Lemon meringue pie: my atonement

lemon meringue pie as it should be

lemon meringue pie as it should be

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Yes, my dear friends, I was really peeved at my disastrous attempt at making this classic dessert last time I blogged so I had another go. This time I decided to make 6 individual little tarts rather than a large one, which I was very pleased with. As you can see from the pics  this time the experiment was successful. No offending liquid oozed out nor were there any soggy bottoms in sight when I cut the tarts.  Success! Tomik the cat was clearly happy, unlike the last time. :-) Obviously I made sure the custardy mixture was dense before I poured it in the pastry cases. I also  made a couple of other changes: I thought the Mary Berry’s recipe for the shortcrust pastry was a bit too rich (and far too soft) so I changed the proportions: I used half butter to flour, put only an egg yolk rather than the whole egg, a couple of tablespoons of icing sugar and enough cold water to bind it. It was much better and didn’t shrink as much when I baked it blind.

Lemon meringue pie: a misdemeanour

lemon meringue pie: a misdemeanour

lemon meringue pie: a misdemeanour

I had been meaning to make a lemon meringue pie for a long LONG while. It is, after all, a classic dessert here in the UK and one I really like. Inspired by one of the episodes in the Great British Bake off , I decided to have a go. Oh dear, oh dear! DISASTER! My creation would have come bottom of the pack in the Bake off competition by a mile and would have raised a few incredulous eyebrows. How Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry would have laughed!  To look at it ( see picture at the bottom) it wasn’t all that bad but once you cut into it  liquid started oozing out. ARGH! What an almighty mess! I know where I went wrong. I failed to cook the lemony custard that went inside beforehand thinking that it would solidify while cooking in the oven. WRONG! Ironically I used a Mary Berry’s recipe but clearly didn’t follow the instructions properly. Oh well! Back to the drawing board. On the plus side: it actually didn’t taste that bad and the meringue at the top was spot on, despite my reservations. At least it didn’t end up in the bin! Another thing I will do next time round: I will trim the pastry at the top AFTER I have baked it blind. I did notice that that’s what the Bake off contestants were doing but failed to learn by their examples. As a result it shrunk too much. I really didn’t do myself proud with this one. SORRY! :-( But, as the blog demands, I have to share the failures, not just the successes! Continue reading ‘Lemon meringue pie: a misdemeanour’

Pasta and cauliflower cheese bake

pasta and cauliflower cheese bake

pasta and cauliflower cheese bake

First of all apologies for the rather messy and unprofessional picture. I remembered I needed to take one when I had already served a couple of people. OOPS! Still, what counts is the taste, right? And this dish was so comforting it deserves to be shared. How could I not blog it? I am not a fan of cauliflower but if you add a bechamel sauce to it and bake it I could eat it every day. This is a variation on cauliflower cheese but I think the addition of pasta works really well. An ideal dish to have now that the days are getting shorter again and autumn is knocking at the door. Continue reading ‘Pasta and cauliflower cheese bake’

Tzatziki

tzatziki

tzatziki

While we were gallivanting in the Greek islands in September we became quite fond of tzatziki, which is a staple Greek starter/mezze dish made with Greek yoghurt, cucumber and LOADS of garlic. Please don’t go kissing anyone afterwards, that’s my advice!! Unless they have also eaten it, of course!  The ingredients are simple and straightforward and so is making it. The only problem was that  the first time I made it I failed to strain the cucumber  so it was a bit on the liquidy side. Still, very edible and refreshing. It’s ideal to have with some pitta bread or crudités. There are various versions out there. I noticed, for example, that in some restaurants in Greece they were also adding some grated carrots. So I followed suit. I got my basic recipe from good old Jamie Oliver, and slightly adapted it.  Continue reading ‘Tzatziki’

Plum and almond cake

plum and almond cake

 plum and almond cake

A  very kind friend of mine with an orchard and a surplus of plums donated a few kilos of them to me recently. We ate quite a few of them straight out of the bag as they were so delicious, but I’ve also used some to make this lovely cake. The inspiration came from Nigel Slater , although I slightly adapted his original recipe. I didn’t add any walnuts to the mixture, for example, which he does. What is particularly nice about it is the tanginess of the plums in combination with the sweetness of the almonds. My husband took it to a fellow group of volunteers and it pretty much vanished amongst lip smacking sounds of appreciation. I’d like to add that apparently the store bought butterfly cakes that someone else brought in weren’t even touched. Home made wins every time, it would seem!…:-) Continue reading ‘Plum and almond cake’

