Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Christmas Log

This is one of our Christmas/all year favourite slice!  Few years ago I discovered the addition of Turkish Halva (Helwa tat-Tork) which makes this dark luscious slice even more delicious!  Quantities make 1x40cm log and a smaller roll of approx 15cm which disappear before the day is out.

180g Crushed Malt Biscuits (Morning Coffee)
300g Crushed Roasted Hazel Nuts
80g Whole Roasted Hazel Nuts
150g Turkish Halva
397g can sweetened condensed milk
50g cocoa powder
75g Icing Sugar
40ml Kahlua or other Coffee Liquor

300g Nutella

Extra Icing Sugar for Dusting

Add dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Using a fork crush the turkish halva leaving some bits the size of a hazelnut.  Stir the ingredients to have a combined mix.  Add condensed milk and Kahlua, then using a metal spoon stir the mixture slowly to obtain a stiff paste.  Spoon mixture over a grease proof paper, then fold over the paper to form a roll approximately 40cm long and 7cm diameter.

Transfer the log to serving plate.  Using the back of a spoon cover the roll with Nutella to create a rough bark effect.  Chill for about 2 hours then dust with icing sugar.  Chill overnight before serving.
Log keeps well in the fridge for up to three weeks but I wonder if it will last that long!

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Pistachio Filo Swirl

This Coffee time treat is very similar to Baklava, but instead of using almonds I used Bronte Pistachio.  Bronte is an Etna region where this nut grows in abundance.  Like many nuts, the season for Pistachios starts in September until the end of October.   The shrub is delicately described as 'the ugliest of all' by my dear friend Ciccio who owns with his brother Luciano, Agriturismo Da Marianna in the Nebroidi area of Randazzo,  yet another Etna Region, famous for the 'Castrato' ... the best Lamb I ever tasted!  Quantities are enough to make a 12 inch swirl.

8 Filo Sheets (normal frozen packet)
150g butter melted
400g Ground Pistachios
250g Sugar
1 tbsp ground rice
2 tbsp mandarin liquor
3 egg whites
1 tsp grated orange rind

100ml water
100g sugar
2 heaped tbsp honey
few whole pistachios

In a food processor, add nuts, 250g sugar, grated orange rind, rice flour, egg whites and liquor.  Give few pulses until a rough paste is formed.
Brush 12inch round baking with melted butter. Pre heat oven to 180c

Open two filo sheets next to each other over a marble kitchen top.  The short sides overlapping by 1 inch.  Brush generously with melted butter. Place two more sheets over and brush again with melted butter. Take spoonfuls of half the pistachio mixture and carefully place along the  end (closest to you) of the filo sheets. Roll the Filo sheets enclosing the mixture to form something that resembles a 1 inch thick long rope. Take one end of the 'rope' and form a swirl.  Transfer immediately to the center of brushed baking dish.
Repeat the process with the remaining Filo Sheets and filling, then continue to go around the swirl snugging it tightly in the dish.
Brush top with the remaining butter then bake for approximately 30-40 minutes until lightly golden.
Meanwhile, make the stock syrup by bring to boil over medium heat water, sugar and honey.  Increase heat to rapid boil for just 30 seconds and turn off heat.
When Pistachio Swirl is lightly golden, remove from oven sprinkle over few whole pistachios then pour over the syrup.  Return to oven and cook further until a rich golden colour is obtained.
Leave to cool completely before serving, and you can dust with a little icing sugar to give it a dramatic look!

Friday, 3 November 2017

Pistacchio and Chocolate Chip filled Danish Pastries

This is a Croissant pastry filled with unsweetened Pistachio paste and chocolate chips, swirled and cut like Chelsea Buns then generously brushed with runny honey.  An delicious Sunday Breakfast treat!!

