Celebrating Thanksgiving on an island abundant with blessings …

20131128-121727.jpg

The US Ambassador HE Ms Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley welcomes me to her home and shares her favorite Thanksgiving recipes.

It is the time of the year again when Americans all over the world stop to thank for their blessings, to appreciate and give thanks for what they have. Gratitude for the harvest, the provision, the abundance….. a nation so diverse with a fusion of cuisines and an integration of cultures, today is thanksgiving for everyone to remember and thank and spend a day with those who matter.

20131128-122142.jpg The Thanksgiving Table at the Embassy with beautiful Pickard crockery and Lenox Silverware

20131128-131808.jpg

And HE The Ambassador of the USA shares some of her favorite recipes.

20131128-124029.jpg
Her mother’s recipe for Sweet Potato Pie

20131128-124658.jpg

Home made Cranberry Orange Marmalade with Mediterranean oranges from her garden…

20131128-124822.jpg
Old fashioned corn muffins

20131128-125025.jpg
And her favorite chocolate cake with beetroot frosting

20131128-125745.jpg
A recipe for my Apple Meringue Pie

20131128-101501.jpgA Stuffed Turkey Breast recipe from Luke Woodend at Le Meridien.

20131128-100634.jpg

Today’s newspaper

On a glorious island blessed with abundance …
with much to be thankful for, where it is thanksgiving everyday; the golden sunshine nurturing the fruit and produce growing in the Mediterranean earth, completely surrounded by the bluest sea, a feast of natural beauty all around, we stop and remember to thank for all our blessings …

20131128-130759.jpg

Ambassador Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley’s family favorites for Thanksgiving !

Ambassador Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley welcomed me to her official residence and we tasted all her home made family favorite Thanksgiving specialities. What a treat, everything was so delicious and fresh……Corn muffins, her own mother’s recipe for sweet potato pie, a home made cranberry and orange marmalade using Mediterranean oranges from her garden and the most luscious beetroot chocolate cake with beetroot frosting which I can only describe as divine !

The US Ambassador shared her recipes with me and I cannot wait to make them at home !

20131127-062416.jpg

Beetroot Chocolate Cake

200g butter
250g pre cooked beetroo200g dark chocolate preferably 70 %cocoa
4 tablespoons hot espresso
135 g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
5 eggs, separated
190g caster sugar

Preheat oven to 180C. Grease a 20cm cake tin and line the bottom of the tin with baking parchment,
Blend the beetroot in a food processor to a rough purée.
Melt the chocolate in a bowl then pour in the coffee.
Stir in the butter in small pieces and leave to soften. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa together in a bowl and set aside.
Separate the eggs. Whisk the yolks in a bowl until they are frothy. Stir the eggs into the chocolate and butter mixture, then fold in the beetroot.

Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and fold in the sugar.

Fold the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture then fold in the flour and cocoa.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 40 minutes or under a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the tin then serve with cream or this special beetroot cream.

Beetroot Cream Cheese Frosting


1/2 packet cream cheese
1/2 half cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups icing sugar
6 tablespoons beetroot juice drained from the beetroot used for the cake

Blend all ingredients together.

20131127-062831.jpg


Cranberry and Orange Marmalade

1kg Cranberries
4 cups sugar
1 tsp Ground Ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
6 small oranges, peeled and chopped
1 liter water

Mix the water and sugar and bring to a boil for 5 minutes?

Add the rest of the I gradients and boil for another 10 minutes
Cool and store in fridge.
This can be served cold or warm, with meats or desserts
Thank you for featuring our recipe on www.howtomakefood.net .

20131127-063028.jpg


Mrs Flo’s Sweet Potato Pie

8 sweet potatoes, the yellow kind
6 eggs
2 sticks butter, melted
2 cups white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 can evaporated milk
1 cup egg nog
1 can Carnation condensed milk
Nutmeg to suit your taste
Cinnamon to suit your taste
Vanilla extract to suit your taste.

Boil sweet potatoes with jackets on, mash u til smooth
Add melted butter, eggs and sugar and mix well
Add the evaporated milk and condensed milk to get a medium heavy consistency
Add spices to suit your taste
Place into pre baked pie shell and bake at 180 C one about one hour dependent how deep the pie shell is.

