Elsa’s Berry Cupcakes

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After quite a few years of cooking and developing recipes, we have managed to build up a little bit of confidence and don’t panic over kitchen fails or people’s opinions as easily anymore. But whenever our daughter asks me to bake for a few of her friends, my palms get all sweaty and my heart starts pounding. Seriously, nothing makes me more nervous than having to bake for a bunch of five- and six-year-olds.

Elsa is finishing preschool this summer and her favourite teacher is also retiring, so last week she wanted to bake a dessert for all the children and teachers at the preschool. She started out with grand plans for a big cake shaped like a princess but (luckily for me) we landed on mini cupcakes with a raspberry frosting. We had just bought a mini muffin pan and it was the perfect opportunity to try it out as we got a lot of muffins from one batch so it was enough for all the children and teachers.

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These muffins are really delicious and moist with hints of coconut, banana, almonds and cardamom. It’s one of our go-to recipes that we change slightly every time. They are only sweetened with fruit and entirely gluten free (and we are aslo sharing a vegan version below). If you are allergic to nuts, you can blend (100 g / 3 1/12 oz) sunflower seeds and use instead of the almond flour.

Whenever Elsa initiates one of these baking sessions, she always starts with lots of enthusiasm only to loose interest after about 45 seconds, leaving us to do the actual work. This time she was much more persistent. She measured, blended, worked the batter and dropped it into the muffin tins. Halfway through the batch, we also started dropping a raspberry in the centre of each muffin and they turned out even better with that little berry pocket in the middle. Piping the frosting was the hardest bit. Elsa was utterly disappointed that hers didn’t turn out as pretty as the ones she had seen on our screens. But towards the end they at least started looking better than in the beginning.

Since that first batch, we have made this recipe two more times. One time to check all the measurements and another time so we could try a vegan version. We are sharing both methods here below. You can of course also make normal size muffins and skip the frosting if you want to keep it simple.

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On another note, today we celebrate Midsummer in Sweden. We are going to be enjoying the last of these cupcakes and then we are off to find a maypole covered with flowers so we can jump like frogs around it! You think I am kidding? I am not.

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Banana & Coconut Cupcakes with Raspberry Pockets
Makes 24 mini cupcakes or 12 regular

Dry ingredients
100 g / 1 cup almond flour
120 g / 3/4 cup rice flour
45 g / 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp freshly ground cardamom
1/2 tsp vanilla powder
1 pinch salt

Wet ingredients
14 soft dates (1 cup / 150 g), stones removed (if using dried dates, soak them for an hour first)
1 ripe banana, peeled and cut into large chunks
4 tbsp coconut oil or butter, room tempered
180 ml / ¾ cup plain yogurt or plant based yogurt
3 eggs (for a vegan version soak 3 tbsp chia seeds in 9 tbsp water for 15 minutes, stir around and use instead of the eggs)

24 raspberries (fresh or frozen)

Berry Frosting (recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F. Grease a muffin tin (mini or regular size) or line it with paper or silicon cup liners. Place all of the dry ingredients in a bowl, stir together and set aside. Add the dates to a food processor and blend on high speed. When smooth, add the banana and coconut oil and blend again. Finally add yogurt and eggs and blend until smooth and entirely mixed. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with dry ingredients and stir together. Drop the batter into the muffin tins, place 1-2 raspberries in the centre of each muffin and cover it with batter. Bake for 10 minutes (17-20 minutes if you are using normal size muffins) or until golden and just set. Prepare the frosting while the muffins are in the oven. Leave the muffins to cool before piping the frosting on top. Serve immediately or store in the fridge.

Berry Frosting
70 g / ½ cup raspberries (or strawberries)
3-4 soft dates, stoned
200 g cream cheese (or vegan cream cheese)

Mix raspberries and dates in a food processor or with a hand blender until completely smooth. Whisk the berry mixture together with the cream cheese in a medium size bowl until pink and smooth. Scoop the frosting into a piping bag. Place it in the fridge for 20 minutes (or longer) to firm up before piping the frosting on top of the cupcakes.

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4 o'clock No-bake Energy Bites

Energy bites aren’t a new thing, but if you’re a person that grabs commercial power bars regularly, and you’re not already on board, give these a try as a DIY alternative. I make them for a 4 o’clock late afternoon snack to reach for when I’m at the studio, but they’re also a great travel option. Kids love them. Adults love them. The best part is that you’re in control of the ingredients, and they’re a breeze to make. That said, I deploy a few, small, but (I’ll argue) significant personal preferences when I set out to make energy bites. Most recipes tend to use raw coconut flakes, and raw oats. I find a light toasting of both is worth the slight extra effort. I also like chia seeds here, and tend to use them as my seed of choice, but I first beat them up in a mortar and pestle a bit before adding them to the mix. Also, feel free to swap things up a bit – trade in alternate seeds, use whatever sweetener you prefer, add spices if you like, or an alternative nut butter, or keep things simple, and just go with this version – Enjoy! —I posted the recipe here—….

