Thursday, February 23, 2023

Yuzu cake with yuzu glaze

Other than chocolate, my favorite flavor for cakes of any kind is citrus. Case(s) in point: bergamot drizzle cake, lemon cake with Greek wild thyme honey glaze, blood orange semolina syrup cake, lemon, polenta and yoghurt cake, and lemon and honey madeleines. For this cake, the citrus I chose is super special; it’s yuzu.


I love the flavor of yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit that’s as unique as bergamot. And even though I have grown up with the flavor and aroma of bergamots as they are abundant in Greece, yuzu is a flavor I first tasted about a decade ago.



Yuzu is a small citrus fruit that originated in China but has been grown in Japan for over a thousand years. It can be yellow or green and has a bumpy, uneven, thick surface. Only its juice and zest are used in cooking and is rarely eaten as a fruit.

The flavor of yuzu is reminiscent of lemon, but sweeter. It is almost like a mix of lemon, mandarin, lime and grapefruit, with floral and herbal hints reminiscent of pine and thyme, and it’s highly aromatic. It has such a unique flavor that the only way to really understand it is to taste it.




The actual fruit is rarely found outside of Japan and even inside Japan, fresh yuzu is considered special, but luckily, yuzu juice is sold in small bottles in Asian/Japanese food stores. The juice inside the fruit is minimal and it takes a lot of yuzu fruits to get one small bottle, so that makes it quite expensive. If however you’re really into tasting something different and you don’t mind splurging on a food item, then I’d say go for it, even just once. Just be careful to buy 100% yuzu juice, because some brands blend the yuzu juice with other citrus fruits and/or vinegar.



Yuzu has the ability to maintain its sourness and tartness when cooked in high temperatures which makes it ideal for use in cakes.

Along with its beautiful aroma, acidity and slight sweetness, yuzu made this cake taste amazing and incredibly fragrant. With a soft, dense (but not stodgy) and slightly moist texture, it won over even my most demanding of cake tasters, my partner.





Yuzu cake with yuzu glaze

Adapted from Gâteau by Aleksandra Crapanzano

There’s yuzu juice inside the cake and in the glaze. I chose to intensify the flavor of the citrus even more by sprinkling freeze-dried yuzu on top of the glaze. By no means is that a necessary addition but it does make it extra special. Feel free to omit it if you can’t source freeze-dried yuzu.

The recipe yields two loaf cakes. Or you could bake one loaf cake and make cupcakes with the rest of the batter. Don’t be tempted to pour all the batter into one baking pan as the baking times will change greatly.



Yield: 2 loaf cakes

Special equipment: fine sieve, stand mixer or hand held electric mixer, two loaf pans about 23x13 cm, baking paper



for the cake

110 g unsalted butter

270 g all-purpose flour

1½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp fine sea salt

300 g white granulated sugar

Zest of 2 lemons, grated

Zest of 2 limes, grated

5 large eggs, at room temperature (1 large egg is about 57 grams)

120 g crème fraîche

60 g Greek yoghurt, 10% fat

120 ml yuzu juice (from a bottle or fresh if you can find it)


for the glaze

1 cup icing sugar

2½ Tbsp yuzu juice (from a bottle or fresh if you can find it)


Freeze-dried yuzu (optional), for sprinkling on top



for the cake

Preheat your oven to 175°C.

Butter the sides and bottom of your two loaf pans and line with baking paper.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and set aside somewhere that is warm so it doesn’t solidify.

In a small bowl, sieve the flour, baking powder and sea salt.

In the bowl of your stand mixer (or in a large bowl if you’re using an electric hand held mixer), add the sugar, the grated lemon and lime zest and with your fingertips, rub them together. This will disperse the citrus oils through the sugar which will flavor uniformly the cake batter. Add the eggs, and using the paddle attachment (if you’re using a stand mixer), beat on medium-high speed until you have a fluffy and light mixture.

Add the crème fraîche and Greek yoghurt and beat to combine.

On low speed now, add the sieved flour, baking powder and salt, and mix for 5 seconds. Then add the yuzu juice and mix to combine. Finally, add the melted butter and mix until you have a smooth mixture. Don’t overbeat.

Divide the batter between the two prepared loaf pans.

Bake for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool slightly. Then remove the cakes from the pans and leave to cool completely before glazing.


for the glaze

In a small bowl add the icing sugar and yuzu juice and using a small whisk, mix well until you have a smooth, glossy and lump-free glaze.

Once the cakes are completely cool, pour over the glaze. Sprinkle with freeze-dried yuzu, if using.

You can keep it at room temperature, for 2-3 days. 



Friday, February 10, 2023

Bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with Ibérico cheese and blanched almonds

This is a dish made for when you really want to eat something sweet, salty and savory all wrapped into two little bites.

