Thursday, 5 May 2016

Semolina Halva!

Semolina is an ingredient really really loved in Greece. We use it in both sweet and savoury recipes, in two forms coarse and fine.

The most popular is the Semolina Halva. We usually amke it during fasting periods and Easter.

It is a very classic dessert, one that complements nicely a heavy lunch.
It is also offered complementary in many restaurants, after you finish your meal.

There is no actual recipe. You simply follow a rule.


1 cup/glass/teacup, etc.. olive oil
2 cups - // -                   semolina (coarse)
3 cups - // -                   white sugar
4 cups - // -                   water

also you can add almonds, walnuts, raisins, pine nuts or nothing at all!

Using this rule, you can try it and change it to the way you like it best, in order to suit your taste.
I use 1/2 cup olive oil and raisins.
Naturally, since it is me, I add chopped dark chocolate..... The taste is crazy!!!!

Semolina Halva
my way!

1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups semolina coarse
3 cups white sugar
4 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
100gr dark chocolate chopped

* In a small pot put the water, the sugar and the cinnamon stick and boil, until you make a watery syrup.
* In a large tall pot place the olive oil, heat it and add the semolina.
* Reduce temperature and cook the semolina, stirring very often until it changes colour and darkens. It needs to be cooked thoroughly or you will end up with a "muddy" "creamy" halva. BUT, be careful. You need to watch the pot, because it can burn easily...
* After the semolina is ready, remove the pot from the fire and CAREFULLY pour in the warm syrup. It is going to bubble so much. BE CAREFUL or you will burn yourself!!!
* Place on the fire and stir a bit.
* Remove from the fire, add the chocolate and stir. The chocolate will melt.... (yum!).
* Cover the pot with a clean dish towel and let it sit for 5 minutes.
* Pour the halva in a bundt or loaf baking pan or a silicon pan with the shape and design you like, until it is cool.
* Place on the baking pan a platter and invert the halva.

You can leave it as is, or dust with cinnamon and decorate with almonds, etc..

Most of the times I let half plain and add the chocolate to the other half and then combine them, because I like it visually.


P.S.: Sometimes I reserve a little halva in a bowl and eat it very warm... I love it!

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Avocado hummus!

Chickpeas are an ingredient that I don't use often. No reason, it just happens.

I was in the super market, in the legumes section and they were calling me. And I answered. With a tasty recipe for a very healthy snack.

This recipe is inspired by a traditional Greek recipe called "fava Santorinis", which is made by pureeing, well, fava!

Avocado hummus
recipe by me

250gr chickpeas
1/2 ripe avocado
1 onion
salt, pepper
dried garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
a little parsley

* Put the chickpeas in a bowl of water and soak them overnight.
* Next day, boil them in a pot with the onion chopped.
* While they boil, using a spoon, skim the foam. It takes some time, because you want the chickpeas to soften a lot, to the point that you can mash them with a fork. That means you may need to add water while they boil.
* Strain them, reserve 1 cup of the juice and put them in a blender along with the avocado, parsley, salt and pepper, garlic and the olive oil.
* Mix thoroughly. It must look like a dense puree. So if needed, add a little olive oil or a tbsp or two from the strained juice.
* Serve and decorate with chopped onion or accompany it with fresh raw bell peppers.

** Adjust the seasoning to your taste. I love garlic, so I tend to use a little more than others!
** If you don't like avocado, just omit it.

It is very good, you must try it! Plus it is healthy!


Monday, 29 February 2016

Daring Bakers - February 2016

Katmer Pie

After a long time, I am once again taking part in the Daring Bakers Challenges. Sometimes you want to do things, but you just can't... Life happens!

So, on with the challenge for February. This month our host was Mimica from Mimi's Kingdom.

We had to make a traditional serbian pie, called Katmer Pie, with homemade dough and filling.

I chose a savoury fillling, as I wanted it for Sunday lunch. I also played a little with the dough recipe, mainly because I didn't have lard.

Savoury Katmer Pie with cheese and sausage filling.

For the dough:

500gr all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
350 mlm warm water
40 gr butter soft
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried garlic
1 tsp dried oregano

For the filling:

1 egg
300gr feta cheese grated
150gr yellow cheese grated
3 hot dog sausages chopped
1 tbsp yogurt

* Mix all the ingredients, except for the butter. The dough will be soft.

* Transfer it on a floured surface and knead it a little until you achieve elastic, but soft dough.

*  Divide dough in six pieces and shape every piece in round form. Leave them to rest 10 minutes.

* Roll every piece of dough into a flat disc 4mm thick. Divide them in two groups of three. Brush first piece of dough with melted butter and cover with another piece of dough. Brush second piece of dough with butter and cover with third piece. Do not brush this third piece of dough with butter (which I did and was a mess)!!!!!

* Repeat the same with another three pieces of doug.

* Leave them again to rest for 10 minutes.

* Roll every pile using rolling pin into round shape, about 6-7 mm thick.
* Using a sharp knife make eight cuts around the formed circle.

* Brush surface with melted butter and start folding the cut "petals" into the middle part of dough.

* Turn the dough so the folded parts are underneath. Do the same with another pile of dough. Leave both pieces of dough to rest until you prepare the filling.

* Easy! Just mix everything in a bowl.

* Preheat the oven to 180o C.

* Roll the pieces of dough on a lightly floured surface into a large round shape to fit your baking tin.

* Cover the bottom of a buttered tin with one piece of dough and add the filling and straighten it with a spatula.

* Cover with the other piece  of dough and fold the sides.
* Make cuts on the surface to let the steam escape.

* Bake for about 35-45 min.

