quinta-feira, 3 de setembro de 2015
Chocolate is a winner, an unanimity if I may say. Nearly everybody loves it. Exceptions exist as they say, to make stronger the rule. Chocolate is the best.
The problem is, when you are looking forward to adopt a "low fructose" or "fructose free diet", the perspective of living completely without chocolate is quite sad. However, there are alternatives out there to try.
When I am faced with strong chocolate cravings, instead of a sugar loaded bombom, my chocolate substitute of choice is a delicious hot cocoa drink, which I make with extra high quality cacao powder, good milk and totally sugar/sweetener free. All I add, besides milk and cacao, is a pinch of vanilla powder. Vanilla or cinnamon can add not only flavor, but sweetness too. If I am really in the mood, I might add some (no sugar or sweetener added) whipped cream to make it really naughty. I usually add some drops of vanilla extract or a dash of vanilla powder before I whip the cream. It is a favorite around here, zero sugar or sweetener added. High fat and extra low carb.
Recently I have found an alternative to help me through the days when all I want is to lay my teeth on a bar of chocolate, or on a little "bombom". It was not an easy task, trying to master the art of natural chocolate making. After trying for a while to limit myself to extra dark chocolate bars, I gave up and decided to find myself something less bitter, creamier and tastier... Not that dark chocolates are not tasty. I don´t mean that. Tasty they surely are. But I am a chocolate-with-nuts kind of person. Besides, I love some plain milk chocolate too. Just like my strong cup of cacao drink with a big dollop of cream on top. After sorting out some alternatives, I manage to find my favorite made from scratch homemade chocolate bombons. Here they are.
These homemade chocolates are delicious, they make my taste buds happy, but they are not as sensational as advertised. They lake the consistence and the texture of commercial and store bought chocolates. Free from conservantes and additives of all sorts, including lecithin, these bars can not resist room temperature for very long and in warmer areas of the world must be kept in the fridge at all times.
They are free from fructose because I decided to use barley malt syrup in their making. Barley malt syrup is a dark syrup that contain only glucose and is totally free from fructose. The type of sweetener is pretty much your own choice, you can go for the one you prefer. As a fructose free chocolate bombom, these little beauties have a feel good side for me because I have fructose intolerance, even if they are not what I would call healthy. Can chocolate ever really be healthy?
My opinion is: Even if chocolates are made from cacao (cocoa), a very healthy and rich fruit, our ways with the products made out of the mass, paste and fat of the toasted cacao beans are far from healthy. We have allowed ourselves to over indulge and get addicted to the sugar that coats the world of chocolate. Our sugar craving is what guide our search (in vain, I believe) for healthy chocolate alternatives. I can see it clear that I am addicted to chocolate/sugar and to feed my cravings is bad for me. I hope to leave it all behind me some day, meanwhile enjoy moderately...
Peanut Butter and Coconut Chocolate
100g organic cacao butter (I like this one)
50g organic cacao mass ( I like this one )
30g organic cacao powder (this time I used this one )
50g organic extra virgin coconut oil
50g organic pure peanut butter (without added oils, sugar or salt)
50g organic barley malt syrup (you can use the sweetener you prefer: rice malt syrup, honey, maples syrup, agave, coconut palm sugar, stevia, erythritol or even plain sugar...)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder
Sea salt (optional)
In a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water melt the cacao butter, the cacao mass, the coconut oil and the peanut butter. You don´t want the mixture to be very warm, just to melt, therefore I recommend the double boiler. Remove from heart, add the barley malt syrup, take it back to heat and whisk well until completely smooth and homogeneous. Remove from heat and sift in cacao powder and vanilla powder or seeds. Add sea salt if using. Taste for sweetness and saltiness, and adjust accordingly.
In silicon or paper cups spoon the chocolate batter. Don't spoon too much because you will prefer a rather thin chocolate cup.
Place in the fridge or freezer for 30 minutes or until its solid enough to be removed from the cups and served.
Keep in refrigerated.
