Farfalle with zucchini and eggplant chips

17 May

According to a Smiths song, “some girls are bigger than others”, but these girls occasionally decide or have to go on a diet, when things have gone too far, especially around this time of the year, before the summer and after Easter, and various occasions when eating was too much. My friend Th. was right when he was saying “a moment of the lips, forever on the hips”, but who knew better?

But, what can you eat to make up? Mosses; Lawn? And for how long can you get by on a minimal low fat, low cal, low everything diet? Especially when someone (don’t want to name any names, but it starts with G_) eats a pile of spaghetti, with 2 kilos of grated parmesan, bacon and a dash of cream, and when a zucchini or a cauliflower gets near him, he reacts like a cat with water.  Not to mention about those (rhetorical) question, like “how can you eat that (zucchini, cauliflower etc)”? You are just trying to be patient and get those kilos off and swear that next time you will not let it get out of control.

The only thing you can do is prepare something like this, a“light” pasta dish and forget about dieting for a little bit.

A few words about the recipe:

  • It is not a glamorous, or sexy plate, but it will serve its cause
  • It is a variation of a recipe my cousin from Italy gave me, with zucchini and carrot, but because I’m not a big fan of carrot I have not used any)
  •  The quantities are for one person, roughly estimated according to my taste and you can adapt it to suit yours.
  • I haven’t used any olive oil as I used some to make the chips, but feel free to use as much as you like
  • If you make the eggplant chips, you might as well make some more and keep them in the fridge to eat some other day (you can drizzle the slices with balsamic vinegar) . 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

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

4 May

I don’t know about you, but I am in a “spring mood”. I can’t concentrate, I want to do things but don’t know what that is, I want to fill my house and balcony with flowers and when I sit in the sun i feel like I am thawing (like an ice cube in the heat). I usually try not to admit that I am at the mercy of every weather change, but the alternative explanation is that something is really wrong with me, so I just accept my human nature.

One of the first recipes for muffins I’ve ever made was this one. Till now I had only seen poppy seeds on bread rolls but had never seen them elsewhere and had no idea where to get them. Eventually I found them in a shop with healthy/bio foods, (that are becoming very popular in Greece) packed in 250gram. Huge amount for someone who wants to use no more than two to three tablespoons . I put the rest in a nice jar and stuffed it in a kitchen cabinet. At least it takes up some of the space (I don’t like having empty cabinets, I have the urge to fill them up, even if it’s with stuff I am not going to use).

Back to the muffins. Since the jar with the poppy seed was getting my attention lately (as well as some poppies that have grown by the sidewalks and reminded me of it) I thought of making this recipe and get to use my new rectangular muffin pan too (I also happened to find some pink liners for it – yes I am one of those people who like to accessorize, even for baking).

Continue reading

Cinnamon Swirl Buttermilk Pound Cake

27 Apr

…or how am I going to translate this in Greek?

 

I realize that as this is the English version of my blog I don’t have such problem as if anyone bothers to read this, they will understand what this cake is about.  But as I am trying to write the same posts in both languages, I had to be a bit accurate, at least in the tittles.

As I am not a proffessional pastry chef (not even close), I usually find myself having troubles with the jargon and translating the recipes in Greek. I also have to take into consideration that some techniques or products are non existent, not available or known here  (maybe not so much anymore though, thank you internet),  so I have to go looking for a substitute or a DIY version (you will understand what I am talking about if you keep reading).

I don’t think that the concept of the pound cake exists in this country. As in the type of cake traditionally made with a pound of each of four ingredients: flour, butter, eggs, and sugar.  I guess all cake recipes were imported and adapted from other countries anyway, so it’s all cake to us. And really, it doesn’t really matter if it tastes good, right?

I made this cake for my cousin and her little girl who came over from Italy for the Easter holidays (i am trying to bribe the little one with sugar so she likes me better). And yes, we had a winner. The little one spread crumbles all over the place and she was making  funny sounds while devouring two huge pieces (ok, 1/3 was on the floor). Hopefully by next year she will be able to use the vacuum.

 

A few words about the recipe:

  • the filling is usually found on top of cakes, as a crumble, but in this case it is put in the center to create the swirl
  • the buttermilk added will provide extra moisture to the cake and a softer texture
  • it is a simple-to-prepare cake. The cardamom really makes a difference, although used in a really small quantity.
  • The original recipe calls for cake flour, which is not sold in Greece, so I went for a DIY substitute* and it turned out alright (if you want to make it with cake flour click on the original recipe at the link below)

Cinnamon Swirl Buttermilk Pound Cake
barely adapted from @Køkken

Ingredients

Cinnamon Streusel Swirl
1/2 cup (60g)   All purpose flour
1/3 cup (72g) firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 tsp.  ground cnnamon
3 Tbsp. (42g) Unsalted butter, melted

Cake
2,5 cups minus 1 Tbsp  (304g)  All purpose flour
1 Tbsp.  Cornstarch
1 tsp. Baking powder
1/4 tsp. Baking soda
1/4  tsp.  salt
1/8 tsp.  Ground cardamom
1 cup (227g)  Unsalted butter, softened
2 cups (400g)  Castor sugar (I used 340g and it turned out sweet)
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp.  Vanilla Extract
1tsp. Finely grated orange zest (I used zest from one whole orange)
1 cup (240ml) Buttermilk

Εκτέλεση

Preheat oven to 170C / 325F. Grease the inside of a 25cm/10″ bundt pan with butter  and dust it with flour.

