Blueberry lattice pie

Blueberry pie (3)

 

Who can say no to a berry pie? I know I can’t -  especially once I take a whiff of that intoxicating aroma while it is still in the oven.

I love the summer berry season and even in tropical Singapore, you start to find fresher and cheaper berries everywhere during this period.  I love berries – all of them.

Making this blueberry pie on a warm afternoon whisked me back to my summer in Hokkaido where I spent a glorious afternoon picking blueberries (and cherries) in a farm in Sobetsu.

I remember thinking to myself then, how perfect it would be if I could go berry picking in the morning and return to my kitchen to bake a beautiful berry pie, and then have it while it’s still warm with a cup of iced tea.

This blueberry pie is made with that moment in mind.

The pie is made with a simple shortcrust pastry that is short and crumby. As with all pastry dough, the key is to work it as little as possible. Pastry dough is the one thing that I always make by hand, never by machine (though you can if you want to).

I’ve added a touch of lavender to the blueberries for the hint of lavender flavour. You can omit that if you don’t like lavender or if you are going for a cleaner flavour. The blueberries will begin to stew and break down in its own juices when baked resulting in a deliciously, gooey, sweet, deep indigo-coloured, delicious mess.

You can choose to make a lattice top for the pie – or not. I find that pies just have that rustic beauty when they come served with a lattice top. I’ve included a link below with a pictorial guide on how to do the lattice top easily.

Do find some time to make and enjoy a blueberry pie while berries are still around. Otherwise, you know that there will always be the next summer (or frozen berries).

x,
Jo

 

 

Blueberry pie (5)

Recipe: Blueberry lattice pie
Makes 2 x 6″ pies (about 1 inch thick)

Recipe makes more shortcrust pastry than you need. Store away the remaining dough in your fridge for one week or in your freezer for one month. Alternatively, you can halve the shortcrust pastry recipe.

Ingredients:
Shortcrust pastry (for the pie dough):
400 g All-purpose flour
24g (or 2 tbsp) granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
220g firm unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tbsp iced cold water (Add if necessary)

Blueberry filling:
400g fresh blueberries
70g granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp dried culinary lavender
1 tbsp cornflour
2 tbsp almond meal

Egg wash:
1 egg
pinch of salt

Method:
1. Prepare the shortcrust pastry: In a large bowl, place flour, sugar, salt and whisk. Add in cubed butter.
2. Using your finger tips, rub the butter and the dry ingredients until it resembles breadcrumbs or coarse cornmeal.
3. Lightly whisk your egg with vanilla extract. Add in your egg mixture into your bowl.
4. Using your hands, combine the ingredients together. Add in 1-2tbsp of cold water (only if the dough still looks dry). Do not add more water than needed as this will make the dough tough.
5. The dough should come together. At this point, stop kneading. Split the dough into half and shape into flat discs before wrapping them up in cling wrap and chilling them down before using.
6. The pastry dough should be chilled down and rested for at least 1/2 hour or 1 hr if you can afford more time.
7. Assembling the pie: Roll the pastry dough on a lightly floured surface into a rough circular shape, about 3mm in thickness.
8. Measure and cut the dough to about 1/2 -1 inch larger than the diameter of your pie dish. Transfer the dough onto the pie dish. Allow the pie pastry to rest in the fridge while you prepare the blueberry filling.
9. To make the lattice top: Roll out dough to a little larger than your pie dish, about 3mm thick. Using a ruler and paring knife (or even a pizza cutter), cut even strips (depending on how thick you want your lattice strips to be.). Refer to this link for how to make a lattice top.
10. Spoon 1 tbsp of almond meal onto each of lined tins before you spoon in the blueberry filling. Place the lattice top onto your pie and crimp the sides down to seal, using a fork or your fingers. To make egg wash, whisk egg and salt together then use a pastry brush to egg wash the lattice strips and sides of the pastry before baking.
11. Bake in a 180 degrees celcius preheated oven for about 30 -35 mins until the blueberry filling is starts bubbling) and the pastry is golden brown. Allow pies to cool slightly before transferring them out of their tins.
12. To serve: Sieve some icing sugar over the pie and serve it with whipped cream, creme fraiche or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

*This blueberry pie is best eaten on the same day that it is made. After which, the blueberry filling will start to soften the pastry.

Blueberry pie (6) copy Blueberry pie (4)

Posted in Baking, Tarts & Pies | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Orange chiffon cake

orange chiffon cake cover

It’s chiffon cake Tuesday!

