Have you heard of cauliflower crust pizza? I’m sure you have! They get quite popular on blogs and social media networks every now and then. And I’m so glad for it, as it’s such a great way of swapping a floury dough for more veg!

I’m not the biggest fan of cauliflowers. Much as I liked mum’s version of cooked cauliflower with buttered bread crumbs, and recently fell in love with my friend’s raw cauliflower salad (oh, I certainly need to make a blog post with it, soon!) there isn’t an endless list of ideas in my head for the cauliflower. Yet. Perhaps I need to explore it more and find more ways of making this winter vegetable appear more often on our table. Watch this space!

For today, we’ve got our cauliflower crust pizza. Don’t expect it to be like a traditional pizza. It’s different. It’s better, if you ask me. No yeast, no gluten, just healthy veg. You can cut it into slices and they’ll hold well in your hand. And you can have fun and experiment with various toppings too.

Ingredients

For the cauliflower base:
1 cauliflower (about 750g)
100g ground almonds
2 eggs
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp mixed herbs
1 tsp salt

For the tomato sauce:
3 tbsp tomato purée
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 garlic clove, crushed
Freshly ground pepper

For the topping:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small aubergine, thinly sliced lengthways into long strips
1 small courgette, thinly sliced lengthways into long strips
1 small onion, cut into thin wedges
0.5 red pepper, cut into slices
0.5 yellow pepper, cut into slices
1 red chili, sliced
A few fresh basil leaves

Vegetable oil for greasing

Preparation

Preheat oven to 200C/ gas mark 6.

Cut the cauliflower roughly into large pieces. Place in a food processor and blitz until finely chopped.

Heat a large frying pan (don’t add any oil), tip the chopped cauliflower onto the pan and dry-fry it for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly, so that the cauliflower softens and some of the moisture evaporates.

Transfer the warm cauliflower onto a clean tea towel. With your hands, squeeze the tea towel and squeeze as much liquid as you can out of the cauliflower, then transfer back to a bowl. Add the ground almonds, eggs, dried herbs and season to taste with salt.

Line a baking tray with baking parchment and grease with oil. Place the cauliflower mix in the centre of the tray, then use a spoon and your hands to spread out into a 30cm round pizza base. Bake for 15-18 minutes in a preheated oven until golden brown and starting to crisp a little at the edges.

Meanwhile, heat a griddle pan, brush each aubergine slice and courgette slice on both sides with a little of the olive oil, and cook for 5-6 mins, turning once, until softened and slightly charred. Transfer to a plate and cook the remaining slices – you’ll need to do this in batches.

Griddle the onion wedges and pepper slices for 2-3 minutes.

To make the tomato sauce, in a small bowl mix the tomato purée, garlic and the oregano, adding a little water.

Once the cauliflower base is cooked, spread the tomato sauce over the base.
Arrange the vegetables on the top and bake for another 10-12 minutes.

Take out from the oven and cut into slices, using a pizza cutter.



Bon appétit!
Lena x

Cauliflower Crust Pizza (gluten free, diary free)
Cauliflower Crust Pizza (gluten free, diary free)




Every day is a good day for a romantic dinner. I can always find a reason for one. I made this one first time some time ago, when without a known reason there was a bottle of Prosecco waiting for me at home. I used some of it to prepare this delicious dinner. It takes just half an hour to prepare and will impress the most sophisticated diners. Best served at a candlelit dinner.

Ingredients

Serves 2
10g butter
15ml truffle oil
2 shallots finely chopped
Pinch of saffron strands
150g risotto rice
250ml Prosecco
500ml light vegetable stock
100ml double cream
40g freshly grounded vegetarian parmesan cheese
2 tbsp pine nuts
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preparation

Heat the truffle oil and butter in a large heavy-based pan. Add the shallots and cook for about 2-3 minutes until soft. Add the rice and saffron strands and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly until the rice grains are coated with butter and truffle oil.


Slowly add most of the Prosecco and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the liquid has been absorbed by rice.



