Roasted red pepper spread

 Inspired by both muhammara & ajvar

Muhammara is an aromatic pepper dip found all around the middle-east. Traditionally, its made from hot red peppers, garlic, pomegranate molasses and walnuts, as well as plenty of olive oil. The spices used vary by geography but the most common ones used are cumin, paprika, zaatar and sumac.  Ajvar, a dip from the balkans,  is very similar, being made with roasted peppers, garlic, eggplant and sometimes tomatoes. Ajvar is usually quite mild, but it can also be hot if made with spicier peppers, a tradition seen most frequently in the south of Serbia. The major difference between the two dips is that muhammara has a very strong flavor while ajvar is creamier and sweeter. I like both, so I decided to combine them, nix most of the spices and create a dip that’s right in the middle – smokey, spicy, sweet and slightly sour. It’s good on bruschetta as an appetizer, delicious as a sauce on pasta and sometimes, I’ll be honest, I even eat it straight out the jar.

Ingredients:

1 small jar of sweet roasted peppers or about 7 roasted and peeled long peppers

3 cloves of garlic

2 tbsp pomegranate molasses or lemon juice

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 tbsp honey

1 tsp smoked paprika

2 tbsp pepper paste

3 tbsp (or more if needed) breadcrumbs

1 cup toasted walnuts

3 tbsp olive oil (I used sundried-tomato infused olive oil)

How to:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processer
  2. Whiz until creamy, adding more honey or pomegranate molasses if needed, as well as more breadcrumbs if dip is too runny
  3. Pour dip into a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and keep in the fridge

Chocolate Zucchini Cake with dried cherries & cinnamon

 

I think I’ve just found the holy grail of zucchini cakes. Truly.  I feel like Indiana Jones, except instead of a gun I’m armed with a spatula and instead of a suit I’m wearing a polka-dot apron. Oh, and I have no hand-eye coordination to speak of, so,  catching that flying dagger or saving the crown jewels? not very likely. This cake however, is good enough to make me feel as if I’ve just saved the world. Better yet? It’s so much healthier than any other zucchini cake I’ve ever come across! Honestly, this cake is ridiculously good. Too good almost. You won’t come across anything sweeter, gooier or more decadent. Promise.
I based the recipe on Baltic Maid’s Zucchini brownies but significantly lowered the sugar and changed the ingredients around to suit what i had in my kitchen. http://www.balticmaid.com/2011/08/healthy-zucchini-brownies/

Ingredients:

2 eggs

1 tbsp Kahlua (or espresso)

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup mild oil (I used sunflower)

1/4 cup cherry jam

2 tbsp truvia, splenda or raw sugar

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tbsp cinnamon

2 cups zucchini, finely grated

1 cup dark chocolate, chopped roughly (60% or more)

1/4 cup dried cherries (or cranberries)

How to:

  1. Preheat the oven to  175°C, Grease a brownie pan of about 20X20 cm
  2. In a large bowl, beat all wet ingredients until combined. Then, in another bowl, combine all dry ingredients save zucchini, chopped chocolate and cherries
  3. Combine the two mixtures slowly, folding to incorporate
  4. Fold in cherries, zucchini and chocolate chips, making sure that no green from the zucchini is visible
  5. Bake for about 36 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out easily and the cake springs back to touch (it will be quite soft when it comes out)
  6. Let cool and eat with vanilla ice-cream and cherry sauce

Healthy Bosnian Stuffed Apples (Zdrave Tufahije)

 

When it comes to Bosnian desserts, Tufahije are about as traditional as it gets. Brought to Bosnia  by the Turks when it was part of the Ottoman empire, tufahije consist of apples cooked in a lemon syrup called agda which are then stuffed with walnuts and sugar and finished with a generous dollop of whipped cream. To us, it’s like apple pie. A simple, unpretentious dessert that when eaten, somehow always transports us back to our childhood. As wonderful as they are, however, traditional tufahije are so mind-numbingly sweet that eating even half a portion either gives me a headache or makes me want to run in circles.
So what did I do? I got rid of the refined sugar in the syrup and replaced it with honey. I also got rid of the sugar in the filling, replacing that with freshly squeezed orange juice and stevia. Then, I baked my apples in the honey syrup instead of simply boiling them and finally, instead of serving them with whipped cream, I served mine with frozen yogurt. Healthy enough for breakfast? I’d say so.

