Artos: Spiced bread

September 12th, 2014 § 0

I know I haven’t been around lately, let’s keep it up with a mouth watering and easy to do Greek spiced bread.

In ancient Greek artos meant loaf of bread, nowadays it is generally used for celebration bread generally in church.

It is a kind of spiced bread with mastic and/or mahleb flavours. This recipe is only with mahleb.

  • 40 gr fresh yeast
  • 2 orange (freshly squeezed juice)
  • 1/4 cup a good quality cognac
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 t mahleb
  • 1 t anice seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 t cloves powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 900 gr all purpose flour
  • Put the water, anice and cinnamon stick in a bowl and boil at low heat for 15 minutes.

    Remove the cinnamon stick and let cool the syrup.

    Activate fresh yeast cube by mixing it with 1/4 cup of luke warm water and 2 T flour.

    Add orange juice and let it be foamy or show signs of expansion (about 10 minutes).

    Add sugar, cognac, mahleb, vanilla and cloves powder. Wait 5 to 10 minutes.

    Add olive oil and stir.

    Mix baking powder and flour. Add this mixture to the liquid mixture gradually.

    Make a soft dough.The dough should not stick to your fingers.

    Put the dough in a large greased round tray.

    Let rise in a warm place about an hour until double in volume.

    Bake in 180° C pre-heat oven until golden brown for about an hour.

    A perfect bread for breakfast!

    Preparing a traditional fermented tarhana

    August 11th, 2014 § 0

    Tarhana is a traditional staple soup in Turkey.

    There is no exact information about tarhana, but it was created by Cental Asian Turks as a way of preserving yogurt before the invention of refrigerator. Then it was brought to Anatolia by Selçuk Turks. During the Ottoman Empire it is enterd to Balkan countries.

    Tarhana is said to be an oldest instant soup.

    There is a legend in Turkey  about the word of tarhana. Once upon a time the Sultan was a guest at a home of a poor peasant family. The only food they have for the Sultan was a simple soup. The peasant’s wife embarrasingly said that all they offer him is a ‘dar hane soup’ (meaning poor house soup- literally narrow house). In this way, the dar hane soup became known as tarhana soup.

    The coral coloured tarhana grains are prepared in summer with hot summer sun and served at every meal from breakfast to supper, during winter.

    Various herbs and spices can be used in tarhana including the special tarhana herb.

  • 3 kg long red peppers (de-seeded and julien cut)
  • 2 kg tomatoes (cubed)
  • 1 kg onion
  • 1.5 kg strained yogurt
  • 1 bunch dill
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • salt
  • 1,75 kg flour
  • Slice onions into rings.

    In a large cauldron put the onion rings. Add cubed tomatoes and julien cut red peppers.

    Place dill and parsley. Springle with salt and cook until it boils. After boiling, simmer until all the ingredients are very tender (about an hour).

    Take out the dill and the parsley bunches. Let cool.

    Pass through a blender.

    In a large bowl put the flour. Make a hole in the center and place the yogurt and mashed vegetables.

    Mix and knead well. Make a dough.

    Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and let it stay overnight to fermentate. If it stays more than a day, it will be very sour.

    Divide the dough into walnut sized pieces. Spread out them on a clean tissue cloth to dry.

    Let dry them under the sun in an airy place. Upside down during the drying process.

    Leave in the sun for at least 5 days to be dried completely.

    Sieve with a food processor and store in glass container or in gauze bags.

    You don’t have to wait to come winter to make a tarhana soup. You can immediately consume it with gusto.

    Cherry Cake

    July 1st, 2014 § 0

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 80 gr milk
  • 100 gr butter
  • 1  cup flour
  • 1 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 300 -350 gr cherries
  • 1/2 cup almonds (I used coarsely crushed walnuts)
  • Melt the butter in a saucepan. Set aside to cool at room temperature.

    Wash and pit the cherries. Cut 12 cherries in half and set aside to be placed on top of the cake during baking. Heavy fruits like cherries tend to sink to the bottom of the pan while baking. In order to eliminate this problem, I save some cherries aside to add halfway through the baking time to make them float on top of the cake.

    Cut the rest of the cherries into quarters for the cake batter.