Add the vegetable stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring frequently, making sure that the stock has been absorbed before adding more. This will take about 20 minutes and the risotto will become creamy and all the stock should be absorbed and rice should be tender.



Pour the remaining Prosecco, the double cream, freshly grated vegetarian parmesan and pine nuts. Remove from the heat, cover and leave to stand for a few minutes.



Garnish with a few parmesan shavings and season to taste with freshly ground pepper.



Serve warm, with a glass of Prosecco.


Bon appétit!
Lena x

Romantic Dinner – Prosecco and Parmesan Risotto
Romantic Dinner – Prosecco and Parmesan Risotto




I admit, I wasn’t a big fan of peanut butter until I moved to London. And even then the beginnings weren’t too smooth until, step by step, I just fell in love with peanut butter…


Perhaps it’s like with olives – they say you need to eat enough of them in one go to start loving them. That’s how I got my husband into the olives affection – he was quite adamant about his dislike of olives, until one night when I convinced him to try some with a promise of no complaints from his side for one night only. I admit I was well prepared with a bottle of red wine (our favourite Tempranillo from Rioja) and a selection of best quality olives, probably with some other bits like bread with olive oil and cheese. Hearing him ask the next evening, ‘so have we still got some of these olives left’ was the best proof that the trick has worked. And ever since then he just likes olives, full stop.


Anyway, back to the peanut butter… I don’t remember how and when exactly my love to the peanut butter started, all I know it’s here for good.


Even though I do like it a lot, I don’t consume too much of it, and so I always go for quality over quantity. Having tried plenty of varieties, I do have my favourite jars that offer the taste and texture I like most and, most importantly, reassure me with a very short ingredients list on the label.


Recently however, I thought: ‘why don’t I make my own peanut butter?’ And that was certainly a good question to ask! With actions that followed. The list of ingredients shrunk even further, there’s actually just one of them: peanuts! Although admittedly, I use raw peanuts as well as salted peanuts so the latter ones do come with addition of oil and salt. Plus, preparation instructions are limited to just one word: grinding. Although on that point, it’s worth noting this process does take some time… Having done just a bit of research, I wasn’t quite sure how long it would take for the peanuts to turn into peanut butter… When I switched on the food processor, within seconds peanuts turned into ground peanuts, as you could expect, going through different stages of their coarseness. And then, nothing happened. I actually stopped the machine a few times throughout the process, as it seemed it was getting warm, plus I admit I actually had enough of the noise too (not to mention others at home). And then, once I started thinking: ‘this is never going to work, surely I must be missing the trick here’ (that’s after some 10-12 minutes of grinding) crushed peanuts mixture almost magically transformed into a creamy peanut butter. Success! Clearly patience pays off also in the kitchen.


So, the kitchen went quiet again, for just a few moments before my husband, visibly intrigued, came over to see the result, and just a few moments later there he was with a spoonful of peanut butter in his mouth. Delicious!


Now that I had a good amount of peanut butter, time came to think how to turn it into even more healthy recipes. Let me think, what goes well peanut butter? Bananas? Chocolate? Glass of milk? Well, what else do you need? Put all the ingredients in a blender (I used cocoa powder for the chocolate flavour, and also added Greek yogurt and just a touch of honey), mix it all, and voila! A nutritious, high in protein smoothie that will keep you going all the morning (or indeed mid-afternoon). Takes seconds to prepare. So here they are – two quick and easy recipes in one blog post today. Enjoy!

Ingredients

For the peanut butter
Makes 1 jar

250 unsalted peanuts
100g salted peanuts


For the peanut butter smoothie
Serves 2

1 banana, cut into chunks
2 tbsp cocoa
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp honey
200ml Greek yogurt
200ml almond or hazelnut milk

Preparation

To make the peanut butter


Place the peanuts on a large frying pan and toast them for 3-5 minutes until they start to brown.



Place all the peanuts in a food processor.
Mix on a high power.



If you prefer crunchy peanut butter, after a minute of processing the nuts, take out a few spoonfuls of the peanuts mixture from the processor and set aside.