This time I’m sharing my orange chiffon cake recipe. I have to say it’s slowly becoming my favourite chiffon cake flavour though it is extremely difficult for me to pick just one.

orange chiffon cake (3)

 

 

This orange chiffon cake is for people who find other flavours like chocolate and caramel too sweet but adore the citrus flavours in their cakes and desserts. My mum for one, would always be inclined to cakes and desserts with citrus flavours. Give her a passionfruit curd tart or a lemon olive oil cake any day and you will make her day.

 

orange chiffon cake (5)

This chiffon cake is jammed packed with orange flavour from the use of orange zest as well as freshly-squeezed orange juice. It is perfectly light and fluffy which makes it a wonderfully light afternoon snack with either coffee or tea, your pick. I think it goes extremely well with my green tea with orange, liquorice and vanilla Kusmi tea.

I can’t think of a better way to spend a gloomy afternoon with a tall slice of orange chiffon cake, a hot mug of tea, and flipping through the beautiful pages of my Kinfolk magazine.

orange chiffon cake (1)

orange chiffon cake (2)

 

Recipe: Orange chiffon cake
Makes a 23 cm (9.5″) chiffon cake

This is a very light chiffon cake, packed with lots of orange flavour. The orange flavour becomes more pronounced the next day. If this is your first time baking a chiffon cake, you may refer to my previous post on “how to make a chiffon cake” for tips to handle the tricky chiffon cake.
Ingredients:

Group A:
5 large egg yolks, room temperature
120g castor sugar
90ml corn oil (or any neutral flavour oil like canola and grapeseed)
130ml freshly squeezed orange juice (I used 2 medium sized oranges)
finely grated zest of 2 oranges ( I use a microplane to do this)
1 tsp vanilla extract
190g cake flour+
3/4 tsp baking powder (optional, just to ensure the lift. but I have baked without the baking powder and it works just as fine.)
1/4 tsp salt

Group B:
5 large egg whites, room temperature
90g castor sugar

+ Cake flour substitution: If you don’t have cake flour, you can easily make your own at home. Measure out a cup of all-purpose flour, remove 2 tbp of flour, then replace 2 tsbp of cornflour. Sift this mixture twice to distribute the cornflour evenly.

Method:

1. Separate the egg whites and the egg yolks. Ensure that there is no trace of yolk in the whites. Allow them to come to room temperature. This is especially important for the egg whites to be whisked to their peaks.

2.Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Have your chiffon cake tin mould ready. Do not grease it!

3. Start with the group A ingredients as we only want to whisk the egg whites when everything else is done. If not, the egg whites will start to deflate.

4. In the bowl containing the yolks, add in sugar and whisk until light and pale. This can be done with a hand whisk. We just need some aeration in the yolks. Add in the oil and whisk until incorporated.

5. Add the orange juice, grated orange zest, vanilla extract into the yolk mixture and whisk. Then, measure and sift your dry ingredients and whisk into the yolk mixture (until just incorporated).

6. Next come the crucial step of whisking the egg whites. It is best to use room temperature egg whites because whites right out of the fridge will be too cold and will not whisk well. We are essentially whisking a meringue. Start with a stainless steel clean and grease-free bowl (I always rinse it with boiling water to rid of any remaining grease). Add in your room temperature egg whites and put it onto your mixer.

7. Begin whisking your egg whites at medium low speed till foamy. You can add a pinch of cream of tar tar (which increases the meringue stability) at this point if you like. This is optional and your meringues will still work even without it.

8. Turn your mixer speed to high and whisk whites until soft peaks. Soft peaks are reached when the peaks of the whites droop when the whisk is lifted.

8. Start to pour in your caster sugar slowly, in a few additions, while the mixer is still running. The sugar, when added gradually, greatly stabilizes the meringue. But the sugar needs to be added slowly to give time for the sugar to dissolve and not weigh down the meringue. The meringue should be whisked to a glossy, firm peaks – just slightly short of stiff peaks. The whites should look glossy and when the whisk is lifted, the peaks will hold but the tip will fall back slightly onto itself. Just a note: stiff peaks mean that when you turn the whisk is lifted, the peaks will hold up straight without collapsing onto itself at all.

