Thursday, June 29, 2017

Quick strawberry and rosewater ice cream

Lately, I’ve been eating strawberries and fresh fruit like a crazy person and I can’t get enough of them. Most of the times, they are so incredibly tasty, sweet and aromatic that I can’t even fathom using them in any sort of recipe because it’d feel like a waste. There’s nothing better than eating fresh, seasonal, scrumptious fruit straight up.

After a whole month, however, of eating strawberries, the time has come to use them in the most memorable for me way. In ice cream! Strawberry is among my favorite ice cream flavors together with chocolate and coconut, and I have the recipes to prove it.

This version of no-churn strawberry ice cream is amazing and the quickest you’ll ever make. It is made with only a few ingredients and the result is a creamy and smooth ice cream that’s perfect eaten straight after you’ve made it, like a soft-serve.

What you have to do is pretty simple. You take some fresh strawberries, the sweetest and most aromatic you can find, you hull them and cut them in half. You then place them in the freezer until they’re rock hard and then you puree them in a food processor together with some sugar, buttermilk, rosewater and vanilla extract. It is like the well-known way of making ice cream with frozen bananas, but with strawberries.

I love the smooth, velvety and fluffy texture when it has just been processed, even if it is melting all over the place after a few minutes on a hot summer day, but you can certainly put it in the freezer for an hour or two to get a firmer set, and of course you can leave it in the freezer overnight where it will set hard.

It has an intense strawberry flavor so needless to say the quality and ripeness of the fruit is key here. Strawberry and rose is a match made in heaven as they both have a floral aroma and flavor, and this is clearly evident in this ice cream.

The rosewater flavor is subtle, making nevertheless its presence known without being overwhelming in any way, the vanilla adds a pleasant, sweet note, and the acidity of the buttermilk balances everything well. It’s a very refreshing, light and aromatic ice cream that you must definitely try before strawberry season is over.

Quick strawberry and rosewater ice cream
Adapted from Fast Cooking by James Martin

Choose ripe and sweet strawberries for this ice cream as you want the maximum amount of flavor.

In contrast to most no-churn ice creams that contain sweetened condensed milk, cream or coconut milk, this is a very light version and it actually has a much more intense and fresh strawberry flavor as it doesn’t have those heavy ingredients masking it.

By the way, this ice cream is perfect with a chocolate magic-shell poured over the top that hardens when it hits the ice cream, or a hot chocolate sauce that remains soft. Here, I served it with the magic-shell.

Yield: about 550 g

400 g fresh, whole strawberries (or you could use frozen strawberries)
150 ml buttermilk
50 caster sugar
½ tsp rosewater
½ tsp pure vanilla extract

Special equipment: medium-sized baking sheet, large food processor (or blender)

If you are using fresh strawberries, rinse them briefly to get any dirt off, place them on paper towels and gently pat them dry. Hull them, cut them in half and place them on a medium-sized baking sheet, spacing them apart so they don’t become one solid mass that will be difficult to break up. Put them in the freezer (no need to wrap or cover them) for about 4 hours or until completely frozen.
If you are using frozen strawberries, continue from here.

Just before you want to serve the ice cream (see note below), empty the strawberries in the bowl of your food processor together with the rest of the ingredients and process until you have a smooth ice cream. There will be tiny pieces of strawberry visible but if there are large pieces, you need to keep processing so they dissolve and you have a creamy, cold and fluffy mixture. Just make sure to be as quick as you can with this process because the ice cream will begin to melt faster the more you work it, especially if it’s very hot the day you make it.
Serve immediately or see note below for alternatives.

Note: I’d like to reiterate some facts here that I briefly touched in the main body of this post. This ice cream can be served straight away after you have processed it in the food processor. At this point, it will be super smooth and creamy, and for me, it’s perfect, but it won’t take long before it starts to melt. You can also put it in the freezer straight after you have processed it for 1-2 hours to set a bit, at which point it will be still creamy but won’t melt as fast. Finally, you can put it in popsicle molds or in a freezer-suitable container and leave it overnight. It will set hard, but if you leave it outside for half an hour, it will be scoopable.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Eggs in spicy tomato sauce with brie

This was yesterday’s dinner. Eggs cooked in a spicy tomato sauce with lots of Greek extra virgin olive oil and a few slices of brie added on top at the end of cooking to melt slightly and be as seductive as they can be to our palates.