Keep mixing the rest of the peanuts, until you get the consistency of a peanut butter. This will take a good while (10-15 minutes of mixing – read the blog post for more).



Stir the mixture with a spoon, add the crunchy peanuts (if using) and transfer to a jar.



Keep refrigerated and eat within 4 weeks.

To make the peanut butter smoothie


Place all ingredients in blender and mix until smooth.


Bon appétit!
Lena x

Homemade peanut butter and peanut butter smoothie
Homemade peanut butter and peanut butter smoothie




How are your Christmas preparations going? Have you planned your festive menu yet? What are your favourite dishes? The ones you need to have for Christmas to happen?


For me, the magic of Christmas is the magic of childhood and the childhood memories. It’s about being present, being with the closest ones. It’s all about celebrating the traditions and following the customs. It’s knowing that wherever I am in the world, family will follow the same rituals on the day of the Christmas Eve. There will be a little bit of hay under the festive table cloth, there will be an extra space on the table, for any unexpected visitors, and surely my dad will look out for the first star on the sky before announcing it’s time for the festive dinner.



And there will certainly be twelve traditional dishes on the table. Each of them reminding me of all the Christmas Eve dinners shared with the closest ones every year. With so much choice, everyone will surely find something delicious for themselves. As for me, I relish every single one of them. After all, you don’t get to eat them at any other time of the year.



First comes the red beet soup, accompanied by tiny ‘uszka’ filled with dried mushrooms. Then come all the sauerkraut dishes, with dried mushrooms, prunes or split peas. You can choose between sauerkraut with porcini mushrooms, or sauerkraut with split peas, or perhaps croquettes or pierogi with, guess what, sauerkraut and mushroom fillings. Plus, obviously, there is the Polish stew too. Moving towards more sweet dishes, we have the kutia with poppy seeds and dried fruit and nuts, accompanied by dried fruit compote. And finally, the unquestionable highlight of the evening – my grandma’s Christmas parcels with various fillings, sweet and savoury; I’m not sure how popular they are in other families, as I’ve never seen them in any recipes books or website, which makes them even more special for me, as special as my beloved grandma.



Here are my twelve dishes for a vegetarian Christmas Eve:
(click on the name to see the recipe)



Christmas Eve red beet soup

Uszka – Christmas Eve dumplings

Sauerkraut with porcini mushrooms

Sauerkraut with split peas

Croquettes with sauerkraut and mushrooms

Pierogi with sauerkraut and dried mushrooms

Vegetarian bigos – Polish stew

Christmas pie with pumpkin, spinach and buckwheat

Grandma’s Christmas parcels with three fillings

Kutia

Dried fruit compote

Christmas gingerbread cookies



May the enchantment of the magical Christmas Eve night be with you and your loved ones.



Bon appétit!
Lena x

Twelve dishes for a traditional, vegetarian, Polish Christmas Eve
Twelve dishes for a traditional, vegetarian, Polish Christmas Eve




A healthy and hearty soup that’s full of protein and nutrients from the chickpeas, spinach and tomato. It’s equally delicious in the winter season as it is on a warm summer day. Bringing the earthy aromas and flavours thanks to the spices, I can just imagine having a spoonful of it somewhere in a remote Moroccan village. The simplicity of ingredients means that you’ll most probably have everything to hand so can make this soup at any time. It’s actually more than a soup though. It’s a one-pot meal that will satisfy anyone.

Ingredients

400g canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
400g canned chopped tomatoes
100g fresh spinach, chopped
500ml vegetable stock
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp chilli flakes
Salt and freshly ground pepper


To serve
100ml Greek yogurt
4 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preparation

Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes until soft. Add the garlic, cumin seeds and chilli flakes and cook for 1 more minute, stirring constantly.



Add the chickpeas and the tomatoes, season to taste with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes.



Pour in the vegetable stock, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.



Add the spinach and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the spinach has wilted.



To make the dressing, mix the Greek yogurt with fresh coriander leaves and season to taste with salt and pepper.



Serve the soup warm with a dollop of yogurt dressing.



