Lattice-topped tart

Lattice-topped tartI made a batch of Vegetarian Mincemeat before Christmas, and although it will keep well enough to make more mince pies next year, it is a lovely, rich filling for a dessert tart.  

I didn’t want to make the mincemeat filling too deep – just enough to cover the base of the tart, so then I topped it with a couple of apples, quartered, cored and finely sliced.

Lattice-topped tart

I have inherited a little wooden pastry wheel (you can buy them incredibly cheaply, made from box wood), so rather than making a completely open tart, which tends to overcook the filling, I enjoyed making these wavy edged strips to create a lattice topping. Lighter than a pie, but rather elegant!

Lattice-topped tartYou may have a lattice tool that you can use, but otherwise, just cut strips with an ordinary knife.

Lattice-topped tartI like to roll my pastry out really thin, so there was enough left over to make a dozen mince pies as well! 

This was lovely served with some custard. Tomorrow I will serve it with either vanilla ice cream or Greek style yogurt.

Lattice-topped tartSeeing as we are doing a dry January, I don’t feel even remotely guilty about having a dessert like this – no more calories than a couple of glasses of wine, I’m sure – and all good home made food from organic ingredients.

Lattice-topped tart

I made the pastry from 250g of Bio Type 65 flour and 125g unsalted butter and a pinch of salt. My flan dish is 25mm diameter. I used a little more than one jar of mincemeat for the tart and the small pies. My mincemeat was based on a Delia Smith recipe. Ok, I’ll work out the calorie counts later!

Individual Mojito Cheesecakes

Ok, so this is not for a fast day! But a really lovely treat for the weekend, especially if you want to get into a bit of a Caribbean mood… 

Mojito Cheesecakes

I realised as I was making this, that there are a couple of errors in the print and kindle editions currently, for which I apologise! I know I made it at least twice before publishing, so not quite sure how that happened.  Here it is exactly as I made it today.

I don’t often use Agave nectar, but it is quicker to use than making a sugar syrup and lower in calories too.

Mojito Cheesecake
Serves 4
Enjoy the wonderful Cuban combination of lime, rum and mint in this simple uncooked cheesecake-like dessert.
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Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 20g unsalted butter
  2. 40g Amaretti biscuits
  3. juice of 1 lime
  4. 45ml white rum
  5. handful of mint leaves
  6. 20g agave nectar
  7. 250g mascarpone cheese
  8. 75g cream cheese
To garnish
  1. 4 thin slices of lime
  2. 4 sprigs of mint
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in a pan and then stir in the crumbled Amaretti, mixing well.
  2. Divide between 4 glasses, pressing down well and making the top even, then chill.
  3. Mix the lime juice, rum, chopped mint and agave nectar together and leave to infuse.
  4. Whisk the mascarpone and cream cheese together until smooth and thick.
  5. Strain the lime syrup and whisk into the cheese.
  6. Spoon over the biscuit bases and chill for at least an hour.
  7. To serve, top with slices of lime and mint leaves.
Notes
  1. You can use any kind of almond biscuits or a shortbread or digestive biscuit would also be fine.
  2. My calculations give 444 kcals per serving.
Focus on Flavour http://www.focusonflavour.com/

Raspberry Ice Cream Cake – about 250 calories per portion

I was looking for ideas to use our bumper crop of home-grown raspberries and came across this recipe on delicious.com. An ice-cream based dessert that is a cross between a cheesecake and tray bake, but no cooking required.  I have used far less biscuit and toffee sauce than suggested. Really yummy with our own home-grown raspberries! A lovely weekend treat that isn’t too high in calories.  

