Caramelised Pineapple

by Susan Smith in


As much as I like the sweet-yet-tart, juicy freshness of a properly ripe pineapple, when I’m feeling down in the dumps this Caramelised Pineapple recipe lifts the spirit by transforming the pure and simple into something more like comforting confectionary with a flavour profile redolent of candy-floss. Yum! Very appealing, no matter what your age or state of mind.

Yes, I know that pineapples are full of natural sugar (fructose) and should be eaten in moderation but they’re also a good source of antioxidants, particularly vitamin C, minerals and an enzyme called Bromelain, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer compound. 

In short, this wonderful, sticky, caramelised dessert is not only fast and simple to make, it’s really good for you too. For a zingy, nutritious taste of the tropics, I recommend you tuck in!

Caramelised Pineapple (V) (serves 4)

Ingredients

1 organic, fair-traded pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into thick wedges

20g organic coconut oil (or organic unsalted grass-fed butter)

2-3 tbsp organic maple syrup

To Serve

A sprinkling of organic ground cinnamon

A sprinkling of Sukrin Icing sugar

Fresh mint leaves, torn

Organic creme fraîche - optional

Ingredients primal recipe.jpg

Instructions

Melt the coconut oil (or butter) with the maple syrup in a large, heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat.

When it is hot, add the pineapple wedges to the pan and with a pair of tongs, turn to coat all the pieces evenly with the syrup.

Continue to fry the pineapple for about 4-5 minutes on each side, frequently turning them over with in the pan until they’re caramelised to a deep golden brown. 

Stack the wedges onto a warm serving platter or individual plates and dust over with a little cinnamon and Sukrin icing. Decorate with torn mint leaves scattered over. 

Serve immediately with creme fraîche, if liked

 

Notes

Whole pineapples should be stored at room temperature, while cut pineapple should be stored in the refrigerator. 

 

Carbohydrate 35g Protein 1g - per serving


No-Churn Double Chocolate & Cherry Ice Cream

by Susan Smith in


Last week, the weather forecasters promised us that there was a heatwave heading our way and in response to this welcome “summer-where-are-you?” turnaround, I decided to celebrate by making ice cream. Second time around (the first batch was as solid as a rock!) it was voted a spectacular success. With a taste and texture to rival Haagen Daz or Green & Black’s, this sophisticated, silky-smooth, chocolatey ice cream has no added sugar and doesn’t need an ice cream machine to make it. It tastes so good, I’m thinking of setting up in business!

Most no-churn ice creams rely on just two ingredients - straight-out-of-a-tin sweetened condensed milk and double cream. Unfortunately, as fine and dandy as it may sound to just open-up a tin and whip up some cream to make ice cream, a little more stove-top effort is required for the health conscious who don’t eat sugar. Actually, it’s more time than effort that’s needed here. The base for Primal Plate’s version of no-churn ice cream is simply made from organic full-fat coconut milk and Sukrin Gold - a natural, healthy, almost zero-calorie, sugar-free sweetener - gently simmered together for 45-60 minutes until it bubbles down into sweetened condensed milk. Easy or what?

Choosing the flavourings for my ice cream was a no-brainer. Just the sight of dark, sweet, juicy English cherries at the height of their seasonal deliciousness (just 4 weeks every July and August) is enough to tempt me to binge on more of them than I can reasonably afford. However, taking this pleasure one step beyond bliss is the winning flavour combination of cherries and chocolate brought together in a delectable ice cream.

Better still, dark chocolate and cherries are ranked No.1 and No.3 respectively on the Top Ten Paleo Super Foods which means that not only does this decadent ice cream taste divine, it is really good for you too. Anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, cardio protective…the list of health benefits for cherries and cacao goes on. So if you love ice cream, dark chocolate or, like me, cherries, now is the time to indulge yourself completely guilt-free with this low-carb, no added sugar, cooling chocolate and cherry iced cream sensation. 

Although temperatures in the East Midlands never really did hit the high spots this week, this No-Churn Double Chocolate & Cherry Ice Cream most certainly did. Whether you’re stepping out into the sunshine to enjoy a refreshing scoop or two, or you want to create a fabulous 5-star dessert for your next summer soiree, I think you’ll be hard pressed to find anything more pleasing.

No-Churn Double Chocolate & Cherry Ice Cream (Serves 6)

Ingredients

300ml organic double cream

400ml organic full-fat coconut milk

50g Sukrin Gold

30g organic raw cacao powder, sifted

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

6-10 drops organic clear liquid stevia

50g dark chocolate (at least 70% - I used Callibaut 72% Satongo chocolate chips

225g dark cherries

Extra to serve:

Whole cherries, washed

Dark chocolate, finely chopped or grated

 

Instructions

In a medium saucepan, bring the coconut milk and Sukrin Gold to a light boil. Simmer on a low heat for 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally (be careful, the mixture has a tendency to bubble-up and splatter when stirred!) or until it has reduced in volume by half. Do not cover the pan.

Mix in the raw cacao powder and vanilla extract and whisk together until all is combined and smooth. Pour into a large mixing bowl, cover and let it cool down to room temperature. Do not refrigerate.

