Gluten-free carrot coconut spiced cake


Can gluten free cake be as good as “normal” cake? Well, it depends… in this case, it was. It is also a very long list of ingredients to make it taste like and feel like cake. Worthwhile the effort? Well, yes. It was pretty good cake, with a unusual texture. The beasts My lovely co-workers had it all in a single meeting… I still have to let them know this was a specially healthy version of what they usually get…

Carrot cake (gluten free; adapted from Dias com Mafalda blog)


  • 100g of brown or unrefined sugar
  • 100mL of vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 3 slightly beaten eggs
  • 3 grated carrots
  • 1 grated apple
  • 100g of crated cocunut
  • 100g raisin
  • the zest of one orange and 1 tablespoon of orange juice
  • 175g gluten-free flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 of powdered clove.



Grease a loaf tin and preheat the oven to 180oC

Combine the sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs with  wooden spoon. Fold in the grated carrots, apple and coconut together with the raisins, the orange zest and juice. On top of this mix, sift the flour, the spices, baking-powder and baking soda.

Put the batter in the tin  and transfer to the oven. Let it bake for about 20min. Test with a knife before taking it out – it should come out dry.

Take it out from the tin while still hot, and let it cool down before serving.

Chickpeas and feta cheese patties


Super healthy, gluten-free and  protein packed. Also very tasty… The perfect thing  to have on stand by for a weekday meal or a snack.

Chickpeas and feta cheese patties (adapted from Mafalda Pinto Leite’s blog)


  • 100g feta cheese
  • ½ grated onion (optional)
  • 1 small courgette grated
  • 2 small carrots peeled and grated
  • ½ teaspoon cumins, roasted
  • 1 teaspoon lemon (or lume) zest
  • 2 400g chickpeas tin, drained and washed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

To serve

  • leafy salad
  • plain yoghurt


Put the cheese, cumin, lemon zest, chickpeas, and the grated onion, carrots and courgette in a mixer. Mix until you have a coarse consistent puree, still with some chunks.

Make small patties with your hands.  Put in the fridge and let them cool until cooking time.

To fry, heat the olive oil until pipping hot and drop in a couple of  patties. Be careful not to add too many, otherwise they will boil. Sauté about 2 minutes on each side, until golden brow.

Serve with a leafy salad and plain yoghurt.

Barley, beetroot and feta salad


It is the return of #beetrootgate…. It has been a while – maybe a bit too much. The recipe is from Mafalda Pinto Leite, who as of late has been working on a healthy recipes withe healthy ingredients and healthy cooking methods.  Sometimes, like this barley salad, with delicious results. A very good salad for the Summer, refreshing and comforting at the same time.

Barley, beetroot and feta salad (adapted from Mafalda Pinto Leite’s blog Dias com Mafalda)


1 cup of barley
1/3 cups of toasted sun flower seeds
1 small beetroot
1 grated carrot
50g of grated feta cheese

1 crushed garlic clove
2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons of lemon
1/3 cup of lemon
¼ cup of  torn basil leaves


Cook the barley according to the instructions on the packet, until it is tender. Cool down with cold water and drain. Reserve.

For the dressing, put all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk. Alternatively, just put them all in closed bottle and shake.

To serve, put the barley in a salad bowl and mix with all the vegetables and cheese. Add the dressing, salt and pepper to taste and mix well.


Fish wrapped in ham with crushed peas and warm tomato

Another MaMafalda Pinto Leite’s Cozinha Para Quem Não Tem Tempo [Cooking for those who have no time]. It is quick, easy and a spectacular combination of flavors. I was a bit too slow, but the author probably only set up the alarm clock once she got all the ingredients prepared. Still, it is worthwhile doing it.

Fish wrapped in ham with crushed peas and warm tomatoes


  • 4 rosemary springs
  • 4 white fish firm fillets (I used fresh cod)
  • 4 prosciutto or jamón slices
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 leek cut in slices (only the white parts)
  • 2 tomatoes finely chopped
  • 2 cups of frozen peas
  • 1/2 of vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons chopped minth
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Put the rosemary springs on top of each fish fillet. Pepper it. Wrap each fillet with one ham slice.

Heat half the olive oil in a frying pan in medium-high heat. When it is hot, put the fish in, and cook for 4 minutes or until it is done. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Fold the tomato into the same frying pan and cook for about 1 minute or until it is warm.

In the meanwhile, heat the other half of the olive oil in a medium size sauce pan. When it is pipping hot, fold in the sliced leeks and sauté until they are soft. Poor in the stock and let it boil. Then, add the peas and bring to boil for about 6min. When ready, add the mint, salt and pepper to taste. Crush the peas.

Serve the fish together with the tomato and the crushed peas.

Chestnut soup with rosemary pesto

Still bitterly cold in Zurich. The type of weather that calls for a hearty soup to keep you warm… Randomly found this recipe in Mafalda Pinto Leite’s Cozinha Para Quem Não Tem Tempo [Cooking for those who have no time]. The combination of flavors looked exactly what I was looking for and I even fancied chestnuts, for whatever obscure metabolical reasons. You cannot wrong with this recipe, but this gets hardly done in the 30min she claims it take.  The original recipe called for 150mL of cream to be added at the end. I found it a bit excessive and replaced the cream an equivalent quantity of chicken stock.

It was really good and soul warming. And, it is really worthwhile to make the rosemary… it just gives the soup a little punch, making it more interesting.

Chestnut soup with rosemary pesto

Ingredients for the soup

  • 800g of peeled chestnuts (I used frozen ones)
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil – about 120 mL
  • 2 yellow onions chopped
  • 3 celery sticks sliced
  • 125g bacon slices, shredded
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 red skin potato
  • 1,5L chicken stock

Ingredients for the rosemary pesto

  • 1 table spoon of finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 20g pinenuts
  • salt
  • 40g of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 100 mL olive oil.


Heat the olive oil in a big saucepan until it shimmers. Add the onion, celery, bacon and garlic. Cook for 10min or until the onion get soft and the mix start to color.

Add the chestnuts, the potato and the garlic. Add in salt and pepper to taste.

Bring it to boil, cover, and then let it simmer for about 25min, or until all ingredients are  soft.

In the meanwhile, start the pesto. Put the rosemary, garlic and pinenuts in a mixer. Blend and after, add the cheese and the salt. Add slowly the olive oil, mixing at the same time so you get a creamy mixture.

Finally, blend in the soup (if you want to add cream, this is your chance to do it).

Serve the chestnut cream sprinkled with the pesto.

Roasted chicken with sweet potato

I had done dishes by Mafalda Pinto Leite before (here and here), and I knew she has good hand with combining different tastes and textures. Last time I was in Lisbon, I bought her book Cozinha Para Quem Não Tem Tempo [Cooking for those who have no time], to give it a try. Now that I have a regular office job again, it seemed like a good idea to have a bunch of recipes that are easy, quick and good all together. This was my first dish out of that book, and I have to say it seems I only got the last one right…. It is indeed an excellent combination of flavors and it  warms your soul. However, it actually took way longer than she claimed and the recipe was a bit confusing. Nothing a good cook cannot fix, but nevertheless, a bit lame…  Still worthwhile redoing and eating for as long as the Winter is here. Mind you, I ate it all and scrapped the Pyrex.

Roasted chicken with sweet potato


  •  4 pieces of chicken (either breast or thighs)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup of chopped coriander
  • 3 baby leeks, finely sliced (or 2 regular leeks, only white parts)
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons of grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of runny honey
  • 1/3 water cup
  • 200g sweet potato, peeled and sliced
  • Olive oil to brush


Pre-heat the oven griller to medium-high

Put the garlic, coriander, baby leeks, lemon zest, ginger, soy sauce, honey and water in a tall jug or beaker. Blend in with a mixer for about 2 minutes, until is chopped but still with pieces. Poor this sauce on top of the chicken and spread well. Reserve.

Brush the sweet potato with olive oil.

Put the chicken and the sweet potatoes on an oven proof dish and grill until it is golden and cooked.

You can serve this dish with a green salad.

Apple, sage and goat cheese salad


T. brought this  warm apples, nuts, sage, goat cheese and autumn leaves salad last time she came home for dinner. “Did you know Mafalda Pinto Leite?”, she asked, while she took over the kitchen and put the salad together. “Mafalda who?” I answered. Clearly,  I was missing out on something.  The recipe is from the book Cozinha Para Quem Não Tem Tempo (in a very liberal translation from the Portuguese, Cooking for Those Who Have No Time)

Apple, sage and goat cheese salad 

Ingredients (4 persons)

  • 60g butter without salt
  • 1 tablespoon of sage leafs (no chopping needed).
  • 3 tablespoons of white vinegar (I used cherry vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar (cane sugar will also work fine)
  • 2 green apples without core and cut in quarters.
  • Half  mug of chopped nuts
  • 100g de rucola or red spinach (I used a bag of autumn leaves)
  • 150g of sliced goat cheese (the creamy one)


Put the butter, sage, vinegar and sugar in a frying pan (low heat). When the butter has melted, add the nuts and the apples and. Let cook for a few minutes or until the fruit is tender.

Make a bed of leafs in the dishes, and place the apples and the nuts on top. Reserve the juice that was left on the pan, and poor it over the nuts and apples. Finish with the sliced goat cheese.

Total time of cooking: 8 minutes-ish. Looking for the right ingredients in the cupboard: one eternity.