31 July 2020

FROZEN BERRY WATERMELON SMOOTHIE

Abundance of fresh fruit is one of the reasons summer has always been my favourite season. Summer berries are one of life's simple pleasures that will never be outshone.
This lovely crimson smoothie is full of sweet watermelon, mixed berries, and tea. Delicate white tea and just a simple drop of vanilla transform this from a simple smoothie into a true summer dessert dream.
I usually serve my smoothies partially frozen, by freezing them for about 20-30 minutes, and then blending them again. That way, they resemble a sumptuous cross between a sweet summer smoothie and a granita.
Taste the smoothie before freezing it briefly; depending on your taste, you may need to add a spoonful of maple syrup or even raw honey, if you are not making it vegan.


Ingredients
400 grams fresh watermelon
100 grams strawberries
100 grams raspberries
50 grams blueberries
50 grams redcurrants
50 grams sour cherries
50 grams forest strawberries
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 tablespoon loose leaf white tea
300 ml cold water
1 tablespoon maple syrup, optional


Preparation
Start by preparing the white tea. Heat 300 ml of water until it just comes to a boil, and then pour it over the loose white tea. Place the lid on the cup where the tea will be steeped, and let it steep for 5 minutes. After about 5 minutes, strain the tea and place the cup into a larger container of cold water, to help it chill quicker, since it needs to be cold.
When the tea is cold, place the chopped watermelon in a large blender, and blend it briefly. Add in all of the berries, and the vanilla, and blend again. Finally, pour in the cold white tea, scrape the sides, and blend until smooth. If using the maple syrup, add it, and let the blender run until smooth. Either serve it immediately, or let the smoothie batter freeze slightly, and serve it partially frozen. Yields 4 generous servings.

24 July 2020

HOMEMADE HONEY ROASTED PEANUT BUTTER

Peanut butter is among those humble and delicious spreads that can be prepared at home in a dash, and enjoyed fresh, preferably on a slice of homemade bread, with some tangy jam. The freshness and the full flavour it rewards you with is incomparable to anything that can be bought from a shop.
I generally prepare my peanut butter neutral in flavour, so it can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes, but this one I love as a treat, just perfect for a sweet breakfast with a cup of tea. Flavoured by honey and vanilla, delicious and fragrant, it truly is more suitable as a sweet snack or in desserts.
Acacia honey will always be my favourite for this type of recipes, but you can also use wildflower honey, it will give a marvellous fragrant note to the peanut butter. Even floral honeys, such as orange blossom honey, will work magically in this recipe.
A good thing to keep in mind is that the homemade peanut butter will probably never be as smooth as commercially made ones, and that is fine. And because homemade peanut butters, and nut butters in general, tend to separate as they stand, a bit of oil can come to the top; I like to store my peanut butter in a jar that is ever so slightly larger than necessary, just to make it easier to stir it all through before serving.


Ingredients
400 grams raw, shelled peanuts
50 grams acacia or wildflower honey
40 millilitres peanut oil
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
small pinch of salt, optional

Preparation
Start by lining a large baking tray with baking parchment. Lay out the shelled peanuts evenly, in a single layer, and bake them for 5 minutes, in an oven preheated to 180°C. Take them out of the oven and pour them into a large kitchen towel, and let them cool slightly. Carefully rub the peanuts in the towel until all of the skins come off.
Tip the peanuts into a large bowl, and drizzle over the honey. Using a rubber spatula, mix them well, until they are completely coated in honey. Once again, lay the peanuts on a large baking sheet lined with baking parchment, in a single layer, and bake them in a preheated oven, at 180°C, for about 8 minutes. Carefully remove the tray from the oven; lightly move the peanuts around so they roast evenly, and roast them for about 8 more minutes, or until fragrant and browned.
Remove from the oven, and let them cool down slightly. While they are still warm, add them to a food processor and let it run for about a minute. Turn it off, carefully scrape the sides with a spatula, and blend for a minute more. Repeat this two more times, and then add the oil, salt, and the vanilla, and let the food processor run for about 2-3 minutes more, or until the peanut butter is smooth to your liking.
Taste it, adjust the flavour to your liking, either by adding a teaspoon of honey or another small pinch of salt, and then blend for a minute one last time. Pour the peanut butter into a sterilised jar, close it tightly, and store in the refrigerator up to a month. Yields 450 grams of honey roasted peanut butter.