Meanwhile, wash and pit the cherries and cut them into small pieces. And, if you’re not using chocolate chips, roughly chop the chocolate into small pieces with a serrated knife.

Add the double cream (straight from the refrigerator) to the bowl of cooled condensed milk.

Whip the cream and condensed milk together until slightly thickened and the mixture falls in ribbons from the whisk. N.B. The mixture just needs to hold its shape rather than stand in stiff peaks.

Add the chocolate chips and cherry pieces to the whisked cream then very gently stir everything together with rubber spatula until evenly combined.

Pour into a plastic freezer container, smooth off the top then press a piece of waxed paper (or cling film) directly onto the surface to stop ice crystals from forming. Cover with a lid and and place in the freezer for at least 3-4 hours.

Notes:

It’s easier to cut the cherries into pieces if you have them facing skin side up on your chopping board.

To soften the ice cream before serving, let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes or in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. 

Always start scooping ice cream from the outer edge where it is softest. This stops ice crystals forming on the outer edges when it’s refrozen. Before returning to the freezer, replace the waxed paper and container lid. 

Full-fat ice cream will become more solid the longer you freeze it. For the best texture and taste, eat within 2 weeks.   

 

Carbohydrate 16g Protein 5.5g - per serving


Feeling Fruity Sweet-Hearts

by Susan Smith in ,


I know it’s Shrove Tuesday today, but with Valentine’s day in just five days time I’m playing to an audience of romantics with this stupendous, creamy, fruity dessert. That said, doesn’t everyone love cheesecake?

I am currently awash with recipe ideas, but when I was thinking out loud about what I could feature on Primal Plate’s blog to symbolise this celebrated upcoming ‘day of love’ Sarah informed me that firstly, no one in their right mind wants to cook when romance beckons and secondly, it mustn’t contain onion, garlic, spices or anything that makes you smell! Apparently, this meant my musings on Thai-inspired prawn curry was a definite no-go!

The rebel in me is now determined to cook Thai prawn curry and drink pink Champagne with my lover this Valentine’s day but, so no ‘young hearts’ be offended, I have also complied with Sarah’s brief for the perfect Valentine’s day meal (the main course will be posted on Friday). In the meantime, feast your eyes on this luscious dessert that should appeal to all lovers of good food, not just the romantically inclined.

You’ll probably need to order these heart shaped moulds straightaway if you want to surprise your Valentine with these Feeling Fruity Sweet-Hearts. My plastic cheese moulds arrived within a couple of days (whatever happened to those beautiful porcelain coeur a la crème moulds of yesteryear?), so hopefully you’ll have them in time. You then need to line them with a double layer of muslin (I obtained muslin squares from Lakeland) or a single layer of cheesecloth.

Although this sensational dessert looks like a ‘work of art’ on the plate, in accordance with Sarah’s remit, there’s no cooking involved, it takes minutes to assemble and both the ‘hearts’ and fruit coulis can be made a few hours in advance and kept refrigerated until you’re ready to serve them.

A delight to the eye and totally scrumptious to eat, I’ve deliberately put this dessert together as a generous sharing-plate for two. However, if those intimate ‘we wanna be together’ moments are likely to be hijacked by hungry longing or downright competitiveness - i.e. you or your partner has a tendency to eat more than their fair share - this recipe has enough ‘heart’ to fill two moulds! Alternatively, if you’re confident that your beloved would give you their last rolo, you can halve the cheesecake recipe and make just one - although I’d still make the full quantity of fruit coulis and have what’s left spooned over some Greek yogurt for breakfast.

Ignoring chocolate, I think Feeling Fruity Sweet-Hearts maybe one of the most ‘happy-ever-afters’ ever created!

Wishing everyone a very Happy Valentine’s, with all my love. x

Feeling Fruity Sweet-Hearts (Serves 2 + 2 people)

Ingredients - for the cheesecake hearts

200g full-fat ‘cream’ cheese (I used Longley Farm full-fat soft cheese)

200g organic, natural Greek yogurt

100ml organic double cream

2 tbsp organic raw honey

2 tsp organic lemon rind, finely grated

 

Ingredients - for the mango & raspberry coulis & fruit skewers

200g ready-cut fresh mango chunks (I used Waitrose own brand)

Juice of ½ lime (about 20ml)

Juice of 1 organic medium orange (about 90ml)

150g fresh raspberries 

1 heaped tbsp Sukrin icing sugar (or to taste) 

2 (or 4) strawberries, washed (with leaves intact) 

1 kiwi, peeled - 1 (or 2) slices cut from the middle of the fruit, then each slice halved 

2 (or 4) mango chunks (reserved from the above pack) 

1 (or 2) black grape(s) 

1 (or 2) mini bamboo skewers

 

Instructions - to make the cheesecake hearts

Line two heart shaped moulds with a double layer of muslin or a single layer of cheesecloth.

In a medium sized bowl beat the cream cheese, yogurt, honey and lemon rind together until smooth.

In a separate bowl half-whip the cream until it just begins to hold its shape, then using a metal tablespoon gently fold into the yogurt and cream cheese mixture until fully incorporated.