9. Start by adding 1/4 of the meringue to mixture A (yolk mixture). Whisk lightly to combine until it is well incorporated. Do not be afraid to knock out air at this stage. We are lightening the yolk mixture so that it will be of a more similar consistency to the meringue which will help you fold the meringue through easily and more evenly.

10. Next, add in 1/2 of the remaining meringue to the mixture A (yolk mixture). Fold gently using a rubber spatula drawing a line across the centre of the batter then going under the batter and lifting up when the spatula reaches the sides of the bowl. Turn the bowl as you do this. Do ensure that the egg whites are folded into the mixture thoroughly so you won’t get egg white streaks after baking. Fold in the dried cranberries into the batter.

11. Gently pour the chiffon cake batter into the chiffon tin. Using a rubber spatula, level and smooth out the top of the cake batter and gently tap the chiffon cake tin against the kitchen counter twice to remove any large air bubbles.

12. Bake in a preheated 180 degrees celcius for about 1 hr 5 minutes (+/-). The top of the cake should be lightly browned and springs back to touch when it is done. The cake tester inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean. At about 25 minutes into the baking, check on your chiffon cake. If the top starts to get too brown or starts cracking too much, cover the chiffon cake with a sheet of aluminum foil (oil it so that the cake would not stick to it) before you continue with the baking.

13. Remove the ready cake from the oven, place a funnel into the center hole of the tin and invert the cake to cool on a cooling rack. Only attempt to unmould the chiffon cake from its tin when it is cooled fully.

14. To remove the cake after it is cooled, run a palette knife against the sides of the cake tin. Turn it out gently onto a cake board. The base of the cake tin would now be on top. Run a palette knife in one swift motion against the base of the tin. Allow the chiffon cake to gently fall onto the cake board. Remember not to shake/yank out the chiffon cake – the crumb structure is very tender and you would only tear your cake if you do so.

*Storage tips:
*The chiffon cake can keep in an air-tight container in room temperature for a few days.

orange chiffon cake (8)

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Greek island hopping: Milos

Milos

This is the final installment of my island hopping adventures in Greece.

We departed from Santorini for the lovely island of Milos by ferry. After a long ferry delay, we managed arrived in Milos long after the sun has set, feeling absolutely famished and tired.

Thankfully, we picked up our rental car without a hitch and miraculously got to our accommodation without getting lost – that is after we wolfed down some hot chicken gyros that tasted exceptionally good at that hour.

We woke up to what we thought was a huge storm. To my utmost surprise, when I drew the curtains open, it was not rain but the sounds of the angry waves. We were just meters away from the sea and we didn’t even know it.

We were told that there were unusually rough seas for the past two days which was suited us fine since we were not intending to swim. (The waters are too crazily cold in May!)

It was only when we sat down to have breakfast at a little cafe along Pollonia – having a freshly made spinach filo pie (which was superb!) that it dawned on me why Milos seems more familiar to me than it should; I finally connected the dots (yes, I’m really slow) that it is on this humble island that the statue of Venus of Milos was discovered – yes the famed marble statue of Goddess of love and beauty that stands proudly in the Musee du Louvre. I had a geek moment when I was excitedly telling J about how I saw the statue at the Lourve just a few years ago.

After that “eureka” moment, we drove to Paliochori beach at the south of Milos. Aside from the Venus of Milos, Milos is known for its more than gorgeous beaches and interesting coastlines.

Milos (2) Paliochori beach Milos

The beach is flanked by colourful rock formations – various shades of red, yellows and greens, probably an effect of sulphur. It is also a pebbled beach with small pebbles of different colours, all very smooth because they have been polished smooth by the waves.

Paliochori beach milos

Sarakiniko beach Milos island

Sarakiniko is undisputedly the most interesting beach on Milos. It is a must-see when you are on this island.

Though it is commonly referred to as a beach, it is not your average beach with sand and water.  The all-white limestone landscape looks like the surface of a moon crater. And true to its reputation, Sarakiniko is incomparable to any other with its the white formations; its natural contours formed by the winds over the years and the beautiful azure waters that surrounds it makes it a stunning sight to behold.

We spent a quiet evening exploring the entire landscape, enjoying the clear waters and ducking into a few of the caves that were believed to be dug by pirates.

Sarakiniko beach Milos Sarakiniko beach Milos (12)

The next day, we went to Tripiti to visit the ancient theatre that the Romans built duirng the Hellenistic period. Unfortunately, it was closed for restorations and we moved on to vist the fishing village of Klima. There are a few fishing villages in Milos that are unique to the island. The coves are lined with syrmata or fishermen’s bold and colourful boathouses – very picturesque.

