Orange and chocolate avocado truffles

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This are my new favorite chocolates! Rich chocolate flavor and silky texture. And some oranges for nice Christmas flavor.

Pack them in a thin foil box covered with some nice paper and you will get a truly deluxe present!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 big avocado
  • 40 g pitted dates*
  • 80 g chocolate (at least 70%)
  • 4 tsp unsweetened cocoa
  • peel of two organic oranges
  • cocoa for dusting

Preparation:

  1. Using a blender or food processor mix avocado, orange peel and dates into a smooth cream.
  2. Mix in 4 tsp of cocoa using a spoon.
  3. Melt chocolate over water bath and mix it in the avocado cream.
  4. Put it in the fridge for 2-3 hours to get firm.
  5. When firm enough, form balls with your hands and dust it with cocoa.

* I find this sweet enough. However, my friend who tested it said it wasn’t sweet enough. I might have lost the perception for sweetness since I don’t eat sugar anymore. Add more if necessary 😉

 

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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.

 

Vanilla & Earl Grey fig cookies

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This cookies were actually inspired by one of Sarah Britton’s recipes. She’s one of my favorite blogger and her fig newtons were the first thing that drew my attention to her blog. My recipe came out as a result of falling in love with oat crackers.

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They’re really simple to make, without any added sugar since figs are already sweet enough and made out of whole grains. I tried making them both with butter and with coconut oil. The butter pastry was easier to work with, but it turned out to be more compact and dry when baked. The coconut version vas more hard to work with. It was more crumbly and there were occasional cracks. But baked, those cookies were delish. Despite those cracks, they did hold together and they looked gorgeous. So I opt for vegan. Coconut.

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Ingredients:

Pastry

  • 200 g rolled oats
  • 45 g coconut oil
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 50 – 70 g water

Filling

  • 140 g figs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod
  • 2 Tbsp cognac or spiced rum
  • 2 teabags of Earl Grey in 1,5 dl water
  • 3 tsp chia seeds

Preparation:

  1. Prepare the fig filling. Pour 1,5 dl water on 2 teabags of Earl Gray. Let infuse for 3-4 mins. Chop figs in quarters. Pour over tea and let sit for 15 mins. Using a hand blender mix well in a smooth paste. Add vanilla, chia and cognac and let infuse.
  2. Grind rolled oats in flour consistency using a food processor or a coffee grinder.
  3. Add baking powder and salt.
  4. Add coconut fat to oat mixture and combine evenly with your fingers.
  5. Add 50 g water. Add more if necessary, it depends on the oats. Mix with a wooden spoon and let sit for 10 – 15 mins. Do consider that oats will soak up and adding more water might be necessary if too dry.
  6. Kneed the pastry. Make a ball and put it in-between two sheets of parchment paper. Roll the pastry 0,5 cm thick.
  7. Make a rectangle at least 12 cm wide. Cut off excess. Generously add fig filling in the middle. Fold both sides and seal (spread some water on the pastry, it will act as a glue). If the dough cracks while folding, don’t worry, the filling will hold it together.
  8. Cut the roll on small rectangles.
  9. Bake at 180ºc for 30 mins or until golden brown.
  10. Cookies will be at their best two days later!

 

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Easy green

I would say that Slovenians, we’re a salad nation. It sounds funny, but if there’s no salad in your meal, your meal just doesn’t feel complete. And for me a good salad is often enough to make a perfect meal.

When making salads, I follow couple of simple rules: it has to be colorful, needs to have different textures and flavors and has to be a play between sweet and sour.

The main rule for composing big salads is: crunchy base vegetable + one or two colorful accessories + some crunchy details or/and cheese.

As far as dressing is concerned, it should always taste more slaty and sour. That’s how it will be perfect on your salad. And my basic rule is: never put white dressing on cheese.

Simple.

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Colorful accessories.

I love putting fruits in salads. They add wonderful color and flavor. Oranges are superb in green salads. Just don’t forget to take off all that white skin.

Avocado is actually a fruit, not a vegetable. It is a good source of magnesium, potassium, vitamin K and vitamins B. It has high level of fat, but it’s good vegetable unsaturated fat. There’s about 15 g of fat in 100 g of avocado. You can easily use it as butter replacement in your other recipes.

Avocados are picked hard and green and will ripen properly at room temperature in one to two weeks. If you buy them hard and don’t want to eat them straightaway, keep them in fridge. If you want them to get ripe more quickly, put them next to bananas. And yes, you should always have them on stock!

 

Crunchy stuff: nuts and seeds

Black cumin seeds always remind me of my trip to Egypt where we had wonderful bread with black cumin seeds in the morning. It was years ago and at that time I had no idea what it was. I’ve just remembered the taste. Since I’ve rediscovered it, it’s my favorite thing on oranges and goat cheese.

Couple of crushed nuts like pistachios, almonds, walnuts, roasted or not, will give your salad a full rounded body. Salted roasted whole almonds add crunchy and a bit rustic flavor.

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Soft goat cheese

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Ingredients

  • salad greens
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/2 orange
  • handful roasted almonds (in shells)
  • goat cheese
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon
  • lemon thyme (optional)
  • black cumin seed to sprinkle
  • salt, pepper

Directions

  1. Cut avocado chunks. Peel and cut oranges. Remove white skins.
  2. Roughly crush almonds.
  3. Make dressing. Mix olive oil, lemon juice, thyme, salt and freshly ground pepper.
  4. Assemble green salad, avocado chunks and oranges, rough pieces of cheese. Sprinkle with almonds, cumin seeds. Top with  dressing.

Risotto primavera

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Finally! Spring is here! … and with it all the green goodness that comes along. Plants in my garden are going crazy. It’s a damn good beginning of the season! So far, I have wonderful aromatic herbs: thyme, mint, parsley, chives, basil… All I have to do is go out on my balcony and I have a handful of freshness for my dishes.

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One of the first veggies in spring are asparagus. At the market you will usually find them white or green, the difference being only in the way they are grown. Apparently the most recent thing is violet asparagus, but nothing can beat the wild ones. They have a distinct taste, but are hard to find if you don’t have a clue what to look for in the woods (like me…).
The lower ends should be removed since they are hard to eat and have much fibre. Also, white asparagus should be peeled, but I use the same technique on the green ones and eat the lower ends.

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In my opinion asparagus goes best with eggs and in a classical italian risotto, but since my garden is full of fresh herbs it is just screaming to make a light and fresh herbed asparagus rice with some nice greenish pistachios.

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Herbed asparagus rice

serves one as main or two as side

  • 80g integral (brown) rice
  • Tbsp olive oil for cooking
  • 1 small shallot
  • 1 small bouquet of asparagus
  • a handful of salted pistachios
  • mint, parsley, thyme and lemon thyme, chives
  • 1 Tbsp greek yoghurt
  • salt and freshly ground pepper for seasoning

Instructions

  1. Precook rice.
  2. Remove the ends of asparagus and peel if necessary. Cut in small pieces and set the tops aside.
  3. Finely chop shallot. Stir it on 1 Tbsp of oil for about 2 min. Add asparagus, except the tops and cook for additional 4 mis.
  4. Add the tops, sauté for about a minute, than add rice. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Stir in pistachios and chopped herbs.
  6. Set aside and mix in 1 big Tbsp of greek yoghurt.