Apricot & Orange Blossom Pudding

This delicate dessert has all the looks of showstopper without the forty steps of a complicated recipe. I love custards and especially a french egg and vanilla bean creme pastry but this milk pudding is egg free and thicken with cornflour. Ive gone a little off the norm by using stevia to add sweetness and poached fruit.

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Lets start with I don’t know the exact origins of this pudding and at the risk of looking it up on Wikipedia it appears as a dessert loved by many different cultures. Lets face is desserts should have no boundaries. Flavoured with lemon in Italy, rose water in the Middle Eastern also called “Muhalbiyah”.

The Greek pudding called “Alevria” which can also be lactose free is often made with a reduction of grape juice to make a syrup or the milk version flavoured with mastic or orange blossom water. It is the Greek versions that I am most familiar with and most probably the first ever custard I ate as a child.

A variety of toppings common in to both the Middle east and the Mediterranean almost always include crushed walnuts or pistachios and spices like cinnamon.

Ive add poached fruit and its juices for freshness, like apricot halves but peaches are also perfect and if you preferred passionfruit or a raspberry coulis then go for it.

This pudding is flavoured with orange blossom water and a sprinkling of crushed pistachios and for added decadence Ive added a few dry edible rose petals.

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“Apricot & Orange Blossom Pudding”

4-5 serves

Ingredients

500ml Milk

40g Stevia

35g Cornflour

1 tablespoon Orange Blossom water

5-6 Poached Apricot halves reserve the juices

50g Pistachios – Crushed

Method

  1. In a medium saucepan add the stevia and the cornflour mix well.
  2. Add Milk and whisk together till no lumps of cornflour are visible.
  3. Continuously stir to stop it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Mix while on medium heat till it thickens and large bubbles rise to the top and keep mixing for a further 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and add the orange blossom water stir to combine.
  4. Pour the pudding into individual heat proof ramekins
  5. Allow to cool to room temperature then cool in the refrigerator
  6. Top with an apricot half, pour a little syrup over the top and sprinkle with crushed pistachios.

*For extra decadence Ive used edible dry tea rose for a little WOW! Factor 🙂 …………………..(I purchased the roses from T2 the tea shop)

*This recipe can be doubled if required

*Fresh edible flowers can be used (please be mindful to purchase these for consumption purposes as you do not want to be serving up flowers sprayed with pesticides)

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Walnut Soda Bread

I have one recipe and about 100 variations of a classic soda bread. The original recipe was in a very old cookbook (in ounces and measurements which make me think it was all estimated)  I found it in an opportunity shop in Bendigo, country Victoria, Australia ….…(A little travel information for my non Aussie friends). Now Im going to pay it forward. This is my version of a Walnut Soda Bread and it sounds fancy but its oh so easy.

 

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Every time I make a soda bread I find my faithful recipe and depending on whats cooking the recipe will be adjusted to compliment the main meal. *Pairing flavours to suit the meal, herbs, walnuts, olives, parmesan or pine nuts these are a few ideas.

Today its just simply adding crumbled walnuts as Im going to be serving it with my Greek lentil soup. The addition of walnut will add texture and flavour to the overall meal.

Flour, buttermilk, salt, sugar, walnuts and bicarbonate of soda. The oven is always preheated and after a little very light kneading, shaping and a dusting of flour and four purposeful cuts to the dough ball its into the oven…..now I hope I didn’t make that sound too complicated.

