Creamy Radicchio Risotto

with Mascarpone

(or Not - Vegetarian &

Vegan versions)

Superfood Hot Chocolate Jars For Christmas (make vegan) + Workshop Announcement!

ANNOUNCING OUR ANNUAL FOOD BLOGGER CONFERENCE WORKSHOP!
Over 4 Saturdays in January, you’ll be able to stream in from your home or office & start your new year off with creative inspiration. (PS – Can’t stream live? No problem – just archive at your convenience.)  Last year was such a blast and I learned way more than I taught!

This week only, we’re offering a special rate of $399 for the Global online food & lifestyle conference!  We want to make this global conference as accessible to all as possible, so early bird will be valid through DECEMBER 9th.

Get relevant lessons on 12 topics taught by 7 teachers worldwide, including, aside myself: Christiann Koepke, Ashley Rodriguez, Bea Lubas, Anne Sage, Melissa Megginson & Jenn Lynch

I’ll be teaching all about styling with light, dark moods, bright moods and how I style my photos to make them look the way they are. This conference is probably the cheapest and most complete available and I would take it even if I were not be teaching.

ALL THE INFO AND PURCHASES HERE!

And now, on to the recipe!

Superfood Hot Chocolate Jars For Christmas (make vegan) + Workshop Announcement!

I love jars when it comes to gifting. I am actually fond of the overly expensive baking mixes you see on sale all over the stores during this time of year, even though by ‘fond’ I mean that I stare at them lovingly from afar, as I have way too much fun assembling them on my own.
Brownies and cookies have been vastly seen and done, so here I am, offering you the recipe for this hot chocolate, Italian style. Italian style, because it is usually thickened with a little bit of potato starch and served in a cup rather than a mug.
This hot cup of deliciousness brings memories of many afternoons spent with friends, especially after snow, which happens so rarely in this part of Italy. Because it is so easy to tweak and change while still remaining delicious, I decided to try a superfood, easily vegan-izable version. In fact, my favorite version of this hot chocolate is with almond milk or light coconut milk. Sometimes, if I want to keep it lower in calories, I even just make it with water, skip the sugar and add a touch of honey, and enjoy it as is. I love this recipe as it can be as healthy and fit-friendly as it can be absolutely decadent. Hot chocolate is my favorite winter drink and I would be more than delighted to receive this jar as a gift.

Superfood Hot Chocolate Jars For Christmas (make vegan) + Workshop Announcement!Superfood Hot Chocolate Jars For Christmas (make vegan) + Workshop Announcement!Superfood Hot Chocolate Jars For Christmas (make vegan) + Workshop Announcement!Superfood Hot Chocolate Jars For Christmas (make vegan) + Workshop Announcement!IDEAS TO ASSEMBLE YOUR JARS
– Write the instructions on a small scroll that you can roll up and tie to the jar, rather than on the lable, so you’ll have more space.
– I used Weck Jars, but feel free to use ones with screw caps (which Weck has, by the way).
– Use a pretty ribbon to tie the jars, and add a simple piece of fir to finish it off. You could even cover the caps of the jars with a piece of fabric and tie it with the ribbon, á la Christine Ferber.
– Gift the jars along with another jar of toasted hazelnuts in honey or maple syrup, or along a vintage cup to drink the chocolate in! Or bake some cookies to go with it for a full treat (there will be cookies on this blog very soon!!)

