14 sept. 2017

Lemon Tartlets

It might be the end of summer but I refuse to stock up on pumpkin puree and talk about autumn dishes...well, maybe in a few weeks but I'm not ready yet. Days are getting shorter and the air is slightly cooler, a lot of people are counting down the days till Halloween and all the food magazines are filled with soups, stews, etc. Time to go back to our daily routine, eat healthier and be productive.
I needed something to lift my spirits and beat that end-of-summer blues, and after checking my endless list of recipe ideas these individual lemon tartlets seemed like a great option to me. You have to agree with me that these cuties look quite irresistible and the super lemony dairy-free custard is so creamy and delicious! It's like bringing a bit of sunshine (and sweetness) to your home, plus they are wholesome and way healthier than the regular lemon tart.
Feels great to be back on track again, it's been almost two weeks without posting new content. Shame on me! But seriously, I've been busy running lots of errands and re-organizing my schedule after the summer holidays. But this time I'm back for good!
Now I'm off to check my favorite cookbooks and get some inspiration for my birthday cake because I only have a few days left and like always I'm in charge of dessert. :-p

Lemon Tartlets
(4 servings)

- For the crust:
1/2 cup kamut flour (khorasan wheat).
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour.
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp water.
Pinch of salt.
1 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil.
1 tablespoon coconut sugar.
- For the lemon curd:
1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk.
3 tablespoons cornstarch.
1/4 cup organic whole cane sugar.
Peel of 1 lemon.
3-4 drops of organic lemon essential oil.
1/4 teaspoon vanilla-flavored turmeric.
1 tablespoon lemon zest.
- To decorate:
Mixed berries of your choice.

- You can replace the kamut flour with whole spelt flour or all-purpose flour.
- The vanilla-scented turmeric I use is actually a blend of tumeric, cinnamon, vanilla and other spices. It's the one used for golden milk (turmeric latte). You can use regular turmeric instead of this one.

- To make the crust:
Preheat the oven to 190 ºC (374 ºF) and lightly grease four small tart tins with nonstick cooking spray or coconut oil (the tins I used are quite simillar to these ones).
In a large mixing bowl sift together the flours and salt and make a well in the center. Pour in the oil and 1/4 cup of lukewarm water. Mix with your hands and if the dough is too sticky add a few extra tablespoons of flour. 
Lightly dust your work surface with flour and knead the dough until it becomes soft, pliable and doesn't stick to your hands (this dough won't need much work, though). Divide the dough into 4 equal portions and roll out each one until they are a little bigger than the tart tins. Press the dough into the prepared pans and bake for 30 minutes approximately, or until golden and firm. They should be easy to remove from the pan once baked. Let cool on a wire rack and set aside while you prepare the lemon custard.
- To make the lemon custard:
Dissolve the cornstarch in two tablespoons of almond milk in a small bowl and set aside.
Heat the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat and add in the sugar, lemon peel, turmeric, and lemon zest. When the milk begins to boil inmediately remove the lemon peel and reduce the heat to low, it is important that you don't let the milk to boil completely cause we just want to infuse the milk with the lemon peel.
Slowly stir in the cornstarch mixture while whisking continuosly until the custard thickens. 
Remove from the heat and finally add in 3 to 4 drops of lemon essential oil. Transfer to a heatproof bowl, cover the surface with plastic wrap and let it cool at room temperature to allow the custard to fully thicken.
Once cooled spread the custard evenly between the four tart shells and decorate with your favorite berries.

31 ago. 2017

Strawberry Açaí Bowl

Sometimes you are craving for something sweet and yummy but don't feel like running to the grocery store and buy a lot of ingredients...and if you want to play the good girl for a day and stay away from sugar you know that ice cream tub should stay in the freezer. Turns out that a lot of times the simplest things are the best, you can actually whip up a great breakfast bowl in just a few minutes (truth is I make this more often after my workout sessions). Pick your fruit at its optimum level of ripeness and we are good to go!
Throw in a big bunch of your favorite toppings (a small piece of dark chocolate? yes, please!), I honestly think toppings are what really make this kind of recipes more interesting and attractive.
Talking about food being appealing to the eye, when I'm cooking I always follow this rule: food should always look as good as it tastes. Instagram (and the internet in general) is full of eye-catching food photos with very elaborated decorations but some of them (actually a lot) lack taste. I've tried so many recipes from famous food bloggers that ended up being big disappointments. They say "not all that glitters is gold", well I think this quote sums up very well what I'm trying to explain. There are days that simplicity and realness is what we need.
This bowl only requires three ingredients (THREE!), I think it's the easiest recipe on the blog yet still looks good, and most importantly, tastes good.
I made this açaí bowl yesterday after my visit to a big organic food store where I found delicious little strawberries at a reasonably good price; of course when you find cute berries you know you HAVE to make a new recipe with them. So here it is, an easy, simple, refreshing and fuss-free strawberry-açaí bowl that will make your tummy very happy. Oh and it happens to be fully raw and plant-based!

Strawberry Açaí Bowl
(2 servings)

150 g (5.3 oz) fresh strawberries, hulled.
3 frozen diced bananas.
2 teaspoons açaí powder.
Raw almonds.
Raw walnuts.
Cacao nibs.
Fresh strawberries.

Place all the ingredients in your food processor or blender and pulse until you have a smooth purée. It's really important that both the strawberries and bananas are at their right level of ripeness so you don't need to add any sweetener. The riper the bananas are, the sweeter this mixture will taste.
Pour the mixture into two serving bowls and decorate with the suggested toppings.