Remember this is more like a scone than a traditional bread….so keep the kneading to a bear minimum. The technique to making a great soda bread is to minimise the formation of long gluten strands so KEEP IT SHORT 🙂

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“Walnut Soda Bread”

Ingredients

500g Plain White Flour or Bakers Flour

1 teaspoon Salt

1 teaspoon Caster Sugar

2 teaspoons Bicarbonate of Soda

60g Walnuts (roughly chopped)

420ml – 450ml Buttermilk

extra flour for dusting

Method

Preheat your oven to 190 Degrees Celsius

  1. In a bowl add all the dry ingredients and mix well.
  2. Add the buttermilk without too much force or kneading bring the dough together into a ball
  3. Place the dough ball onto a tray lined with baking paper or alternatively you can dust the base of the baking tray with more flour and place the dough directly on top
  4. Dust the top of the dough with flour and cut a cross through the top straight down to the bottom creating four quarters.
  5. Place into the oven for approximately 35 – 45 minutes.

As the Soda Bread bakes it will rise and expand. You want it to have a lovely golden crust on the outside.

Once baked cool the soda bread on a cooling rack.

*Just a note as you can see from the pictures the extra flour you added over the dough ball before you baked it will NOT necessarily turn golden so look for the baked signs on the expanded surface of the soda bread.

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Lentilicious Greek Lentil Soup

 

This Greek soup is a staple, this thick moorish soup will have you printing out this recipe and permanently fixing to your pantry door for quick reference……….or is that just me!

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Although Im not a vegetarian I do love my vegetables and pulses, this is one of those dishes that always made young Greek children giggle as its name “Fakes” AKA Lentils sounds a little rude but when I was growing up it was always a dish we looked forward to. Oh, ps yes we still get a giggle out of the name…… priceless 🙂

 

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Served with fresh crunchy bread either slathered with butter or  just used as a mop to scoop up more flavour. (Ive also served it up with the addition of crumbled feta or grilled spicy chorizo, see  * note bellow 🙂

Greek Lentil Soup

Serves 4 

Ingredients
1 x 400g cans of brown lentils rinsed
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive oil
1 brown onions, chopped fine
1 small leeks chopped diced fine
1/2 teaspoon cloves garlic, crushed
1 Lg carrot, grated
400g finely chopped tomatoes (fresh or good quality canned)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dry oregano

400ml Hot Water or good quality Beef or Chicken Stock

3 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce (I know thats not Greek but it works well….trust me)

Salt Flakes
Cracked Pepper

Crusty bread for serving

Method

Rinse the lentils in cold water, drain and set aside.

Heat 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil add the onion, leek and bay leaf and saute for approximately 3 – 5 minutes on moderate heat stirring constantly so as not to burn.

Add the garlic, grated carrot, tomato paste and chopped tomatoes. Mix all to combine.

Add the lentils, tomatoes and hot water, mix and simmer with the lid on the pot for approximately 35 minutes. If your soup has reduced to quickly add another cup of liquid.

When you are ready to serve add the Worcestershire Sauce, season with salt and pepper and stir through the remaining olive oil.

Finally taste and check the seasoning. (For a little extra heat add half a little dry chilli flakes Ill leave that up to you 🙂

*If you forgot the fresh crusty bread don’t forget Soda bread is another great option especially a Walnut Soda bread. Another option is a good crumbling of feta and a sprinkling of freshly chopped oregano.

*To satisfy the meat eaters of the family a chorizo sausage sliced and grilled added to the dish is another flavour sensation. Reduce the amount of salt and instead boost the flavour by adding a couple of Beef stock cubes or chicken instead of just salt.

Walnut Soda Bread

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Kali Orexi

Maria

 

“Kolokithopita”….Greek Ruffle Sweet Pumpkin Pie

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Now I know there aren’t that many ingredients and well the method seams relatively simple but trust me this is BIG on flavour.

This is my favourite childhood dessert. My mother was taught by my grandmother and I make it for my friends and family too. I love pumpkin and I’ve made this pie for friends that have never enjoyed eating this glorious orange coloured vegetable as a savoury addition to a meal  let alone as a dessert…….and “they have loved it”. The aroma of it baking in the oven, the butter caramelising the fillo pastry and the smell of the sweet spiced pumpkin makes for one heavenly combination.

