Sunday, 25 February 2018

HOMEMADE GREEK LUKUMADES (ΣΠΙΤΙΚΟΙ ΠΑΡΑΔΟΣΙΑΚΟΙ ΛΟΥΚΟΥΜΑΔΕΣ)


     Nearly at the end of February and winter season, it seems that the weather keeps getting worse and worse. For the last week it has been extremely cold in Zurich, and the bad weather will keep going for a while. I am overall a stay at home, have fun on your own kind of person, but everyone needs socialising outside of their comfort zone. As a little pick me up, I've been going to the gym 3 to 4 times a week and celebrating once a week with a treat. It's not as bad as it sounds, as I would never deprive myself or follow a strict diet. Especially now that I'm living with two guys who have a big appetite and wouldn't settle for some boiled broccoli. Being active really helps me not only keep fit, but keep my mind "fit" as well and helps me focus more while I'm studying or sending job applications.
      Last Friday, I decided to make a new recipe and I had a specific one in my mind. Very simple, without any fancy ingredients. It's also vegetarian or lent appropriate (if you are fasting during lent). But the most important feature of this recipe is the memories that it brings back to me, whenever I think about it or happen to taste it. I mention it briefly on my Instagram account, but when I was little my grandma used to make me "Lukumades" or ῾Λουκουμάδες῾. It was something I enjoyed eating so much, right after we've had lunch. It was either lukumades or one of the specially de-skinned apple slices my grandpa used to give me. Both of those I ate with such joy!




     Lukumades is not an entirely Greek dessert, since the roots of this delicacy come from Middle East. No matter where it came from, it is eaten frequently and in different ways around Greece. As mentioned above, the ingredients are very simple and the difficulty of the recipe resides only during the cooking phase. The little bites are better served hot, as the dough becomes quite hard after a few hours after frying. But this means that you can prepare the dough and let it rise as much as you want, before you actually need to serve them. This saves you the time in the kitchen and if you plan on making them for a big crowd, it also saves you the embarrassment. 
     This version of lukumades is for plain ones that you can simply serve with runny honey and nuts or drizzle some heavy Nutella on top. I haven't put any sugar in the dough, because I prefer them not to be overly sweet. But if you like your dough bites to be sweeter, you can add a tablespoon or two inside the dough, while you're making it.

Homemade greek Lukumades (greek version below)

ingredients

300ml lukewarm water (room temperature)
200gr flour
50gr corn flour
7gr dry yeast (one sachet)
1/4 teaspoon salt
optional: 2 tablespoons sugar
vegetable oil for frying

for topping

good quality honey
ground cinnamon
chopped nuts (walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts)
nutella or other melted chocolate


How do I make it?

1. First step is to make the dough. In a large bowl, put all the ingredients for the dough, apart from the oil, and mix with a wooden spoon. You will get a liquid dough in the end. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and let the dough rise a bit for one hour or until you want to make the dessert. You can also let it rise for some hours in room temperature and then store it in the fridge. 
2. When it's time to serve, use a medium pot and fill it with oil about half way. Don't use olive oil for frying. First, it's not right for this purpose and second it will give a kind of bitter/heavy taste to the dough. You can use a neutral oil such as sunflower or rapeseed oil. Let the oil heat well before you proceed to the next step. Meanwhile, put some oil into a glass and put inside a tablespoon. 
3. For the next step you will use the tablespoon and...your hands. Put on some gloves for this or clean very well your hands if you don't have gloves. With one hand, take some quantity of the liquid dough and try closing your hand to a fist. Some quantity of the dough will come out at the top of your hand. Use the spoon to take the surfacing dough. Then quickly drop the dough into the pot with hot oil. The dough will start to fry. A good sign is when the oil starts to buble. It means that it had a good temperature. Repeat the same step for the remaining dough, remembering always to deep the spoon into the glass with oil, to make things easier. Don't use water, because water and hot oil is not a good choice.
4. Have a plate with some paper on top next to the pot. When the doughs have a golden color, carefully transfer them on the plate and let them cool.
5. For serving, put some dough balls or lukumades in a serving bowl and top according to your taste. I love the combination of honey, cinnamon and walnuts.

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Σπιτικοί παραδοσιακοί Λουκουμάδες

υλικά

300ml νερό σε θερμοκρασία δωματίου (χλυαρό)
200γρ αλεύρι για όλες τις χρήσεις
50γε corn flour
7γρ ξηρή μαγιά (ένα φακελάκι)
1/4 κουταλάκι αλάτι
επιλεκτικά: 2 κουταλιές ζάχαρη
φυτικό λάδι για τηγάνισμα (ηλιέλαιο)

για σερβίρισμα

καλής ποιότητας μέλι
τριμμένη κανέλλα
ψιλοκομμένοι ξηροί καρποί (καρύδια, φυστίκι Αιγίνης, φουντούκια)
nutella ή λιωμένη σοκολάτα

Πώς θα το φτιάξω;

1. Πρώτο βήμα είναι η ζύμη. Σε ένα μεγάλο μπολ, προσθέστε όλα τα υλικά για τη ζύμη, εκτός του λαδιού, και ανακατέψτε με μια ξύλινη κουτάλα. Στο τέλος θα έχετε ένα ωραίο μείγμα χυλού. Καλυψτε το μπολ με μια νωπή πετσέτα και αφήστε τη ζύμη να ῾σἡκωθεί῾  για μια ώρα ή όσο θέλετε μέχρι να φτιάξετε τους λουκουμάδες. Μπορείτε να αφήσετε τη ζύμη να αυξηθεί σε θερμοκρασία δωματίου και έπειτα να τη φυλάξετε στο ψυγείο μέχρι να την χρειαστείτε.
2. Όταν θέλετε να φτιάξετε τους λουκουμάδες, γεμίστε μια μεσαία κατσαρόλα με λάδι περίπου μέχρι τη μέση. Αφήστε το λάδι να κάψει καλά πριν προχωρήσετε στο επόμενο βήμα. Παράλληλα, βάλτε λίγο λάδι σε ένα ποτήρι και βυθίστε ένα κουτάλι μέσα.
3. Για το επόμενο βήμα, θα χρησιμοποιήσετε το κουτάλι και...τα χέρια σας. Φορέστε γάντια εάν έχετε, αλλιώς πλύντε πολύ καλά τα χέρια σας. Με το ένα χέρι, πάρτε ποσότητα από το χυλό και δημιουργήστε μια μπουνιά. Λίγη ποσότητα από το χυλό θα ξεχυλίσει το πάνω μέρος του χεριού σας, την οποία θα πάρετε με το κουτάλι. Όταν έχετε την ποσότητα στο κουτάλι, ρίξτε την με γρήγορες κινήσεις στο καυτό λάδι. Η ζύμη θα αρχίσει να τηγανίζεται. Ένα καλό σημάδι είναι να βγάζει μπουρμπουλήθρες το λάδι γύρω από τη ζύμη. Αυτό σημαίνει πως έχει καλή θερμοκρασία για τηγάνισμα. Επαναλάβετε τη διαδικασία για την υπόλοιπη ζύμη, φροντίζοντας πάντα να τοποθετείτε το κουτάλι στο ποτήρι με το λάδι. Μην χρησιμοποιήσετε νερό, δεν είναι καλή ιδέα!
4. Δίπλα στην κατσαρόλα που τηγανίζετε, έχετε ένα πιάτο με λίγο χαρτί για να απορροφήσει το λάδι. Όταν οι λουκουμάδες έχουν ένα χρυσαφέρνιο χρώμα, μεταφέρετέ τους προσεχτικά στο πιάτο και αφήστε τους να κρυώσουν.
5. Για σερβίρισμα, βάλτε λίγους λουκουμάδες σε ένα μικρό μπολ και πασπαλίστε με το αγαπημένο σας συνοδευτικό. Εγώ τρελαίνομαι για μέλι, κανέλα και καρύδια.