Bon appétit!
Lena x

Chickpea and spinach soup
Chickpea and spinach soup




On a warm summer day, I could have a bowl of this tabbouleh as a salad, on its own, or accompanied by some green leaves or fresh tomatoes. It’s a great ingredient of a mezze too. And it makes a fantastic side for a dinner, you could serve it with grilled halloumi cheese, or with pita bread, or with falafel balls. Whatever is your interpretation of a Mediterranean feast.
This recipe is not a truly authentic tabbouleh recipe, but a variation inspired by the Mediterranean tastes.

Ingredients

Serves 2

120g white quinoa, rinsed
250ml water
1 courgette, coarsely grated
Small bunch of spring onions, thinly sliced
Handful of fresh parsley leaves, chopped
8 walnuts, chopped



For the dressing
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp mustard
1 garlic clove, crushed
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preparation

Place the quinoa in a saucepan with the water. Bring to a boil and simmer on a low heat for 15 minutes. After this time, remove from the heat, cover the pan and leave for about 5 minutes. Fluff up with a fork to split the grains.



Transfer the quinoa to a bowl, and gently mix with the courgette, spring onions and parsley.



To make the dressing, mix together all the ingredients. Pour over the quinoa mixture and gently stir to combine.



Sprinkle with chopped walnuts.



Serve at room temperature.



Bon appétit!
Lena x

quinoa and walnut tabbouleh
quinoa and walnut tabbouleh




This time, it’s not an anti-candida diet recipe…

It’s a wonderful recipe and one very close to my heart. From my lovey mum.

Last week, the chatter in the office moved was all around the Great British Bake Off. It didn’t take long until we came up with a sweep stake accompanied by our own baking spree. The rules are easy, if your contestant leaves the show, you’ve got one week to bring your own cake to the office. This week it’s my turn…

A yummy cake that will make everyone’s mouth water? It’s gotta be mum’s recipe! It’s September, the best season for apples. And so I’m baking an apple pie. Yum, my favourite. Even he scent itself is simply so delicious. For me it’s more than a scent of a delicious cake. It’s a scent of my family home. And even though I will try to resist it myself (September is my usual detox month when I return to a stricter anti-candida diet after holiday time), just baking the cake has been a pleasure.

I do hope that we will wow everyone e with this cake. Me and my mum.

Ingredients

Butter for greasing
1tbsp bread crumbs



For the crust and crumble:
520g plain flour
220g sugar
2 eggs
250g butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp sour cream
Pinch of salt
1tbsp bread crumbs



For the apple filling:
1,5 kg baking apples
4 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon



To decorate (optional)
3 apples
0.5 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp sugar
Juice from 0.5 lemon
2 tbsp butter

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 180 C

Put all the ingredients for the crust and crumble into a large bowl and quickly mix to form a dough. Divide into 2 parts and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Spread one of the parts on the bottom of a round baking tin (greased with butter and sprinkled with 1tbsp of bread crumbs. Bake in a preheated oven for 10 minutes, take out of the oven and sprinkle with the remaining bread crumbs.

Peel the apples and cut into roughly dice, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Place half of the apples to a small pot with 2tbsp water and cook for 10 minutes, stirring constantly until the apples soften and begin to caramelise. Mix with the raw apples.

Place the apples into the tin, on top of the crust.

Take out the remaining dough from the fridge and grate it roughly over the apples.

Optionally, make a few apple roses to decorate (instructions below).

Bake for about 40 minutes in a preheated oven. Take out and sprinkle with a little icing sugar.

To make the apple roses, cut the apples (skin on) into very thin slices. Place into a heatproof bowl and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Pour over lemon juice mixed with melted butter. Place in a preheated oven for 5 minutes to soften the apples. To make the roses, fold the first apple slice to form a tight roll and stick it in the dough. Then place another slice around it and so on, until the roses form.



