Monday, 21 July 2014

Dulce de Leche Stuffed Chocolate Churro Bites

THIS is what I am talking about. 

Mini churros filled with dulce de leche and then dipped in a mixture of dark and milk chocolate. We ate long, crispy churros in Argentina last year that had been filled with dulce de leche repostero and then coated completely in chocolate.

The recipe for the actual churro batter comes from Nigella - in her book Kitchen, which was in turn, adapted from a recipe by Thomasina Miers. It's a brilliant, easy recipe. Most churro recipes need you to make a sort of buñuelo mixture by heating up and beating flour, butter, water and eggs - but hers is just a quick whisk in a bowl and then a squeeze out of a piping bag. 

Nigella uses a large star-shaped nozzle for hers, I've used a Wilton 1M piping nozzle, that I use for piping swirls onto cupcakes. It's intentional: I wanted the churros to be 'one-bite-wonders, rather than the long, ridged spindly ones that are more traditional. Also, that way you get a good filling of dulce de leche. And don't worry about how you get the dulce de leche into the churros. It's easy. 

You could dip the churro bites into dark or milk chocolate if you prefer - I like to use a mixture of both.  

Dulce de Leche Stuffed Churro Bites
Makes about 30
Nigella's churro mixture (don't bother with the cinnamon and sugar - you won't need it for this)
oil, for deep-frying
approx 200g dulce de leche caramel
100g milk chocolate
100g dark chocolate

Make up the churro mixture as per Nigella's instructions, leaving out the bit where you mix the cinnamon and sugar together - you won't need it. Scrape the thick dough into a piping bag fitted with a Wilton 1M nozzle - a large, star-shaped nozzle you might usually use for icing your cupcakes. 

Fill a smallish saucepan with the deep-frying oil, so it comes up to about two-thirds up the sides. Heat it up to 170ºC, or until a little dollop of batter sizzles and turns golden. Dangle the piping bag carefully over the saucepan and squeeze and then snip little 'bites' off and into the oil. Aim for them to be about 2cm in length. Drop them in fairly close to the pan so they don't splash. The oil will be very hot. Cook them in batches of about 5-6. 

As they turn crisp and golden in the oil - they'll take just a couple of minutes - fish them out with a slotted spoon and onto a waiting plate lined with kitchen paper, to soak up any excess oil. Let them cool, and once they're all done, turn off the heat under the oil. 

Next, once the churro bites are cooled, get a skewer and make a little hole at one end of each churro bite - wiggling it around so you have somewhere to squeeze the dulce de leche into. Don't push all the way through, just about two-thirds of the way in. Scrape the dulce de leche into a second piping bag fitted with a small nozzle - the kind you might write names on birthday cakes with. Twist the top, and then pipe dulce de leche into the hole you made with the skewer, pulling it out slowly as you squeeze. Arrange on a plate. 

Finally, melt the two types of chocolate together, either slowly in a microwave or over a pan of simmering water, and then dip the churro bites in, so the chocolate comes up just about half-way. Place on greaseproof paper to dry. Serve when the chocolate is set. 

The churros are best eaten on the day they're made - if you try and store them in the fridge for the next day, they'll go soggy. 

Notes: You can also buy chocolate dulce de leche - if you can get hold of this, just stuff them with this and skip the chocolate coating. Or, after stuffing, you could just roll them in cinnamon sugar. 

Friday, 18 July 2014

AIP Paleo Meattzza con Palmitos

I first fell in love with the idea of a meattzza (a pizza with a meat base) when I saw Nigella Lawson make one on her TV show Nigellissima. And then, when I stopped eating cheese, I knew I had to create a version that was dairy-free. But what would be the cheese substitute? 

Hmmmm. Let me think. 

I thought about it for weeks

Then I hit the answer. It was palm hearts. There they were, standing proudly in their tin in my kitchen cupboard all along. 

I'd had palm hearts ('palmitos') on regular pizzas in Argentina in my pre-paleo days, and they give a creamy saltiness to pizza toppings and salads. You could trick yourself into thinking you were eating a soft cheese on top of your meattzza but no, it's just another veggie. Brilliant, right? 

The base is made from minced beef and chopped onions, although next time I'd add a pinch of dried thyme in there, too. The sauce is my nightshade-free 'no-mato' sauce, made by simmering and blending together things like beetroot, carrots and onions until smooth. Everyone loved this - a sort of burger/pizza hybrid. It's definitely a regular now in our house. 

AIP Paleo Meattzza con Palmitos (Palm Hearts)
Serves 4
400g minced beef
1 medium sized onion, peeled and chopped fairly finely
pinch of salt
1 tsp coconut oil
2-3 tablespoons of no-mato sauce
handful of black olives
2 sticks of palm hearts, from a tin
big handful of fresh basil leaves, to serve

First step in making the meattzza is to put the minced beef in a large mixing bowl. Next, fry the onions in the coconut oil with a pinch of salt until softened. Allow them to cool and then tip into the bowl with the minced beef. 

Mix the beef and onions up with your hands, until just combined. Take out a baking tray and dump the mixture onto the centre of the tray. Next, pat it out into a round shape, about 1cm thick. Pat with your hands until it's flat and then bake in the oven for about 30 minutes at gas mark 6/200ºC or until fully cooked through.

Once it's cooked through, lift the meattzza base onto a serving board with a spatula. Heat the no-mato sauce in a small frying pan and then spread it over the top. Slice the palm hearts lengthways and arrange onto the sauced meattzza and then drop black olives over the top. Scatter with the basil leaves and serve straight away, with sweet potato chips or a green salad. 

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Roasted Cherry Ice Cream Sundae (AIP, Paleo, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan)

Sometimes, when you read the label on your favourite desserts, you realise how many ingredients are in there that should not be in there. 

Colourings, additives, flavourings, preservatives, emulsifiers and words that you can't even pronounce. 

This cherry ice cream sundae was created for when you want to eat naturally but you want a gorgeous, indulgent treat at the same time. It's really easy to make, and uses up all those cherries that are in season at the moment. The recipe is also gluten, dairy and refined sugar free. Go on. Treat yourself. 

Roasted Cherry Ice Cream Sundae 
Serves 4-6
For the ice cream:
250g fresh pitted cherries
1 tsp coconut oil
400ml can full-fat coconut milk
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the sauce:
200g fresh pitted cherries 1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp water

To make the ice cream, first roast the cherries. Lay them out in a single layer on a baking sheet and rub them with the coconut oil. Roast in an oven preheated to 200ºC/gas mark 6 for about 20 minutes, or until sizzling and softened. Leave to cool completely. 

Next, make the ice cream. Blend the cooled, roasted cherries with the can of coconut milk, the honey and the vanilla. Pulse until completely smooth. Pour into the bowl of an ice cream maker and leave to churn for 20 minutes. Scrape out the soft-scoop ice cream and pour into a freezable container. Store in the freezer to firm up a little bit. 

To make the sauce - just before serving - throw the cherries in a small frying pan and add the vanilla, honey and water. Simmer on a high-ish heat until the cherries have warmed through and started to release their juices. 

To serve, scoop the ice cream into sundae glasses and then pour some of the warm cherry mixture over the top. Beautiful. 

I'm entering this sundae into Phoenix Helix's Recipe Roundtable - go check it out for more AIP inspiration! 


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