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FERRERO ROCHER GRANOLA

FERRERO ROCHER GRANOLA






As every year when the Holiday season arrives I like having cool ideas of edible gifts for my beloved ones. I think it's a nice thing to do, it shows you care and love them and they appreciate it a lot.


Don't know if it happens to you as well but when I think of Ferrero Rocher chocolates it reminds me of Christmas straight away. It's the typical treat that cannot be missed around these dates, that distinctive chocolate and hazelnut flavour... So that's why I got inspired to make this granola although you can of have it all year round, and of course it is made with non refined stuff, only nutritious and healthy ingredients. 


You probably have already noticed I'm quite a fan of glass jars and gifts with jars. On previous years I posted the apple butter recipe, also the chocolate truffles, there are so many options... I actually like using them because first of all they're made of glass which is a non toxic material, you can see what's inside, it preserves well, and after that you can give them another user like storing spices or other ingredients, pens and pencils, your toothbrush...



Plus, it's a non expensive gift since the jars are recycled, and I wanted to use stuff I have around the house to make it cute and pretty. I used some pieces of a sort of carton paper, some cord, a few dry eucalyptus leaves from an old bouquet, and the little brown balls you see that I found on the street underneath some trees.


This granola has become a big favourite at home, and given the little options of healthy muesli that we can find I started to make it myself, like this other with cranberries and walnuts that you can find on the blog. These amounts make 2 big batches so you will have either 2 big jars or containers or 5-6 small depending on the size.
They're made with gluten free cereal although you can use regular oats and others of your choice.






FERRERO ROCHERGRANOLA 

INGREDIENTS


  • 2 cups gluten free or regular rolled oats 
  • 1 cup puffed brown rice 
  • 2 cups puffed amaranth 
  • 2 pinches of fine salt
  • 1/2 cup pure cocoa powder  
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar or dark brown sugar 
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1 cup hazelnuts, chopped 
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup 
  • 1/2 cup water 
  • Ground nutmeg 
  • 1 Tablespoon of vanilla extract 
  • Optional: grated dark chocolate 


METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC.
  2. Mix in a bowl the dry ingredients then add the liquid and stir it all well. You can use your hands and make little balls or rocks so they get crunchy.
  3. Prepare 2 oven trays with some silicon mats or baking paper and spread all the mixture well over it. Place in the middle of the oven.
  4. Bake for 30-40 minutes and monitor so they don't burn.
  5. Remove fro the oven and allow to cool completely before storing in the jars.
  6. You can have add up a gourmand touch by adding some grated dark chocolate.


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APPLE AND COCONUT COOKIES (GF, DF,VEG)

APPLE AND COCONUT COOKIES (GF, DF,VEG)


Piled cookies on red ceramic dish, dry autumn leaves, dark background, old wood, piles books with red apple on top

Piled cookies on red ceramic dish, dark background, old wood, piles books with red apple on top


Cookies are one of those cooking preps that I love because they're not time consuming at all, so simple to make and effortless. Once you've find a good basic recipe you can have fun replacing some elements. That's what I do a lot with my oats, chocolate and macadamia cookies, sometimes I use hazelnuts or almonds instead, raisins, cranberries...
I also have these cute Christmas ginger cookies on the blog that I'll probably be doing very soon again cause Christmas time is approaching and they smell and taste so festive to me.



I wanted to try with new flavours and textures and after a few tests I ended up with this apple and coconut combo. Last time I made a huge batch and we had cookies for so many days. Cookies here and there.
The good part is as they are homemade they don't have any additives nor bad quality ingredients and that makes them much more enjoyable.
If you're going to use organic apples you can grate them without peeling them however if they're not I prefer doing so in order to avoid all the pesticides and wax they normally have. As you will see below these quantities make 30 cookies so If you rather making less then you can use just half of the ingredients.


Cenital view of Piled cookies on red ceramic dish, dark background, old wood, piles books with red apple on top, porcelain mug with tea, star anise and orange peels

Cooking ingredients on wood table: red apples, brown sugar, star anise, cinnamon sticks


I rarely make any dessert without some kind of spice. Well actually I rarely make any recipe without any spice. They're always present and this time cinnamon and star anise are there.
I recently posted on Instagram a picture of cinnamon sticks, it's one of my very favourites. Both on sweet and savoury dishes. Yes, also on savoury as with this roasted zucchini soup, or the Moroccan pastela...so yummy, or the Thai Massaman curry...