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Raspberry Ice Cream Cake
Serves 8
A simple to prepare frozen dessert using raspberries and digestive biscuits, with a drizzle of caramel sauce
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Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 tub Vanilla ice cream (900kcal)
  2. 8 digestive biscuits, crushed (568 kcal)
  3. 50g unsalted butter, melted (373 kcal)
  4. 25g confiture de lait (or dulce de leche or other caramel sauce) (81 kcal)
  5. 200g raspberries (103 kcal)
Instructions
  1. Remove ice cream from freezer and allow to soften.
  2. Melt the butter and mix in most of the crushed biscuits (reserve about a tablespoonful).
  3. Line a dish (suitable to freeze) with baking paper and press the mixture evenly across the bottom, then chill for about 15 minutes.
  4. Spread the ice cream over the base and press in some of the raspberries.
  5. Drizzle the caramel sauce over the top and then decorate with raspberries and sprinkle over the reserved biscuit crumbs.
  6. Freeze for a few hours.
  7. Cut into squares and serve with some additional raspberries and a little whipped cream (not included in calorie count)
Notes
  1. The calorie count from this recipe card is incorrect, but I'm not sure why.
  2. I have triple checked on caloriecount.com, MyFitnessPal and with individual ingredients and all of those come to about 250 kcal per portion.
Adapted from delicious
Adapted from delicious
Focus on Flavour http://www.focusonflavour.com/

Clementine Cake – a Dairy and Wheat Free Seasonal Delight!

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Turn a few ingredients into a simple and delicious cake or dessert.

I included a version of this recipe in my first book, Focus on Flavour. It is a great way of using eggs and at this time of year, when there is an abundance of clementines (or satsumas or tangerines), it makes a great treat, with the added bonus of having no flour or added fat and being relatively low in sugar. So it is excellent for anyone looking for a wheat / gluten and dairy free cake or dessert.

I first heard of this from Claudia Roden and later came across it on Nigella.com.

I have reduced the sugar significantly, it really does not need to be particularly sweet, let the flavour and sweetness of the fruit shine through!

_MG_9021 If you cut the cake into 12 slices, it comes to less than 180 calories a piece.  We will have it with some lovely thick greek yogurt, or a scoop of chocolate sorbet, as a dessert. A small sliver would go very well with a cup of espresso if you have guests to please….

I plan to freeze half of it.

Clementine Cake
Serves 12
A moist and fruity gluten- and dairy-free cake or dessert, making the most of seasonal clementines and eggs, with ground almonds for body.
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Prep Time
2 hr 15 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
3 hr 15 min
Prep Time
2 hr 15 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
3 hr 15 min
Ingredients
  1. 6 clementines (or satsumas or tangerines, use 8 if small - about 440g in total)
  2. 225g ground almonds
  3. 50g soft brown sugar
  4. 6 eggs
  5. 1 tsp baking powder (heaped)
Instructions
  1. Put fruit in pan, cover with cold water, bring to the boil, cover and simmer 2 hours.
  2. Drain and cool.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  4. Cut the fruit in half, discarding the seeds and stalks.
  5. Blitz (skins and all) in a food processor.
  6. Add the other ingredients and pulse until integrated.
  7. Pour into a greased, lined, loose-bottomed 20cm cake tin.
  8. Bake for 1 hour, covering with paper after 40 minutes to prevent browning too much.
  9. A skewer should come out clean when the cake is cooked.
  10. Cool in the tin on a wire rack.
  11. Turn out and sprinkle with icing sugar.
  12. Serve with dairy free chocolate sorbet or sauce for a luscious dessert, or with a dollop pf thick greek yogurt if dairy is ok.
Notes
  1. Although this requires a long time for the fruit to soften, they don't need to be closely watched and that can be done the evening before if you wish. Actually making the cake takes hardly any time or effort at all!
Adapted from Claudia Roden
Adapted from Claudia Roden
Focus on Flavour http://www.focusonflavour.com/

Cinnamon and Citrus Pineapple

Cinnamon and Citrus Pineapple

If you are like me you were tempted to buy a luscious pineapple for your fruit bowl, but then with all the mince pies and Christmas Pudding, it hasn’t yet been eaten. Here is a lovely way to enjoy ripe pineapple.

Serves 4

  • 1 medium pineapple 338 kcals
  • 10g unsalted butter 72 kcals
  • 120g 0% fat fromage blanc (or fromage frais) 56 kcals
  • 1 lime 20 kcals
  • 2 tsp acacia honey 40 kcals
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon 6 kcals
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg 6 kcals

To garnish

  • A generous pinch of ground cinnamon
  • Lime zest

Cut the top and bottom off the pineapple, stand on a board and cut away the skin.

