Monday, May 31, 2010
There couldn't be a more comforting dessert than warm apple pie served with smooth, thick custard and rich vanilla ice-cream. Hot and cold in one mouthful. The crispy shortcrust pastry contrasting with the sweet soft apple filling. Delicious!
Apples are in abundance right now, their glistening skins blushing in the fruit shops in beautiful colours.
They're great to eat on their own of course as a very healthy snack, but with a little effort can be transformed into little handfuls of absolute delight!
Apple pie has become a winter staple in our home, especially for those cosy winter evenings when all you want to do is cuddle up in front of the television. Store bought pies are no comparison for home-baked taste.
I have made apple pies with both puff pastry and shortcrust pastry. I find that puff pastry allows more flexibility with shapes and presentation. Shortcrust pastry though provides perhaps a better taste with the apple filling.
Serve with custard and/ or ice-cream for a very memorable treat!
"Apple" has always been a popular choice in our household! A celebratory "Apple" iPie for the apple of my eye's latest Apple acquisition!
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Thursday, May 20, 2010
When it rains it pours in Sydney. This is the first rainy day I remember all year. I'm driving home in torrential rain, grateful that everyone else is driving slowly too. All I can see are the rows of red tail-lights glistening ahead on the wet road and suddenly I'm reminded of England. The wet roads, the traffic, the dark sky and the rain! I have just purchased half a kilo of fresh green prawns from Sydney Fish Market and can't wait to cook them. As I sit in my car, in the rain, listening to "Clocks" by Coldplay, I'm reminded of our favourite tapas dish that we used to love in a Spanish restaurant in London. Feeling nostalgic as I am at this moment I decide that that's what we're going to have for dinner tonight.
Now the beauty of this delicious dish is that it is so quick to make. It takes less than five minutes! It has just seven basic ingredients that don't require much preparation at all. I've used fresh, cleaned, deveined prawns with the tails intact.
A good few slices of bread is definitely needed to lap up the delicious juices.
Prepare this dish immediately before eating. It's meant to be brought to the table sizzling.
Alter the quantity of garlic and chilli to your taste. My quantities are merely suggestions. Garnish with parsley and serve with warm bread to dip in the delicious juices. Enjoy!
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Monday, May 17, 2010
It's mid-afternoon and my husband suddenly declares that he feels like eating halva with coffee. Just like his mother use to make. It's a cool afternoon and halva seems the perfect accompaniment to coffee today. The thought of wonderful aromas of cinnamon and roasted almonds wafting through the house give me the urge to have halva too.
Semolina desserts are something that I grew up with in South Africa. This halva reminds me of an Indian version that yields a taste similar to this Greek recipe. There was an association with a grand occasion whenever my mum would make it. This recipe is from Vefa Alexiadou's book "Greek Pastries and Desserts".
The syrup will fill your kitchen with the fragrance of cinnamon and awaken your senses. It's such a tasty treat!
This recipe is not difficult, involves just a few steps and yields a sweet, delicious dessert. You can mould the halva into fancy shapes that add an attractive decorative touch.
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Sunday, May 16, 2010
It's been a really long day and I feel like curling up on the sofa watching a light-hearted movie. We've had a fantastic Saturday afternoon walking through the side streets of Sydney and enjoyed a mocha at Sydney's oldest coffee shop in Darlinghurst. The warm wintry sunshine provided a backdrop to some lively conversation with my husband whilst we engaged in some interesting people watching. Now that we're back home I don't have the energy to stand over the stove, so it's time for one of my "dishes that cook by themselves".
I always have a pack of French or continental lentils in my cupboard, especially useful for a day like this. This Greek lentil soup, known as "fakes" is a really comforting dish. It was first served to me by my mother-in-law in Greece and it has become a favourite.
It's not a fussy dish to make, it's delicious and fills you up too. I literally put all the ingredients into the pot together, occasionally checking on the water level. It needs my attention again just five minutes before it's done.
It is served with feta and vinegar. Also great with fresh, crispy bread and olives on the side.
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Friday, May 14, 2010
The 'WOW' factor. That's what I always aim for in my desserts. For the guests at the dinner table to suddenly find that extra bit of space in their tummies that they've already just declared full. That's what this dreamy tasting coconut creme caramel does at my dinner parties. The glistening caramel surface dripping over the sides reflects the looks of glee on everybody's faces and gets the mouths watering.
Moving to warmer climes has given me a yearning for tropical flavours again. I came across this recipe which is a tropical variation on the traditional creme caramel. It is really quick, easy and gives a fantastic result. It needs to be made a day in advance.
The first spoonful usually produces a "wow!" followed by an eager request for seconds (and even thirds!).
I've garnished the slices with caramel sculptures. I've broken up pieces of hardened caramel and made little sculptures. Spun sugar would also look great as a decoration on top. Use your imagination!
For recipe see here.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
I really enjoy cooking with my husband, together in the kitchen, moving around each other in smooth harmony, like a dance. The stereo's providing the soundtrack to a flirtatious evening. It's fun getting hugs and kisses whilst making Bechamel sauce!
Moussaka is a firm favourite in our home. I always make it with lean lamb mince. A fresh Greek village salad made of ripe tomatoes, crispy cucumbers, aromatic green peppers, red onion, feta, Kalamata olives, dressed with extra virgin olive oil and oregano is the perfect accompaniment.
This recipe is my own modification of the recipe in Vefa Alexiadou's book, Greek Cuisine. It's not difficult to make and if you have a few aubergines in the fridge sometime, it's certainly worth a try. I grilled my aubergines on the barbecue, brushing them lightly with olive oil first ( a job my husband took on with no resistance as it involved using the barbecue!)
It is really delicious and will have everyone coming back for seconds!
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Thursday, May 6, 2010
I love baking in my pyjamas first thing in the morning, before breakfast, whilst the rest of the household is still asleep, unaware of the sweet treats that will greet them. The gentle sounds of the wooden spoon beating against the glass bowl breaking the stillness of the peaceful morning, the aroma of melting butter filling the kitchen with such luxurious richness.
I love choux pastry and after discovering a foolproof recipe, have made it on numerous occasions. It's quick and easy to make, can be frozen and filled, covered and presented in numerous ways.
The recipe comes from a Greek pastry book, "Greek Pastries and Desserts" by Vefa Alexiadou. It has never failed me. My husband loves buying a box of choux pastry puffs filled with cream and topped with crispy caramel from the Greek cake shops every time we visit Greece. I decided that I wanted to learn to make these delightful treats for him to remind him of home... and I've succeeded!
I have filled my choux puffs on this occasion with fresh cream and topped them with dark chocolate ganache.
Such fun to pile them into a big bowl, drizzle over chocolate sauce and top the treasure with delicate chocolate butterflies.
Yields 20 to 40 puffs, depending on the size
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Sunday, May 2, 2010
I've had a strange desire to eat crab. This may have been brought on by the cooler weather and the distinct need for comfort food.
We're fortunate to be living close to Sydney Fish Market, the biggest fish market in the Southern Hemisphere. I often frequent it on a Saturday when it's a buzz of activity and showcases a spectacular array of fresh and exotic seafoods.
I excitedly pick out one large mud crab wriggling in the crate (there is something amusing about choosing your food whilst it's still alive) and the sales assistant disappears with it behind the counter, emerging with the crab in four pieces.
It's not long before the kitchen is filled with the wonderful aroma of spices. It's a quick dish to prepare and doesn't take long for the crab to take on a glowing orange hue.
Served with rice it feels like home on a plate! Certainly takes me back to my days in Durban! ... and yes, you'll have to use your fingers!
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