THE BEST PAVLOVA

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Pavlova.We all know the origins of this delicate dessert right? Apparently it is named for one famous russian ballerina named Anna Pavlova. There are a few theories floating around as to the said origins,you just have to google this and the answers will appear. Whatever they may be I for one am just happy that this dessert is around for us to enjoy! Typically made with cream and a variety of fruits it is summer on a plate! Light and airy but biting down to savour that marshmallowy deliciousness. Here I have added aromatic rosewater and pistachios that evoke middle eastern flavours.IMG_7139

Use fresh egg whites, making sure that they are at room temperature. The mixing bowl should be free of fat so to make sure I swiped it with lemon. Add your egg whites and start whipping until you have soft peaks. With the machine still running add the sugar one spoon at a time. Your merengue will start taking on a lovely glossy quality. Once this happens stir in the cornflour and a little vinegar so that you get that delicious marshmallow centre. At this point you can vary the flavour. Here I added rosewater.IMG_7140IMG_7157 (2)

Line a tin with parchment paper and add the meringue. Place into a preheated oven for approx 1 hour and then turn off the oven and leave in there with the door slightly ajar for a few hours or even overnight.IMG_7194Now for the fruit. I used a variety of berries for this. Pop them into a small saucepan with a splash of water and a handful of sugar. Heat on a low heat until the berries meld with the sugar and take off of the heat. You still want  the fruits to retain their shape, however you should have a lovely brightly coloured syrup left behind. When the syrup is cooled add a drop of rosewater and stir.

Whip up the cream until you have soft peaks. Sugar can be added at this time but I chose not to as the rest of this dessert is quite sweet. Lets assemble!IMG_7209

On one of the discs of meringue pile some of the whipped cream and ease over to the edge. Generously place half of the fruit onto it and cover with the other disc.
Add the remaining cream and fruit onto the top. Crush a handful of pistachios and sprinkle over the top. Slowly drizzle the syrup from the fruit over the entire pavlova allowing it to trickle down the sides.
There you have it! A very impressive dessert to add to any summer table. It is a pretty luscious end to any meal or just as a treat in the afternoon with a cup of coffee or tea. Enjoy!
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PIZZETAS, SWEET AND SAVOURY

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Pizzetas are a small pizza. However these are  decadent in that the dough is fried to a crispy goodness and just like pizza are topped with a variety of whatever you fancy. Yes, they are fried but hey they are small so enjoy these little treats of deliciousness
I made three. One sweet and two savoury.

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DOUGH
7g  yeast, I used the dried sachet,so one should do it.
1/4 tsp sugar
300ml  warm water
500g  strong white flour
Pinch of salt
Extra flour for dusting

METHOD

In a cup add the yeast and sugar to half of the lukewarm water. When it is frothy it is ready to use.

In a large bowl or on a clean surface add the flour along with the salt.  Into this pour the yeast mixture along with the rest of the water a little at a time. Knead until you get a nice smooth dough that is not sticky. This will take about 10 minutes. Shape into a ball and put into a bowl. Cover with a tea towel and put into a warm space until it has doubled in size. I left mine for approx. 1 hour. In the meantime start prepping your ingredients for the toppings.

SWEET
One apple peeled and diced
1/4  cup water
grated fresh ginger
handful toasted walnuts
honey for drizzling

Add the first three ingredients above into a small saucepan and simmer until the apples are tender but not mushy.
Into a dry pan add the walnuts and lightly toast them.
Set everything aside until you are ready to dress the pizzete.

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SAVOURY ONE
Caramelized Onion, Roasted Radicchio with Sauteed Portobello Mushrooms

1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
half a head radicchio
2 Portobello mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
olive oil and butter for cooking
1tbs  balsamic vinegar

METHOD

Add a tablespoon of oil and a knob of butter to a medium pan. Heat and then add the onions. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. On a low heat simmer until just transparent, about 5 minutes.
Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and stir. Cook until the onions are soft. Set aside onto a plate.
Into the same pan add the raddichio. Saute until just toasted. Set aside onto a plate.
Into the same pan ( using the same pan serves two purposes, one, easy cleanup and two, there are loads of flavours in that pan so  use them), add another knob of butter and put the mushrooms in. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute for about 5 minutes. Now this is ready to top your dough with.
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SAVOURY TWO
Stewed Tomatoes with Prosciutto and Parmesan

1 cup of tinned tomatoes or three medium ones with the skins off.
1 clove garlic crushed
1-2 slices of prosciutto
few slices of shaved parmesan
olive oil for cooking

METHOD
Into a saucepan add the oil and then the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and simmer until cooked through and reduced, about 15 minutes.
That is all for this one. Set aside until you are ready to top the dough.
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DOUGH (frying)
By now your dough should have risen nicely. Punch it down and knead into a ball. For this recipe I made three so I divided it into three smaller balls.
Roll each one out into a circle quite thinly.
Into a large pan add approx half a cup of a neutral oil. Roll out each ball into a thin disc, (they will puff up while cooking so the thinner you roll the better).
When the oil is nice and hot carefully add the discs. Dont overcrowed the pan. After two minutes turn over and finish for another two minutes. Transfer onto a paper towel and repeat with the other discs.

