Oven baked orange pistachio donuts

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Since I remember, working with materials, transforming the mass and creating new shapes was my thing. Probably that’s why I was so hooked by ceramics. I was doing it for quite some time and enjoyed it a lot. I always liked that magic feeling when you get to transform your idea into something concrete, real, into a form that has a new meaning
 But at a certain moment I actually stopped doing that. That was a mistake, but I haven’t yet said the final word! That’s for sure.

Maybe that is why I like working with dough so much. I actually didn’t realize this until I got myself a new oven. Yes, I’ve had it for two weeks or so now 🙂 Dough is an absolutely amazing thing! It all begins with a messy sticky shapeless something, but then you fight it, you stretch it, you knead and eventually you get a nice and soft shiny ball. Not to mention the final result… 🙂

Mardi gras and carnival time in Slovenia are somehow special. Actually, the only time I did not celebrate it was when I was in France. We always do masks and there is a huge party. Oh yes, and donuts.

So this is how I got myself into this business. I haven’t really eaten donuts for quite some time now. My gran, who makes like the best ones ever (!!!), lives a bit too far away to have them fresh, and a day old, well, they’re not quite the same anymore.

I wanted to make a healthier version of her recipe which goes like this:

500 g flour
5 egg yolks
50 g sugar
50 g butter
40 g fresh yeast
1,5 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 Tbsp spiced rum
peel of 1 organic lemon
1 vanilla sugar
250 – 300 ml milk
oil for frying
apricot jam for filling
icing sugar for garnish

After preparing the dough, which is pretty much the same as described in my recipe, make 60 g balls and let rise. Heat the oil at 60Âșc – 70Âșc. Fry 3 mins on one side with the lid on, than turn the donuts and fry another 3 mins with the lid off. Warm up the apricot jam and fill the donuts using a confectionery bag or a syringe with a long nozzle.

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I did not want to fry them, so I tried the oven option. The donuts turned out just great, but had more of a brioche texture. But as far as the taste goes, I got it right. And filling them with clementine jam was like heaven!

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Ingredients:

dough

  • 200 g white flour T400
  • 125 g wholegrain spelt flour
  • 110 g pumpkin puree (from hokkaido)
  • 20 g fresh yeast
  • 25 g agave syrup
  • 50 g soft butter
  • 30 – 50 ml milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1,5 Tbsp spiced rum
  • 3 egg yolks
  • peel of œ organic lemon
  • 1/3 tsp salt

garnish

  • 100 g dark chocolate (70%)
  • 1 tsp butter
  • unsalted pistachios
  • peel of 2 organic oranges
  • clementine or orange jam

Preparation:

  1. Cut pumpkin in half, drizzle with some neutral oil and bake at 200°C 30-40 min or until softened. Let cool and puree using a hand blender.
  2. Prepare the yeast: mix 20 ml warm milk, 1 tsp of agave syrup and yeast.
  3. In a large bowl mix the two flours and salt.
  4. Using a hand mixer, mix softened butter at the highest speed, than gradually add agave syrup and egg yolks. In the end, add lemon peel, vanilla extract and rum.
  5. Pour the egg mixture, pumpkin puree and yeast into the flours. Mix with a wooden spatula until combined. Add more milk if needed.
  6. When ingredients well combined, start kneading. The dough should be firm, but flexible. Add more flour or milk if needed. The starch needs some time to get activated, so in this first phase the dough will be pretty sticky. It should start getting the right texture after 8 mins of kneading. If it still is too sticky and too soft, add little flour. Flour your work surface and now knead as you would any other dough. In the end you should get a firm and silky ball of dough.
  7. Let rise and when it doubles in size knead once more. Form small balls of 40 g each and let rise. Turn once while rising.
  8. Preheat oven at 180°c (classic heating up+down) and bake 20 – 30 min.
  9. Using a confectionary bag or a syringe with a long nozzle fill the donuts with a warm jam as soon as you get them out of the oven.
  10. Melt the chocolate and the butter over a double boiler. Pour over the donuts and sprinkle with some crushed pistachios and orange peel.

