Buckwheat Crêpes

Buckwheat Crêpes

I was really planning on posting a more “dinner” type of recipe this time, but with food blogging things sometimes just don’t work out as you intend. I try to eat what I cook and photograph. So anything I post may depend on what happens to be in the fridge. This time of the year it is also harder to use natural light for images, simply because it isn’t available for that much of the day. So timing is an essential part of the process. So instead of a nourishing bowl of warming food, I give you these lovely pancakes or crêpes. While planning, cooking and shooting a recipe for the lovely website Food&_ which I also contributed to back in the autumn, I also made these pancakes. They fit perfectly with the particular soup recipe, I have submitted to them.

Do you have food memories? Particular tastes, flavours and scents that triggers certain emotions? Pancakes for me is one of those loving comfort foods, holding some sweet childhood memories. I can remember almost always having pancakes when staying over at my grandmother’s. Her pancakes where so much nicer than my mother’s. (I hope I’m not going to upset my mammy too much now…)

There are two reasons for this, I think. One, my health conscious mother always used whole meal or added bran to the flour, whereas my gran did not. And then there was the flipping off course. My mother never cooked both sides of the pancake. I have no idea why not… I love mine turned and hate the sogginess you get if you don’t. If you use a good pan, flipping them isn’t really a big deal either. However I must admit that I have not yet mastered the art of turning pancakes / crêpes mid-air. Perhaps I need some more practice. What better excuse to eat more pancakes?

 

DSC_0593Bockwheat Crêpes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have changed the ingredients here from your usual wheat flour and cow’s milk. Often when I do food intolerance tests with people, wheat and/or dairy shows up as reactive foods. Once you start looking out for these two foods, you will be surprised how much they feature in a “Western style” diet. And pancakes are a typical food.

But once you start looking a little further, the transition to a gluten and dairy free diet does not need to be that difficult and it certainly does not need to be of sacrifice in flavours by any means. I also find that by going gluten and/or dairy free naturally lends to a healthier diet as you simply will have to eat more wholefoods (i.e fruit and vegetables) as they are naturally gluten free.

Eggs are an integral part of this recipe as I believe you can’t get that crêpe style pancake without it. If eggs does not float your boat or if you are intolerant, fear not, I have another recipe up my sleeve. But you will have to wait until Pancake Tuesday 😉

 

Buckwheat

 

I prefer using organic eggs, mostly because they taste better, but also because I know that they are free from antibiotics and the hens have a good life while producing the goods. I use buckwheat flour here. It is naturally gluten free as it is actually not a grain, but a seed. Buckwheat is closely related to the rhubarb plant. The seeds are small and triangular shaped. You can buy whole seeds too and use in cooked dishes. Both buckwheat flour and whole buckwheat is readily available in healthfood shops. Instead of cow’s milk I’ve used almond milk. You can make your own or these days it is available even in Supermarkets. Just keep an eye on the labels so your bought milk isn’t full of additives.

 

Buckwheat Crepes

Makes about 10 crêpes

2 eggs – preferably organic

1/2 cup buckwheat flour

1 1/4 cup almond milk

1/2 tsp vanilla exctract

A pinch of sea salt

coconut oil, for frying

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and the milk together. Add the flour bit by bit while whisking. Keep whisking until you have a smooth batter. It will be pretty loose as this will makes thin crêpe style pancakes. Let the batter rest for at least 10 min. This will make your pancakes stay together a lot better. Heat your frying pan and add some coconut oil to it. Add a soup ladle of pancake batter and gently swirl it around, until you have a thin pancake. Once the batter has set on top, flip it over and fry until golden on the other side. Keeping the pan at the right temperature is the key to perfect pancakes. Personally I find somewhere between the mid and the highest temperature setting is just about right. Play around with it. It often takes two or three pancakes until you get it right.

I like eating my pancakes the classic Irish way with sugar and lemon, almost straight out of the pan (!). Since the white stuff is banned in my house I serve them with dark unrefined cane sugar. Simply delicious. You can off course serve them anyway you like.

 

Buckwheat pancakesBuckwheat pancakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fruit & Nut Truffle Cake

Fruit & Nut Truffle Cake

Just incase one Christmas treat recipe wasn’t enough, here is a second one. I’m still making a few give-away treats, so just so glad I got all my presents bought early. Apart from making the last few presents I am all set for the holidays now. Just have to pack my suitcase and then I am ready to return to my roots for a few days. I look forward to spend some time with my family back in Sweden. Even though I have lived more than 10 years in Ireland now, I can’t get into the Christmas spirit in the same way here. Perhaps it is just the fact that it’s not cold enough. Not that I’m complaining (!) but it does not feel like “real” winter when it is 10 degrees and raining…

This recipes is from a Swedish cookbook I got as a present from my mother a few years ago. The book ticks all the right boxes to earn a place on one of my bookshelves (which are overloaded at this stage). The recipes are straightforward, using wholesome ingredients and with mouthwatering pictures. I really am such as sucker for good food photography! And cookbooks. At this rate I am afraid to count how many I have! Next year I won’t buy any. Or maybe just one. Or two… Select ones. Is it just me or is there other people like me who collects (cook)books?