Serve with fresh cream or whipped cream cheese.

20131127-063834.jpg


Corn Muffins

1cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 beaten eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup oil

Grease the bottom and sides of a muffin tray.
Mix together the flour, sugar baking powder and salt.
Make a well in the centre and set aside.

In another bowl combine the eggs, milk, oil and add egg mixture all at once to the dry ,is true,
Stir just until moistened
Spoon batter into prepared pan
Bake at 200 C for 15 to 20 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
Cool on wire rack. This recipe makes about 10 to 12 muffins.

We had ours with home made cranberry and orange marmalade.

20131128-062352.jpg
US Ambassador H.E. Ms. Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley welcomed me to her home to speak about Thanksgiving

A day of remembrance and planning Thursday’s meal…..

Today, the American Embassy on the island lowers its flag on the 50th anniversary of President J F Kennedy’s assassination …. 20131123-180551.jpg

I am fascinated by America and whatever makes America tick when it comes to food.
Everyone watches while America innovates, everyone copies while America moves on to the next new creation….

And far away from the USA, on a tiny island in the heart of the Mediterranean blessed with an abundance of sunshine, completely surrounded by the bluest sea, I cook and bake and replicate to taste the American dream.

I am planning a lunch menu for Thanksgiving…..and i decide definitely Apple Meringue Pie for dessert….

20131124-061250.jpg

You will need:

One pie crust of your choice.

And for the filling :

7 cups thinly sliced peeled apples
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup milk
2 egg yolks, beaten
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

In a bowl, toss apples with lemon juice.

Separately whisk the sugar, flour, milk, egg yolks and lemon peel until smooth. Pour over apples and toss to coat.

Pour apples and batter into a pie crust that had been baked blind for 10 minutes. Cover the pie dish with foil.

Bake the crust and filling at 180C for 20 minutes. Remove foil; bake 25-30 minutes longer or until apples are tender. Reduce heat to 150C.


For the meringue you will need:

6 egg whites
600g caster sugar
Pinch of cream of tartar

Whip the egg whites and a pinch of cream of tartar until they are stiff.
Sprinkle the sugar and carefully mix in
Place in a piping bag and pipe it on top of the filing.
Give it some color by either placing in a hot oven at 220 C until it reaches the color of your choice or use a blow torch to color the surface.

Note: the volume of the eggs when whisked could increase by 7 times. Eggs should be fresh for best results. The bowl and whisk should be meticulously clean for the best results. When separating the egg yolk from the egg white no trace of yolk must be allowed to mix with the whites as this will prevent the egg white from whisking to its maximum.

And you may live on the other side of the globe and only able to dream of America but you can certainly bring a taste of the American dream into your home no matter where you are with these wonderful recipes from my collection of new and old fashioned favorites from the USA:

Pineapple Coconut Cobbler Tart

20131123-220541.jpg

Gnudi New York Style

20131123-222320.jpg

Nutty Buttery Squash with no butter

20131123-222718.jpg

Cronuts

20131123-224122.jpg

Peach and Cherry Sundae Tart

20131124-055556.jpg

Spinach Artichoke Chicken Bake

20131124-064611.jpg

Stromboli

20131124-064148.jpg

Hummingbird Cake

20131124-070342.jpg

Juicy Lucy

20131124-070853.jpg

Chorizo Feta Muffins

20131124-071835.jpg

Ramen Burger

20131124-072329.jpg

New York Cheesecake

20131124-122514.jpg

Greek Revani … lemon semolina cake with honey syrup

20131122-084214.jpg

Another Greek recipe from my collection passed on to me from my time in Cyprus. What a great opportunity this is to have the time to make them for the hotel’s dinner on Fridays.

This is a lemony semolina cake and I used a honey syrup with orange flower water. You can use the flavors of your choice for the syrup. Rather than pour the syrup over the cake and cut it, I like to cut it first and then dip each piece into the syrup. Dipping the top bit only is enough as the syrup will trickle down to the rest of the cake and it will be moist and retain its firmness.

You will need :

2 1/2 cups self raising flour
2 cups semolina flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
pinch salt
16 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 cups sugar
6 eggs
few drops vanilla
4 lemons
2 1/2 cups plain yoghurt

20131122-074723.jpg

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and grease a sheet pan or line it with baking parchment.

Sift together the flour, semolina, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing slowly after each addition. Add vanilla and lemon zest and mix.

Add one half of the flour mixture, then one half of the yogurt, repeat with the other half.

Pour the batter into the pan and bake 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

And for the syrup, mix all these ingredients together on moderate heat and bring to a rolling boil for 5 minutes .

310g sugar
150 ml water
2 tablespoons orange flower water if available
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
1/2 cup honey

allow the cake to COMPLETELY cool. Cut into triangles.
Dip the surface into the hot syrup.
Garnish with nuts of your choice if desired. I used walnuts…

Some more Greek Sweets from the hotel can be found here !

Fruit Greek Yoghurt Pots

Gluten Free Greek Cheesecake

Kourabiedes

Melomakarona

Very Chocolatey Greek Yoghurt Pots

Greek Walnut Cake

20131122-041836.jpg

20131122-084613.jpg

Chocolate Cherry Chubbies…. an Irish soda bread recipe

20131121-065208.jpg
An old shop front in the City *

20131121-062743.jpg

I made these Chubbies a couple of weeks ago when I was working with Mrs Hennessy on a number of Irish recipes for a newspaper spread but did not feature them at the time.

I used an Irish soda bread recipe and added chocolate and maraschino cherries. They are very! rustic in appearance, certainly not suitable for an elegant tea party but will be great if you have young kids especially or if you have a craving for something sweetish and not too indulgent as they are satisfying and wholesome. Freshly baked, straight out of the oven with a cup of hot tea, they were marvelous and it was not necessary to spread them with butter or jam but of course this is up to personal taste. I used an extra large cutter and to make them as chubby as possible and you will need:

20131121-062837.jpg

4 cups self raising flour
4 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup butter, cut into cubes
1 cup buttermilk or yoghurt
1 egg
1 cup chocolate powder
200g maraschino cherries
Cocoa powder or drinking chocolate for dusting

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
Lightly grease a large baking sheet.
In a large bowl, rub together the flour and butter until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add the salt, baking soda, sugar coco powder. Stir in the buttermilk or yoghurt and egg. Add the cherries and form the dough. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly. Form dough into a round and use a large cutter to make your chubbies. Dust with powdered chocolate.
Bake in preheated oven until a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean for about 45 minutes. Serve fresh or split and toasted the day after.

20131121-071750.jpg

*Photo by Ari

20131125-105318.jpg
Today’s newspaper

A rumtopf inspired fruit compote ….

20131117-074256.jpg

With Christmas approaching, I start to automatically think of Christmasy treats and I made this fruit compote yesterday out of fruit that was starting to go soft. I had kiwis, plums and grapes but did not have much time to spare.

For Christmas I always make the fantastic German treats, the irresistible german gingerbread, the cinnamon stars, I can smell the spices, home made Stollen, gluhwein , the German cookies, spizbuben…. can’t wait …. and this compote was made while I was thinking of Rumtopf, but made very quickly and without doubt will disappear quickly …

This is a good way to use fruit that is going soft and I think it would not look the same without the plums or addition of red fruit. This is not a jam, I added a fraction of the sugar and it makes a great accompaniment mixed with yoghurt for breakfast or dessert, added to fruit flans with fresh fruits and also spooned over cakes and other desserts, ideal for Thanksgiving next week ….. I did not add any cinnamon or spices as we will have our fair amount next month, but lots of lemon zest and it looked gorgeous in a large glass bowl.

You will need :

A mix of fruit, I used plums destoned with skin on and roughly chopped, kiwis peels and roughly chopped, seedless grapes with skin onset whole.

Weigh the fruit and put into a large pot.

Juice and zest of lemon, allow two lemons per kilo, place in pot with the fruit

Sugar, I used a quarter of the weight of the fruit, so with two kilos fruit, I used 500g sugar, keep aside

1 glass Marsala

Honey, I used local thyme honey, 1 spoon per kilo

I have made this before using carob syrup instead of honey and here is the recipe.