Roasted beet and avocado dip

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Lately I’ve been going nuts about beets.  It’s probably one of the most amazing vegetables. There are so many things you can do with it, be it sweet or savory. And I just love that color!

There’s more on its health benefits in one of my older post. Anyway, raw, cooked, steamed or oven baked. Everything goes. So here it is, my favorite dip/spread.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 large avocado
  • 2 medium size beets
  • 1.5 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1.5 cumin seeds (Cuminum cyminum)*
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt
  • some roasted hazelnuts to garnish

Preparation:

  1. Cut beets in quarters, sprinkle with olive oil and bake on low temperature (at 180Âșc) until it softens. Cool and peel off the skins.
  2. Finely grind coriander and cumin seeds.
  3. Using a hand blender mix all the ingredients.
  4. Serve with corn tortillas or crackers. You can also use it like this.

 

*more on cumin – carvi – black cumin here.

Green pancakes with quick avocado & beet spread – gluten free

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I started writing this blog because I wanted to give a healthy twist to those traditional dishes. Of course, since I got diabetes, I was mostly trying to find a neat solution to avoid sugar or at least finding an alternative for it. But in the end, everything is sugar. During digestion the food we eat will eventually turn into sugars. The question is how fast? My answer to this is balance. A meal that’s rich in fiber and protein, not only carbs, will rise your blood sugar level much slower and will make you feel full longer. And protein intake can sometimes be a huge problem for vegetarians. I say chickpea, people!

Chickpea is one of those superfoods for me. It has quite some carbs, to give you the energy, but also lots of fiber and protein. Chickpea flour has around 60% carbs, 20% protein and 15% fiber whereas cooked chickpeas will have round 30% carbs, 9% protein and 8% fiber.

When I first heard of Socca that funny word immediately caught my attention. For a reason. Farinata or Cade, as it is also called, is a chickpea pancake brought from Genoa to south of France, Nice and Toulon to be more precise. It’s a street food and there are some variations between the three, but the basic recipe for socca is:

300 g chickpea flour
500 ml water
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
pepper

The batter is poured into a large iron skillet and than baked in the oven at a really high temperature until golden brown.

So, I mixed a bit and came up with this broccoli chickpea gluten free pancakes, that are way better and certainly way healthier than the regular ones using plain white flour. The batter is less liquid so the pancakes will be slightly thicker, but they sure look nice and make a great contrast with the beet-avocado spread.

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Ingredients:

for the broccoli chickpea pancakes:

  • 100 g broccoli
  • 75 g chickpea flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 140 ml milk of your choice (I used oat milk)
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1/3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 garlic clove
  • salt, pepper

quick beet and avocado spread
(or if you have more time)

  • 1 avocado
  • 1 medium size cooked beet
  • 1,5 tsp coriander seed
  • 1,5 tsp cumin seed
  • juice of half lemon
  • salt

tahini sauce (optional):

  • 1 big Tbsp tahini
  • 1Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 – 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 3 – 4 Tbsp water
  • salt

handful of spinach
goat cheese
roasted walnuts or hazelnuts

Preparation:

  1. Put all the ingredients in the blender an mix well. Let rest in the fridge for at least an hour.
  2. Finely grind coriander and cumin seeds.
  3. Using a hand blender mix all the ingredients for the spread.
  4. Bake the pancakes at medium heat in non-stick frying pan of 20cm in diameter until golden brown. Do not expect paper thin pancakes, they should be slightly thicker.
  5. Spread the beet and avocado on half of the pancake, fill with spinach, goat cheese, tahini sauce and some roasted nuts.

Green dream smoothie

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It’s a wonderful day today. I haven’t seen a sun like that for some time now. Blue sky and warm light. Looking through my window, big grayish trees. Naked. Behind them, on the other side of the street, some colorful table cloths drying on the line and playing in the wind.

I remember my life from Paris
 Everything was way too often so black and white. And gray. In the metro, on the street, people
 Maybe that’s why I loved so much going to the african or indian quarters. And maybe that’s why I bought some colorful african fabrics that still hang from my wall today.

