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.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Lasagnia al Nero di Seppia

This lasagna has three components which can be prepared in advance and assembled just before serving.  A bit complex but easy to follow.  Recipe is enough to serve 4-5 portions.

150g durum wheat flour
150g strong plain white flour
3 small eggs
2 fresh cuttle fish ink sacks
1/4 tsp salt

Dried Pea Puree

150g dried peas soaked overnight
1 onion roughly chopped
1 clove garlic
Salt & Pepper

Cuttle Fish Mustard Salsa
2 Fresh Cuttle fish cleaned
50g pancetta
1 small carrot chopped
1 celery stick chopped
1 small onion chopped
1 clove garlic crushed
2 tablespoons mascarpone chees
2 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tbsp chopped fresh marjoram
Salt and Pepper

Add peas to a pot, cover with water and bring to boil.  Boil covered for 15 minutes then turn off heat.  Stand for 1  hour then boil again for another 15 minutes.  Test peas, they should be just tender.  Add chopped onions, garlic salt and pepper and continue to boil uncovered till liquid nearly evaporates. Pour contents in a food processor and blend till smooth.  Set aside.

Prepare pasta by adding ink to eggs and lightly beat with a fork.  In a food processor add flours salt and egg mixture and mix till a stiff ball forms.  Remove contents, arrange to a ball and cover with cling film.  Leave to chill in a refrigerator for around 30 minutes.  Using pasta machine roll pasta several times till smooth and then using the last setting prepare thin sheets around 10x10cm.  Layer on a baking sheet dusted with flour to avoid sticking.  Leave in refrigerator till needed.

Make the Cuttlefish salsa by chop all ingredients in small cubes. Heat a medium pan add olive oil and gently fry onions till translucent.  Add carrots, garlic, celery and pancetta and continue to fry for about a minute. Add 1/2 cup of water and simmer till all vegetables are cooked.  Add chopped cuttlefish and cook for just 1 minute.  Turn heat off. Finally add mascarpone cheese, herbs and mustard and stir till cheese melts. Season with salt and pepper  Just before serving heat mixture but do not boil.

Prepare a pan with hot water add 1 tablespoon salt and when it boils add pasta sheets.  Boil for just 1 minute as fresh pasta does not take longer to cook.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer lasagna to a large plate and drizzle some olive oil on top.

Arrange the plate by first adding about two tablespoons of pea puree, then  l layer lasagna. 2 tablespoons Cuttlefish sauce. Then continue three more layers alternating with lasagna and cuttlefish sauce ending up with lasagna on top.  Drizzle some olive oil and decorate with seasonal flours. pea shoots or bean flours and cuttle fish pieces.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Cherry and Nut Coffee delight

A sweet balance to a good stretto!  Recipe makes around 60 small biscuits and it is important to use dried cherries not candied cherries.

200g Pure ground Almonds
100g Ground Pistacchios
200g Caster Sugar
1 tsp grated lemon rind
3 eggs
100g dried red cherries
100g blanched almonds
1 tbsp corn flour
2 tbsp semolina

Icing sugar for dusting

Pre heat oven to 170c

Pour all ingredients except cherries and almonds in a large mixing bowl, using a fork mix to form a stiff paste.
Add cherries and mix to evenly incorporate in the mixture.
Line a 30x30cm baking tray with baking paper.  Spoon over the mixture, using a fork to level it out.  Arrange the almonds evenly on top and bake for about 30 minutes till slightly golden.
Remove from oven and let the biscuit base to cool down.  Dust with icing sugar then shift the galette over a working surface and using a bread knife cut into 1x6cm strips.  Biscuits keep well in an airtight container for more than two weeks.