Saturday, 17 February 2018

ORANGE POLENTA CAKE WITH YOGHURT


     I have always been a romantic person at heart. Not in the silly, commercially portrayed way we see nowadays. But in the deep, secretive and sometimes lonely way that makes you think of ideal people, situations or environments you wish to surround yourself with. In a way that makes you saddened when you realise that the world is not the safe, beautiful and pure environment you dreamed of. Very often I think of myself as being Amelie Poulain, living in my own fictional world, reading books that flourish my spirit and trying to do justice to people who deserve it. Sometimes I feel like I want to make right all the wrongs in this world, and then quickly realise the impossibility in that feeling.
     A few days ago it was Valentine's Day. A day to celebrate love in a rather staged way. Buy flowers and chocolate to show your love to some. I am more of a dyi girl and always think of something to make with my own hands. Like the recipe I posted for those mini Red Velvet cakes the other day. Simple things that mean the world. However, this year I didn't have a lot of time to make something (we ate the red velvet cakes a bit earlier) and I decided to make a cake I had in mind the next day after Valentine's. We enjoyed it in the same way or even more!



    Citrus fruit are after apples one of my favourite fall/winter fruit. They are so versatile, such as apples, and can be used in sweet as well as savoury recipes. This makes them perfect for any occasion. This time I used them in a cake with a strong presence of oranges. The cake itself is very special, since it contains polenta and ground hazelnuts. The original recipe calls for ground almonds, but I like to experiment with recipes and I wasn't going to let this one untested, just because I didn't have any almonds hanging around in my kitchen. If you don't know polenta, it is a grain from corn used and eaten very much in Northern Italy. Usually they make a sort of porridge from the polenta, adding grated parmesan and lots of butter. It's amazing what those Italians can make!
      But this time, polenta plays a special role in a sweet recipe. We use something similar in Greek recipes, but it comes from wheat. We make a sweet dessert called "χαλβάς" (halvas) around lent. Maybe I will make a recipe for this as well, now that we are approaching Easter.




Orange Polenta Cake with Yoghurt (adapted by this recipe )

ingredients (for 8 to 10 persons)

100gr softened butter (room temperature)
150gr brown sugar
50gr whole wheat flour
50gr white flour
50gr grounded hazelnuts (or almonds)
3 medium eggs
130gr polenta
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons honey
80gr greek strained yoghurt 
4 tablespoons orange juice (or juice from one orange)
2 tablespoons orange zest and more for decorating/frosting

frosting:
1 cup heavy cream
orange and lemon zest (just a little)

How do I make it?

1. In a large bowl of a standing mixer or other bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until they become a smooth mixture. Next add the eggs one at a time and mix on medium speed until the eggs are well incorporated.
2. Add the flours and baking powder into the mixture and mix again. Then, add inside the polenta, yoghurt, hazelnuts, orange zest, honey and orange juice. Mix again on slow speed until you have a nice smooth batter.
3. Preheat your oven to 180C and prepare a medium size round pan with a baking sheet. When ready, add the cake batter into the pan and then smooth the surface with a spatula. If you want, hold the sides of the pan and tap it on a hard surface so that the batter surface is smoother.
4. Bake your cake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean. Take the cake out of the oven and let it cool completely before topping it with the frosting.
5. To make the frosting, simply beat the heavy cream with the zests until you get a whipped cream. Taking a spatula, top the cake with the whipped cream evenly around the top surface of the cake and top with some more zest if you'd like!




Saturday, 10 February 2018

MINI RED VELVET CAKES WITH SOFT MIDDLE


     This time of the year has come again. A time to plan out the next few months ahead, before the snow starts to melt and flowers begin to flourish. It is almost the end of winter, by months at least, and I already start thinking about where to go for summer. Some of my co-students in University and I are thinking of doing a cruise trip in Greek islands this year. It would be a perfect opportunity for them to visit Greece with a local and for me to be a tour guide. I always love showing people around my favourite places.
     Before all this fun time, however, I am in the middle of writing my thesis for the Graduate program I follow at University of Luzern and I have so much work to do. Without trying to complain about it, it was a very fun experience, with lots of good friends in the way. I still can't believe almost two years have passed since I came to Switzerland. To me it still feels like yesterday I was packing my things and my two best friends surprised me with a photo-video of the three of us. Time passes by so, so quickly...
      



     Since it's February and some of you (us) are in love, no better reason exists to enjoy a warm and creamy red velvet cake with our other half. Red Velvet is a classic for Valentine's Day and I remember last year I didn't make something relevant, instead I made a chocolate smoothie. But this year, I wanted to make something different and experiment with the sweetness of chocolate and the sour taste of cream cheese. Initial thoughts were to create a lava cake with a runny middle and a warm exterior. However, things didn't go as well as planned and I ended up with a marvellous soft cake with a soft and creamy middle. Which was perfect after all!
     This recipe is quite easy and there is no need for you to master your skills in frosting and layering a cake. The recipe calls for all the ingredients you would normally find in a Red Velvet Cake in the form of a smaller cake that resembles a muffin. 