17 July 2020

PEPERONCINI HAM AND CHEESE CRESCENT ROLLS

Light, flaky, baked to golden perfection, crescent rolls are one of the most loved pastries, and for a good reason. Incredibly easy to make, quite forgiving and versatile, they make for a lovely snack, or a fantastic party appetiser; especially if made miniature. They are the perfect illustration of what a wonderful pastry can be created with such humble ingredients.
Admittedly, they are not the quickest pastry to make. Crescent rolls usually do require some time for the dough to rise, but they truly are worth the wait. They make it worthwhile will their crispy exterior, and the pillowy soft crumb.
The filling is quite straightforward; smoked ham and flavourful white Cheddar, enriched with just a speck of peperoncini. They are only ever so slightly spicy, just enough to give some more flavour to an already scrumptious filling. If you prefer your food spicier, add one more peperoncino.


Ingredients
For the dough
275 grams plain flour
100 millilitres warm water
15 grams fresh yeast
75 grams buttermilk
25 millilitres olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
For the filling
100 grams white cheddar, grated
100 grams smoked ham, minced
2 small peperoncini, finely minced


Preparation
Put the fresh yeast in a small bowl, pour in the warm water, mix briefly, and let it sit in a warm spot until dissolved and bubbly. Sift the flour twice, put the majority in a large bowl, and make a little well in the middle. Pour in the yeast, buttermilk, salt, and the oil, and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the dough starts to form.
Keep adding the reserved flour and kneading by hand for at least 5 minutes, until the dough becomes smooth and elastic, and does not stick to your hands. Once the dough is ready, place it in a large bowl, and cover with a kitchen towel. Leave the dough to rise for about an hour, or until doubled. While the dough is rising, finely mince the peperoncini and the smoked ham, and roughly grate the cheese; then mix them together thoroughly.
After the dough has risen, knead it briefly on a floured work surface, and roll it into a large circle. Slice the circle into eight equal triangles. Place a portion of the ham and the cheese on the wider part of the triangle, and roll it towards the narrower side, lightly pressing the dough into itself so the filling does not leak out during baking.
Arrange the rolls on a large baking sheet lined with baking parchment, and let them rise for another 30 minutes. Bake them in a preheated oven, at 200˚C for about 15-20 minutes. If you wish, you can brush them with butter as soon as you take them out of the oven, for a soft crust.

10 July 2020

APRICOT LEMON CONSERVE

This amber beauty is a cross between a jam and a typical conserve, and its charm lays in the large pieces of fruit. Because there is almost no stirring, many of the apricot halves will remain almost intact. Yes, some will break down, especially if they are really ripe, but the majority will still be in one piece. It is simply divine on toast, pancakes, or just enjoyed with a tiny spoon.
The vanilla will help deepen the flavour of the conserve, especially the longer it stands, and the whole lemon slices will brighten it up and add a layer of tanginess to it. And as an addition, it will make the jars look very decorative and nice.
Keep in mind that apricots are naturally a bit lower in pectin, and because the conserve is cooked relatively shortly, the finished conserve will not be of the thickness of the common jams. However, it is a perfect chocolate cake filling, especially because of its somewhat thinner consistency, as it will just simply melt into the cake layers.

Apricot lemon conserve | tinavesic.com

Ingredients
1 kilogram ripe apricots, stones removed
2 teaspoons baking soda
600 grams granulated sugar
320 millilitres cold water
¼ vanilla bean
1 large lemon