500g Plain Flour
50g Butter
1 tsp dried yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
400ml Water

200g Butter

100g Crunchy Pistachio Paste
50g nibbled pistachios
3 tbsp Sugar
3 tbsp Chocolate Chips

Milk for brushing
3 tbsp Runny honey

In a food processor add sifted flour, 50g butter, yeast, sugar and salt and give a few pulses so that butter incorporates in flour.  Add water gradually and stop when ball forms.  (some flours tend to have different fluid absorption)

Roll dough over a floured surface to form a rectangle.  Cut 200g butter into thin slices and place in the middle of the rolled dough to cover 2/3rds of the dough.  Fold dough edges towards center to cover butter completely, give a quarter turn and roll out again.  Fold edges one third over each other and chill dough for 15 minutes.  Repeat folding and turning for 3 more times.

Roll out pastry to form approximately 60cmx40cm rectangle.  Cover thinly with Pistachio paste, sprinkle with sugar, nibbled pistachios and chocolate chips.  Roll dough then cut approximately 2cm pieces.  Arrange in a buttered baking dish leaving 1/2cm between each roll for proving.  Cover with plastic film and refrigerate overnight.

Take out from fridge, and bring to room temperature for about 1/2 an hour.  Meanwhile pre heat oven to 210c.  Brush tops with a little milk, then bake for about 40mins until lightly golden.  Take out from oven, spoon over the runny honey and bake for further 10 minutes until Puffed Rolls become rich gold colour.

Recipe makes approximately 20 Puff Rolls. Rolls keep well for 2 days, but can be frozen either raw or cooked after completely cooled.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Berry Filled Chocolate Roulade

Chocolate Roulade by itself is divine, the berry filling is there to give the sharpness at the end of each spoonful that leads you to the next morsel! This recipe serves 10-12

Chocolate sponge
4 eggs
1 cup castor sugar
few drops Vanilla essence
1 espresso (2 tbsp)
125g dark Chocolate
1/4 cup cornflour
1/4 cup cocoa powder

125g frozen berries
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp gelatin powder

250ml fresh cream
1 tbsp sugar

2tbsp icing sugar for dusting

Pre heat oven to 180c. Line a baking tray (30cm x 45cm) with baking paper.
Melt chocolate over baine marie and keep warm.
Separate eggs and transfer yolk to mixing bowl. Add sugar and vanilla extract and using k beater mix for about 8 mins till light and fluffy. Add espresso and give few more turns. Remove bowl from mixer , sift over mixture flour and cocoa together then fold in gently using metal spoon. Fold in chocolate, mix well to have chocolate evenly distributed in the mixture.
Beat whites in a separate bowl till soft peaks form. Then add a tablespoon of whisked egg whites to chocolate mixture and fold it gently to loosen the mix.  Then add the remaining whisked whites and fold gently taking care not to loose too much air.
Transfer mix to prepared baking tray and using a spatula spread batter evenly to all edges.
Bake for about 15 mins.
Remove from oven and let sponge cool in tray.
In a medium saucepan add frozen fruit and boil over medium heat. Add sugar and stir to melt. Simmer for about 5 mins. Turn off heat, then add gelatin powder amd mix well.  Set aside to cool.
Whip cream and sugar to a stiff peak.
Lay a piece of baking paper, slightly bigger than the sponge, on a working top. Sift over some icing sugar then turn the sponge over it. Remove the attached paper. Spoon the berry mixture along the end close to you. Then spread cream evenly on the remaining sponge. Usin the baking paper lift the sponge and roll over. Transfer to a serving dish, dust over more icing sugar and chill for 2 hours before serving.

Pagru (Bream) with Jerusalem Artichoke Quinoa Risotto

Quinoa Risotto recipe serves 4. I used the full grain for this recipe, and one cup dried quinoa took 3 cups of stock.  Using different variety may require less fluids, so be careful to add as required.

Quinoa Risotto
1 cup Quinoa
3 cups Chicken Stock
4 Jerusalem Artichoke (350g)
1 leek
2 spring onions
1 Green fresh garlic
1/2 cup shelled fresh peas(frozen may be used instead)
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup fresh cream
Salt & Pepper

Pagru (recipe quantites for each portion)
1 Pagru 500-600g  De-scaled and
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
Salt & Pepper
1 tsp Capers in Vinegar

Rinse quinoa in cold water, then leave for about 15 minutes standing covered in cold water.  Meanwhile, peel Jerusalem artichokes and chop into small cubes.  Chop finely, onions, garlic and leeks and fry in 1 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp butter in a medium pan until soft and translucent.  Add Jerusalem artichokes and stir.  Add 1 cup chicken stock and simmer for 10 minutes on low heat.  Drain quinoa using a tight sieve, then add to onion mix with another cup of stock.  Simmer for further 10minutes or until the mixture dries out.  Add the final cup of chicken stock, cover and simmer for further 10 minutes till quinoa is cooked through but holds to it's shape.  Season with salt and pepper, and taste as Jerusalem Artichokes are sweet and require just that little bit more salt.  Finally remove from heat add cream and give a final stir before serving.

