Orange almond cake

If you’re gluten free, then you might be missing some good cake. This is the dessert that will relieve your cake deprivation!  It’s not dry, and is great for breakfast.

orange almond cake

Yes. Cake for breakfast. Why not? Life is short. Think of it as a baked smoothie … with sugar.

  • 2 oranges
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • pinch of cinnamon.pinch of pumpkin pie spices or nutmeg

Wash the oranges and simmer them for 90 minutes. Cut them in pieces (remove seeds, if there are seeds) and puree them in a Vitamix or food processor. (I used about 3 cups of water to boil; I reserved the water at the end, and added 1 cup of granulated sugar and 2 cinnamon sticks, and simmered it for an hour while the cake was baking. You can freeze the orange syrup, and use it for another Greek Gypsy favorite: Karythopita. Recipe coming soon … )

Using a standing mixer on medium high speed, whip the eggs and gradually add the sugar, mixing for about 5 minutes, so that the mixture is fluffy and pale yellow. Add the vanilla, orange puree and blend; then add the almond meal and spices, and blend well.

Pour the mixture into a greased springform pan and bake at 400F degrees; test for doneness with a wooden skewer at 30 min; I baked mine in a convection oven and it was done at 35 minutes.

Serve warm, with fresh figs and vanilla ice cream. So good.

 

 

Caramelita Bars

This is a very sweet dessert.

I served these gems after a spicy, meat-and-seafood paella. I don’t know how there was room for these babies; there just was. Next time, I might serve it with some whipped cream and blueberries, or Tawny Port.

Yes. Tawny Port.

~Ingredients

1 stick butter, softened

1 Tbsp coconut oil

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1 cup flour + 1 tsp baking soda

1 cup quick oats

~ ½ jar Smuckers caramel sauce (or Stonewall Kitchen dulce de leche) + 1 Tbsp flour, blended together

½ bag mini chocolate chips

½ cup chopped pecans (maybe these candied ones)

Tools

8×8 baking pan

Large bowl for mixing

Spatula

Technique

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a mixing bowl, mix the butter, coconut oil, and brown sugar until light in color, and well blended. In another bowl, mix the oats, flour and baking soda. Add the flour to the butter mixture; blend together well. Press half the oat-flour mixture in a greased 8×8 pan and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven.

Pour the caramel mixture on the base, spreading it all the way to the sides; you may need to add a little more (maybe ¾ jar) and then add the chocolate chips and the pecans, distributing evenly over the caramel. Finally, sprinkle the remaining oatmeal mixture on top, and bake for 15 minutes.

IMPORTANT! ALLOW TO COOL completely before cutting and removing. Everything needs to cool, in order to firm up otherwise you will have an unpresentable mess. Trust me on this one. I put mine in the refrigerator for at least an hour before cutting it.

An alternate is to prepare a shortbread base (omitting the oats) with a butter-flour mixture; add 1/2 cup oats to the reserve.

Psari Plaki

Classic whole baked fish - Plaki

Classic whole baked fish – Plaki

Whole Fish, baked – a classic way to prepare fish. Buy a whole fish that is gutted and scaled; leave the head and tail intact. Prepare the salsa first, on the stovetop and pour it on, and around the fish in the baking dish. I used a fish that was about a pound and a quarter. This salsa (sauce) is ample to serve 4 people, with a fish up to 1 1/2 lbs.

Ingredients for the Salsa:

 

  • 1 small white or sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 bulb of fennel, rough chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, rough chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, peeled and rough chopped
  • 1 can of stewed tomatoes
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 stalks tuscan kale, stem removed and sliced thin (optional)
  • Black pepper, and generous sprinkling of kosher salt

Technique

Saute the onion on medium heat until translucent; add carrots, fennel, and celery, and cook for 10 minutes. Add garlic, continue to cook and stir, do not allow garlic to brown or burn (it causes indigestion).

Add the tomatoes and simmer for 20-30 minutes, and then stir in the kale.

Arrange the fish in the metal baking pan, and pour the sauce on and around. Put in the oven, under the broiler, for about 10 min on high. Then switch from broil to bake @ 350 degrees, and bake for 20 min, then check for doneness.

To serve: carefully move the sauce off and around the fish. You will want to remove the skin from the flesh, and the flesh from the bones. Bass has bones, and it is advised that you present the fish whole, on a platter with the sauce, and then carefully clean the bones away, when serving on plates.

Enjoy with crusty french bread. I make sweet potato-and-butternut squash fries to accompany this fish dish, and a romaine salad.

Pumpkin Tiramisu

Tiramisu

 

It’s that time of the year. Pumpkin is the star! Instead of the expected pie, why not mix things up? This twist on tiramisu is out of this world.

Ingredients

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 8 oz container of Mascarpone cheese
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups  brewed espresso coffee, cooled (reserve 1 Tbsp)
  • 2 Tbsp rum or kahlua
  • 2 packages ladyfingers (~24)
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin (optional)
  • pumpkin pie spice
  • cocoa powder for dusting

Technique

Mix egg yolks and sugar in a bowl, in a standing mixer, on high for 5 minutes, until light yellow and fluffy. Add 1 Tbsp of espresso. Add the cheese and continue mixing. Divide the egg-cream mixture in half; put one half aside and add the pumpkin to the other half, in the bowl, and mix thoroughly. Add a few shakes of the pumpkin pie spice.