Cut in half lengthwise and then cut each half into 4, making 8 even-sized spears.

Cut off and discard the central core from each spear.

Grate the lime zest, or remove the outer coloured layer with a peeler (avoiding the pith) and then cut into shreds, or use a zester.

Cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice.

Mix half of the cinnamon in with the fromage blanc, which you can whisk lightly to create more volume (this doesn’t work so well with fromage frais).

Mix 2 teaspoons of honey with the remaining cinnamon and grated nutmeg into the lime juice.

Melt the butter in a non-stick pan and fry the pineapple over medium heat for about 8 minutes, turning so that it is just starting to brown lightly on all sides.

Pour in the lime sauce and let it bubble for a couple of minutes, spooning it over the pineapple to give a good glazed coating.

Serve the pineapple with any remaining pan juices drizzled over and a helping of fromage frais, garnished with lime zest and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Per serving kcals 135
Carbs 28g Fat 2g Protein 3g

Vary this by adding some finely chopped crystallised ginger in with the fromage blanc – only 31kcal for 10g.

**Do use cinnamon from Sri Lanka (Ceylon) if possible and try to avoid inferior varieties, which are usually Cinnamomum cassia from China or Indonesia, rather than Cinnamomum verum, which is considered safer to use in large quantities. Either variety may be helpful for stabilising blood sugar and lowering cholesterol.

 

Seasonal lusciousness – Walnut and Chestnut Tart, with Figs

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I was reminded of my alternative to Pecan Pie recently, but when I looked at the recipe I had included in my first book, Focus on Flavour, I realised that it was very calorific and much richer than we have become used to. So here is my (somewhat) reduced calorie version. It is still at least 300 calories per portion, so not something for a fast day….

I used ready rolled brisée pastry for mine, but you could use a basic shortcrust or sweet shortcrust pastry.  I have noted the ingredients in order to get the calorie count to match what the packet told me… 

Because we have so many fabulous figs in the garden this year, I have added two, which gave a really lovely flavour and texture for variety, but it would be equally good without them.  I served it with a fromage blanc and walnut ice cream. A lovely seasonal weekend treat.

Walnut and Chestnut Tart, with Figs
Serves 12
A lighter alternative to a pecan pie, using walnuts and chestnut cream
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
For the brisée pastry
  1. 140g flour
  2. 55g butter
  3. 6g sugar
  4. water
For the filling
  1. 70g unsalted butter
  2. 100g sweetened Chestnut Cream
  3. 125ml single cream
  4. 2 tbsp rum
  5. 2 eggs
  6. 200g walnut pieces (including 13 halves)
  7. 2 fresh figs, each cut into 6 wedges.230g brisée pastry, ready rolled
Instructions
  1. Line a 24cm flan dish with baking parchment and pastry and prick the bottom with a fork.
  2. Chill for 20 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180c (fan)
  4. Cover the pastry with another layer of baking parchment and baking beans or rice and bake blind for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the paper and beans and return to the oven for 10 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, warm the butter, chestnut cream, cream and rum in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until well integrated, but not hot.
  7. Beat the eggs lightly then stir into the mixture.
  8. Add the chopped walnuts, reserving some halves for decoration, and mix together.
  9. Pour the mixture into the pastry case and decorate with the figs and walnut halves.
  10. Baked for 40 minutes until golden brown.
  11. Leave to cool and serve with creme fraiche, fromage blanc or ice cream.
Notes
  1. You can buy sweetened chestnut cream in tubes or cans. Alternatively, you may find the unsweetened variety, in which case you could add honey or maple syrup to taste.
Focus on Flavour http://www.focusonflavour.com/

Lemony Yogurt Cheesecake – with Strawberries

Lemon Yogurt Cheesecake with Strawberries

It’s been a bit of a strawberry fest over the last couple of weeks, it has been a really prolific harvest this year and we haven’t been able to keep up with eating them fresh.