A couple of days prior, I had baked two loaves of sourdough bread and a couple of thick slices were the best thing to dip into the rich, deeply yellow-colored egg yolk and spicy sauce.

I posted a photo of this on instagram last night, right before diving into it, and many asked for the recipe. As simple as this recipe is, I thought it was blog-worthy as well, so here it is.

I hope you make it and enjoy it with a cold glass of beer.

Eggs in spicy tomato sauce with brie

I made this in individual saganakia (saganaki is a small, Greek, two-handled pan) and it fits as much as you see in the photos ie. two eggs per pan. You can use one large pan that will fit all 4 eggs. The instructions are for that option.

Yield: 2 servings


for the sauce
2 large, ripe and juicy tomatoes (about 400 g in total) (or if you make this during the winter, a 400 g can of whole Roma tomatoes)
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp tomato paste
½ tsp pul biber (Aleppo pepper) or dried red pepper flakes (or less if you can’t handle the heat of chilli)
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, 5-6 turns of the pepper mill
A pinch of Demerara sugar

4 (or 6) large eggs
Brie cheese, cut into thin slices (about 8 slices)
Garden cress
Pul biber or dried red pepper flakes
Extra virgin olive oil

Special equipment: box grater, non-stick pan


for the sauce
In a medium-sized bowl, grate the tomatoes (on the large holes of the grater). As you grate them, the skin will remain in your hand, so throw that away. If you are using whole canned tomatoes, pulse them in a food processor (don’t puree them, you want some small pieces too).

In a medium-sized non-stick pan, add the olive oil and heat over a medium-high heat. When it starts to shimmer, add the grated tomatoes, tomato paste, pul biber/dried red chilli flakes, black pepper, a little salt and a pinch of sugar and stir well with a spoon. Allow the sauce to come to the boil and immediately turn heat down to low.
Simmer the sauce for about 20 minutes, stirring from time to time and making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan, until you have a thick-ish sauce. You don’t want it to be dry but you don’t want it to be overly wet either. You can see the consistency in the photos.
Check the seasoning, adding more salt if you find it necessary. Turn heat up to medium and crack the eggs in the pan. Cook the eggs to your liking (we prefer runny yolks) and 2 minutes before they are done, add the slices of brie between the eggs.
When the eggs have cooked and the brie has began to melt, remove the pan from the heat and serve immediately, drizzled with a little extra virgin olive oil, sprinkled with some more pul biber, salt and some garden cress.
You can eat it straight from the pan, as we usually do, or serve in individual plates. Have some good sourdough on hand for the all important dipping action and enjoy!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Puffed quinoa granola bars with dark chocolate ganache and coconut flakes

A few weeks ago I shared with you my latest granola obsession, made with puffed quinoa and rice, dried fruits, nuts, peanut butter and grape molasses. Well guess what? I turned that granola into bars and they’re fantastic. We can’t stop munching on them.

It’s that same addictive flavor of the granola but in bar form, topped with a rich dark chocolate ganache flavored with coffee liqueur and topped with dried coconut flakes. To me, the flavor combination is heavenly.

Essentially, you take the recipe for the granola, which makes two trays, so you can have a big batch of granola to eat for breakfast, about two large jars, and you turn the second tray into twenty big chocolate ganache bars to have either for breakfast or a special treat.

As bars, they are a bit crumbly at the bottom but heck, I don’t mind and wouldn’t change a thing in the recipe because they taste fantastic. The granola is made with puffed rice and quinoa, walnuts and almonds, dried figs, apricots and raisins, with the sweetening agents being petimezi (grape molasses) and soft dark brown sugar. There’s some butter in there and also peanut butter to hold everything together and some ginger and cinnamon for a heady, aromatic kick.