It was fun to peer into some of the syrmata and watch some of the fishing folk at work.

Milos (22) Klima Milos

After Klima, we decided to drop by Mandrakia, a less known fishing village on a smaller scale. I’m glad we did because though it was smaller, it was prettier just because we saw some of the boats docked at the cove and some fishermen preparing their boats.

Mandrakia Milos Milos (18)

Milos is an island where you will eat very well when it comes to seafood, more so than on a slightly more tourist-centric Santorini. The highlight of our trip was Armenaki, a restaurant that sits along the row of restaurants in Pollonia. It was so good that we went there twice in our few days on the island.

Armenaki serves the freshest seafood that has been caught on the same day. So when we enquired about a particular fish (I can’t remember what it was), we were given the matter of fact reply “Oh..because of the strong winds, that insert name of fish is not caught today. So we don’t have it.”

We were recommended to try the oven-baked scorpion fish or scorpina in Greek. It was simply delicious – the fish was so fresh, so flavourful and the potatoes and capers that came with it were absolutely delicious that I now bake my fish in a similar manner.  Fun fact of the day, we were told that the Greek men nickname unattractive women “scorpina”, after the ugly fish.

But this ugly fish have very delicate flesh and swoon-worthy flavour! I can’t imagine anyone turning it down. The other seafood dishes were also particularly good – steamed mussels and clams in white wine.

At this particular moment, I’m missing Milos and her seafood. At times like these (which often happen after such a trip), I start to think that I can actually survive (more like, thrive  happily) on a small island with few material desires.  When you are surrounded by nature’s beauty, fresh air and wonderful (oh so wonderful!) produce, I don’t see why not.

 

Armenaki Milos Milos (20)

Stay
Nefeli Sunset Studio
Pollonia, Milos Cyclades
I would unreservedly recommend you to stay at Nefeli Sunset Studio. It is run by a friendly couple, Roula and Makis, who would try to make your stay better by giving you genuine recommendations. The studio is very clean and well-maintained. Our studio and terrace overlooks the beach just yards away and you can see the most beautiful sunsets of the island from here. We saw a group of photographers (with their tripods and large equipment) waiting around the beach during sunset.

Sunset at Pollonia Milos

Eat

Armenaki
Pollonia Milos Cyclades 84800 (nestled at a corner along the row of restaurants by the pier)
Tel: 00302287041061
Excellent seafood (though it may be considered a little on the high side but well-worth it) and good wine at a reasonable price

Visit

The best way to visit the different sights on the island is by driving. Milos is a very navigable island – pretty small and compact.   You can drive around leisurely becuase there are so few cars and there is free parking virtually everywhere.  I believe it will be tough to get a bus from one location to another especially if you are short on time.

Klima fishing village

Mandrakia fishing village

Sarakiniko beach

Paliochori beach

Milos (5) Milos (6) Milos (7) Milos (8)

 

 

 

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Chocolate and maple granola

chocolate granola cover 1

I love having chocolate, especially dark chocolate. Despite my innate love for chocolate,  I usually stop myself for having chocolate and anything chocolate for breakfast especially when chocolate makes up fifty sixty-five percent of the ingredients.

That’s until I discovered that I can have my cake chocolate and eat it too – happily and guilt-free too, if I may add.

That comes in the form of my chocolate granola that straddles in between naughty and nice. It is deliciously good that I’ve been eating it straight out of the box, just as you would do with a bag of chips.

And if you are feeling a little more indulgent, you can add chopped up chocolate pieces into your granola.

Who says you can’t have chocolate for breakfast!

Chocolate granola (1)

 

Chocolate granola (5)

 

Recipe: Homemade chocolate and maple granola
Makes about 750g of granola or fills a large tub

 

Ingredients:

3 cups of rolled oats
1/2 cup almonds, untoasted
1 cup pecans, untoasted
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup grapeseed oil or any neutral flavoured oil
1/2 cup maple syrup

Add after granola is cooled:
1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries or cherries
2 tbsp chia seeds
3 tbsp cacao nibs
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips, or chopped choocolate (for that bit of indulgence)
pinch of sea salt to finish, optional

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 170 degrees celcius. Line your baking tray with baking parchment

2. In a large bowl, add in the rolled oats, seeds and nuts. Then add in the salt, and cocoa powder. Give it a good mix through before adding your vanilla extract, oil and maple syrup.