For Pagru fillets:
Season with salt and pepper, and fry skin side down in 1 tbsp olive oil for 3-4 minutes.  Add chopped butter and glaze the pagru fillets continuously so that they will also cook from top.  Add the capers in the last 30 seconds of cooking.  Serve on a large spoon of Jerusalem Artichoke quinoa risotto. Drizzle over the butter and capers from pan and sprinkle over the finely chopped green tops from the spring onion.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Hazelnut Frangipane tart with Figs, Apricot and Plums

Frangipan is the nut filling, usually almonds, and is commonly used to fill short crust pastry shells in a bakewell tart. In this recipe I used ground hazelnuts and puff pastry instead and skipped the blind baking of the pastry shell. As I made this in early Summer, I had figs and apricot in season, but in winter you can swap with blueberries, raspberries or even pears. Recipe serves generous 12 portions and goes well with a cup of tea!

1 sheet of frozen/fresh ready made round cut puff pastry. (30cm)
400g ground hazelnuts
5 eggs
2 tbs frangelico or other liquor
240g caster sugar
3-4 ripe figs
3-4 apricots
2 plums
2 tbsp demerara or other sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tbsp runny honey
2 tbsp icing sugar

Pre heat oven to 180c.
Slice fruit and set aside.
In a food mixer, add ground hazelnuts, eggs, liquor and sugar and using k beater beat on slow speed to mix ingredients to form a medium stiff paste.

Roll out puff pastry on a baking tray. Pour over hazelnut mixture and level with a spatula. Leave approximately 1cm pastry as border.

Arrange fruit around, sprinkle with demerara sugar and dust with a little cinnamon.

Bake for approximately 40 minutes till golden.  Then take out from the oven and while still piping hot drizzle honey over the fruit to create a glaze.

Turn onto a wire rack to cool completely and right before serving dredge with icing sugar.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Spaghetti with Smoked Salmon and Spring Onion

At the market I am always tempted to buy more than my larder can handle!  Spring Vegetables such as onions come into abundance, especially when winters are blessed with plenty of water! Usually at this time, fridges are crying for a bit of space. Chopping all the bulky and smelly spring onions and maybe adding some leeks and green garlic,  frying them gently in a little olive oil until soft, will give you back ample fridge-space, as they will fit in a regular bowl. Moreover, during the week when time in the kitchen get scarce, they will be conveniently ready! Fried onions will keep well in the fridge for about a week or until the next visit to the market!!

2 Fresh Green Onions chopped

1 Fresh Green Garlic chopped
1 Leek chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
200g smoked salmon
250ml fresh cream
1 tsp chopped dill or parsely
1 small green chilli pepper
Salt & Pepper
500g Linguine

Bring a large pan of salted water to boil, add linguine pasta and boil for 10 minutes till al dente.
Meanwhile, fry onions, garlic and leeks in olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Season with salt and pepper.  When onions are soft, add chopped smoked salmon, cream  and chopped fresh herbs. Turn the sauce off as soon as it boils.

Drain pasta in a colander, reserve 1 cup of cooking pasta water.

Transfer pasta to the large pan with sauce and toss for about 1 minute so that sauce will cover pasta evenly.  Add pasta water if necessary to obtain a good consistency and to avoid pasta sticking together.