Divide between the two heart shaped moulds - bang them down several times on the worktop as you’re filling them to allow the mixture to settle evenly inside the moulds - then level off the tops, stand on a large flat plate, cover loosely with cling film and place in the refrigerator for 1½ hours.

 

Instructions - to make the mango and raspberry coulis

Place all but two (or four) of the best pieces of mango into a blender with the lime juice and half the orange juice. Blitz until completely smooth.

Scrape the mango puree into a clean bowl. The coulis should be smooth and a pouring consistency - runny enough to slowly ‘flow’ when you tilt it on the plate but not so runny that it won’t hold its shape. Cautiously add a little extra orange juice if it seems too thick. Cover and refrigerate.

Next, wash out the blender. Tip the raspberries with the rest of the orange juice and a heaped tablespoon of Sukrin icing sugar into the clean blender and blitz until amalgamated.

Pass the raspberry puree through a fine sieve into a separate bowl. Check the consistency (as above) and add a little more icing sugar if you think it is too tart. Cover and refrigerate.

 

Instructions - to make the fruit skewers and assemble the dish

First, prepare the fruit garnish by threading pieces of fruit onto mini bamboo skewer(s) in the following order: strawberry (leaf facing inwards), kiwi, mango, grape, mango, kiwi, strawberry (leaf facing inwards). Set aside.

Take a large flat plate and carefully pour or spoon a generous amount of the mango coulis on to one half of the plate - pick the plate up in both hands and tilt it one-way only so that it runs to the outside edge on its side of the plate.

Repeat the process with the raspberry coulis but in this case tilt the plate in both directions so that the two coulis butt right up to the edge of each other (roughly down the middle of the plate) and the raspberry coulis runs to the outside edge of the plate on its side. Do the same thing with a second plate if two couples are dining together.

Take the cheesecake heart(s) out of the refrigerator and working swiftly, carefully turn the heart(s) out into the palm of one hand, remove the muslin with your other hand and gently but swiftly place in the centre of the plate(s).

Place the fruit skewer(s) jauntily alongside (see photograph) and…

Ooh la la! Tuck in!

Notes

The origin of the word coulis is French, from couler, meaning ‘to flow’ - which should give you an idea of the consistency your fruit coulis needs to be for this dessert!

If you think it sounds too tricky tipping delicate cheesecake heart(s) directly into your hand, simply turn the hearts out onto their serving plate first and then carefully pour the coulis around them. 

If you you’re trying to lose weight you can sweeten the cheesecake cream with two tablespoons of Sukrin icing sugar instead of raw honey. This will reduce the carbohydrate grams per serving by 8.5 grams i.e. Carbohydrate 19.5g - not 28g, as shown below.

 

Carbohydrate 28g Protein 3g - per serving (half the sharing plate)


Poached Pears with Butterscotch Sauce and Almond Shortcakes

by Susan Smith in , ,


Pear and almond is a classy coupling, which is elevated to even greater levels of sophistication when combined with the flavours of toffee and butterscotch. Today’s recipe for Poached Pears with Butterscotch Sauce and Almond Shortcakes is the perfect make-ahead dessert for an elegant dinner party. Right on cue, it made a fantastic finale to our New Year’s Eve dinner party celebrations last night. Hello there 2016!

Pears, butterscotch, shortcake biscuits…it all sounds gloriously indulgent and a bit Fatty Arbuckle doesn’t it? However, as with all Primal Plate recipes, this dessert remains true to the healthy premise of no grains and no added sugar. The joy of eating Primal is that once you’ve reached your target weight (easily achievable it you stick to no more than 50 to 100 grams of healthy carbs each day), occasional indulgences won’t make the blindest bit of difference. No more wodgy, podgy or painful sensations from eating the wrong food, nor the post Christmas angst of feeling fat. Brilliant! The trick is to keep moving (a daily 2-3 mile walk in the fresh air should do it) and to not wander across the 150 grams of healthy carbs per day limit, which still allows you plenty of scope for sweet treats. 

Real food, sustainability and kindliness to all living creatures and the environment is my inspiration for writing this Primal Plate food blog. I hope that in 2016 more people will appreciate the benefits of a low-carb, low sugar, no grain, primarily vegetarian diet so that not only can we renew our own health and vitality but also be kind and mindful enough to allow this beautiful world in which we live the same privilege and freedom.

Wishing everyone a peaceful, healthy and Happy New Year.

Vanilla Poached Pears with Butterscotch Sauce and Almond Shortcakes (Serves 4)

Ingredients - for the poached pears

300ml filtered water

125g Sukrin:1 granulated stevia sweetener

rind of ½ organic lemon

1 dsp pure vanilla extract (I used Ndali)

4 firm, ripe pears (I used Williams)

Bay leaves, to decorate - optional

 

Ingredients - for the butterscotch sauce

160ml coconut cream

6 Medjool dates

25g raw cashew nut butter

1 tbsp pure vanilla extract (I used Ndali)

1 dsp brandy - optional

 

Ingredients - for the almond shortcakes

100g organic butter

200g organic ground almonds

60g organic tiger nut flour

50g Sukrin Gold

50g organic flaked almonds, lightly toasted            

1 tsp baking powder                

½ tsp sea salt

1 dsp pure vanilla extract (I used Ndali)

 

Instructions - to make poached pears

First, check the dimensions of your saucepan to make sure that it is the right size for the pears to fit snugly inside.

