Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Baking Italian Cookies

We first made these cookies for our family on our engagement and they were a huge hit, especially with my bappou (grandad). Whenever there is now a family gathering these are specifically requested.

They are easy to make, minimal ingredients needed and fun to decorate.

Ingredients for the cookies:

8oz butter, room temperature
4.5oz sugar
3 egg yolks
1/2tsp vanilla extract
10oz flour 

Cream the butter and sugar for 5 minutes at medium speed with an electric mixer.

Add the egg yolks and vanilla and mix until blended.
Slowly add the flour and mix on a low speed.

Pipe dough into rosettes using a star tube nozzle #7 onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper

I usually also do some in a straight line, roughly 2 inches long.

Bake at 200 degrees C for 8-10 minutes.

Now the fun part, decorating the cookies.

I usually have a bowl of melted white and milk chocolate, a bowl of crushed hazlenutes & pistachio and  shredded coconut. Make sure you do not blitz the nuts as this will make them to dusty.

Now simply dip a biscuit into one of the chocolates and then your choice or choices of toppings.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Making flaounes

Last weekend as we were only one week away from Greek Easter, we decided to make some Flaounes.

Flaounes is a Cypriot Cheese Pastry which is connected directly to Greek Orthodox Easter. During the Easter feast days, in every Cypriot Greek Orthodox house you happen to visit, from the biggest town to the smallest village, you will come across Flaounes.

Here is how we made ours:

Ingredients for the filling:

1kg grated chedder
1oz fresh yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp Mastihi
10oz sultanas
10 eggs

Place all the grated cheese into a bowl large enough

Crumble the yeast into a small bowl with 2 eggs and mix thoroughly until the yeast is well combined.

Place the Mastihi into a Mortar and pestle with half a teaspoon of flour and mix well until you have a aromatic flour

 add this into the cheese along with the sultanas and sugar.

Pour the egg and yeast into the cheese mixture.
Break 8 eggs in and mix thoroughly.

Now cover the mixture with cling film and allow to rise for at least an hour.

Ingredients for the bread:

2tsp Mastihi
1/2tsp Flour
1.5kg Self raising flour
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2oz fresh yeast
Handful of dried mint

Eggwash - 2x eggs and 2 handfuls of sesame seeds

Using the Mortar and pestle as before, crush the Mastihi into a fine powder.

Place the oil, flour and mastihi into a mixer bowl and mix with a dough hook, crumble the yeast into a jug with 400ml warm water and mix with a fork until the yeast is fully incorporated and the pour this into the flour mix.

slowly add water whilst mixing until you have a slightly wet but still holding its shape dough.

Knead the dough for 5 minutes.

Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl large enough for the dough to double in size, cover with cling film and let it rise in a warm place for at least 1 hour or until doubled.

Once the dough has risen, preheat the oven to gas mark 6.

Add a handful of dried mint to the cheese mixture and mix well.

Get the eggwash ready by mixing 2 eggs and the sesame seeds together and set aside.

Flour your worksurface and roll out a small handful of dough into a sqaure 2mm thick, you can make Flaounes whatever size and shape you like so the amount of dough you roll out is entirely up to you.

Add a tbsp (again depends how big you want the Flaounes to be) of the cheese mixture into the middle of the dough and fold over the four sides, leaving the mixture visible.

Brush with the eggwash and place onto a baking tray that has been covered with baking parchment

When placing onto the baking tray, leave at least a couple centimetres between each Flaoune as they will rise whilst baking

Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown and underneath is cooked through

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Easter Weekend Baking

This weekend was dedicated to bread, with 2 loaves of Pane Toscana, homemade pizza and hot cross buns all being made over the 4 day break.

Thursday evening the first part to making the dough for the Pane Toscana and the pizza base dough were made to allow them to rise overnight

Pane Toscana is a traditional Tuscan bread and is as simple as bread can be: it's just yeast, water and flour mixed together, kneaded, shaped and baked. Salt is the missing element here. Because Tuscans often eat their bread with very spicy main dishes, or top it with salty, strong-flavored meats or cheeses, it is very bland tasting by itself. Unless you're on a salt-free diet or are used to saltless food, this bread probably won't taste very appealing to you. But pair it with a salty prosciutto or a strong Parmesan cheese and you'll see why Tuscans have baked and loved their saltless bread for many centuries.


In our house hold pizza is a dish that can be eaten any day for any course (yes I love cold pizza for breakfast) and we don't mean Pizza Hut or Dominos as that to us is not real Italian Pizza. When possible we will make our own homemade pizza, preferably to cook in our pizza oven in the garden but when time is not on our side a quick cook in the oven will do.

Finally this weekend... Paul Hollywoods hot cross buns.
Yes these can be time consuming but if you can be bothered to put the elbow grease and time into them you won't be disappointed. We couldn't help but cut one open as soon as they were finished, spreading a generous amount of butter on them and tucking in.
Delicious, the taste to us, 100% better than shop bought.
Here's the link to try the yourselves http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2066661/hot-cross-buns

Monday, March 25, 2013

Saturdays Dinner

On Saturday we set ourselves off nice and early to buy all our ingredients for dinner, we shopped at a local Greek Butcher, the Greek delicatessen, Fishmonger and Italian delicatessen. We find that shopping in these little shops not only helps support them against the likes of big named supermarkets but you also receive great service with a smile, even young men that will help carry your shopping to your car.

The menu:
Appetiser - Stuffed Lemons, with buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, anchovies and basil 

Starter - Homemade spaghetti with tiger prawns, white wine and black garlic

Main - Home made sausages and ribs in a tomato sauce, homemade bread with skinny fries on the side

Dessert - Tartufo

So the black garlic was something different for the both of us, neither one of us had tried it before and when we saw it and we both thought 'why not' - black garlic starts off as white garlic but after gentle heating and a little time, the cloves become sweet, dark and jellied. It's achieved through the fermentation process only; there are no additives, but Black Garlic has twice the antioxidants of normal garlic, is low in fat, rich in natural sugars and leaves no smell or bad breath. It has a sweet taste and instantly brings a new depth of flavour to any dish.

Home made spaghetti with tiger prawns, white wine and black garlic recipe:

Serves 2
1 red chili (deseed if you don't want to much heat) finely chopped
2 cloves black garlic
1/2 shallot, finely chopped
Handful of parsley
1 cup white wine
2 Handfuls fresh pasta (can use dried)
6 King prawns
Juice of half a lemon
Zest of half a lemon
Salt & Pepper
1 tbsp olive oil

Boil a pan of water until bubbling and when ready drop your pasta in - fresh pasta will sink to the bottom when you first place it into the water and when ready will rise to the surface - when they rise quickly drain and cool down with cold water then set aside

Heat the oil in a big pan and fry the chili and shallot over a medium heat to soften but not brown, break the black garlic into the pan and fry for a few minutes constantly stirring

Add in the king prawns and cook until they turn pink, then add the wine, lemon juice and grated lemon zest

Now add in the pasta and mix well, cook until the spaghetti has heated through

 Using your hands rip the parsley straight into the pan, season to taste and stir well

Take off the heat and serve