In the south of Switzerland, in the Italian speaking part of Country a small village is waiting to be admired by thousands and thousands of guest every year. It’s a very special village, placed at the border of Lugano Lake (also called Ceresio) and it southern exposition makes growing of cactus and palms possible.
From here you can walk up to the San Salvatore Mountain, but you can also simply sit down in a restaurant enjoying the panorama and the milk climate.
A small walk trough the small road of the village, up to the church should not be missed-
Here a few pictures of this place during Christmas time.
A few years ago on Crete a Greek friend offered us this wonderful cake and she gently shared her recipe. I still had the notes and finally now I decided to write this in my blog. Her recipe is a sugar-reduced one, as most of the recipes requires double quantity of syrup, I also noticed that she reduced the fat of the cream adding beaten egg white. If you don’t feel safe eating raw eggs please skip it or double the cream quantity!
Perhaps you noticed that the name “Ekmek Kataifi” doesn’t sound Greek: historical this recipe was a bread pudding, created during the Ottoman empire and served during the Ramadan time combined with kaimak (a creamy cheese similar to mascarpone).
Note: sometimes you in Turkish shops you can buy already roasted kataifi in the shape of a round cake; in this cake skip the first two steps.
Ekmek Kataifi – Greek Pastry Topped with Custard and Whipped Cream
1 egg white, from very fresh egg (skip and double the quantity of heavy cream if preferred)
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
roasted slivered almonds or pistachios, for serving
8 candied cherries (optional)
Preheat the oven to 160 °C.
To begin making the base. Make the Kataifi pastry as fluffy as possible; spread it on the Springform (of about 24 cm) and brush with the melted butter. Toast the Kataifi strands until golden brown, this takes about 30-40 minutes.
In the meanwhile, prepare the syrup by boiling the sugar with the water in a small saucepan for about 5 minutes. You can also add some mastic powder. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and spoon the hot syrup over the toasted pastry base.
Combine semolina, cornstarch and half of the sugar in small bowl; whisk in egg yolks and a few tablespoons of cold milk; whisk to remove any lumps. In another pot (or simply in the microwave) heat the milk with the rest of the sugar. Before this comes to boil, remove this from the heat and add it to the egg mixture stirring constantly; Place the saucepan over medium heat and let the cream thicken, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and let cool down until lukewarm.
Spread the custard evenly over Kataifi. Let it cool to room temperature, cover with cling film and put in the fridge. Leave best overnight as so that the tastes will bind better.
Make the whipped cream just before serving: in a clean bowl beat egg white into stiff peaks, add sugar and beat again until glossy. In another bowl, preferably chilled, beat chilled cream. Gently fold beaten egg whites into the whipped cream and spread over the cold cream.
Sprinkle with roasted slivered almonds, top with cherry and serve best with a cup of real Greek coffee!
I hope you know quinces, if not, I wish you get some and try to prepare this divine preparation which can be prepared in advance and which can be part of menu in both sweet and savory winter dishes in the coming festive days.
“Dulce de membrillo” or simply “membrillo” (Spanish name of quince paste or quince cheese) is a sweet, sticky, very thick jelly made with quinces, and is a typical dessert eaten with cheese in Spain (as the name), but it is also wonderful served for breakfast on toasted bread.
This year we got a very mild autumn and until now, the temperature did not reach the freezing point.
At the beginning of October, we collected most of the quinces, but some of them were too high for the harvest. This week the last quinces fall down, I collected them, and I knew I had to preserve them as soon as possible.
I remembered that I have already prepared quince paste, but this time I wanted to use less sugar and add more lemon flavor. I also decided to blend them only after turn reddish; it is easier for me to reduce the liquid in this way.
As membrillo contains a lot of sugar, it may be kept in the fridge for a long time. However, as I in my recipe I reduced the quantity of sugar, I suggest to keep it well wrapped in the fridge for about 2 weeks, if you want to keep it longer, I suggest to freeze it.
Place the sugar in a heavy pot add grated lemon zest, the juice of the lemon and the water. Stir. Place the pot to very low heat.