3. Pour this mix and spread them onto your baking tray and bake for about 30-40 minutes. Be careful not to let your granola burn especially the nuts. Toss it twice mid-way through.

4. Bake the granola till golden brown. Let the granola cool before adding the dried fruits, chia seeds, cacao nibs, dark chocolate chips and sea salt, if using. Store the cooled granola in an air-tight container. It keeps for about 3-4 weeks.

Chocolate granola (2)

Chocolate granola (4)

Posted in Breakfast, Pantry | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Greek inspired: Homemade carrot marmalade on greek yogurt

greek yogurt and carrot marmalade (cover 1)

I had the most amazing yet unconventional dessert on Naxos (See my previous post on the highlights of my time in Naxos).

After a lovely meal having grilled fish and an assortment of cold dips with bread, the lovely waiter at Meze Meze came by and placed a plate on our table saying “it’s on the house”.

“It’s Greek yogurt with our own carrot marmalade.” When he saw our incredulous looks, he laughed and said “Greeks love this. Try it.”

Whatever doubts I had about this dessert dissipated into thin air the moment I took a bite of this.

The only word I could manage was “Wow”.

It was the perfect dessert.

Yes, it has vegetables.

Yes, it may be breakfast food.

Yet at the same time it manages to tick the boxes of a good dessert. It was cold..creamy.. sweet yet refreshing at the same time and not too heavy after a meal.

greek yogurt and carrot marmalade (3) copy

carrot marmalade (2)

I vowed to make this when I came back from my vacation. And I’m glad that I did. This carrot marmalade in its full glossy bright orange glory would convince even the carrot detractors.

Of course I had to have it with my own homemade Greek yogurt. While nothing can beat the fresh, thick Greek yogurt they have in Greece, I think I am happy enough with this little dessert that I’ve recreated.

And if you are still not convinced, this carrot marmalade can also replace your jams. And it is also a great accompaniment to scones (will share the receipe later).

carrot marmalade cover

carrot marmalade (3)

Carrot marmalade
Makes about three 450g jars
Recipe adapted from River Cottage Veg Everyday by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

I reduced the amount of sugar ever so slightly and added more juice. I did not have nutmeg so I went without it. Also, I took a much longer time to cook down this marmalade than Hugh did (he advised 40 minutes). I think the best way to gauge is still by eye and by touch; you would best know when a jam is set.

Ingredients:
1kg carrots, peeled and grated (coarsely, using the bigger hole of the grater box)
Finely grated rind and strained juice of 2 lemons
Finely grated rind and strained juice of 2 orange
850g granulated sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
6 cloves
1 tsp grated nutmeg (optional)
900ml tap water

Method:
1. Put the grated carrots, juices, zest and sugar into a preserving pan, and stir. Tie the cinnamon and cloves into a small circle of muslin, tie with kitchen string and place in the middle of the carrots. Leave overnight to macerate. I place this in the fridge.

2. Add 900ml water and nutmeg (if using) into the pot of grated carrots and place onto the stove on medium high heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil then turn down the heat to medium or medium low heat.

3. Cook until it reaches its setting point. The marmalade should have thickened and look glazed. I cooked it to about 104 degrees celcius. The gelling point for jams is about 103 – 105 degrees celcius (This is so for countries at sea level like Singapore. On a higher altitude, the gelling point temperature falls to range of 97 to 100 degrees celcius.)

4. You can test if your marmalade is set by spooning a dollop of it onto a cold plate that has been chilled in the freezer for about 15 minutes. Leave it for a minute or so before using your finger to run through the dollop of marmalade. It should wrinkle and not flood back onto itself.

5. Carefully fish out the spice bag. Leave the marmalade to cool just slightly for about 10 minutes so that it continues to thicken slightly and the grated carrots will be distributed more evenly through the marmalde. Pour into sterilised mason jars and seal when still hot. Store in a cool, dry place. Once opened, store it in the refrigerator.

*To sterilise the glass jar, wash the jar and lid with hot water and soap. Rinse well and place the jar in a preheated oven at 160 degrees celcius for 15- 20 minutes or until dry.

Best way to eat this:
Greek yogurt with a big spoon of carrot marmalade!

 

greek yogurt and carrot marmalade (2) copy

Posted in Breakfast, Desserts, Pantry, Plated desserts, Recipe | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments