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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Venetian carrot and almond cake

This delicious traditional Italian cake was the precursor to the carrot cake we know now and love but this is kind of marzipany without the bitterness. Don’t be fooled by its simplicity as it’s fantastic with coffee, for breakfast or with a glass of vin santo after dinner. Like a lot of Italian recipes it’s dairy free and it also has no oil or butter. It is mostly carrots, egg and almond.

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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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vegan chocolate and coconut fudge cake

I love the combination of coconut and chocolate because I love Bounty bars and this cake is really easy to make and really chocolatey for a real dairy-free egg-free chocolate fix. You can’t taste the beetroot, but it’s the beetroot that makes it fudgey. This cake has been tested on non vegans and they loved it and thought it was one of the best cakes they had ever tasted. Perfect as a birthday cake.

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spanish orange glazed squid

I have a oldish Spanish cookbook with fantastic recipes in it that are great as tapas. I’m working my way through it pretending I’m in Barcelona. This recipe from that book has the sweetness of oranges which work really well with squid and the smokiness of the smoked paprika giving it a real Spanish vibe. I’ve tweaked it slightly and replaced the sugar with maple syrup so it’s low glycemic. You can eat it as tapas with other small plates or combine it with pasta as I did. I bought my black pasta from my Italian deli but it works equally well with plain old standard spaghetti or Linguine. It’s perfect for a dinner party or a date night. My friend Timna says it’s up there with my crab Linguine as one of the best things she’s ever tasted.

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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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sardine salad with tomatoes and capers

This is a delicious Spanish salad incorporates all the flavours I love. The caper dressing cuts through the oiliness of the sardines as do the tomatoes and onions. The sardines can be barbecued for extra flavour too. I serve it as a starter or a side dish with toasted sourdough bread drizzled in olive oil. It’s perfect summer food and very easy to prepare as I buy ready filleted butterflied sardines from my supermarket.

It’s also perfect with my healthy fries.

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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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