Serve immediately, garnished with chopped green peppers.  Recipe makes 3-4 main course portions or 6 good starters.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Tahini Cream filled Profiterols with Kahlua Chocolate Sauce

Choux pastry is so versatile, it can be used in savoury dishes and in desserts. This is a classic with a twist, as I have added tahini paste to fresh cream and flavoured my chocolate with Kahlua liquor.  This recipe makes around 60 choux puffs depending on size.  Try not to make them bigger than walnut, and to achieve this size you have to pipe them as small as a cherry tomato!


Choux Pastry
375ml water
Pinch salt
65g butter
125g flour
4 eggs

Put water and butter in a saucepan over low heat until butter melts. As soon as butter melts turn heat to high to boil rapidly. When mixture boils, turn off heat and tip in flour and salt at one go. Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until smooth thick paste forms. Return mixture to low heat and continue to beat for just one minute so that mixture dries a little. Transfer mixture to a mixer and leave it to cool slightly. Attach the k beater and mix in the eggs one at a time on medium speed. The finished dough must be glossy and should fall off the spoon. Pipe small choux buns the size of cherry tomato, on oiled baking sheet using piping bag fitted with plain 1 cm nozzle. Bake in 210c oven for 15 to 20minutes or until golden. Cool on wire rack. For a crispier texture, when the choux puffs are completely cold, return them to 200c oven for further 5 minutes.

Cream Filling
250ml Fresh Cream
1 Tbsp Tahini Paste
1 Tbsp Runny Honey
1 1/2 tbsp Caster Sugar

Whisk cream sugar and honey in a large bowl until soft peaks form.  Take two tablespoons of whipped cream into a small bowl and add the tahini paste.  Mix well until the tahini is incorporated in the cream into a lighter mix.  Mix the tahini cream to the other bowl of cream and mix slowly using a whisk until the mixture becomes stiff enough to pipe.  Be careful not to over mix!

Chocolate Sauce
75g dark plain chocolate
2tbsp Kahlua or other coffee liquor
2 tbsp Milk

Melt chocolate over a baine marie, then remove from heat, add kahlua and milk and using a small whisk, whisk until smooth and glossy.

Fit a piping bag with a small star nozzle. Fill bag with tahini cream, pipe cream into profiterols and place on a serving tray. Pour over the chocolate sauce and garnish with some chopped pecan nuts.  Chill for about 2 hours before serving. 


Saturday, 11 February 2017

Foie Gras Hazelnut Macaroons

I discovered the sweet and salty of this delicate amuse bouche in Feudi San Gregorio restaurant in Avellino.  Their's were perfect of course, but what do you expect from a Michelin Star kitchen?!!
Preserved foie gras may be found from Deli Counters, however I bought mine from Annecy a quaint little village in France.   Recipe makes about 60 macaroons depending on the size.
For Macaroons:
4 Large Egg Whites
70g Caster Sugar
230g Icing Sugar
160g finely ground Hazelnuts

For Filling:
150g Preserved Foie Gras
Salt & Pepper
Sprig of freshThyme

Maldon Salt flakes
Cranberry Jam 

Put egg whites and caster sugar in a food mixer and using a balloon whisk, whisk on high speed for 8-10minutes to a stiff merengue. Sift together ground hazelnut and icing sugar then using a large metal spoon fold into the merengue mixture. Spoon mixture into a piping bag fitted with 1cm plain nozzle. 
Line baking trays with baking paper then pipe small blobs size of 1euro coin.  Give the tray few sharp taps on the working top so that macaroons will not crack while cooking. Leave to rest for 15 minutes, meanwhile pre heat the oven to 150c.  
Bake for 20 minutes then remove from oven and leave to cool completely before filling. 
Pass the foie gras from a fine sieve, add salt and pepper and finely chopped thyme.  Spoon to a piping bag fitted with 1cm plain nozzle.
Pair macaroons into equal sizes, then pipe small amount of foie gras mixture in the middle and press together to form a sandwich.  Arrange on a serving board sprinkle over some salt. Serve with Prosecco.
Empty macaroons keep well for long time in an airtight container.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Rosmarino with Wild Asparagus Parmesan and Pistachio

