traditionally “Choklad Bollar are rolled in desiccated coconut, which I personally like though I made another version of these for a recent talk I did locally and rolled them in some melted dark chocolate and some roughly chopped toasted hazelnuts. Much like a giant Ferro Roche… Yeah, just imagine! Totally worth the extra effort.
Chocolate Oat & Date Balls
Makes about 10 medium sized balls
½ cup rolled (porridge) oats
20 small pitted dates – or use about 10 soft Medjool dates
2 tbsp raw cacao powder
6 tbsp strong coffee – or use same amount of water
2 tbsp melted cacao butter – or coconut oil
Shredded coconut to coat the balls in
First blend the oats in your food processor until you have a rough ground texture. Soak the dates in some hot water for about 1 min, then drain. Just to soften them a little. If you are using Medjool dates you can skip this step as they tend to be much softer. However don’t forget to remove the pits!
Add the rest of the ingredients to your food processor and blend until it all comes together like a sof dough.
Roll the dough into small balls with your hands and roll them in some shredded coconut.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge. They will keep for a few days.
(I’m always musing to myself about the difference between the words “keep” and “last”. To be honest, I am actually just guessing how long they will “keep” for, since I’ve never had any “last” long enough to see when they would be gone off…)
This week I’m really excited about introducing you all to another Irish Food Blogger, Frances Walsh from The Honest Project! We are doing a blog and recipe swap and you will be able to read my contribution to Frances’s blog over here.
But now let’s get going with the interview! I will let Frances tell you a little bit more about herself now 🙂
Hi Frances! Can you tell us something about yourself and your work?
Sure! My name is Frances and I live in Kilkenny in the south east of Ireland. Kilkenny is my home town, but I lived in Dublin for years where I worked as a lawyer. I moved home about four years ago when I was diagnosed with cancer to focus on my recovery. I started my blog, The Honest Project two years ago as something for me to focus on when I was getting better. I found cooking food very therapeutic, especially when it was healthy foods. I began to experiment with my cooking and document it on the blog. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was a child but never really experimented with vegetarian cooking until I started my road to recovery. I also love writing and photography so the blog is a great way for me to spend time doing some of my favourite things.
How would you describe your food philosophy?
I won’t really call it a philosophy. I just cook and eat what I want to at a particular time. I guess my focus is on eating more vegetables and I find vegetarian cooking exciting. I’m always looking for new ways to add vegetables to my diet. I think everyone has to decide for themselves how they wish to eat and I’d hate to come across as preachy; but I guess the blog is for anyone who wants to eat more vegetables and more food that is cooked from scratch. Sometimes the simplest of ingredients and cooking techniques can make the most delicious dishes and sometimes you want to make things a little more complex. Both ways of cooking have their place in my kitchen.
How did you come up with the name The Honest Project?
When I started the blog, it was so that I would have a project that I could focus on when I was recovering from being sick. I needed something to structure my day and I was so fatigued after chemotherapy I really saw the blog as a project to help get me back on my feet. I also wanted to write about things that were authentic and honest to me. I didn’t want to limit the blog to food related content so I thought The Honest Project was a good choice. Plus the URL was available, so didn’t have to think twice.
What does your process from idea to finished recipe and blog post look like?
It varies. I usually don’t put a whole lot of planning into my recipes. Rather I might have a beautiful seasonal ingredient in my kitchen and I decide to build a recipe around it. Sometimes I get ideas from café or restaurant menus from half way across the globe (thanks to Internet snopping) and I make an Honest Project version. Some of my favourite recipes have just come from me having very little ingredients in the kitchen and having to be creative with what I do have. I usually make the recipe a couple of times before it makes it to the blog. Also in the Winter time as day light hours are minimal, I have to make sure to make it early in the day so I have time to photograph it in natural light.
Which 5 ingredients will one find in your pantry?
