Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Fig and mascarpone bruschetta

Some things don’t need introductions. They are as simple as they can be yet still incredibly beautiful and satisfying.

When figs are ripe and sweet, mascarpone is creamy and ham is salty, then what more do you need than a slice of good, crusty bread, some runny honey with floral notes, a few sprigs of earthy, fresh thyme, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil?

A quick recipe for bruschette that you can make as an appetizer or serve as a nibble with a chilled glass of wine or a cold beer on a warm, late-summer evening.

One of the tastiest bruschette there is.

Hope you enjoy!

Fig and mascarpone bruschetta with ham and honey

Use any kind of cured, boiled or smoked ham of which the taste you enjoy.
Instead of mascarpone you can also use cream cheese, or for a different flavor profile and if you like its tangy and sharp flavor, goat’s cheese.
For a vegetarian option, omit the ham and add a sprinkle of good flaky sea salt on top of the bruschetta.

Yield: as many as you like

Bread slices (from a loaf of good crusty bread)
Ham slices
Fresh figs, cut in four or eight pieces
Fresh thyme leaves
Extra virgin olive oil
Light-flavored runny honey
Flaky sea salt (optional)

Toast the bread either in the oven or in your toaster.
Spread enough mascarpone cheese to thickly cover them.
Lay either half a slice or a whole slice of ham on top.
Add the fig pieces (2-3 pieces for each bruschetta).
Sprinkle with some fresh thyme leaves.
Drizzle with a little olive oil and some honey.
Sprinkle some flaky sea salt if you wish over the top.
Eat at once.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The summer of ice cream

At the beginning of summer, I said this was going to be the summer of ice cream and it was. I made so many types of icy treats, I can’t even believe it.

Many of them were memorable, some were mediocre and a few of them were flops. You got to have some of those too, right? Just for good measure.

The list is big but let me give you an idea:
Cantaloupe sorbet
Ginger ice cream
Pineapple and coconut semifreddo
Balsamic roasted strawberry ice cream
Greek frappe coffee ice pops
Peach and blueberry sorbet
Stracciatella ice cream (I still dream about this one)
Blackberry ice cream

Alas, I didn’t have the time to photograph most of them, which is kind of sad because I’m dying to share the recipes, but I did get the chance to photograph the blackberry ice cream that I made just a few days ago.

Blackberries are perhaps my favorite berries even though blackberries are technically fruits. That dark blue, glistening color and the smooth texture of their plump little drupelets is irresistible to me. I love eating them just as they are, savoring their sweet and tart notes, but in ice creams, jams and tarts, they are even more delicious.

Blackberries are full of antioxidants, vitamin C and fibers but I wouldn’t want to sell you this ice cream as a healthy one. Well, it has cream, eggs and sugar so who would I be kidding. It has, however, an amazingly fresh and fruity as well as slightly mellow creamy flavor with a hint of vanilla and lemon, paired with a rich, velvety texture that is highly addictive. Not to mention that gorgeous purple color. I could eat scoop after scoop without ever wanting to stop, but I had to control myself. Will you be able to?

Reminder: the Yummy Supper cookbook giveaway is still running so go to this post for a chance to win a copy. Thank you to all who have already left their comments!

Blackberry ice cream
Adapted from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones

Use fresh sweet blackberries but if the ones you find are on the tart side, add a bit more sugar to the blackberry pureé (about 20 g more).

Yield: about 1 kg


for the blackberry pureé
300 g fresh blackberries
80 g caster sugar
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

for the ice cream base
6 medium-sized egg yolks
120 g caster sugar
440 ml cream, full-fat (35%)
190 ml whole milk
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Special equipment: small food processor or blender, fine sieve, plastic wrap, ice cream machine (optional yet preferable)


make the blackberry pureé
In a small saucepan, add blackberries and sugar and stir well. Place pan over medium heat and cook for about 10 minutes or until the blackberries soften and the liquid that they have released has somewhat reduced, stirring frequently.
Let cool slightly. Transfer the berries, their juices and the lemon juice to a small food processor or blender and pureé until smooth. Pass half of the mixture through a fine sieve and into a medium-sized bowl, pressing with a spatula to extract as much pureé as possible from the berries. Discard the solids and pour the rest of the pureé into the bowl with the strained pureé. Stir gently to combine, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.

make the ice cream base
In a medium-sized bowl, add the egg yolks and half the sugar (60 g) and whisk well to combine. Set aside.