You bake it in the oven until it takes on some color and one tray is reserved for the regular granola which you can break up in chunks or smaller pieces if you prefer, whereas the second tray is for the bars. Or you can just make two batches of bars, the choice is yours. You don’t break that up because you need the whole tray to be in one piece, so once it has cooled, you cover it with a rich dark chocolate ganache which I chose to flavor with Khalua. You could substitute with Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur) or Amaretto (almond liqueur) depending on your taste, or just add some vanilla extract if you don’t want to add any alcohol. Oh, and the dried flaked coconut on top is key.

They are light even though they contain a lot of ingredients, they’re not too sweet and they’re nutty, with crunchy and soft textures, little sticky from the dried fruits and gooey from the rich, smooth chocolate ganache. The combination of flavors is quite special and the topping of the coffee-flavored chocolate ganache and dried coconut flakes is like the cherry on top.

Hope you enjoy them! Tag me on insta if you make them so I can see them.

Puffed quinoa granola bars with dark chocolate ganache and coconut flakes

The recipe makes two trays of granola. You can either keep one tray for regular granola and turn the other one into bars, or do two trays of bars. The recipe for the chocolate ganache is for one tray of granola. If you want to make two trays, double the ganache recipe.

Yield: 20 bars


Ingredients and recipe for the granola recipe here

Ingredients for the ganache
360 g dark chocolate (at least 55% cocoa solids)
70 g cream, full-fat
Pinch of salt
1 Tbsp coffee liqueur (I used Kahlua), or you could use Amaretto or Frangelico or 1 tsp vanilla extract

A big handful of dried coconut flakes for the top


Make the granola
Make the granola following the instructions in this post, BUT after you bake it, don’t break it up into pieces. As you will read below in the instructions of the bars assembly, you must let it cool completely in the pan and then pour the ganache on top. As mentioned above, the recipe makes two trays of granola. You can either keep one tray for regular granola and the other one make it into bars, or do two trays of bars.

Make the ganache
While the granola is cooling, make the ganache. The recipe for the chocolate ganache is for one tray of granola. If you want to make two trays, double the ganache recipe.
Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water (bain-marie) and melt, stirring often. The bottom of the bowl must not come in contact with the simmering water otherwise the chocolate may burn. Once the chocolate is smooth and melted, remove bowl from the top of the pan.
Heat the cream until warm (be careful not to boil it) and add it to the hot melted chocolate together with the salt and the Kahlua. Mix well with a spatula until you have a smooth and glossy ganache. Don’t use a whisk to mix because you’ll create air bubbles which will make the ganache less smooth and glossy.

Once the granola has completely cooled, pour the hot ganache on top and spread it evenly with a spatula to cover the granola completely. Break up the dried coconut flakes in your hands and scatter them on top. Set aside and let the ganache set. Then place in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap. Once it has hardened, pick up the whole piece from the overhanging baking paper and place it on a cutting board. Using a long, sharp knife, cut into 20 bars.

Keep the bars either in the same tray covered with cling film, or transfer to airtight containers and keep in the fridge for a week.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Chocolate and almond marble bundt cake

I love bundt cakes, not sure why. I guess it’s because they remind me of my childhood and my mom’s Sunday cakes. When I’d get into a fight with my brother over who was going to lick the bowl clean. When the smell of the cake baking in the oven and the sweet anticipation of the treat seamed torturous to my young, impatient, greedy self.

It’s no different now, instead that I am the one making the cake, even though I have to say, every time I go back home to Greece, my mon always bakes a vanilla-chocolate bundt cake for me. Good habits never die.

This one is based on the classic vanilla and chocolate marble bundt cake but with the addition of a few extra ingredients and flavors that make it so much better and delicious. It is actually a chocolate and almond marble cake.

There’s ground almonds in there and some almond extract, whereas for the chocolate portion of the cake, there’s cocoa powder and dark chocolate chunks. Perfect for the chocoholic who likes to mix things up a bit.

