(Healthy) Weekend Pancakes

Pancakes – they seem to be craved by everyone recently so I decided to give it a go and finally create my own recipe of delicious & even healthy tortitas!

I’ve been trying various combinations of ingredients and came down to a healthy and a less healthy version (depending on which flour you’re using).

Ingredients for 2:

1 egg (egg replacer for my vegan friends: 1 egg = 1 TSP baking powder + 1/2 TSP baking soda + 2 TBSPs flour + 3 TBSPs water – all mixed well

1 cup of buckwheat or normal flour

2 TSPs baking powder

1 cup milk

1/2 or 1 small ripe banana

1 TSP chia seeds

2 TSPs vanilla extract or one vanilla bean

1/2 TSP cinnamon

1/3 cup raw sugar

Preparation:

Mix all ingredients well and bake in a well-greased pan (I use butter but you can also use vegetable oil) at medium temperature from each side until golden brown. I have a pancake pan so I get the same pancake size all the time – but you shouldn’t need a whole ladle filling in order to get one pancake – I get 8 pancakes out of the mix above.

Healthy_Pancakes

Healthy Pancakes with a Cottage Cheese, Blueberry & Agave Syrup Topping

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My style TLC Spanish Chickpea White Bean Stew (vegan – or non-vegan)

I just love to feel comfy & warm – especially now that it’s cold outside. And I love to eat soups and hearty dishes when it’s that time of the year. So what do you get when you combine a soup with a hearty dish?: a comfort food stew!

Ingredients:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Chorizo (if you opt for the non-vegan version – cut it up a bit, so the juices can get out while cooking)

1 white onion, chopped

2 green Italian peppers, chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

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optional:

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 big carrot, cut into quarters and then into fine slices

1 big potato, diced

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400g chickpeas (soak them in water overnight or use a jar of pre-cooked ones)

400g white beans (soak them in water overnight or use a jar of pre-cooked ones)

500-750ml vegetable broth (depending on the desired consistency – you’ll get some thickness from the beans)

salt

white ground pepper

about 2 TSPs smoked paprika spice (Spanish one, if possible – I really recommend using this one as it provides the needed smokiness for the vegetarian/ vegan version)

Pimenton de la Vera

Preparation:

Pour about 4 TBSPs of olive oil into a cooking pot, add the onions, the carrots and the smoked paprika spice to the cold olive oil, stir well and let them cook at high heat for about 2mins. Lower the heat to a medium heat and add the garlic, the chorizo (for the meaty version), your Italian peppers and the red bell pepper. Let it simmer for about 5-8 more minutes.

Now add 500-750ml of vegetable broth and the diced potato and bring to a boil. Lower the heat again, but make sure it keeps boiling. After 5 more minutes add the rinsed chickpeas. Boil on medium to low heat for 10 more minutes until the potato dices are fully cooked. Now add the rinsed white beans, let them heat up and season everything with salt and pepper according to taste, switch off the hotplate, but leave the covered cook pot on, so the taste develops. The stew will taste better the next day, as most stews do.

Spanish Chickpea Bean Stew

The Healthier Option: Unfried Sweet Potato Fries

Love sweet potato fries? Me, too! Since I had that delicious treat for the first time back in 2010 in NYC, I’ve always preferred them as a side or a snack whenever available. I’m not a huge fan of fried food usually, and I like it healthy so since they are in season over here at the moment, I thought let’s give it a go and bake them in the oven. And the result was oh sooo good! This is yet another super easy recipe and just perfect for a snack or as a side dish.

Ingredients:

1 huge sweet potato or basically as many as you like or as many as your baking tray can hold 😉

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Fleur de Sel or sea salt

Sweet Potato Fries

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 180ºC (fan). Meanwhile peel the sweet potato(es) and cut it into evenly long pieces. Line out your baking tray with parchment paper and spread the sweet potato pieces all over it. Drizzle some Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I used a pastry brush to glaze all sweet potato pieces evenly with olive oil) over them and season your fries with salt. If you like the taste you can furthermore season them with freshly ground black pepper.

Cook the fries during 20mins – if finely cut they shouldn’t take longer than that.

Recommendation: Serve them with some BBQ sauce – that is just an unbeatable combination!

Vegetarian / Vegan Cottage Pie

It’s winter in the Northern hemisphere and even for us people living in the Mediterranean it’s cold, and we long for hearty dishes that make us feel warm and comfort us through a cold evening. So what’s better than a delicious vegetarian (or even vegan) Cottage Pie?