When I traveled to Vietnam I saw freshly pulled out cinnamon in the middle of the jungle and I as impressed. It's the inner bark of the cinnamomun tree that is dried out and then rolled up to make the sticks. It can also be bought in their natural shape, that's how I saw them there and the same my family brought me from India. At first glance it looks like a common piece of tree bark but when you crack it and releases all its amazing and powerful aroma it's just amazing. These pieces are then grounded to make the cinnamon powder we all know and buy.
 That was the time I found out the difference between that and the cinnamon we buy at any grocery store. Also the cinnamon sticks gather much more aroma and intensity, it also lasts longer than the powder... So just same as the rest of spices it is always best to buy the seeds and then use a mortar and pestle or an electric grinder.

So after getting lost in the endless spice world... here's the recipe for this apple coconut cookies, they are gluten and dairy free with a vegan option. 

Cenital view of Piled cookies on red ceramic dish, dark background, old wood, piles books with red apple on top, porcelain mug with tea, star anise and orange peels

Cooking ingredients on wood table: red apples, brown sugar, star anise, cinnamon sticks

homemade cookies on red ceramic dish, dark background, old wood, piles books with red apple on top, porcelain mug with tea, star anise and orange peels




APPLE AND COCONUT COOKIES RECIPE

INGREDIENTS (Makes 30 cookies)

  • 1/2 cup almond meal 
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 2 red apples, grated
  • 1/2 cup brown or coconut sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  •  2 Tbsp. ground flax seeds + 4 Tbsp water (soaked a few minutes) OR 2 eggs 
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted 
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon 
  • 1/2 Tbsp star anise powder
Piled homemade cookies on red ceramic dish, dark background, old wood, piles books with red apple on top, porcelain mug with tea, star anise and orange peels

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC.
  2. Grate the apples and drain the liquid (don't throw it away, it's a delicious juice)
  3. Mix all the wet ingredients: apple + soaked flax seeds +coconut oil.
  4. Add the dry ingredients: almond meal+ rice flour + coconut + sugar+ salt + baking soda + cinnamon and star anise. Mix it all well.
  5. Line some silicone mats or baking paper over an oven tray.
  6. Give the cookies the shape of your choice and place in the tray.
  7. Bake for about 28-30 minutes being vigilant so they don't burn.
  8. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack, allow to cool for 10 minutes.
Homemade cookies on red ceramic dish, dark background, old wood, piles books with red apple on top, porcelain mug with tea, star anise and orange peels

Cenital view homemade cookies on red ceramic dish, dark background, old wood, piles books with red apple on top, porcelain mug with tea, star anise and orange peels


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MINESTRONE SOUP

MINESTRONE SOUP


Ceramic red pot, ceramic bowl with minestrone soup, grey linen kitchen cloth, old book, spoon with wood handle, fresh parsley

Who else loves arriving home and having ready a nice and filling, warm yummy soup...? That is why I like making a very big pot of soup, it really takes no time and you'll have the dinner solved for many days.

You probably are very familiar with this classic minestrone soup, from "minestra"in Italian, that means soup. A traditional one with lots of veggies, pasta and sometimes also legumes. Depending on the region in Italy it is made cooking different vegetables in a good stock, sometimes with rice, pancetta, pasta, beans, grated Parmesan cheese...
It is said that no exclusive nor unique recipe exist as its origin is rural and it has always been made with what was available at the current season.
Although the veggies most typically used are carrots, potatoes, onions, celery, tomato, zucchini, green beans...you can use and add any other of your choice, they all taste and work great in it.

ceramic bowl with minestrone soup, grey linen kitchen cloth, old book, spoon with wood handle, fresh parsley


A hearty soup that is so simple and inexpensive, you can even make use of left overs with it. There's almost zero waste in it and we will even be using the water used for cooking the pasta to make the broth.Regarding the pasta, although small or medium size are commonly used for this soup such as snail, ditalini or lumache, any type is ok, I actually used the one I had in hand, a red lentil sort of sedanini that I broke into smaller pieces.
I love using plenty of different veggies and never give up on tomato, lots of freshly ground black pepper and aromatic herbs. 

So here's my version of minestrone soup, cooked in my lovely red cocotte, fullly loaded and smoldering for the chilly days ahead.


Minestrone soup ingredients to cook, potato, tomato, carrot, leek, pasta, celery, parsley in white marble ccutting board

Minestrone soup ingredients to cook, potato, tomato, carrot, leek, pasta, celery, parsley in white marble ccutting board



MINESTRONE SOUP RECIPE


INGREDIENTS (Serves 4)

  • 1/2 zucchini
  • 1/2 onion
  • 3 garlic cloves 
  • 3 ripe tomatoes 
  • 2 carrots 
  • 1 leek
  • 1 celery stick
  • 2 potatoes
  • 10 green beans
  • Pasta of your choice
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Water
  • Dry basil and oregano 
  • Salt and black pepper 
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Fresh parsley
ceramic bowl with minestrone soup, grey linen kitchen cloth, old book, spoon with wood handle, fresh parsley

ceramic bowl with minestrone soup, grey linen kitchen cloth, old book, spoon with wood handle, fresh parsley


ELABORATION

  1. Cook the pasta.
  2. Meanwhile chop the vegetables in small pieces or little cubes.
  3. In a large cooking pot, pour some olive oil and cook the garlic, onion, leek and carrot until golden.
  4. Set to medium heat and add the potatoes, celery, beans, zucchini, tomato, bay leaves...
  5. When the pasta is cooked pour the water into the pot and reserve the pasta for later. Season with oregano, basil, salt and pepper to taste.  
  6. Cover with the lid and allow to cook at medium heat for about 20-30 minutes.
  7. Add the pasta and leave for 5-10 minutes. 
  8. Then serve with some fresh parsley and drizzle some olive oil.

ceramic bowl with minestrone soup, grey linen kitchen cloth, old book, spoon with wood handle, fresh parsley

ceramic bowl with minestrone soup, grey linen kitchen cloth, old book, spoon with wood handle, fresh parsley


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COCOA AND ZUCCHINI MUFFINS (GF,DF, VEG)

COCOA AND ZUCCHINI MUFFINS (GF,DF, VEG)




Cocoa muffins in old retro metallic pan, over old wood table, dark background, dry eucalyptus leaves, linen grey kitchen cloth


Cocoa muffins in old retro metallic pan, over old wood table, dark background, dry eucalyptus leaves, linen grey kitchen cloth


Checking the blog I realized that it's been ages since the last time I posted a muffin recipe. Don't know how that happened, because I'm such a big fan! So many recipes that got lost in time... I have so many as I love testing and trying new combinations.
 Actually the last recipe I posted was this savoury muffin  and there's also a cupcakes recipe with zucchinis but that have nothing to do with this one.


Cocoa muffins in old retro metallic pan, over old wood table, dark background, dry eucalyptus leaves, linen grey kitchen cloth


I must say that creating gluten and dairy free recipes isn't an easy thing to do. In general, gluten free baking is quite tricky. Flours made with gluten free grains, legumes and cereals, have very different reactions when mixed with the liquid and fat. It takes a lot of time and dedication finding good combinations and the right amounts to achieve the fluffiness and texture you are looking for.
I'm sure some of you have already tried many times and you know what I'm talking about. You cannot just replace the classical white wheat flour for any other non refined gluten free like buckwheat, rice, almond... No it doesn't work. If you do it you might probably end up with an inedible hard-as-a rock muffin that not even your dog will want to eat. And also a huge disappointment.
Because yep, it is part of the fascinating world of recipe development. Some tests end like a real culinary tragedy. But then you keep trying, re-trying, making mistakes, annoying your boyfriend, trying again, sobbing... but in the end you learn that this is pure alchemy and you need to find the balance. Each flour works differently and the key is in mixing different ones in various proportions. Then the magic happens and you get such a delicious cake, cookie or muffin and you just want to celebrate, laugh, eat them all without sharing and jump for joy.


In brief, a good, healthy muffin is totally possible and easier than what we think. But let's be honest here, don't expect a Starbucks-like muffin texture nor shape. Those are made with refined sugars and flours, tons of additives and bad fats so they can have that look, flavour, consistency and even durability.
These have nothing of that, no empty calories, just real nutritious ingredients to enjoy in a healthy way,


These muffins are vegan, gluten and dairy free however you can replace the "flax seed egg" for regular eggs and use the milk of your choice.

They're delicious. I promise.


Cocoa muffins in old retro metallic pan, over old wood table, dark background, dry eucalyptus leaves, linen grey kitchen cloth

Cocoa muffins in old retro metallic pan, over old wood table, dark background, dry eucalyptus leaves, linen grey kitchen cloth



COCOA AND ZUCCHINI MUFFINS

INGREDIENTS ( Makes 12 muffins)

  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 40 small ounces pure cocoa 99% or 10 dark chocolate regular ounces 
  • 2 Tbsp ground flax seed + 4 Tbsp water (soaked a few minutes) OR 2 organic eggs 
  • 6 Tbsp. avocado or coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 1/2 cup/250ml buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup/250ml oatmeal flour 
  • 1/2 cup/250ml coconut or almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup/60ml  pure cocoa powder 
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder (regular or gluten free) 
  • 1 cup/250 ml coconut or dark brown sugar

