I use, whenever possible, ingredients that are unrefined and as close as possible to their natural state.

Spelt is an ancient whole grain with several references found in the Bible. It contains less gluten than wheat flour and has a higher content of protein. These recipes are not suitable for those diagnosed with celiac disease but may be ideal to reduce the gluten content in any diet. Those with a mild wheat intolerance usually find spelt flour easier to digest.

Spelt flour adds a distinct nutty flavour when used to replace wheat flour in baking. It is nearly a pleasure to knead spelt dough, because it is like running your fingers through silk or satin. The taste and texture is more refined and delicate than any other whole grain flour.

To substitute wheat flour with spelt flour in a cake recipe, add 1 tbsp cornflour and 1 extra tsp baking powder to every 200g of spelt flour. If necessary add extra water, one tbsp at a time, to achieve a dropping consistency.

To make pastry using spelt, simply add 1 tbsp of cornflour to every 200g of spelt flour and gradually add water, a little at a time until the dough binds together.  Do not mix or knead too much as over-processing may create a dense result.

Baked Courgette and Mint Fritters

You will need:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp spelt flour
3 eggs
1 finely chopped onion
150g grated mature white ġbejna
4 tbsp chopped fresh mint
A pinch of dried mint
4 courgettes, grated coarsely
4 medium potatoes
10 black olives, stone removed and finely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Photos: Stefan Stafrace, Felix Cesar, Gino GaleaPhotos: Stefan Stafrace, Felix Cesar, Gino Galea

To dust the fritters: More spelt flour
To brush fritters pre-baking: more olive oil
a flat non-stick dish prepared with baking spray

Grate the courgettes from the coarse side of the grater.

Place the grated courgette in a clean tea towel and roll them up. Leave to rest for half an hour and then squeeze out the water. Remove from the dish cloth and place in a large bowl.

Chop the onion finely and sauté it in a tablespoon of olive oil on gentle heat until it becomes translucent. Remove from heat and place on kitchen towel to soak up any excess oil.

Cook the potatoes whole with the skin on by boiling them or in the microwave. If you are boiling them, drain the water and leave them in a colander to drip and remove any excess water. Allow to cool before peeling. Grate the potatoes from the coarse side of the grater.

Place the grated potatoes with the courgettes in the mixing bowl. Add all the other ingredients and mix gently without breaking up the vegetables as this will give it a lighter texture.

Refrigerate for half an hour.

Prepare an oven dish by brushing it very lightly with olive oil.

Dust your hands with spelt flour and form patties. Lightly dust the patties with sifted spelt flour and shake off.

Place on the oven tray.

Bake in a pre-heated hot oven at 200 ° C for 25 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the fritters over and brush the other side lightly with olive oil before returning them to the oven. Bake until they are crisp and golden. If you like them extra crispy, bake in the oven for an extra 5 minutes.

Serve the fritters with tzaziki. If you are in a rush, simply mix some plain yoghurt with fresh mint, a pinch of dried mint and some sea salt and freshly ground pepper and use as a dipping sauce.

Chicken Spelt Muffins with Ricotta

150g cooked chicken pieces (you can also use left over chicken bits)
275g spelt flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 eggs
200ml water
70g ricotta
1 small onion
1/4 tsp Provence Herbs
50g cheddar and 50g white ġbejna
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 180 ° C.

Peel the onion and chop finely. Sauté in 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

Sift the flour. Add the baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and pepper and herbs.

Place the ricotta and eggs in a large bowl. Use a hand blender to make a smooth puree.

Add the chicken pieces to the flour and mix gently to cover the chicken with a light coating of flour. Season with salt and pepper.

Add half the grated cheese.

Use a large metal spoon to gently mix in the dry ingredients with the egg and ricotta mixture. Do not over-mix.

Add enough water, little by little until you have a dropping consistency.

Line a muffin tray with paper cases.

Fill the muffin cases with the mixture.

Sprinkle the rest of the grated cheese on the top.

Bake at 180 ° C for 15 to 20 minutes.

Allow to cool before removing from the muffin tray.

Spelt Madeira Hazelnut Cake

You will need:
200g mascarpone
200g brown sugar or you can use stevia and check the conversation information on the packaging
250g spelt flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp organic apple vinegar
2 tbsp cornflour
100g ground hazelnuts
5 eggs
Vanilla
Grated zest of an orange and a lemon
For the white ganache topping: 300ml double cream and 400g white chocolate

Preheat the oven to 160 °C. Grease and line a 20cm loose bottom cake tin with baking paper.

Cream the mascarpone and sugar by using an electric mixer. Beat until the mixture appears creamy and consistent. Add the eggs and carry on beating. Add the citrus zest, organic apple vinegar and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, sift the spelt flour. Add the baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, corn flour and almonds.

Use a large metal spoon to fold in the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients.

Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes. During the last 10 minutes lower the heat to 150 ° C. Leave to cool completely in the cake tin before preparing the topping.

For the ganache: Heat the cream until it is almost boiling. Remove from the heat. Stir and add the white chocolate. Keep stirring until the chocolate melts and the mixture is consistent. Allow to cool a little but while it is still warm pour the chocolate mixture over the cooled down cake while it is in the cake tin.

Just before serving remove the cake from the tin and carefully peel off the parchment paper so that you get a clean line between the cake and the chocolate layer.

Lea’s Good Food Everyday is aired live in English every Friday at 4.10pm and 9pm on Smash TV. You can find more of Lea’s recipes on her blog www.goodfoodeveryday.wordpress.com and on www.timesofmalta.com.

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