Courgette and feta cheese bake

courgette and feta cheese bake

             courgette and feta cheese bake

I have had much better luck with my courgette plants this year then in previous years when they looked sad and mouldy (see pic below of my happy babies!) so I had to come up with some recipes in order to use my beloved organic zucchini. I invented this simple bake using what I had in the house at the time: courgettes, eggs, flour, onions and feta cheese. BINGO! Really quick to make but so delicious! I’ve already baked it three times with success. As I invented the  recipe I’m kind of guessing the quantities. I’m sure that if you slightly adapted them not much harm would come to it. Do try it if you are in a hurry. Serve it with a nice salad. Voilà! Continue reading ‘Courgette and feta cheese bake’

La “torta appiccicosa” ai lamponi: ovvero un fondant alla svedese (Kladdkaka)

IMG-20160820-WA0002Ecco qua a cosa serve mandare i figli a studiare all’estero. Una tortina svedese di Laura: la Kladdkaka. Continue reading ‘La “torta appiccicosa” ai lamponi: ovvero un fondant alla svedese (Kladdkaka)’

Roasted summer vegetables

roasted summer vegetables

roasted summer vegetables

Let’s blog something healthy for a change… I love roasted vegetables! And this dish is really straightforward, pleasant to look at and also very tasty. Ideal as a side dish for a barbeque, a quiche, grilled fish or whatever takes your fancy. I let it cool right down and served it at room temperature. I think the flavours develop even more. The inspiration came from Jamie Oliver. Feel free to add/take away any veggies you want: courgettes, butternut squash, asparagus, aubergines, etc. I have made it twice already  in the last couple of weeks, varying the veggies combination. Lovely both times! Continue reading ‘Roasted summer vegetables’

Taralli with fennel seeds (take 3)

taralli with fennel seeds

taralli with fennel seeds

First of all let me explain what taralli are. They are basically gorgeous little snacks which have a similar consistency to crackers/grissini (bread sticks). They come from the Puglia region, which is the heel of Italy, and they are made with an unleavened dough of flour and flavoured in many different ways (with crack black pepper, chillies, fennel seeds etc.). The main ingredients are: flour, olive oil and white wine. The ones I have made are the most common ones. There are many recipes out there and in theory you are supposed to boil them first before you bake them. HOWEVER I tried twice to boil them first and I had to chuck them in the bin. GRRRRR! They were hard as rock and basically unedible. Mind you: it might have something to do with the fact  I later discovered I had used the wrong flour (strong instead of plain). :-( So I must try boiling them again using the right flour and see what happens. In the meantime let me share this recipe with you for which I’ve used my trusted sourdough (yes! Still alive after all these years!), as suggested by my sister in law Stefania (who apparently has been making them successfully in this way for a while). I have used the recipe she sent me on line which comes from the issuu.com website. Continue reading ‘Taralli with fennel seeds (take 3)’

Strawberry tiramisu

strawberry tiramisu

strawberry tiramisu

Dear friends, I am still reeling after the results of the Brexit referendum. I can’t help feeling extremely sad and disappointed at the result. So to cheer myself up I’ve experimented in the kitchen with a summer version of the classic tiramisu. This dessert couldn’t be more appropriate as  “tirami su” in Italian means: pull me up, which is exactly what I need right now!  I  already blogged the classic recipe over two years ago ( see here). Yes, two years! Incredible how times fly. As strawberries are now in season, and you can hope to buy some that will actually TASTE of strawberries, I recommend you try this recipe. It’s simple, it’s light (albeit not from a calories point of view :-( ), it’s different. I’ve already made it three times in the past few weeks and each time it met with 100% approval from my guests. I found the recipe on line on an Italian blog called Le ricette della nonna (= grandma’s recipes). There are several versions floating in cyberspace, a few involving making some sort of custard. But not this one. What are you waiting for? Get your mascarpone and your savoiardi and have a go! Your friends will thank you for it… Continue reading ‘Strawberry tiramisu’