Archive | July, 2012

Hello Kitty lollipops

23 Jul

(warning: this post is extremely pink)

This blog is a big fan of Hello Kitty (the kid in my just refuses to grow old). I must have spent a fortune on all things Hello Kitty and her friends. My grandma was spoiling me rotten and couldn’t deny me anything (well, I did have my ways I must say), so she was my Hello Kitty sponsor let’s say. I’ve kept everything I have ever bought, although after recent raids from my niece(s) I don’t know what there is left. But I do buy new things every now and then.

When it was time for me to make lollipops for a girlie christening, for twins and big fans of Hello Kitty, there was no debate as to what color or design I was going to use. I just had to make it work.

The recipe is the same as last time.

I ordered the Hello Kitty cookie cutters over the internet and I used sugar paste to make them, as marzipan was getting really soft to work with in this hot weather and besides, the sugar paste ones were better looking. I made them the day before and let them dry and harden (the sugar paste was white and I colored it in the shades of pink I wanted).

When making lollipops it is quite important having everything in place and ready (mise en place). While the caramel is boiling (I have trust issues so I use two thermometers) the lollipop sticks, spoons, silicon surfaces and hello kitties take their place , as there won’t be much time to look for anything later.

You need to work fast and it’s really helpful if you can get an assistant (my mom was the one for the job and she did the packaging as well).

They need some time to cool  and harden (it took about 20-30mins is very hot weather) but once they are cool they should be put in cellophane bags and wrapped tightly, otherwise they will be sticky and it’s going to be really hard to wrap them.

I made a couple of butterfly ones as well, for the boys, but it didn’t seem to matter much anyways.

If you would like to see the previous lollipops I made for my nephew’s christening, have a look here.

Melon Sorbet

17 Jul

How are you dealing with the heat?

It’s boiling out here, but compared to other countries (not too far away) we are doing ok and the temperature is not too bad (we might get used to it after some time).

I am not really in a writing mood. What with the heat, the new moon on my horoscope, the start of a new week, I feel like a zombie. I don’t want to do anything.

I made this melon sorbet this weekend and it turned out amazing, perfect to eat when you are feeling extra hot.

Mellon Sorbet

Recipe from The New York Times

Ingredients
1/4 cup (83 grams.) water
65 grams (about 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon) sugar
33 grams. ((about 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons) corn syrup (I used glucose)
680 grams (1 1/2 pounds) peeled diced melon (about 1 medium melon)
1 tBsp lime juice (optional)
Pinch of salt (optional)

In a small saucepan, combine the water and sugar bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Puree the melon with the sugar solution and remaining ingredients until smooth, in a blender or a food processor, and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Take out of the fridge, blend again in the blender (or with an immersion blender), pour the mixture into a prepared ice cream maker, following  the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to a container and place in the freezer. Allow to soften in the refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes before serving.

Lentil quinoa salad

11 Jul

My friends and people who know me, know that I tend to eat things that are not very common and popular (I am talking about this corner of the earth) and that my hobbies have included not so popular/common choices  (like dj-ing, aerial yoga, baking etc).

Baking has been the most popular, I think, and has devotees (as they get to eat loads of sweets) and also because the cooking part is usually with more “experimental” and “uncommon” ingredients (again, for the Greek standards).

In general, I have  very boring and plain meals, most of them comprise of plain salad greens (no fancy croutons or dressings), boiled vegetables, legumes and grains (if Mr. Dietitian allows me). Also, most of my meals are consumed in the office, so I need to prepare meals (at least a day before, or longer) that can be easily packed, transferred and consumed among people (so, no smelly or garlicky food for me).

I’ve drifted here a lot…. Those “uncommon” or experimental ingredients mentioned above are usually found in Asian stores or stores that carry healthy/bio foods and products. One such ingredient is quinoa which is widely popular (not so much in Greece though, but it’s becoming used more and more lately). I must have discovered it in one of my trips to Germany (I usually bring back local/unknown food stuff when I travel), but they do sell it here as well now. Dear judge G_ of course won’t go near stuff like that (usually healthy stuff), even if I try to bribe him with money or anything else.

I think he fears for his life or something and doesn’t trust me (or my food choices). It just happened though, that  I made this at some get together with friends (mostly cause I wanted to eat it and bring some of the leftovers to the office) and he decided that this salad is  “f****** amazing”. Small victories, my friends, small victories!!!! I wanted to crack open the champagne, but I restrained myself (I didn’t even have to sneak it into a recipe, nor did I “advertise” this salad to him).