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Utensils:
1 large bowl
1 Vegetable grater
1 Deep baking pan 25cm x 25cm x 5cm (a little bigger is ok)
1 pastry brush

Ingredients:
600g Pumpkin (peel and seed discarded the pumpkin flesh grated)
80g Sugar (I like to use Coconut Sugar)
80g Currants
1/2 Tbs Cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp Clove powder
1/2 Orange Zest only (optional)
1/2 tsp Salt
1pkt Fillo pastry
100g Unsalted butter melted (cooled to room temperature)
30g  Rice Bran oil

Method:
1: Grate the pumpkin and place in a deep bowl

2: Add the sugar, currants, spices, salt and orange zest mix well cover the bowl with cling film and set aside for approximately 30 minutes.

When you are ready to assemble preheat the oven 170 Degrees(fan forced)

3: Butter the deep baking pan. Lay flat 1 sheet of fillo pastry and brush 
with butter line the inside of the baking dish then repeat with the next 
filo pastry sheet till you have 4 pastry sheets lining the base and edges. 

*You will need to be a little creative when you lay out the sheets making  sure to cover the edges and leave any excess hang over the lip of your 
baking dish as you will flip it over when you have added the filling.

4: Pour the pumpkin filling in spread evenly. Fold over any over hanging 
pastry. Butter 2 more sheets of pastry and lay them over the top of the filling - make sure to fold over and execs pastry this time so that all the 
top layer is nice and flat.

5: Butter 2 more sheets this time you will need to cut them to size so thatthey fit perfectly. Make fillo ruffles by gently making folds and gently 
scrunching then together and placing on top. Repeat the till the top is 
completely covered. You will need about 7 sheets or more. 

6: Bake for approximately 35 - 45 minutes or till the pastry is golden 
brown. 

Ive always served this dessert at room temperature dusted with icing sugar or you could try agave powder and just a little more cinnamon powder. if you would like to serve it hot then a nice scoop of vanilla ice-cream is     perfect.
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I hope you all enjoy my very own child hood favourite. 

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Note: 
tps = teaspoon
TBS = Tablespoon

 

 

 

Greek – Zucchini and Fresh herb Feta Frittata

Zucchini and Fresh Herb Feta Frittata

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This is a dish that both my mother and grandmother both bake to perfection and even though for the sake of the recipe I have added measurements for the zucchini and the fresh herbs a little over or a little under will not alter it, it will alway taste as delicious as it should.

When zucchinis are in abundance and fresh herbs are plentiful then this bake may appear a few times as part of the dinner meal, for lunch or even breakfast.

Filling:

  • 4  Zucchini (medium sized) Grated
  • 1/4 cup Fresh chopped Mint
  • 1/4 cup Fresh chopped Dill
  • 1/4 cup Fresh chopped Parsley
  • 1 onion, finely grated
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 250g feta cheese, crumbed
  • 3 egg whites (whipped to stiff peak)
  •  1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • Topping:
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a bowl mix together the grated zucchini and fresh herbs set aside.
  2. In a small fry pan add a tablespoon of olive oil and the grated onion, saute gently till the onions have softened and lightly caramelised. Add the onion to the zucchini and mix to combine.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees celsius.
  4. Beat the egg yolks and  olive oil together add the crumbled feta cheese, white pepper, mix into the zucchini mixture.
  5. Fold the whipped egg white into the zucchini mixture.
  6. Oil a large baking tin (approximately 20cm x 25cm) spread the mix evenly. Spread the grated cheese over the top.
  7. Bake for 35 – 45 minutes till the top of the bake is crisp and golden.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving.

 

Strawberry Fields

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“Strawberry Fields” 

Makes one serve, but feel free to share!
1 cup Strawberries (washed and stems removed)
1 cup Almond Milk
1 Tablespoon Honey
1 pinch Cinnamon
1 Tablespoon Almond Butter (or Peanut Butter)

Method

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth.
Enjoy!

