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.