Thursday, 17 April 2014

Greek Easter Cookies (Pashalina Koulourakia)



I am in Greece for Easter :) ! In Greece, we have a lot of traditions in Easter as it is maybe the most important holiday here. One of those traditions is making Easter cookies. This recipe is a mixture of my grandma's cookies and another recipe and we made it with my little sister, who is studying to become a pastry chef and a little help from grandma. It was very fun and they turned out very tasty, but my advice is to use baker's ammonia as they become huge and fluffy like grandma's always are. To the link of the recipe I used you can also see the video.So, here is the recipe:

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Banana cupcakes with chocolate frosting



There are some things that everybody likes (well, almost everyone as I learned today :P ). Two of those things are banana and chocolate that, to my opinion, make a great taste combination. It is always a matter of ripe bananas to me when I decide to make something with them and it always turns out great. Well, at least so far. These cupcakes are so moist and so aromatic that you can almost taste them with your sense of smell. They are delicious as they are, but when topped with the chocolate frosting they become heavenly. The recipe  I decided to use, called for a peanut butter and chocolate frosting, but since I hate peanut butter (yes, that's right), I went for a chocolate version, which I think is perfect.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Semolina halva with chocolate



During the Great Lent in Greece, the people who fast, are not supposed to eat meat, dairy and fish with some exceptions like the Annunciation and Palm Sunday that they eat fish. During the Great week some people don't even consume olive oil.
So, because of these rules, people have adjusted their diets and there are a lot of different dishes and desserts that make them not to miss anything. One of those desserts is semolina halva that, well, of course people consume during the year too,because it is one of our traditional desserts. 
It is a sweet made in a saucepan and then turned over in forms, like cakes. Simple to make if you pay attention to it the whole time.The most common recipe for it, is called 1-2-3-4. That means 1 cup oil, 2 cups semolina, 3 cups sugar and 4 cups water. It usually contains cinnamon, cloves, pine nuts and blanched almonds and sometimes raisins too. Everybody makes their favourite version, adding or removing ingredients.
This halva recipe is different from the classic recipe. The sugar is reduced and it contains chocolate and cinnamon instead of the traditional nuts and raisins. I was looking for a recipe with less sugar and found this recipe on this blog where you can find a lot of delicious mostly Greek recipes. I changed some things and well, I think it has a great balance of flavours. So , go ahead and give it a try.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Semlor





Yesterday it was Fat Tuesday or as it is known in French: Mardi Gras. Here in Sweden the ultimate treat on Fat Tuesday is semla, a sweet cardamom bread roll, filled with almond paste and cream. It is supposed that you eat a semla on Fat Tuesday and every Tuesday until Easter. It is so delicious, even King Adolf Frederick of Sweden died after consuming too many in the 1700's.
Every year before Fat Tuesday, bakeries, cafes and supermarkets are filled with semlor, but I couldn't resist making my own. Try it and you will not be disappointed. Accompany it with a cup of hot coffee or tea, or you can eat it like in the old times in a hetvägg, that is in a plate with hot milk around it. You will enjoy it any way you eat it.
So, here is the recipe I used:

Monday, 3 March 2014

Lagana And Koulouri






Today, it was Clean Monday or as we say it in Greece Kathara Deutera. It is the first day of the Great Lent and the beginning of the 40 day fast that lasts until Easter. Clean Monday in Greece is a public holiday and people usually go out on picnics and fly kites. The traditional food for this day is: taramosalata (a delicious dip made from fish roe), shellfish, beans and other legumes, vegetables, olives, halvas and of course lagana. Lagana is a flatbread consumed on Clean Monday that looks a bit like foccacia. You cannot celebrate Clean Monday without this on your table. You usually eat it with taramosalata, olives or with tahini halva or well with anything you like. It is a bread after all. This recipe that I used was enough to make 2 breads so I made one lagana with the half and with the other half I made koulouri which is a circular bread with sesame, similar to bagel in appearance just thinner. Something very similar to it is the Turkish simit. Anyway koulouri is something very nice and healthy to accompany your coffee or eat for breakfast on its own or with cheese or jam or whatever you like. It is very common in Greece and it exists in every bakery. So, here is the recipe:

Thursday, 27 February 2014

February 2014 Daring bakers challenge: Beautiful breads: Cherry jam and almond paste bread



Beauty surrounded the Daring Bakers this month as our host, Sawsan, of chef in disguise, challenged us to make beautiful, filled breads. Who knew breads could look as great as they taste?
Well, this challenge was surely challenging for me as I hadn't tried this before. I am pleased with the result even though I know it is not perfect. But, if you saw how it looked before I put it in the oven and the mess around it in the kitchen, you wouldn't believe it would look like that after it was baked. So, no complaints here. The taste of the bread was very nice although it felt a little dense for me, so I think it needs the sweetened condensed milk that is suggested on the original recipe and I did not use. Overall, I would make this again and experiment with more recipes and different fillings and of course try to master the shapes. The recipe I used was the recipe given at the challenge with a different filling and very small adjustments.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Chicago-style deep dish pizza




I have always been craving this kind of pizza with the cheese at the bottom and the sauce on the top and I had never tried it before. Now, I know I love it and I will surely make it again. It is huge like a pie and the crust is just amazing. This sauce is a perfect combination with this pizza and I love it when you take out a piece and you see the cheese strings at the bottom. Also, you get full with one piece or if you are very hungry with two. Well, I suppose that depends on what you put inside it and how much of it, but it surely needs a big amount of stuff. It is not something to eat very often if you consider all the calories it has, but it is a nice once in while pleasure. The recipe I used is adapted from Cook's Illustrated so, I was sure it would be a good one. Also, this recipe makes two pizzas so, if you want only one halve the recipe or freeze the rest before you let it rise for the second time. As it is time consuming to make this pizza, if you have the rest of it ready in the freezer it will save you a lot of precious time when you decide to make it again. So, here is the recipe: