Healthy and easy – comfort food at its best
Summer time and blogging just do not seem to go together. I hardly seem to be home at the moment and when I do cook for myself, I just throw together something super quick. But then last week I really needed one evening just vegging out on my couch with a movie. And what goes better with lounging around for an evening than pizza?!
But as I spent most my other nights that week at restaurants or dinner parties I really wanted to eat something healthy. A regular pizza can hardly be called a healthy. This pizza, on the other hand, is fabulously healthy: think bowl of quinoa with some veg and an (optional) sprinkle of cheese. I have experimented with quite a few different bases, and this one is among my favourites.
And if this has not convinced you: this pizza is easier to get right and comes together much quicker than a regular pizza dough. Basically you whiz some pre-soaked quinoa in a food processor voila your super-healthy pizza base is ready to be baked. Within no time you can sit on the couch, put your feet up and enjoy the comfort of a guilt-free pizza.
(Found on the blog ‘Deliciously Ella‘)
2/3 cup of quinoa (soaked for at least 8 hours)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp dried herbs (for example rosemary, basil, oregano)
optional: chili flakes
- Soak the quinoa in plenty of water for at least 8 hours or over night.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200C (390F).
- Drain the quinoa.
- Place quinoa into the food processor adding the vinegar, herbs, chili (if using) and salt and pepper.
- Whiz the quinoa, scraping down the sides a few time until the mixture is smooth.
- Wipe a pizza dish with a little oil (do not skip this step).
- Pour the mix in the pizza dish and spread out evenly.
- Bake about 10 minutes.
- Add toppings of your choice and bake for about 10 minutes until hot.
Tips & Variations
Consider some of the following toppings
- Tomato sauce, cherry tomatoes, onion rings, tuna, (light) mozzarella cheese and a hanful of rocket once the pizza is cooked.
- Tomato sauce cherry tomatoes, artisjoke, olives and a hanful of rocket once the pizza is cooked.
“Eat me” and travel straight to France
There are two things I enjoy almost as much as being on holiday: the anticipation before the trip and the afterglow when you get back. One of my favourite ways to continue the adventure back at home, is to bring foodie souvenirs and to cook typical local dishes.
And at the moment my mind is still in France: the fabulous winding roads and the beautiful villages of the Loire valley…the rilletes, pâtés, baguettes, croissants and glasses of Saumure-Champigny wine ….I could go on and on (although I don’t think I will try pig’s ear again….)
So this weekend I decided to bring a little of the Loire region into my kitchen by baking a Tarte Tatin; the well known upside-down apple cake from the Orleans region that achieved fame through the ladies Tatin.
There are many different variations for making Tarte Tatin. Some cooks just throw some caramel sauce and apples together, cover all with pastry and shove it in the oven. But I find that this just does not deliver those soft rich caramel flavoured apples that make for a spectacular Tart Tatin. So I take that little bit of extra time and cook the apples in the caramel sauce first. The secret is to keep spooning some sauce over the apples and to shuffle them around a little in the pan to ensure even cooking.
If you are in a rush you could save some time by using store-bought puff pasty. I do however prefer the crumble of a quick home-made short crust; especially when you are planning to eat the tart at room temperature.
I should warn you though: it really is very hard to resist the scent wafting out of your oven and allow the tart the time it needs to bake all the way through.
Amboise, a Loire town that makes your mouth water
One 25cm tart
6 apples (use a firm, fresh-tasting apple like Jonagold, Cox)
90g butter (room temperature)
Optional: 1 vanilla pod
150g all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt
- Use a mixer to beat together the butter and the sugar until creamy. Add the egg and combine until pale.
- Quickly add the flour, salt and vanilla (if using).
- Shape the dough into a disc, wrap in cling film and refrigerate.
- Melt butter in a round 25cm oven-proof pan.
- Add sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved and the sauce has turned a light caramel colour.
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Peel and core the apples. Cut them in half length-ways.
- Place the apples in the pan, cut side up. Cook the apples on a medium-low heat for about 25 min or until the apples have softened and the sauce has browned a little. Spoon some caramel over the apples about every 5 minutes. If the outside apples are cooking slower than those at the center carefully shuffle them around.
- When the apples are cooked arrange them in neat circles. Turn of the heat.
- On a floured surface quickly roll the pastry into a disk that is a little larger than your pan. Fold the pastry over your rolling-pin and transfer to the pan.
- Use the blunt end of a knife handle to tuck the dough around the apples. Do not tuck the edges of the pastry in though, but allow them to curl up against the sides of the pan.
- Bake the tart 25-30 min or until the crust is golden.
- Allow the tart to cool at least 10 min before covering the pan with a plate and turning it out.
Tips & Variations
- Ready-made puff pastry can be used instead of the home-made crust
- the apples can be replaced by pears
A dollop of ice cream, crème fraîche or vanilla yoghurt
Make the ordinary extraordinary
The other day I came home from my grocery shopping trip with some lovely cheeses and sausage only to discover that I had forgotten the crackers. Then it suddenly hit me: throwing together a batch of crackers actually takes less time (and effort) than going back out to the supermarket.