In a medium-sized, heavy bottomed saucepan, add the cream, milk, the rest of the sugar (60 g) and salt, place over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves and heat until the mixture is warm but not hot.
Very slowly, pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking quickly and continuously so the eggs don’t curdle. Pour mixture into the saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula, making sure to keep scraping the bottom of the pan. Stir the mixture until it thickens and coats the spatula.

Pour the custard through a fine sieve and into a clean bowl. Add the vanilla extract and stir well.

Fill a large bowl with ice cubes and a little water, and place the bowl with the ice cream mixture on top. Stir the mixture with a spatula in order to cool it down. Once cool, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.

Whisk the blackberry pureé into the chilled ice cream base and pour it into your ice cream maker. Continue, following the manufacturer's instructions.

Alternatively, if you don't have an ice cream maker, empty the ice cream mixture into a container suitable for the freezer. Put mixture in the freezer, take it out after 40 minutes and whisk it very well. You can also beat it with a spatula vigorously (or you can use a blender, or even a stick blender).
Continue doing the same thing every half hour, until it's too thick and frozen to beat or whisk. The whole process will take about two and a half hours.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Baked eggs on top of roasted cherry tomatoes + Yummy Supper cookbook giveaway

For as long as I can remember, I disliked eggs, but then something inexplicable happened and my taste changed. I found myself craving eggs, enjoying their flavor and the infinite combinations with other ingredients that can yield delicious dishes. I’d finally discovered their versatility.

For the past couple of years, I have become an egg enthusiast and S, an eternal egg fiend, is finally getting his fill of fried, poached and soft-boiled eggs.

I hadn’t ventured the world of baked eggs though. Not until Erin Scott introduced me to her recipe of baked eggs with cherry tomatoes found in her amazing upcoming book “Yummy Supper: 100 Fresh, Luscious & Honest Recipes from a {Gluten-Free} Omnivore”. Was I in for a treat!

Erin is an American from Berkeley in California and she’s one of the food bloggers I admire the most. Her beautiful recipes, her keen eye for food styling and her incredible ability to take the most amazing photographs of her dishes is enviable. She is honest and straightforward in her cooking and writing and her book reflects just that. Elegant dishes prepared in an unfussy manner; inviting recipes meant to be cooked in a relaxed way and shared with family and friends; food that is impressive and luscious yet not intimidating for the home cook. Her recipes are also gluten-free, but you will not find in the book any weird ingredients that are hard to source. Congratulations, dear Erin. Your book is awesome!

Eggs and tomatoes is a marriage made in heaven, especially during tomato season when they are sweeter and juicier than ever. Here, first the cherry tomatoes are roasted briefly in the oven until they start releasing their sweet juices and then they get a good sprinkling of grated parmesan, pepper and parsley. The eggs are cracked carefully on top and then in the oven they go for a few minutes until they set. A final sprinkling of parsley and a drizzle of olive oil and they are served, preferably with some good crusty bread to dunk into the glorious juices, or as Erin suggests, with some big buttery croutons or polenta fries (both recipes found in her book).

I served this for brunch but it would also make a lovely, light supper, or if you are a big breakfast person (sadly I’m not), it would be a delicious way to start your day.

Giveaway: I was honored to receive a copy of Erin’s book and I am happy to give away a copy for one of you!
What you need to do to enter, is leave a comment on this post, telling me what type of recipes you would like to see featured more on my blog. Would you like to see for example more Greek recipes? More desserts? How about meat-based or vegetarian recipes? Easy or more intricate recipes? Feel free to share.

