Healthy Easter Mini Eggs

Happy Easter e Buona Pasqua to everyone! I hope your day is full of family & gorgeous food. I’m looking forward to my mother’s Pastiera, a fragrant Neapolitan Easter pie made with ricotta and wheat which symbolises new life, rebirth and abundance.

On a festive note, I wanted to share my date & walnut mini eggs recipe with you. A healthy alternative to chocolate eggs, these vegan friendly treats are easy to make and contain no refined sugar. This Easter I gave them as presents to my wellness seeking loved ones.

Happy eating to each and every one of you.

 

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Health and Happiness in Sticky Chocolate Form.

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Lately through pure exhaustion and bad habit I’ve been overdosing on sugary convenience foods with a total disregard for nutrition and well being. I could blame the endless winter of the British Isles, the damp shiver-inducing winds and lack of sun light. It makes you want to scoff a whole packet of biscuits in an instant washed down with a strong milky coffee.

When I fell sick I knew something had to change. Its now been three weeks of relentless coughing and grogginess. This is my doing, through bad dietary choices. Enough is enough, I’m turning a new leaf! No more snacking straight out of the cupboard or late night treats to satisfy an insatiable sweet tooth. That is unless I’d be contributing to my wellness.

My delicious chocolate date butter marks the start of a new way of eating for me, its somewhat life changing. As if I’ve had an epiphany, I am neither wanting or ‘needing’ the bad stuff I once binged on, and that’s a bold statement coming from a sugar addict.

Not actually a butter at all, more a spread, this simple recipe promises to satisfy your sweet tooth while also being highly nutritious – it’s healthy!! With just 4 ingredients you’ll find yourself saying “no” to sweet alternatives packed with refined sugar. First cultivated in ancient Mesopotamia, dates have been revered in the Middle East and North Africa for centuries not only for their sticky sweetness but for their many health benefits, from aiding weight loss, promoting digestive and respiratory health to relieving anaemia and having anti inflammatory properties. This gooey gloriousness will definitely be making more appearances on my table.

You’re welcome.

Spread the Christmas Love with Mostaccioli and Divino Amore

Mostaccioli and Divino Amore have a special place in the heart of Neapolitans and southern Italians; for diaspora the scent of these ‘dolci’ conjures up sentiments of Christmas.

They are an essential part of our festive season and are found along side other traditional sweets and biscotti like Susamielli, Rococo and marzipan shapes, ‘pasta reale’.

My recipes reduce the amount of sugar usually called for. Mostaccioli are nutty chocolate biscuits which are as antique as they are loved. They remind us that Napoli has been touched by the East with their spiced scent. Divino Amore are baked marzipan dipped in blushing white chocolate, originally made by nuns for Neapolitan nobility. With floral notes and candied peel, they are an authentic taste of the Mediterranean.

They make for perfect gifts so parcel them up and spread the Christmas love. Merry Christmas and Buon Natale a tutti!

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All Souls Day… Any Excuse for Chocolate!

TORRONE DEI MORTI

All Souls day, which falls on the 2nd November, is a significant event in the Catholic calendar which pays homage to the dead, especially those whose souls are stuck in purgatory.

In Napoli, a city obsessed by superstition, shrines and catacombs, All Saints day (1st Nov) and All Souls day (31st Oct) present an opportunity to pay respects to deceased relatives by visiting graves and tombs. Older, alarmingly morbid practices are still carried out where church crypts are lit up and coffin lids are opened or removable glass panels taken out so that relatives of the decaying can see their faces, caress the corpses and make the sign of the cross over their head. This of course is no longer common practice and remains a ritual for the religiously devout.

In Napoli, every event calls for an edible homage. Around the time of All Saints & All Souls day, sugared skulls and skeletons appear and temp children for a pittance.

Here is my version of Torrone dei Morti (Torrone of the dead), in which layers of chocolate and nuts give a sweet taste to an otherwise bitter remembrance.

Slices can be wrapped and gifted – why not?! 🙂

Cuccia di Santa Lucia – Wheat & Ricotta Dessert

Cuccia’ di Santa Lucia is traditionally eaten on St.Lucia’s day, 13th December in the deep south of Italy. St Lucia of Syracuse is the patron saint of eyesight, symoblised in this creamy dessert by soft grains of wheat said to represent her eyes.

Cuccia al Cioccolata

I made this dessert for my sister when she had accidentally damaged both corneas and was in a lot of pain. Off I went to Soho’s Lina stores for wheat and proper Italian style candied orange peel with this dessert in mind. She swears that her eyes improved, thanks to St Lucia! Click here for recipe.

Festive Treats – Buon Natale!!

I’ve just realised my last post was in January of this year. This is what having a baby does to you; takes your time and energy, in the best possible way of course! I kept intending to write about coping mechanisms with my noisy bundle of joy (in the way of delicious foods which have kept me going) but just as I found a few spare moments, I lost them just as quickly.

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It’s almost Christmas and with the season comes mouth watering flavours and traditions. I haven’t done as much cooking as I usually do this time of year, but here are a few of my Christmas must-haves to get you in the festive spirit. Check out easy Fig and Chestnut delights, (a great gift idea!), Cherry Chocolate Zuccotto (what to do with all that gifted Panettone) and Neapoletan Struffoli.

I wish you and your families a very merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2014!

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All Souls Day in Napoli

All Souls day, which falls on the 2nd November, is a significant event in the Catholic calendar which pays homage to the dead, especially those whose souls are stuck in purgatory.

In Napoli, a city enrobed by superstition, shrines and shadowy under layers of catacombs, All Saints day (1st Nov) and All Souls day present an opportunity to pay respects to deceased relatives by visiting graves. Older, alarmingly morbid practices are still carried out where church crypts are lit up and coffin lids are opened or removable glass panels taken out so that the relatives of the decaying can see their faces, caress the corpses and make the sign of the cross over their head. This of course, is no longer common practise and remains a ritual for the religiously devout.

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In Napoli, every event calls for an edible homage. Around the time of All Saints & All Souls day, sugared skulls and skeletons appear and temp children for a pittance.

With such a great respect for the dead and in timely coinciding with Halloween (a Pagan celebration of the dead who’ve passed before us), I have made another sweet treat usually associated with festival.

Torrone dei Morti

Here is my version of Torrone dei Morti (Torrone of the dead), in which layers of chocolate and nuts give a sweet taste to an otherwise bitter remembrance.

Slices can be wrapped and gifted – why not?! 🙂

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From Istanbul with Love – Kahve Dunyasi in London

Trendy Turkish coffee house, Kahve Dunyasi, has landed in Piccadilly Circus.

Step into a dreamy world of coffee and chocolate . But this time Willy Wonka is cool, and Turkish.

Read about it here…

Dusted Hazelnut Truffles Laced with Frangelico

Perfect with a strong coffee, my Hazelnut truffles are laced with Frangelico (hazelnut liquor) for an extra nutty kick.

They’re so easy to make and take hardly any time to whip up a batch.  Check out the recipe.