It has a soft, fluffy and somewhat moist texture, an intense almond aroma from the extract that reminds me a bit of marzipan which I absolutely love, and a subtle crunch from the ground almonds. The chocolate flavor is pronounced and oh-so-addictive and it can satisfy even the most demanding of marble bundt cake lovers.

This is the kind of cake that can stand well on its own. I prefer it as is myself, or with a simple dusting of icing sugar, but feel free to glaze away if you’re so inclined. I’d suggest a dark chocolate glaze if you’re a hard-core chocoholic, or an almond-mascarpone frosting to accentuate the almond flavor.

Chocolate and almond marble bundt cake
Slightly adapted from Ruby Tandoh

I used a 55% dark chocolate and I would advise you to do the same (not more than 60% cocoa solids) because the cake is not overly sweet so by using a higher percentage dark chocolate, you may end up with a more bitter cake than you’d hope.

I have to say, I screwed up the marbling this time because I was in a hurry to put the cake in the oven, forgetting for a moment (oh the horror!) that I am a food blogger and that I was planning to photograph it. Please take your time with yours for a better visual result, although the taste is and will always be scrumptious no matter how bad or good the marbling is.

Yield: 1 cake / 12-14 pieces

180 g all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting the pan
75 g ground almonds (I used half blanched and half whole almonds and ground them myself)
2 tsp baking powder
30 g Dutch-processed cocoa powder
3 Tbsp (45 ml) hot water
180 g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing the pan
225 g caster sugar
¾ tsp pure almond extract
3 large eggs
2 Tbsp (30 ml) whole fresh milk
100 g dark chocolate (55% cocoa solids), finely chopped into small chunks

Icing sugar, for dusting (optional)

Special equipment: bundt pan (at least 1½ liter capacity), pastry brush (optional), stand mixer or electric hand-held mixer

Preheat your oven to 180°C.
Using a pastry brush or your hands, grease the inside of your baking pan very well with some softened butter, being careful not to leave small pieces of butter in the pan walls. Sprinkle some flour inside the greased pan and tap it to go all over the inside of the pan. Tap out the excess flour.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and ground almonds with a spatula.
In a small bowl, add the cocoa powder and hot water, and whisk to make a smooth paste.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl), add the butter and sugar and beat with the paddle attachment (or a hand-held mixer) on medium-high speed until creamy, light and fluffy, for 5-6 minutes. Add the almond extract and beat well. Add one egg and beat well on high speed to incorporate fully. Then add a spoonful of the flour-ground almond mixture and beat to combine. Continue in the same manner until you have added all 3 eggs. Then add all of the remaining flour-ground almond mixture and beat on low speed until it is just combined. Add the milk and beat on low until just combined. Don’t beat more otherwise the cake will be tough instead of fluffy because the gluten in the flour will be activated.

Empty half of the cake batter into a medium-sized bowl and add the chopped chocolate. Mix well with a spatula to evenly distribute the chocolate through the cake batter. To the remaining cake batter in the bowl of your mixer add the cocoa powder paste and beat on low for a few seconds until just combined and there are no visible white patches of batter.

Take your prepared bundt pan and using a large spoon or spatula, fill it by alternating spoonfuls of the two cake mixtures. Then, using a skewer or knife, make swirls but don’t overdo it like I did, otherwise you won’t have a marble effect.

Place the pan on the lower rack of the preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes. Then transfer to the middle rack and bake for a further 20 minutes or until or a wooden skewer inserted into the deepest part of the cake comes out clean. Please be aware that not all ovens bake the same and not all bundt pans are the same, some have thinner or thicker wall, made from different material which make baking times differ. This cake takes anywhere between 40 and 50 minutes to cook. Mine takes 45 minutes but start checking yours from 35 minutes onward to make sure.

Remove the pan from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for 10-15 minutes. Then take the cake out of the pan and onto the wire rack and let cool completely. When it has cooled, you can dust with icing sugar or glaze it with a glaze/frosting of your liking.

It keeps well for 4-5 days, at room temperature. Because it contains ground almonds that become moist as days go by (due to the oils in the almonds), they keep the cake from drying out and stays fresh for longer.