Monday, March 28, 2016

Yiaourti Me Meli (Greek Yogurt and Honey) Muffins #MuffinMonday


Modeled after the Greek breakfast/snack/dessert of thick yogurt sweetened with honey then topped with walnuts, these muffins have all that, in a tender crumb. 

If you stopped by here yesterday to see my slow-cooked, falling off the bones, lamb shoulder, you’ll know that I’ve had Greek recipes on the brain. Since today is Muffin Monday, the best start to the last week of the month, I decided to take a classic Greek recipe and turn it into muffins as well. May I say that it was an excellent choice. As I mentioned yesterday, I haven’t been to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 but now I have read a few reviews and found them most dispiriting after waiting all this time for a sequel.

Never mind, we have muffins! Make sure you scroll on down and see the other lovelies my Muffin Monday group members have baked up for you too.

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups or 315g flour
1/4 cup or 58g demerara sugar, plus extra for decorating, if desired
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 cup or 250g Greek yogurt
1/2 cup or 120ml honey
1/4 cup canola or 60ml other light oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup or 100g walnuts

Method
Preheat your oven to 350°F and 180°C and prepare a 12-cup muffin pan by greasing it or lining it with muffin papers.

Measure your flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.

Separate out 12 good looking walnuts for garnish and then chop the rest coarsely.



Whisk your eggs, yogurt, honey, oil and vanilla together in a small mixing bowl.



Pour the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined.



Fold in the chopped walnuts.


Divide the batter between the muffin cups in your prepared pan.



Top each with a reserved walnut and sprinkle on some extra demerara sugar, if desired.


Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and a toothpick inserted in the muffins comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes then cool completely on a wire rack.



Enjoy!



Happy Muffin Monday from all the Muffin Monday bakers! Look what we've made for you today!


#MuffinMonday is a group of muffin loving bakers who get together once a month to bake muffins. You can see all our of lovely muffins by following our Pinterest board.

Updated links for all of our past events and more information about Muffin Monday, can be found on our home page.

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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Slow-Cooked Lamb Shoulder with Roasted Vegetables #SundaySupper

You can’t beat lamb shoulder, slow roasted with loads of vegetables, rosemary and garlic. It practically falls off the bone, the succulent lamb is so tender. I promise you won't even need a knife.

This week my Sunday Supper group is joyously celebrating a wedding we wish we could really attend, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, the sequel to one of our favorite movies. It’s been a long time coming! When the theme for this week was first announced, all I could think about was the quote from Aunt Voula, and one of my favorite scenes from the first movie.
Aunt Voula: What do you mean he don't eat no meat?
[the entire room stops, in shock]
Aunt Voula: Oh, that's okay. I make lamb.
So I had to make lamb. We eat lamb a minimum of three to four times a month at our house, either roasted leg or shoulder, lamb steaks, lamb patties with mashed potatoes and gravy, not to mention grilled lamb chops. This dish is one of our favorites and would make a great main course for Greek Orthodox Easter Sunday which will be celebrated on May 1st this year.

Make sure you scroll down and check out the link list of all the other My Big Fat Greek Wedding-inspired dishes we are sharing today, along with our talented host, Nichole from Casa de Crews. What a fabulous Greek wedding feast this would be!

Adapted from JamieOliver.com.

Ingredients
2 purple onions (approx. weight 9 oz or 255g)
3 carrots (approx. weight 9 oz or 255g)
2- 3 stalks celery (approx. weight 3 3/4 oz or 105g)
Few sprigs fresh thyme
5-6 fresh rosemary sprigs, plus 1 for garnish, if desired
Olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
5 lb 10 oz or 2.55kg lamb shoulder, bone in
2 1/3 oz or 65g cloves garlic (about 15)
2 red chili peppers (optional but we love the hint of spice that infuses the whole dish)
4 ripe tomatoes (approx. weight 11 oz or 312g)
2 cans – 14oz or 400g – whole plum tomatoes
1 2/3 cups or 375ml drinkable red wine (half a bottle)
2 bay leaves
1 large leek (approx. weight 14 oz or 400g, before trimming)

Method
Preheat your oven to 400°F or 200°C and make sure the shelves are positioned so that you put a pan with a big lamb shoulder in it. I use my large Le Creuset roaster so I put the shelf almost at the bottom to leave room for the cover and its round handle.

