Sinful Amaretto Cheesecake

Sinful Amaretto Cheesecake

The only sinful thing about this cheesecake is its taste and the fact that it can be easily made the day before. Amaretto aids digestion and pleasantly cleans the palate. Serve it together with a strong espresso.

Ingredients:

70g butter
100g amaretti or digestive biscuits, crushed to crumbs
100 powdered white almonds
3 egg yolks
90g caster sugar
50ml Amaretto liqueur
200ml single cream
400g light cream cheese
4 gelatine sheets (5g)
chocolate shavings and roasted almond slivers

Procedure:

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

1. Melt the butter in a pan or in the microwave, mix it well with the powdered almonds and biscuits.

2. Line the bottom of an 18 cm loose-bottomed cake tin with greaseproof paper. Press the biscuit mixture well on the base and bake for 15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile soak the gelatine sheets in cold water according to the package instructions.

4. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, Amaretto and single cream over a bain marie until they start to thicken. Squeeze the gelatine sheets to dry them a bit  and add into the hot mixture. Whisk well to dissolve and then place the hot bowl over cold water to bring the temperature down quickly.

5. When the mixture feels tepid, add the cream cheese. You might need to whisk it with the electric mixer in order to achieve a creamier texture.

6. Spoon the mixture on top of the biscuit base and smooth the top with the back of a dessert spoon or spatula. Cover and chill for at least two hours or overnight.

7. Serve with chocolate shavings and roasted almond slivers.

Lebanese Rice Pudding – Meghli

Lebanese Rice Pudding – Meghli

We don’t come across many dishes whose sole purpose is to celebrate birth and this Lebanese rice pudding does exactly that! Its brown color comes to signify fertility and rich soil while the name Meghli has been given to it due to the fact that it takes extensive boiling to prepare; Meghli literally means to boil.

Ingredients:

1 cup ground rice
5 cups cold water
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp powdered aniseed
1/2 tsp powdered fennel seed
1/2 tsp powdered caraway seed
2 tsp ground cinnamon
shredded coconut or slivered almonds for garnish

Procedure:

 Mix one cup of the cold water and the ground rice into a smooth paste. Stir in the sugar and all ingredients except the garnish.

In a heavy saucepan bring the remaining 5 cups of water to a boil. Stir in the rice mixture gradually, stir vigorously. Stir constantly until the mixture comes to boil again.

Reduce heat to very low and simmer. Stir occasionally, to avoid it sticking to the bottom of the pan, for about 1 hour or until done.

Transfer to individual dessert bowls and refrigerate.

Serve chilled and decorate with coconut or slivered almonds if desired.

Strawberry-basil sorbet

Strawberry-basil sorbet

The combination of strawberry and basil is unusual but the basil actually enhances the strawberry flavor and makes a cool and refreshing sorbet.

Ingredients:

500 gr. strawberries
180 gr. sugar
180 ml. water
½ cup basil leaves
2 tbsp strawberry liqueur (optional)

Procedure:

Boil water and sugar for 5 minutes and set aside to cool.

Process strawberries in a blender with the basil until smooth.

Combine strawberry pulp with the syrup and place it in the fridge to cool well. The coolest the mix the smoother the sorbet.

Strain the mix to rid it of the basil leaves and strawberry pips.

Process in an ice cream maker.

Serve immediately, or, if you like it slightly firmer, put in the freezer and enjoy later.

Best pastry shops in Athens for connaisseurs

Best pastry shops in Athens for connaisseurs

For years I was hoping for this explosion of high-end pastry shops in my hometown! Here’s my list of the Top 10 Best Pastry Shops in Athens, complete with suggestions of great picks.
That’s not to say fine pastries don’t exist elsewhere, but why not treat yourself to the best? 

Sweet alchemy by Stelios Parliaros  

The art of fine pâtisserie  was introduced in Greece by Stelios Parliaros. As he states himself : ” The art pastry is my art and my art is my way to communicate with people” .
I could eat his pastries literally every morning, noon and night and I could drive to the other end of town to taste his desserts.
He also gives seminars in his shop’s specially designed premises, and believe me once you follow them you will become a great beginner pastry chef yourself.

