Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Zeppole


Zeppole are like a cream puff filled like a cannoli. The dough is very similar to making cream puffs or eclairs but they are fried like a donuts and filled with a cheese and chocolate filling. These do not hold well and are best eaten as soon as they are made. They are definitely a special treat. 


You will need:


Zeppole dough
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 tbsp butter (1 stick)
  • 3 tbsp vanilla sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • fruity olive oil to fry 

Filling
  • 1 cup ricotta - drained 1 hour
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone
  • 1 tsp Amaretto liqueur (or any orange liqueur)
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped chocolate
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp lemon zest


Step 1: make filling. In a small bowl add ricotta, mascarpone, Amaretto or orange liqueur like Cointreau. Add icing sugar, chopped chocolate and finely zested orange and lemon. Mix and leave in fridge while making dough.


Step 2: gather all your ingredients for the pastry. In a large pan add butter, sugar and water. Melt the butter over a medium heat. Let mix come to a boil then remove from heat and add flour and salt. Stir until combined and return to heat for 4-5 minutes. Stir constantly while on heat.


Step 3: remove from heat and add eggs one at a time mixing well after each. It will seem like it is not going to come together and then it just does.


Step 4: finally add zest and mix well. heat oil.


Step 5: oil should be 350 degrees Fan or should bubble when dough is added. I used a large pot and added a few inches of oil to come halfway up the zeppole. I used a small ice cream scoop and made small balls. Fry until browned. 


Step 6: place on paper towel to absorb excess oil and let cool until you can handle them. They should be light and full of holes like an eclair.


Step 7: slice and add some filling and dust with icing/powdered sugar and eat!!

YUM.











Monday, 22 July 2013

Balsamic Jelly

 This balsamic jelly is great under a slice of grilled pork tenderloin or topped on a bit of cheese and crackers and is very simple to make so why buy a jar. I have made both a White Strawberry Balsamic Jelly and a regular balsamic jelly. I prefer the lovely sweet sour taste of the Strawberry Balsamic which tastes great in chicken dishes or again with a bit of cheese and crackers.


You will need:
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar -regular or try White Strawberry Balsamic - I used Lucero from California which is very nice
  • 1 pkg unflavoured gelatin
  • 1/4 cup honey




This is the white strawberry balsamic version


This is a regular balsamic version


Step 1: in a small pan add balsamic vinegar, honey and sprinkle a package of unflavoured gelatin over the top. Leave 5 minutes. Do not turn on heat for this 5 minutes. Turn on heat and stir to dissolve gelatin and melt honey. Let heat for 2-3 minutes just until everything dissolves. 


Step 2: pour into a clean jar and let cool. Store in fridge to let firm up. 


Use as a jelly or add to something you are cooking. I like this under a slice of roasted pork tenderloin and I have also used a spoon of it while I am cooking slices of chicken to top a warm salad and I have also used it under a slice of cheese on a cracker. 









Friday, 19 July 2013

Ginger Soy Grilled Tuna


 A few minutes on the grill, slice and drizzle over sauce. Easy. Perfect for a summer evening.


You will need:

  • 2-4 tuna steaks
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 fresh red chili chopped fine or 1/8 tsp chili flakes
  • 2 scallions/spring onions chopped fine
  • 2 cloves garlic - crushed
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger chopped fine - you can reduce to 2 tsp if you don't want bold ginger flavour
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp olive oil -I used Lucero Sevillano Extra Virgin
  • salt/pepper 

Step 1: prepare sauce/topping. In a small bowl or measuring cup add soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, fresh finely chopped chili (or 1/8 tsp chili flakes) chopped spring onions, crushed garlic, chopped ginger, sesame oil, olive oil.


Step 2: if you can get fresh or sushi grade tuna great however, I had good frozen and it worked fine. 



Step 3: heat up grill. Sprinkle salt and pepper over tuna and spoon a bit of topping over the fish. Do not touch the raw fish with the spoon to keep the topping clean.



Step 4: grill for literally 1-2 minutes on each side. (big Pete cooked this just a bit too much should be raw in the center)


Slice, drizzle and enjoy.







Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Spanakopita


Spanakopita is a Greek Spinach and Feta pie. You can make it into individual triangles or in a large pie which is perfect for serving a large crowd. It can be eaten hot or room temperature. My husband loves it so I made some and I also froze some to have ready whenever he has a hankering for  some more. 

You will need:
  • 2 x 500gram bags of chopped spinach - thawed and squeezed to remove moisture
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil - I used Lucero Koroneiki Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 6 spring onions
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill
  • 2 eggs
  • 20 oz/ 600 gr. = 1.3 pounds feta cheese -buy Greek Feta if you can get it (it is better!)
  • 1/2 cup ricotta
  • 1/2 lemon juiced plus 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
  • freshly grated pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or more for brushing phyllo 
  • 8 sheets phyllo pastry for pie- more for individual triangles (thaw according to directions)


Step 1: take 2 bags of frozen spinach, thaw and drain over a sieve. In paper towels or a clean tea towel squeeze the spinach of as much water as possible. Place in a large bowl.


Step 2: in a food processor add onions and garlic and puree until finely diced. In a small saute pan cook onions and garlic for 5 minutes in some good quality olive oil. I have used Lucero Koroneiki which is a typical olive found in Greece although this lovely oil is from California. I normally find Greek olive oil very mild but, I love this one from Lucero because it has a bit more flavour than the typical.


Step 3: add spring onions, parsley (flat Italian is always better than curly leaf) dill, and feta blocks. Process until crumbled.


Step 4: add cheese and herbs to bowl with drained/squeezed spinach. Add eggs, ricotta cheese, your cooked onions and garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice and some freshly grated nutmeg. Mix well to combine.

Step 5: in a medium sized pyrex/glass baking dish brush bottom and sides with olive oil. I have used a smaller pyrex dish just because I wanted to make both a pie and triangles with my mix however, if you just wanted to make the pie (which is the easiest method and much faster than triangles!) use a larger baking dish. The perfect sized dish/tray is the size of a sheet of phyllo dough (pronounced FEE-LOW not FY-LOW) folded in half. This way you place half an open sheet of dough on your pan, brush with oil and fold perfectly in place, then brush again etc. I used 4 sheets for the bottom, folded in half which equals 8 layers of phyllo dough on the bottom.


Step 6: add a generous layer of your spinach filling. Add some fresh cracked pepper to the top (you wont need any salt since the feta is salty.


Step 7: repeat the process again with the next 4 layers of phyllo. Place a half a sheet over the filling, brush with oil, fold, brush with oil. Place another sheet over and repeat until you have placed the last four which will equal another 8 layers. You can trim the edges to make a nice looking tray (and of course if you use the larger pan which fits perfectly you will not need to trim)


Step 8: you can freeze 10 minutes and then carefully slice with a sharp knife into pieces ( this needs to be done before baking- you can re-slice after baking - IMPORTANT! you need to pre-slice) I try not to press down too hard or avoid tearing the phyllo. At this stage you can freeze the whole thing or bake in a 350 F. oven until browned and flaky approximately 30 minutes (but watch it towards the end to avoid burning)


If you are making triangles then slice plyllo dough into 3 evenly divided strips (lengthwise) (keep unused strips covered  with a slightly damp cloth to avoid drying out. Take one strip and brush lightly with olive oil. Place a few tbsp of filling on one edge. Fold as you would fold a flag, from side to side. Seal with olive oil. Place on a tray and freeze completely separated or bake right away until flaky, approximately 15 minutes.


Eat while hot or warm to enjoy pastry at its flakiest. It will get soft over time but, you can always reheat in the oven slightly to get the pastry flaky again.