26 October 2014

Pavlidis Ygeias Dark Chocolate Semifreddo & ouzo soaked strawberries

I have a very dear friend who is a serious chocoholic. A few weeks ago, my lovely friend was joining us for lunch and I knew I had to make something with chocolate and as the weather was becoming much warmer, it had to be my homemade chocolate semifreddo.

This semifreddo has a smooth, velvety mousse-like texture, which is due to the "zabaglione" base of eggs and sugar beaten in a bain-marie. It doesn't freeze as solidly as homemade ice cream, which is a real bonus as you don't end up with those super annoying ice crystals that sometimes plague homemade ice cream. Really, there is nothing worse than getting a big mouthful of those!! The other bonus is that you don't need a ice cream maker for this recipe.

The Pavlidis Ygeias connection in this recipe is basically because it is my favourite brand of Greek chocolate. Really, any chocolate that is called "Ygeias" (healthy) gets my vote....and I also can't resist the gorgeous blue retro packaging. I use it for the base of the semifreddo, but I also put aside a big pile of grated chocolate to fold through at the end. I had planned on folding through finely pieces of giaconda - which is a chocolate also made by pavlidis that is filled with a nougaty hazelnut praline. Unfortunately, Mr K had polished off the last bag of giaconda's that we have bought back from Greece - so chocolate shavings it was going to be. You could actually use any brand of Greek chocolate you prefer to make the semifreddo - and you can also fold through any little treat you like, nougat, roasted hazelnuts....extra chocolate.

This dark chocolate semifreddo can be served simply scooped into cones, or you can scoop it into glasses or bowls. I chose to serve the semifreddo alongside some perfectly ripe ouzo soaked strawberries - the creamy base of the semifreddo providing a soothing transition between the chocolate and strawberry flavours. I think the anise flavour of the ouzo is also beautiful with the slightly sweetened strawberries.

Pavlidis Ygeias Dark Chocolate Semifreddo

400 gm Pavlidis Ygeia dark chocolate (70%), very finely chopped plus a little extra to fold through at the end

3 eggs, plus two extra egg yolks

150 grams raw caster sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste

300 ml thickened cream

100 grams of creme fraiche


Step 1. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (bain-marie) stirring occasionally until completely melted and smooth. Set aside to cool a little.

Step 2. Whisk the eggs, yolks and sugar in another heatproof bowl over the same bain marie and using a hand held mixer beat until doubled in volume, pale and has a whipped cream texture, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and continue beating for another 5 minutes until it has cooled to room temperature - it will start to look smooth and a bit like a meringue texture.

Step 3. Whisk cream, sour cream and vanilla in a bowl to soft peaks.

Step 4. Fold chocolate into egg mixture, then fold in cream mixture to combine. Fold in grated chocolate, spoon into a container and freeze until firm - it's best to leave overnight or for at least 5 hours.

Ouzo soaked strawberries

1/4 cup ouzo

1 tablespoon of icing sugar

2 punnets of strawberries

Combine all three ingredients in a bowl, cover and leave to macerate in the fridge for 30 minutes.

25 October 2014

Simple mezedes: slow cooked florina peppers

Brilliantly versatile, punchy and sweet - I love florina peppers and their intense flavour. This simple meze dish is one of the most luscious things you can make from a few humble ingredients. You simply slow cook red onions - and plenty of garlic and then add the peppers until you have a meltingly rich sauce.

11 October 2014

Kefalonian Hortopita (χορτόπιτα)

A few weeks ago, I posted a recipe for one my favourite Greek dishes, Hortopita (χορτόπιτα) or wild greens pie. In that recipe I used some store bought phyllo and I promised a follow up recipe for homemade pastry. I am still to get a lesson from my lovely mother in law - but in the interim, I have a recipe to share from my travels in Kefalonia.

5 October 2014

In my kitchen October 2014

Welcome to another month in my kitchen. Thank you so much to the very lovely Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for continuing to host this wonderful and inspiring series. I am such a stickybeak - I love seeing what is on offer in kitchens in Australia and around the world.

This time last year I was in beautiful Greece - and collecting lots of inspiration for my 'in my kitchen' posts. I am (sadly) not in Greece this month, but the gorgeous unfolding Sydney springtime is truly delightful. This month, I thought I would share with you just a few of the staples that I always have on hand in my kitchen in Sydney - which mean that the flavours of Greece are just a step (and not a 24 hour flight) away.

In my kitchen this month, I have got over my fear of frozen vegetables. I have never been a fan - always preferring fresh and making an exception only for peas. Plus the range of frozen vegetables on offer in Australia are always just so plain dull. In Greece, there is such a better and varied range of frozen vegetables - and two of them have made their way to my Sydney kitchen - okra and artichoke hearts.

4 October 2014

Top 5 Broad Bean (κουκιά) Recipes

Broad beans have to be one of my favourite spring time gifts from the garden, they are full of protein and iron - so excellent for those who prefer a more vegetarian diet.
They are also a good source of B vitamins, including thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2) and niacin (vitamin B3) and vitamin C. Most importantly of all, the are absolutely delicious, I love their fresh raw-grassy flavour.

