Last week I had lunch with the one and only Donna Hay, to celebrate the Dutch arrival of her ‘Life in Balance’ cookbook. The Australian Donna Hay is known in the entire world for her books, magazine and TV-shows that always focus on fast, fresh and easy cooking. Donna started off as a food stylist and styling still plays a big part in her work. Nowadays, her name has grown into a big company, with its own cookware, apps and stores.
In a very intimate setting in the gorgeous Villa Nicola in Amsterdam (you’d want to live there, so beautiful), Donna enthusiastically answered every question and made sure everyone was well fed, by filling all of our plates herself.
The menu was naturally based on her new book, that’s just as stunning as the last ones (with a slightly darker feel, which I love) and a focus on lighter, healthier food. For a starter, we had salmon filet with a lovely dukkah-amaranth crust, followed by an amazing roasted grain salad (my favorite) with crunchy buckwheat and cauliflower, a Middle-Eastern inspired couscous salad with pickled lemon and for dessert a flourless, dark chocolate cake. Everything extremely delicious and definitely dishes I’ll be making myself.
Although the new book offers many lighter dishes, Donna admits she isn’t much of a fan of extreme diets, food hypes or veganism (“what do those people eat?”). For her, it’s all about enjoyment and the right balance. And that balance turns out to be very delicious – believe me.
In this post I’m sharing a recipe from Donna Hay’s Fresh + Light magazine, which has the same feel as her new book. It’s this super easy chocolate peanut butter fudge, made with dates and sprinkled with a touch of sea salt, for that extra accent. Slightly sticky, with a firm bite, it’s an amazing snack with a cup of coffee. Very addictive!
14 (330 g) fresh sticky dates, pitted
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp (100 g) natural smooth peanut butter
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
2.8 oz (80 g) dark chocolate
1 tsp sea salt flakes
extra: food processor + loaf tin (8 x 4 inch or 20×10 cm), lined with non-stick baking paper
Place the dates, peanut butter and vanilla in a food processor and process for 2-3 minutes, or until smooth and the mixture comes together. Press into prepared tin and smooth with back of spoon or hands.
Melt the chocolate au-bain marie or in the microwave and pour over the fudge, smooth the top with a palette knife when necessary. Sprinkle with salt.
Freeze for 30 minutes or until firm. Cut into pieces with a hot knife and store in fridge.