Life should be colorful. One way or another. I had my smoothie blender for couple of years now, but I think it was never in use as much as it is right now. I guess this Ljubljana’s gray screams for colors.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 2 handfuls spinach
  • 2,5 dl coconut-rice milk
  • 1 Tbsp hemp protein (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp hemp seed
  • 2 Tbsp coconut flakes

Preparation:

  1. Blend. Blend. Blend. 🙂

Red DETOX smoothie

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After a busy end of the year and all that feasting and festivity the time has come to start a new chapter. New year – new beginnings, they say. And to start well, mind, soul and body need to be free. And clean. So, for the last couple of weeks I’ve been trying to detoxify my body, do more sports and just breathe that fresh winter air. I left out a party or two and switched from wine to smoothies. Since I’ve got this diabetes thing I learned how important it is to listen to my body. Once you do that, you start acting differently and you feel great.

This smoothie has been replacing some of my breakfast lately. It’s really boosting and nourishing. In the morning I sometimes mixed it up with oats and hemp seeds and it was definitely my favorite 5 o’clock thing.

Beet is a great source of folic acid and potassium. It also contains high level of antioxidants and supports detoxification. It has a slightly higher level of carbs than other vegetables (5g carbs/75g), but that’s not much of a problem since it is also a good source of fiber. It can be eaten raw or cooked. Also, and that is something I did not know, leaves were highly appreciated in ancient times. That’s no surprise since they contain up to 25% magnesium. They can be prepared the same way as spinach. Superfood.

Carrot A, B, C, E, K. Nuff said.

Orange is the best winter fruit. I’ve got an orange tree in my apartment and it just started blooming (don’t know how that’s possible), but the smell…it’s amazing. Of course, a super source of vitamin C that will boost your immune system in those harsh winter months and hydrate your body. Just make sure it’s heavy when buying. That means it will be really juicy.

Strawberries are a good source of antioxidants, folic acid and vitamins B and C. They have a high water content and are beneficial for digestion. They also have low glycemic index, so go for it!

Green tea is said to have more health benefits than the black tea which is most widely used. This is due to un-oxidation process which retains more antioxidants and vitamins.

Chia seed has high fiber and slows down digestion. It’s also rich in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, minerals like potassium, calcium and iron. It has high protein content so it is perfect for balancing fruit or vegetable smoothies.

Ginger is a good source of vitamins and minerals. It is considered a medicinal plant in alternative medicine. It’s said to have beneficial effects on digestion, respiratory system and nausea, but its recommended daily amount is between 3 and 10 g. It has a nice lemony, but very sharp taste. When grated and used with fiber it will gradually become even sharper. If you want milder taste, use squeezed (grated) ginger juice only.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 carrot
  • 1 beet (raw or cooked)
  • 100 g strawberries
  • 1 orange
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 Tbsp chia seed
  • 1 cup green tea

Preparation:

  1. Make 1 cup of green tea and let cool.
  2. Wash and peel all the fruits and vegetables and cut into bigger pieces.
  3. Put all the ingredients into smoothie maker and blend on the highest speed.

 

 

Baked cheese with cranberries, pecan and maple syrup

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These days we had our first snow this winter. If the Christmas wasn’t white, at least New Year will be. It will be cold they say. It doesn’t really matter. I managed -40Âșc in Montreal last year. I fear nothing!
And this will be the first New Year after four years I’ve been spending it away from home. I am really happy and excited about it!

It’s funny how I never had the idea of organizing a good dinner before going to France couple of years ago. I like the idea of organizing a New Year’s dinner at home before going out. But the last thing I want is to spend my evening in the kitchen cooking, preparing plates and serving. So, do it yourself/themselves convivial dishes are a must.

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Baked soft french cheese such as Camembert, Brie, Coulommiers, Pont l’EvĂȘque, NeufchĂątel served with some good french bread (aka sourdough) is simple and cheap solution that needs only a trick or two to turn it into a most luxurious dish. And it will keep you away from kitchen, being able to hang out with your friends while spreading the soft cheese over your slice of bread, splashing it down with some good red, being in the middle of the action.