* Let it cool before you cut it!

In general I really really liked this dough!

It is tasty, flaky and soft. And so so easy to make. I was very happy with the fact that there was no yeast and waiting time involved!!
Yes, I will be using this recipe again.... maybe with a sweet filling this time!

Thank you Mimika for a lovely recipe!


Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Easy lemon shortbread cookies!

When it comes to shortbread cookies I have mixed feelings. Some times I love them and sometimes, well, not so much.
For some reason I always thought they were difficult of tricky. So, I tried a few recipes with mixed results. Regular flour, rice flour, butter, oil.... Nothing was quite as I wanted.
So, until I find a recipe to LOVE, I will be using my good old sugar cookie recipe.

What? You might ask....  Trust me, I know what I am doing.

My sugar cookie recipe MINUS the egg and MINUS 1 tbsp flour!

For the lemon flavour, just add the zest of 1 lemon and 2 tbsp lemon juice (I like them very lemony!).

Really lemony and buttery! They just melt in your mouth!


Monday, 18 January 2016

White Chocolate Lemon Cinnamon Truffles!

Hey! Happy New Year!

I know it's been too long, but sometimes stuff (and life...) just happen to take up all of my time!

Anyway, I just love chocolate....

In every form possible... I even like spa treatments, that involve chocolate!

But I think I love chocolate more during Christmas....

I wanted a chocolatey treat, because I had friends coming over, so I chose to make something small, easy to eat by hand. Truffles it was!

The thing about making truffles is simply making a very firm ganache. I like the pairing of white chocolate with lemon and cinnamon, as well.

White Chocolate Lemon Cinnamon Truffles.
recipe adapted from one found on the cover of a chocolate bar

60gr heavy cream
1 lemon grated
1 tbsp lemon juice
 300gr white chocolate
45gr butter

confectioner's sugar

* In a saucepan combine the heavy cream and the lemon zest and bring it to a simmer.
* Remove from heat and cover the surface of the cream with cling film.
* Put the white chocolate, pinch of salt and butter in a heatproof bowl.
* Add the warm cream.
* Melt the chocolate (I do it in the microwave oven) until it seems that it is not fully melted and there are chocolate pieces left.
* Stir the chocolate softly until it is completely melted and add the lemon juice. Stir again.
* Let it cool and then put it in the fridge, ideally overnight.

* Mix sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.

* Using a teaspoon, take some chocolate and roll it into a ball with your hands. Immediately roll it in the coating and place it on parchment paper.
* After you are done, recoat the chocolate balls. As you will see, some of the truffles will not be very well coated.

- I don't have any quantities on the coating. It is really a matter of preference. Use as much cinnamon or as less as you like.
- The truffles will stick to your palms, as you roll them. Just wash your hands with cold water every few rolls.
- I left mine only 3 hours in the fridge, but they still turned out great!
- I forgot to use parchment paper and my truffles stuck a little on the plate...

Needless to say, they were a hit!


Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Homemade Mayo!

As I try to eat healthier, I am looking for ways to do this tasty.

Mayonnaise is a condiment I love, but I cannot find a store-bought that is made with pure olive oil. The ones available list refined vegetable oils as their main ingredient, so I stay away from them...

I was always intimidated by the idea of making my own. Maybe I thought it was difficult or the raw egg in it, well, I try to avoid that...

One day I decided that it was high time I tried to make my own. See how that goes! If it fails, it fails..

Homemade Mayonnaise - basic

1 egg (the freshest you can get)
1 cup olive oil
1 tsp mustard

You need an immersion blender for this. Sorry, I do not know any other way...

In a glass jar (that has a lid to close it), that fits the blender, crack the egg , add the olive oil, the mustard, lemon, salt and blend away!
In a few moments it will come together and look like mayo. Taste for the saltiness and "lemonness" and adjust. Once you see that the texture is like the store bought one's, that we are all used to, stop.
Put the lid on and place in the fridge.
It keeps for as long as the egg keeps. Check the date on the egg carton. However I only keep it for 5-6 days.

*Please note that it is raw egg. If you can't tolerate it for any reason, just don't make it.

I have made it plenty of times. Always using the egg cold, right out of the fridge and I never had any problems. So, no need to plan ahead. Just take an egg and try it!

It is easy. It is healthy. No strange additives...

Also the variations are so many! You can omit the mustard or you can add your favourite herbs. You can make it spicier or add more mustard. You can add lime or both lemon and lime...

I know you will enjoy it!


Monday, 9 November 2015

Honey cookies - gluten free!

Continuing my journey through gluten free land, I was thinking about cookies. I needed cookies!

So I baked soft honey cookies!

Honey cookies, gluten free
recipe adapted from here

240gr rice flour
28gr corn starch
60gr brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
60gr butter
6 tbsp milk
5 tbsp honey
1 tbsp vanilla

* Preheat the oven to 180o C.
* Mix flour, starch, sugar, baking powder and salt.
* Add butter and mix.
* Add milk, honey and vanilla.
* Mix until smooth.
* Roll out the dough between two sheets of parchment paper about 1/2 cm thick and put it in the fridge for 30 min.
* Using a pizza cutter, cut rectangles, without removing the pieces from the bottom parchment paper.
* Place the parchment paper with the cookies on a baking pan, as is.
* Bake for 15 min.
* Cook on the pan for a few minutes, pass the pizza cutter once again along the precut lines and then slide the parchment paper on a wire rack.
* Let the cookies cool completely.
* Break them apart and eat them!

I expected them to be hard, like cookies are, but mine were soft, crumbly and sticky. I think the honey makes them this soft.
Not very easy to eat, but oh, so tasty!