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Ice cream (old time classic & favourite)

25 Jun

Summertime and the living is not that easy. Many people seem to have lost their mind, or at least they are out and about more now that the weather is (really) hot and I notice them easier.

Our summer seems to be defined by these two questions (the first especially among children, but aren’t we all deep down):

“How many ice creams have you eaten?”

-“How many times have you been to the beach?”

I always get pissed off when people ask me about going to the beach (but a quick look at my pale/off white skin tone would give them an answer)

No ice creams, no beach (followed by silence, something must be wrong with me, how could I be Greek and not a natural beach bum?)

This year the hot trend is the frozen yoghurt, or fro-yo or whatever it is called in each place, but I am not on antibiotics, so I’ll pass, thanks!

Also, I haven’t bothered buying that ice cream machine I wanted. So, I resorted to this old school recipe that doesn’t require any high tech ice cream machine. My aunt used to make this every year and she would always serve one scoop, as it is quite rich and sweet, sprinkled by a teaspoon of finely chopped caramelized almonds that she would hide on the highest kitchen cabinet, so that someone chubby and glutton wouldn’t eat them all (I’m not gonna name any names here). As I didn’t have any almonds, I made some salted peanut florentines.

A few words about the recipe:

  • this is a quick and easy recipe, with an excellent result as the ice cream is soft and rich in taste
  • the more times you beat/stir the cream as it freezes, the softer the texture of the ice cream will be
  • you can use a fork or a spatula, but a handheld mixer will have a better result
  • for better result, the cream and the milks have to be cold (I just beat them in room temperature with no problems)
  • I divided the cream in two and I melted in a water bath about 50 grams of gianduja, that I poured the last time I beat the cream (pictured above)

Ice cream (no ice cream machine involved)

(my aunt’s Georgia recipe)

1 can non dairy whipped cream
1 can sweet condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk (I used 2% fat)
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Whip the cream in high speed for a few minutes, until it has thickened (4-5 minutes) (I forgot this step)

Add the condensed and the evaporated milk and beat some for a few more minutes until you have a thickened cream. Beat in the vanilla.

Put the mixture in the fridge for an hour, to chill (I beat it twice while it was cooling). Put the bowl in the freezer and after 20 minutes take it out and with a handheld mixture (fork, or spatula) beat it until it is creamy. Repeat this step 2-3 times (the more you beat it, the creamier the ice cream will be).

Meringue cookies – Little fluffly clouds

21 Jun

I can’t recall the last time I ate a meringue cookie. I consider them to be old school sweets (not in a negative way) and were offered to me often as I was growing up, but I never bothered with them. I am one of those “if it’s not chocolate I can’t be bothered” type of gal, but of course as I grow up (and I tend to to that a lot lately), especially now that i am baking in my free time, my palate seems to be more “open” to new things and I have come to appreciate new/different tastes and ingredients.

Also, I’ve been seeing a lot of them lately; little meringue clouds, light and fluffy, stuffed in big beautiful jars on christening dessert tables (I’m going to be a godmother in a month, so I’ve been researching it a lot).

It just coincided that I made a dessert the other day, that required 9 egg yolks (the judge nearly had a hard attack when he saw me gathering them up and putting them on the execution table). But I was secretly making plans. I could take advantage of them in many ways. I could finally make that white omelet that my dietician has told me to eat. Or make macaroons, but the first and last time I made them was rather unsuccessful, but it was a rainy day, so let’s blame it on the weather. Since I’m not into body building (yet), I decided to use some of the whites to make meringues.

A few words about the recipe:

Continue reading

Lavender and Lemon Shortbread

19 Jun

This was supposed to be Monday’s post.

But somehow, while the weekend seems to come after a very long and slow week, it passes too quickly. Monday morning finds me sleepy and exhausted, with my weekend to-do list full of things that have not been crossed off (laundry? sorting out the junk drawer? sorting out my winter/summer clothes?). Until recently, I was spending my weekends as a couch potato, staring at the ceiling or watching tv until my eyes fell off, but lately I’ve been doing the opposite. I start my weekend by hanging upside down from the ceiling and stare at the floor, for a change. And I bake. I used to be a party animal, but lately I’ve become a pastry animal. Oh, and I am really good and quick at cleaning up after the mess I create in the kitchen (no-one had warned me that behind those beautiful pics you see on blogs, there is a huge mess).

If you are wondering, the lavender I’ve used in this recipe is not leftover from (not) sorting out my winter/summer clothes. This is suitable for culinary use and has no extra chemicals. You can also make some tea with it, I read somewhere that it may help with stress, headache, tension. Its use in the shortbread adds a unique floral flavor and compliments the lemon. You should be careful when using lavender though, cause too much  may taste like eating a moth repellent.

I also made a lemon curd to accompany the shortbread and it really made a difference as the cold curd refreshes you from the dryness of the shortbread and the heat.