I have so many ingredients in my pantry, it’s hard to narrow it down to five essentials. I always have olive oil (both extra virgin and olive oil). I love oats, they are so versatile and I use them all the time. I love avocados and literally have to stop myself eating them on repeat all day long. I eat a lot of nuts, especially almonds and cashew nuts and always have a supply in my handbag in case the dreaded hunger strikes. Lastly, I always have leafy greens for juicing, smoothies, salads and adding to stews and curries.
Do you have an all time favorite recipe you keep coming back to?
I have many. I adore chia seed puddings as I think they are the perfect blank canvas on which to experiment with flavour. They are also so handy to make in advance and just grab out of the fridge each morning. I also love chocolate brownies and I’m currently making a dark chocolate version with an almond butter swirl. It’s so good with a cup of tea or coffee. (Ed note* I can’t wait to read and cook that recipe as I’m always looking for the best brownie recipe!)
Tell us something about the recipe you are sharing today! Why this particular recipe?
Today’s recipe is for Coconut Chia Pudding with Berries & Passion Fruit. Most of the time when I eat chia pudding for breakfast I skip adding any sweetener bar fruit. But for this recipe I add coconut sugar, so it’s really more suitable for dessert than breakfast. Let’s be honest, chia seeds don’t really taste like anything at all. But paired with a delicious sweet nut milk and fresh berries, there are transformed into a delicious breakfast or in this case dessert. For this recipe I combine the coconut flavour of the chia pudding with passion fruit and berries. The great thing about this recipe is that it can be prepped in advance.
Coconut Chia Pudding with Berries & Passion Fruit
5 cups of coconut milk
3-5 tbsp of coconut sugar (depending on your sweet tooth).
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whole chia seeds
1 cup frozen berries
3 passion fruit
A few sprigs fresh mint
1 tbsp coconut flakes
Heat the coconut milk in a saucepan over a low heat. Add the vanilla extract and coconut sugar and stir until dissolved. Remove from the heat.
Add the chia seeds to the milk mixture and stir well. Pour the mixture into a large container and place in the fridge for 4 hours to set.
Just before serving, heat the berries in a saucepan over a low heat until they soften.
To serve, divide the chia pudding between six serving glasses. Spoon a tablespoon of berries and their syrup over each. Spoon the flesh of half a passion fruit into each glass. Top with fresh mint and coconut flakes.
Head over to The Honest Project for more great recipes! And if you want to stay in touch and follow her blog on Social Media, you will find her on Facebook Here and on Instagram Here.
Can you believe it? Just a couple of weeks left of 2016, and Christmas just around the corner…! The common phrase of “Where does time go?” is the thing on my mind. Maybe my dad has a point when he says that time moves faster the older we get. Stands to reason if we see time as a thing of perception rather than an absolute, which means of course each year, as we age each year is a smaller percent of our life. Worth pondering…
Though, I don’t know about you but some days, as a contrast to the time “flying by”, can feel like almost an entire lifetime with all the thing experienced that day.
My intention for this last recipe post of 2016 was not to get all philosophical and time conscious, even though one of my friends did point out that I am “almost” always late. Which does have some grain of truth to it… So right there is something for me to work on next year!
I’m going to share this basic dairy free chocolate truffle recipe with you, and even though I opted for a classic Swedish flavour combination, I will also give you some other flavour combinations to play around with. To be honest I think that from the basic recipe you can go wild and just let your imagination be the limit to your creativity!
These little truffles make a great gift, so if you are still looking for something to make / bring to the dinner party, hopefully this recipe will be a help.
Raspberry and chocolate is a classic combination, but in Sweden raspberry and liquorice is also a classic combination. So I thought to myself one day “I wonder if the three would pair up equally well?”. And to my mind they did! But if you don’t have / can’t get liquorice powder (I bought mine in Sweden on my last visit), then there’s some alternative pairings below.
Chocolate Truffles with A Swedish Twist
Makes about 15 truffles (try not to eat them as you roll the chocolate!)