So back to the recipe. This is a non bake fruit and nut “cake”. It is decadent, yet not too sweet and packed with goodness from all that fruit and nuts. Serve it as a treat with a cup of tea or coffee. Why not a slightly bigger slice as an alternative dessert for Christmas dinner? If you are looking for a gluten free alternative to the traditional pudding and trifle, then this is it. You can soak the dried fruit in some brandy/rum/whiskey and no one is missing out on the booze either 😉 To make it dairy free I have used coconut milk instead of cream. Either works fine. To get the most out of this special chocolate extravaganza, don’t skimp on the quality of the chocolate. Use at least 70%. Then ditch the tin of Cadbury’s Roses and indulge in something far more satisfying.

As the original recipe  is in Swedish, I have translated it for anyone who does not speak the lingo

 

Truffle Cake

Truffle Cake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fruit & Nut Truffle Cake

Makes one bread loaf tin

 

400g dark chocolate – At least 70%

150 ml cup cococnut milk

1/2 cup hazelnuts – Toasted if preferred

1/2 cup walnuts or pistachios

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

1 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped

½ cup dried fruit such as rasins, figs or cranberries – Or a mix of all three

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Once the chocolate is fully melted add in the cream and stir until well combined. Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix until evenly coated. Pour the chocolate mix into a lined bread loaf tin and put it into the fridge for a few hours to set. Once the truffle has set take it out of the tin and cut into small squares. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. The truffle will keep for a week. If it lasts!

Recipe barley adapted from Catherine Shuck’s Mer Nauturligt, friskare, piggare, smalare – ny mat med lågt GI

 

Fruit and nuts

 

P. S. If you are looking for more ideas on homemade gifts check out these lovely suggestions from some of my favourite blogs.

Infused Syrup Gift Jars – from My New Roots

DIY Almond Butter with chocolate – from A Tasty Love Story

Christmas Granola – from Green Kitchen Stories

Date Truffles Three Ways

Date Truffles Three Ways

So Christmas is almost upon us. Again. Carols and jingles on the radio. Shiny lights in the streets. Santa ads on the telly. Minced pies and mulled wine. Smells of ginger, cloves and cinnamon.

It’s the same story every year. You think you have lots of time to get everything done. And then BANG, it’s December and so many things are scheduled and you are left wondering how you are going to fit it all in. Personally, I feel this time of year should be all about family, friends and relaxation. Not stress… And about good food of course! This year I got the present shopping done early, so not to be stressing about that. My plan is to have plenty of time to concentrate on making edible presents in the week or two before the holiday season kicks in. So far this is working pretty well, I have to say.

Christmas is about traditions. It is about preserving the ones we grew up with. It is also about creating new ones as life changes. A few years ago I began making my own Christmas treats. It can really get you into the spirit of the season. Baking ginger bread men and toffees made me reminiscing of fond childhood memories from this time of year. The smells of ginger, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom. When the hot biscuits come out of the oven. Or the chewy toffees with that indulgent taste of cream, butter and dark sugar.

This new tradition of mine has grown and developed into a way of making edible presents to give away to the people who means a lot to me, as a way of saying thank you for their friendship and support throughout the year. Giving away something someone has put love and effort into is often much more appreciated, than just any old tin of biscuits you pick up from the shop.

 

Treats

The type of treats I make can vary from year to year. This year, in the spirit of nutrition and health I have decided to give away some truffles.  Healthy ones, that can be enjoyed by everyone. Most traditional treats are full of sugar, cream and butter. Nothing wrong with that the odd time, but it won’t work if you are intolerant to dairy or gluten. Or  perhaps you just fancy a lighter alternative amongst all the calorie dense stuff, without sacrificing taste. Then these truffles are perfect. It is hard to believe they are actually good for you!

Date Truffles are probably not the most original recipe. You can find endless variations of them all over the internet. However they are so easy to make and the perfect guilt free treat. (Well in my humble opinion anyway) I couldn’t decide which taste combination to give you so I give you three. Then you can be sure there is something to please everyone.

 

Date Truffles Three Ways

Makes 15 truffles

Basic mix:

2 cups pitted dates

2 tbsp raw cacao

1 tbsp coconut oil, melted

1 tbsp cacao butter, melted – This is optional. If you can’t get it substitute for coconut oil

1 1/2 tbsp ground almonds – Use ground sunflower seeds if nutfree

1 tbsp shredded coconut

Flavouring options:

OPTION 1 – Orange & Coconut

1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

1/2 tbsp orange zest

shredded coconut to roll the truffles in

OPTION 2 – Coffee & Cardamom

1 tbsp very strong coffee

1 tbsp raw cacao + 1/2 tsp ground cardamom to roll the truffles in – Alternatively you could add the cardamom to the basic mix

OPTION 3 – Chili & Liqorice

1/2 tsp dried chili flakes

1/2 tsp liquorice powder

Good quality coco powder + 1/2 tsp liquorice powder to roll the truffles in

Gently melt the coconut oil and cacao butter in a double boiler. Add dates, melted oil and the rest of the ingredients to your food processor. Add your choice of flavours. Blend until a sticky dough is formed. This will take a minute or two. I chose not to soak the dates before hand as it will give a more solid truffle. Roll little truffle balls with your hands and then roll them in some shredded coconut or cacao powder. Store your truffles in the fridge in an airtight container until you are ready to serve them. Or give them away! They will keep for a week in the fridge.

 

Date Truffles