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Now for the fun part! Start building your pizzetas. Open a good bottle of wine and sit back to enjoy these crispy fried pizzetas!

GALATOBOUREKO or SEMOLINA PIE

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Galatoboureko or semolina pie is my all time favourite greek dessert. I love custard based sweets and this one tops the list. Not too achingly sweet but smooth with that crunch of filo. I prefer a light sugar syrup without the addition of honey (I know, not at all typical) but It tastes so much lighter, making  this an almost refreshing end to any meal. I make sure that the filling is scented with lemon and is airy in texture. The filo is also light despite the buttered layers but the  delicate spiced syrup brings it all together nicely.

TO BEGIN
6 cups milk. I used 2% milk but whole milk is good as well.
150g fine semolina
100g sugar
Lemon zest, about half of a lemon.

6 eggs.
1 tbs cornstarch
1 tbs vanilla

Sugar syrup
240ml water
100g sugar
Cinnamon stick. About half a stick.
4-5 whole cloves.

250g melted butter.
1 packet of filo pastry. You can find this is any grocery store in the freezer section.IMG_6637

STEP ONE
Pour the milk into a saucepan on a medium heat.
Add the sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
Using a whisk stir while slowly adding the semolina in a slow steady stream.
Add the lemon zest.
Make sure to keep stirring so the custard does not form lumps.
Stir until you see bubbles popping. Remove from heat and cover with parchment paper.

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STEP TWO
In a medium bowl crack the eggs.
Stir in the cornstarch and vanilla.
Stir until you have a smooth paste.

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STEP THREE
Now this is where we temper the custard with the egg mixture.
Add a tablespoon of the custard into the egg mixture making sure to stir all the time.
Do this two more times and then slowly add the egg mixture back into the custard mixture. Remember to keep stirring all the while. You don’t want scrambled custard!
Put back on a low heat and allow to come back to just a boil. Set aside to cool.

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In the meantime make the sugar syrup.
Into a small pot combine the water,sugar and spices. Bring to a simmer until you have a light syrupy consistency.. Set aside.

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STEP FIVE
Take the filo out of the casing and lay out onto a dampened tea towel. Cover with another damp tea towel.
Brush the tin with a little of the melted butter and place one sheet of the filo onto it. Brush with the butter. Repeat this 4 times.
Pour the semolina mixture onto the prepared filo.
Do the same with the rest of the pastry. I used about 5 more sheets. Do not forget to butter each sheet as this will help to puff up the layers while cooking. With the last sheet tuck in and butter again.
With a sharp knife score the pastry, do not cut right to the bottom. You can score into squares or diamonds, whichever you prefer.
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STEP SIX

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Place into a 350 oven until it browns to golden and the layers are all puffed up.
By now the sugar syrup should be cool.
Take the galatoboureko out of the oven and slowly pour the syrup over the pastry making sure to get it into all the nooks and crannies.
Allow to cool and then cut to serve.
Delicious! Kali oreksi

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CROSTATA

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Crostata or jam tart is my idea of comfort food. Maybe it’s because it reminds me of having this as a child. Sweet and gooey with lashings of custard!  Of course crostata is eaten without custard but to each his own right? However I did serve this with whipped cream and that is just as tasty.
PASTRY
225g  cold butter,cut in cubes
450g  flour
4 large egg yolks
170g  sugar
1tsp  baking powder
1tsp  vanilla
zest of half a lemon
splash of brandy

Preheat your oven to 350F
Prepare your tin by greasing it with a little butter. For this recipe I used a 26cm sized tin..
Mix the butter and flour until you have a sand grain consistency.
Add the yolks,lemon zest,vanilla and baking powder. Mix well and add the brandy to finish. Mix until it just comes together and wrap in clingfilm. Let rest in fridge for an hour or so. When you remove the dough from the fridge cut off about a quarter of it and set aside. Roll out the remainder of the dough and drape over the buttered tin. Gently ease into the tin. Cut off excess. Roll out the rest of the dough and with a dough cutter cut out strips.

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JAM
400g jam of your choice. Here I used a combination of raspberry and apricot.
1tsp  rosewater.
Mix together. Spread over the pastry shell evenly. With the cut strips criss cross over the tart and brush with eggwash. Sprinkle with coarse sugar and bake for about 45 minutes or until the pastry is golden.

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SPOON SWEETS

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If you grew up in a Cypriot household you would know what these are. Glyko or spoon sweets were always available for when guests would drop by. Usually they were offered along with a Greek coffee and a glass of water on the side.img_5235

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Small vegetables or fruit can be used. Everything from small eggplants to thick orange peel and everything in between. Here I have used quince which I love. They can be quite pricey but to make two jars  just two were used.
Start with peeling the quince and make sure you have a bowl of cold water with lemon juice ready to put the them into. Core and slice each into six pieces. In a saucepan add equal amounts of sugar and water along with a stick of cinnamon and a few cloves. Once the sugar has dissolved add the quince. Simmer for about twenty minutes until just soft.Reduce to  a syrup. Take off the heat and allow to cool right down. Once cooled add to jars that have been sterilised. They will keep like this for a few months, if they last that long! Enjoy!

Other fruits that can be used.

Cherries, Bitter orange peel, Apples just to name a few.                                                                                                                                                    img_5252