eat in my kitchen

To cook, to bake, to eat and to treat.

Tag: orange blossom water

Pistachio Orange Blossom Muffins with Caramelized Pistachios

Pistachio Orange Blossom Muffins

Pistachios have been on my mind since I tried the most divine breakfast spread during my stay at the stunning Villa Athena in Agrigento in Sicily. Velvety smooth and creamy, slightly sweet and nutty, I’m not surprised that this traditional Sicilian Crema di Pistacchi is so popular in Italy. The texture is similar to the more common chocolate hazelnut spread, but it tastes a million times better, and it’s bright green. I love it and I can’t wait to start working on my own recipe.

However, there are much quicker ways to satisfy my current pistachio longings, for example, with fluffy pistachio orange blossom muffins topped with caramelized pistachios. I replaced a quarter of the flour with finely ground pistachios and stirred in a few roughly chopped nuts to add some crunch. Oranges team up very well with the green nuts, so I used a generous splash of orange blossom water and freshly grated zest to refine my little green muffins with a citrusy note. While you caramelize the nuts for the topping, you could also make a little more dark caramel to drizzle over the muffins’ golden tops. Bittersweet and sticky, it fits really well, but that’s up to you.

Yesterday was a great day, as we felt the united power of women. When I saw the pictures of the women’s marches all over the world, hundred thousands of women raising their voice and showing their strength, I felt, all of a sudden, the cold fading that gathered in my heart in the past few months. #womensmarch

Pistachio Orange Blossom Muffins

 

Pistachio Orange Blossom Muffins

Pistachio Orange Blossom Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

shelled salted pistachios 120g / 1 cup
plain flour 320g / 2 1/2 cups
granulated sugar 150g / 3/4 cup
baking powder 3 teaspoons
baking soda 1/2 teaspoon
fine sea salt 1/8 teaspoon
butter, melted and cooled, 120g / 1/2 cup
freshly grated orange zest 1 teaspoon
vanilla pod, split and scraped, 1/4
milk 210ml / 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons
organic eggs 2
quality orange blossom water, preferably organic, 3 tablespoons
paper muffin pan liners 12

For the caramelized pistachios

shelled salted pistachios, a handful
granulated sugar 2 tablespoons
water 2 tablespoons
honey 1 teaspoon

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F (preferably convection setting). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.

In batches, rub the pistachios between your hands until most of the salt is scrubbed off. (Alternatively, use unsalted pistachios, in that case add 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the dough instead of 1/8 teaspoon.)

For the muffins, in a food processor or blender, grind 2/3 (80g / 3 ounces) of the pistachios until very fine. Chop the remaining pistachios roughly.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, ground pistachios, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Add the orange zest and vanilla seeds to the butter, whisk, and let it sit for a few minutes to infuse the butter.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter, milk, eggs, and orange blossom water. Add to the flour-mixture and stir with a wooden spoon just until a lumpy batter forms. Gently fold in the remaining chopped pistachios. Mind that if you mix the batter too much, the muffins will lose their light texture.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups and bake for about 14 minutes (slightly longer if using a conventional oven) or until golden.

For the caramelized pistachios, rub the pistachios as mentioned above to remove most of the salt and chop roughly. In a small, heavy saucepan, bring the sugar, water, and honey to the boil and, without stirring, let it cook until golden and caramelized. Add the pistachios, stir quickly and top each muffin with a teaspoon of the caramelized nuts. Work quickly, as the caramel becomes hard. If it’s too sticky, transfer the pan back onto a low heat to melt the caramel.

Pistachio Orange Blossom Muffins

 

Pistachio Orange Blossom Muffinsns5.2

 

Pistachio Orange Blossom Muffins

 

Pistachio Orange Blossom Muffins

 

Pistachio Orange Blossom Muffins

 

Pistachio Orange Blossom Muffins

Tsoureki – Greek Braided Easter Bread with Aniseed and Orange Blossom Water

greekeasterbread1

Patience is a tricky thing, I feel it growing with every year I gain, but it still manages to drive me crazy at times. After about 1 year of working on my cookbook, developing the recipes, cooking, baking and shooting them all by myself, then going through a long process of filling the pages with my little stories connected to each and every dish, I feel a rising impatience to bring this project to an end. Month after month of working closely with my fantastic team in New York, Munich, Berlin, and London, having a daily exchange and constant flow of ideas between me and my editors, photo retoucher, and book designer; all this leaves me hungry. I want to hold the fruit of our work in my hands so badly. Our friends constantly make little jokes about me as they only see me with my laptop, glued to my chair at our long wooden dining table, which I turned into my office, or busy in the kitchen. To them, it seems like me, the chair, and the table have become one in the past year.

In German, there is a beautiful word called Vorfreude, which you could translate to the happy excitement you feel connected to a positive event lying in the future. This Vorfreude keeps me going. Sometimes I just feel my heart jump, when I think of the dedication I wrote on one of the first pages of my book for someone who means a lot to me, when I virtually thumb through the pages of my book which is still a file on my computer, or when I first saw the cover design, which I’ll share with you soon! And I’m willing to wait for these moments, I’m willing to wait to make this book better and better with every correction, addition, and change we make, and then one day, it will be printed and I’ll look at it and remember all the excitement, happiness, and frustration that’s woven into every single page of it.