Bon appétit!
Lena x

mums best apple cake
mums best apple cake




The man and I love weekend dinners in a mezze style, with a few different dishes to try. It transforms a simple dinner into a feast, where we celebrate the long conversations over the dinner, enjoying time spent together.
The more plates there are to be, the simpler they need to be. Much as I like spending time in kitchen, I prefer spending it with the man, over the dining table!
Here’s a dish that works well as a standalone main, or as part of the mezze.
I much prefer the taste of red peppers, but you can use green ones if you like their bitter taste.

Ingredients

Serves 2
2 red peppers, tops removed and retained, deseeded
125g mixed wild rice and basmati rice
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tomato, diced
10 black olives, pitted and chopped
2 tsp pine nuts, toasted
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp paprika
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
3 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preparation

In a large pot, bring plenty of salted water to a boil and cook the rice for about 15-18 minutes until tender.

Preheat the oven to 200 C / gas mark 6.

Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil on a frying pan, add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Add the herbs and spices, pine nuts and olives and stir. Add the cooked rice and stir again. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Divide the mixture between the peppers, packing them tightly. Place the peppers in a roasting tin, upright, topped with the pepper lids. Drizzle with 1 tbsp of olive oil and cook for about 30 minutes until the peppers begin to soften. Cover the roasting tin with aluminium foil and cook for another 15 minutes.

Serve hot.



Bon appétit!
Lena x

Turkish-style stuffed peppers
Turkish-style stuffed peppers




This summery salad brings together wonderful tastes and flavours of roasted vegetables, mixed with quinoa. Perfect for a summery dinner al fresco and if you make a bigger batch, you can pack it for lunch next day!

Ingredients

Serves 4
4 peppers, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 large courgette, roughly chopped
1 aubergine, roughly chopped
1 fennel bulb, cut into thin wedges
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp fresh chopped thyme
200g quinoa (any colour), rinsed
500ml vegetable stock
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
40g pine nuts, toasted
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 200 C / gas mark 6.

On a large roasting tin, in a single layer place the peppers, courgette, aubergine, and fennel. Drizzle the oil over and sprinkle with thyme leaves. Season with salt and pepper and mix to cover. Bake in a preheated oven for 30-40 minutes until tender and lightly charred.

Put the quinoa into a saucepan with the stock and crushed garlic. Bring to the boil and simmer for 12 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover and keep aside for 5-7 minutes. Fluff up with the fork to separate the grains.

In a large bowl, mix the vegetables with quinoa. Sprinkle with fresh parsley leaves and pine nuts.

Serve warm.



Bon appétit!
Lena x

Quinoa with roasted vegetables
Quinoa with roasted vegetables




This is a variation of my favourite carrot cake.
I wanted to prepare some bite-size sweet treats for a friend’s visit one evening, so opted for muffins rather than a cake.
Another variation was less planned, but turned out very well. At the very last minute I realised I had no walnuts in the cupboard, so I decided to replace them by hazelnuts.
And here we are, time for some tea to accompany these lovely wholemeal muffins packed with veg and nuts.



This sugar-free version can be enjoyed in the latter stages of anti-candida diet.

Ingredients

Makes 12 muffins

200g wholemeal flour, sieved
150g xylitol
75g hazelnuts, chopped
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
0.5 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
210ml rapeseed oil
250g carrots, grated



For the Greek yogurt buttercream
75g butter, softened
30g xylitol, powdered
150g full fat Greek yogurt
finely grated orange and lemon zest
12 whole hazelnuts

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 180 C/ gas mark 4.



Grease a 12-hole muffin tin and line with muffin cases.



In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients: the flour, spices, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, xylitol and chopped hazelnuts.



In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and rapeseed oil together. Pour into the flour mixture and fold until combined, without overmixing.



Stir in the grated carrot.



Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases.



Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the muffins are well risen and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.



To make the frosting, beat the softened butter and half of the powdered xylitol until creamy. Beat in the Greek yogurt and orange zest. Gradually add the remaining powdered xylitol to achieve desired consistency.



Divide the frosting between muffins, spreading it over the top of each. Top with the hazelnuts and sprinkle with lemon and orange zest.



Bon appétit!
Lena x

Carrot cake muffins (sugar-free)
Carrot cake muffins (sugar-free)