Aimi’s Chocolate birthday cake!

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For the cakes:

 525gr plain chocolate (39 per cent cocoa solids), broken into pieces

10 large eggs, separated

2 large eggs, whole

425gr caster sugar

275gr ground almonds

2 ½ teaspoons freshly made black coffee

75gr apricot jam

Raspberry Coulis:

750gr raspberries

220gr icing sugar

Double cream

Pre-heat the oven to 190 ° C/ Fan 170 ° C. Lightly grease a 15 cm (6 in) and a 20 cm (9 in) deep topsy turvy cake tins then line the base and sides of each tin with baking parchment.

Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl in the microwave at low heat stirring occasionally and then leave to cool slightly. Combine the yolks, whole eggs and sugar into a large bowl and beat until thick and light. Add the melted chocolate along with the almonds and the coffee. In the mixer bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold carefully into the chocolate mixture and then divide the mixture between the prepared tins. I was filling the topsy turvy tins up to half way on the shorter side.

Bake in the pre-heated oven.  The small cake will take about 40 minutes, the larger cake about 1– 1 ¼ hours. I did cover both of the cakes with foil half way through. Test the centre of each with a skewer, which should come out just about clean. Leave to cool in the tins for a few minutes then turn out, peel off the baking parchment and finish cooling on a wire rack. Push the apricot jam through a sieve, then brush over the tops and sides of the cakes. I did brush them with some brandy as well.

I decorated this cake with sugar work. Covering wonky cakes is very similar to standard round cakes. Cover the larger layer first as it is easier. Roll out the sugarpaste to a thickness of 5mm and use to cover the cake. Carefully ease in the fullness of paste around the sides of the cake: start near the top of the sides and, using a cupped hand, stroke the paste in an upwards direction, gradually lowering your hand down the sides until all the paste is eased in. If the paste seems to be forming a pleat, lift up the sugarpaste around the pleat to redistribute the paste and try again. Smooth the sugarpaste, by firstly using a smoother to iron out any irregulars in the surface of the icing and then using the base of your hand to smooth and polish the top edge. Next, take the smoother and, while pressing down, run the flat edge around the base of the cake to create a cutting line. Cut away the excess paste with a palette knife. I did have to use dowels for this cake. The only difference was that each dowel position was measured and that the tops of the dowels were cut at the same angle as the cake so that they will be flush with the icing. The extra sugar decorations were fixed using eatable glue on the cake.

Put the raspberries in a food processor and blend until they form a purée, then push the purée through a nylon sieve into a bowl to remove the seeds. Gradually whisk in the icing sugar. Serve the cake with the coulis and double cream. Happy Birthday Aimi!IMG_0244

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Carrot cake!

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Ingredients:

225 gr wholemeal self-rising flour

2 level teaspoons baking powder

150 gr muscovado sugar

50 gr chopped walnuts

100 gr grated carrots

2 ripe bananas, mashed

2 large eggs, at room temperature

150 ml sunflower oil

Frosting:

175 gr full-fat soft cheese

50 gr softened butter

100 gr sifted icing sugar

1 tsp of vanilla extract

 

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Pre-heat the oven to 180 ° C/ Fan 160 ° C/ Gas 4. Use a 20 cm round cake tin and line it with baking parchment. Measure all the ingredients for the cake into a large bowl and beat well until thoroughly blended and smooth. Turn into the prepared tin and level the surface. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 55 minutes until the cake is well risen. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes then remove from tin and peel off the parchment.  Finish cooling on a wire rack. For the frosting add all the ingredients into the mixer and combine until smooth. Spread over the top of the cake. Chill in the fridge as the topping is soft. I usually use a little green coloring for the topping, to stay true to the carrots growing upside down in nature. 🙂

Pork with Celeriac and egg lemon sauce.

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Ingredients:

100gr of unsalted butter

1/4 cup olive oil

1.5 Kgr of pork shoulder or pork leg , trimmed of fat and cut into pieces

1 celeriac root, diced

2 leeks, diced

1 large onion

1 large carrot

2-3 cups of vegetable stock

1 tbsp white wine vinigear

1 Kgr of large stalks pascal celery (with leaves) cut into pieces

Juice of two lemons (strained)

2 large eggs (at room temperature)

1 tbsp corn flour or arrow root

Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

We wash the pork and place it in a bowl covering it up with water and the tablespoon of vinegar for 10 to 15 min. Part boil the celery chunks and let them dry in a colander. In a stockpot, heat the butter and olive oil together over medium high heat and add the onion. Season the pork chunks with salt and freshly ground black pepper and then saute until nicely browned on both sides. Cut the leeks into pieces and add them to the meat as well as the celeriac root cut in cubes. Add one cup of the stock and let it boil in slow heat for 40 minutes, adding more stock when needed. Add the celery pieces and carrot and cook for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, making sure you are left with about 1 cup of stock in the pot.

Prepare the Avgolemono (egg lemon) sauce: Using the mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks. Then add the yolks and slowly whisk in the lemon juice and one cup of the pot liquid (at room temperature). Into o sauce pan transfer the egg lemon and stock liquid and add the 1 tablespoon of corn flour dissolved in cold water. On slow heat bind the sauce by whisking constantly

until the sauce thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Add this mixture to the casserole and shake the stock pot slowly to introduce the sauce everywhere. Enjoy!

Spinach and feta cheese pie

Mama’s recipe of the classic Greek pie. Definitely one of my favourites. Hope it will be one of yours as well.

spinach cheese pie

1kgr of frozen spinach

1 cup of butter

½ cup of thinly sliced parsley

½ cup of thinly sliced dill

½ cup of thinly sliced spring onions

½ cup of evaporated milk

1 large red onion

250gr of feta cheese

4 eggs

1 pack of filo pastry

Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Because I am using frozen spinach I want to get rid of the excess moisture. So I immerse the spinach in boiling water and let it stand for 5 min. Then using a colander I drain all the excess water by getting a handful every time and squeezing very well.

Heat half of the butter in a deep sauce pan. Sauté the onion and spring onions until translucent and tender. Add the spinach, parsley, dill, salt and pepper then cook for 5 to 10 minutes until the spinach is heated through. Remove from the heat and place the mixture in a bowl then add the milk and the let the mixture cool down.

In a large mixing bowl beat the eggs and combine the feta sliced coarsely. Add the cooled down spinach mixture and mix until combined.

Melt the rest of the butter, and butter a non-stick spring form cake tin, about 20-22cm. Put the first sheet of filo in the tin and brush with butter, letting the excess hang over the sides. Keep going with the rest of the sheets, turning a little before adding each additional pastry sheet and brushing all over with butter. When all the filo sheets are used but one, tip in the spinach mixture. Place the last filo sheet in the middle of the dish and fold over the excess pastry to cover.  Butter the top and score in diamond shape very lightly, spray with water and bake in the oven for about 30 to 45 minutes until the filo is crisp and golden. Leave for 15 minutes before serving. Yummy; for vegetarians or otherwise. 🙂

 slice of spinach pie

 

 

Valentine’s

Red Velvet Cake 😉 Family loved it! DO give it a try. They are so many recipes out there, i am just going to post the one i used this weekend and we all loved it. I hope you enjoy it as well.

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For the cake:

1/2 cup butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

3 tablespoons red food coloring (really intense red)

2 tablespoons cocoa

1 cup buttermilk

2 1/4 cups self-rising flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vinegar

Cream cheese frosting:

350gr cream cheese

6 tablespoons of unsalted butter at room temperature

½ teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 cup icing sugar

1 teaspoon lilac food coloring

Alternative frosting:

3 tablespoons flour

1 cup milk

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup of butter

Preheat the oven at 175C/350F/Gas Mark 4.
Shift together the flour, cocoa powder and salt into a bowl. In another bowl whisk together the buttermilk, vanilla and red food colouring. Into the mixer bowl beat the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. Keep beating (scrape down the sides of the bowl from time to time) until the mixture is much lighter in colour and very fluffy in texture. Add the eggs and then start adding the flour mix altering with the buttermilk mix (2 spoons of buttermilk and 3 spoons of flour mix) until all is combined. Dissolve the baking soda in the vinegar and combine with a wooden spoon in the mix not too vigorously conserving the airy mixture we have created.
Divide the butter evenly into 3 greased and floured 8″ cake pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes. I like my cake layers quite thin so i but less butter in the tins and bake for 15 minutes instead. Set the tins on a wire rack remove the cake layers and leave to cool completely.

Get on with the frosting: In the mixer bowl beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until light and fluffy. I usually cut the butter in small cubes and that helps a lot in creating a smooth mix. Gradually shit in the sugar (scrape down the sides of the bowl from time to time) until is thoroughly combine. Take half the frosting out for filling the layers of the cake and combine the rest with the lilac coloring for frosting the outside of the cake.

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Alternative frosting: shift the flour in the milk and cook flour in a low heat until very thick, stirring constantly. Let it cool completely. Cream the sugar, butter and vanilla until fluffy and light then add the cooked mixture of flour and milk. Beat in high speed until very fluffy it will look liked whipped cream. Take half the frosting out for filing the layers of the cake and use he rest for covering the cake on the outside. I actually used a very thin layer of jam as well in the middle but you can just use the frosting only.

