March 20th, 2009

Warm Chocolate-Anise Cakes with Pear


150 g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
80 g butter
4 eggs
80 g sugar (powder)
2 Tbsp flour
2 ripe but not too soft pears, peeled, cored and cut in small cubes
1/3 tsp ground anise

Prep. time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes

Serves: 6.

Pre-heat the oven to 200 °C. Grease 6 small baking dishes with butter

Melt chocolate and butter in microwave or au bain marie, stir well. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs with sugar  and anise until fluffy. Stir in the flour. Slowly pour in the chocolate mixture, stirring constantly until just combined. Stir in the pears. Divide the mixture between the baking dishes and bake for 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

March 14th, 2009

Fragrant Chili Beef


2 beef steaks of good quality
1 onion
3 cloves of garlic
1/3 tsp cinnamon
1/3 tsp ground cumin
1/3 tsp ground turmeric
1/3 tsp ground coriander
1/3 tsp ground cardamom
1 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp honey
1 red chili
½ glass orange juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
fresh coriander

Prep. time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes

Serves 2.

Cut the meat into stripes and season with salt and black pepper. Pre-heat olive oil in a frying pan or a wok. Add chopped garlic, onion and all dry spices and fry until the onion becomes golden. Add the meat and stir-fry for a couple of minutes until browns. Sprinkle flour over the meat and stir well, add honey and stir again. Finally, add chopped chili, seeds removed, salt to taste and orange juice. Stir well and cover with the lid, let the mixture cook for a couple of minutes, until the sauce becomes thicker.

To serve:
Serve with chopped coriander and jasmine rice.

March 8th, 2009

Lime Biscotti with Pecan and Cranberries


2 cups of flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ cup of butter, at room temperature
¾ cup of sugar
zest of 1 lime
zest of 1 orange
1/3 tsp of ground anise
¼ tsp of salt
2 eggs
1 handful of pecan nuts
1 handful of dried cranberries

Prep. time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 55 minutes

Materials: electric mixer/food processor

Serves: 10-12 (depending on your appetite).

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Line a tray with baking paper.

In one bowl combine sifted flour and baking powder. Mix well.
Put butter, sugar, zest, salt and anise in the mixer and pulse until combined. Add eggs one by one. Add flour and pulse until just combined.

Move the dough on a table sprinkled with flour and add nuts and cranberries. Mix well with your hands. The dough should not be too heavy; it should lightly stick to your hands. Form the dough in a 6cm wide log and move it to the baking tray. Bake for 40 minutes.

Take the tray out of the oven. Move the biscotti log on a cutting board and cut in 2cm wide slices with a sharp knife. Arrange the slices back on the tray still covered with baking paper and bake them for another 15 minutes.

Take the biscotti out, let them cool down and enjoy!
Remember, the Italian way is to have some sweet wine together with them.

February 24th, 2009

Apricot Cake with Rosemary


350 ml self-raising flour
¼ tsp baking powder
200 ml caster sugar
175 g unsalted butter, softened
3 large or 4 small eggs
150 ml buttermilk
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract or ½ a package vanilla sugar
5 apricots, halved, stoned
50 g flaked almonds
1 branch of rosemary, leaves only, chopped

4 Tbsp sour cream
1 Tbsp runny honey

Prep. time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

Materials: food processor (although could be also done by hand)

Serves 8.

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Grease 22-cm cake pan with butter and line with baking paper.

Mix the flour, baking powder and sugar in the food processor. Add butter and mix again until uniformly distributed. Add buttermilk, beaten eggs, lemon zest and vanilla and pulse until just combined. Avoid over mixing as it will result in a heavy cake. Pour half of the mixture into the pan, sprinkle with half of the almonds. Add the rest of the mixture, level the top and arrange the apricot halves, cut-side up, by pressing them gently until even with the cake surface. Sprinkle the rest of the almonds and the rosemary on top. Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Take out of the oven and let it cool for 15 minutes.

To serve:
Mix the sour cream with the honey and serve in a small bowl together with the cake. Enjoy!