Mini Red Velvet Cakes with soft middle

ingredient (for 6 cakes)

1 cup flour (shifted)
1/2 cup butter melted
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon cacao (shifted)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon apple cider (optionally)
2 tablespoons food colouring (if liquid, otherwise according to instuctions)

1/2 cup cream cheese (room temperature)
1/4 heavy cream
1/2 cup icing sugar

How do I make it?

1. First step is to prepare the soft middle of the cakes. In a bowl, mix together the cream cheese, heavy cream and icing sugar until smooth. If the mixture is runny, add a little more icing sugar. Cover the surface of a small pan with baking paper and with a spoon form small bites in the form of ball on the parchment paper, keeping them apart from each other. Place the pan in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. The bites need to be firm.
2. In the meanwhile, start preparing the cake batter. In a bigger bowl mix together all the dry ingredients, such as flour, sugar, cacao, baking soda and salt. Then pour inside the melted butter, the buttermilk, the egg yolk, vanilla extract, food colouring and apple cider. Start mixing really well with an electric mixer until you have a good and smooth batter. 
3. When the cream cheese bites are ready, start preheating the oven at 200 C. Then, take a muffin pan. Start filling 6 muffin cases with a full tablespoon of batter. Take a cream cheese bite and put it in the middle, by pushing it a little bit so that it sinks into the batter. With the remaining batter cover the top of all the 6 cakes.
4. Bake the cakes for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let them cool a little bit. 
5. To serve, place a flat pan on top of the muffin pan, keep the sides firmly and try to reverse the muffin pan onto the flat pan to get the cakes. Place the cakes onto a plate or plates and cover with some icing sugar! Enjoy with your loved one...




Friday, 2 February 2018

SWEET POTATO & RICOTTA GNOCCHI WITH BROWN BUTTER & ROSEMARY


     I never thought that having too much free time in my hands, would...make me want to do many things at the same time! Generally speaking, I am known for taking up a lot of projects and very rarely saying no. If I am not collapsing, it means I can do it. It's not always the best way to think or live, but I just get this urge to do a lot of things so that I don't feel my day is lost. However, there are a few days I do completely nothing, so I guess there is a sort of balance in the universe. Even though it doesn't look like it. 
     With all this time in my hands I had to try to make something really special for the blog. Italian cuisine is one of my most adored ones, and pasta is right in the centre of my admiration. I have this future plan on my mind, in which I go to Italy for at least a month, specifically Modena, and take up some pasta making classes. Like the one Naziz took in "Master of None",  before he became a professional in making fresh pasta. My friends know me for making a lot of things myself, like peanut butter, almond butter, hummus, plant-based mylk or breakfast bars. The only thing I haven't given into yet is fermented food, only because I am scared of forgetting to do the right steps and end up with a pile of smelly junk.
       But homemade, fresh pasta has always been my secret guilt pleasure. Who hasn't tasted fresh ravioli and said "Oh, my God, this is good!"? I tell you who. Nobody. And yes, I am that positive about it. My first experiment I thought could be gnocchi. They don't ask for a pasta making machine (which I don't own) and they are a bit easier I think to make and store. As good as this sounds, they are not easy to make. Of course, I knew that the first time would be sort of difficult for me, but that didn't keep me behind. I followed the recipe of Italian Food Forever for these gnocchis. During the process of making the dough, I realised that I had to readjust it and asked my boyfriend for help! If you think about it we are the perfect couple. I ask him for questions on cooking and he asks me for help when he is sick. 


Sweet Potato & Ricotta gnocchi with Brown Butter & Rosemary
(listening to Italian music while making is a must)

ingredients (for 6 persons)

2 cups of mashed sweet potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes)
1/2 cup ricotta (full fat and drained)
1 large egg yolk
2 to 3 cups of flour (approximately)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

for the sauce
150gr butter
1 tablespoon rosemary leaves
salt
pepper

How do I make it?

