Maltese Almond Vegan Biskuttini with Aquafaba

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For these traditional Maltese almond vegan biskuttini I use aquafaba instead of egg to bind them.  They are ideal for vegans and any for anyone who wishes to reduce some cholesterol.  I also eliminate refined sugar and used golden raisins blended to a pulp with some water as a sweetener.  You will not be able to taste or see the golden raisins.  Those around me approve of both taste and texture !

*This recipe is vegan, gluten free and diabetic friendly’

You will need:

300g ground almonds
200g golden raisins
30ml water
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon grated tangerine zest
4 tablespoons aquafaba [chick pea water]
2 tablespoons cornflour or rice flour
vanilla
whole almonds to decorate the surface

Heat the oven to 170C.

Soak the golden raisins in the water preferably overnight but an hour is adequate.  Use a hand blender to puree the golden raisins until it looks like a smooth pulp.

Use an electric mixer and beat the aquafaba until it is stiff and looks like a meringue

In a large bowl place the ground almonds, lemon juice, citrus zest, corn flour or rice flour and vanilla.

Mix well and then add the golden raisin pulp.   Mix and finally fold in the aqua faba.  Mix well.  Then use your hands to bring the dough together.

Knead it slightly on a work surface dusted with a mix of ground almonds and cornflour or rice flour [which ever you are using].

Spray the baking tray with some cooking spray.  Cover a baking try with rice paper.

Shape small balls of the almond mixture with your hands. Place the almond balls on the rice paper on the baking sheet.

Place a whole almond on top of each cookie.

Bake for 15 minutes or until they are golden and crisp.  Allow them to cool completely, preferably overnight before removing them for the baking sheet.  If you like a harder consistency allow them to bake for a further 5 minutes.

Lea’s Tip:  If you do not have rice paper use baking paper and spray it with cooking spray.  They freeze well and keep for up to 3 months.

Lea’s Good Food Everyday airs on Smash TV and you can also follow the page on Facebook

 

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Trade Enquiries:
Fry Light Baking Spray is available at Rimus Group

Other baking ingredients by Good Earth Distributors Ltd

Maltese Pudina and Barbetta’s

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Maltese Bread Pudding, photo during a live tv show

‘A visit to a very old bakery in the village of Zejtun prompted me to bake this old fashioned Maltese chocolate pudding [Pudina] that my grandmother, like most frugal Maltese and Gozitan grandmothers, used to make.

It was an economical cake, the way to use up stale bread and all the bits and pieces in the kitchen store cupboard.

As with most Maltese sweet recipes, I use one given to me by Renato Briffa, passed on to him by his father who owned a confectionery in Old Mint Street, Valletta in the 50s. You can sprinkle it with coconut before serving just as Renato does but I studded it with blanched almonds when I made it on tv this week.

It keeps moist in an airtight container for two or three weeks and the flavour and texture improves a few days after baking.’

 

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For the Maltese Pudina, you will need:

1 loaf of bread and you can use up your stale bread
4 spoons cocoa powder
150g butter (melted)
Zest of 1/4 lemon
Zest of 1/4 orange
4 eggs
4 drops vanilla extract
25 g sultanas
1/4 teaspoon mixed spice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
25g chopped dark chocolate
2 tablespoons jam
125g sugar
1 shot of  your favourite liquor
25g canded peel
50g coconut
75g ground almonds
70g custard powder
Milk, enough to bring the mix dropping consistency and more for soaking the bread

A baking tray of 35cm by 25cm x 6 cm deep

Soak the stale bread in milk for at least an hour and then drain it thoroughly by squeezing the milk out using clean hands.

Melt the butter in the microwave and mix all the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. If you are making a large quantity you can mix by using the k beater and an electric mixer. Or use a large metal spoon as I did on tv.
Spray the baking dish with baking spray [I like coconut flavour or avocado spray for the Pudina] and then pour in the mixed pudding batter.
Bake at 190 C for about 45 minutes to an hour.

