The Healthy Bake (vegan & vegetarian)

Today we fancied something fast, light & healthy, yet warm for dinner. As my better half is currently having some dietary restrictions, I was giving the options a good thought and came up with this easy to make one-tray-recipe – I just love putting everything into the oven and that all comes out cooked to perfection and ready to serve:

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The Healthy Veggie Bake also makes as a perfect Side Dish

Ingredients (makes 2 servings as a main course):

1/2 big butternut squash pumpkin

1 big white sweet potato (you can also use a normal sweet potato)

4 big carrots

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano (optional)

Preparation (5mins + 30mins cooking time):

Preheat the oven (fan) to 180ºC.

Cut all the veggies into even pieces (the carrot pieces should also be a bit thicker) and place them into an oven dish (I lined mine additionally with parchment paper), drizzle some Extra Virgin Olive Oil over them and season with salt & ground black pepper. Place the oven dish on the medium level in your oven.

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Optional: Pumpkin is great combined with parmesan cheese, so if you are feeling cheesy, take the oven dish out after about 20mins and cover the vegetables in a thin layer of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, and put it back into the oven for another 10mins. Enjoy!!

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Mmmmm, Parmigiano!

(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.

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

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

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.

The Caravelle & my French Toast Addiction

So living in Barcelona and its barrio Raval definitely made me appreciate good quality and slow food cooked with love, passion and locally available, seasonal & organic, healthy ingredients even more than before and this is why I want to dedicate my first blog post in this category to my favourite Café/ Restaurant Caravelle in Calle Pintor Fortuny, 31 (https://www.facebook.com/CaravelleBCN/timeline – check their Facebook updates for current opening times and events).

We’ve been going there since their opening back in 2012 and it’s our favourite place for Café con Leche and brunch in Barcelona. I’m putting the word ‘brunch’ first since I clearly am a breakfast person – I just love having a good long breakfast/ brunch! But Caravelle’s lunch/ dinner options are more than worth mentioning, too!

Caravelle Café con Leche

Enjoy your Café con Leche while watching locals as well as tourists walking by on their way to the nearby MACBA (Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona – http://www.macba.cat/en/index).

Australian owner and chef Zim plus his staff never fail to surprise us with new creations on a regular basis and that we are more than happy to sample.

Their menu variety includes both – a lot of internationally influenced dishes as well as the incorporation of local and typically Spanish ingredients – always keeping it fresh, healthy, seasonal and cooked to order. Good things take their time, so be patient and let them work their magic – you won’t be disappointed! Also a definite plus in Barcelona is to be welcomed and looked after by super nice and professional people and Caravelle’s staff is just amazing!

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French Toast with Mango Sauce & White Chocolate Cream, topped off with Oven Roasted Plums & Almonds

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Oven Baked Eggs with Smoked Chorizo, Roasted Tomato, Beans & Lime Coriander Sour Cream

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Caravelle featured their Fried Fish Taco with homemade Pickles, Tomatillo Alioli, Guacamole at the fourth Eat Sreet Barcelona Food Festival Edition (https://www.facebook.com/eatstreetbarcelona) on Oct. 11th.

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Non-alcoholic, homemade Ginger Beer