Strawberry Tart, Egg Free using Goats Milk by Lea Hogg, Malta
‘Pumpkins and squash can withstand our harsh summer heat and Halloween is a good reason to celebrate our autumn harvest.
Surprisingly there are still a few in Catholic Malta who are reluctant to acknowledge the feast of Halloween, for the obvious reasons that it is associated with being anti-Christian or perhaps seen as another over-commercialised celebration that is not part of our heritage. But carving lanterns with the kids is something I look forward to every year.
Gluten-free, lactose-free and reduced sugar diets are hot topics these days. The drive for ingredients to suit a large number of food intolerances comes from consumers and with such a large choice in the market, guests no longer have to feel they are a burden to their hosts and be apologetic about their intolerances.
Adjusting recipes to make them suitable for everyone is much easier than making special dishes to cater for individual requirements. These Christmas recipes are free from lactose and gluten and are sweetened with unrefined sugars in reduced quantity.
You will need:
2 packets gluten-free plain biscuits
4 tbsp cocoa powder
100g finely chopped hazelnuts
2 tbsp ground hazelnuts
3 tbsp agave
4 tbsp coconut or ground almonds
2 tbsp brandy/rum
100ml coconut milk
200g dark chocolate with no added sugar
1 tbsp olive oil
50g whole hazelnuts
Crush the biscuits very finely by grinding them in a food processor.
In a bowl mix together the biscuits, cocoa powder, finely chopped hazelnuts, ground hazelnuts, coconut or ground almonds, agave, rum and almond or hazelnut milk. Mix well.
Bind the mixture into very small balls. On top of every ball place a hazelnut in the centre.
Leave to set for 4 hours or overnight in the fridge before you cover with melted chocolate. To melt the chocolate, break it up into small pieces and place in a bowl. Put the bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds. Mix the chocolate with a plastic spatula. If necessary place in the microwave for another 10 seconds and repeat until the chocolate completely melts. Add the olive oil and mix with the spatula. Dip the baci chocolates into the melted chocolate and place them on a dish covered with baking paper. Leave to set overnight in the fridge. Remove from the dish and trim the bottom of each chocolate neatly before serving.
You will need:
1 cup prepared mincemeat [mince pie filling]
2 cups gluten-free self-raising flour
1 cup almond flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
a pinch of salt
1 tbsp cornflour
4 tbsp vegan spread
1 cup sugar or stevia (optional)
1 pod vanilla
200g glace cherries cut in half
Sift the flour twice. Leave the vegan spread out of the fridge for an hour to soften up before use. Cut the spread into pieces and add it to the flour. Rub in the spread into the flour using your fingertips. When the mixture is consistent and looks like fine breadcrumbs, add the bicarbonate of soda and cornflour. Add the almond flour, pinch of salt and vanilla. Mix with a large metal spoon.
Add the eggs, one at a time, and use your hands to bring the mixture together to form a dough. If necessary, use extra water and add a spoonful at a time to form a stiff dough.
Wrap the dough cling film and place in the fridge for an hour.
Divide dough into two to four portions depending on how large you want the biscotti. Shape each portion into a cylinder and pat down gently to flatten the top. If you want small biscotti make a longer, thinner cylinder.
Place the rolls on a baking tray covered with baking paper. Brush with egg wash and stud the surface of the long cylinder with glace cherry pieces. Slightly press down the cherries into the surface to secure into the dough. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 160°C until they are light gold in colour.
Allow to cool completely.
Cut the rolls into 1 cm thick slices and bake again until golden and crisp, again at 160°C for about 7 minutes on each side. Allow to cool completely before serving.
Christmas Cake with Olive Oil or Corn Oil
You will need:
500g dried fruit (mix of currants, raisins, sultanas)
250g ground almonds or almond flour
50g nuts of your choice (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1 tbsp apple organic vinegar
Grated zest of an orange
3 tbsp olive oil or corn oil
a pinch of salt
50g flaked almonds to sprinkle on the surface before baking.
You will need a 20cm round cake tin
Preheat the oven to 150°C. Cover the cake tin with baking paper or brush the tin lightly with olive oil.
Peel and grate the apples and keep aside.
Place the eggs, grated orange zest, olive oil and apple organic vinegar in a large bowl. Mix well with a fork until they are well blended. Add the grated apples and mix again.
Chop the dates into small pieces and place in a large bowl. Add the ground almonds, nuts, cherries, spices and vanilla and finally the bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. Toss the mixture so that it is consistent and all the fruit and nuts are well coated.
Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients.
Use a large metal spoon to fold in the mixture gently until it is consistent; do not overmix.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake dish.
Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes in a pre-heated oven. Check the cake after 50 minutes of baking time as each oven is different.
Once the cake is cooked all the way through, remove from the oven and leave it to cool in the container.
Store the cake in an airtight container preferably in the fridge if you are keeping the cake for more than a few days as it contains no refined sugar that guarantees preservation. This cake is also delicious served with some warm custard as a dessert.
This is a gluten-free and lactose-free recipe. The cake has no added refined sugar, no butter and no flour. The texture should be the same as a regular Christmas cake. If you like very sweet cakes, add 2-3 tbsp of stevia to the ground almond mix.