Bring the water, Sukrin icing sugar, lemon peel and maple syrup up to the boil then reduce the heat under the pan to a very low simmer.

Peel the pears. Leave them whole with their stalks intact, immediately placing each one into the syrup - turning it to coat - before continuing with the rest. 

Cook the pears with the pan lid on for 20 to 30 minutes or until they’re soft to the point of a skewer or sharp knife. 

Take the pan off the heat and allow the pears to cool in the syrup. When cold, store covered in a refrigerator until needed.

 

Instructions - to make butterscotch sauce

Remove the stones from the dates and roughly chop. Place in a high powered blender with the remaining ingredients (in the order as listed in ‘ingredients’) and process until smooth.

Serve with poached pears and almond shortcakes

Can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.

 

Instructions - to make almond shortcakes

Pre heat the oven to 130℃ (fan) / 150℃ / 300℉ / Gas mark 2

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat. Allow to cool for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine ground almonds, tiger nut flour, Sukrin Gold, baking soda, sea salt and flaked almonds.

Using a fork, stir in the cooled melted butter and vanilla essence to bring everything loosely together - then roll up your sleeves and with your hands squash the mixture into a ball of dough - it is a bit sticky and crumbly but don't be worried, be determined! 

Tip the dough onto a large piece of non-stick baking parchment. Place a second piece of baking parchment on top then flatten the dough out a little bit with your hands. 

Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to about 6 to 8mm (¼ to ½ inch thick). 

Use a 7.5 cm (3 inch) plain cutter to cut out the biscuits. Once you are only left with scraps from the cutouts, bring the pieces together to create a ball, then roll it out again to the same thickness and continue cutting the biscuits out.

Place the biscuits onto a lined baking sheet, about one inch apart. Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden.

Cool on the baking tray for 5 minutes, then transfer the biscuits to a wire rack to cool completely. 

These shortcake biscuits will keep for up to a week in an airtight container.

 

Notes

The poached pears will keep for up to 5 days in a covered container in the refrigerator.

I love the intense toffee flavour of the Butterscotch Sauce and, when chilled, it's the perfect consistency for piping around the pears. However, if you want a simpler presentation, it can also be formed into elegant looking quenelles (oval scoops of cream formed between two dessert spoons) and served alongside the pears. Alternatively, if you're okay with diluting the butterscotch flavour, thin the sauce down with a little milk, whipping cream or even water until a pouring consistency is achieved, then spoon over or around the pears.

A list of suppliers for Sukrin sweeteners and grain-free flours can be found on Sukrin’s Home page

 

Carbohydrate 20g Protein 1g - per serving of butterscotch sauce

Carbohydrate 15g Protein 0g - per pear

Carbohydrate 6g Protein 4g - per shortcake biscuit


Christmas Baked Apples in Clementine Syrup

by Susan Smith in ,


Ta-dah! Here is Primal Plate’s festive finale to your Christmas lunch or dinner, which was Inspired by Michel Roux Junior’s great food demo at the BBC Good Food Show, November 2015. 

This recipe is my interpretation of Michel’s alternative Christmas dessert: Mincemeat Stuffed Apples served with Muscovado Ice Cream. Obviously, for people following a low-carb, Primal lifestyle, this meant I needed to replace the sugar-laden ice cream and traditional mincemeat with something much healthier. 

Nevertheless, Mr Roux and I were always on the same page - as referenced in my blog post dated 20th November 2015. Baked apples are a delicious, easy-to-make, classic, seasonal treat at this time of year, but when combined with the sweet spices of Christmas, it’s a ‘pud’ to die for! Better still, my baked apples are cooked in fresh clementine juice - orange juice would do just as well - which, when the apples are cooked, can be quickly made into a tangy syrup to accompany them. Served with cinnamon and nutmeg spiced Horchata Ice Cream, this is truly a marriage of festive flavours made in foodie heaven!

Quite sophisticated and not too sweet, these really yummy Christmas Baked Apples in Clementine Syrup are a much lighter option than traditional Christmas pudding. I hope you like them.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Christmas Baked Apples in Clementine Syrup

Ingredients

4 largish eating apples e.g. Cox’s, Braeburn or Granny Smith’s

180g-200g low-sugar mincemeat 

2 tsp Sukrin Gold

½ tsp cinnamon

40g unsalted butter, cut into eight pieces

Juice of 6 clementines (or 2 oranges)

Fresh bay leaves, to decorate

Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 160℃ / 325℉ / Gas mark 3

Core the apples - sit the apples on a chopping board and push an apple corer into the centre of each one. Make sure each apple stands upright of its own volition and, if not, take a tiny sliver off the bottom to ensure it will! 

Using a small sharp knife, lightly score the apples around their circumference - this will stop them from bursting.

Stand the apples, side by side in an ovenproof dish. Using your fingers, push spoonfuls of the mincemeat tightly into each apple. Be generous - you’ll need between 40g to 50g mincemeat per apple - create a nice dome of mincemeat so it stands proud on top!