Cottage Pie

Ingredients (for about 4 big servings):

vegetable oil

1/2 chopped onion

2 big chopped carrots

2 chopped garlic cloves

300 g Quorn Mince (alternatively [and vegan!] use several times washed, drained and crumbled firm tofu that you season with salt, pepper and smoked paprika spice, [add some mustard for the extra kick if you like] – for people living in Barcelona: you can buy frozen vegetarian mince at the Mercat de Santa Caterina)

gravy (use instant one or make your own: Fry some chopped onion (about 1/4) using 2 TBSPs vegetable oil until golden brown; sprinkle in about 1-2 TBSPs of flour and stir well until all flour clumps are removed. Cook while stirring well over a medium heat until the flour-onion mix is light brown. Add vegetable broth [about 250 ml or more depending on your desired gravy thickness], and keep stirring until your gravy is smooth and season with salt and pepper.)

about 100 g fresh or frozen peas

chopped chives and parsley

salt and freshly ground pepper

For the mash:

3 big potatoes

butter or margarine

3 TBSPs of cream (vegan soy cream)

about 30 ml of milk (for a vegan version, use soy milk for example)

salt

pepper

ground nutmeg

Preparation:

Dice the potatoes and bring them to a boil. While they are boiling, heat up some vegetable oil (I recommend rice or sunflower oil as it has a rather neutral flavour) and add the onion and the garlic. Let the onion garlic mix cook over a medium heat and before it turns golden, add the chopped carrots. Keep stirring the vegetable mix from time to time to prevent burning. Incorporate the vegetarian / vegan mince and add more vegetable oil if necessary since it tends to soak up the oil quite quickly so you might need to add more. Season it with a bit of salt and pepper, but do not over season since you’ll later on add the already seasoned gravy, as well. When the mince veggie mix is cooked, add 250 ml of vegetable gravy and bring to a gentle boil. Add the frozen or the already cooked fresh peas and the chives / parsley mix, taste it and season more if necessary, and put aside when done.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC (grill function).

Once the potatoes are cooked, drain the water and add 1 TBSP margarine or butter and mash them up. Add the cream and milk until you reach your desired mash texture – it should be smooth but not runny / liquid. Season it with salt, pepper and ground nutmeg spice.

Add the vegetable mince mix to a big casserole dish and cover it with the potato mash. Use a fork to get the riffled top structure. Leave it in the oven until golden brown.

Cottage Pie Ready

Crème Brûlée – the classic version

Creme Brulee

Many people love it and yet think Crème Brûlée is a super complicated dessert to make. Of course, you need a few basic tools in order to prepare it correctly, but those are all things easy to access (ovenproof moulds, a small blow torch), and surely you can borrow them from one of your gourmet friends if you don’t want to purchase them. I made it quite a few times and it’s become my favourite dessert.

Starting with the ingredients (makes about 5-8 servings according to the mould size):

750 ml liquid cream (at least 32% fat content)

250 ml milk

200 g sugar

12 egg yolks

1 scraped vanilla bean

raw sugar to caramelise the cooked crème brûlée

Preparation:

In a big bowl mix all the ingredients. Make sure the sugar dissolves completely. Fill the liquid mix into ovenproof crème brûlée moulds or similar (small tapas dishes do the same trick) and put them onto a baking tray. Transfer the baking tray into the oven and fill it with water until the water mark around the little moulds is about 2cm high.

Cook during at least 1h at 100ºC in a fan oven. Check the crème brûlée after 1 hour by moving the moulds a little bit – it should wobble a little but not too much. It shouldn’t need longer than 1h and 15mins in the oven to cook.

Let the crème brûlée cool down and sprinkle some raw sugar over it, which you caramelise with the help of a blow torch (DO NOT use a lighter – that only results in nasty and painful burns).

Store up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

My style lentil soup

Lentil soup – a typical cold season soup that makes you feel warm all over and provides you with a good, substantial meal. So many versions are out there: German, Spanish, French, Indian ones and so many more, I am sure – so this is my take on lentil soup. It’s fairly easy to make and not very time consuming, so definitely something for the newbie cook, but it will also surprise the gourmets amongst us since it is so tasty.