The giveaway ends on August 26th, 11:59 pm CET (Central European Time). I will select a winner at random and will announce the name on this post the next day (August 27th).
One comment per person on either of my blogs (English or Greek), no anonymous comments please, and do write your email address in the comment so I can contact you if you win.
Also, the giveaway is open to Europe and US residents only.

Good luck!!

The giveaway has ended. I will announce the winner on August 27th!

The winner is 'Αντρη from my Greek blog. Congratulations!!

Update 03.11.2014: Unfortunately, due to the fact that the winner's address could not be reached by the courier company, I had to pick another winner through The new winner of the book is Pepi from Athens, Greece. Congratulations Pepi!

Baked eggs on top of roasted cherry tomatoes
Slightly adapted from Erin Scott’s Yummy Supper: 100 Fresh, Luscious & Honest Recipes from a {Gluten-Free} Omnivore

I normally would cook the eggs runny but my guests preferred them on the hard side. Cook them to your liking but runny are best.

Erin uses basil instead of parsley but you should know my feelings towards basil by now; it's my least favorite herb. Also, I added more cherry tomatoes (Erin adds 3 cups), and more olive oil (Erin adds 2 Tbsp) because I’m Greek and I need to add more olive oil.

Yield: 2-4 servings

4 full cups (about 650 g) fresh, sweet cherry tomatoes, cut in half
¼-½ cup grated parmesan
Fleur de Sel (or other flaky sea salt)
Freshly ground white pepper
A handful of fresh parsley leaves, chopped
3-4 Tbsp olive oil, plus extra for serving
4 large eggs, at room temperature

Special equipment: rasp grater, small baking dish (mine was about 25x20 cm)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Add the halved cherry tomatoes to the baking dish and place on the middle rack of your preheated oven. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until the tomatoes start releasing their juices and have wrinkled. Take the baking dish out of the oven. (At this point, Erin suggests pouring out some of the excess tomato juices if you wish but I didn’t and it was a good thing as we were left with lots of sweet juices to dunk our bread in).

Sprinkle the tomatoes with the grated parmesan, a couple pinches of Fleur de Sel, some ground white pepper and ¾ of the parsley leaves. Drizzle with the olive oil and crack the eggs carefully on top, spacing them apart. If you are unsure of your egg-cracking skills and worried that you might break them, crack them open first into a ramekin and then carefully slide them on top of the tomatoes.

Return the dish to the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes depending on how you like to eat your eggs.

Take the dish out of the oven, sprinkle with some salt, pepper and the rest of the parsley, drizzle with a dash of olive oil, just enough to make the eggs glisten, and serve immediately with lots of good bread.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Thai turmeric roasted chicken with lime-flavored Jasmine rice

Being with people you love, people you don’t get to see often because you live in different countries, having them live with you for a while, go on holidays together, enjoy them to the fullest, sharing food with them, food you have cooked for them, food they crave, seeing their faces light up with pleasure from what they are savoring, is a blessing.

They have brought with them from Greece ingredients and foods we have missed immensely, like pastourma, soutzouki, green olives, loukanika, cheese and tarama. I have been happily cooking in my hot little expat kitchen for all of us, making the best out of the ingredients, feeding our hungry bellies.

We had a small break from Greek food, however, to savor a differently spiced chicken dish. A Thai chicken dish flavored with turmeric that has become one of my favorites ever since I discovered it a little while ago.

Even though Thai cuisine is very complex, this dish is quite simple with unique and beautiful flavors. With heat coming from the white pepper and spiciness from the coriander seeds, sweetness from the palm sugar and saltiness from the nam pla (Thai fish sauce), freshness from the floral and aromatic coriander, with the crispy skin and the juicy flesh of the marinated and roasted chicken accompanied by a fresh, sticky, lime-flavored jasmine rice. The turmeric, apart from rendering a wonderful golden-yellow hue to the chicken, also adds a warm, zesty and earthy flavor that balances the sweet notes of the dish.