Push two wedges of butter into the mincemeat on top of each apple, then add ½ teaspoon of Sukrin Gold and a good pinch of ground cinnamon in-between the butter wedges. Pour the clementine (or orange) juice around the base of the apples.    

Place on the middle shelf of a pre-heated oven. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until the apples are soft but not collapsed.

Remove from the oven and carefully place one apple on each of 4 serving plates.

Press the remaining juices through a small fine strainer into a saucepan and boil rapidly over a high heat until reduced down to a syrup (this shouldn’t take much more than a minute or so) 

Spoon the clementine/orange syrup over and around the apples, dividing it equally between them. Serve with a scoop of Horchata Ice Cream on the side and decorate with sprigs of bay leaves.  

Notes

If you haven’t any Horchata Ice Cream, these Christmas Baked Apples are still very good served with whipped cream flavoured with a little Sukrin icing sugar and Calvados brandy or simply a dollop of crème fraîche.  

It’s Christmas, so ’tis the season to be jolly. This means I’m not going to declare the carbohydrate count of this dessert! Suffice to say, whilst most fruit, especially dried fruits, contain a lot of natural fruit sugar, these stuffed apples have approximately 40% less carbs than a portion of luxury Christmas pudding. If you’re worried (and I wouldn’t be since this is a celebration!) opt for a dollop of almost zero-carb luxury crème fraîche rather than the Horchata Ice Cream. Above all, enjoy!


Horchata Ice-Cream with Chocolate Tiger Nut Splats

by Susan Smith in ,


The countdown to Christmas has begun and I have so many festive recipe ideas whizzing around my head that I am struggling to keep pace with my imagination. As for the quantity of ingredients I have to purchase for testing and tasting all of Primal Plate’s foolproof meal alternatives in readiness for the most anticipated meal of the year, they threaten to blow my housekeeping budget!

In our house, all the traditional Christmas food favourites - meat-based, grain-based, high carb and loaded with sugar - are off the menu because we find no joy in eating anything that’s going to harm us, or hurt another. We take the view that since it’s the season of goodwill, this should include all our furred and feathered friends. 

You may be thinking that without the turkey and all its trimmings, the Christmas pudding, cake, trifle and mince pies, what’s left? The answer is, probably too much deliciousness for me to have sufficient time before the big day to share all my ideas with you…but I’ll give it a go. The recipes I’ve created, tested and/or adapted to make them low-carb and primal are the answer to all your entertaining problems if you want to eat well and stay healthy. The aim is to make your festivities more delicious, more fun and less stressful. 

Today’s blog post for Horchata Ice Cream is something I conceived back in July but since the homely warmth of sweet cinnamon is so Christmassy and the exotic spiciness of nutmeg so enlivening in combination with all things sweet and creamy, I think the timing of this brilliant get-ahead frozen dessert is even more appropriate for now. And everyone can join in the fun. Gluten-free, grain-free, no eggs, no dairy or nuts (coconut cream can be substituted for cashew nuts - see note below) and no sugar added, this decadently delicious, sweet-tasting ice cream almost beggars belief. Even the Chocolate Tiger Nut Splats that accompany it are a sort of fortuitous accident. 

Peeled organic tiger nuts are an extremely moreish, nutritious, sweet-tasting tuber packed with resistant starch (the unpeeled ones are too hard for most people to chew and are best reserved for making tiger nut milk) so I now always have the organic skinned variety on hand for a quick and healthy sweet treat that can be eaten guilt-free between meals. 

However, if you try to eat more than one or two of them simultaneously they can be a bit dry, so for some time I’ve been toying with the idea of making skinned tiger nuts into an even more desirable snack by enrobing them in dark chocolate. I had in mind that I’d keep them separate (like chocolate covered coffee beans) but oh, the fiddle and the faff! Initially, I tried submerging each individual tiger nut into melted chocolate with the aid of a cocktail stick but then couldn’t get them back off the stick without pinging them across the kitchen table and splatting melted chocolate everywhere! Because I was attempting to do all of this in the time it took to make a cup of tea, I gave up and resorted to throwing all the tiger nuts into the bowl of chocolate in one go, giving the mixture a quick stir then dolloping teaspoonfuls onto a pre-lined tray and shoving the whole thing in the fridge to set. 

Fifteen minutes later I invited John to sample my now-solid chocolate-coated tiger nut ‘splats’ with his second cup of tea. Much to Sarah’s chagrin (she wasn’t around at the time), they only survived a single, brief, taste-testing session. It seems that melding tiger nuts together with dark chocolate is a recipe for gluttony! However, the sense of over-indulgence is more in the mind than an actual reality. With this dessert, everything simply comes together beautifully - cool, creamy ice cream made even more delectable with the first cold snap of chocolate melting into a silky smooth lubricating combo of dark chocolate and coconut oil that makes eating multiple raw tiger nuts effortless (less chew more swallow!). But best of all, because the resistant starch in both the Horchata Ice Cream and Chocolate Tiger Nut Splats can’t be digested by the body, this particular Christmas confection will never find its way onto your hips, so you can still stay on target for a slim and healthy start to your new year!