Many of the pastries are visually out of this world, especially during the Xmas period.  Even though many of the pieces are French classics, at least half the case takes adventurous Greek/Turkish -inspired spins. In Sweet  Alchemy, you can also buy great confectionery material very difficult to find elsewhere in the city.

Top Pick His “serano” chocolate cake is  pretty much guarantee for a lifetime indelible pastry memory.

Sweet Alchemy 24 Irodotou str, Kolonaki tel.210-7240205 & Sweet Alchemy   9, Kolokotroni str. Kifisia tel  210-6464864

The Bitsaktsi  family, owners of  Melissa come from Istanbul – a city with long tradition in confectionery-  and opened this divine pastry shop in 1925. I once tried a “galaktoboureko “ made by his mom and I do not think I have ever eaten any similar  in my life .  Her son has taken the shop a giant step ahead and has absolutely mastered the French patisserie. According to my humble opinion, Melissa is  the best pastry shop in Athens and even though it is located quite far from the center and actually you will have to cross the Kifisos river to get there, I believe strongly that the taste of these little masterpieces of desserts  will make your trip worthwhile.

Top Pick  All his choux pastries are the perfect combination of chewy still crunchy pâte and soothing cream that melts in your mouth.

Melissa
45, Makariou str, Peristeri, tel  210 5711055.

The Organic Patisserie ” Fisis  ”  is the first organic pastry shop to open in Athens. I was introduced to Fisis by  chef Michael Nourloglou  whose opinion I trust blindly since  for years  he learned the craft next to  Parisian acclaimed Patissier Pierre Hermé.  The hard working owners Daliani brothers, are also infamous importers of organic products in Greece, so of course they pick “la creme de la crème”  for their own store. Sourcing their ingredients locally when available allows them to get the freshest produce consequently making the taste of all seasonal flavors for the pastries simply exquisite.

Top pick the Greek siroped orange cake “Portokalopita” , made with local organic Fleur d’oranger  from oranges  especially grown for the shop.
Fisis
450, Mesogeion ave, Agia Paraskevi   tel  210 6090740

Pastry chef Dionisis Alertas was the maker  for the incredible desserts at  Spondi – the only Athenian two Michelin star restaurant. As it was rather impossible for us chocoholics to visit the restaurant just for a good dessert, we were excited with the news of his prospective shop.  It is only natural that IVOIRE was the talk of the town even before its opening and the expectations were set high. And believe me, this pastry boutique did not let us not even once yet. Dionisi every day in his back creative workshop makes whatever he is in the mood for, so you can not find exactly the same desserts every day – something that gives the air of a home made  feeling to IVOIRE. All his éclairs are filled with the famous namelaka cream –  the name is a japanese term for “creamy texture”-  a great technique he learned in the Valrhona school. His pastries’ aesthetics range from the simple to the architecturally sublime giant strawberry macaron-like cake.

Top pick His almond dacquoise with mousseline cream with caramelized milk and almonds

Ivoire
56-58, Papanikoli st, Halandri tel  210 6748447

For  many years I used to live in the coastal southern suburbia of Athens where there was not even one  place to eat a proper dessert to pleasure my taste buds. When Ziapas opened up in 2008, all my sweet  dreams  become real. Not only had I found a place that mastered the difficult french pâtisserie but crossed a memory “taste bridge” with the name day cake my mother used to make for me  for me when I was young, the delicious Saint-Honoré! You can easily carry home chocolate or caramel éclair, lemon, raspberry or chocolate tart.

Top pick His spring/ summer ice cream made with fresh violets.

Ζiapas
176, Gounari str.  Glifada  tel 210 9609480 

Some years later also in Glifada , another fine pastry shop, L’Atelier,  opened up  that is always sure to delight me. It all started from a small shop hidden somewhere near the beach of Varkiza and especially after hot days when people had gone swimming , there was quite a line to wait before you got served. After their big success, a new larger store was quite expected.
Napoléon with velvety smooth vanilla cream, crème brûlée  and a great chocolate fudge cake are the true highlights here.