Rosmarino is a short pasta - artigianale. It is ideal for soups and 'risotto' type pasta dishes. Creamed pistachio is a Scicilian delicacy commonly found in delicatessen or supermarkets.  There are two variants, sweet and savoury. Savoury is usually made up of ground nuts, olive oil, salt and occasionally parmesan cheese.  I used the savoury for this dish. Recipe is enough for four generous starters.
250g Rosmarino Pasta
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
100g wild asparagus
75g parmesan
3 spring onions chopped
two tbsp. chopped pistachio
1 tbsp. creamed pistachio
250ml chicken stock
3 tbsp. olive oil
Salt & Pepper

Pre Heat oven at 200c. Put heaped teaspoons of parmesan in a baking tray, leaving enough space fro one heap to another to spread, sprinkle with some chopped pistachio and bake for approx. 15 minutes till golden.  Remove from oven and let the parmesan biscuits cool in oven tray. (leave 2 tbsp. of parmesan and 1 tbsps. chopped pistachio to use in pasta later)

In a small pan boil water and add 1/2 tsp salt.  Blanch wild asparagus for just one minute.  Drain and refresh with cold water.  Pat dry and set aside. 

Bring a medium pan of water to boil, add salt then pasta.  Cook for just six minutes, reserve 1 cup of pasta water then drain.  Return pasta, reserved water and stock to pan.  Add chopped spring onions, creamed pistachio and stir over low heat.  Pasta will continue to cook and absorb the liquids.  Add parmesan Cheese, olive oil and roughly chopped wild asparagus.  Season with fresh black pepper and give a final stir to obtain a creamy pasta dish. 

Serve topped with cracked parmesan biscuits and a sprinkle of chopped pistachio.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Custard Black Berry Chocolate Slice

A deliciously cool after dinner treat.  This dessert has two components, the chocolate cake, and the custard topping, with an easy to follow recipe guide.  Prepare at least six hours in advance as the custard needs the time to set to give a good clean cut. (Cake mixture is enough for two bases, one can be frozen for up to three months)

For the Cake
150g melted butter
150g Caster Sugar
200g Self raising Flour
50g Cocoa Powder
1 tsp Baking Powder
4 eggs
1 shot espresso coffee

For the Custard
4 egg yolks
100g sugar
500ml milk
100ml Cream
1 vanilla pod
3 Gelatin leaves

3 tbsp black berry Jam
2 tbsp Kirsch or Tia Maria
3 tbsp lemonade or Ice Tea

Chocolate coffee sauce
200g dark chocolate
50ml cream
50ml milk
1 tsp ground coffee, or few crushed beans.

Butter two lamington dishes 20cmx30cm.  Pre heat oven to 180c. Beat sugar and eggs together till soft peaks form.  Sift flour cocoa and baking powder and using a metal spoon stir in egg mixture,making half turns to keep the merengue as light as possible.  Add melted butter, and espresso coffee,and carefully stir till mixture is smooth.  Divide mixture between the two tins and bake for about 25 minutes till skewer comes clean when tested.  Leave to cool, freeze one portion and use the other.

Meanwhile, prepare the custard.  Put Gelatin sheets in a bowl and cover with cold water, let it stand for about ten minutes. Split the vanilla in half , scrape seeds and add to milk and cream in a saucepan. Add also the pod to milk, then bring mixture to boil and turn heat off. Beat egg yolks and sugar till pale and fluffy, remove vanilla pod then add milk to yolk mixture stirring continuously.  Return mix to pan and stir over low heat till mixture thickens to cover the back of a wooden spoon. Be careful not to scramble the mixture.  Remove from heat, strain the gelatin leaves from water and add to custard mix and stir till they dissolve. Cover custard with cling film, and let it stand for about 15 minutes.

Prepare the chocolate sauce by heating milk and cream till boiling point.  Remove from heat, add the chopped chocolate and ground coffee. Mix till sauce is smooth and even.  Stand to cool coverd with cling film.

Arrange one layer of cake in a serving ceramic dish of approximately the same size. Mix jam, liquor and Ice tea together and pour over the cake.  Using a ladle, pour the custard evenly over the cake.  Carefully put in a low shelf in a refrigerator to set completely.