I think ice cream is the perfect way not to cook at Christmas. Make and freeze it the week before to save time later. This refreshing Horchata Ice Cream with Chocolate Tiger Nut Splats doesn’t really need any other accompaniment (though a baked apple or poached pear would be nice) - simply serve spiked with a mini-star sparkler to razzle-dazzle ‘em as a fabulous festive finale to Christmas lunch. 

Horchata Ice Cream (Serves 8)

Ingredients

250g organic tiger nuts, soaked in cold water for 4-6 hours (or overnight) then rinsed in fresh cold water and drained

75g raw organic cashews, soaked in cold water for 4-6 hours (or overnight) then rinsed in fresh cold water and drained

8 plump Medjool dates, stoned

1 tbsp vanilla essence

1/2 tsp organic ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

 

Instructions

Put the tiger nuts into a heavy-duty blender with 600ml fresh, cold filtered water and blend until smooth and creamy - about 3 minutes.

Take a nut milk bag (or a double layer of muslin) and set over a deep bowl. Carefully pour the blended tiger nut mixture into the bag/muslin cloth and secure the top of the bag (or gather the ends of the muslin cloth together) to hold the liquid inside. Using your hands twist and squeeze out all of the liquid until you’re left with only dry tiger nut pulp. Rinse out the blender jug.

Tip the tiger nut milk back into the rinsed-out blender. Add the dates, cashew nuts (or coconut cream - see note below), vanilla essence, cinnamon and nutmeg and blend again until the mixture is completely smooth.

Pour the horchata cream into a bowl, then cover with cling film and chill until very cold.

Churn the cold horchata cream in an ice cream maker (according to the manufacturers instructions) until it forms a soft-set ice cream (mine took about 35 minutes to get to this stage) then spoon into a freezer-proof lidded container and put in the freezer for 2 hours to set completely.

If not serving immediately, take the ice cream out of the freezer 30 minutes before you want to eat it and put in a refrigerator to allow it to soften slightly.

Scoop the Horchata Ice Cream into glass sundae dishes, add 2 or 3 Chocolate Tiger Nut Splats and a light dusting of cinnamon, if liked. 

Chocolate Tiger Nut Splats (Makes about 12)

Ingredients

75g organic peeled tiger nuts

50g good quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (at least 70% cocoa solids)

1 tsp organic coconut oil

 

Instructions

Put the chocolate chips into a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water to allow the chocolate to melt slowly. Do not allow the bottom of the bowl to come into contact with the water. Stir the chocolate occasionally until it is completely melted and smooth.

Take off the heat and add the coconut oil. Stir the coconut oil into the melted chocolate, then add the tiger nuts and keep stirring until all the tiger nuts are evenly coated in chocolate. 

Spoon rough teaspoonfuls of the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with non-stick paper and refrigerate until set. Peel the cold-set Chocolate Tiger Nut Splats off the paper and store in an airtight container in the fridge until required. 

Notes

You need a decent high-powered blender such as a Vitamix to blitz the tiger nuts into a smooth creamy milk and then to completely break down the cashews and dates to make a rich smooth custard. Pass the finished ice cream mixture through a fine sieve before freezing if you’re in any doubt that your blender isn’t up to it.

An ice cream machine does make for a smoother, creamier, airier ice cream but if you don’t own one it is still possible to make decent ice cream at home as long as you plan ahead. Firstly, chill your prepared ice cream mixture over an ice bath or for several hours in the fridge. Meanwhile switch your freezer onto fast-freeze. Pour your ice cream mixture into a deep freeze-proof container and freeze for about an hour until the edges start to get solid. Take out of the freezer and stir vigorously with a fork or whisk to break up the the ice crystals completely and combine with the still liquid centre. If you have one, a hand-held blender will give the best results. Straightaway, put the mixture back into the freezer for another half-hour then take it out again and repeat the mixing and mashing. Continue doing this every half hour until the ice cream is soft-set throughout, then let it freeze solid.

I used dark chocolate chips to save myself the hassle of chopping chocolate. 

Do not take the chocolate tiger nut splats out of the fridge until you’re ready to eat them. Quite apart from the fact that you’ll be missing the satisfying ‘snap’ of cold chocolate when you bite into them, they melt really quickly in your fingers or when left out at room temperature.

The celebration star sparklers are fun but you need to have a couple of people on hand to help light them and to get your dessert to the table in time to surprise your guests - it took me three attempts to get my sparkler to light for Sarah to take the photograph and, once lit, it didn’t sparkle for very long! Frustrating! Next time I’ll try these!

If you are allergic to nuts, you can substitute the cream off the top of a 400ml can of full-fat coconut milk for the cashew nuts. Put the unopened tin of coconut milk in the refrigerator to chill overnight. When you’re ready to make the ice cream, simply scoop off the top layer of solid coconut cream from the can of chilled coconut milk and add to the blender with the cold horchata milk and the rest of the ingredients before blending until smooth and then churning in an ice cream maker. You can use the coconut water that’s left to make a curry sauce or smoothie.