Top Pick Their Four kinds of chocolate Square Cake which is the epitomy of medicine for any chocoholic’s Bday!

L’atelier de patisserie 
7, Vasileos Georgiou II, Glyfada tel  210 8983766

Aristotle Panagiotaros studied to become a chocolate pastry chef in central Europe and then returned to Greece and opened a small shop in Kolonaki  that only makes chocolate treats.  His shop, the Dark Side Of Chocolate is a chocolate lover’s fantasy. Not only are there lots of  truffles and bars, but many of the  pastries are chocolate-based and profoundly chocolate-centric.
You can also sit at the three tables available and have a cup of hot chocolate, for sure the best in town,  made with Valrhona’s best cocoa and secret ingredients infused according to what the chef  thinks of you on first appearance.

Top pick – A box of chocolates made with Greek herbs to take as a gift to friends .

The Dark Side Of Chocolate,
49, Solonos str, Kolonaki   tel  2103392348

Pavlova is the new shop of Effie Yalousi,  the woman who practically almost introduced this famous dessert to Athenians.  A legend in the making, her choice of flavors is fantastic, but her true genius lies in a near-peerless texture of the meringue.  There is a great selection of seasonal flavors which  are matched with hand made sirops, local fruits and caramelized nuts. You can get single ones or a large pavlova  if you have a party to throw.

Pavlova
56, Skoufa str. Kolonaki tel 210 3388827

Pastry chef of Le Votre Piree, Stefanos Diamantopoulos creates cakes  that are more ornate than anything you’ve likely seen in Greece. The flavors, too, are a wildly unique fusion of French and Greek sensibilities. Of course the real highlights of his shop are no other than his  highly inventive and insanely delicious chocolates made with the fine liquid aroma of Greek sweet wines, such as Samos Nectar, Santorini Vinsanto, Patras Mavrodaphne  and unique Metaxa.

Top pick  All children’s birthday cakes that are made to please even the most difficult toddler
Le Votre Piree
​166, Kountouriotou str. Peiraias   tel  
 210 4122577

 

Yogurt Mousse with Sour Cherry Preserve

Yogurt Mousse with Sour Cherry Preserve

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Yogurt is an ingredient which we can use in many different ways. This recipe is an example of how yogurt can be turned into a deliciously refreshing dessert.

Ingredients:

1 envelope (1 tbs) unflavored gelatin or 1 gelatin sheet
2 cups sour cherry  pureed lightly
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 pot plain yogurt (unsweetened)
250 ml well-chilled heavy cream

Procedure:

  • In a small saucepan sprinkle the gelatin over 1/4 cup cold water, let it soften for 1 minute and heat the mixture over a low heat stirring until the gelatin is dissolved.
  • Blend together the sour cherry puree, the sugar and the vanilla, add the gelatin mixture and blend the mixture well. Transfer it to a bowl and stir in the yogurt.
  • Beat the cream in a chilled until it forms stiff peaks. Fold it into the cherry mixture gently but thoroughly; and  either divide the mousse among 4 dessert glasses or put into a big glass bowl.
  • Chill the mousse for at least 4 hours or overnight. Garnish with the drained sour cherry preserve.

Israeli Fruit Soup

Israeli Fruit Soup

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This cold fruit soup is a wonderful dessert option for a hot summer evening! Refreshing, original and offers much room for creative variations! Please be kind to nature and use seasonal and local fruits as much as possible.

Ingredients:

  • 2 oranges
  • 2 stalks rhubarb
  • 4 slices fresh pineapple
  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1 cup pitted cherries
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup brown sugar or honey
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup sour cream

Procedure:

Peel, wash and slice all the fruits according to what they need.

Combine all the ingredients except the sour cream.

Adjust sweetness to taste.

Simmer covered for about 20 minutes, or until the fruit is tender.

Puree or force through a sieve.

Chill and add sour cream before serving.