Or, for when you have friends over and you plan on doing some drinking that will require some serious snacking later on, and you want that snack to be really delicious and not just chips and dip.

Or, for when you host a dinner or a celebration and you want to serve something impressively good for a starter, a nibble, or as part of your main spread.




If any of the above applies to you, then this dish is made for you.

There’s bacon, dates, cheese and nuts. There’s crunchy, crispy, soft, sticky and creamy textures. There’s sweet, salty, smoky, umami and sharp flavors.




Plump Medjool dates stuffed with blanched almonds and Ibérico (or Manchego) cheese, wrapped in bacon. Tell me that doesn’t sound good!

Who can resist a recipe that’s so full of flavor?!





Bacon-wrapped Medjool dates stuffed with Ibérico cheese and blanched almonds

The cheese I use to stuff the dates with in this dish vary. I usually use Ibérico cheese, but other times I use Manchego. Both are Spanish cheeses that are buttery, creamy and sharp. However, their flavor profile differs due to the type of milk used to make each cheese. Manchego is made just with sheep’s milk, whereas Ibérico is made with a combination of sheep’s, goat’s and cow’s milk.

I also sometimes use blue cheese in place of the above two cheeses, for a sharper, stronger flavor, and other times I use a combination of blue cheese and Manchego/Ibérico (I cut one small piece of each and stuff the date) when a more complex cheese flavor is what Im after.

The choice is yours, depending on how sharp and pronounced a cheese flavor you want the dish to have. 

If you have troubled sourcing any of these two Spanish cheeses, choose a nice Greek Kaseri or Graviera cheese, a Swiss Gruyère, or a French Comté cheese.




Yield: 20 pieces



20 dried Medjool dates

Large piece of Ibérico cheese (or Manchego) – see above for more info about the cheese and substitutes

20 slices of smoked streaky bacon, not too thinly sliced

20 blanched almond halves, unsalted


Special equipment: large, rimmed baking sheet, baking paper, 20 toothpicks



Preheat your oven to 200°C.

Line a rimmed, large enough baking sheet to fill all 20 bacon-wrapped dates, with baking paper.

Cut each date lengthwise on one side, being careful not to cut all the way through, and remove the pit.

Cut the cheese into pieces a little smaller than the cavity of each date. Push the cheese inside the date and add one or two almond halves depending on the size of the date. Press the sides to slightly close the dates.

Then, take a slice of bacon and wrap it around the date. You want the date to be covered with a double layer of bacon so depending on the length of your bacon slices you may need to cut each slice in half.

Secure with a toothpick and place each wrapped date, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet.


Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes on one side, then turn each wrapped date over and bake for a further 6-8 minutes, depending on the thickness of your bacon. You want the bacon to be caramelized all over, be crunchy and have a deep, golden color. Keep an eye on the bacon as you don’t want it to burn.

Remove from the oven and let the dates cool in the baking sheet for about 5 minutes. Then, transfer onto kitchen paper to absorb some of the grease. Then transfer onto a serving platter.

Serve warm or at room temperature and enjoy!



Thursday, February 2, 2023

Warm potato salad with onion, capers and a tahini, miso and black garlic sauce

In my previous post, I shared with you my tahini, miso and black garlic sauce, my secret weapon to deliciousness not just for sandwiches but for salads too.


This is one of the salads I love to make using this sauce as it has the magic ability to transform a handful of simple ingredients into something interesting and utterly scrumptious. I usually eat it with just some bread on the side, but this salad is the ideal pair to roasted fish or meat, and can be served as part of an array of salads and spreads, like a meze of sorts.




Warm potato salad with onion, capers and a tahini, miso and black garlic sauce


Yield: 2 large salad servings



5-6 medium-sized starchy potatoes, peeled and quartered

1 red onion, thinly sliced

1 Tbsp capers, rinsed if overly salty

A handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Small handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

Sea salt

Black pepper

Extra virgin olive oil

About 4 Tbsp tahini, miso and black garlic sauce



Boil the potatoes in plenty of water and some salt until you can easily insert the tip of a knife into the potato. They shouldn’t be overly soft otherwise they will break apart when you toss them with the rest of the salad ingredients later.

Gently drain the potatoes without shaking them around, and place them in a salad bowl. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper and add a little olive oil.

Add 3 Tbsp of the tahini sauce and the sliced onion, and gently mix everything with your hands. Then add the capers, the chopped herbs and more olive oil if you see that the salad needs more moisture or of you simply prefer your salad to have more olive oil, like me. Toss again gently with your hands and you’re done!

Serve with a couple of dollops of tahini sauce on top of the salad.