Monthly Archives: May 2013

Why I choose plums for the crostata…

Plums are very nutritious low-kilojoule food. One medium-size fresh plum contains only 120 kilojoules and is a good source of such dietary fibres as cellulose and pectin. It also supplies useful amounts of several nutrients, including 6 mg of vitamin C and 150 mg of potassium.

In their dried form some plums become prunes, which are a more concentrated source of kilojoules and nutrients.
Plums contain anthocyanins, the reddish blue pigments that lend them their intense colour. These anti-oxidant pigments may help protect against cancer and heart disease by mopping up free radicals, unstable molecules that damage cells.

Overall they are delicious!!!

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Crostata di Prugna – Prune or Plum Jam Tart

crostata

The Italian equivalent of English tea at 3 or 4 o’clock in the afternoon is the merenda, where most children eat a slice of what every Italian mother can make (except for mine) – jam tart. It is usually filled with a good home-made jam such as peach, cherry, apricot or prune like I do.

My husband’s aunty makes the best crostata with cherries using her own home-made cherry jam but I like it with prunes and being a nuts lover I add ground almonds to my pastry – not to be confused with almond meal, I actually ground my almonds for this. However it’s up to you whether you like to add almonds or not.

This is my recipe which will be enough for about 6-8 people.

180g unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup icing sugar (or caster sugar but I personally prefer icing sugar for this pastry)
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups of plain (00 flour if you can find it in the supermarket) flour sifted.
2/3 cups of your favourite jam ( I normally use plum jam but you can use the one you prefer)
30g (about 3 tbsp) ground almonds – this is optional but I find it does give more texture and flavour to the pastry.
pinch of salt
1 egg beaten
icing sugar, to dust

Beat the butter and the icing sugar together until light and fluffy. Add vanilla extract and egg, then slowly add the flour combined with the ground almonds and a tiny pich of salt. Bring together to form a rough dough.

Turn out onto a lightly flourd work surface and knead to combine, then divide into 2 rounds. Wrap each round in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180C. Grease a 26cm loose-bottomed tart pan. Remove a dough round from the fridge and roll out on a lightly floured surface to fit the tart pan, then use to line the pan. Spread with the jam, leaving a 1cm border. Roll out half the remaining dough to a 26cm rectangle. Cut into 10 strips. Lay 5 strips across the jam then remaining strips the opposite way. Trim excess pastry, then roll remaining pastry into a thin-sausage shape. Fit around edge of tart as a border.

Brush with egg, then bake for 20 minutes or until golden. Cool and serve dusted with icing sugar.

Perfect for afternoon tea or morning tea with your coffee or tea!

PLEASE LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS AFTER YOU BAKE IT. I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!!

San Sebastian – Spain – my favourite little town with the most Michelin-starred restaurants!

San Sebastian

stunning sunset in san sebastian
I have travelled almost all around Spain but my absolute favourite is San Sebastian. A gorgeous, cozy and stylish little town with the most Michelin-starred restaurants: Alameda, Arzak, Miramón Arbelaitz, Martín Berasategui, Mirador de Ulía, Kokotxa, Akelare, Mugaritz, Zuberoa. A total impressive number of 17 stars!!!

When we decided we were going to Spain, we could not resist so we booked Arzak about 10 months in advance! Our dinner reservation was at 10:00pm!! I said to my husband: “10:00pm??” and he replied “yes and they said it was an early reservation time!”. They were not wrong, we were almost the first to arrive!! In San Sebastian everyone has dinner after 10pm!!

Unfortunately I was so impressed by everything and absolutely starving that I forgot to take photos. Only one I remembered to quickly take because it’s presentation was incredible. Here it is
arzak

It was a vanilla cream dessert, so delicious as the rest of every single dish we had. An unforgettable experience that I highly recommend to everyone to have in their own “bucket list”.
Come on then, if you go to Spain you cannot miss having dinner at ARZAK http://www.arzak.info/arz_web.php?idioma=En
Address: Avda. Alcalde Jose Elosegui number 73, phone: 943 278 465 / 943 285 593, (fax: 943 272 753, email: restaurante@arzak.es). Open From January to June: Closed Sunday evening, Monday and Tuesday. From July to December: Closed Sunday evening and Monday. Closed for holidays: June 15 to July 2 and November 2 to November 26. Three Michelin stars restaurant. Avg. Price: Euro 80-100 plus drinks. About Euro 150 per head by the time you’ve added the wine etc., but well worth it!

San Sebastian is also famous for its bars as well as for its restaurants. Each bar is busting with Tapas, called Pintxos, cold and hot, generally enjoyed together with a glass of wine or a small beer, and the Spanish tradition suggests to have one pintxo and a glass of wine in one bar and move on to the next bar. There are just so many bars full of these pintxos on display that it’s very difficult to choose one! Believe me if you go to San Sebastian do not worry about your figure and don’t you ever go when you are on a diet, it’s just not worth it!! However if you love food just like me then this is heaven!!!

Pintxo(tapas)-San Sebastian

When you enter the cold pintxos are displayed on the bar as you can see in the above photo. Just ask the barman for your drink and pick the pintxos yourself. If you need a plate, just ask: “Me puede dar un plato por favor?”. Hot ones must be ordered from the barman and they take a short time to be cooked. There is always a hot tapas menu hanging from the wall.
Only one advice from me: do not go there when you are starving or you will end up having so many and paying quite a bit at the end of it. Each of them cost around 1 to 5 euros.

Also if you love clothes, amazing boutiques and shoes this is a city not to miss!!! None of the cities I have been to in Europe compare to San Sebastian! Every single person is well-dressed, elegant and stylish! Not even in Italy I have seen a town like this! You will need a lot of extra money to spend because I can assure you, you will not leave without breaking your budget in clothes and food!!

So come on what are you waiting for?!! Plan and book your next holiday to San Sebastian!! You will love it like I do!!
night in San Sebastian

If you have any questions or if you like to have more information please do not hesitate to contact me here or on my facebook page!

Does coffee help to burn fat?

I love coffee! Who doesn’t! But did you know that it actually helps to burn fat?
The caffeine it contains speeds up the metabolism. In nutritional circles, this effect is called a metabolic enhancer and believe me I know – I have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis disease and since then I’m always searching for food that will help speed up my metabolism. Anyway, we all know that caffeine is a stimulant, and studies have clearly demostrated that it can help burn as much as 10 per cent more calories than normal.
Health experts advise you to limit your intake to a single cup in the morning and another one in the afternoon.
If you do not drink your coffee black, use skim milk instead of whole milk or cream and try it without sugar – you’ll be surprised how quickly your tastebuds adjust. I stopped adding sugar to my coffee when I was 14 years old and since then I cannot drink coffee with sugar, it just doesn’t taste the same!

If you are not like me and you find it just too bitter without sugar, add a piece of vanilla bean or cinnamon stick or a bit of vanilla, almond or your favourite extract to the grounds during the brewing process.

Buying Tips: Buy coffee in a vacuum-packed container. If you are buying coffee, make sure the retailer sells a lot. The flavour decreases the longer it is exposed to air.

Consumer Tips: Coffee loses most of its flavour after it has been ground. If you can, invest in a small coffee grinder and grind just what you need at the moment. Store whole beans or ground coffee in an air-tight container.

Health Plus: Studies show that caffeine is effective in alleviating asthmatic symptoms.

Go on there is no reason not to enjoy coffee – in moderation, of course!!

Here it is a nice recipe with coffee beans if you don’t like to drink it!

Espresso Bean Biscotti
coffee bean biscotti

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Total cooking time: 40 minutes per batch
Makes 40

1/2 cup (80g) almonds
1 1/2 cups (185g) plain flour
1/2 cup (60g) self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 cup (250g) caster sugar
1/2 cup (40g) espresso coffee beans, placed in a plastic bag and crushed
3 eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

1. Preheat the oven to warm 170C. Bake the almonds for 5 minutes, then set aside to cool. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

2. Sift the flours, bicarbonate of soda, a pinch of salt and the sugar. Add the crushed coffee beans and almonds. Lightly beat the eggs and mix in the oil and vanilla. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, add the egg mixture adn mix to a dough.

3. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until smooth. Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a log 4 cm in diameter. Place one of each prepared tray and flatten the top slightly.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until firm and lightly golden. Leave on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

4. Cut the logs into 1 cm slices. Lay on the baking trays and bake for 6-7 minutes, turn over and bake for a further 6-7 minutes, or until crisp. Cool on a wire rack.

IF YOU LIKE THIS STAY TUNED FOR ONE OF MY FAVOURITES – CAPPUCCINO SOUFFLE’ PUDDINGS with coffee and Kahlua….YUM!!!

Mexican Flans De Coco – Coconut Flans

Well since I’m half Italian half Mexican, after sharing my Italian Tiramisu with the Mexican twist of Kahlua now it’s time to share with you my Mexican coconut flan!

Like most of my desserts please begin making them one day ahead; they must chill overnight before serving.
IMG_5963

This recipe makes 8 flans. I promise you it’s delicious!

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup water
1 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
400ml can unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split lenghtwise in half
8 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons triple sec

Whisk oil and 1 tablespoon of water in small bowl to blend. Brush inside of eight 3/4-cup ramekins with oil mixture. Combine 1 cup sugar and remaining 1/4 cup water in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Boil without stirring until syrup is deep amber color, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling occasionally, about 9 minutes. Immediately divide caramel among prepared ramekins. Using oven mitts, tilt each ramekin to coat bottom with caramel. Place cups in large roasting pan.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread coconut on baking sheet. Toast in oven until light golden, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.

Combine coconut milk and milk in another medium saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Bring to boil. Remove from heat. Cover; steep 10 minutes. Remove vanilla bean. Using electric mixer, beat egg yolks and 3/4 cup sugar in large bowl until thick and pale, about 4 minutes. Gradually whisk hot milk mixture into egg mixture. Whisk in triple sec. Stir in 1/2 cup toasted coconut.

Divide custard among caramel-lined ramekins. Pour enough hot water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of custard cups. Bake until custards are almost set and move only slightly when cups are shaken gently, about 50 minutes. Remove custards from water. Cool slightly. Chill uncovered overnight.

Run small sharp knife around ramekins to loosen. To unmold each ramekin, place plate atop ramekin. Firmly grasp ramekin and plate and invert, shaking gently and allowing custard to settle on plate. Sprinkle custards with remaining 1/4 cup toasted coconut and serve.

SIMPLY DELICIOUS!! PLEASE POST YOUR COMMENTS AND PHOTOS OF YOUR COCONUT FLAN AFTER YOU MAKE IT. I REALLY WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU, GOOD OR BAD COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS MORE THAN WELCOME!