It’s effortless to make and utterly delicious, firing up your taste buds with every bite; ideal summer cooking.

Thai turmeric-marinated roasted chicken drumsticks
Adapted from Andrea Nguyen

You can use this marinade to flavor any other chicken piece. I have used it for breasts (skin on) and whole legs. I wouldn’t suggest you use it with skinless chicken as the flavor that will permeate its flesh will be too intense.

Yield: 4 servings


for the marinade
1½ tsp whole white peppercorns (or ground white pepper)
1½ tsp whole coriander seeds (or ground coriander)
2 tsp ground turmeric
1½ heaped Tbsp palm sugar (or soft dark brown sugar)
5 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
4 Tbsp fresh coriander stalks (or parsley stalks if you dislike fresh coriander), roughly chopped
2 Tbsp nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
1½ Tbsp oyster sauce

8 chicken drumsticks, skin on (about 1 kg in total)

2 limes, for serving

Special equipment: mortar and pestle or spice grinder, small food processor, plastic wrap, large roasting tray, pastry brush


for the marinade
If you’re using whole white pepper and/or coriander seeds, grind them using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder.
Add ground white pepper, ground coriander, turmeric, palm sugar, garlic, fresh coriander stalks, fish sauce and oyster sauce in the food processor and process until you have a somewhat smooth mixture.

In a large bowl, add the chicken drumsticks and pour the marinade over them. Mix well using your hands, taking care to rub it on and under the skin well.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or, alternatively, place the chicken pieces with the marinade in a plastic bag suitable for storing food and seal it. Allow the chicken to marinate for at least 45 minutes, or up to 2 hours. If you choose to marinate the chicken for more than 1 hour, place it in the refrigerator. Take it out of the fridge 20 minutes before you put it in the oven, to allow it to come to room temperature.

Preheat your oven to 190-200 degrees Celsius.
Place the marinated chicken in a roasting tray large enough to fit all the pieces in one layer and pour the marinade on top.

Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and roast the chicken for about 40 minutes, until it takes on a golden brown color and the skin becomes crispy and caramelized. Also, if you insert a knife or skewer on the thickest part of the chicken pieces, the juices should run clear and not be reddish in color. Don't cook for longer because the chicken will dry out and become tough.

Take it out of the oven and using a pastry brush, take the juices from the pan and glaze the drumsticks with it. Make sure to stir the juices before glazing in order to mix all the caramelized bits with the more liquid sauce.

Serve with lime, squeezing it on top of each drumstick, and with some fresh coriander leaves. Pair with lime-flavored Jasmine rice (recipe below).

Lime-flavored Jasmine rice

It’s sticky and moist, intensely aromatic and nutty. In a nutshell, the best rice for the above Thai chicken.
I always make this rice following the 1:1¼ method of measuring. Which means that for every 1 cup of rice, I add 1¼ cup water. It works perfectly each time for me.

Yield: 4 servings

1 cup Jasmine rice
1 Tbsp sunflower oil
1¼ cup boiling water
½ tsp salt
Zest of 1 lime, grated

Special equipment: sieve, rasp grater

Add the rice to a sieve and place it under cool running water. Rinse the rice until the water runs clean. Leave to dry for 5 minutes.

In a small saucepan, add the sunflower oil and heat over medium-high heat. When it starts to shimmer, add the rice and toast, stirring constantly with a spoon or spatula for 1 minute. Add the boiling water, salt and ¾ of the lime zest and stir well. Bring to the boil and turn heat down to low. Put on the lid and simmer for 12 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave with the lid on for a further 8 minutes. At this point, the rice should be cooked, tender and sticky. Using a fork, fluff up the rice, put the lid on and leave it to stand for 5-7 minutes, as it will continue to steam.

Serve immediately, sprinkling on top the rest of the lime zest, along with the Thai chicken.