A few words about the recipe: Continue reading

“Healthy” banana, coconut and chocolate oatmeal cookies

11 Jun

The word healthy is in brackets because one could argue that these are healthy. But compared to what I have made and what I am going to make in the future, these are healthy (of course if you scroll a bit further down you will notice that I have managed to “amend” the healthy side bit).

I wanted to make something sweet, but healthy, that will give a boost  of energy to my gym friends, before or after working out. Something that one can eat without feeling (too) guilty and won’t have to to spend 3 days on the treadmill to burn it off. I wouldn’t want them to think that I am sabotaging their “summer 2012 bikini/swimsuit” mission.

I am also trying to take into consideration this blog’s main judge, who, is not really fond of my attempts to sneak vegetables or “healthy stuff” into his diet (like this  and that). Since I can’t deny the fact that these fall into the “healthy stuff” category, I thought I could get away by camouflaging them a bit…

You see where I am going with these, right? I baked some of the cookies in my mini muffin pan, so I got some cookie-muffins, perfect as a base for a scoop of ice cream. The ice cream is unfortunately not home made. I feel shame just by writing it, but since I don’t have an ice cream maker we still buy it.

Anyway…. this is how I de-healthified (is there such a word, really?)  something relatively healthy….

Warning: this is not a sushi, so please don’t shove it in your mouth in one go, or you will get a brain-freeze (true story)

A few words about this recipe: Continue reading

Chocolate muffins

7 Jun

I’ve been seeing chocolate everywhere. I guess there are other sweets around me, but my system refuses to acknowledge anything else.

The chocolate I’ve been seeing, comes in fancy forms and shapes, unlike those simple looking (but “effective” I have to add) muffins, but since I’ve been away this long weekend (we had Monday off) and I’m working a more-than-full time job, it’s quite difficult for me to find the peace and quiet I need in order to bake something (it’s sorta my meditation time). So, the green mixer had the time off.

And no, if you are wondering, we didn’t go to the beach for the first of the year swim/sunburn/or ice cream (important milestones in ones summer, in Greece). We had a wedding to attend, in a small village, resulting coming back to an empty fridge and cupboards.

But I was not feeling good about not making and posting anything here, so I managed to make these muffins, which disappeared as quickly as it took me to make them. No one ever denies a chocolate treat, for sure (ok, I may have delivered a couple to friends personally).

I found this recipe on Pinterest. I’ve been resisting it for some time now, although I had registered a long time ago, but due to peer group pressure (yeah, I’m not 16, I know), I jumped on the pinterest wagon at last and created some boards. I wonder if I will manage to find time to follow everything.

A few words about the recipe

  • Quick and easy recipe, perfect for breakfast or/and to accompany coffee (they are made and eaten on the spot) and the muffins are not overly sweet
  • if you like nuts, feel free to add some, it will be a good idea
  • if you are not very fond of coffee or don’t have instant espresso you can omit it from the recipe Continue reading

Gâteau au yaourt

31 May

or Yoghurt cake

…or yoghurt pie (as we call it in Greece, but had no idea about it)

No, I am not really a francophile, although I did spent a few years learning French (and absolutely loved it). I just had a couple of yoghurts sitting in my fridge forever, and instead of giving them the death penalty (i.e. the bin), I remembered that I had this recipe bookmarked, at some point in this life (I have a serious case of food porn addiction), and managed to retrieve it.

Also, lately, I have been trying to persuade someone to try and eat more “clean” foods, full grains and the like, so I couldn’t just go and make another cake full of butter, sugar and white flour. So this recipe was perfect. It has olive oil, yoghurt, a relatively small quantity of sugar (which i decreased by mistake) and I substituted less than half of the AP flour for spelt flour that was also sitting in my fridge (I only told about it after everyone had eaten it, to see if they could taste anything different).

The cake is really simple, moist and not overly sweet (and somewhat healthy I guess – at least I didn’t). Simplicity is underrated. Continue reading

Lollipops!

28 May

A while back, a cousin sent me a link of some lollipops, saying that she wanted something like that for her son’s christening (it’s common practice to give little “presents” and sweets after the christening ceremony is over and she wanted to give something like those for the kids).

“Yeah, right”, I thought to myself. Part of me wanted to do it, but was afraid that I would destroy my new glass-top stove (a friend was telling me that the sugar melts and sticks on it and stays there forever – true story), that the kitchen counter will melt, that the sugar will stick to my hair and what I might burn my skin (my priorities are a bit messed up, I know).

Since they are always willing to try everything I bake and offer them, with no complains, I thought that I ought to at least give it a try, so I did a test batch. It came out impressive, although I had some difficulties, mainly finding the work flow (the caramel dries quickly and you have to know what you want to do, so I ended up making made big round candies instead of lollies), so I accepted the challenge (“Challenge accepted!”, as Barney says).

I had to make about 60 lollipops and I managed to have them ready in 3 batches, with my mom assisting me and here is the result.