    In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, ground almonds or walnuts and baking powder.

    ?eat the eggs and sugar until light colored.

    Add vanilla, butter and milk one by one until incorporated.

    Add gradually the flour mixture. Finally add the quartered cherries.

    Put the batter into a greased pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

    Bake in 175° C pre-heated oven for 15 minutes then remove from oven. Arrange the remaining 12 – 14 cherries on the top of the cake.

    Return the cake to the oven immediately and bake for a further 15-20 minutes or  a toothpick inserted into the cake portion comes out clean.

    If the cake over browns, cover with a piece of aluminum foil.

    Serve warm or at room temperature preferably with a scoop of ice cream.

    Harvesting cherries

    June 30th, 2014 § 0

    Cherries are one of the world’s oldest cultivated fruits which dates back to B.C. They have pleased our palates for centuries.The cherry tree is native to Asia and Anatolia.

    The English word cherry comes from Assyrian karsu and Greek κέρασος (kerasos), which is the ancient name of a city in Black Sea region in Turkey, Giresun. It is beleived that the homeland of the cherry is Giresun and this city gave its name to the fruit.

    Their ruby red color and tangy taste won cherries a place on the tables, also give a touch of class to savoury dishes.

    Today there are thousands of varieties of cherries and most are still picked by hand.

    The cherry tree produces fruit in five years with a bloom period in early April.

    This year I had the chance to experiment harvesting rainier cherries (white cherry) in Greek φράουλα (fraula) or πετροκέρασο(petrokeraso).

    The white cherries are considered a premium type of cherry that have thin skin and thick creamy yellowish-red flesh.  A good quality of white cherry must be large, firm and have deep creamy colouring.

    The brown spotting on the skin indicates high sugar content.  The light yellow to yellow-orange coloured fruit is ready to harvest late June through July. As it ripens in that period, the sugar content rises.

    The trees at the countryside that we harvested are not disinfected (fully organic). So, the cherry fruits had communities of insects. The cherry warms do not harm human beings who have accidentally ingested, because they are not adapted to living in human intestines. But it is certainly disgusting to know that you have been eating worms!

    Prior to harvest or eating, a simple control is required. Squize the fruit which is near to the stem, if it is soft it means that the fruit is infested by cherry worm.

    I loved the taste part. Because you should taste your cherry tree before picking, whether its fruit is ripen.

    With a wooden ladder, we climbed up the tree and picked the cherries saying “one for me, one for the basket”!!

    We picked the fruit with stems attached because otherwise may spoil easily. The fruit with stem, helps retain their freshness after picking. They keep better and longer if the stem is attached after harvest.

    Birds love cherries, especially the white cherries. They love to perch and pick the cherry fruits off. For that reason we decided to leave the fruits that are at the higher branches to birds. So you never get all the fruit, but share some with birds.

    We harvested the tastiest cherries ever and enjoyed the outdoors life!

    Stewed cherry with chocolate mousse

    June 27th, 2014 § 0

    It is cherry season in Aegean region.

    June is the peak season for harvesting cherries and the markets are full of beautiful plump cherries.

    This is a simple cherry compote with chocolate mousse to enjoy!

    • 700 gr cherries
    • 90 gr sugar
    • 1/2 cup Sherry (preferebly Kirsch)
    • 200 gr good quality dark chocolate (70% cacao)
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 t ground black peppercorns

    Wash the cherries. Stone them with a cherry pitter. While stoning, keep the juice into a pan.

    Put the cherry and its juice into a wide pan.

    Add sugar and black peppercorns. Bring to a boil, let stand for 10 minutes. Add Sherry (kirschwasser) and boil for another 5 minutes.

    Take out the peppercorns and let it cool.

    Melt the bittersweet chocolate with bain-marie method, or simply put water in a thick bottom pan. Inside this pan place another pan with the couverture chocolate.

    Beat egg whites in a small deep bowl and make stiff.

    Beat egg yolks with chocolate well.

    Fold the egg whites to the chocolate batter.

    Use a spatula and mix them well. Refrigerate for 4 hours.

    In a serving glass share the stewed cherries.

    On top, place the chocolate mousse and serve immediately.