Marinated cheese & olives and oat crackers

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This is one of the easiest gifts ever. And a really good one too. Served with oat crackers makes a great appetizer.

Ingredients:

  • olives
  • young goat cheese
  • dried or fresh thyme, basil, rosemary
  • red peppers
  • extra virgin olive oil

Preparation:

  1. Mix everything in a bowl, than transfer to a jar. All the ingredients should be covered with oil. Let marinate at least 2 days.

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Sesame and nigella oat crackers

Ingredients:

  • 200 g rolled oats
  • 40 g butter or coconut oil
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 50 – 70 g water
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp  nigella or sesame

Preparation:

  1. Finely grind rolled oats into a flour consistency.
  2. Mix oats, salt, seeds and baking powder. Add butter (or coconut oil if using) and evenly mix with hands.
  3. Add water, mix and let sit. Oats will soak up. It it gets too dry, add a bit more water.
  4. Form a ball and place it between two sheets of parchment paper. Roll as thin as possible.
  5. Bake at 180ºc for 20 mins.

 

Back to Last minute DIY Christmas gifts

Roasted hazelnut butter

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Nut butters are great and soo easy to make. They can be made out of dried or roasted nuts. Roasted hazelnuts are really delicious and I’ve been putting them everywhere lately. So roasted hazelnut butter was a logic decision.

If roasting, do it on 180ºc, tossing the plate occasionally to get them evenly brown.

Peeling hazelnuts is really simple: just put them in-between two kitchen cloths and make circular moves over it. The skins will mostly go off by themselves.

Put the roasted nuts in a blender or a food processor and pulse until you get a homogenous liquid consistency.

Coconut butter and Macadamia spread

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The most delicious things are often the easiest. And I finally understand what all this coconut fuss is all about… Homemade coconut butter. Yum on toast, great for baking and making spreads or even using it as a scrub. It’s done in less than 5 mins.

What about coconut??

  • coconut butter: mixing shredded coconut using a food processor, or even better a blender, you will obtain a nut butter, as you would for example with almonds or hazelnuts. Coconut butter has the same nutritional properties as shredded coconut, meaning it is rich in fibre and healthy fats. Same as coconut oil, it will harden at around 24ºc.
  • virgin coconut oil and extra virgin coconut oil: there is actually no difference between the two, it’s just a market trick. The process starts with fresh coconuts and there are two ways of extracting the oil. The first one consist of drying coconut flesh and cold extraction by mechanical means without any chemicals. The second is a “wet-milling” process without drying: coconut milk is expressed out of the wet coconut meat and oil is then further separated from the water by different means.
  • refined coconut oil or coconut fat: most commercial grade coconut oil is made from copra. Copra is dried meat of the coconut. It can be made by smoke drying, sun drying or kiln drying. The way most copra is dried is not sanitary, so the unrefined oil from copra must be purified, that is refined. That’s how in short you will get refined, bleached and deodorized coconut oil. You can also find certified organic refined coconut oil which is higher quality and presumably untreated like the rest of the coconuts in mass production.
  • coconut water: clear liquid inside young green coconuts, rich in minerals, low fat, low carb. As coconut continues to grow it will disappear.
  • coconut milk: pressed out of fresh coconut meat. It contains water and oils. Depending on the recipe, you can use two kinds: un-emulsified, where fats and water will clearly separate, and emulsified, to which emulsifiers (like guar gumi) are added to form an even mixture. Coconut milk can also be made by simmering equal parts of water and shredded coconut meat.
  • coconut cream: has less water than coconut milk. Coconut cream can also be made by simmering 1 part of water and 4 parts of shredded coconut meat.
  • coconut flour: after extracting oil from shredded coconut, what’s left is coconut fiber or coconut flour. That’s why it has low fat content and high fiber, and is also rich in protein and low-carb.
  • coconut flakes, coconut chips, shredded coconut: are made from dried coconuts. Most dried  coconut on the market is often treated with sulfites to keep them white, so check the label. Coconut flakes are bigger than shredded coconut. Coconut chips can be dried or lightly roasted (brown).

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As you will blend shredded coconut, it will eventually start getting hotter, the oils will extract and you will get a pretty liquid ream in the end. Coconut butter will harden at room temperature, so put the jar in hot water or use a microwave to heat it up (this might not be the best thing to do, but if in a hurry, that’s the best solution. Check often as coconut oil melts really fast).

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Once you have your coconut butter done, you can mix in some melted chocolate or some cocoa, or make a cashew, almond or macadamia spread, as I did.

Ingredients:

Coconut butter

  • 500 g shredded coconut

Macadamia coconut butter

  • 2/3 macadamia nuts
  • 1/3 coconut butter (if starting with shredded coconut use 1/3 weight of macadamia)

Preparation:

  1. Put shredded coconut in a blender and pulse. Occasionally you will have to scrap down coconut from the edges towards the middle. Keep doing that until you get a liquid cream. In a blender it takes around 5 mins, in a food processor up to 20 mins.
  2. For macadamia spread mix together macadamia nuts and shredded coconut or make coconut butter first and than blend with macadamia.

 

The smell of chocolate bread on a sunday morning…

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It’s been two years since I first laid my foot in Canada. At that time I was staying in the northern part of Quebec, in Val d’Or, to be more precise. Don’t ask me how I got there… Anyway, I stayed there for three months and was lucky enough to escape before the real winter began.

In the 1920s, gold was discovered in Val d’Or and today it still remains a mining city. For someone like me, who grew up in a country where Alps are 30 mins from the capital and the sea some 150 km southern, Val d’Or seemed like in the middle of nowhere. When I arrived all I could see were the lakes and the forest. And the Transcanadian.

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There was a farmers market with great products, but I only discovered it by the end of my stay. And there were some really nice restaurants and cafes in the city. However, there was no bakery. And honestly, after eating toast for a week, I had enough of it. I wanted to eat real bread. I went to the bookstore, bought my self the prettiest book about bread making and started baking my own bread.

I actually never made a sourdough bread before. I only used yeast so far. I really wanted to make it, but has always been a complete failure. I somehow didn’t get it right from my book. So, last week I went to the first food bloggers convention in Ljubljana, called Njam Zgodbe and met Nataša, the author of Zapečenega kruha se največ poje, an amazing blog about bread making. She explained me how she does it and I decided to give it a try once more. This time it definitely was a success. The starter worked and the bread rose.

This sunday I was woken up to the smell of freshly baked chocolate bread. And there is nothing better to put on than some home made beurre sallé.

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Bread is something that takes time to get it right. For me this try was a huge success because I did make my own starter. And the bread was crunchy on the outside and soft and moist on the inside. But there’s no shortcut. Just practice and patience…

Sourdough starter:

adapted and taken after Zapečenega kruha se največ poje

Day 1: In a glass jar mix 40 g flour and 40 g water. Let ferment 24 h at room temperature. Use wholegrain or rye flour. Do let air get in.

Day 2: After 22 h it should increase in volume. There should be small bubbles appearing. If not, put it in the warm oven (up to 25°c) for two hours. Then add 20 g flour and 20 g water.

Day 3: After 24 h add 15 g flour and 15 g water. Let it rise (it should double in volume) and use it immediately for baking or put it in the fridge if you intend to use it later.

Now this is your starter. Your base. You can have it as long as you want, but you have to feed it regularly by adding 15 -20 g of flour and water every couple of days, leaving it in the fridge. Before you intend to bake, always add flour and water and let it rise. And don’t forget to put some starter aside for future baking.

The making: So you have your starter done. Now mix 45 g starter with 65 g flour and 65 g water and let it rise. This is what you will use in the bread

Chocolate bread ingredients: 

adapted and taken from Pains & Viennoiseries maison 

  • 70 g raisins
  • 70 g dried cranberries
  • 50 g chocolate
  • 330 g spelt flour
  • 8 g salt
  • 40 g cocoa
  • 170 g sourdough starter
  • 250 ml water

Preparation:

  1. Chop the chocolate and mix with raisins. Set aside.
  2. Mix dry ingredients: flour, salt and cocoa.
  3. Mix wet ingredients: sourdough starter and water.
  4. Put dry ingredients and chocolate raisin mixture into wet ingredients. Mix, cover and let sit 10 mins.
  5. Flour you work surface and knead the dough. Let aside 10 mins and repeat.
  6. Sprinkle a kitchen cloth with some flour and put the dough to rise for 3 – 6 h or until it doubles in volume.
  7. Preheat the oven at 240°c and place in a bowl to create steam.
  8. Cut couple of lines on the bread, lower the temperature to 220°c and bake for some 30 mins. The bread should sound void if you tap it on the bottom side.
  9. Don’t hold yourself back: freshly baked bread with salted butter is the best!

 

 

Roasted strawberry camembert crostini

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Crostini are small slices of grilled bread with different toppings and served as appetizers. An italian classic is grilled slice of ciabatta rubbed with fresh garlic, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper that can also serve as a good base to upgrade to more colorful creations.