Bernadette’s French Clafouti

Bernadette’s French Clafouti

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This is almost like a crepe base with fruits in it. You can adapt it to the seasons by substituting the cherries with anything else.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh cherries
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups cold milk
  • ½ tbsp butter

Procedure:

Preheat the oven to 300°F.

Wash the cherries and remove their stems.

Drain well.

Cut them in halves and remove pits.

Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.

Add the eggs, cold milk, and butter little by little use a hand mixer to blend all the ingredients well.

Butter a deep pie dish.

Disperse the cherries evenly around the baking dish and pour in the mixture.

Bake for approximately 45 minutes.

When done, allow to cool and sprinkle with sugar.

Serve warm or cold.

Octopus with Honey and Saffron

Octopus with Honey and Saffron

Saffron goes really well with all seafood, bringing out their delicate taste. This dish becomes delicious with the use of honey. Mop up the thick sauce with pasta or some fresh rustic bread.

Ingredients:

1kg octopus, fresh or frozen
2 onions
1 clove garlic
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 can 400g chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp honey
1 pinch of saffron
1 glass red wine
1 bay leaf
salt, pepper, olive oil

Procedure:

  • Dice the tomatoes
  • Finely chop the onions and garlic

1. Wash the octopus well, remove the eyes, cut out the beak and clean the head. It is best to freeze the octopus before you use it to tenderize it. Let it thaw in the fridge the night before use.

2. Put the octopus in a deep pot with a little water and the bay leaf and let it simmer for about 20 minutes until it turns red. If you are serving it with pasta, cut it into smaller pieces.

3. Pour the wine into the pot and simmer for another hour, or until the octopus is tender.

4. In the meantime, prepare the sauce. Sauté the onions with the saffron in 4 tbsp of olive oil and when they are transparent add the tomato paste and the garlic.

5. Swirl a few times to dilute the paste, add the chopped tomatoes and honey and simmer for about 10 minutes until there is little fluid left.

6. About 10 minutes before the octopus is done pour the sauce in the pot and continue cooking for another 15 minutes.

7. Eat it with pasta or on its own as a “meze”.

Mocha Cake

 Mocha Cake

Aromatic cake with coffee and chocolate. Ens combination in solid form that accompanies ideally the same data when served in a glass or cup.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups. flour self rising
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2-1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 pinch salt
1 1/2 cups. milk
1 teaspoon instant coffee
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup. butter
1 1/2 cups. sugar
2 eggs
50g dark chocolate

Instructions:

1. Mix the flour with the other dry ingredients.

Two. Beat in mixer with sugar eggs very well.

Three. Add the butter and continue beating.

4. Put the milk and vanilla and mix.

4. Melt the chocolate and place in a large bowl.

5. Alternately add the flour and cream mixing well.

6. Grease and flour the mold and pour the dough. Bake at 180 ° C for 30-35 minutes.

7. Allow to form for 10 minutes and then xeformaroume. If you want to sprinkle some cocoa.

Cake with raisins

 Cake with raisins

The cake is fasting as it becomes with olive oil and contains no eggs. It is very tasty as well despite the humility of materials raisins, orange and oil, their combination is very strong and special. The scents of cinnamon and clove tantalise this simple preparation.

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups. olive oil
1 kilo flour
2 cups. sugar
1 ½ cups. lukewarm water
1/4 / cup. brandy
1 cup. orange juice
2 ½ cups. raisins
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon clove powder
a pinch of cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda, diluted orange juice
1 teaspoon baking powder

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 180 ° C

1. In a large bowl, mix by hand making circular movements sugar and olive oil until mixed well.

Two. Add the water, cognac, spices, soda diluted in the orange juice.

Three. Mix the flour and baking powder and gradually add to the bowl. Stir well from the bottom up by hand until it becomes a thick paste.

4. Add the raisins and stir to spread relatively evenly.

6. Transfer the mixture into a baking dish, we lubricate, sprinkle with a little oil and bake for 45-60 minutes.

Hole in the center with a knife and if it comes out clean the cake is ready.