Cinnamon Streusel Swirl
In a small bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients of the Cinnamon swirl. Add the melted butter and stir until blended and crumbly.

Cake
Sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cardamom into a medium bowl. Whisk to combine and set aside.
Using a paddle attachment, cream butter for 2 mins at medium speed in a mixer until very creamy (2mins).
Gradually add in the sugar and continue beating at medium high speed until pale and light. (4mins)
At medium speed, add the eggs one at a time and mix to incorporate well.
Add vanilla extract and orange zest.
Add in the flour in 3 portions, alternating it with milk (2 additions). Mix until just combined.
Scrape half of the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it into an even layer. Sprinkle the streusel mixture evenly over the batter. Scrape the remaining batter on top and smooth it into an even layer.
Bake the cake for 65 to 75mins, until the cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean (it took  about 65mins in my oven).
Cool the cake for 15 mins before turning out the cake to cool completely.

Judges’ verdict:8 – 9 (my biggest fan has yet to learn how to count)

*The DIY recipe for 1 cup cake flour is:

1 cup all-purpose flour – 2 Tbsp all purpose flour + 2 Tbsp Cornstarch

Measure one cup of AP flour in one bowl and then take out 2 tbsp.
Add 2 tbsp corn flour, whisk to combing and sift.

Malteese cake

27 Apr

or, a no-bake maltesers cheesecake

I saw the recipe on this blog the other day and it reminded me of when I was studying in England, (3-4-5-10 years ago, no more, I swear) and we had an assignment to promote maltesers, so we  had to prepare a small advertising campaign or something like this (I can’t remember more details, I guess the information was on those brain cells that have been destroyed / replaced by new information throughout the years). We ate several bags of maltesers trying (unsuccessfully) to brainstorm and come up with some good ideas .. anyway ….we managed to get a decent grade and pass the class, but I don’t think I’ve put a malteser in my mouth ever since.

Flash forward to this week …. I saw this recipe and it “clicked” because I wanted to make something for my mom’s birthday, but not something too elaborate that will require me spending 5 days and nights in the kitchen, and not too chocolatey, because I have been making too many sweets with chocolate lately. It was also a good opportunity to broaden my “repertoire” and try something new (translation: I did not have time to make the super-duper cake , I saw in a well known pastry publication).

And voila,  the result.

A crunchy and yummy vanilla cheesecake with maltesers, which we will call from now on  a Malteese cake ….. (as soon as I popped one malteser in my mouth, the brainstorming began).
A few words about the recipe:
· Easy and quick, tasty and refreshing, definitely a winner
·The butter in this recipe is thrown cold in the food processor, along with the crashed cookies (it all comes together like a crumble), but there are variations out there that require you melt the butter and mix it with the cookies. I have not tried the latter method, so I don’t know if it works best.
· The original recipe calls  for a 23cm/9″ round spring form  pan, but I used my square brownie pan (20cm/8″) which was lined with greaseproof paper hanging from the sides,to make it easier to pull it out before serving.

Malteese cake
recipe from here The one with all the tastes

(or a no bake cheesecake with maltesers, for those who didn’t bother reading all the stuff above)

Ingrediends

Base
200 grams.chocolate sandwich cookies
100 grams. butter

Filling:
250 grams. heavy cream (35% fat)
2 tsp vanilla
200 grams. cream cheese (I used Philadelphia)
100 grams. confectioners sugar
2 packages (2×37 g.) Maltesers

Method

Put the cream in a bowl and beat with the mixer (whisk attachment), on high speed until thick (to resemble the texture of yogurt).
In a separate bowl, beat with the mixer on medium speed, the sugar with the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat some more. With a spoon or spatula, add the whipped-cream to the cream cheese mixture, little by little little and stir/fold gently until incorporated.

Put 1 pack of maltesers in the food processor and pulse a few times until crashed. Gently fold them in the cream/cheese mixture.
Put the bowl with the filling in the fridge to firm up, while you make the base.

Crash the cookies  in a food processor.
Add the butter and continue beating until it all comes together (it will resemble a crumble mixture).
Press into pan with the back of a spoon or your fingers. (if it sticks on your hands, put it in the freezer for 2-3 minutes).

To assemble, pour the cream mixture over the base and spread it around evenly. Bang the tin on the work surface a couple of times to make sure that there are no gaps. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours to firm up and before serving it, decorate with the rest of the Maltesers.

judges’ rate: 9.45 (I hope  they were not telling me the time, instead)

coming soon….

20 Apr

…..

Hello world!

20 Apr

I think we can to this in English as well!

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