Cook the fruit in lemon juice, marsala and zest in a large pot over medium heat, covered up. Stir so that it does not stick but it is important to keep the pot covered so that the vegetables cook in their own stem and you will not need to add any water. When it is soft and mushy, mix in the sugar all at once and stir in. Increase the heat and bring to a fast boil. Lower the heat making sure you keep a rolling boil for 10 minutes. Turn off and add the honey or carob syrup.

20131117-094653.jpg

Leave to cool and it looks beautiful in a large glass pot.

20131117-084613.jpg
A mild Mediterranean winter captured by Ari yesterday ….

Pasta from a Mediterranean Pantry… a quick lunch today

20131116-154451.jpg

Too busy to stop today but not too busy to eat. We love our food. It is one of the pleasures of life and I spend my day mentally planning the next meal.

A standard Mediterranean kitchen  cupboard is well stock with tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, capers and olives, a selection of dried herbs, olive oil and lots of pasta. A quick  cupboard lunch today, 10 minutes total prep time and delicious it is …

For a gluten free meal, use gluten free pasta.
For a vegetarian meal, leave out the pancetta.

You will need:
Fusilli, allow 75 to 120g per portion depending on appetites
1 can chopped tomatoes tomatoes
Olives, allow 6 per person, destoned and chopped up
Capers, I use one spoon per person but we love capers, use half if you are not so used to them
50g pancetta, cooked without oil in a non stick pan
Whole dried chilies, allow 1 per 2 portions, cut up
Dried Oregano, allow 1/4 teaspoon for 2 portions
Dried flaked garlic, allow two flakes per portion, chopped up
6 spoons red wine per two portions
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
Drizzle of olive oil
Freshly grated Parmeggiano
I also use fresh mint leaves

The sauce recipe is for two persons.

Cook the pasta in plenty salted water, and follow the cooking time instructions on your pack.

In a saucepan, cook the pancetta in a non stick pan. Add the garlic and tomatoes. Cook for a couple of minutes and add the wine. Season and add the tomato paste, dried oregano and chillis. Reduce sauce for another two minutes and take off the heat. Add half the olives and capers and a drizzle of olive oil. Mix with the cooked fusilli.
Plate the pasta and top with a fresh light grating of Parmegiano Cheese and fresh mint leaves if available. Garnish with the rest of the olives and capers.
Serve immediately.

20131116-160901.jpg
Abundant capers growing widely in the open countryside….

Gluten free Greek honey and fig Cheesecake….. using myzithra or ricotta

20131116-075130.jpg

I made a light cheesecake, baked custard and cake all in one, my day of trying out new recipes in the hotel. It is also gluten free as we use cornstarch instead of flour, just a fabulous recipe…. I added figs and honey this time and the tasting bit is always the best part…silky, smooth yet a cakey texture with a defined honey flavor…

This is a Greek baked cheesecake traditionally made using Mtzithra cheese but if it is not available use Ricotta.

I am told that the Greeks invented cheesecake and I have to say that this recipe is definitely a winner. We baked the mix in various ways … baked on a biscuit shell, in a cake tin and also in flan dishes. I like the ones in flat rectangular flan dishes best and I sandwiched them together with a light Greek yoghurt cream and lighted dusted it with icing sugar….

You will need :

1kg ricotta or myzithra
250g butter
200g sugar
6 tablespoons cornstarch
6 eggs separated
Juice and zest of one lemon
Pinch of salt
1 cup chopped figs
3 tablespoons honey

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, lemon zest and lenon juice
and beat in. Add the Ricotta and honey and beat in on low speed for about 5 minutes to achieve a very smooth texture. Mix in the cornstarch and pinch of salt.

Whisk the egg whites until they are stiff.

Mix the chopped figs into the ricotta mixture, then using a metal spoon fold in the egg whites. .

pour the batter into a mould of your choice lined with baking parchment.

Bake at 180 C for 35 to 40 minutes. Leave to cool and take out of pan. Dust lightly with icing sugar ….

20131116-080058.jpg
What’s baking? Inside an old local bakery…..

