Friday, June 27, 2014

a fruit tart for a summer’s day


For the base:
375g digestive biscuits
75g softened unsalted butter

Cream cheese filling:
400g cream cheese, at room temperature
400ml whipping cream (sweetened)
1 tsp vanilla paste
3-4 tbsp elderflower cordial
Fresh raspberries, redcurrants, blueberries, gooseberries and strawberis, approximately 70g of each

Mix cream cheese, vanilla extract and elderflower cordial in a bowl. In another bowl whip the cream. Combine these two together and place the mixture on top of the base and smooth with a cake knife or spatula. Arrange the fruits on top and put the tart in the fridge overnight.


sun pickled cucumbers

Sometimes, there is no better salad than fresh, cold cucumbers simply dressed with yogurt, salt and olive oil. I prefer goat yogurt but any will do.
After trying sun pickled cucumbers the first line goes like this: There is no better salad than sun pickled cucumbers eaten plain from a jar. 
Believe me, sometimes there is really nothing better than having a jar full of 'tanned' cucumbers.

It was early September, years ago, hot and dry summer. A huge jar was placed on a forth flour terrace. Green cucumbers were sunbathing!  
Father of my good friend, alias uncle Voja, keeps homemade delis on his terrace. Nowadays there are jars, different size jars, loaded with green fresh Kirby cucumbers.  
Sun pickled cucumbers made by uncle Voja are the BEST and a MUST for this summer season. Therefore you will need: tap water, coarse salt, cucumbers, bunch of dill, peppercorns, bread, knife, jars, saucer and the Sun.

Uncle Voja’s advice: You must wait for the Kirby cucumber season, which is now, and when choosing make sure they are almost the same size. Always perform specific cut to each cucumber. I am doing a cross cut but not all the way down, so that the brine can get inside the cucumber. Dissolve one tbsp of coarse salt in one liter of tap water. This is a right proportion but I always add just a bit more salt. It takes only 3 days for cucumbers to pickle, and make sure you add enough bread. I use only dill and peppercorns for seasoning. 

I made one jar following blindly uncle Voja’s recipe, and one jar adding cloves of garlic and quartering cucumbers. 

For these two (one liter) jars I used 1l of tap water, one tbsp of coarse sea salt, big bunch of dill, 3 slices of bread (roughly chopped), few cloves of garlic (for one jar), red peppercorns and 9 almost same size Kirby cucumbers. I was able to put only 4 whole (cross cut) cucumbers in one jar and those other 5 I quartered and placed in another jar.

Place cucumbers in a jar and season with peppercorn (garlic) and put dill inside as well. You can use whatever seasoning you prefer. Pour over salty solution so it covers cucumbers. Place bread on top. Cover with saucer and make sure there is some space left between bread and saucer, so when fermentation starts there is no worry that there will be an explosion!
After three days of sunbathing, they are ready. 
Strain and keep the liquid, as you will put cucumbers back in the jar and cover with this brine. Store jars in the fridge. You can consume cucumbers immediately but after cooling for few days they taste even better. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

summer, we love you!

It was hot, I was hot, and I wanted to make something like ice cream but lighter, sharper. 

Strawberry and elderflower sorbet 
600g fresh strawberries
60ml elderflower cordial (feel free to use more if strawberries are not so sweet)
1 tsp rose water 

Put everything in a blender (or food processor) and blend until smooth (2-3 minutes). Transfer into a freezer-proof plastic container and freeze for an hour. Remove sorbet from freezer and blend once again. Return sorbet mixture to container and freeze for another 30-40 minutes. After that repeat blending and freezing for 30-40 minutes, two more times. After this final blending put sorbet to plastic container and freeze for a further 3-4 hours before serving.

Enjoy ice cream decadence without yolks and cream! 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

lives of cherries - part I

I have a childhood memory of a perfect cherry tree and huge bowls of sour cherries. Well, to be honest, not only that I remember bowls of cherries I also remember late spring ‘massacre’ on t-shirts each year in a row. This was my grandparents cherry tree and my companion at the same time. The tree itself has played an important role while I was growing up. My birthday parties would always take place under that tree. Just perfectly situated at the center of a flower garden, making shade for all of us beneath.
When cherries become rip we would getter and eat them. Grandmother would make simple cherry cake using eggs, oil, flour, sugar and cherries. Simple, fluffy, refreshing and easy late spring fruit dessert, slightly dusted with icing sugar just before serving.
She would pit cherries using blade, dexterously cutting them in half. Sometimes we would notice something rather white is moving. A worm, hidden in his house, is now forced to move, forced into the open. We would smile and let tiny worm continue its life somewhere else, away from lives of red fruit flesh.

There is a Chocolate Cherry Calfoutis made by Katie Quinn Davies I've wanted to try. Another simple cherry recipe. You just throw everything together and you end up with divine, rustic chocolate fruit dessert. The only thing I didn’t follow is using vanilla extract, I used almond extract instead. I simply couldn’t break a marriage of almonds and cherries this time.

Chocolate Cherry Calfoutis

I used 6 ramekins, lightly buttered before placing the pitted sour cherries and pouring the batter. 
Clafoutis did rise but also collapsed after few minutes taken out of the oven, as expected. 
I dusted each cup with a bit of icing sugar and added few extra cherries on top, to intensify sweet&sour flavor even more.