No-bake Energy Bites
No-bake Energy Bites

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Favorite Summer Recipes

As I was updating my favorite summer drinks list this morning, it occurred to me that a round-up of favorite summer recipes might be helpful as well. I’ll keep it short, summer-friendly recipes I have a special fondness for, and revisit regularly. xo! -h

Heirloom Tomato Salad

Heirloom Tomato Salad: Please give this a try – it’s incredibly delicious. Particularly when tomato season is at its peak. Made with roasted and ripe tomatoes, capers, mozzarella, almonds, and chives. A+!

A Nice Berry Pie

A Nice Berry Pie: My go-to berry pie recipe – a rye flour crust and mixed berry filling seasoned with fresh thyme leaves. It’s the pie I bake most often!

Quick Pickled Zucchini

Quick Pickled Zucchini: I make these coin-shaped zucchini pickles every summer. They’re quick to make, great to have on hand, and I don’t bother canning them. Delicious on crusty, goat-cheese slathered grilled bread (or just about anything cheesy or crunchy) and simple salads.

Fourth of July Salsa Recipe

Fourth of July Roasted Tomato Salsa: A deliciously vibrant, earthy, and slightly smoky-tasting salsa recipe. Different from salsa fresca, the deep, caramelized flavors of the roasted tomatoes and onions alongside the smokiness of the chipotles make for a richly beautiful and balanced salsa.

TLT Sandwich

TLT Sandwich (done on the grill):A vegetarian TLT sandwich inspired by the classic BLT sandwich. This version includes chipotle-marinated tempeh alongside oven-roasted cherry tomatoes, a bit of shredded lettuce, and a generous avocado slather on a thin slice (or two) of great bread.

Guacamole

Guacamole:My philosophy on great guacamole – you have to go off-recipe. Because, quite frankly, it’s all about the in-between steps, decisions, and knowing when avocados are at their best.

Summer Berry Crisp

Summer Berry Crisp: A favorite summer berry crisp – ripe berries cook into a thick, jammy, wine-spiked fruit sludge beneath a crispy, oat-flecked top.

Favorite Grilled Kabob Recipe

Favorite Grilled Kabobs: A kabob recipe featuring grilled mushrooms, lemons, tofu red onions and a delicious red pepper walnut slather – muhammara.

Pluot Summer Salad

Pluot Summer Salad: A pluot-based fruit salad, with toasted ginger, garlic, and shallots. It is drizzled with a simple lime soy sauce dressing, and is generously flecked with herbs – in this case, mint, basil, and cilantro.

Sopa Verde de Elote

Sopa Verde de Elote: There is an wonderful Sopa Verde de Elote (green corn soup) in Diana Kennedy’s Recipes from the Regional Cooks of Mexico published in 1978, I used it as inspiration for this variation – sweet corn and peas are off-set by a spike of green chile, a finishing dollop of creme fraiche, and generous squeeze of lime.

Herbal Rice Salad with Peanuts

Herbal Rice Salad with Peanuts: An herb-packed rice salad recipe with peanuts, toasted coconut, and a strong boost of fresh lime. A recipe to keep in your back pocket this summer.

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Fruit Salad with Thai Herbs

We’re ramping up to peak summer fruit season here in San Francisco. I thought I was covered after stocking up at the weekend market, but had a bonus windfall thanks to this thoughtful lady. It is fruit madness in the refrigerator. I’m looking at tiny black raspberries, the sweetest blueberries, cherries, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, and pluots. No complaints. Those of you who have been reading for a while know I love a quick fruit salad, particularly if it has a little wink, or twist, or surprise. One of my past favorites is this version made with plump strawberries, sweet cherries, lemon zest, and coriander brown sugar. Today I decided to throw together a new version using lemongrass, lemon and lime juices, and plenty of mint. Toasted walnuts added a bit of crunch. Give it a try, the honey-lemongrass dressing with mint works not only in this summer version, but with other fruit combinations as well.

Fruit Salad with Thai Herbs

If you live in a more tropical environment, I imagine a pineapple and mango version would be incredible. Enjoy! -h

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Epic Summer Salad

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Ever since Isac learnt how to walk and talk, he and his sister have become like two asteroids, constantly spinning around each other with a kind of magnetic force keeping them both together and apart. If one of them goes in a new direction or another room or starts playing with new toys, the other one follows. It’s a special kind of bond between siblings that oftenthough not always is wonderful to watch. Whenever they get too close, friction starts to build between them and within seconds the happiest of laughs has turned into the saddest of cries. My sister and I were the same, although, truth be told, we were more like two meteorites on a colliding course every day. I look at Elsa and Isac playing together, try to mediate when they fight and comfort them when they cry. And then I try envisioning what it will be like when another, smaller asteroid enters their orbits and takes part in that spinning dance around each other. I imagine more cries. More fights. And more laughter.