Anyways…. If you have eaten quinoa, you know what to expect. If not, I hope that I might have convinced you to try it, if not, you might acquire a taste for it at some point in this life.

I made it and served in my balcony (did I mention the nearly 40C/104F weather?) drizzled with balsamic glaze,  a sprinkle of my favorite spices mix called  Toque Iberico (found in supermarkets in Spain and in my house-seriously if you ever go to Spain, look for it) and some extra lime.

A few words about the recipe:

  • I’ve used the white quinoa variety, but you might be lucky enough to find the black or red one (or get the package that has all of them – super yummy and crunchy, my favorite)
  • if you don’t want to use quinoa, or can’t find it, you can substitute it with cous cous (I’d prefer the bulgur one, but I guess the Israeli one will work perfectly)
  • you can add ingredients of your preference (like zucchini, avocado, spring onions, feta cheese, mushrooms etc)
  • can be eaten as a side dish or main course

Lentil quinoa salad

recipe adapted from Food Network

Ingredients

1 cup (170gr) quinoa (uncooked)
2 cups water
½ cup (88gr) lentils (uncooked)
8-10 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
2 peppers
4-5 tBsps finely chopped parsley (or fresh coriander if you prefer)

for the vinaigrette (I haven’t written quantities, it’s up to you how much you will use)
Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lime juice, mustard,  lime zest
salt, pepper, chilli flakes, garlic powder

Directions

Put the quinoa in a sieve and rinse in cold water. In a small pot with a lid, simmer it with 2 cups of water (or less if you prefer it al dente) . Quinoa should be tender enough to eat, but with a little “pop” upon biting.

Put the lentils in a sieve and rinse in cold water. In a saucepan, simmer the lentils in water until they are tender, but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Drain and rinse so that they cool down (it will stop them from getting softer).

In a small jar throw the wet ingredients of the vinaigrette (balsamic vinegar, lime juice, mustard,  lime zest), place the lid and shake gently so that they blend.

Salad assembly: in a container with a lid, mix the quinoa, lentil, peppers, cherry tomatoes, parsley,  the dry spices (salt, pepper, garlic powder, chilli flakes -to taste, according to personal preference) and pour the vinegrette (you might need to shake it a bit before pouring). Place the lid of the container and gently again shake it (up-down & left -right) so that they ingredients blend together.

You can serve it immediately or put it in the fridge for a couple of hours so that it chills and the aromas of the herbs and spices blend together.

If you like, you can drizzle some balsamic glaze before serving.

Chocolate cookies and cream ice cream (with coconut milk)

9 Jul

Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention, please!

I finally got an ice cream maker (as a birthday present, thanks to my cousin and his family-you will not regret it, I swear!).

And the timing couldn’t be more appropriate, as the temperature seems to rise (I think something like 39 C / over 100F ) and the heat makes it unbearable to do anything. I didn’t go to the beach this weekend (as nearly every person living in Greece did), of course, but I spent Saturday morning outside running errands and shopping, as well as attending my regular weekly (midday) aerial yoga class (which thanks to the weather was a HOT aerial yoga class). When I went back home, I was ready to lay my body on the marble floor, underneath the A/C (trust me it’s the best thing for instant cooling), but the thought of the ice cream attachment cooling in the freezer kept me going.

I prepared a quick and easy recipe, with only 4 ingredients (plus 1 I added), to test drive my new toy. The choice of a chocolate recipe was not a very clever one (at least not in a white kitchen), but at least I could see the splatter on the walls easier than if it was a vanilla one.

I also decided that my kitchen was not hot enough, so I baked some cookie cups/”beds” for the ice cream, from cookie dough I had in my freezer (I always save some when I prepare cookies). You can see them below, they turned out lovely (at least half of them), a sugar cookie dough cup/bed, sprinkled with fuchsia sprinkles for the girls (matching my new nail polish).

Plain for the guys, on a “bed of a white choc chip cookie”. Served and consumed outside, on the balcony or in the garden (if you have one).

Α few words about the recipe:

  • It’s super easy, with only 4+1 ingredients, it really reminded me of chocolate milk (with a coconut twist)
  • It doesn’t contain any eggs, as I have a thing with using not sufficiently cooked ones in desserts
  • If you don’t have an ice cream machine, I guess you can do it manually like I did in this recipe
  • The recipe below makes about half a kilo ice cream (1 pint)
  • the cookie cups/”beds” were made from two different doughs I had stored in my freezer, one classic vanilla cookie recipe and the other this recipe

Chocolate cookies and cream ice cream (with coconut milk)

recipe barely adapted from Two Peas & their Pod

1 (400ml) can coconut milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
10 Oreos, crushed

1 tBsp. rum (optional)

Directions

Combine the coconut milk, sugar, cocoa powder and rum in the mixer bowl (or a blender, or mix by hand)  and mix for 30 seconds or until all the ingredients are combined.Chill the mixture for an hour (if you can, or more).