Superfood Hot Chocolate Jars For Christmas (make vegan) + Workshop Announcement!Superfood Hot Chocolate Jars For Christmas (make vegan) + Workshop Announcement!Superfood Hot Chocolate Jars For Christmas (make vegan) + Workshop Announcement!Superfood Hot Chocolate Jars For Christmas (make vegan) + Workshop Announcement!BASIC HOT CHOCOLATE FORMULA
To make hot chocolate for one person, you need one tablespoon of high quality cocoa or raw cacao powder, one teaspoon potato starch, 2 teaspoons sugar (here, I use Mascobado or coconut), about 5 grams chocolate and 1/2 cup to 1 cup milk of choice, depending on how thick you like it. You can add vanilla and a pinch of sea salt.
The recipes below serve 4 people for each jar, but you could of course make bigger jars by doubling the recipes. You could also omit the sugar for an even healthier option, and write instructions to sweeten as preferred. The chocolate will be rather bitter with no sweetener though, so use a little bit of it!
This is Italian style hot chocolate, which is served rather thick, hence the potato starch. You could even leave it out and obtain a regular liquid chocolate, but where’s the fun then? It’s so little potato starch that I’m not even going to label it as unhealthy.
If adding superfoods, make sure that they do not interfere with any medical condition the person you’re gifting it to might have. If you’re not 100% sure, just leave superfoods like maca out.
Here, I made my two favorite flavors, dark spiced and rose milk. But you could add dried citrus peel to make dark citrus chocolate, or add freeze-dried raspberries to make raspberry chocolate…the possibilities are endless.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Superfood Hot Chocolate Jars For Christmas + Workshop Announcement!
 
Ingredients
FOR THE DARK SPICED CHOCOLATE
  • 4 heaping tablespoons cacao powder
  • 4 teaspoons potato starch
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • Pinch sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon maca powder
  • Optional: ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 50 grams dark chocolate (choose 60% to 70% cocoa mass) - make sure it is dairy free o keep this vegan
  • ½ a vanilla bean
  • A 1-inch piece of cinnamon
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 small piece Macis
FOR THE MILK ROSE CHOCOLATE
  • 4 heaping tablespoons cacao powder
  • 4 teaspoons potato starch
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • ½ teaspoon rose hip powder
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 50 grams vegan milk chocolate or regular milk chocolate
  • ½ a vanilla bean
  • 4-5 dries rose buds
FOR SERVING:
  • Whipped coconut cream or regular whipped cream
Instructions
ASSEMBLE THE JARS
  1. layer all the ingredients in the listed order. close the jars tight and attach a label with instructions.
MAKE THE CHOCOLATE
  1. Each jar serves 4 people. For one person, you will need ½ cup to one whole cup liquid, depending on how thick you want your chocolate.
  2. Fish out the whole spices or rose buds and add them to 2 to 4 cup of your favorite milk. Heat the milk until barely simmering, and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let cool slightly, letting the spices or the rosebuds steep for at least 15 minutes. It would be even better to let the milk infuse overnight.
  3. When ready, pour the chocolate mix in a pot, and whisk in slowly about ½ cup of the milk (make sure it is warm) and whisk well to make a paste. Turn on the heat to medium, and gradually whisk in the rest of the milk. As the chocolate gets to a simmer, it will start to thicken. Keep whisking or stirring constantly. When desired thickness is reached, turn off the heat and serve immediately with coconut or regular cream, a sprinkling of cinnamon, and sugar pearls for decoration.

 

Happy gifting!

Are you making anything jarred for Christmas?

Superfood Hot Chocolate Jars For Christmas (make vegan) + Workshop Announcement!

Almond Crostata (Tart) With Ricotta & Jam Filling from Naturally Vegetarian

Naturally Vegetarian is up for grabs on Amazon or on all these other places

Almond Crostata (Tart) With Ricotta & Jam Filling from Naturally Vegetarian

I bought three bushes of ancient roses last spring, the kind you can use for cooking: I imagine that, if the garden of Eden had flowers, they must have been mostly these roses: their smell is inebriating and their strength seems to disregard all seasons and weather conditions.
‘These are bushes of Quatre Saisons and Meilland,’ said the attendant at the rose garden. ‘They are very resistant, and will bloom, and bloom, and bloom again…’
And so they did. As ice started creeping in the garden and bead their leaves in early mornings, their flowers still kept opening.

I did not think these could bloom so abundantly in November. Cold and Christmas are fast approaching, and yet here we are, fooling this late fall with May-like smell of roses. I made jam out of them, and I’ll be drinking green tea and remembering the warm weather, the light of spring, and streets crowded with tourists. I’ll hope I can bloom in bad weather and in the cold, just like they do.

