Can there be Easter without marzipan, chocolate, cheesecake or in fact any cake? Probably so, but let’s leave it as a topic for another blogpost, maybe one day in the future.

This Easter, we’ve got marzipan, chocolate and cheesecake all combined in one recipe. Absolute indulgence.

You might be surprised too as the recipe is gluten-free with no flour added and it’s low-carb too as the sugar is replaced by sweetener. A decadent treat with no guilt attached.

Inspiration comes from the book ‘Low-Carb & Gluten-Free Vegetarian’ by Celia Brooks

Ingredients

For the base
150g ground almonds
75g butter, melted
3 tbsp sweetener (I use Splenda) or caster sugar
1 tsp almond extract
Pinch of salt

For the topping
180g cream cheese
225g mascarpone cheese
6tbsp sweetener (e.g. Splenda) or caster sugar
2 eggs
150g dark chocolate, melted
Fresh blueberries, to garnish
Dark chocolate shavings, to garnish

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 150 C / gas mark 2.

Place all the ingredients for the base and mix together to form a thick almond paste. Press firmly into the base of 20cm loose-based tin. Chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the topping.

Beat together cream cheese and mascarpone cheese in in a food processor or using a whisk. Add the sweetener or sugar and eggs and beat until smooth, then fold in the melted chocolate and mix until smooth.

Pour the chocolate cheese mixture onto the almonds base.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until set. Leave to cool in the tin. When completely cold, chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

Bon appétit!
Lena x

Marzipan Chocolate Cheesecake (gluten-free)
Marzipan Chocolate Cheesecake (gluten-free)




Quail’s eggs don’t feature on our menu too often. Lovely as they are, the price versus the size comparison means they’re far from being a daily staple. And that is fine. There’s something incredibly nice about having some particular types of foods only on special occasions. Even more so now, when most of the food even fruits and vegetables are readily available all year round. I always aim to buy seasonal fruits and vegetables, as they taste best in the season, plus there’s something enjoyable in waiting for best asparagus in May or raspberries in July. And there are some special dishes meant for special occasions too, like the entire Xmas Eve dinner that tastes even better as the dishes appear on our tables only once a year (excuse the out-of-season comparison). And so, I’ve made the quail’s eggs a special treat too. And what better time to enjoy the tiny eggs than Easter? Even better if they are accompanied by some fresh spring vegetables of the season.

The salad is wonderfully simple and colourful. The secret lays in using fresh, high quality produce.

Ingredients

Serves 2

6 quail’s eggs
100g mix of green leaves – I used ruby chard, lamb’s lettuce and watercress
120g green beans
120g baby broccoli
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preparation

In a pot, bring salted water to a boil and shortly for about 3-4 minutes cook the green beans and broccoli. Drain and rinse under plenty of cold water, so that the vegetables stay firm.

To soft boil the quail’s eggs, bring water to boil in a small pan. Place the quail’s eggs gently onto the boiling water and simmer for 1.5 minutes, remove from the heat and keep the eggs in the hot water for another minute. Rinse in plenty of cold water and then peel.

On a plate (or in a bowl) place the green leaves, top with cooked vegetables, halved tomatoes and halved eggs. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Bon appétit!
Lena x

Quail’s eggs spring salad
Quail’s eggs spring salad




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




It’s time to take down festive decorations. It’s been wonderful, it’s been jolly. Let’s keep this cheerful mood for a little longer. To keep that festive atmosphere in the air, how about an indulgent cake full of wintery scents and flavours. It’s such an indulgent and moist cake, it’s actually hard to believe it’s got no fat and no diary within it. Definitely one that will appear on our table more often throughout the year.

Ingredients

3 oranges
6 eggs
225g xylitol
200g ground almonds
75g polenta
25g wholegrain flour
2 tsp baking powder
Seeds of 8 cardamom pods, crushed
25g flaked almonds
A few orange slices for decoration

Preparation

Put the whole oranges in a large pan, cover with water and boil, covered, for about 1 hour until a knife easily pierces them. You might want to place a small plate directly on top of the oranges to keep them submerged. Remove the oranges from the water and cool.


Quarter the oranges and remove any seeds and any larger white chunks from the middle.


Pulse the oranges in a food processor to a rough purée and place it in a large bowl.


Preheat the oven to 160C/gas mark 3. Line a 21cm round, loose-bottomed cake tin with baking paper.