So far I have made Strawberry and Lavender sorbet (very good), Strawberry Fromage Blanc Ice Cream (lovely), Strawberry and Rhubarb with Meringue Topping (delish), gently cooked alongside Spiced Pineapple and we’ve eaten them plain with and without cream, as Eton Mess – mixed with meringues and vanilla ice cream – and as a savoury dish, combined with avocado in a salad (very complementary).

Still there are more!

So I decided to try drying some in the oven. I made a coulis. I cooked some gently as a compote. Then I made my low calorie, greek yogurt based, New York style cheesecake with lemon and topped it with fresh strawberries.

This makes a great treat for the weekend, but doesn’t leave you feeling over-stuffed. Of course with just the two of us we didn’t want to waste it, so we had a tiny sliver each for dessert on our fast day too….

Lemon Yogurt Cheesecake with Strawberries

Lemony Yogurt Cheesecake with an Oatcake Base

Using oats instead of digestive biscuits (Graham crackers) for the crust and delicious Greek yogurt instead of cream cheese for the filling, makes this a much lighter but still delicious alternative to a classic New York Cheesecake. 

Serves 8

  • 7 oatcakes, crumbled 408 kcals
  • 50g unsalted butter, melted 359 kcals
  • 70g raw cane sugar 280 kcals
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 6 kcals
  • 600g low fat Greek yogurt 450 kcals
  • 2 large eggs 143 kcals
  • 2 large egg yolks 108 kcals
  • 1 tbsp cornflour 26 kcals
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon 17 kcals

Preheat oven to 140°C (fan).

Mix oatcake crumbs and melted butter, then turn out into a 20cm (8-inch) loose-bottomed cake tin pan and press mixture into an even crust across the bottom, with the back of a spoon.

Bake for 10-15 minutes until firm and dry, then remove from oven and put on a wire rack.

In a large bowl, beat eggs and egg yolks on low speed, then add sugar, cornflour, salt, vanilla, and yogurt and continue to beat on low speed until light and slightly bubbly.

Add lemon juice and lemon zest and beat briefly to incorporate.

Pour mixture into prepared crust and place in the centre of the oven.

Start checking cheesecake after 50 minutes and then every 5-10 minutes after that, by shaking the pan gently – the filling should look creamy but firm at the edges, and still appear slightly jiggly in the centre (it will firm up as it cools).

Remove from oven and set on a wire rack to cool to room temperature.

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours (or overnight) before serving.

Per serving: kcals 225
Carbs 20g Fat 11g Protein 11g

I didn’t calculate the calories for the strawberry topping, I would  guess no more than 20 calories per serving, including the ‘nappage’ (can’t think what that’s called in English!).

Strawberry Coulis

Perfect to top a simple dessert of fromage blanc or Greek yogurt, to drizzle over ice cream or to top a cheesecake.

Serves 2

  • 100g strawberry pieces 34 kcals
  • 2 tsp golden granulated sugar 33 kcals
  • a few drops of aged balsamic vinegar 1 kcal

Wash the strawberries and put in a small plan with the sugar and vinegar.

Cook gently for about 5 minutes until soft enough to pass through a sieve.

Per serving: kcals 34
Carbs 8g Fat 0g Protein 0g

 These recipes are taken from my book “5:2 Healthy Eating for Life” which is available on Amazon in print and kindle formats.

Delightful Seasonal Dessert – Strawberry and Rhubarb with Meringue Topping

Strawberry and Rhubarb with Meringue Topping

Strawberry and Rhubarb with Meringue Topping

I was so thrilled to discover that you can make something that has the same lusciousness as a lemon meringue pie, but without the pastry. Rhubarb is a wonderful partner with strawberries and has a delightful tartness that contrasts really well with the slightly sweet berries. If you find that rhubarb is available before the strawberries are in season, then you can use a tablespoonful of strawberry jam instead of fresh fruit (12 calories per serving extra), but I highly recommend using fresh fruit if possible.