Almond Crostata (Tart) With Ricotta & Jam Filling from Naturally VegetarianAlmond Crostata (Tart) With Ricotta & Jam Filling from Naturally VegetarianAlmond Crostata (Tart) With Ricotta & Jam Filling from Naturally Vegetarian

I already wrote this little something on Instagram, but I feel like repeating it here as well, since it links so well with the idea of roses blooming in the cold: last day during boxing class, one of the boys asked the instructor when he would get a chance to compete on the ring. The instructor told him that he had some more training to do, because competing on the ring meant real punches, and a real, painful defeat.
‘But I want to go!’ he insisted. ‘I feel ready.’ And you know when you’re young and clueless and feel invincible and you do not realize that someone is going to kick your a$$ and you want to do whatever you want to do no matter what it takes. 
And I thought about when that same conversation happened between me and my parents when I was his age – about 17 – and I thought that a willing mind and spirit should be encouraged to go and, perhaps, fail. Young people, and people in general, who want to achieve something, need not someone to warn them about the dangers. They need someone who will still warn them, but won’t be scared to watch them fail, and be there when they need to stand up again to tell them that the next time will be better. 
I retrospect, I would have made this book entirely differently. I’m sure I’ll be able to do better than this, one day. And, once your first deed is done, you will inevitably look back and think that you could have done better, were you better prepared. But it was your first experience and you didn’t know, and now you do, and you’ll do better. Even under the worst conditions. Just like that boy on the ring. Just like the roses on my garden.

So, for now, I can say I kicked my first a$$.
Thanks to all of you who bought the book and keep tagging me and sending me photos of the dishes and the book itself!! Keep them coming and, if you love the book, make sure to leave an Amazon review!

Almond Crostata (Tart) With Ricotta & Jam Filling from Naturally Vegetarian

This one has seemed to be one of the most successful recipes in the book, and no wonder it is – it is delicious and one of my favorite desserts. Here is the caption straight from the book…

Crostata is probably the dessert we’ve baked most in our household throughout the years. It’s easy to make, requires ingredients that are always in the pantry, and for us, it’s always a great way to finish up a jar of homemade jam that’s been sitting in my grandma’s fridge for too long. A sort of Italian version of a tart, crostata differs from its French counterpart in that it is puffier and crumblier – that is why the recipe includes baking soda. It is usually filled with jam, but you can also use seasonal fruit. The crust is very versatile and so it’s easy to swap in other delicious fillings like pear and chocolate, apples and fig jam, or any other jam or fruit you fancy.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Ricotta & Jam Almond Tart (Crostata) from Naturally Vegetarian
 
Ingredients
FOR THE CRUST
  • /2 cup / 2.8 oz / 80 g whole wheat flour (see note)
  • ½ cup + 1 tablespoon / 2.8 oz / 80 g rice flour
  • ½ cup + 3 tbsp / 2.5 oz / 70 g almond flour,
  • 3 tbsp / 1 oz / 30 g potato starch
  • ½ cup / 3.5 oz / 100 g whole dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 40 g cold unsalted butter
  • 1 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Zest from 1 small lemon
  • Almond or regular milk, if needed
FOR THE FILLING
  • 1 ½ cup / 10.5 oz / 300 g fresh ricotta cheese
  • 4 tablespoons whole dark brown sugar or honey
  • 1 large egg, separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cup cherry jam, strawberry jam or any other jam you love
Instructions
MAKE THE CRUST
  1. Combine all the ingredients for the crust except the milk in a food processor and process until the dough comes together. (You can also make the dough in a bowl and just knead with your hands.) Scrape it out and knead it briefly to incorporate any flour that may not have been combined. If the dough is crumbly, add milk by the teaspoons until it comes together. The dough should feel wet, but not really sticky. Let it rest for at least 30 minutes, or prepare it the night before and refrigerate.
  2. When ready, press the dough evenly into a 10 inch tart pan, and set aside in the fridge while you prepare the filling.
MAKE THE FILLING
  1. Combine the egg yolk, sugar or honey and vanilla in a bowl, and beat in a stand mixer or with a handheld mixer for at least 5 minutes, until the mixture is foamy and has tripled in size. Add half the ricotta and beat. Add the other half once the first half is creamy and smooth.
  2. In another clean, dry bowl, beat the egg white until stiff. Mix ⅓ of the egg whites into the ricotta mixture and, once fully incorporated, gently fold in the rest.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 F˚ / 180 C˚.
  4. Take the crust out of the fridge and spread ½ the cup of jam on the bottom. Spread the ricotta mixture on top, then dollop on the rest of the jam and ‘marble’ it with the spoon or spatula you are using. Sprinkle with almond slivers and bake until the ricotta is set and the crust is golden, 35 to 45 minutes depending on your oven.
  5. When the crostata is ready, the crust will feel soft to the touch and it might seem undercooked, but if it has browned on top it is done- if you leave it in the oven too long, it might turn a little tough. Test it with a toothpick and, if the toothpick comes out dry, it is ready. Turn off the oven and let it set for 5 more minutes before removing.
  6. Wait for it to cool before unmolding and slicing, as crostata is very crumbly when hot.