February 23rd, 2009

Penne with Spinach Sauce and Prosciutto


1 package of penne
1 package of prosciutto in thin slices
1 package of spinach (300g), washed
1/3 glass of walnuts
75 g rasped parmesan cheese
3-4 branches of fresh thyme
200 ml of cream
1 clove of garlic
olive oil

Prep. time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 10-15 minutes

Materials: blender

Serves 4.

Start off by cutting thin slices of prosciutto in approximately 2×2 cm squares. Warm up a frying pan, add half a table spoon olive oil and fry prosciutto until crisp but not dried out, stir regularly. Take out of the pan and keep warm.

Bring the water to boil, add salt and cook the penne according to the suggestions of the package.

Meanwhile put walnuts, parmesan, thyme leaves (separate those from branches) and spinach leaves (as much as fits in one go) in a blender and mix roughly. Add the rest of the spinach and mix until just cut. Do not make a smooth paste. Warm up one table spoon of olive oil in a frying pan and add the spinach mixture. Add finely chopped garlic, salt, freshly ground pepper and cream. Keep stirring for about 3-4 minutes until the spinach in cooked. The sauce will become a bit thicker. Add penne and quickly mix with the spinach sauce. Take off the fire.

To serve:
Divide the penne between 4 warmed up plates and put crisp prosciutto on top. Serve immediately.

February 12th, 2009

Butter Fried Pork with Red Onions


2 pork schnitzels
2-3 red onions
1 tsp of brown sugar
fresh thyme, leaves peeled off the stem
1 clove of garlic
2 black pepper corns
1 bay leave, broken in 2 pieces
2-3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 medium red potatoes, washed, cooked in skin
a couple of slices of bacon, cut in small pieces
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter

Serves 2.

Take pork out of the fridge to come to the room temperature.

Peel red onions and cut each in 6 wedges. Peel and finely chop garlic. Preheat 1 Tbsp oil in a pan, add onions and stir-fry for a couple of minutes. Add chopped garlic and sprinkle with brown sugar. Continue stirring for a few minutes. When onions caramelize a bit, add vinegar, thyme, bay leaf and pepper corns. Add 3 tbsp of water, salt and freshly grounded pepper, stir well and allow cooking for 2 minutes on medium to high heat, stirring few times in between. Taste after 1 minute, add more vinegar or more salt if necessary. It is important not to overcook the onions while letting the sauce become slightly thicker. When ready, take the bay leaf and pepper corns out of the sauce. Pour the sauce into a bowl and keep warm.

For a side dish cut cooked potatoes in circle slices. Heat 1Tbsp oil in a pan. Add bacon and stir-fly for 1 minute. Add the potatoes in the pan and fry until golden, stirring in between.

Meanwhile preheat another pan with 2 Tbsp of olive oil and 1 Tbsp of butter. Season pork schnitzels with salt and pepper and place them in the pan. Fry for 2-3 minutes while turning the meat a couple of times and continuously pouring the juice over the meat.

To serve:
Divide the potatoes between two warmed up plates, place a piece of pork in each and put the red onion sauce on top. Enjoy!

February 5th, 2009

Zucchini & Goat Cheese Frittata


2 zucchinis
1 large carrot
100g – 150g of soft goat cheese
3 eggs
1-2 clove of garlic
5-6 Tbsp of flour
1 tsp of runny honey
juice of 1/4 of lemon
thyme leaves
pine nuts for decoration
butter for greasing

Prep. time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves 6.

Preheat the oven to 190ºC. Have a round baking dish ready, lightly greased.

Rasp the zucchinis and carrots and put in a large bowl. Crumble up the goat cheese into carrot-zucchini mixture and add eggs, flour, crashed garlic, thyme leaves, honey, lemon juice and finely chopped parsley. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper (the amount of salt depends on the taste of the cheese). Mix well. Pour the mixture into the baking dish, even it up and sprinkle the pine nuts on top. Bake for 20 minutes.

To serve:
Cut in wedges and serve with chutney and salad greens.