Makes 15 to 40 chocolate pieces. It all depends on the size of the molds/silicone cups you are using.
terça-feira, 1 de setembro de 2015
The first time I tried this jam I was in France, in a village called Niedermorschwihr where I bought my first jar of mango and strawberry jam at the Au Relais de Trois Epis. I made a post about Niedermorschwihr here and the Au Relais de Trois Epis where Madam Ferber's central quarters are located.
Christine Ferber is known as the grand master of jams, or the jam fairy and hers are the most famous jams in France these days. Christine Ferber, or Madame Ferber, plays amazingly well with fruits, berries, herbs and nuts, mixing wisely and surprising us all. She is known for adding chocolate to her jam, making some of those jams extra dense and bold and velvety and extra delicious. I made two chocolate jams inspired by Madam Ferber and you can see my Banana and Chocolate jam here and my Rapsberry and Chocolate e here. I made some changes, but they were directly inspired by her jams.
It might sound a little bit arrogant but the jam I made, with delicious in season Norwegian strawberries, tasted much better than the one I bought at by Madam Ferber's maison in Niedermorschwihr. I used more strawberries than mangoes in my mix, while Madam Ferber clearly uses more mangoes and we can feel it not only because of the color of her jam, which is more orange, but the light strawberry flavor also indicates more mangoes were added to the mixture. Equal amounts of fruits would still produce a red jam with a quite dominant strawberry flavor, I have tried half and half and decided to go for a greater amount of strawberries in my mix.
If you dare to try this recipe don't settle with mine, go experiment with different amounts and find the mix that suits you better. Use different types of strawberries too...
The mixture made of mango and strawberries is a mixture of favorites as mango is the world's most eaten fruit while strawberry is the world's favorite berry. People get quite surprised to learn that mangoes are the world best seller fruit, as they think about themselves and all the bananas, apples and oranges they usually eat. Mangoes are native to Southeast Asia, originally the area where today is the country of India, where mango trees have been cultivated and loved for more than 20.000 years. Mango is naturally the national fruit of India and this country alone responds for more than 50% of the world production of mangoes, while it exports only 1% of its production... 99% of India's mango production is destined to the local markets. Can you imagine how much mango it takes to feed the love of a population of more than 1 billion people?
If the dominance of mangoes can be a surprise to some, there is no surprise in the fact that strawberries are a world favorite. Strawberries are a fabulous berry, delicious anywhere you find them. More or less sweet, more or less acidic, a strawberry is a strawberry, the distinctive aroma, the red color, the magical flavor, all together making it simply wonderful.
The Norwegian strawberries are a chapter apart, extra sweet and extra red, little or no acidity at all, due to the time the berries spent buried under snow during the long and cold Norwegian winters. Unfortunately, this does not mean they are free from toxic chemicals used in strawberry production. Even in cold Norway the strawberries are heavily sprayed and these berries should be well washed before eating and eaten in small amounts. The only good alternative is organic strawberries which are growing more and more every year. It is a challenge to grow organic strawberries, but the conventional one is not but better because, as expected, the bugs and pests are wiser that the chemical industry, and as humans we got to do better than that...
Mango and Strawberry Jam
(Inspired by Christine-Ferber)
300 grams of mangoes in cubes (preferably organic)
450 grams halved washed strawberries (preferably organic)
300 grams organic sugar (this is up to you, use more if you like)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
In a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat cook the mangoes and the strawberries with 100ml of water. Once the mixture boils reduce the heat and let it cook until the fruits are soft, circa 10 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and using a hand mixer mix the fruits until they are homogeneous. Take the pan back to stove top, add sugar and lemon and cook until the right consistence. Around 10 minutes more. To check if the jam is ready, check the consistence by adding a teaspoon of jam to a cold plate. If the jam spreads it is not ready. Once it is ready the jam will gel immediately once in contact with the cold plate.
This recipe makes around 3 glasses of 250 ml to 300 ml.