Peel the onions and carrots. Quarter the onions. Cut the carrots and celery into bite-sized pieces.

Strip the leaves off of your thyme and sprinkle half of them into the bottom of a large roasting pan, along with a good drizzle of olive oil, a couple of sprigs of rosemary and a good pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Season the bottom of your lamb shoulder with more salt and pepper and lay it on the herb bed.



Use a sharp paring knife to poke holes in the top of the lamb shoulder, then stuff these holes with a quarter or half a clove of garlic (depending on the size of your clove) and a few rosemary leaves.

Give the whole thing a good sprinkle of salt, fresh ground black pepper. Add on the other half of the thyme leaves and a generous drizzle of olive oil.

Add the onions, celery and chili peppers around the lamb shoulder.



Chop your tomatoes in large pieces and add them to the pot along with the carrots.



Pour in the canned tomatoes, along with half a can of water and the rest of the garlic cloves.



Pour in the wine and then tuck the bay leaves down in between the vegetables.

Thoroughly clean the leek, cut off and discard the hard green end, and then chop the white part into small cylinders. Add these to the pot.



Cover the roasting pan tightly with a double layer of heavy-duty foil or its tight fitting cover and put it into the oven. Turn down the oven temperature to 325°F or 170°C and cook for about three hours.



Remove the cover or the foil, baste the lamb shoulder with the juice in the pan or drizzle with a little more olive oil.  Cook for another 30 minutes or until the lamb is nicely browned and falling off the bone.



You can gently remove some of the bones before putting it on the table for folks to help themselves or pull it apart for them in the kitchen.

Either way, serve it with some crusty bread to sop up all the juices. Or over the top of some mashed potatoes.



Enjoy!

Have you seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 yet? It just opened in the cinemas here in Dubai but I haven’t had a chance go yet so I am going to have to just console myself with some movie-inspired dishes instead. Won’t you join me?

Greek Appetizers:
Greek Soups:
Greek Breakfast:
Greek Main Dishes:
Greek Side Dishes:
Greek Desserts:
Greek Beverages:
Plus Baked Shrimp with Feta plus More Greek Cuisine from Sunday Supper Movement

Sunday Supper Movement
Join the #SundaySupper conversation on Twitter every Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7 p.m. ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. 

To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.


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Friday, March 25, 2016

Creamy Leek and Chicken Hand Pies #FridayPieDay

Leeks sautéed in butter are the perfect start to a creamy béchamel sauce which is folded around tender chicken then baked in puff pastry till flakey and crunchy. These handy chicken pies are perfect for lunch boxes or a special brunch or dinner at home. 

Leeks are the milder cousin of the onion, not so sharp but still with a lovely oniony flavor. They soften beautifully when sautéed in butter and almost melt into a white sauce. They are a beautiful match for chicken in a pot pie or really, any dish but today, for Friday Pie Day, I created these hand pies with my favorite chicken pot pie in mind.

Ingredients
2 cooked chicken breasts, bones removed  - about 9 1/2 oz or 270g total
1 long leek - about 6 oz or 172g whole, 4 oz or 113g after the hard green bit is trimmed
1 red chili pepper
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup or 120ml whole milk
11 2/3 oz or 330g puff pastry
1 egg

Method
Cut the hard green part off of your leeks and trim the roots. Split the white part in half. Wash well, making sure to clean any dirt that might be hiding in the root end. Slice the clean leek into small pieces and cube the cooked chicken.



Mince the red chili pepper then sauté it with the leek in the butter until softened, add a healthy pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper.



Sprinkle on the flour and stir to combine it with the softened leeks and butter. Cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently.



Remove the pan from the heat briefly and add in the milk.

