August 30, 2014

White peaches are delicious, I find them much sweeter than the yellower version and they make a great filling for this giant creamy puff pastry dessert.

Find the biggest peaches you can, at the moment I am pretty spoilt in Greece as you can buy huge peaches by the bucket load. 

Traditionally this French style dessert is filled with layers of custard and pastry with maybe a few summer fruits in between, I thought I would do it Greek style and make up a sticky peach filling with the freshest peaches I could find and a spicy cinnamon custard to fill the gaps. 

For one large Millefeuille that serves 6 you will need…

One sheet of ready to roll puff
2 large white peaches (or ordinary, I just prefer white)
2oz butter
2/3 cup golden caster sugar

For the custard filling…
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1oz caster sugar
7fl oz milk
1oz plain flour
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1tps Greek yogurt
1tsp honey
1 tsp cinnamon (to taste)

Chop your peaches into slices.

Place in a pan with the sugar and butter and leave on a medium heat for about an hour until sticky and caramelised 

Roll out your pastry to a large 12in x 12in square and cut into thirds.  Prick all over with a fork and brush with a beaten egg. 

Bake for 10-12 minutes at 220C or until golden brown.
Turn over pastry sheet carefully and bake the under side for a further few minute to ensure a crispy texture all the way through your layers. 

Turn them over and dust lightly with icing sugar. Place under a hot grill for a few seconds until sugar melts. This will only take a few seconds – do not take your eyes off them!

Once nice and golden leave to cool. 

Next make your custard.  Break the egg and egg yolk into a bowl, add the sugar and whisk until thick and creamy.  Sift in the flour and whisk further.

Warm the milk until it just boils and whisk furiously into the egg mixture return to a saucepan over medium heat until the mixture thickens.

Add vanilla essence and leave to cool.

Once cold whisk in yogurt and honey.  Leave everything to cool.

Right before you are about to serve assemble and dust with icing sugar. 

August 25, 2014

Figs are one of my most favourite fruits.

At the moment in Greece it is the height of the fig season and they are in abundance everywhere. Every fruit stall you pass has plenty and the markets have them in the their thousands.

I thought I would start my Greek cooking with a crispy filo fig tart.
Simple delicious and using an all time favourite ingredients. 


For a simple medium sized tart you will need…

10 figs quartered
1 cup of ground almonds
4 sheets of filo pastry (ready made is fine as the process is extremely complicated and as the temperature was reaching 37 I decided to happily cheat)
75g butter
1 egg
75g caster sugar
Oil for brushing each layer of filo

Begin by washing and picking the best figs of the bunch. You want to carefully wash the figs as they are a pretty delicate fruit.

Then quarter each fig, they are such a beautiful colour inside and go perfectly with the plum purple and green skin (which it is perfectly ok to leave on and eat once the figs have been washed, however if you prefer you can peel the figs)

Next, prepare your tin. Oil well and then place a layer of filo inside, then oil the filo all over. You want the pastry to crumple all around the edges as you will use it later so do not worry about trimming that off yet.

Repeat this process, oil and layer, oil and layer until you have run out of filo. (oiling in between your layer of filo makes it crispy and very moreish)

Next make your almond mixture. Mix your almonds, sugar together in a blender and then add the egg and butter, blitz until you have a paste.

Spread a good layer of the mixture into the base of the tart (you will have a bit left over – this can be stored in the fridge for a few days and you can use it as bases for various other tarts) 

Next start to place your figs into the tin. I prefer pointy end up as I think that it prettiest but of course it is a matter of preference. 

Next trim the excess filo from around the edge and crumple to make a rustic edge.

Make sure the exposed filo is well oiled and bake in the oven at 200C for 25 minutes.

Dust with icing sugar and serve! A perfect August treat.

August 23, 2014

August 16, 2014

This is a dish of the moment. Courgette noodles are everywhere and they are super easy to make your own as you can add what every you fancy to make them a delicious pasta substitute .  you can eat bowls of the stuff and feel full but not that bloated feeling that is all so familiar post a big pasta dish.

You can eat them raw or cook them briefly for a few moments in boiling water, or stir fry to heat them.

For three you will need...

3 medium courgettes
a pack of cherry tomatoes
4 or 5 de crusted slices of bread
a good sprinkling of herbs and rind of a lemon.
A shake of balsamic vinegar
1 clove of garlic

First, using a Courgetti Maker (Spirelli) make your courgette pasta and set to one side while you get your tomatoes roasting.