Pour the liquid mixture into the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. During the last 5 minutes of churning, add the crushed Oreos.

When it is ready, transfer the ice cream to a plastic container, cover, and freeze until ready to eat.

Honey lemon cookies with wheat germ & my window view

4 Jul

My post was a bit delayed this week, I know.

I apologize, but it was my birthday on Monday and got a bit hang up with loads of chocolate and stubborn pizza doughs. There was chocolate everywhere, up to my eyebrows and flour on my hair (that was not gray hair; there won’t be any grey on my head for at least another 40 years, or until the companies stop producing red hair dye). It would be an understatement to say that I don’t like birthdays, but I’ve decided to have birthday reruns from this year on, if you get my point. I’ve celebrated  “enough” to keep me going for some time.

Since my New Year‘s Resolutions don’t really last until July, I had got into the habit of “renewing” them and call them B’day Resolutions, but they are nothing new, really (I usually vow that I won’t eat all my food, I’ll drag myself to the gym or yoga class, not to smoke like a chimney, think before I open my mouth to say something etc. etc)

But this year I didn’t do it. I’ve decided to let myself relax and be creative. This is how and why I started this blog. I needed a creative outlet,but  didn’t know that I would find it here. And I certainly didn’t know that I was signing myself up for so much work.

I also didn’t know that I would get to meet fellow bloggers, but I should never say never, I guess. Two of them, Eri and Ermioni invited me to play a blog game, asking me to send a pic of what I see out of my window. I took a picture of the view I see when I am mixing something on my green mixer.

I live in a suburb, not far from the center of Athens, and luckily among the urban landscape (translate: concrete walls), there is some “green”(banana/lemon/laurel and lotus trees).  And a mountain top, over there, at the right hand top corner (my eyes have been trained to avoid walls and concrete and focus on the good stuff, yeah).

.

I, in turn, invite the follow 5 bloggers to play, if they are still here, because I suspect for some the holidays have started.

(in alphabetical order)

1. For the love of feeding

2 .My little expat kitchen

3. Pepi’s kitchen

4. Royal Coconut

5.  The donkey and the carrot

I also have a recipe for you today.

These cookies are simple to make, perfect for breakfast, or to accompany your tea or even as a pre-workout snack. They are sweet and lemony, and enriched with wheat germ and spelt flour.

Honey Wheat Cookies

 recipe from  Dorie Greenspan

Ingredients

1 ¾ cups (245gr.) αll-purpose flour (I used 1 ¼  cup (175 gr.) AP flour + ½ cup (45gr.) spelt flour)
1 cup  (90 gr.) wheat germ
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ cup (100 gr.) sugar
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
8 tBsp (113 gr.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup (150 gr.) honey
1 large egg

Whisk together the flour(s), 1/2 cup of the wheat germ (you’ll use the other 1/2 cup right before baking), the baking powder and the salt.

In a different bowl, or the mixer bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingers until the sugar is moist.  Using the paddle attachment, if you have one, beat the lemon-sugar and the butter on medium speed for about 2 minutes, until creamy and smooth.  Add the honey and beat another minute or two.  Add the egg and beat for about 2 minutes more, until you have a smooth, light and fluffy mixture.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients in two portions, mixing only until each addition disappears.  Scrape the dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap, seal and chill the dough at least 2 hours or for up to 2 days.

Getting ready to bake:  Preheat the oven to 170C degrees.  Have a pair of  baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  For convenience, you can shape the second sheet of while the first is baking.

Put the remaining 1/2 cup wheat germ into a bowl and keep it near you.  Remove the chilled dough from the fridge and working with a spoonful at a time( I used an ice cream scoop), roll the dough between your palms into small balls.  Drop each ball into the wheat germ, turn to coat, then place the balls on a baking sheet, leaving about a couple of centimeters of space between balls (these don’t spread much).  Use your palm or the bottom of a glass to gently flatten each cookie.

Slide the sheet into the oven and bake 10 to 12 minutes (it took mine about 10 minutes), or until the cookies are just firm to the touch.  Transfer the cookies to racks to cool to room temperature and repeat with the remaining dough.

The dough can be made up to 2 days ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator.  Once baked, the cookies will keep at room temperature for about 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

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