Preparation
Wash the apricots and remove any imperfections, then tear them in half, remove the stones, and place them in a large, non-reactive pot. Pour enough cold water to cover them fully, sprinkle in the baking soda, mix well, and let them stand in the water for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, take a wide, heavy-bottomed pot, and pour in the cold water. Add in the sugar, and place the pot over high heat. Bring it to a boil, and cook, without stirring, for 4 minutes, or until thickened to a consistency of honey. Drain the apricots, and add them to the sugar syrup carefully. Add in the scraped seeds form a vanilla bean, and shake the pot well. Gently stir the fruit to distribute it, but not after this point in cooking. However, do remove any foam that comes to the top while it is cooking.
Reduce the heat to medium high, and shake the pot from time to time, letting the fruit level itself in the sugar syrup. Because there is only a kilogram of fruit, the cooking process is quick. While the fruit is cooking, thoroughly wash the lemon, slice it into thin slices, and remove any pips. After about 30 minutes of gentle bubbling, the conserve should be thickened. Add in the whole lemon slices on top, and cook for 5 more minutes. Check for setting point either with a thermometer (105°C), or by using the saucer test. If the conserve is setting and ready, remove the pot from the heat, and let it cool down for about 10 minutes. Carefully arrange the lemon slices in each of the prepared sterilised jars, pour in the fruit, seal them, and let them cool down to room temperature. Store it in the refrigerator for best possible taste and longer shelf life. Yields 1 kilogram of conserve.

03 July 2020

FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE RUM CAKE

The good old classic, the hearty chocolate cake that stays soft and moist for days. The cake you make in the evening and then eagerly await the next day, to serve and enjoy it.
It does require a bit of preparation, whipping the egg whites to a glossy perfection, grating the chocolate, making the syrup and the frosting. But the result is a lush flourless chocolate cake, combining both dark cocoa powder and extra dark chocolate, soaked in a fragrant syrup, and topped with double cream, to balance the richness.
As with any cake, be careful when baking so it does not dry out. Bake only until the centre stops wobbling when you move the pan, and the toothpick inserted in the very centre comes out clean. It could even have a few little most crumbs sticking to it, and that would also be fine.
On a final note, keep in mind that his cake, although flourless, is not gluten-free, as it contains semolina.


Ingredients
For the chocolate cake
4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 small pinch of salt
150 grams granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
180 grams unseasoned mashed potatoes, at room temperature
50 grams semolina
20 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
For the chocolate rum syrup
100 ml cold water
50 grams granulated sugar
50 grams extra dark chocolate (70-80% cocoa solids), grated
15 millilitres dark rum
For the decoration
100 ml double cream
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste


Preparation
Carefully separate the egg yolks from the egg whites, placing them into large bowls. Add a small pinch of salt to the egg whites, and whip them with an electric mixer on high until stiff peaks form. They should be firm enough to hold peaks, but still glossy. Set them aside. Beat the egg yolks with an electric mixer on high for about 2 minutes or until they start to get lighter in colour, and slightly thicker. Add in the granulated sugar and the vanilla, and continue mixing until they increase in volume and become pale, about 3-4 minutes more.
Add in the mashed potatoes, and briefly mix on low. Sift in the semolina, cocoa powder, and the baking powder, and mix on medium speed until just combined. Take a sturdy spatula, and fold in about a third of the egg whites. Fold it through gently, making sure a lot of air remains in the batter. Once that is folded in, add in the rest of the egg whites, and softly fold until combined.
Take a small rectangular pan (18x18 cm) and line the bottom and sides with baking parchment. Pour in the batter and bake immediately, at 200°C, for about 20-25 minutes, until the centre no longer wobbles, and the inserted toothpick comes out clean.
While the cake is baking, cook the rum syrup. Pour the cold water into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, and add in the sugar. Place it over high heat, and let it come to a boil. Cook, without stirring, for 3 minutes, or until the sugar is melted and the syrup is barely started to thicken up. Remove from the heat, and add in the grated dark chocolate. Mix until it is completely melted, and set aside to cool down slightly.
Once the cake is baked and ready, remove it from the oven, and let it cool down in the pan for about 5 minutes. Add the rum to the chocolate syrup, mix it through, and soak the baked cake really well with it. Use a tablespoon and slowly pour the syrup all over, making sure the sides are soaked, as well. Let the cake cool completely at room temperature.
Add the vanilla and the cocoa powder to the chilled double cream, and whip it until stiff peaks form. Spread it evenly on top of the cooled cake, and place the whole cake into the refrigerator for at least 8 hours. It will only get better and better as it stands. Serve with additional melted chocolate, walnuts, or just strong coffee. Yields 12 rich servings.