To be honest, all change frightens me. It’s in my nature – in love with what we have now and scared of how the future will be. Although for some weird reason, Luise’s and my life tend to always be in a constant state of change, with our work, our family, our travels and our home. At this point, I have almost gotten used to it. I try to swallow my fear, telling myself that change makes life more interesting. I am quite certain it’s going to be challenging with a new baby, but as long as we get laughter along with the cries, I think we are going to be alright.

I won’t be able to make a clever connection between today’s recipe and my ramblings about siblings and change. What is on our minds and on our plates sometimes simply don’t match, so let’s just move on to the recipe.

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We have been working on and off with Stockholm based food store Urban Deli during the last two years, turning some of our recipes into healthy takeaway boxes. This summer salad is our latest edition and it turned out so epic that we wanted to share the recipe here on the blog as well.

We have built the salad on a delicious base of mixed cauliflower, quinoa, sweet peas and a herb vinaigrette, which makes it both light and nourishing at the same time. It’s then topped with our favourite produce of the season – asparagus, strawberries, radishes, mixed lettuce and avocado. The salad is finished off with labneh balls, which is a strained yogurt based cheese that adds a tangy creaminess to the mix, as well as pumpkin seeds for some crunch. It’s a real treat and it looks really summery too.

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Quinoa & Cauliflower Salad with Labneh, Asparagus & Strawberries
Serves 4

Labneh can be found in delis or Middle-Eastern food stores. We have provided instructions on how to make labneh at home. It takes at least 24h, but if you want to make this salad today you can also replace the labneh with feta cheese or dollops of thick yogurt. Or simply leave it out.

100 g / 1/2 cup uncooked white quinoa
250 ml / 1 cup water + a pinch sea salt
1/2 cauliflower head + boiling water
1 cup / 150 g sweet green peas (thawed frozen works fine too)

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut in 3 pieces
5 radishes
2 avocados
4 tbsp pumpkin seeds
250 g / 1 1/2 cups strawberries
70-100 g / 3 cups loosely packed mixed baby lettuce, rinsed
12-16 mini labneh balls (see instructions below)

Herb vinaigrette:
10 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked
10 sprigs mint, leaves picked
60 ml / 1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 lemon, juice
1 tbsp applecider vinegar
sea salt & pepper

Preparing the quinoa and cauliflower: Place rinsed quinoa in a saucepan, add water and salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat immediately and simmer for about 10-15 minutes, set aside and let cool. Coarsely chop the cauliflower and place the florets and stem in a food processor or blender and process until fine rice-like texture. Do it in batches if you have a small food processor. Place the ‘rice’ in a fine mesh strainer and pour over boiling water (use an electric kettle), let drain and cool. Meanwhile make the herb vinaigrette. Finely chop parsley and mint and place in a glass jar. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to mix. Season to taste. When both quinoa and cauliflower ‘rice’ are completely cold, combine them with peas and half of the herb vinaigrette in a large mixing bowl. Then prepare the rest of the salad ingredients.

Assembling the salad: Steam or cook the asparagus for 1-2 minutes. Thinly shave the radishes and cube the avocados. Heat a dry frying pan and lightly toast the pumpkin seeds for a couple of minutes on medium heat. Slice the strawberries. Assemble the salad by arranging the quinoa cauliflower mixture on a large serving platter. Scatter with asparagus, radishes, avocados, pumpkin seeds, strawberries and lettuce. Arrange labneh balls over the top and place a small jar of the leftover herb vinaigrette.

Labneh
2 cups Greek yogurt
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil

Place a large sieve or a colander over a bowl and line it with a cheese cloth, muslin or any thin cloth. Add salt to the yogurt and stir around so it’s evenly distributed. Scoop the yogurt into the middle of the cheesecloth. Gather the edges so the yogurt is covered and tie a string around the cloth. Leave it in the sieve and place in the fridge for 24 hours up to 3 days. The longer it stands, the firmer the labneh will become. If you are using it as a spread, 24 hours is usually enough. Let it sit in the sieve for another day if you are making labneh balls. Gently squeeze out any excess liquid into the bowl. Shape balls or serve it in a jar on the side with a drizzle of olive oil and some black pepper or dukkah on top.

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In case you live in Stockholm or are visiting this summer and feel too summer-lazy to cook this yourself, you can pick up this salad at any of Urban Deli’s stores. Radishes are swapped for pickled red onion for storage reasons but apart from that it’s pretty damn close to our original recipe.

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PS! One last thing. We just wanted to mention that TODAY is official UK publication day for Green Kitchen Smoothies! We have posted a bunch of short videos on our youtube channel, showcasing how to do some of the smoothies. And more is on the way. If you haven’t ordered our book already here is a link to it on Amazon!