socca with mushrooms, parmesan and truffle oil

On holiday in the South of France we tried the traditional Niçoise socca for the first time and couldn’t believe how delicious it was. It’s crispy and pancakey like a pizza and it really lends itself to all the flavours of a pizza or a sandwich, because like bread it’s a blank canvas. It’s also gluten free and made with chick pea flour so it’s high is protein. If you make small ones they could be fantastic as gluten free canapé bases… just sayin’. They are really easy to make, too… and my new store cupboard staple.
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pistachio and chocolate meringue biscuits

These are my version of the traditional biscuits called “Brutti-ma-Buoni” in Italian… they are light, chewy, crispy and melt in the mouth and a bit macaron like and the chocolate and nuts magically end up in the centre. They are also gluten and dairy free. Pistachio and chocolate are a fantastic combination and they are perfect with a coffee at the end of a meal and they are super easy to make. I think they make fantastic home made gifts wrapped in cellophane with a ribbon. Perfect at Christmas or anytime.

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Italian hazelnut and chocolate meringue biscuits

These traditional biscuits are famous for not being the best looking biscuit in the world but probably one of the most delicious. Called “brutti-ma-buoni” in Italian, they are a delicious combination of a cross between a meringue and a Ferrero Rocher and they are crispy and melt in the mouth and a bit macaron like… they are also gluten and dairy free. Hazelnuts and chocolate are a fantastic combination of flavours and textures and I added a little vanilla to mine. They are perfect with a coffee at the end of a meal and they are super easy to make. I think they make fantastic home made gifts wrapped in cellophane with a ribbon. Perfect at Christmas.

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panforte (Italian Christmas cake)

This delicious traditional Italian cake is very dense chewy and packed with dried fruits, nuts and spices, and can I just say, there are lot of ingredients but it’s really easy to make. This recipe is softer than the ones you buy which I prefer. It’s origins dates back to  the Italian crusaders who discovered it in Turkey. It kept them nourished during their sieges. Italians often cut it into pieces and wrap the morsels in parchment paper with ribbon and give the little parcels as gifts.

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olive oil cake

This cake is a traditional Spanish olive oil cake. It’s usually served with a glass of black coffee. It’s got a lovely orange flavour from the orange juice and zest and tastes really Mediterranean. I make nearly all my cakes with olive oil because I prefer the texture and they stay moist and fresh for much longer. I’m also not great with dairy. Most Mediterranean countries use olive oil instead of butter in their cakes and obviously it’s a lot healthier as is most of their diet. Hope you like it as much as me. Continue reading

beetroot salad with pistachios

Apart from being very pretty, this beetroot salad tastes amazing. It’s from the fab cookbook Many Greek Kitchens by Tessa Kiros which is stuffed with brilliant recipes and pictures. I served this at a dinner party with other salads, fries and roast fish, but you could also serve it as part of a mezze. It’s fresh creamy sweet and crunchy, my favourite things.

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chicory salad with anchovy sauce and breadcrumbs

OMG this salad is so delicious, the recipe is a traditional Italian salad from the Rome area of Italy and its usually served with bread on the side but I’ve made a crunchy sourdough crumb to go on top of it instead. Chicory is a tad bitter, which Italians love hence our love of the aperitif Campari, so you can add a teaspoon of maple syrup or sugar to the sauce if you prefer it a little sweeter. This salad is fantastic with fish or cheese or if you eat meat it would work really well with roast chicken or lamb.

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chocolate truffle brownies (I can’t believe they are vegan)

These brownies are squidgy and very chocolatey… but not too sweet, add more of the coconut sugar if you prefer them sweeter, and the prunes add that extra squidge factor. I tried them at a dinner party with fresh raspberries and they were a big hit. My friend Vicki thought they were very truffley, so I changed the name.

They are also great with vegan vanilla ice cream or just as a dessert with coffee. You could also press a half walnut or pecan into the top if you fancy instead of the chocolate drops before you bake them. They are perfect if you are following a dairy free diet and fancy a bit of the old chocolate cake.

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vegan coconut shortbread

These shortbreads are coconutty and taste really buttery even though they are dairy free. I love them with a coffee or crunched up on ice cream. No one will ever know they are vegan unless you tell them, and toasting the coconut makes the flavour even more delicious.

Try making them with kids, as they are easy to make and good fun to stamp out into shapes.

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