1. For the mashed potatoes, you can simply clean the potatoes, make some cuts on the potato with a knife (be careful) and bake them for about 30 to 40 minutes on grill. Check with a fork to see if they are ready, they should be extra soft. Leave them cool completely, take out the skin and try mashing them with a fork in a bowl. I made the mistake of not waiting for the potatoes to cool completely, and I ended up with a very  moist dough. 
2. Once your potatoes are ready, use a bigger bowl or your electric mixer and put inside the mashed potatoes, ricotta, egg yolk, salt and pepper. Mix very well until everything is incorporated. Then, using 1/2 a cup each time, add the flour and mix the dough. I suggest adding 1/2 cup at a time, because it's better for the dough and you can see if you need all the cups or not. Your dough should be soft and easy to handle. A wet dough is not ideal. 
3. When you feel your dough is soft and ready, flour a clean surface and place your dough on top. Take a small portion on your hands start rolling it on the surface into a 2,3cm roll approximately. Then take a knife and cut small pieces. There are a lot of ways to roll or shape your gnocchi. This demands a lot of practice and I found the perfect video to show you how to shape them appropriately. Have a look at it, it will help you a lot.



4. Once you are done with shaping the gnocchi, put in a large pot some water to boil. When the water is ready, put inside carefully the gnocchi and let them cook. They will be ready when they come on the surface of the water like floating.
5. In the meanwhile, use a medium pan and melt the butter on medium heat. When the butter starts to bubble pour inside the rosemary leaves , salt and pepper. Mix a little bit and then let everything cook. The butter should start getting a light brown appearance. It's ok, we want it to be like this! You're going to keep cooking the butter for about 6 to 8 minutes after adding the rosemary.
6. When both gnocchi and sauce are ready, transfer the cooked gnocchi into the pan with the sauce and toss lightly. Serve when it's still hot and enjoy as it is. You could add some grated parmesan on top or some more grated black pepper.


Tuesday, 23 January 2018

SPINACH, LEEK AND FETA PIE (ΣΠΑΝΑΚΟΠΙΤΑ)


     It was a while ago, when I said to myself "You can beat this". I was referring to my urgent need to change a recipe to my likings, because I didn't want to eat a very bad ingredient a.k.a. butter. Not only did I realise later, that what goes on our brain about food is far worse than the reality. More often do we feel like we have to limit ourselves to what we eat, only because we think it will make us feel better. I learned the hard way that is not the case. Especially if you are an anxiety driven individual like myself, you can't mask something and call it something else.
     Through the years I taught myself how to cook healthier, but not necessarily cut out important food categories from my diet. I learned how to love the whole process of cooking or baking and to enjoy food whenever I had it. That meant, I had to come to terms with certain facts and have a blast with my food. It seemed really difficult at times, but again our brain can do magic things. One of those things is imagination. If you imagine something great with your mind, there is no reason you can't achieve it. Like this spinach pie I was imagining through the whole weekend. It turned out to be greater than in my imagination...



     This recipe comes from my boyfriend, who gladly decided to make a bunch of spinach we had into a delicious spinach pie. Where we come from, Greece, it is very important to know how to make a good pie. Cheese pie, spinach pie, meat pie, you name it. Several locations in Northern Greece have a few of the most decadent and mouthwatering pies you will ever have in your life. The tradition calls for a woman to make her own phyllo pastry, roll it carefully making it really, really thin. My grandmother used to be such a traditional woman, making her own fyllo pastry for a lot of years, until her hands couldn't do it anymore. It's a tough task, especially for the new generation of Greek women, however, it was viewed as an important skill.
     Our version on the blog is a simple one you can do very easily on a lazy Sunday morning. No need to kneed or call your grandmother to do anything. All you really need is some fresh and good quality spinach, as well as, fine feta cheese. The rest is up to magic...and some hidden ingredient!