Cocoa muffins in old retro metallic pan, over old wood table, dark background, dry eucalyptus leaves, linen grey kitchen cloth

METHOD

  1. Preheat to 180ºC. Leave the flax seeds soaking.
  2. Grate the zucchini and drain all the water excess (you can squeeze with your hands over a strainer)
  3. Mix in a bowl: the zucchini + soaked flax seeds + oil + vanilla + coconut sugar.
  4. Mix the rest of ingredients in another bowl.
  5. Add the the first bowl to this and mix until you get a composed dough. If you find it too dry and hard to mix, add a splash of milk to help you stirring.
  6. Line a muffin pan and grease if you don't use paper cups.
  7. Pour the dough in all the molds.
  8. Place in the oven and bake for around 25-30 minutes. 
  9. Allow to cool in a rack for 10 minutes. 
Cocoa muffins in old retro metallic pan, over old wood table, dark background, dry eucalyptus leaves, linen grey kitchen cloth



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EGGPLANT LASAGNA

EGGPLANT LASAGNA




A few months ago around the beginning of summer I think, I shared on social media a picture of a freshly made lasagna like this. I made a little survey asking you would like to have the recipe and most of you said yes. Days started to get warm so using the oven was out of question, and that until not long ago. So I left the recipe for the chiller season and now I found was the perfect moment.

Last times I've been to the farmer's market there were loads of aubergines of all kinds and sizes, have you seen the white ones? and those with white an purple colour that look like painted? They're so pretty...




I love using eggplants on Arab, Asian and spicy dishes, there are so many types of various shapes and colors, like the Thai pea aubergine that is super tiny and green. 
On currys, soups and stir-fried elaborations, eggplants are delicious. It soaks a lot of oil so it is preferable cooking it with techniques other than frying like steamed, baked, grilled or microwaved like we will do very quickly this time. 
Lasagna sheets are replaced by eggplant slices on this recipe. A while ago I shared another lasagna recipe with chicory and tempeh that is very yummy as well and that has the same principle.


Eggplant composition is basically water, in more than a 90%. It contains some vitamins like folic acid, minerals such as potassium, and solanine same as potatoes, a component that is toxic when eaten raw, therefore they always need to be properly cooked.
This is actually what also makes aubergines taste bitter. Which can be easily solved by macerating them with salt. Just cut it into slices and sprinkle some salt all over each of them, you can place a strainer underneath so the water excess drains. Then rinse with fresh water to remove the salt and done. 



I've made the tomato sauce in different ways in terms of the tomatoes I used, depending on what I had in hand. Both natural tomatoes or store bought tomato sauce (with no added stuff, just tomato) are ok. The only difference is that you need to bear in mind that if you use whole tomatoes (chose a type is best to cook) you'll need to poach them along with the rest of ingredients of the sauce. In case you use store-bought, you can add it at the end as it is already cooked.

This exact recipe is also delicious replacing the eggplants with zucchinis or combining both. It is vegan, gluten and dairy free, although you can adapt it to your liking by using cheese or any milk of your choice.

EGGPLANT LASAGNA RECIPE

INGREDIENTS

  • 1big eggplant
  • 1/2onion
  • 10 mushrooms 
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 tomatoes, puréed
  • 2 bunches of fresh basil
  • Ground cumin, coriander and turmeric powder (to taste)
  • 2 handfuls of fresh spinach
  • Vegan or regular cheese and/or nutritional yeast

For the bechamel sauce

  • 1 cup almond milk or any other
  • 2 Tbsp brown rice flour
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  •  Ground nutmeg
  • Ground black pepper
  • Salt

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 200ºC. Follow the easy steps I explain above to remove the bitterness of the aubergines. 
  2. Meanwhile finely chop the mushrooms, garlic and the onion.
  3. Sautée in a pan with olive oil along with the tomato until well cooked. Add the spinaches and leave another 5 minutes.
  4. Now we make the bechamel sauce. Use a small sauce pan, pour the olive oil and the flour, set to medium-high heat. Pour gradually the milk while you stir continuously to avoid lumps, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and keep stirring until creamy and thick.
  5. Cut the eggplant into thin slices. Place in a dish or microwave tray and cook for 2 minutes. You need to do this a few time in order to make all the slices.
  6. Now you can start setting layer after layer in an oven dish. First an aubergine layer, then the tomato sauce, then the bechamel sauce and that until the last layer where you can finish with a good amount of bechamel and some cheese and/or nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavour.
  7. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the top looks golden brown.


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