10th December 2015 update: I made Horchata Ice Cream again today for our Christmas day festivities. And, because we're all-grown ups, I added 2 tablespoons of vodka to the cold cream before churning. It isn't for the sake of imbibing more booze! The idea is that adding a little alcohol should help to keep the ice cream a little bit softer (alcohol doesn't freeze) whilst it's stored for the next couple of weeks.  

 

Carbohydrate 34g Protein 3g - per serving ice cream made with raw cashews

Carbohydrate 12g Protein 2g - per serving (3 chocolate tiger nut splats)


Chocolate Fondants

by Susan Smith in , ,


If you’ve ever watched Masterchef you’ll have seen contestant after contestant being warned by Messrs John Torode and Gregg Wallace how tricky it is to make perfect gooey-centred chocolate fondants. Some contestants go ahead anyway (let’s face it, by the time they’re being filmed, they’re already committed!) and get their timings just right so their fondants come out beautifully cooked on the outside and runny in the middle - but many don’t. Today's recipe is a sure-fire way to ensure that you can make chocolate fondants without any of the brouhaha, giving everyone the impression that you’re an absolute genius in the kitchen! (Psst! you can even make them 24 hours before you want to eat them)

Love chocolate? You’ll love these luxurious hot chocolate fondants. Better still, they’re not the ‘unhealthy' indulgence you might have pre-supposed. On the contrary, eaten in moderation, dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids) is very good for you because it’s chock-full of phytonutrients (specifically cocoa flavanols) that are scientifically proven to be beneficial for the heart, circulation and brain.

As part of a Primal lifestyle, best quality dark chocolate does not make you fat. Typically, I eat 2 or 3 squares (up to 15 grams) every day with my morning Nespresso (a double-whammy for the senses which reminds me that life is really worth living) but at least one scientific study found that young people consuming 42.6g of chocolate a day had slimmer waists and lower BMIs than those eating less. 

Nice but not naughty after all, dark chocolate has finally achieved superfood status. I suggest you grab a spoon and get stuck in! 

Chocolate Fondants (Makes 4 large or 6 small fondants)

Ingredients

125g unsalted butter + extra for greasing 

3 whole large organic eggs 

2 organic egg yolks (in addition to the the eggs above)

25g raw organic ‘runny’ honey

8 drops organic liquid stevia 

125g dark chocolate - I used Callebaut Finest Satongo dark chocolate chips

25g tiger nut flour

Good quality chocolate bar, broken into squares (I used Michel Cluizel’s Maralumi dark chocolate bar)

Sukrin icing sugar, for dusting

Organic double or pouring cream, for serving

 

Instructions

Grease either 4 large or 6 small ramekin dishes.

Melt together the butter and chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot (not boiling) water on the hob.

Whilst the chocolate/butter mixture is melting, whisk the eggs / egg yolks / honey and liquid stevia together for about 5 minutes until pale and very thick (it should hold its shape for a few seconds when a little of the mixture is flicked over the surface) - you really need an electric whisk for this. 

With a balloon whisk, whisk the tiger nut flour into the chocolate/butter mixture. 

Cool the chocolate mixture and then pour into the whisked egg mixture.

Using a metal spoon, fold gently to combine the two mixtures. 

Divide the mixture equally between the ramekins. 

Leave in the fridge for up to 24 hours before they are required.

Just before cooking, press a square of chocolate into the centre of each ramekin.

Cook for 12-15 minutes at 200℃ / 400℉ / Gas mark 6

Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve immediately.

 

Notes: 

These chocolate fondants are foolproof because you’re not relying on precise cooking times to ensure that the middle of the fondants are soft and runny - instead the melted chocolate squares create a yummy pool of hot chocolate at their centre. 

The mixture will carry on cooking in the ramekins, so eat immediately. 

Sukrin sweetener is produced via a natural fermentation process from the glucose naturally occurring in pears, melons and mushrooms. The powdered form of Sukrin I’ve used for dusting the chocolate fondants looks, tastes and behaves in exactly the same way as normal white icing sugar made from sugar beet/cane. And, I’m pleased to report, it has no bitter after taste. 

 

Carbohydrate 16g Protein 9g - per small chocolate fondant

Carbohydrate 25g Protein 14g - per large chocolate fondant


Apple and Blackberry Crumble

by Susan Smith in


This week there’s been yet another impediment to our 2015 home improvement plan - namely a mahussive wasp nest measuring at least 18 to 20 inches across. Not that we got close enough to actually measure it, but it is significantly bigger than my largest sized hat box that holds the most glamorous and ostentatious hat I possess (thanks Philip Tracey!). 

I was first alerted to our yellow-jacketed uninvited house guests when I was up until the early hours of the morning one day last week doing a food-blogger’s night shift. At first I thought that the incessant tapping at the window were moths trying to get to the light. Then I thought it must be raining. Finally, when I got up to investigate, I saw the outside of the window pane was teeming with a hundred wasps or more. Quite scary, since I never knew that wasps were nocturnal or even attracted to the light. I’d sort of hoped that as we have a fruiting damson tree adjacent to the office window, they were looking for something sweet to eat. In retrospect, I think they were simply on their flight path to and from the nest, which we later discovered in our loft.