A few words about the recipe: Continue reading

Strawberry cake with chocolate glaze

21 May

Mondays….

are tough….

Ever since I was little ….

 

Especially after a busy weekend, hanging out with people, cooking, baking, and all that entails. I can say that I was kinda relieved when I returned to the office today and started my weekly routine. It’s an endless loop. At least it was quite productive and I managed to finish these for my nephew’s christening (for the children’s goodie bags). They are ready, packed waiting to be eaten.

I made this cake to accompany our coffee and lollipop decorating/packaging session and even though I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t touch this cake (I am not fond of fruit, especially when inside or on top of sweets-cakes etc- no-one’s perfect), I had to restrain myself from eating too much  (I’m supposed to be on a strict diet)

A few words about the recipe:

  • It’s not an overly sweet cake and this makes it perfect for breakfast or to accompany coffee (or tea- ok I am not a big fan, but I suppose you get the picture)
  • The strawberry taste is not too strong and it offers a discreet scent and flavor and as you eat a piece, you can feel the strawberry “seeds” pop in your mouth (like poppy seeds)
  • The strawberry purée/sauce can also be used in crepes, on waffles etc. You can prepare it earlier, or the day before (that’s what I did) and keep it refrigerated. If you like to feel and see the strawberries in the cake, just cut them in half cause they are going to melt (and disappear, like in mine)
  • Although it might look like it, it doesn’t contain any whole wheat flour, it’s dark because of the strawberry (if you look closely, you’ll see it) Continue reading

Cranberry–strawberry bars

15 May

Sunday was Mother’s day I wanted to make something fucsia/pink (in another life I must have been/will be the magenda mixer).

I found this recipe ages ago and had kept it for whenever I found cranberries and it just happened that I came across some (frozen of course) at a new shop near my house. It’s was a message from the universe I could not ignore. Of course, I know that in the blog world, using out of season produce might be frowned upon, but I couldn’t care less. There are enough musts, shoulds and have-to’s in my offline life.

Sunday was also the day that my laptop decided to die on me. I guess it didn’t want this vain life anymore. I hope that someone will save it, as the green mixer and the pans were best pals and will definitely get depressed.

A few words about the recipe:

  • The original recipe calls for cranberries, but I used strawberries as well. The result is a refreshing dessert, with texture that is similar to lemon/lime pie.
  • As you add the lemon in the recipe, it is best if you do it slowly with tasting it because it might get too sour for your taste. I used about 45ml. As you add lemon to the filling, its color will get lighter.
  • The crust is crunchy and buttery like a shortbread Continue reading

White Chocolate Chip Almond Cookies

8 May
Fewer words, more baking…

(…or action, depending on what you do)

The times are tough for this country and everyone seems to be talking about one or two things (the recession and the elections that we had on Sunday, in particular), what is going to happen or what isn’t going to happen. Everyone seems to have an opinion (especially the taxi drivers seem to be experts) and the saying  opinions are like assholes… keeps coming back to my mind, making me laugh on my own. In all this, I am trying to keep calm  and retain a zen like state, no matter what.

Fortunately the super duper full moon has passed and maybe, I wish, I will be able to gather my scattered pieces (although the spring is to blame, I think we all agreed on that) and focus on something.  So, the other day (election day that is) I planted a couple of basils, some new succulents I stole from a friend’s house and baked these cookies (I also wanted to get rid of some bits and pieces I had in my cupboards and fridge).

A few words about the recipe

  • The original recipe calls for macademia nuts (I don’t dare to buy any because they will not make it home), but I replaced it with white almonds, which I toasted in a pan for a few minutes.
  • I put half white chocolate drops and the rest in chunks.
  • The original recipe calls for half butter and half shortening, but I used butter as it’s the only thing I had (that is why the cookies spread a little more and came out crunchier and darker).
  • These cookies are on the sweet side and the white chocolate does add a lot of sweetness and richness. If you do not like very sweet cookies, this recipe may not be for you (you can always reduce the amount of sugar but the texture of the cookie might change
  • Always check if the cookies are ready in the minimum time given by the recipe. If you like cookies soft, remove them a  bit ahead. If you like them crunchier let them little more in the oven.
  •  To keep them fresh, store in an airtight jar/container. If they are too soft, you can put them in the oven for a few minutes to harden,  while if you want them to stay soft, you can add a slice of bread or a small slice of apple.
  • You can make and freeze the dough for future baking. With an ice cream scoop (or 2 tablespoons) scoop little balls, fast freeze them for 30-40 minutes and then pack in an airtight bag (2 bags even better, because they tend to absorb odors in the freezer). Make sure that you write on the bag the type of cookies,  date of freezing and baking instructions, cause trust me, you are not going to remember what it is after 1 month, or find the recipe. Many  people bake straight from the freezer, adding a few minutes to the baking time, others prefer to thaw them  for a few hours in the refrigerator and then bake (I bake from the freezer with no problems). Keep them in the freezer for 4-6 weeks. Continue reading
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