Right before serving cut in slices and pour over the chocolate coffee cream.  Makes 8 portions.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Marshmallow Berry Popper

No baking involved for this delicious bite!  Some patience and 1 burner to heat sugars and melt the chocolate.  This dessert can be prepared two days in advance.  Recipe makes about 48 slices.
Chocolate mud cake or any brownie mix will do as base but brush with melted chocolate before pouring the Berry Jelly mixture so that it does not seep into the cake.

300g Coco Pops
400g Chocolate

600g Frozen berries
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 tbsp gelatin powder

1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup water
1 1/2 tbsp gelatin
few drops vanilla essence

300g dark chocolate
75g butter

Line a lamington tin with baking paper,  leaving enough paper on the sides to lift the final slice.

Melt 400g chocolate over a pan of boiling water.  In a medium bowl add coco pops, pour over melted chocolate and using a wooden spoon stir till all pops are coated with chocolate.  Pour mixture in the lamington tin and press slightly using the back of a metal spoon.  Refrigerate to cool for about 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl add frozen berries, 1 cup water and sugar and stir.  Set aside, meanwhile, in a small bowl, add gelatin powder and 2 tbsp water and stir.  Boil 1/2 cup water and add to gelatin mixture and stir till gelatin dissolves completely.  Add gelatin water to fruit mixture and stir.  Blend the fruit mixture to a smooth puree then pass through a sieve to remove pips and thick pulp.  Carefully pour over the coco pop base.  Refrigerate again for at least 2 hours till it sets.

In a medium saucepan, add 1 1/2cup sugar, 1 1/4 cup water and 1 1/2 tbsp gelatin and stir over medium heat till sugar dissolves.  When mixture starts boiling, stop stirring, lower down heat and slow boil for six minutes.  Remove from heat, add vanilla drops and pour in a mixing bowl. Let it cool down to lukewarm. (at this moment if you are in a hurry 10-15minutes in freezer will do)
Whisk on high speed for about 3 minutes or until mixture is thick and creamy.
 Using 1cm fluted nozzle pipe over the Jelly mixture and refrigerate again for three hours or overnight.

Lift the slice from the tin, and using a sharp knife cut into small squares approx 6x6cm and arrange each square in a muffin case. Melt chocolate and butter over baine marie till smooth then brush over each marshmallow slice with chocolate.  Leave refrigerated and consume within 5 days.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Seared Salmon and Buckwheat risotto with Miso and Sea Urchin

Title seems complicated but I could give it one fancy name and have a longer recipe.  It took me just 45minutes during which I enjoyed my favourite Gin Tonic with Cucumber and black pepper!!
Recipe serves 3

500g Fresh Salmon fillets (with skin on)
1 cup buckwheat
500ml prepared miso soup
500ml chicken stock
2 tbsp Sea Urchin Roe
1 medium onion finely chopped
3 cloves garlic crushed
Salt & Pepper
1tbsp butter
2 tbsp Olive oil
1/4 tsp Bottarga Powder(optional)
Alfa alfa flowers & violets (optional)

Heat 1tbsp olive oil and 1tbsp butter in a medium saucepan.  Gently fry onions and garlic till translucent.  Add buckwheat and stir till all grains are coated with butter and contiue to stir for about 1 minute.  Ladle in stock and miso soup one ladle at a time and stir.  Turn heat to low and simmer, adding ladle of stock when it reduce.  Buckwheat takes about 30minutes to cook, however if you are preparing mixture in advance, it keeps on fluffing even off the heat. Keep covered and reserve one last ladle of stock to loosen mixture just before serving.

Meanwhile, or just before serving, prepare salmon by heating a frying pan over medium heat.  Drizzle olive oil over salmon fillets and crush over skin some black pepper and sea salt and fry skin side down for about three minutes. Turn and turn off heat immediately.

Re-heat buckwheat risotto adding the last ladle of stock and stir till all mixture heats up.  Add sea urchin roe and turn off heat immediately.  Spoon buckwheat in serving plate, arrange two small salmon fillets on top drizzle with some olive oil and garnish with flowers.  Finally dust over a little bottarga powder.

Bottarga powder can be found in good fish shops or supermarkes, or whenever you are in Scicily!  It is dried tuna roe.