While in Australia we refer to "broad beans" in the US they are referred to as "fava beans". This causes some confusion - as in Greece, "fava" is the term used to describe a beautifully creamy dish made from yellow split peas. So in Greek, if you are talking about broad beans they are called "koukia" (κουκιά).

In Greece, fresh broad beans are a real culinary highlight and springtime favourite, especially during Lent. Sometimes they are boiled and added to horta to make a warm salad or they can be eaten raw in in a fresh salad, sprinkled with a little olive oil and some nice big chunks of salty Kefalograviera cheese. Out of the Lenten season the flavour of broad beans goes very well with meat, particularly spring lamb.

26 September 2014

Discovering the heart of Greek Melbourne

Have you ever heard the saying, that people make a place? This is certainly true of the suburb of Oakleigh, Melbourne's real "little Greece." It is just 25 minutes from the CBD and home to many Greek families. It is an evolving suburb that is home to waves of Greek migrants, from the 1950s, 60s and 70s - until today's post-economic migrants. Melbourne is well known as one of the largest Greek-speaking cities outside Greece. While 'Greek Melbourne' still has its roots in Brunswick, Northcote and Richmond, it's true centre is now the vibrant suburb of Oakleigh.

Oakleigh is all about 'real food'. It has the best produce from Australia (and Greece) and it's provodores and restaurateurs are focused on time honoured, home style cooking. Victoria Kyriakopoulos, our guide for the day tells us how at Greek Easter, the centre of Oakleigh - which is peppered with delis, cake shops, fishmongers, souvlaki bars, butchers and the odd christening shop (with big frothy white gowns on display) - is a colourful bustling parade. Whole lambs and baby goats are carried up and down the streets and placed in car boots and the shop windows are filled with beautiful displays of decorated Easter candles called "lambathes" and traditional Easter syrup pastries and biscuits.

30 August 2014

Aegina inspired pistachio & almond semolina cake with cinnamon syrup

It is birthday cake time in our house again, this time it was Mr K choice as to which cake he preferred. Even though I knew what the answer was going to be, I still asked the question and it was, as expected, semolina cake. Since I married Mr K, I have been on the search for the perfect semolina cake, or one that matches up to Mr K's childhood memories of his lovely Theia Katina's syrupy semolina cake. However, this time Mr K's request for a semolina cake came with a twist, "a pistachio semolina cake would be nice", he said.

23 August 2014

Spanakorizo (σπανακόρυζο) and memories of the Mani

Spanakorizo, or spinach rice, is super healthy, very moreish and a hearty winter dish. It can be served as a main or side dish, and is ready in under 40 minutes. It is similar to a risotto (but with more greens than rice), spanakorizo can be accompanied by some feta cheese, a big dollop of sheep yoghurt or even a grating of aged mizyithra or kefelograveria cheese. If you are in need of extra "comfort" you can also enjoy it with a few slices of rustic home-style bread for a full meal. It also benefits from a healthy drizzling of olive oil over the top just before serving.

17 August 2014

Chicken Youvarlakia with Avgolemono (κοτοπουλο γιουβαρλακια με αυγολεμονο)

There has been an outbreak of man flu in our house. The only way to contain the outbreak and bring a little warm cheer to the house (especially with the heavy relentless rain in Sydney this weekend) was with this delicious soup.

15 August 2014

Chickpea Stew - Revithada (Ρεβυθάδα)

A little earlier this year, I posted a recipe for my mother in law's delicious Chickpea Soup, called Revithosoupa. After visiting my in laws this weekend, I suggested to Ma that I was keen to make another dish with chickpeas, a stew called Revithada (Ρεβυθάδα). Ma told me that her version is based on lemon and not tomato. It was very simple to make, with basically just chickpeas, onions and lemon. The lemon being the most important feature of the soup. You will notice in Greek cooking that it is very rare that lemon and tomato meet in the same dish. This rule has been born out of the fear of there being too much acidity in the one dish. It is usually always one or the other! While my mother in law's recipe for revithada sounded delicious, I had also been given a recipe for a tomato based Revithada. Oh the dilemma!! As I had run out of my stockpile of home-grown lemons and I had a basket full of fresh tomatoes, I decided to try the tomato version of this stew - stay posted for the Zakynthian / Ionian island lemon version soon!!

9 August 2014

Union Square Greenmarket & Dill pickle, caper salad from Syros

The Union Square Greenmarket, is one of NYC's best food markets, open on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from 8am until 6pm. We visited on a Friday and it was quite simply a visual feast. Madame Zen, who I visited the market with, would have been happy to sketch scenes of the market for hours. There was a really wonderful seasonal bounty of fresh produce and flowers on display, as well as farm house cheeses, breads, jams, wine, ciders, maple syrup and more.

6 August 2014

Hortopita (χορτόπιτα)

I have a confession to make. I've become addicted horta. As you may know, horta is a generic term for a variety of wild greens which grow in Greece and are used in mainly hot and cold salads.
Ordinarily, after collecting and cleaning the various greens, I would simply boil them in water and then serve with lemon and olive oil.

This week, my father in law's garden provided a big basket of various greens. I also bought two big generous bunches of dandelions (known in Greek as radiki) from the Marrickville organic market - for the bargain price of $2.00.