Immediately peal the first quince, remove the cored and dice them. Add the prepared quince to the sugar mix and stir. Continue to prepare the quinces add them one by one to the mixture. You will see that the quinces will release their liquid-
Let this simmer slowly stirring form time to time to reduce the liquid; don’t let it stick and burn at the bottom. Most of the quinces will turn mush and after about 1 to 1½ hours, the mixture will begin to turn orange-reddish.
When the liquid is mostly reduced, turn it to puree using the hand blender.
Continue cooking stirring frequently with a wooden spatula, until the paste becomes very thick and has a deep orange color.
There several ways to check if the paste is ready to be poured in the molds:
Draw the wooden spoon along the bottom of the saucepan: it should leave a trail and the quince mixture will stick to the spoon.
The mixture is thick enough to hold the spoon upright
The paste should easily come off from the sides of the pan.
The paste is thick enough if you are able to see the base of the pan when you draw the wooden spoon through the mixture.
Scrape the paste into your prepared tin (I use simply clear foil) and level the top. I also used silicon molds, which worked perfectly for this. Leave to set for at least a day in a warm place, then wrap and store airtight in the fridge.
1 tablespoon Cognac, Brandy, Amaretto, Rum or Grand Marnier
1 tablespoon finely grated
50 g cocoa powder
Combine place the cream in a heatproof bowl and set it over a pan of simmering water. Make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl.
When the cream is warm add the chocolate and stir the mixture over the heat until just melted and smooth.
Remove the bowl from the heat, place it in a cold-water bath, and whisk in the champagne.
Pour the mixture on a tray prepared with parchment paper, spread to a square of a thickness of about 1 to 1 1/2 cm. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or until set.
Warm a knife in hot water, dry it off. Cut the block to make squares or rectangles of about 1-2 cm. Save the trimmings for yourself!
Place the sifted cocoa powder in a bowl. Carefully toss each cube cocoa powder.
If serving the same day, arrange the truffles on a plate and store in the fridge until serving. Take them out of the fridge a little bit before serving to take the chill off. Truffles can also be stored in an airtight container for up to one week.
Almost one year ago, I thought I should try to prepare these cute, decorative and elegant pearls, which would give a special taste and wonderful look to many salads as well as dishes.
The balls in the pictures where made with white balsamic vinegar which I infused with basil.
You can use any vinegar, with different taste; if you want, you may also buy a ready-made infused vinegar. To preserve the ball, place them in small jars covered with more of liquid, which you used to produce them.
If you want to produce more drops, work with placing the container of the oil an iced bath!
100 ml balsamic vinegar (any colours, infused if you like)
1 cup of oil
First, place the oil in a high container in the freezer. The container should be high enough, as you will drop the vinegar in it! A jar of about 400 ml is perfect.
Place the vinegar in a small sauce pot, add the agar and stir well
Heat the vinegar mixture stirring constantly.
As soon it comes to boil, remove from the heat and let cool down a little bit ( to about 75°C).
Drop the vinegar using a syringe or other dropper into the oil. I tried to produce drops of the same size and I found out that it works better if I let drop them from about 20 height; let them drop moving the syringe over the all surface of the oil.
When you have finish to drop, sieve the pearls from the oil (you may use the oil for another lot) and then gently rinse under current water.
Use for decorating salads, starters and even desserts.
4 tablespoons fresh parsley, coriander or dill chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Trim the stems off the okra, and place in a large bowl. Add the vinegar, toss and let sit for 30 minutes to an hour. Drain the okra, and rinse thoroughly. Place these in an oven safe baking mold.
Preheat the oven at 180°C.
In the meantime heat the oil in a skillet, add onion, garlic and red peppers. Fry until fragrant. Combine water and tomato paste. Add this to the skillet as well as the tomatoes and orange zest. Heat thoroughly. Add herbs and adjust salt and pepper.
Pour the sauce over the okra, cover with foil or lid and place it for 1 hour and 30 min in the oven. The last 15 min remove the lid to allow the food to get a bit of color.