Ingredients:

5 firm apples (like honeycrisp or fuji)

1 cup water

2 cinnamon sticks

1/3 cup honey

10 small slivers of butter (to put on top of apples before baking)

For the filling:

1 cup walnuts, chopped very finely or ground in a food processer

1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

2 tbsp orange zest

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp stevia (or any sugar substitute)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

vanilla frozen yogurt to serve

How to:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 f.
  2. Cut the apples in half and core them, leaving room for about 2 tbsp of filling. Place in an 8X8 pan
  3. Make the filling, combining all ingredients in a little bowl and adding more ground walnut if mixture seems too runny
  4. Stuff the apples and top with slivers of butter
  5. Heat the water and honey in a microwave just until honey dissolves, pour that carefully around the apples. Then add in the cinnamon sticks
  6. Cover the apples with the butter slivers, cover with tinfoil and bake for about an hour
  7. Serve hot with a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt and a sprinkling of cinnamon

Roasted Vegetables with Feta, Pomegranate seeds &Tahini lemon-garlic sauce

 

This roasted vegetable dish inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook Jerusalem,  is my version of healthy comfort food. It has everything going for it – warm, crispy veg, salty, addictive feta, refreshing pomegranate kernels and a lemon-tahini sauce that envelops the entire thing in a creamy, garlicky hug. Basically, it’s like a bowl of mac&cheese, but with less calories and about a million bonus points from all the vitamins. It’s good, like REALLY good, and if you bring it to a girls-night potluck or something, i promise nobody will judge you. They’ll probably love you forever, actually.

I served mine with wild rice and a simple arugula salad dressed with lemon and olive oil but serving the vegetables alone with some crusty bread would also make a fantastic dinner for two.

Ingredients:

2 large eggplants, peeled and sliced into cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 onions, sliced about as thick as your eggplant cubes
1 fennel bulb, sliced into medium pieces (again, similar to your eggplant, so your veggies cook evenly and are ready at the same time)
1 1/2 tsp. herbes de provence
1 tsp. sumac
3 tbsp olive oil

Dressing:

3 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed

To top:

1/4 cup feta cheese,crumbled by hand

6 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1/3 cup pomegranate seeds

A handful of fresh mint, chopped roughly

How to:

  1. Preheat oven to 210 c.
  2. Peel the eggplant and cut into cubes, do the same with the onions and fennel
  3. Place veggies on a baking dish and drizzle with the olive oil. Sprinkle on the sumac, herbes de provence, salt & pepper
  4. Bake for about 40-45 minutes until veggies are golden, crispy and smell glorious
  5. Let cool for about ten minutes, during which time you can make the dressing, combining all ingredients with a whisk in a small bowl
  6. Cover veg with the dressing and with the toppings
  7. Serve warm and enjoy

Almond – Pistachio Macaroons

 

These cookies are amazing.  I came up with them last night and I’ve already proclaimed them my favorite cookie of all time. Which, coming from a girl who could potentially live off of desserts  is really saying something. The almond flour gives them chew and more substance than white flour could ever give (also making them gluten-free!). The pistachios give them a crunchy note and the brown sugar creates a crusty exterior while the inside of these cookies stays moist and fluffy. Seriously addictive.

Makes 12

Ingredients:

1/3 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoons vanilla
1 tsp pistachio extract
1/4 cup butter + 2 tbsp, softened (leave it out for 5 minutes)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup pistachios, chopped finely

How to:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (177 c)  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat the egg and sugar until the color of the mixture becomes much lighter and doubles in size.
  3. Add in extracts and butter, beating slowly to incorporate
  4. Mix the dry ingredients in a small bowl and add to wet, folding gently to incorporate.
  5. Once incorporated, using a small ice-cream scoop or melon scooper place about 2 tbsp of dough on your baking sheet leaving room for the cookies to spread.
  6. Bake 14-15 minutes, or until golden brown around edges. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes and then serve with coffee or tea.