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Sky is the limit. Fabulous cake.

Chocolate éclairs!

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Choux Dough:

100gr “00”flour

A pinch of salt

75g unsalted butter, diced

3 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten

Filling:

175ml of double cream

1 tablespoon of amaretto

Glaze:

50g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)

50ml double cream

 

Preheat the oven to 175 ° C.

Sift the flour onto a sheet of greaseproof paper and set aside until needed. Put the salt, butter and 175ml water in a pan and heat gently until the butter has completely melted. Tip in the flour all in one go.

Take the pan off the heat and beat furiously with a wooden spoon as you beat it should turn into smooth, heavy dough.

Put the pan back on low heat and beat at a more gentle speed for a couple of minutes to slightly cook the dough until it will come away from the sides of the pan to make a smooth, glossy ball.

Tip the dough into a mixing bowl and let it cool then use the mixer to gradually introduce the eggs. Add enough of the beaten eggs to make shiny, paste-like dough that just falls from the spoon when lightly shaken; you may not need all the beaten eggs (it depends on the size of the eggs). The dough must be stiff enough to pipe.  If it is too wet it will spread out rather than puff up in the oven.

Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper and spoon the dough into the piping bag fitted with the 2cm plain tube and pipe on 12 éclairs, each about 15cm spacing them well apart to allow them room to expand. Bake the éclairs in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden-brown. Transfer to a rack and allow to cool.

Get on with the chocolate glaze by breaking the chocolate into even-sized pieces and put into a bowl seating on a bain marie. Heat the cream until lukewarm then pour in a slowly over the chopped chocolate, stir gently until melted and smooth and glossy. Leave to cool and thicken slightly. One at a time, dip the top of each éclair into the mixture to glaze, lift vertically and wipe off excess from the lower end your finger or use a brush to paint on the chocolate glaze. Place on the rack and allow to set.

To make the filling simply whip the double cream and add the amaretto until is stiff, fill the piping bag fitted with a 5mm nozzle. Using the tip of the nozzle, pierce the underside of the éclairs in several places along their length and gently fill each éclair evenly.

I like mine quite generous with cream so I slice the éclair open and pipe with the bigger nozzle the cream inside. The choice is yours, it still tastes divine. Keep in the fridge. 🙂

Yummy buns!

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(10 bun recipe)

Dough:

500g white “00” flour, plus extra for dusting

1 teaspoon salt

1 × 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast

300ml milk

40g softened unsalted butter

1 egg

Vegetable oil

Filling:

25g melted unsalted butter

Grated zest of 1 orange

75g soft brown sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon all spice

175g dried berries and cherries (whatever you fancy)

100g sultanas

Glazing:

 1 heaped tablespoon orange peel marmalade and water

200g icing sugar and water

1 deep baking tray laid with baking parchment lightly greased

 

Preheat the oven at 25C while you are mixing the dough. Put the flour and salt into a large mixer bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the yeast. Heat the milk in a saucepan until lukewarm. Melt the butter (usually I use the microwave for 1 minute in medium power is enough). Add both to the flour mixture with the egg and knead for 5 minutes, adding more flour if necessary, until the dough is smooth and elastic and no longer feels sticky. I use the mixer with a dough hook and it seems to work fine but you are very welcome to knead by hand in a lightly floured surface.

Lightly grease a bowl with vegetable oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn until it is covered all over with oil. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave the dough to rise in the preheated oven for 1 hour.

Punch down the dough to its original size and on a lightly floured surface roll out the dough to a rectangle about 40cm long and 5mm thick. Brush all over with the melted butter (microwave again). Mix the orange jest, sugar, cinnamon, all spice, berries and sultanas and spread generously all over the dough.

Begin to roll the long side tightening the roll each time you turn it – you should end up with a Swiss roll lookalike. Cut across into 10 pieces about 4cm wide. Place them cut side up in the baking tray, leaving a little space around each slice. Cover with clinfilm and return to the oven for another 30 minutes.

Take the buns out of the oven and increase the oven to 190 ° C/ 375 ° F/ gas. When temperature is reached, bake the buns for 20– 25 minutes until risen and golden brown. After 15 minutes cover the buns with foil if they are getting too brown.

Transfer the buns to a wire rack allow to cool.

Meanwhile put the jam in a small saucepan with a splash of water and melt gently until smooth. Brush the jam and the orange peel over the buns to glaze. Allow to cool.

Shift the icing sugar in the mixer bowl and add 2 tablespoons water, use the mixer for 5 min. You might need a little more water while is mixing; it is ready when it falls from the spoon when lightly shaken. Drizzle the icing over the buns let it set and Enjoy!

