Glowing Greek Yoghurt and Black Bean Brownies – yep, that’s Beans!

Two weeks ago I cooked at Quirkys making my version of a Whole foods Tex Mex Veggie dinner. The feedback was great and I have been asked to provide recipes for my fresh sauces, so Stephanie Ward, who runs the very excellent Firefly Coaching company (www.fireflycoaching.com) here you are! Enjoy!

Glowing Greek Yoghurt Dip

I always serve a simple Greek yoghurt dip type sauce with my Tex Mex. It takes all of 5 minutes.

Take a good cup of  natural yoghurt  or sour cream.  Add some dried garlic powder or freshly minced mild garlic, a few chopped fresh herbs such as chives, coriander and mint, a squeeze of lemon or lime, salt and pepper, then mix well. A smattering of flaked chili wouldn’t go amiss either. The longer it is left to marinate the better it is. It goes well with mexican food, on roasted potatoes, as an alternative to mayo and tastes excellent. Make it glow by adding a splattering of prepared pomergranate seeds. Alternatively next time anyone goes to Greece pick up some dried Tzatziki sauce mix which is excellent for a quick dip, just add yoghurt and grated, drained cucumber.

Coriander Salsa or Green Goddess Dip to Die For….

I have posted this before but here it is again. Remove large stalks and place washed fresh coriander in a blender with fresh mint, half a seeded chili, a tablespoon of Thai Chilli sauce, the juice of a lime or a lemon. Add some cold water and blend. That’s it, easy huh! Serve with anything you want to, it is absolutely delicious. Needless to say if you are not a coridander fan, you will need to replace it with Thai holy basil or make a minty version.

Now thanks to Life coach, financial planner and nutritionalist Stefanie Thomas (www.stefaniethomas.com) for this delicious but totally unusual recipe! I went to a Productive Parenting talk given by Stefanie for Passionate Parenting and amongst the very excellent tips she gave us was a tasting of a lovely dark, moorish brownie, made with no flour or sugar!! Prefect for the gluten free diet.

With her permission I am posting it here. I, whom am no chocolate lover, found it very, very good indeed. And the kids were flabbergasted. What, you must be kidding they said. Beans, not beans!

Black Bean Brownies

Preheat your oven to 175 C or 350 F

Ingredients

One and a half cups of organic black beans, drained and rinsed

3 large organic eggs

3 tbsps of melted butter

2 tbsps of melted coconut oil

quarter of a cup cocoa powder

pinch of salt

2 tsps of a good vanilla essence

5 tbsp of Stevia powder (natural sweetner available at healthfood stores or use maple syrup, honey instead)

100 gms of good dark chocolate, grated or chopped into small pieices. I used the dark chocolate buttons from Australian

2 pinches of cayenne pepper which compliments the chocolate very well.

Place everything into a blender, adding the chocolate pieces at the very last moment. I blended for a few minutes and could still see beany bits. You could also add nuts of your choice.

Place mixture into a parchment lined swiss roll tin. Grease the baking paper with coconut oil and cooked for approx 30 minutes at 175. Mine was cooked in a fan forced oven for 25 and cut when cold. I have to say I am impressed. I made mine with Stevia powder which is sweeter than sugar. I will experiment with maple sugar or syrup next time.

Below, the Green Coriander Salsa. I think I will go and make some, it just looks too good. Next post will be my annual Best of The Hague 2011. I’ll be posting my top picks for the Best Carrot Cake in town, the best coffee, the friendliest cafe, the most family friendly cafe, best sushi, best park, best thing to do on a rainy, cold, grey day. If you have some special place, food, shop you would like to have mentioned do please send your comments in. There are two very strong contenders for the best carrot cake: Baklust and La Buena Vida. Looks like we will have to do a taste off, how wonderful. We will also have to taste Crunch’s raspberry and choc cake, Philppe’s choc pie and Quirky’s oreo cookie cheesecake, volunteers please?

I will be at the Winter Fair on December 3 at the British School with a sample of recipes, lunch box favourite, containers and ideas to swap. Until then, happy, healthy and gorgeous eating.

Autumn Leaves are falling and soup is on the boil!

Last week I enjoyed myself being pop up Chef at Quirkys cafe in The Hague. I started with a little invention of mine which my friends and I call Friday Night Soup. It has overtones of Mexico, India and cold clear autumn evenings. It is for cooking on a Friday night when you are just too tired to cook. It’s for eating with good friends, old and new. It’s tasty, hearty and simple to make. It takes very little time and can be made in roughly half an hour. I have listed it on other blogs and related it to many people who have in turn made it theirs. My friend Janet makes it with pesto. Something we all agree on is that we have never met anyone who doesn’t like it. So here it is again.

Mexian Red Lentil Soup (My Friday Night Soup as served at Quirkys last Friday!

1 large onion chopped finely

1 tsp channa masala spice mix or a blend of your favourite spices (we like Shan’s mix or to make our own)

1 can of Italian Passata or whole tomatoes – I like S&W Mexican tomatoes

2 cans V8 veggie juice

chilli powder (to suit taste) – I put in half a teaspoon of Ancho chillie

2 veggie stock cubes dissolved in 2 large cups hot water approx

1 -2 cups red lentils depending on how thick you like it!