20131116-083352.jpg

20131116-083427.jpg

20131116-083504.jpg

20131116-083530.jpg

20131116-083637.jpg

20131116-083712.jpg

20131117-090116.jpg
And yesterday’s newspaper

Home made goodies for Christmas… Ari and mum make mincemeat..

20131114-090212.jpg

As we approach the end of November, we start to see the first signs of the island’s mild winter. Ari took the beautiful photo this morning, considered a bit chilly here but in other European countries this would be a warm day. How spoilt we are !

And bringing out the light woolies reminds us that Christmas is coming and that this is really our last chance to make good home made mincemeat giving the fruit time to soak up all the flavours in the juices until they puff to nearly bursting point.

Making mincemeat is the start to the build up and personally this is the part that I enjoy. Without wishing to sound negative, the actual day when it arrives seems an anticlimax after the excitement of the planning, baking and making…..

Mincemeat was originally made with meat and sugar was used as a preservative and the history of the mincepie is so well documented in What’s Cooking America but the question I always get these days is …. Do we have to use suet? The answer is no you don’t but I do as it gives me a feeling that I am making something very different once a year… suet means mince pies and mince pies mean Christmas so unless you are on a very restricted diet, it will not harm to eat one or two mincepies a year containing suet … But cooking is about creativity and personal taste so if you don’t want suet, leave it out !

Ari and mum made this year’s mincemeat with an unusual ingredient and I know they will be divine …. Ari loves chocolate and she decided to grate Indonesian Black Java 100% cacao by artisan cacao farmer Willie Harcourt Cooze. I know they will be divine !!!

20131115-061700.jpg

You will need :

500g currants
500g raisins
500g sultanas
250g apples, peeled and cored
200g chopped almonds
1 lemon, juice and zest
100g suet, I use Atora vegetable suet
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2teaspoon nutmeg
100g Grated dark chocolate
Pinch of Salt
6 tablespoons brandy
2 tabspoons carob syrup

Thoroughly mix everything well I. A large bowl, cover and leave to mature !

20131115-064645.jpg

For more of my recipes using Willie’s Cacao see Chocolate Tart with Bee Pollen using Cuban Baracoa Chocolate and Grown Up Chocolate Coconut Candy using Venezuelan Rio Caribe Chocolate.

Melomakarona …..Greek honey and orange cookies …

20131112-211221.jpg

I am in the mood for making more Greek sweets and I am going to carry on until i have exhausted all possibilities from my stack of recipes collected when I lived in Cyprus.

These orange cookies soaked in a honey syrup are delicious and they are traditionally made by families during Christmas or special occasions. The dough freezes well so you can double the ingredients and freeze half the dough for use at a later time. The recipe requires beating the oil and orange juice for 15 minutes and it may seem a long time, but it just makes a lighter, more crumbly cookie. …..

You will need :

3 cups olive oil
1 cup orange juice
1 cup brandy
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
Zest of 2 oranges
1 1/2 kg plain flour
Pinch of cloves, pinch of cinnamon
Some chopped nuts for inserting a piece before baking

For the syrup
1 1/2 cups honey
1 1/w cups sugar
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup water
Pinch of cinnamon

To top
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup caster sugar
Combine these ingredients and leave in a bowl to dip the cookies in

Preheat oven to 180°C.

I froze half the dough and filled two flat baking trays with the cookies.

Using an electric mixer, beat oil, sugar and orange juice on high speed for 10 minutes or until thick and creamy.

Sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda and combine with oil mixture. Fold gently and you should have a light doughy mixture. If you need add more flour,

Using hands, roll tablespoons mixture into oval shapes. Insert a small piece of nut into each cookie. Place on prepared trays. Bake for 25 minutes or until firm to touch. Allow to cool on trays.

Make syrup by combining ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until syrup thickens slightly.

Using a slotted spoon, dip cooled biscuits, 1 at a time, into hot syrup for about 30 seconds, turning over often until well coated. Dip the top into the walnut and sugar mixture, Combine walnuts and Allow to cool and arrange on a large plate.

20131113-111734.jpg

Ready for baking !
20131113-111551.jpg

20131112-220812.jpg

20131112-220852.jpg