Chop your tomatoes in half and drizzle with oil and balsamic, a good shake of salt and pepper and herbs - roast for 30 minutes until soft and bubbling. 

Next whiz up your crumbs and fry in a pan with some oil, herbs and lemon rind until golden and smelling delicious.

When your crumbs are toasted and tomatoes are almost ready pop your courgetti into a pan with some oil and garlic and ligtly stir fry for a few moments until soft then pile with your sticky tomato mixture and top with toasty crumbs.

A great summer time dish and a fantastic summer substitute that almost everyone is convinced by!

After waking up with achy legs and a jam packed day of exploring ahead we thought we needed to join the rest of the city and hire bikes for the day. A more than worth while decision and before we knew it we were flying all over the city and able to explore every inch with ease. 

My fancy toy for the day...

Once we had got the hang of the brakes and the one way streets (learned the hard way and soon realised that one side of the canal is one way traffic - important tip if you are ever hiring bikes out there!) we headed over to the Rijksmuseum. A beautiful building that has been being renovated for the past few years having a major re-vamp, it only opened a couple of months ago so we were lucky enough to see it still shining and new. 

You walk (or cycle) through this large walkway, and if you have bikes go and safely deposit them through the back, near the park and then on into the museum itself...

Once inside it is beautifully light. You make your way through a huge marble arch and then on into the collection...

 You make you way though rooms and rooms of ships, (all to do with the VOC) and some of the most beautiful art on the walls.


Around the rooms these yellow post-its are positioned, they are a collaboration by Alain de Botton and John Armstrong. Attempting to make art accessible to everyone around the museum by bringing in situations and scenes, even emotions and feelings people can relate to and in turn connect or understand the work. I was a big fan of the idea and think they should be in every museum.

After a morning of culture is was time for a well earned coffee break and an afternoon of exploring the parks by bike.

August 10, 2014

On our first full day we decided to take on the city by foot. After having a delicious breakfast at our hotel (I had pancakes tossed in icing sugar, and he had the cinnamon french toast) both our favourites and perfect start to the first day of exploring.

We started off wandering the many beautiful canals and with the help of our guide book went on the hunt for some of the more unusual historical points hidden within the city.

The VOC, (the Netherlandish equivalent of the East India Company) is an extremely important part of the cities past and often over looked and forgotten with its famously lax attitude with sex and drugs.

We stared at the VOC cafe, the main entrance into the city and once of its main ports. this gable stone above the door depicts four ships that are about to enter through the cities port. 

This particular entrance was also said to be the place where wives and children would come to say goodbye to their husbands and fathers before they went off to sea, many of whom never returned. 

After a good coffee refuel and a lovely bask in the surprisingly burning sunshine we went off in hunt for some more beautiful windows and the famous floating flower market. 

After about a 10 minute walk, a few missed turnings and wayward directions we made it to the floating flower market. Here you can buy flowers, blubs of almost anything and of course every species of tulip that ever existed! Very impressive, an amazing hub of flowers and culture floating on the canals. 

After the flower market we headed to a little secret garden, a haven away from the heat, hustle and bustle of the otherwise very busy canals.

This garden was created in a courtyard surrounded by beautiful houses. This is one of the lesser known secret gardens and it is known as the Van Brienen Hofje.

It is told that this little haven was built after Baron Arnoud Jan Van Brienen found himself locked in his strong room and after praying to God to allow him to be freed he vowed he would build a hof for the poor and homeless.

Those who were housed here had to go to church, take part in daily chores and in return would be able to live in this little haven.

Soon it was time for some lunch so we headed over to Boca's which was just a little further up Prinsengracht, one of the more famous canals.

A little restaurant in the Jordann district this place is worth a visit next time you are in Amsterdam. They serve up little bread rolls and you can pick the most exciting fillings. There is something for everyone and it is brilliant value for money. 

We both went for the hamburgers with foie gras sliders and truffle mayonnaise. Delicious and kept us going for the rest of the afternoon. I also went for honey cream cheese and truffle, while he went for spiced chicken and goats cheese. 

They also have an evening menu too which we didn't grey to try but I think is equally tasty and delicious from a quick squint at the menu. 

After a slow meander home we spent the early evening lounging in the park just behind the Rijksmuseum, a perfect first day!

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