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It’s a recipe you can use in every season. Put on some mild olive oil and rosemary in the summer. Top it with figs and honey. Stick in couple of garlic cloves and thyme in the autumn. Or do as I did, being inspired by my travels to Canada: cranberries, pecans and maple syrup.

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Ingredients:

  • whole soft french cheese like Camembert, Brie, Coulommiers, Pont l’EvĂȘque, NeufchĂątel…
  • handful of dried cranberries + water to cover them
  • 3 Tbsp roughly chopped pecans (you can also replace them with walnuts)
  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup (or use agave syrup instead)

Preparation:

  1. Roughly chop cranberries, cover them with water and cook over a medium fire to get a jam consistency.
  2. Unwrap cheese, put it on a sheet of baking paper. Top with cranberries, chopped pecans and drizzle with maple syrup.
  3. Bake in preheated oven at 180Âșc for 8 – 10 mins.
  4. Serve with some good grilled bread and a glass of red wine.

Chocolate coconut nutella

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A healthier vegan nut free nutella. Coconut milk and chocolate. No added sugar. That’s about it! Love it 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 400 ml coconut milk (emulsified, I used Vegalife)
  • 4 tsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 80 g milk chocolate (I used Balance Stevia by Klingele)

Preparation:

  1. Melt chocolate over water bath. Gently whisk in cocoa.
  2. Heath up coconut milk. Do not overheat. It just needs to have the same temperature as chocolate. Mix in the chocolate.
  3. Pour into jars, let cool and store in a fridge overnight. It will harden get spreadable consistency. VoilĂ !

Kissingers: a healthier version

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Kissingers. My grandma has been making them since I remember. There isn’t Christmas without them. No one in our family actually knows where my grandma got the recipe or why they’re called that way. So as far as I managed to find out, they’re originally from Bavaria, Germany.

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Anyway, this is my healthier version, but for my grandmother’s sake I’m also adding an original recipe:

150 g wheat flour (white)
150 g ground hazelnuts
150 g sugar
100 g butter
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 egg

apricot jam
chocolate and hazelnuts to garnish

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Ingredients:

  • 185 g wholegrain spelt flour
  • 150 g ground hazelnuts
  • 60 g agave syrup
  • 100 g butter
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 100 g dried apricots
  • juice of 1 big orange
  • 60 g dark chocolate (70%)
  • ground hazelnuts to garnish

Preparation:

  1. Mix flour, hazelnuts, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Add butter and combine evenly with your hands. Whisk egg and agave syrup. Add to flour mixture. The dough will be rather soft. Form a ball and let sit for 20-30 mins in a fridge.
  2. Roughly chop apricots, pour over orange juice and mix with hand blender to get a jam consistency.
  3. Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it in-between two sheets of parchment paper to 4 mm thick. use a round cookie cutter or a jar to cut out circles.
  4. Bake at 180Âșc for 12 mins or until golden brown.
  5. Let cool. Make cookie sandwiches by spreading apricot jam in-between the two cookies.
  6. Melt chocolate and dip in the edges. Immediately roll in ground hazelnuts.
  7. Leave cookies in a tin box for at least two days before serving & eating.

 

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Cranberry and pistachio oat cookies

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Cranberries and pistachios. Red and green. Christmas par excellence.

Ingredients:

  • 150 g rolled oats
  • 50 g butter or coconut oil
  • 1,5 tsp baking powder
  • 70 – 100 g water
  • 30 g peeled salted pistachios
  • 50 g dried cranberries
  • chocolate to garnish

Preparation:

  1. Roughly chop cranberries and pistachios.
  2. Finely grind rolled oats into a flour consistency.
  3. Mix oats and baking powder. Add butter (or coconut oil fi using) and evenly mix with hands. Add nuts and cranberries.
  4. Add water, mix and let sit. Oats will soak up. It it gets too dry, add a bit more water.
  5. Make small balls and form a thin cookie. Bake at 180Âș for 20-30 mins depending on thickness. Let cool and garnish with melted chocolate.

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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 180Âșc for 20 mins.

 

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