I used fresh strawberries for this recipe cause this time I didn't want to add any milk in order to achieve a more thick consistency, kinda like a nice cream.
You can use frozen strawberries but you might need to add a splash of your favorite milk if your food processor or blender aren't powerful enough.

23 ago. 2017

Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream

Like that famous Depeche Mode song says "I just can't get enough"...of ice cream, that's it! Summer flies by way too fast and I simply don't wanna miss the chance to try all the flavors I wrote down on my recipe ideas list (a very long list, btw). Also this ice cream was the perfect excuse to use up a couple bags of hazelnuts and finally make my own healthy chocolate hazelnut butter (because Nutella is so last year!). Side note: buying a powerful food processor was one of the best decisions I've made in a long time, you can whip up delicious and super smooth nut butters in the blink of an eye.
Truth be told this is my way to avoid buying an indecent amount of Ben & Jerry's pints and thus become a sugar junkie; instead I make my "healthified" versions using unrefined sugars and organic, healthier and wholesome ingredients.
Let me explain with full details what this ice cream really is: a 100% plant-based chocolate hazelnut ice cream with thick swirls of homemade chocolate hazelnut butter that wonderfully fuse together. You can also top it all off with some cool sprinkles or toppings like chopped toasted hazelnuts, a chocolate sauce or even marshmallows, but we are talking about a pretty intense-flavored ice cream and honestly don't think it really needs any add-ins. It's super chocolatey, incredibly creamy (ZERO ice crystals, yo!) and a pleasure to your tastebuds.
Bonus point: you will have plenty of chocolate hazelnut butter after making the ice cream to spread it on your morning toast!

Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream
(6 servings approximately)

- For the ice cream:
3 cups hazelnut cream (ingredients and recipe follow).
1 cup unsweetened hazelnut milk.
1/2 cup coconut sugar.
4 tablespoons pure maple syrup.
5 tablespoons pure cocoa powder.
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum.
Pinch of salt.
- For the hazelnut cream:
2 cups raw hazelnuts.
1 1/3 cups filtered water.
1/2 cup pure maple syrup.
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla powder.
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum.
- For the chocolate hazelnut butter:
2 cups raw hazelnuts.
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla powder.
4 to 5 tablespoons pure cocoa powder.
8 tablespoons pure maple syrup.
Pinch of salt.
1 tablespoon coconut oil.
1/2 cup unsweetened hazelnut or almond milk.

- The ice cream recipe was inspired by Fran Costigan's Chocolate Brownie Crumble Ice Cream, from her cookbook Vegan Chocolate (this is not an affiliate link, just giving credit where credit is due). If you want to see how the original recipe looks like, here is my version.
- To blanch/skin the hazelnuts I followed Rose Levy's method using bicarbonate of soda and it works like a charm! Click here to see a video of the process.
- My suggested organization is: 
Day one: make the chocolate hazelnut butter. 
Day two: make the hazelnut cream and the ice cream early, let it rest in the fridge for at least 3 hours in order to have a really cold base. Churn the ice cream later and freeze overnight.
Day three: before serving, let the ice cream thaw for 10-15 minutes at room temperature until it becomes scoopable. Enjoy!

- To make the hazelnut cream:
Skin/blanch the hazelnuts following Rose Levy's method which is fantastic: for every cup of hazelnuts use 1 1/2 cups of boiling water and add two tablespoons of baking soda. Quickly add in the nuts and keep an eye if some foam forms, remove the boil-overs with a spoon. Cook the hazelnuts for around 4 minutes, run under cold water and you'll see how easy it is now to peel the hazelnuts. Drain the hazelnuts very well before proceeding with the cream.
Put the nuts into a blender and add the filtered water, maple syrup, and vanilla. Blend, starting on low, and increase the speed to high. Blend until creamy and smooth.
Carefully add in the xanthan gum directly onto the cream and blend on low for 30 seconds, then increase the speed to high and blend for 1 minute.

- To make the ice cream:
Using a high speed blender process the hazelnut cream, milk, coconut sugar, maple syrup and cocoa powder on high speed for 1 minute until completely smooth. Carefully add in the xanthan gum right into the center of the mixture and blend on low for a few seconds, add the pinch of salt and blend for 1 minute.
Pour the ice cream base into an airtight container and refrigerate the base for at least 3 hours before churning.
When the mixture is cold pour it into your ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer's instructions. During the last minute of churning add in the desired amount of chocolate hazelnut butter or simply add it by hand using a spoon and creating swirls.
Transfer the ice cream to the previous airtight container, cover the surface with plastic wrap in order to protect it from ice crystals and freeze until the ice cream is firm enough to scoop.

- To make the chocolate hazelnut butter:
Skin the hazelnuts using the same method above (read the hazelnut cream directions), let the nuts drain well and roast them in a frying pan lightly coated with coconut oil. Let cool a little bit before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.
In a food processor blend the nuts until they begin to form a paste. Add in the vanilla, cocoa powder, maple syrup, salt, and coconut oil. Process until it starts to get smooth; don't worry if you see that the paste looks like "curdled" right after adding these ingredients, it will get smooth again. Finally add the milk and blend for a while until completely creamy and spreadable.
Transfer to a clean jar, cover and let it cool at room temperature. Store the chocolate hazelnut butter in the refrigerator and don't forget to let it thaw a little bit before being incorporated into the ice cream. If it's too cold you can heat the desired amount in a small saucepan on low heat until it softens.