A good dollop of Thai Chillie Sauce and some cummin seeds

To serve add greek yoghurt or natural soy yoghurt, grated cheese, tortilla chips, fresh herbs

Fry onion in large soup pan, add in spices and fry until fragrant.
Pour in tomatoes, V8, veggie stock and water plus lentils. Simmer until lentils are done, adjust liquid levels with water, V8 or stock, adjust seasonings to suit household tastes. Serve with warm fried tortilla strips, soured cream, fresh herbs, diced chilli peppers, grated cheese as desired. Enjoy and warm up the next day for the lunch box! Experiment and have fun!

A few of my favourite spices above which I will be adding to my Christmas Chutney pressies (making it next week with some elderly apples and pears) and here is my favourite rice. Prepare it with fried onions, cardamon pods, cinnamon sticks and you will be as happy as happy can be! Buy from the Natuur Winkels and enjoy!

The President’s Kitchen Garden – and a Year of Travel


Variety is the Spice of Life as I repeat tirelessly to my kids. Try something new, you never know it may be the best thing you have ever tasted! I never cease to marvel at all the new tastes and foods I come across. For me traveling and meeting people is a cornucopia of new tastes, new ideas, viewpoints and surprises. I admit I have been very, very lucky this year to travel home to New Zealand where we saw a great bunch of home gardeners and producers showing off the fruits of their toils – veggies, eggs, cheeses, jams, chutneys, cordials, seed mixes, cereals, breads and chocolates at the local farmers markets. One of the best new ideas was the OOOOby concept started up by a Waiheke Islander called Peter Russell. OOOOby or Out of Our Own Backyards is a new and energetic way of trading surplus foods via markets and pickup systems. We then went to my favourite of all spots in the UK, Hay on Wye for a chlly camping experience to see a group of pop up chefs turning out lovely local delights. We visited Rick Stein’s deli in Cornwall and went fishing in Salcome finding small businesses along the way proudly serving well crafted food at pubs such as the Cricketers in Beesands in Devon. I write this not to show how well traveled we are (and how extraordinarily lucky) but to make a point that there is a quiet revolution going on – just as those tired of relentless money profiteering are gathering force so to are those of us who are championing the cause of simple, local, sustainably produced good food. It’s hard I know to get kids eating wholesome green food free from chemicals and overprocessing but we must fight back and we are. From First Lady Michele Obama to a very pleasant chap we met on our half term break, none other than the President of Malta who recently opened The President’s Kitchen Garden above the San Anton Palace Gardens. The Maltese have a big, big problem with obesity and thus Diabetes type 2 and are rightly fond of their food (as am I – surely the best sun dried tomatoes in the world come from Gozo!) but they need to start eating more greeny bits and pieces and get out of their cars! We met the president quite by accident but I took the opportunity to compliment him on his initiative and to hope it will help kids understand more about where their food comes from! Let us hope it helps. I would be delighted to go back one day and get those kids cooking up a storm.

Meantime I am prepping today for a guest appearance at Quirkys Lunch room cafe with my own brand of veggie wholefoods Tex Mex. Quirkys cafe is the very first to pioneer Pop Up Chefs in our little city and you will find a different team cooking their every Friday evening. There’s be music and chat, laughter and fun if you care to join us but do please reserve a table as we are filling up fast (tel: 070 3808502.

I am making my Friday Night Red Lentil Mexican Soup followed by a wholewheat Quesidila served with organic brown basmatic spiced rice, fresh coriander chutney, greek yoghurt garlic sauce, and coleslaw followed by a choice of either egg free mascarpone tropical trifle or apple and strawberry crumble made with our own organic homegrown apples. Check out Quirky.com if you want to reserve. And if you want to make you own crumble please read below….

My Apple Crumble

Preheat oven to 175 fan c

serves 4-6 people

You will need

6- 8 good honest apples, cookers are best not to sweet! Peel if you like and core, chopping into small cubes of the same size

1 cup of frozen berry fruit or fresh if in season

half a cup of maple sugar or syrup or dark brown sugar

your favourite sweet spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice or cloves. I use about half a teaspooon of each but be careful about cloves they can be overwhelming.

1 and a half cup of wholewheat flour

3 good tablespoons of honest salted butter

a small handful of homemade museli or rolled oats, coconut etc to make your crumble mixture interesting.

Place apples in a pot with a very little hot water. Add in some sweetner such as maple syrup if they are sour. Add some spices to liven them up a little. Cook for about 8-10 minutes until they are tender. Place in ovenproof dish with frozen or fresh berry fruit. Taste for sweetness. I like them to be a little sour.

Mix your crumble. Mix flour, sugar, museli, oats, coconut, nuts, spices etc and rub in your butter using your fingertips. Your mixture should look like large crumbs. If you squeeze it together it should stay in clumps. If too dry add more butter. Taste for sweetness and to get the spices just to your taste. Pour onto the apple berry mixture and bake for around 25 minutes until the apple mixture is bubbling and the crumble top is golden and hard to the touch. Serve with ice cream, yoghurt, creme fraiche, creme anglais or just by itself! Yummy.

Jack and I have been making pasta with his friends. This is our pesto flavoured batch. We are gradually gettting the hang of it and look forward to more experimentation. It is fun but requires some time and a little prep but the end result if absolutely delicious. We are using Jamie Oliver’s basic pasta dough recipe which is working a treat.  I am preparing The Food Forum’s Annual Best of Food Awards for my December Blog. In the meantime I wish you many a good meal, much chat and time to chew over the day! Heavens, I better get cooking!

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