Because the loft door has to be left open for re-decoration, during which time the wasps can merrily make their way into our home, we had to cancel the decorator and call in pest control. But wait. You can’t kick up a fuss about the decline in the bee population and then kill off a whole nest worth of wasps can you? A rhetorical question because no, we can’t. We’ve decided it would be just as an unethical to kill off our resident wasps as it is to kill bees. In spite of their bad press (I don’t think they’re nearly as aggressive as a human being flailing around in a state of panic because they’re frightened of being stung), wasps really do serve a useful ecological function - they pollinate flowers and crops and are the natural predator of many other insect pests e.g. they eat caterpillars that would otherwise destroy food crops and keep the fly population down by feeding them to their young. Good job! 

Nevertheless, it would be rude to risk them stinging our decorator, so the work has had to be put on hold until we can figure out how to construct a no-fly zone by creating a wasp-proof curtain to contain them on their side of the attic. In a few more weeks, when the weather turns colder, the worker wasps will die off naturally and then the hive becomes obsolete. And the good news is, wasps are fiercely territorial. This means they will never re-colonise an old nest or build a new nest anywhere near the site of an old one. Magic! Our magnificent wasp nest will be left in situ as a natural deterrent to future wasps, proving that nature takes care of itself if only humans will live and let live.

Like humans, wasps have a sweet tooth and they really love ripe fruit and all things sugary, which is probably why late summer and autumn - the ‘‘season of mists and fruitfulness” - is when they become more noticeable. There’s definitely something in the air, because on a recent sortie to our local greengrocer my man came back with some locally-grown, outrageously plump, sweet, juicy blackberries that he felt compelled to purchase because they were so big, black and beautiful. He had no idea what I would do with them, but on an unusually cold day in early September nothing shouted ‘comfort’ at me more than the prospect of a glorious Apple & Blackberry Crumble with lashings of cream. 

Blackberries have a wonderful affinity with apples (so too do raspberries - see notes below) but a classic crumble is normally off-limits for anyone who doesn’t eat grains and doesn’t want a dessert laden with sugar. If this is you, rejoice because gloriously comforting fruit crumble is now back on the menu with this delicious, easy-to-make, no-grain, low sugar recipe.

As an advocate for eating Primal (albeit primarily vegetarian), I’ve found tiger nut flour is a brilliantly conceived ingredient that just keeps on giving. Quickly whizzed in a blender with grass-fed butter and very little coconut palm sugar, plus chopped pecans for crunch, this Apple & Blackberry Crumble is as good to eat as any I can remember from my childhood. For a moment of happiness, just dive in with a spoon. 

Apple and Blackberry Crumble (Serves 4)

Ingredients

100g tiger nut flour

50g cold organic butter, cut into pieces 

15g organic coconut palm sugar

30g raw pecans, finely chopped

4 decent-sized organic eating apples, peeled, cored and sliced (I used Braeburn but Cox’s or Granny Smith’s would be good too)

40ml fresh orange juice (about ½ orange, juiced)

175g blackberries

 

Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 180℃ / 350℉ / Gas mark 4

Put the sliced apples and orange juice into a medium saucepan, cover the pan and cook over a moderate heat for about 8 minutes, or until the apples are soft but not mushy. If there is any juice left in the bottom of the pan at the end to the cooking time, take the pan lid off, turn up the heat and continue cooking for a minute or so more until there is no liquid left. 

Tip the apples into an ovenproof dish (I used an oval Pyrex dish measuring 6.5 cm x 9cm) then arrange the whole blackberries on top of the apples in a single layer.

Put the tiger nut flour, butter and palm sugar into the bowl of a food processor and ‘pulse’ several times over until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Tip into a medium size bowl and add the chopped pecans. 

Spoon the crumble mixture evenly over the fruit. Place the dish on a baking tray and bake in the pre-heated oven for 35-40 minutes.

Take out of the oven and allow the crumble to stand for 5 minutes before serving with a generous spoonful of clotted or double cream. 

 

Notes:

Although this is a quick and easy dessert to make, you can skip the apple ‘prep’ altogether by substituting 350g fresh raspberries for eating apples. Just make sure they’re naturally sweet-tasting so you don’t need to add any other sweetener. Simply layer up your oven-proof dish with raw whole raspberries and blackberries before spooning over the crumble mixture and baking at 180℃ for 25 minutes. 

To make the crumble mixture without a food processor, use the rubbing-in method. Using your fingertips and thumbs, take small amounts of the cold butter and tiger nut flour mixture and rub them together, from little finger to first finger. Raise your hands above the surface so they are not warming the rest of the mixture. When the mixture looks like breadcrumbs, add the coconut palm sugar (and cinnamon, if using - see note below) and mix together with a fork before spooning on top of the fruit. 

If you like the spicy, sweetness of ground cinnamon, a teaspoon added to the crumble mixture before baking will complement the apple in Apple & Blackberry Crumble beautifully. 

 

Carbohydrate 39g Protein 3g - per serving (Apple and Blackberry)

Carbohydrate 29g Protein 3g - per serving (Raspberry and Blackberry)