Almond and Pistacchio Biscotti

These are the lovely biscuits served after each meal at the Sakaleo fish restaurant in Scoglitti.  Perfect with a shot of Limoncello or good espresso. Recipe makes about 50

200g Pure Ground Almonds
100g Pure Ground Pistacchios
200g Caster Sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp grated lemon rind
2 tbsp semolina
1 tbsp corn flour
3 tbsp icing sugar for dusting

Pre heat oven to 170c.  Pour all ingredients (except icing sugar) in a large bowl and using a fork stir around till mixture forms a stiff paste.
Line a large baking tray with baking paper then using two table spoons, take small mixture into one spoon  and form into rough quenelle directly on the tray.  Leave enough space between each biscuit as they might rise a little.  Bake for about 25 minutes till lightly golden.  Dust with icing sugar and serve.  Keep well for in an airtight container for about two weeks and can be frozen without icing sugar  for up to three months. 

Vanilla Sweet & Sour Burpees

Burpees are a yellow type of beet root.  I find them not as earthy as the red version, however they make a good pickle.  To be enjoyed with cheese or as a side refreshment with curries.

4 medium sized burpees
1 cup Sugar
1 Cup Cider Vinegar
1 Vanilla Pod
1 Cup water

Heat oven to 200c. Wash burpees and cut in 4 segments.  Place on a shallow baking tray and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven place in a bowl and while still hot cover bowl with cling film to create some steam.  When completely cold, peel and chop to 1cm cubes.
In a medium sauce pan, add sugar vinegar and water and on a slow heat bring to boil till sugar dissolves.  Split vanilla pod in half lengthways and scoop out the tiny seeds and add to the vinegar mixture. Cut the bean in two and also add to vinegar.  Add chopped burpees to the vinegar mixture and any liquor that may have come out during cooking.  Bring to boil once again then turn off heat.  When completely cold, pour in sterelized jars and cover with plastic lid.  It keeps well refrigerated for about two weeks.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Artichoke au Gratin

Add this recipe to your cheese or meat board and wash down with a crisp Puligny Montrachet!  Poshy but highly pleasing to all senses!!
4 large Globe Artichokes
1 lemon
1 tsp salt
4 tablespoons Grated Pecorino
3 tablespoons Olive Oil
Fresh Cracked black pepper

Half fill medium pot with cold water.  Cut lemon in half and squeeze the juice then add the lemon halves to water.  Add 1 tsp salt and set aside.  
Remove outer leaves from the artichoce. Trim, cut the top hard leaves then cut in half lengthways. Scoop out the hairy bits from the centre then slice into 1cm slices and put in prepared water.
Cover and bring to boil.  Boil for about 15 minutes till just tender.  Drain.
Drizzle 1 tablespoon of oil  in a bottom of an oven proof dish.  Layer artichokes evenly. Sprinkle cheese on top and drizzle the remaining olive oil.  Season with some freshly ground black pepper and grill for about 10 minutes till golden.  Serve with galletti or hot crusty bread.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Pickled Daikon

Daikon is a huge radish.  It grows in our climate and is exceptionally tasty during the cold winter months.  1 daikon makes 2x 1 litre Jars of pickle and it keeps well for about a month in a refrigerator.  Use with sandwiches, dips and salads or else as a sushi garnish. 
Wait for about 4 days before opening the jar to allow for the pickle to do the job.

1 large daikon approx 1 kilo in weight
2 inch fresh root ginger
6 juniper berries
10 black or szechuan pepper corns
1 cup Rice Vinegar
1 Cup water
1 Cup sugar
4 tbsp salt

Lightly crush the peppers and juniper berries using a heavy based saucepan. Add water, vinegar and sugar and crushed spices stir and bring to boil. Boil till sugar dissolves.  Turn off heat and cool completely.
Meanwhile using mandolin or food processor, slice thinly the daikon and ginger. Arrange a layer in a colander over a bowl. Sprinkle salt between each layer and let it stand for about an hour so that salt drains the excess water from the daikon.  
Wipe the sliced daikon dry with kitchen paper and arrange in sterilised jars, arranging some sliced ginger in between layers.  Ladle the vinegar mixtur over to cover completely the daikon.  Seal and refrigerate and wait for about four days to start consuming.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Rabbit and Root Vegetable Casserole