 

Almond Crostata (Tart) With Ricotta & Jam Filling from Naturally Vegetarian

Fennel Salad with Oranges, Toasted Almonds and Lemon Thyme (from Naturally Vegetarian)

You can get my book, where you can find many simple, Mediterranean, vegetarian and vegan recipes, by clicking here!

This is an ode to fennel, one of the most beautiful winter vegetables and, indeed, the most elegant. Fennel id the vegetable of this nostalgic time of mist hanging over the fields and veiling the sun, coating all the hair-thin fronds in pearly droplets and frosting the grass at 6 AM. Fennel is the offspring of this fall/winter mood, that finally seems to have stricken Italy after one of the warmest, driest Octobers since my birth.

Fennel Salad with Oranges, Toasted Almonds and Lemon ThymeFennel Salad with Oranges, Toasted Almonds and Lemon ThymeFennel Salad with Oranges, Toasted Almonds and Lemon Thyme (from Naturally Vegetarian)

I had this salad for the first time in the most interesting context: I was at a dinner organized in a theater, and they put tables instead of seats, and we ate as a mini-show went on to accompany each course. The show was absolutely beautiful (and so was the setting), but this salad is one of the things that hit me the most.

Fennel, orange and good extra virgin olive oil is a very Italian combo, and what better time to make this salad, now that new, freshly pressed, emerald green olive oil is out?
I added lemon thyme and szechuan pepper for a fancy kick, but you can skip both and use regular pepper instead. Olives are often added to this salad, and, if you’re not vegan, some pecorino shavings round this up beautifully.

To make it a full meal, add something like quinoa or any other form of protein that fits your diet – this salad goes well with pretty much anything (especially fatty fish if you’re not plant based).

Do you like fennel? What is your favorite recipe with it?

Printable recipe:

4.0 from 1 reviews
Fennel Salad with Oranges, Toasted Almonds and Lemon Thyme
 
Author:
Cuisine: Italian
Ingredients
  • 2 medium oranges (or, even better, blood oranges)
  • 3 medium fennel bulbs, thinly shaved
  • ¼ cup toasted almonds or other nuts
  • Fruity extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice or lemon juice
  • Salt to taste
  • Two short sprigs lemon thyme
  • Pinch Szechuan or regular pepper
  • Extras: your favorite olives, Pecorino shavings
Instructions
  1. Peel the oranges with a paring knife so you can get rid of the white part as well. Cut them lenghtwise into thin wedges, or cut the oranges crosswise as to show the sections of the oranges, which look beautiful.
  2. Toss the shaved fennel and sliced oranges in a bowl with plenty of extra virgin olive oil, the lemon or orange juice, torn leaves from the lemon thyme, salt to taste and pepper.
  3. Serve the salad in individual bowls and sprinkle on top the toasted almonds or nuts, and olives and pecorino if using.

 

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