Stir vigorously until you have a thin sauce. Put the pan back on the stove over a medium heat and cook until the sauce begins to thicken and a spoon dragged through leaves a gap that fills up again slowly.



Add in the chicken and stir to coat. Cook for a few minutes more, until the sauce is very thick. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.



Preheat your oven to 400°F or 200°C and prepare a cookie sheet by lining it with baking parchment or a silicone mat.

Cut your puff pastry dough into four equal pieces and roll one out until it is about 7in or 28cm square.

Whisk your egg with a fork and brush a little bit all around the pastry square with a pastry brush.



Divide the cooled chicken leek mixture into four equal portions and put one on the pastry square.



Fold the pastry over to form a triangle and press the air out as you seal the sides by pressing down all around the edges. Brush more egg around the edges of the pastry triangle.





Start folding the pastry over again, to double seal the edges.



Place the triangle on your lined cookie sheet and repeat the process until you have four hand pies ready to bake. Brush them all with the beaten egg.





Bake in your preheated oven about 20-25 minutes or until the hand pies are puffed and golden.



Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least a few minutes before serving. You do not want to burn your mouth with the hot filling.



Enjoy!

Now after you have these for your main course, may I suggest finishing off the meal with Triple Cherry Pie  from my friend and creator of Friday Pie Day, Heather, over at All Roads Lead to the Kitchen?


I am pleased to join her on the last Friday of each month for pie and crust recipes, techniques, tools of the trade, and other inspiration.

For more information and recipes, please check out her #FridayPieDay page!


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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Egyptian Date Crescents #CreativeCookieExchange

These melt-in-your-mouth shortbread crescents are filled with sweet and sticky dates then covered in powdered sugar. 

My Creative Cookie Exchange group is celebrating spring around the world today, with recipes for Easter, Purim, Passover and more. Searching online for cookie recipes is often a rabbit hole of no return, but I managed come back this time with these Egyptian date crescents that the author said she and her mother always made for her father for Easter.  In fact, Easter is celebrated in a big way in Egypt, which surprised me when we lived in Cairo. The Coptic Christians are a minority, but they are a very vocal and visible influence in life there, where they live side by side, for the most part quite peaceably, with their Muslim neighbors.

Adapted from What She’s Having.

Ingredients - makes 2 dozen cookies
7 oz or 200g whole dates
2 cups or 250g flour
1 cup or 225g  butter at room temp, cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup or 60ml cold milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup or 94g powdered sugar

Method
In a small bowl, cover the dates with hot but not boiling water and set aside.

Using a pastry blender to combine the butter and flour and salt until they form large crumbles and there are no large pieces of butter.

Add the vanilla to the milk. Then add the milk to the butter and flour.



Stir until well combined. The dough is going to be quite sticky. If you live in a warm climate, wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the refrigerator for about 10-15 minutes. Don’t leave it too long or the butter will stiffen up and the dough will no longer be pliable.

Drain the dates and remove the pits and any little stemmy bits on the one end.

Use a sharp knife to chop the dates finely. Use the edge of the knife to make a square out of the date paste and cut it into 24 pieces.



Preheat your oven to 400°F or 200°C and prepare two cookie sheets by lining them with baking parchment or silicone liners.

Cut the dough into 24 squares.


Taking one square at a time, form it into a ball.



Press the center of the ball down to create an indent and press it out into an oval. Place one piece of the dates into the middle.






Close the dough up over the dates.



Roll the dough gently between your hand to lengthen it. Bend into a crescent.



Place on your prepared cookie sheet.



Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the bottom of the cookies are just golden. Let cool completely.


Roll in icing sugar.



Enjoy!




Check out all the lovely spring cookies we are sharing today!


Creative Cookie Exchange is hosted by Laura of The Spiced Life, this month with technical assistance from Anshie of Spiceroots. We get together once a month to bake cookies with a common theme or ingredient so Creative Cookie Exchange is a great resource for cookie recipes. Be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts at The Spiced Life). We post the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month!

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