As with all pure and simple foods the key is to use good ingredients. So do not skimp on the quality of your flour or oil. Then the humble cracker, that usually is only there to carry something delicious to your mouth, suddenly becomes a treat in itself.
Cracking good: easy, tasty and without all those funky preservatives the standard store-bought kind has.
(found on the blog ‘Choosy Beggars‘)
125g (1cup) all purpose flour
125g (1 cup) whole wheat flour
2 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp fine salt
120ml (1/2 cup) olive oil
120ml (1/2 cup) warm water
Coarse salt for sprinkling
- Heat oven to 190C 375F.
- Combine both types of flour, rosemary and salt in a bowl.
- Make a well in the center and add oil and water.
- Working from the center combine the dough. It will seem sticky at first, but should turn into a supple dough. Knead for 3 min.
- Allow to rest 5 min.
- Cut out two sheets of parchment the size of your baking trays.
- Divide the dough into two pieces and roll them out on the two sheets of paper. (A few drops of water under the paper will help it stick to the counter.) Roll the dough out as thin as you can.
- Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into little squares (about 4×4 cm).
- Slide the paper onto two separate baking sheets.
- Sprinkle with salt.
- Bake 12-14 min until they are a rich golden.
A cake as ligth as a cloud carrying the scent of lemon
Happy blog birthday to me! Not only that, this is actually also my 100th post!
It is incredible to realize that a whole year has passed since my first post. It has been such a fabulous experience: it began with nothing more than my passion for food. I simply decided to start an on-line recipe collection; as I was constantly chewing everyone’s ear off about recipes and food anyway. I was actually taken by surprise when I read the first comments from strangers and I was completely blown away when I got my first followers. It really is a fantastic feeling to know that your passion has touched someone else.
Whilst hunting for new taste experiences to share, I became more and more interested in healthy food. Dishes that not only taste good but that truly nourish my body. It has been a great journey with some marvelous discoveries. I found out you can replace the fat in baked goods with apple sauce (Zucchini Apple Muffin, Oat Blueberry Muffin). Also quite unexpectedly cauliflower became my new favourite vegetable (Mash, Hummus, Tabouleh, Couscous, Pasta).
So for my birthday I decided to bake myself a cake that tastes decadent but is low in fat and easy to make . It’s a good thing that this recipe is relatively healthy as I had way too much of it already; it is just so beautifully light and airy. Great with a cup of coffee in the afternoon, as desert or as a snack (and I have tested all of the above!)
Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving your messages and comments – I so enjoy reading your thoughts and feedback. I am looking forward to the year ahead and many more great discoveries and experiences!
(found on the blog ‘O Pistachio‘)
Two 15cm cake tins or one 22cm tin
butter for greasing cake tin
4 large eggs
110g (1/2 cup) superfine (caster) sugar
3 tbsp all-purpose (plain) flour
500g (1 2/3 cup) fat free Greek-style yoghurt (see tips for alternative)
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
- Preheat the oven to 175C (350F).
- Cut out a round disk of parchment paper to cover the base of two 15cm (or one 22cm) round cake tins. Grease the tin well.
- Separate the eggs. Whisk the eggs whites until they are stiff and form soft peaks.
- In a separate bowl beat together egg yolks and sugar until pale and creamy.
- Beat in the flour.
- Then beat in the yoghurt, lemon zest and juice.
- Carefully fold the egg whites under the yoghurt mix.
- Pour into the baking tins.
- Bake for about 50-60 minutes (for one large tin you might have to increase the baking time).
- The cake should be moist but springy to the touch. (The cake will rise at first, but will then collapse again.)
- Best served cold (although you might also like it warm).
Tips & Variations
Instead of Greek yoghurt you can also strain regular yoghurt in a cheese cloth for a while.
These muffins make a fabulously healthy snack
It was on a cold and dismal day that I came across this recipe. I wanted to curl up on the couch with a good book, a hot cup of tea and something sweet. Books and tea I have plenty, but sweets I really never have in the house. So I started looking for a little treat that was both healthy and could be made without having to head into the cold outdoors for ingredients.
This muffin was a fabulous find: the recipe could not be simpler. It is incredibly tasty and ever so good for you. Did you know that oats have been found to improve the immune system and lower bad cholesterol amongst other things.
Make plenty ( I would double the portion) and keep the rest in the fridge for a quick breakfast on-the-go.
(found on the blog ‘my baking heart’)
Makes about 6 muffins
90g (1 cup) oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 ripe banana
1 small egg
60ml (1/3 cup) rice milk (alternatively almond or soy)
1/3 tsp vanilla extract
20ml (1/9 cup) agave nectar
50g (1/4 cup) blueberries (no need to defrost if frozen)
- Preheat oven to 175C (350 degrees).
- In a bowl combine oats, baking powder, oats.
- In a second bowl mash the banana with a fork.
- Whisk in the egg.
- Add almond milk, vanilla and agave.
- Add the oats to the banana and mix until just combined.
- Carefully fold in the blueberries.
- Scoop into a 6 whole silicon muffin tray (alternatively place cupcake liners in a regular muffin tin).
- Bake about 20 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown and set.