Doves Farm Gluten Free Flour and Baking ingredients by Good Earth
Olive Oil by Filippo Berio, Vegan Spread by Pure at Rimus Group
Soft brown sugars, agave by Silver Spoon and Billington and Stevia by Truvia at Borg & Aquilina
Golden Drop Sunflower Oil by Quality Foods Malta
Saxa Salt and Birds Custard by Premier Foods at George Borg Ltd
Suet-fee mincemeat for Christmas from Lea Hogg
‘As an alternative to those who do not enjoy fruits and nuts, here is the recipe for a Christmas Tunis Cake which I made on tv this week based on Mary Berry’s recipe. This cake intrigues me because there is apparently no association with Tunis but it was very popular in the UK in the 70’s and commerically produced by McVities. I have made it in the past using spelt flour and mascarpone but revert here to the more traditional buttery recipe.
I use buttermilk for my chocolate ganache. It is a miracle ingredient. Result is an amazing flavor and texture’
You will need:
230g softened butter
230g caster sugar [I use 115g Half Spoon instead]
230g self-raising flour
70g ground almonds
finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
a pinch of salt
For the topping
400g plain chocolate, broken into small pieces
For the ganache topping: 300ml double cream and 400g chocolate
Preheat the oven to 160 C. Grease and line a 20cm loose bottom cake tin with baking paper.
Sieve the self raising flour twice. Add the salt and almonds, vanilla and grated lemon zest.
Cream the butter using an electric mixer until it is really creamy. Add the sugar and carry on beating until the mixture is whitish and appears creamy and consistent. Add the eggs and carry on beating. Then add all the other ingredients by fold in gently using a large metal spoon.
Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes. During the last 10 minutes lower the heat to 150C. Leave to cool completely in the cake tin before preparing the topping.
For the ganache:
Gently heat the buttermilk and remove from heat. Add the chocolate and stir until melted and the mixture is consistent. Allow to cool a little but while it is still warm pour the chocolate mixture over the cooled cake in the tin.
Just before serving remove the cake from the tin and carefully peel off the parchment paper so that you get a clean line between the cake and the chocolate layer.
McDougalls Flour, Saxa Salt by Premier Foods at George Borg Ltd
Buttermilk at Quality Foods
Fry Light Cooking Spray Rimus Group
Half Spoon Sugar by Silver Spoon at Borg & Aquilina
Spices, vanilla, almonds and other baking products by Good Earth Distributors Ltd
Prestige non Stick Cake Tin 21 cm Telephone 79415384
Christmas accessories The Christmas Shop
I used Renato Briffa’s recipe to make a healthier version of these traditional Maltese biscuits and used olive oil and stevia instead of sugar,butter or lard. I also added some tahini to acquire a more intense sesame flavour and brushed the cookies ever so lightly with sesame oil as soon as I took them out of the oven.’
Photography: Ian Noel Pace, CJ Baldacchino and Marconia Schembri during a live tv show
You will need:
100ml mild and light olive oil
1 tablespoon tahini [sesame seed paste]
1 teaspoon baking powder
A few drops of a good vanilla extract
Zest of one lemon
Zest of 2 tangerines OR instead of mixed citrus use the zest of 1 lime [optional]
110g sugar or the equivalent in stevia
A few drops of anisette
50 g sesame seeds, use the amount that you prefer
To finish off after baking: a very light brushing of sesame oil
An ovenproof baking tray and cooking spray [I used avocado oil spray on tv]
Sieve the flour twice.
Add the olive oil, tahini [sesame paste] baking powder, vanilla, anisette, stevia and citrus zest. Use a spoon to mix the ingredients and then carry on by rubbing in the ingredients lightly with your finger tips in the same way you would rub butter into flour until the mixture looks consistent, like fine breadcrumbs.
Add the water, a little at a time and start to mix everything together to form a dough.
Allow to rest for an hour in the fridge.
Cut the dough into 20 equal portions. If you wish to be precise, weigh them so that the cookies are the same size.
If you prefer a smaller size cookie, divide the dough into 40 pieces.
Roll each portion on a piece of baking paper.
It is traditional to form the dough into an ‘8’ shape but you can also form them into rings.
Brush with water and dip the cookies into a the sesame seeds to form a light coating on the surface.
Prepare a baking tray with baking paper and spray it with a cooking spray.
Bake at 160 C for 25 to 30 minutes.
Allow to cool and harden before removing them from the baking sheet.
Place on a wire rack and allow them to dry up for a couple of days before serving. I left my in the oven to cool overnight.
‘If you are new to Maltese otti, do not expect a cookie crumble texture nor that of shortcake, these are hard rusks, the best dunking biscuits I have come across 🙂 ‘
The texture should be dry and hard and to achieve this you need to allow them to cook for a longer period of time and then to dry out for at least a daybefore serving. I turn my oven off and leave them in the oven overnight. In an airtight container, they will last for a few weeks.
You can watch Lea’s Good Food Everyday on Smash TV and follow the page on facebook
Olive oil by Filippo Berio and Fry Light Avocado Spray at Rimus Group
Truvia by Silver Spoon and Flour by St Georges Brand at Borg and Aquilina
Sesame Seeds, tahini paste, sesame oil, baking powder and vanilla by Good Earth
Fresh Fruit by Big Fresh Mosta and Oscar’s Fruit and Vegetables, Big Fresh Mosta and Barbuto [organic]
Collins Street Christmas Cake Lea Hogg Recipe