LentilSoup

Ingredients for 4 servings:

butter

1/2 white onion – chopped

5 slices of bacon – cut into strips

500ml of vegetable stock

3-4 carrots (depending on size) – chopped

2-6 firm cooking potatoes (depending on size – don’t use too many – the ones I use are not very big, so I use max. 6) – cut into cube-like pieces

1 jar of lentils (580gr gross weight – drained weight should be around 420gr but we don’t bother about that one since we make use of the liquid as well) or the equivalent of dried lentils soaked in water over night

1/2 leak – split in quarters lengthwise and chopped up

200gr Wiener sausages – cut into round, 3mm thick slices

salt & freshly ground pepper

2 TBSPs white wine or white balsamic vinegar (according to taste)

2 TSPs raw sugar (according to taste)

some parsley – chopped

some chives – chopped

Cooking directions:

Melt a piece of butter in a cooking pot, so all its base is covered; lower to a medium heat. Add the chopped up onion and stir. Add the bacon strips and mix with the onion. Let cook until slighly roasted. Add the chopped carrots and mix everything. Let it simmer for about 2mins. Add the vegetable stock, a pinch of salt and the potatoes, and bring to a boil. Let it boil during 7mins, then add the lentils (with their liquid), the leak and the Wiener slices. Let it boil until carrots and potatoes are fully cooked. Season to taste with salt, pepper, vinegar and raw sugar (the vinegar/ sugar combination is the big taste secret in this recipe). Add parsley & chives. Enjoy 🙂 !

LentilSoupCooking

Cooking advise:

Let the soup sit at least during 2hs to allow its taste to develop. Most soups and stews taste better the next day.

For a vegetarian version leave out bacon and use vegetarian sausages accordingly. For a vegan version use a high quality sunflower or rice bran oil instead of butter.

chök: Where dreams of Chocoholics (and Homer S.) come true

Since we moved to Barcelona’s city centre, and especially the Raval district, we have always enjoyed roaming the streets and discovering new curiosities and special cafés, restaurants, shops, etc. whenever possible. One of those discoveries was made a long time ago – around their first opening actually – and we have been going back for more ever since.

chök shop

Step into another century combined with an exclusive modern design while visiting chök located just off La Rambla

‘chök the chocolate kitchen’ (http://www.chokbarcelona.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/ChokBcn) is located just off La Rambla at the beginning of Calle del Carme, and therefore super easy to find & reach (Green L3 Metro Line stop is Liceu) when in need of a delicious chocolate fix for a 2nd breakfast or the Spanish merienda (afternoon tea time), or whenever really. ‘chök’ is what makes the heart of every chocoholic jump with infinite joy: choose between the grand variety of their always changing chöks (a gourmet doughnut with less sugar, less fat & fried for less time), krönuts (the love story between the classical croissant & the well-known doughnut), chocolate glazed marshmallows, chocolate truffles, chocolate muffins, cookies, etc. and have your chocolate fix inside the beautiful old shop that used to be an antique bonbonería (candy and chocolate shop, that also roasted & sold coffee), dating back to 1850, or get your chök & coffee to go while strolling down La Rambla towards the port.

chök selection

A current special is the Apfelstrudel chök (on the left side)

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My fave chök: the dark chocolate glazed, Fleur-de-Sel chök

Marvel at the wooden shelfs and ceiling and it’s beautiful carved ornaments typical of Barcelona’s Modernisme movement, while discovering other chocolate products such as chocolate pasta or chocolate porter.

chök pasta

chök porter

Most important: take your time and enjoy the friendly atmosphere and beautiful space that owner Débora & staff created. They will do their very best to make your visit a delicious experience, and their expertise and loving attention towards customers, products and detail won’t fail your expectations. All their products are being prepared on a daily basis in the visible chocolate kitchen in the back of the shop. Watch how Débora and Marcia fill their berliners or create such delicacies as chocolate chili truffles with the utmost respect for the product, emphasing on quality, detail and supreme ingredients.

crema catalana krönut

Crema Catalana Krönut in the making

chöks

Pick your chök from a great variety

One thing that startled me from the beginning was the rather untypical & creative name ‘chök’. It is actually derived from the Norwegian word ‘kök’ which stands for ‘kitchen’ and combined with ‘chocolate’ it became ‘chök the chocolate kitchen’. Débora & her staff also offer chocolate cooking classes, combining chocolate with typically savoury dishes (see website). You can also challenge your chocolate cooking skills at home with the help of their cookbook ‘Gourmet Chocolate – Reinventing sweet and savoury’, which also makes for a great Barcelona souvenir or gift for the cook/ gourmet in your life.

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One thing is for sure: if you are a chocoholic, an American cop or Homer Simpson, you will definitely love chök and will always come back for more – and honestly, who could resist such a sweet paradise:

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Owner Débora presenting the daily mouth-watering, beautiful selection of chöks & krönuts