Monday, 21 March 2016

Heavenly Gluten and Dairy free Tenerina Cake

What you see above is a typical chocolate cake from Ferrara. I tasted it last summer (without the reindeer decorations..) for the first time, during a wedding's brunch in that very same town. After the first bite, my whole face lit up with sheer joy and surprise! This cake was light, super chocolaty and moist. It was heaven.

I had the chance to try it again this winter when my gorgeous friend Silvia made it at her house here in London.  

I wanted to try a gluten and dairy free version of Tenerina to prepare during my family Christmas lunch, as both me and my cousin were not having either, but were surrounded by Panettone and Pandoro everywhere! My mother only had white sugar in the house,  however this Easter I will be experimenting with coconut palm sugar or other different, more nutritious alternatives to white sugar.

To my surprise, this gluten and dairy free version was a huge success with my whole family!

I used coconut flour which, in addition to being gluten free, is also high in fibre. And instead of regular milk I used unsweetened rice milk ( as I couldn't find my regular unsweetened almond milk in Milan) and swapped the same amount of butter for the delicious coconut oil. Worked like a charm.. I love using coconut oil in my recipes as it has antimicrobial properties and your body uses it straight away as energy rather than storing it as fat. 

But less talking and more cooking. Let's go!

200g dark chocolate, chopped
3 tbsp coconut flour
3 tbsp unsweetened rice milk
100g coconut oil
150g white sugar
3 eggs ( dividing eggs whites from egg yolks) 
Powdered sugar to decorate ( optional) 

Pre hear your oven at 180 degrees.
Melt your chocolate with the coconut oil on a low heat. Put it to the side to cool lightly, and in the meantime you can whisk your egg whites till you get stiff peaks and put to the side.
Add the rest of the ingredients to the go chocolate mix. Add your egg whites last, folding them in slowly in order to keep the air in. This will make the Tenerina cake nice and light when you taste it!
Pour the contents in a baking tin lined with baking paper and pop in your oven for 20-25 min. Check that the cake is ready by inserting a toothpick in the middle and making sure it comes out dry.
Let the cake cool for 5-10 min before enjoying it with your friends!

Have a delicious Easter :)




Monday, 14 March 2016

Warming spiced almond milk

It's Sunday morning...It's really chilly outside...And you've been so busy during the week, that you realise there is nothing for breakfast left..Nada. Except for leftover almond milk.
This is exactly what happened to me yesterday.

Did I end up freezing and hungry? I didn't.

Instead, I used a cup of almond milk and added some spices from the cupboard.
The result was a warming cup of deliciousness, that felt like a giant hug and kept me going for another couple of hours till I managed to grab some lunch.

Ready in 4 minutes.
So, about to cosy up on the couch and chill? Warm up with this spiced drink and relax...

INGREDIENTS (serves 1)
1 cup of almond milk
3 cardamom pods crushed
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 star anise
1tbsp of maple syrup

Bring the milk and spices to a boil, then simmer for 3 more minutes.

Pour in your favourite mug, add the maple syrup, stir and enjoy.




Sunday, 6 March 2016

Mussels and fries: welcome to Belgo

On Sunday I met up with two of my best friends, one of the Jean Louis, is a very talented chef whose suggestions on food spots to try in and around London I am always happy to follow.
Today I was in for a little treat.
You see, one thing that I miss as a Mediterranean girl is mussels. I live on mussels when I go back to Italy in summer. I love the texture, the smell and the different types of ways to serve them  you can choose from. 
Today Jean Louis took me to Belgo in Covent Garden ( there are other London branches) a Belgian food chain famous for its mussels and frites. I was sceptical. "Jean Louis are you sure? Can we trust having mussels here in London? Are they going to be as tasty and safe to eat?" Once again Jean Louis was right on the money..
For £13.50 I got a lovely steel pot brought to my table filled with the freshest, cleanest and tastiest mussels a la Provencale. That is, served with both sundries tomatoes, fresh plum tomatoes and basil.oh yeah. They were absolutely delicious. Mussels are served with double cooked fries, crispy and not greasy, light and tasty. 

And since I was in the mood for trying new things, I also got a started of duck croquettes served with pickled daikon salad. Oh my.. The croquettes were crunchy, light and the duck filling moist and tender. The daikon salad was smoothly tangy and just perfect and complemented the croquettes perfectly. It was £6. 

I also got a still water with lemon. As a Sunday treat, I happily spent £20 for good quality, mouthwatering food. I also saw mussels served in a way that was new to me: open mussels with a mix of spinach and cheese on top. Looked incredible!

And I'll tell you more, when I go back, because I will, I will not shy away from trying one of their warm Belgian waffles with ice cream for dessert. Looking forward to it.
The bottom line is that I am about to become a nutritional therapist, one that believes in eating fresh wholefoods 80% of the time, but that is against guilt and deprivation, supporting a healthy 20% of times when you just need to get out there and enjoy whatever types of food you might want to eat. Just make sure they are the best quality you can afford. Treat yourself right. Life is too short not to.x

Belgo (Covent Garden Branch) 
50 Earlham Street
London WC2H 9LJ