A hearty winter warmer. Recipe serves 4

1 whole Rabbit
2 Maltese Pork Sausages
1 Sweet potato
3 Jerusalem Artichokes
2 medium Carrots
1 Onion
3 clove Garlic Crushed
Grated rind of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp flour
1/2 bottle White wine
2 bay leaves
Sprig Rosemary
Sprig Thyme
Salt and fresh pepper

Bone the Rabbit, taking as much meat as possible from Saddle and legs and cut into bite size pieces and set aside.( I joint the hands and add them whole with the meat)
Put the remaining joints and bones and add to a pan.  Cover with water then add wine and bring to boil.  Simmer for about 1 hour till liquid reduce by half.
Chop the vegetables. Heat a heavy based casserole.  Add oil and butter and add all the chopped vegetables onions and garlics.  Give few stirs and then add 1 tbsp flour.  Stir and cook flour for 1 minute.  Add Rabbit meat and continue to stir.  Strain the liquid from the rabbit bones to the casserole and give a few stirs.  Cut pork sausage into chunks and add to stew.  Add bay leaves, rosemary ,thyme and lemon rind, season with salt and fresh black pepper and cover.  Cook on very low heat for about 1.5 hours till rabbit is soft and tender.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Chocolate Orange merengue Cup Cakes

Light merengue, smooth curd and a soft chocolate cake... Luscious cup cakes fit for any birthday treat! Recipe makes 24

Chocolate Cake
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/3 cup castor sugar
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g butter
2 eggs
1 cup coconut milk
1 short espresso
1 tbsp Tia Maria
pinch salt
two twists black pepper

Pre heat oven to 200c. Soften the butter slightly.( 20seconds microwave should do.  Add all ingredients in a food mixer and using k beater beat for 1 minute slow speed then further minute on high speed.  Spoon mixture in muffin cases and bake for about 20 minutes till firm to touch.  Remove from oven and cool slightly. 

Orange Curd
Juice and rind of 3 oranges
1 cup water(250ml)
3 tbsp corn flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
90g butter

Add Juice, rind, water and cornflour to a saucepan and stir continuously over medium heat till mixture thickens.  Boil mixture for a further minute so that cornflour cooks.  Turn off heat, add chopped cold butter and continue to stir till it dissolves.  Add egg yolks one at a time and stir till mixture is shiny.  Cover and let it cool before use.

1 cup Icing Sugar
4 egg whites
1 tbsp corn flour

Beat egg whites till soft peaks form.  Add icing sugar and beat for about 3 minutes till mixture firms up.  Add cornflour and give few turns till it folds in mixture.  Spoon mixture in piping bag fitted with 1cm tube.

Pre-Heat oven to 220c
Pipe round circle of merengue over each cup cake. Fill the middle with 1 heaped teaspoon of orange curd.  Pipe more circles on top of curd to completely cover the curd.
Bake in oven till merengue peaks turn golden.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Purple Cauliflower Tempura

This is a light tempura batter.  I use fizzy water as it gives a lighter texture.  Purple cauliflower is a new entrant to my garden and I made proper justice for the space it took the past four months. Serve with soy sauce or fish sauce mixed with a little water and rice wine.

3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup rice flour
1 1/4 cup Fizzy water
pinch salt
1 medium cauliflower cut into florets
small red pepper 
lime wedges to decorate

Sift flours in a medium bowl, add cold fizzy water and whisk until mixture is smooth and reach a thick paste consistency. Season with a touch of salt and let it stand, covered in a cool place for about half an hour.
Heat oil in a deep fryer preferably at 160c.  Carefully dip cauliflower florets and red pepper slices in the batter and fry for about 2 minutes until lightly golden.  Remove from oil and drain.  Serve with lime wedges.