Spinach, Leek and Feta pie (Σπανακόπιτα με φέτα)

ingredients

1 kg fresh spinach
2 medium leeks and 2 spring onions (finely chopped)
1 bunch of fresh dill (chopped)
1 clove of garlic (minced)
200gr feta (with sheep and goat milk)
2 tablespoons philadelphia cream cheese
1 package with 2 phyllo doughs (one for top and one for bottom)
4 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
egg yolk for the top
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

how do I make it?
1. Wash the spinach very well and put it in a big bowl. Toss inside some salt and using your hands mix very well the spinach with salt, so that all the spinach is covered. Let sit for 30 minutes.
2. Start by preparing the mixture for the pie. In the bowl with spinach, put the chopped leeks, spring onions, chopped dill and minced garlic. In another bowl, crumble the feta in small pieces and mix it with the cream cheese using a spoon. Add two tablespoons of olive oil to help the process. Pour inside the big bowl containing the spinach. Mix very well so that everything is combined and add two additional tablespoons of olive oil.
3. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Using a medium pan, lather the bottom with some olive oil again and place the bottom phyllo layer. Use your hands to shape the dough in the shape of the pan, especially in the sides. Pour inside the spinach mixture, spreading it all over the surface of the pan. 
4. Top the open pie with the top layer and try to shape it again on the sides of the pan. Perhaps there is some remaining dough on the sides. If you love dough in your pie, keep it. If not, use a knife to cut some of the remaining dough. Cover the top of the pie with some egg yolk first and then sprinkle the sesame seeds. Use a knife to cut the top dough horizontally and vertically as if you would take pieces of the pie out of it. This will hep the dough to bake and not overrise. 
5. Bake the pie for 30 to 40 minutes depending on your oven. After 30 minutes check the pie to see if it's golden on top and if not bake some more. 
6. Let the pie cool a little bit before you start eating it, because when the pie is warm it's  not easy to get a piece.


Thursday, 18 January 2018

HOMEMADE HAZELNUT MILK (PLAIN AND CHOCOLATE)


     It is really funny how time goes by so quickly! Almost four weeks ago I was back home for Christmas enjoying time with my family and friends and this time never seems enough. I guess this happens when you live in a foreign country and it will happen even more in the coming years... Not to sound melodramatic, it's not my intention. It just makes me appreciate more the time spent well.
     On the brighter side, I managed to bring a lot of my old food styling & photography stuff from my parents home back with me in Zurich. Along with that, a big bag of hazelnuts followed us here, waiting for me to break their shell and do something creative with them. My first thought was to try milking! You know, the process of making milk out of nuts. For some time now, I had ordered online a brilliant cheese strainer or nut milk bag (both names are accurate), but for some reason I never used it. What a shame! I missed on such an amazing and easy experience.



    The reasons for making your own plant-based milk are many, but simple to explain. First of all, if you are concerned about what additives you consumed in packaged foods, then have a look at most plant-based mylks sold in supermarkets and you will realise there is more than nuts in what you're drinking. You see that when your milk lasts more than a week in the fridge, whereas the homemade one only lasts up to three days. Second, it's a fun activity you get to do either on your own or with your kids/boyfriend, whoever wants to join. And don't even think that you will thrown away the remaining pulp from the nuts. You can use it to make healthy-sh brownies or bliss balls. Get creative and there is nothing you can't make!
     What I like most about homemade milk is that you have the chance to create your own style and flavour so easily. For example, I got to make two versions, first a plain and then a chocolate one. The choices are many and depend on your imagination and...hunger! For my first ever nutmilk experience I tried hazelnuts since I had a bunch of those hanging around, but also because I love the taste they leave. Along with almond milk, hazelnut milk is one of my favourites. So, let's start milking...

Homemade Hazelnut milk (Plain and Chocolate)

ingredients (for 2 to 3 cups of milk)

plain version
1 cup raw hazelnuts (or roasted if you prefer) pre-soaked in cold water for at least 8 hours (or overnight)
3 cups of filtered water
pinch of salt
2 medjool dates

chocolate version
1 cup raw hazelnuts (or roasted if you prefer) pre-soaked in cold water for at least 8 hours (or overnight)
3 cups of filtered water
pinch of salt
2 medjool dates
+
2 tablespoons of raw cacao
1 tablespoon of honey

equipment: blender, nutmilk bag or cheese stainer, big bowl, glass bottles to store

how do I make it? 
(the process is the same for both versions until step 5)