Pasta with spicy meatball marinara.

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Great one for sharing or indulging by one’s self. (Recipe for 4)

 

6 Italian sausages (or your favourite ones it will still taste great)

50gr Butter, salt & pepper

1tsp of ground cinnamon

1tsp of all spice

1tsp of ground cloves

1 cup of red wine

500ml of vegetable stock

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

5tbsp of ketchup

1 red chilli finely chopped (remove the seeds)

Pancetta cubes (I usually use 100gr but this can be adjusted to your taste)

100gr of Chorizo cubes

2 carrots finely chopped

1 large red onion finely shopped

500 gr of dried pasta (any kind it takes your fancy)

250gr of hard cheese (Manchego is one of my favourites, cheddar will do nicely as well)

 

Over high heat use a big sauce pan add the Chorizo, pancetta and 50gr of butter. Remove the sausages skins (I usually hold one end of the sausage and push so all the meat pop out from the other end) and I shape to meatballs then add them to the pan and fry them until golden brown.

Follow with the red chilli, red onion and carrots, a little salt and pepper and the spices and stir well. Deglaze the pan by adding the wine and then add the tin of chopped tomatoes, the ketchup and half of the vegetable stock. Turn the heating in low and let it simmer for 20 min.

Use the rest of vegetable stock plus as much water as you need for boiling the pasta (8 minutes for dried pasta), drain and add the pasta in a baking tray (well-buttered) add the sauce give it a got stir and then sprinkle the cheese on top and leave under the grill for 10 minutes at 175C until golden brown on the top.

Wash it down with a good red wine. The family loves it and we usually enjoy it when we have big gatherings; it is easy to prepare in advance and bake in the oven a bit longer straight from the fridge on the day.

Spicy it up! 🙂

Zoe’s fillo cheese soufflé

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Ingredients:

200 gr. Emendal

200 gr. Gouda

200 gr. Regato

200 gr. Feta

200 gr. Manchego

 

Grated or in really small cubes

 

1 1/2 cup milk (3,5% fat)

4 eggs

1 packet of fillo 

200 gr of margarine, melt half of it in microwave

Pepper & salt

 

Mix the cheeses together and keep some to sprinkle on top later. Butter your baking tray well. Preheat your oven to 175C.

Melt half of the margarine in the microwave and butter one of the fillo sheets then fold it in half. Place a little of the cheese mixture in the middle and fold like a parcel then place it in the baking tray. Do the same until the bottom of the tray is covered and then add the rest of the margarine in little cubes and the rest of the cheeses on top. You will probably need about 8 sheets for a medium size tray.

In a bowl mix the eggs, pepper add the milk and then introduce the mixture to the baking tray leaving the fillo to absorb for 15 to 20 min. Sprinkle the leftover cheeses on the top. Bake for 30 minutes at 175C, the colour on the top will go a very appealing gold to light brown.

 

We can always add pancetta cubes, sausages or chilli if we like in the recipe and change the cheeses to our favourites; is like making your own pizza toppings. I do not think this needs any addition of salt because of the cheeses that are involved but if you prefer to add cheese like mozzarella do add a pinch of salt as well.

This is comfort food and you know when you need it the most 🙂. It will put a smile on your face. Enjoy!

Easy pizy orange easy pie.

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Orange, pie famously easy: cooking time 30 min, prep time 15 min

You will need:

1 pack of filo pastry

1 cup of corn oil

1 cup of sugar

orange zest of at least 4 oranges

2 tsp of vanilla essence or even better half vanilla pod

4 eggs

250 gr of Total greek yogurt (for the health conscious even the 0% will be absolutely fine)

20 gr of baking powder

And for the syrup:

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1 cup orange juice

lemon peel and a cinnamon stick in the pot as well

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Here we go: in a large bowl combine the corn oil, sugar, zest, vanilla essence, eggs and yogurt and bring together by wising them lightly. Dissolve the baking powder to a small amount of orange juice and add to the mix. Open the filo pastry and shred with your hands or with scissors in the bowl with the mixture. Every filo sheet should be shredded individually and the smaller the pieces the better the result.

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With hands we make sure that all the filo has been soaked with the mixture.

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Lay a 35 cm baking tray with baking parchment so it covers the bottom and the sides as well; heat up the oven to 175C. Bake the pie for 30 to 40 minutes. Use a knife to check to test that the pie has finished baking. If the knife is dry when it comes out then the pie is ready.

Make the syrup (about 15 minutes it takes) and as it hot drizzle on the top of the pie and let it soak.

Serve with vanilla ice cream, cream or on its own.

ENJOY!