To check if the jam is ready, test its consistence by adding a teaspoon of jam to a cold plate. If the jam spreads around, more like a liquid, it is not ready and needs extra cooking time. However, if the jam is ready it will hold its form and gel immediately once in contact with the cold plate.
Always remember that the gel will thicken after it is completely cooled down, so avoid over cooking it if you don't want to end up with a thick fruit paste.
Add sugar according to your taste and the quality of the fruits you have in mind. You are not obliged to follow old school of jamming and add equal parts of fruit and sugar. Today is is pretty OK to break the rule of extra sweet jams and make more fruity and less sweet. In jam making it is very important how to sterilize and manipulate the jam once it is ready, to avoid dangerous mold.
It is OK if you want to keep the fruit pieces and avoid the processing part. In that case add the sugar and cook a little extra time to reduce the liquids a little more.
domingo, 5 de janeiro de 2014
I am very glad to be here, right back to square one again. If I remember well, I used to enjoy blogging immensely, I could dream about posts and images, and recipes, and stories, and now I want that feeling back.
So since a new year has just started, it seems just perfect to start again, to throw some new vibrations over this little blog and hope to see it grow... It is after all a hope I send myself too, I hope to get inspired, to feel good and healthy enough to be able to write and let my creativity flow freely.
For 2014 all I want is to live my creativity to its utmost capacity and let nothing stop me. Nothing. Happy new year everyone.
Hope you are all there, somewhere.
segunda-feira, 28 de maio de 2012
We are crazy for nut based macarons, but when I tried my first nut free macaron, made out of dried coconut flakes, I got totally obsessed with the idea of trying other nut free possibilities. Nothing to say against nuts. They are super healthy and delicious and I am not allergic, but the possibility to make those beauties with "omega seeds" are just irresistible. I made these macarons with organic seeds from a mix of seeds that include sesame, flax, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. We sell the seed mix at our store. You have to process the seeds with some powdered sugar to make a very fine seed flour and you are ready to go. The good thing is that you can choose to use only the seeds you like.
This recipe is based on this recipe which is part of an entire series dedicated to nut free macarons.
Omega Seeds Mix & Matcha Macarons & Chocolate Filling
Based on this nut-free macaron recipe
100g mix of organic sesame, sunflower, pumpkin and linseeds (flax seeds)
200g organic confectioners sugar
1 Tbsp Japanese green tea pulver (known as: matcha)
100g organic egg whites
50g organic unrefined sugar
Preheat the oven to 160°C. Prepare a large pastry bag or a good plastic bag that you can use to pipe the batter. If using a pastry bag make sure it is fitted with the small plain tip. Make sure to prepare the pans for the baking by lining them with parchment paper or silicone mats (which I don't have).
In a food processor grind the seeds with the confectioners sugar and the green tea powder until a very fine mixture starts to form. Sift the mixture and reserve the larger bits that did not pass through the sieve. You might have to do some extra processing and sifting until most of the mixture have passed through the sieve. You can relax if up to 2 tbsp of seeds did not pass through the sieve. Set them aside to sprinkle over the macarons before baking.
In a bowl combine the egg whites with the sugar and using a stand mixer or a hand mixer (it doesn't matter) whip the egg white until you get a very stiff and dry meringue.
Add the dry ingredients to the meringue. You can add all at once or in parts, since it doesn't matter, do as you like! Fold the mixture with a rubber spatula. Fold until the mixture has a homogeneous thick consistency. There must be not one single white meringue spot visible in the batter. Make a test with a little spoon to check the batter, if it flattens it is most probably good to go. If a peak is formed you might have to add some extra folds to the batter. Transfer the batter to the plastic bag or pastry bag and pipe into small circles, 2 to 3 cm diameter.
You can always draw the circles on the parchment before piping if you don't feel sure about the size. Give the circles some space between them so they will not stick to each other once they start to grow in the oven. Sprinkle the seed that didn't pass the sieve over the piped macarons.
Tips: To avoid those air bubbles you can rap the sheets over your kitchen counter top 2 or 3 times, to dismantle the air bubbles that can crack the domes of the macarons.