Beat the crushed cardamom seeds, xylitol and eggs into the orange purée. Fold in the ground almonds, the polenta, wholegrain flour and baking powder, until well combined.


Place the mixture into the tin, level the top and bake for 40 mins.


After 40 minutes, place the orange slices on top of the cake and sprinkle with the almond flakes. Return to the oven and bake for another 20-25 mins until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.


Remove from the tin and leave to cool.

Bon appétit!
Lena x

Orange and cardamom cake (dairy-free and sugar-free)
Orange and cardamom cake (dairy-free and sugar-free)




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




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




…Christmas time, mistletoe and wine…

Yes, mistletoe and wine will certainly be present at our home on Christmas day. Although every year, the main question is, what to make for the Christmas meal?

As we celebrate the Christmas Eve as the main festive day or better said evening, quite often I happily skip any cooking on the Christmas day and savour the delicious leftovers from Christmas Eve throughout the entire festive period. After all, they are so special and delicious that enjoying them on one night only doesn’t seem enough.

Although, especially when guests are due to arrive, it’s nice to have something special for the Christmas day. How about this wonderfully colourful and amazingly flavoursome pie? I admit, it does require a bit of time, but you can prepare it in advance and it’s actually not too difficult. And it looks absolutely gorgeous on the table. This is definitely a dish to impress your guests.

What else do you need for a wonderful Christmas day..?

…Love and laughter and joy ever after…

Ps. Inspiration for this recipe came from this website although I modified the ingredients list and preparation method quite a bit as I was making it.

Ingredients

Serves 4

For the filling
1 small pumpkin or squash, about 1kg (I used harlequin pumpkin), peeled and cubed
240g fresh spinach leaves
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
150g brown mushrooms, sliced
20g dried porcini mushrooms
125g buckwheat
650ml vegetable stock
100g feta cheese
125g ricotta cheese
Bunch of fresh thyme leaves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
0.5tsp ground nutmeg

For the pastry
600g plain flour
150g butter
85ml milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
Pinch of salt

Preparation

Preheat oven to 200C/ gas mark 6.

Prepare the baking tin (e.g. a loaf tin), brush it with a little oil and lay with a double layer of aluminium foil across the length, ensuring it’s longer than the length of the tin and sticks out, so that you can lift the pie by pulling the foil when it’s ready.

Brush the prepared pumpkin with a little olive oil and grill for about 30 minutes until tender.
Heat remaining oil in a large pan and cook the onion for 3-5 minutes until golden. Add one garlic clove and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

To make the buckwheat layer, put half of the cooked onion and garlic in a large pan (set aside the other half) add the brown mushrooms and dried porcini mushrooms and the buckwheat to the pan. Cook for a few minutes, then pour in the stock and bring to boil. Cook for about 20-30 minutes until the buckwheat is tender and there is no liquid left. Season to taste with salt and pepper and leave aside.

Meanwhile, to prepare the pumpkin layer, mix the feta cheese with the remaining onion and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Gently fold with the thyme and roasted pumpkin.

For the spinach layer, pour some boiling water over the spinach, to wilt. Drain well and squeeze out the excess of water as much as you can. Roughly chop, then mix into the ricotta mixture and minced garlic glove. Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

To make the pie, in a small saucepan melt the butter with milk and 150ml of water. In a large bowl mix the flour and salt. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and mix with a large spoon until combined. Then knead with your hand until the mixture is relatively smooth.

Take two-thirds of the pastry dough, place it onto a slightly floured surface and roll out into a large rectangle, so that you can line the tin with it.

Ease the rolled out dough into the tin, pressing well into the corners. Spoon the buckwheat layer into it and smooth the surface with a spoon, then add the spinach layer and finally the pumpkin layer.

Roll out the remaining pastry into a smaller rectangle, to create the cover. Brush the edges with a bit of beaten egg, then press the pastry lid over the top. Trim the excess and pinch to seal.

The pie can be prepared the day before, if so, cover it with a tea towel and chill in the fridge until ready to bake.

Preheat oven to 200C / gas mark 6.

Brush the surface of the pie with some more beaten egg.

Bake the pie for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180C /gas mark 4 and bake for a another 60-90 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and feels hard.

Gently take out the pie, using the foil strips to lift out carefully.

Serve warm.

Bon appétit!
Lena x

Christmas pie with pumpkin, spinach and buckwheat
Christmas pie with pumpkin, spinach and buckwheat




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