Zucchini, Feta and Spinach Muffins

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There are a few recipes that can remind me of a time and a place and these Zucchini Muffins do exactly that!

Many of my childhood memories are also tied to the smell of fresh herbs, stories from grand parents and memories of traveling, music and family both near and far. When I look at the cuisine that I have grown up with I cant help but think how fortunate I have been.

Versions of this recipe mostly appear in Middle Eastern recipe books as fritters and although my grandmother made them that way as well, I think she would have been happy with my muffin version too. Its less time consuming without losing any of the taste.

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INGREDIENTS
Zucchini, Feta, and Spinach Muffins:

2 medium zucchini, grated

200g Frozen Spinach, thawed

½ cup feta cheese, crumbled

2 Tablespoon fresh dill (chopped)

2 Tablespoon fresh Mint (chopped)

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 Spring onions sliced fine

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

½ cup Self Raising Flour

Salt and black pepper, to taste

3 Tablespoons Olive oil (plus a little extra for the cupcake Pan)

Method:

Preheat the oven 180 Degrees

Place the grated zucchini and spinach in a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. Sprinkle with a little salt and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Then, wring all of the liquid and discard. Place the grated zucchini and spinach in a large bowl.

Combine the zucchini, spinach, feta, herbs, eggs, spring onions, garlic and oil. Stir to mix well.

Sprinkle in the flour and fold through until it all is incorporated and holding together.

Using a nonstick cupcake pan, add ½ teaspoon of olive oil to the base of each cupcake section and divide the batter between the 12 spots on the cupcake pan.

Bake for approximately 25 minutes.

Note: For a Gluten Free option use Gluten Free SR Flour 🙂

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Walnut and Almond Semolina Halva – Karma-Free Dessert

Semolina halva is one of the most popular desserts found in Greece, India and the Middle-Eastern.

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The secret to good halva is to roast the semolina and the almond meal very slowly with the oil constantly stirring so as not to scorch the grains. Steam the finished halva by covering the plastic wrap and allow it to sit covered till it cools. This will ensure that every grain will be fluffy and plump.

My mother and grand mother both enjoyed making and eating halva. They had their own secret recipe which I found to be either too oily or too sweet or the grains were well crunchy would be the best descriptive word to use…..ok call me fussy!  Thankfully, after I did a little experimenting and made my version of the dessert neither of them would make it their way again preferring to use my recipe. I hope you enjoy this recipe too and it becomes your favourite.

The beauty of this dessert is that you can make small variations like adding 1/4 of soaked sultanas or use cashew nuts even adding coconut milk and vanilla extract. You have a base recipe to start with. 🙂

Serves 6 – 8

Ingredients:
Group A
3 cups Water
1 cup Sugar (I like to use Raw Caster Sugar)

Group B
1 1/4 cup Semolina
1/4 cup Almond Meal
1/3 cup Rice-Bran Oil

Group C
1 teaspoon Cinnamon Powder
1/3 cup Walnut pieces

Method:
Combine the Group A ingredients, place over moderate heat, stirring only till sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil then remove from heat.

Combine Group B in a 2 -3 litre sized saucepan and stir fry the grains over low heat till the grains are light golden and aromatic. (Take care not to scorch the grains it takes about 10 minutes).

Add Group C stir till all combined stir for a further 2-3 minutes.

Remove the saucepan of semolina from the heat, slowly pour the hot syrup into the semolina, stirring constantly. The grains will splutter at first (take care) it will quickly stop as the liquid is absorbed.

Pour the mix into a nonstick Bunt Cake pan (sprayed with oil) or as I have used individual moulds. Cover the halva with plastic wrap very tightly and set aside till it has cooled and ready to remove from the mould.

Serve cold with an extra sprinkle of semolina and crushed walnuts. I do also like making a vanilla custard to serve with the halva hot. I know it sounds strange but don’t knock it till you try it. 🙂

Enjoy

Cheers

Maria