The Greek Island Amorgos- Discover the superb natural beauty

The Spring has sprung, has finally sprung – well kind of. Looking outside just makes me dream about the sunny days by the beach reading a good book wile breathing the fresh air from the sea.
One of my favourite destinations is Greece. I love the traditional blue & white (hm maybe that’s why I love to wear stripes and this simple combination is one my favourites for clothes?!); oh the delicious fresh organic food, where the tomato it really tastes like tomato; the smell of pure fresh air; the friendly people… It is a place that makes me want to stay and come back, makes me desire to  visit every single island. Oh they are so many!! Probably the best thing to do would be to sail around for a couple of months. That would be amazing! I do love the well known glamorous Santorini or the party island Mykonos, but I also like to escape from the massive tourist areas to enjoy my moments of tranquility and discover high gems that are well known just by the greeks and a few people.
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Last Summer I went to explore the  island of Amorgos, another piece of paradise on earth, with beaches where you don’t find more then ten people or if you are an explorer you can find your own private unique beach. Can’t wait to explore more greek islands this upcoming summer 🙂 🙂 🙂
Which one is you favourite greek island?
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Thumbprint cookies – grain and sugar free

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This goodies are a classic, special during Christmas season. Well, Christmas is over but I’m not waiting until it’s here again to bake one of my childhood favourite cookies – it takes me back when I couldn’t eat whatever I wished due to my allergies to nuts. Now that my allergies are over (thanks to the detox), I am having a blast trying all this grain and sugar free recipes where I can add all the nuts… Back to the recipe, this classic comes with jam, but being a chocolate addicted I filled up mines with it, but you can always flavour it with your favourite jam or added extracts and spices.
Preparation:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper;
3.  In a large bowl, combine the flour,  flaxseed, and the xylitol;
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs whites with a pinch of salt;
5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until combined;
6. With wet hands, roll about 1 tablespoon of the dough into a ball and place on the baking sheet;
7.  Gently press down your thumb in the center of each dough ball to create an indent.
8.  Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 12 minutes;
9.  Remove from the oven and using the ½ teaspoon, press down again in the indent just to make it a bit deeper as it probably puffed up a bit while baking.;
10.  Let the cookies cool completely on a cooling rack;

11. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate nibs and the coconut oil on the stove top;

12. Once cookies are cooled, spoon the chocolate into the indent. Let them sit for about 10 minutes until set;
13. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days (if you resist to don’t eat all in same day!).

Do you know what is Mahlep, the cherry bitter baking spice?

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In the Muffin’s recipe, as you probably noticed, I used an unusual ingredient: Mahlep.  It was the very first time I used it.

I discovered this aromatic spice in Greece while exploring the  local market.  At the time I had no idea what it was or what it was used for.

I asked around but no one could explain me because of their poor english. I bought anyway a very small pack, that I’m regretting now, I should have bought more….

Once back home, I put it away and completely forgot about it. A month later I flew to Antalya in Turkey and again the same happened; I found the Mahlep, in a spice & chocolate store, but this one was in powder. Again I asked what it was for and this time I was told that it’s something traditional for cakes but it should be used in a very small quantity. And this was all I got from trying to understand very poor spoken english.

Still I was very intrigued…. but I had a good feeling about this powder. The few words I got from the guys at the shop were enough to make me buy it, again! This time back at home I did my research. I learned about it and decided to experiment it. The muffin dates were my first creation where I have used the Mahlep powder. It left a beautiful cherry scent in the kitchen, making my mouth watering for a bite! I was taken by surprise how good Mahlep made this muffins!

What is Mahlep? It is an aromatic spice, just like nutmeg. Is made from the seeds of a species of cherry. The cherry stones are cracked to extract the seed kernel and after ground to a powder before use.. The tree is native in Mediterranean region, Iran and central Asia. The finely ground mahlepi powder is made from the inner kernels of fruit pits of a native Persian cherry tree (Prunus cerasus mahaleb).

What is used for? It is used in small quantities to sharpen sweet foods. Used for centuries in the Middle East Greece, Armenia, Turkey, Iran as a flavouring for baked goods. In Greek cousin, it is the characteristic flavouring of Christmas and Easter cakes into pastry recipes. Something that I never tasted because I eat grain-free – Paleo. In Armenia where it is used almost exclusively for sweetbreads and confectionery and Turkey it is used for pogača – kind of small round bread

What it tastes like? It has a distinctive fruity taste,  a delicate fragrance that is dominated by a bitterness flavour similar to almonds and cherry notes. Although quite aromatic in the sense that “a little bit goes a long way” it is the combination of the fragrance and the bitterness which makes the spice uniquely suited for sweet foods.

How to store? As with all spices, should be stored in a cool dry place, and it must be used within a year or so for the most powerful flavour.

Where to buy:

http://parthenonfoods.com

http://foratasteofpersia.co.uk

http://marketurk.co.uk

http://www.ebay.co.uk

Istanbul: Egyptian Spice Bazaar

Greek flavours

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How to detox after Christmas

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