1. Take out your blender and pour inside 3 cups of filtered water (or boiled) and the pre-soaked hazelnuts. Then, start your blender on medium speed for one minute and then on high speed for one more minute. 
2. Stop the blender and put inside the dates and salt. Close the lid and pulse again for an additional 2 minutes, or until your nuts have really turned into a pulp.
3. In the middle of a big bowl, put your nutmilk bag open and then pour inside some of the milk from the blender. Take the bag in your hands, twist it a little bit and start squishing it to get out the liquid from the hazelnuts. Be tough with them, as you need the most milk you can get.When you're done, save the pulp in an extra bowl. 
4. Repeat the previous step for the remaining milk until you are done. Then, for the plain version you transfer the milk in the glass bottles and serve immediately or store in the fridge for later. 
5. For the chocolate version, put your blender on again and this time pour inside the hazelnut milk, the raw cacao and the honey. Mix for one minute and then transfer the milk in glass bottles. Voila!



Sunday, 7 January 2018

VANILLA SPRINKLES CUPCAKES WITH COCONUT FROSTING (VEGAN)


     The new year 2018 has started quite well. Less stress, more fun and more creativity. A few days ago, I went for a shopping spree with my mum in the center of Athens and we ended up in a vegetarian restaurant called "Avocado: Food for life". As you would expect from the name, avocado is included in a lot of their dishes. We ordered a salad with roasted beets, blanched spinach, a kind of sheep/goat cheese (Manouri), spring onions and avocado slices. Delightful! Then, we finished with a Spanish tortilla with zucchini & broccoli. What I liked the most was that they used a variety of ingredients, all of them fresh.
     In this small trip to Athens, I also looked for books to read. I was told that Tom Robbins is an amazing American writer and that his books are a must read. So, I got myself one of his books called "Half-asleep in frog pyjamas". A very weird and uncommon title, which made me curious to read it just to see what it talks about. Lately, I want to read more books, especially biographies or books by philosophers. So, in 2018 I plan to read at least four books and see how that goes...



     I don't know about you, but I was craving for some moist and healthier cupcakes yesterday. Then I discovered my mum had some sprinkles in her pantry and I knew it had to be a funfetti kind of cupcake. You know, the ones you used to eat as a kid, colourful and fun. The recipe is very simple and if you have kids, you can try to make it with them as well. I cooperated with my mum, especially during the shooting, where I made her do the sprinkling of the cupcakes and sometimes the frosting. 
     The recipe calls for non dairy milk and no eggs, so if you are vegeterian/vegan or just want to eat a little healthier (these do contain sugar) then this recipe is perfect for you. I was inspired by Minimalist Baker's similar recipe of funfetti cupcakes. The blog contains only vegan or vegeterian recipes that are just as delicious as non-vegan recipes. Have a look at their blog and discover a variety of recipes you would want to make over and over again.




Vanilla Sprinkles Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting (Vegan)

ingredients (for 12 cupcakes)

1/2 cup vegetable butter (such as margarine)
1 cup almond milk
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup brown sugar (raw)
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 cup sprinkles (and more for topping)
2 teaspoons vanilla essence

for the frosting

1/2 cup vegan butter with coconut oil or margarine
1 1/2 cup icing sugar
2 tablespoons almond milk

how do I make it?

1. In a small bowl, pour the almond milk with the vinegar, stir a little bit and let the mixture to the side until you need to use it. In another bowl shift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
2. Using a bigger bowl, place inside the vegetable butter and with an electric mixer beat until soft (for about 2 minutes). Add the sugar and mix some more until the sugar dissolves a little bit (about 2 more minutes). Last, add the vanilla essence and mix again.
3. Start adding the flour mix and the almond milk little by little in the butter, while mixing every time. When you are done, add the sprinkles and gently mix with a spatula. Don't overmix.
4. Preheat your oven to 175 C. Take out a muffin pan and place 12 muffin cases. With a scoop for ice cream, try to fill each muffin case about 2/3. Let the mixture sit for 2 minutes and when the oven is ready, bake the cupcakes for 22 to 25 minutes. Use a toothpick after 20 minutes to check if they are cooked.
5. Take the cupcakes out of the oven and let them cool completely before making the frosting.
6. To make the frosting, use a bowl again and beat first the vegan butter well. Start adding the icing sugar in doses and in the end add the almond milk. You can a little bit more of sugar or milk depending on how the mixture turns out. You want it think, but a little moist as well.
7. Take your cupcakes and start placing some frosting on top as you wish. Sprinkle some colourful sprinkles on top and enjoy!