IMG_7967

Pour the cooled coffee in a shallow bowl; add the rum or other liqueur. Begin the layering: dip one half of the lady fingers in the coffee and place in dessert bowl, coffee side up. Create a layer of lady fingers; add a layer of pumpkin cream. Another layer of dipped lady fingers, then a layer of plain cream, and alternate layers until you use up the ingredients, or get to the top of your serving dish.

Chill for several hours or overnight, before serving. Dust with cocoa powder before serving.

 

 

Pumpkin Spice Biscotti

Pumpkin spice biscotti

There are so many variations on the wholesome biscotti. Everyone loves the classic vanilla almond, and almond.

Here’s a seasonal variation.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup organic cane sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups organic bread flour (maybe 1/4 cup additional, to ensure that the texture isn’t sticky, before baking)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste (or extract)
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon + pinch of cloves)
  • 3 heaping Tbsp canned pumpkin (… probably equivalent to 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup chopped candied pecans

Technique

Blend together the oils and the sugar; mix in a standing mixer, for about 20 minutes, on medium. While they are blending, combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, spice.) Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix another 10 minutes (batter will become fluffy.) Add the vanilla and pumpkin and blend some more, until well combined. Then stir in the dry ingredients and blend for about 5 minutes, medium low. Stir in the chopped pecans at the end.

Pumpkin goodness with caramelized pecans

Pumpkin goodness with caramelized pecans

You might need to add some more flour; the batter should be firm and hold together well; no crumbling. At this point, you can refrigerate the dough for an hour, or overnight (or even a couple of days.) The texture will change some, and the flavors will blend.

Baking

Preheat the oven to 350F. On a rimmed baking sheet, form two parallel loaves, lengthwise. Bake for about 15-20 min, or until the edges start to brown. Remove the pan, and slice the biscotti into 1/2 slices, and then lie each biscotti cut-side down on the pan. Bake another 15 min. Remove and let cool, Store in an airtight container.

These babies are classic, and will keep for weeks, if stored in an airtight container …. it is likely that they will be  gone in a few short days! I recommend making a double batch.

Lamb stew

This one is different.  Prepare tomato sauce; marinate the lamb. Cook it overnight in your slow cooker. Anytime is a good time for lamb stew, AND it’s even better 2 days after you’ve cooked it.

Not suitable for vegetarians.

Preparation time: ~ 2 hours; cooking time: ~6-8 hours in slow cooker. This is not a beginner’s recipe.

Part one: make a tomato salsa. 

Salsa ingredients

  • 2 lbs fresh tomatoes
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced (don’t use too much onion, because there will be pearl onions in the stew)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup red wine (I used a 2009 Old Vine Granache; I recommend something brighter than a cab, for sure)
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • olive oil
  • herbs de provence or greek oregano (dried)
  • Pinch of kosher salt (don’t add too much! It will reduce, and you don’t want it to become too salty)

Technique

Make the salsa: heat the olive oil in a medium sized pot, over medium heat; add the chopped onion. Then add the rest of the ingredients and simmer on medium low for about an hour or so … remove the bay leaves, then pour everything into the Vitamix / blender, and puree it into a smooth sauce.

If you like, you can have the lamb marinating in a ziploc bag, with wine, garlic cloves and fresh rosemary sprigs, as the sauce cooks. Marinate for 1-2 hours, or longer. No harm there. Remove lamb from marinade when you are ready to put it in the cooker.

Part two: prepare the stew 

Stew ingredients

  • Tomato salsa (already cooked; in a pinch, I suppose you could use a jar of Mario Batali’s marinara sauce.)
  • 1 pound pearl onions, parboiled and peeled  (I use Melissa’s)
  • 1 lb of shitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 pieces
  • 2 celery stalks, peeled and cut into small pieces
  • 2 lbs of lamb, cut into bite-sized pieces (preferably, you’ve marinated in wine. Discard the marinade when you are ready to prepare the stew.)  NOTE – I used butterflied leg of lamb,1 lb; serves four; I wrote the recipe for a bit more
  • 1 cup chicken stock, preferably home made (optional, only if you need more liquid; I used it … better to have more juices than not enough, that’s what she said)

Remove the lamb from the marinade and sauté it until nicely browned, not cooked all the way through. Add all the ingredients to the crock pot, and set the pot to low. Cook for 8 hours / overnight. Make sure that the meat is covered in liquid. If not, then add a bit of chicken stock, or veal stock if you have it.

Serve over buttered egg noodles,or with a crusty french bread for soaking up the lovely juice!

I suppose I’ll post more pictures in the morning, when it’s finished cooking … as of this writing, it’s a mere 45 minutes into the cook cycle.

lambstew2

Ginger, Coconut, Orange-infused Rice pudding

Rizogalo
This isn’t my recipe. Rizogalo is a popular and homey Greek Gypsy dessert.

I like it so much that I want to share it … I modified mine, by adding the rind of a navel orange. Also added some cinnamon and cardamon. I used light coconut milk, and so I just let it cook on low (LOW!) heat for a long time, until all the liquid was absorbed.

Serve it with slices peaches, some chopped candied pecans, or walnuts, and a drizzle of honey.

Serve it to your honey. Here it is:

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/rice-pudding-ginger-amaranth-mango