My crostini is somewhere in between rustic, french and mediterranean. You can serve it as an appetizer, but can also work as a snack or a light main thanks to its simplicity but yet complexity of flavors.

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A good rustic bread with walnuts, topped with some french cheese and balsamic glazed strawberries rounded with a hint of mediterranean freshness of thyme is a pure poetry.

It is so good that I have no words left. Just treat yourself with a glass of cabernet besides.

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Ingredients:

  • rye or buckwheat bread with walnuts
  • camembert
  • strawberries
  • balsamic vinegar (aged)
  • thyme
  • fleur de sel

Preparation:

  1. Open a good bottle of cabernet!
  2. Cut thin slices of bread and top with slices of camembert.
  3. Cut strawberries in 0,5 cm slices and add on top of cheese.
  4. Sprinkle with approx. 1 Tbsp of balsamic vinegar, thyme and flour de sel.
  5. Oven roast at 200°c until golden brown.

Raw strawberry jam + all the treats that come with it!

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Besides their amazing taste, strawberries are a good source of antioxidants and vitamin C. They also have a high fiber and water content, so they will contribute to a better digestion. They’re delicious in any form, but to preserve all their benefits you should enjoy them raw.

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Since I had diabetes, classic jam is a big no no for me because it contains too much sugar. Great way to preserve all the nutrients and avoid adding sugar is raw chia strawberry jam. Mashed strawberries mixed with chia seeds make a fairly homogeneous mixture and thanks to chia gel you will get approximately the same texture as with classic jam.

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Raw strawberry jam

  • 300 g strawberries
  • 4 big Tbsp chia seed
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • agave syrup (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Roughly mash strawberries with a fork. You should leave some big pieces.
  2. Add lemon juice, chia and agave syrup if needed.
  3. Store in a fridge overnight.

Strawberries work wonderfully with coconut or milk products. Top some greek yoghurt or ice cream with it…

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… or make a really delicious vegan alternative to butter and jam in the morning: avocado strawberry sandwich…

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Avocado and strawberry jam sandwich

  • bread with walnuts
  • avocado
  • strawberry jam
  • coconut chips

Raw coconut carrot bites

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Carrot cake upgrade Nº1: coconut carrot bites

I love coconut balls, but usually they’re made of butter or coconut oil, sugar, powdered milk and coconut flakes. I wanted to try something else. Healthier and more fresh. And since too much fat blows up my sugar, I wanted something without any additional fat. After many tries I finally came up with the recipe I adore. It’s actually raw coconut carrot cake upgrade.

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Ingredients:

Preparation:

  1. Follow raw coconut carrot cake instructions.
  2. If using additional coconut oil, stir in the mixture and let sit overnight.
  3. Make small balls and roll them in coconut flakes.

Fried bread

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When I was a child I often went to the seaside with my grandma. Every morning she would wake up and go to the bakery to get some fresh bread. Breakfast was a ritual: bread, butter and grandma’s jams… And since there was plenty of bread left every day, in the evening we would make fried bread and tomato salad. It was a real treat, crispy and surprisingly light. It was a dish that I’ve been always associating to summer.

Summer hasn’t officially started yet, but it’s somehow here. I visited my parents this weekend and when I saw their garden, I knew right away that the season has started. There was abundance of everything… salads, fresh herbs, radish, kohlrabi, kale, and so many things yet to come… This hot and sunny day made me think of  the seaside and when I saw some leftover baguettes from yesterday’s picnic I knew straight away what I’ll be cooking for lunch.

This is a recipe I’ve picked up from my grandma. Her fried bread was something special: moist on the inside and crispy on the outside. The trick is to soak it well in the milk. This will also prevent it from getting to fat while frying. And the other thing: despite the well known french pain perdu, which I have always eaten as a sweet treat, fried bread should be slightly salty.

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Ingredients:

  • at least a day old bread
  • milk of your choice
  • eggs
  • salt
  • oil for frying/coconut oil
  • radish
  • spring onion
  • basil

Preparation:

  1. Cut thick slices (aprox. 2 cm) of bread of any kind. Soak them well (especially crust) in milk.
  2. In a separate bowl whisk eggs with salt.
  3. When the oil* is heated enough, transfer one by one the soaked slices of bread in an egg batter and from there directly to frying pan. Fry on both sides until golden brown.
  4. Garnish with fine slices of radish, spring onions and basil leaves topped with some high quality olive oil.
  5. Eat while still hot.

*You don’t have to deep fry them. Just put enough oil to cover the  whole pan.