Serves 4

  • 500g rhubarb, chopped into 3cm lengths 105 kcals
  • 2 tbsp Acacia honey 128 kcals
  • half an orange 43 kcals
  • 2 eggs, separated 126 kcals
  • 50g caster sugar 194 kcals
  • 100g strawberries, hulled and sliced 34 kcals

Heat the oven to 160ºc (fan).

Use a peeler or sharp knife to take the outer skin from half an orange without any of the pith, then slice into fine strips.

Juice the orange. Put the rhubarb in a shallow ovenproof dish with the honey, orange rind and juice. Bake uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes, until the rhubarb is soft, but still holds its shape.

Meanwhile put the strawberries in a small pan and cook gently until the strawberries have softened, about 5 minutes.

Mix the rhubarb and strawberries with the egg yolks and divide between 4 ramekins. Put the ramekins onto a baking sheet and cook in the oven for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg whites until stiff, then add 25g of sugar and whisk again. Fold in the remaining sugar.

Pile the meringue on top of the ramekins and ensure that the rhubarb is completely covered. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown, then serve immediately.

Per serving: kcals 157
Carbs 32g Fat 3g Protein 4g

Strawberry and Rhubarb with Meringue Topping

 

Blood Orange with Pistachios and Dates <200 kcals

When shopping this week, I found some lovely blood oranges. The perfect finish for a Moroccan inspired dinner or to follow something spicy. 

Blood Orange with PistachiosBlood Orange with Pistachios

I love the vibrant colour of these blood oranges, but of course ordinary ones would be lovely prepared like this too.

Per person

  • 1 large orange 86 kcals
  • 3 dates, pitted and roughly chopped 70 kcals
  • 6 unsalted pistachio nuts, roughly chopped and toasted 33 kcals
  • a sprinkle of cinnamon

Cut the rind and pith off the orange and then slice thinly.

Arrange on a plate and distribute the dates over the top.

Chill until ready to serve.

To serve, sprinkle with cinnamon and scatter the pistachios over the top.

Per serving: kcals 193
Carbs 43g Fat 3g Protein 4g

This recipe can be found in my book 5:2 Healthy Eating for Life.

UPDATE: January 2016. I have adjusted this to make it work better on a fast day, when it makes a lovely refreshing finish to a meal. Using just one small date knocks 50 calories off, and a medium sized navel orange is only 69 calories. So you can do a lovely plate for under 120 calories. 

Stuffed Baked Peaches – a late summer fast day dessert

Delicious ripe yellow peaches, married with soft amaretti biscuits and the juice of an orange…. heavenly and under 90 calories a serving!

Baked Stuffed Peaches

I usually make a stuffing that has added butter, egg yolk and sugar with crumbled amaretti biscuits, then I pour a sweet dessert wine around them. Lovely, but rather heavy in calories!  So to make it lighter, I simply crumbled the biscuits into the stoned peach halves, and used the juice of an orange, sprinkling the zest over the top. Served warm, with some greek yogurt and some more biscuit crumbs, or toasted flaked almonds, for decoration.

Baked Stuffed Peach
Serves 4
Baked ripe peaches, stuffed with soft amaretti biscuits
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Ingredients
  1. 4 yellow peaches
  2. 4 amaretti morbidi (4g each)
  3. 1 orange
To serve
  1. 2 amaretti morbidi (8g)
  2. 4 tbsp greek yogurt
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180c.
  2. Halve and stone the peaches and lay close together into an ovenproof dish, cut side uppermost.
  3. Crumble 1 biscuit into the cavity in each half and press lightly into place.
  4. Grate the zest of the orange over the peaches.
  5. Pour the juice of the orange around them.
  6. Bake for about 30 minutes until tender.
  7. Serve warm on a spoonful of yogurt and decorate with a crumble of amaretti or some toasted flaked almonds.
Notes
  1. Amaretti morbidi are small soft biscuits made from apricot kernels, almonds, egg white and sugar. You could equally use the more familiar crunchy amaretti or any almond-based biscuit.
Focus on Flavour http://www.focusonflavour.com/