Bake for 12 minutes. Let them cool before removing from paper. Properly baked macarons don't stick to the paper so, if you want to check if they are done just try to remove the one of them, that one on the corner of the pan, near the oven door. If it comes out clean they are done. Let them cool completely to release the others from paper.
Dark Chocolate Ganache Filling
100g organic single or double cream or any other milk free cream
100g organic 60 to 75% dark chocolate, chopped
Lay the chocolate in a bowl and set aside. In pot over medium heat bring the cream to a boil. Add the cream to the chocolate and whisk until homogeneous. Let it cool and place it in a plastic bag. Tie the plastic bag with a rubber band, lay it in a bowl and refrigerate. You want to refrigerate the ganache enough to thicken it into a piping consistence, not more. So keep you eye on it.
Pipe 1/3 to 1/2 teaspoon of ganache on the bottom part of one macaron shell. Top with another macaron shell and press slightly to sandwich the two halves together. Place the sandwiched macarons in a air tight container. They will keep fresh to up to a week. Better eat them fresh. In my opinion freshly baked macarons have a better consistency.
quarta-feira, 22 de fevereiro de 2012
I am totally crazy for red oranges which I refuse to call blood orange. This is just a bad name. I call them simply red oranges because that's how they are called in Italy, where they come from. The color of those beauties are they high point of attraction, at least to me. I just can't resist them. Their flavor reminds me of laranja pera another species of oranges, typical of the State in Brazil where I grew up.
Most of the red oranges I find here in Norway are Tarocco species, from Sicily. It is also quite easy to find them organic in some of the best food stores in town. It is now also quite common to find some of the Spanish red oranges around the shops. I prefer the Italian ones not only because they are much sweeter but because they have the perfect shade of red. The Spanish are not as sweet and they are so dark that looks a little bit scary orange.
Besides having the highest vitamin C content among all the oranges produced in the World, Arancia Rossa di Sicilia (Red oranges of Sicily) have protected geographical status and are just the perfect red orange for desserts, salads and juices. The more sour ones are more suitable for marmelades and marinades.
I love to make red orange gelatin with freshly squeezed red orange juice or salad with organic black Greek Kalamata olives and some fresh organic oregano leaves. Simple taste better. Next post I will come with the red orange gelatin recipe. Tell me more about simple recipes...
domingo, 27 de novembro de 2011
To those of you who did not know yet, I must communicate that since April 2011 I am the happy and proud owner of little organic and gourmet food store, here, in Norway. It is a real store with an online version as well. You can click the link to check our online store. A store is an amazing thing to make, a real big thing, it takes a lot of time to conceive, lot of effort to design and develop and the final product is result of heavy, heavy, heavy work... but it is totally worth paying the heavy work price. It is a dream that took form in reality...
So now I own a food store and the last six months were been spent developing our business, the way I dream it and in the ways we can afford to make it grow healthy, steady etc... It is not easy but our little Doce Vika is growing.
Our Christmas catalog is out now and it is filled with delicious gifts ideas for people of all ages and preferences. Teas from Løv Organic, Kusmi, Pukka, Hari, Les Contes de Thé, Harney & Sons and many others...coffee, teapots from FORLIFE, chocolates from Vivani, Venchi, Divine, Meium Sjokoladefabrikk and Valrhona for Ligne Blanche. The entire lige of chocolate from Ligne Blanche are packaged in beautiful tinboks with artwork of Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Jean Michel Basquiat...just amazing!
Plus: An amazing selection of Norwegian products: sjokolades, breads, cookies, jams, juices and sausages. The most perfect Turkish Turkish delights, artisan English cookies, French jams and gelés and organic oils, vinegars and sauces from organic producer Clearspring. Clearspring products were 2011's great revelation, not just in terms of quality, it is more than that. As a company Clearspring is an example that high quality product goes hand in hand with good practices. I am so proud to stock Clearspring products. The catalog is all in Norwegian but I hope you enjoy our little catalog...