For a gluten free recipe, use a gluten free loaf of bread.

For a lactose free pudina, use a plant-based milk and this is especially good with almond milk.  Use chocolate that is lactose free.

For a vegan recipe, use a plant based milk and swap the 4 eggs with 4 tablespoons of linseed ground in 12 tablespoons of water.  Use a dairy-free chocolate and a dairy-free spread instead of butter.

To reduce the sugar content, use stevia instead of sugar, sugar-free dark chocolate and a sugar-free jam 

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‘Zejtun brought back many memories from my childhood.

A lifetime ago, I spend my childhood in a peaceful southern Maltese village  built around an imposing church, where one of my favourite places was Barbetta’s  with the strong aroma of yeast, sesame buns and whiffs of vanilla.

Mikiel welcomes me and weeps. I am a face from the past and as his memories come alive, he squeezes my hands and cries with joy. He is the last of the older generation of a family who own an amazing village bakery, built by Mikiel’s grandad in 1858, a busy hub tucked away in a village corner, contented customers forever flowing through the doors

 

I have been gone too long he says, yes thirty one years is too long, a mature face no longer that of a child but the eyes never change he says. Mmm… the eyes …. now gone is the innocence, with more expression as they carry the burden of the real harshness of life. Oh how wonderful it was to be a child in this village and I feel emotional as I see him weep.

I remember kind people with a heart of gold. We were outsiders here and made to feel at home, made to feel that we belonged and part of the close-knit clan. We are outsiders now, even more so, but the doors still open,  and the generosity of spirit is still here.  The heat from the ovens wraps around me like a comfort blanket on an unusually very cold day.   Comfort food, kind faces, kind words and more smiles.

Mikiel reminisces and I listen to his anecdotes. He speaks of my parents and his admiration for my father. I promise to come back to see him again very soon. He will not allow me to leave without piling his baked goods into my car.’

Lea’s Good Food Everyday airs on Smash TV and you can follow the facebook page

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Trade Enquiries:

Birds Custard Powder by Premier Foods  at George Borg Ltd, Telephone 356-21 472 177
Baking Ingredients and Gluten Free Bread by Genius  available at  Good Earth
Fry Light Cooking Sprays  President Butter   by Rimus Group

5 must-do-activities in Malta

Photography Ian Noel Pace and CJ Baldacchino

Penne with local sausage, cherry tomatoes and Rukola

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A peaceful Saturday night, as the sun sets on the jewel in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, it’s time to make a simple pasta supper using local pork sausages.

These are wonderful with black peppercorns, whole coriander seeds, garlic and parsley and the aroma while they cook stimulates even the feeblest of appetites ! And if you do not live on the island and have no access to these heavenly sausages oozing with flavor, this dish is delicious using a continental type sausage such as Toulouse .

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You will need :

Penne, allow 75 to 120g per portion depending on appetites
Maltese Sausages, allow 1/2 per person, skin removed chopped up
Cherry tomatoes, allow 5 to 8 per person, cut into quarters
Rukola, according to your preference, I used about 10 leaves per person, torn up not chopped
Whole dried chilis, allow 1 per 2 portions, cut up
Dried Oregano, allow 1/4 teaspoon for 2 portions
Dried flaked garlic, allow two flakes per portion, chopped up
1 tablespoon light single cream per two portions
6 tablespoons white or rose wine per two portions
Salt
Freshly Ground Pepper
Drizzle of olive oil
Freshly grated Gran Padano

Cook the pasta in plenty salted water, and follow the cooking time instructions on your pack.
In a saucepan, heat up a touch of olive oil and cook the sauce eat on gentle heat until browned together with the garlic flakes.
Add the chili, oregano and cook further.
Add the wine, cook and reduce.
Add the single light cream, just a touch, the dish should not appear creamy and cook further.
Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Drain the pasta.
Add the sauce and mix with the pasta.
Add the cherry tomatoes and arugula
Plate the pasta and top with a fresh light grating of Gran Padano.
Serve immediately.