Basic truffle recipe:
200g dark chocolate, 60-70%, broken in to pieces
100ml full fat coconut milk
2 tsp ground licorice powder
A pinch of sea salt
A few tbsp. freeze dried raspberry powder
To make the truffles; place the coconut milk in a small saucepan. Gently warm the coconut milk on medium heat. Once it if finger warm, add in the chocolate pieces. Let the warm coconut milk melt the chocolate for a minute or two, then stir the mix with a spoon until you have thick glossy mixture.
Add the licorice powder and pinch of salt and stir again until well combined. Pour the chocolate mix into a bowl and place in the fridge to set. This will take 2h or so.
Once the chocolate is set, take the bowl out of the fridge and scoop out a tbsp. worth of chocolate at the time and roll into small balls with your hands.
Place the freeze dried raspberry powder in small bowl and roll the truffles in the powder. Once fully coated place the truffles in an airtight container and store in a cool place. Eat and enjoy!
Other flavour combinations (that I’ve tried so far!): Chili + raspberry powder, mint extract + matcha and spirulina powder, orange zest and cardamom + freeze dried blueberry powder.
If you can’t get any freeze dried berry powders you could roll your truffles in other things like sesame seeds, ground toasted hazel nuts or why not melted chocolates?
Use your imagination!
And just a few winter pictures from last weekend. Which reminded me of the wise words I came across recently;
“Where ever you are now, is where you’ve never been before” – Ellen J. Langer
Wishing you a peaceful Christmas and Holiday Season.
It’s that time of the year again, when you get to indulge in making and giving, without anyone questioning it. Actually it seems much expected that you do so.
In this time of “shoulds”, “musts” and “have-tos”, a midst overwhelm and busyness perhaps a desire to slow down and take time, doing what really matters instead, is what we are truly looking for?
OK… So I do realise that it’s not everyone sees the kitchen as their creative playground (though this is surely all about perspective?!) but for those of us who do like to play in the kitchen, making sweet or savoury treats, bakes or dishes that can double up as gifts is a win-win!
And why not make a play date, not just for you and the kitchen, but invite a friend or two to come along too. The experience of cooking and eating is often elevated (in my experience) by sharing, so have fun.
These raw chocolates are really quick and easy to make and only require five ingredients. You’ll have them whipped up in no time.
Mint, chocolate and coconut is a classic combination, so if you know that you already like this combo, you will not be disappointed!
Raw Mint-Coconut Chocolate
Makes 14 hearts
100g creamed coconut ( ½ packaged)
6-8 drops of mint extract
40g cacao butter
4 tbsp raw cacao powder
2 tbsp maple syrup
Roughly chop the creamed coconut and melt it on low heat in a small saucepan. Creamed coconut is available in most healthfood shops and also in Asian grocery stores. It is dehydrated fresh meat of mature coconuts and solid at room temperature.
Once the coconut is melted add the mint extract and then give it a good stir to make sure it is dispensed evenly. Add the melted coconut mix to the molds. Try to fill each mold to about ½. Place in the fridge to set, while you proceed to make the raw chocolate.
Melt the cacao butter in a heat proof bowl on top of a saucepan with simmering water. Once the cacao butter has fully melted, add the cacao powder and then mix until you have a smooth blend. And the maple syrup and mix again until your chocolate mix is again lovely and smooth.
Remove your mold tray from the fridge and spoon the chocolate mix on top of the coconut mix. Place the tray back in the fridge and let the chocolate set. This will take a few hours.
Once your chocolate has hardened, pop them out of the moulds and place in an airtight container in the fridge until you want to serve them. Or gift them!
***I use silicone ice cube molds to make these and it makes the process very easy. You can use any shapes you like of course and if you don’t have a mold, then you can try simply pouring the coconut layer out first on a lined tray and once set, add the raw chocolate layer. I haven’t actually tried that technique with this particular recipe, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.
If you want some more ideas of edible sweet gifts here are a few ideas from the archives:
Date Truffles Three Ways
Fruit and Nut Truffle Cake
And here are a few other ones that I really would like to try out myself, from some of my favourite bloggers:
Maple Butter Roasted Nuts
Cardamom & Rosewater Caramels
Raw Apricot, Dark Chocolate Coconut Bites