Baking can be a good teacher for life and a master when it comes to patience, especially baking with yeast. It will be Easter Sunday in a week and a sweet braided yeast bread is one of the most delicious and fragrant treats that one can have on the breakfast or coffee table on this special day. But this bread takes its time, you can’t really rush – although I still try and succeed by letting the dough rise in the warm oven. It’s a little quicker but you still have to be patient. This year I go for a traditional Greek Easter bread called Tsoureki. It’s soft and fluffy, enriched with butter and eggs, and flavoured, often refined with mahlep, a ground spice made of wild cherry seeds, and mastic, sun-dried resin. More modern variations feature vanilla and cardamom but I was after a different flavour combination: aniseed and orange blossom. Years ago, I spent a couple weeks on the Greek island of Naxos and I enjoyed one of the fluffiest yeast buns with aniseed and orange in the shade of an old chapel high up on a hill. This picture in mind, I knew what my Tsoureki would taste like. It smells so beautiful and aromatic like the air in the Mediterranean, anise and orange merged in a scrumptious breakfast bread sprinkled with nutty sesame. I only left it in the oven for a little too long, just a couple minutes, but I have an excuse. Two of my cousins stopped by for an unexpected quick visit, a family chat at the table and the bread was forgotten. At one point I thought “Wow, it smells so good!”, so I ran to the oven and pulled out this nicely risen beauty (with a dark bottom).

Here’s another sweet braided bread I made 2 years ago.

greekeasterbread2

 

Tsoureki

Tsoureki – Greek Easter Bread with Aniseed and Orange Blossom Water

Makes 1 large loaf.

plain flour 520g / 4 cups
granulated sugar 100g / 1/2 cup
fast-acting yeast 1 sachet (7g / 1/4 ounce)
fine sea salt 1/2 teaspoon
aniseed, lightly crushed in a mortar, 2 teaspoons
zest of 1 small orange
milk, lukewarm, 150ml / 2/3 cup
butter, melted, 100g / 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons
organic eggs 2
orange blossom water 2 tablespoons
sesame seeds, for the topping, 1-2 tablespoons

For the glaze

organic egg yolk 1
water 1 tablespoon

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, yeast, salt, aniseed, and orange zest. Whisk together the milk, butter, eggs, and orange blossom water – the mixture should be lukewarm – and add to the flour mixture. Using the dough hooks of an electric mixer, knead for about 5 minutes until well combined and smooth. Continue kneading and punching with your hands for about 7 minutes until you have a soft and silky ball of dough. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover with a tea towel, and let rise in a warm place, or preferably in a 100°F (35°C) warm oven, for 100 minutes or until well risen (it won’t double in size). Rising at room temperature prolongs the process.

Punch the dough down, take it out of the bowl, and knead for about 30 seconds, then divide into 3 parts and roll them into long sausage shapes. Lay the ends of the rolls on top and braid them tightly. Bend both ends of the bread under the loaf and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with a tea towel and let it rise in a warm place for 50 minutes or until fluffy.

Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F (conventional setting).

Whisk the egg yolk and water for the glaze and brush the top of the loaf, sprinkle with sesame. Bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes, cover the loaf with aluminium foil after 15 minutes to prevent it from getting too dark. When the bread is done, it should be golden brown, knock on its bottom, it should sound hollow. Let it cool for a few minutes before cutting it into thick slices, and enjoy with butter.

Tsoureki

 

Tsoureki

 

Tsoureki

 

greekeasterbread8

Orange and Fennel Couscous with Orange Blossom Water and Mint

Orange and Fennel Couscous

I decided to make couscous and cooked enough to feed a family of six – it shows that I don’t work with this grain very often. The package looked tiny but the result was humongous! It didn’t do the pleasure any harm though, the recipe was delish, we just had enough couscous for days.

Inspired by a phone call with my mother and our obligatory recipe exchanges, I mixed the earthy North African dish with crunchy fennel sliced like carpaccio and juicy orange fillets. To focus on the citrus a little more, I roasted orange peel in olive oil in the oven to create a fragrant oil and some crunchy citrus bites. An open bottle of orange blossom water in my fridge convinced me to go for an orange trilogy – a good choice. Each of them added their individual depth, texture and aroma: the juices of the fruit paired beautifully with the crisp peel and the flowery scented water. Fresh mint leaves on top to finish it off and three happy people at the table ate far more couscous than we ever have before.

A short note: the amount of couscous in the recipe below is adjusted for 4.

Orange and Fennel Couscous

 

Orange and Fennel Couscous

Orange and Fennel Couscous with Orange Blossom Water and Mint

Serves 4

olive oil
long strips of orange peel 6
oranges, cut into fillets, 2
freshly squeezed orange juice 3 tablespoons (collected from the fillets)
fennel bulb, very thinly sliced (like carpaccio), the green chopped, 1 (about 250g / 9 ounces)
couscous 300g / 10 1/2 ounces
quality orange blossom water (preferably organic), to taste
salt and pepper
fresh mint leaves, a small handful

Set the oven to 220°C / 430°F (top / bottom heat).

Pour 3 tablespoons of olive oil into a shallow baking dish, add the peel and cook in the oven for about 6 minutes until golden brown and crunchy, mind that the peel doesn’t turn too dark. Take out of the oven and set aside.

To cut the orange into fillets, first peel off the outer skin with a knife and then cut off the white pith. Hold the orange in one hand and cut with the knife along the skin between the fruit’s fillets to end up with skin-free fillets. Collect the juices.

For the couscous, put the grains in a large pot. In a kettle, bring double the amount of water to the boil (or adjust to the instructions on the package), pour the boiling water over the grains in the pot and close with a lid, let it sit for 5 minutes. It’s not necessary to cook the couscous on heat.

Transfer the cooked couscous to a large, deep bowl and gently stir in the fennel, orange oil, orange fillets and about 3 tablespoons of the collected juices (to taste). Season with orange blossom water (about 1-3 teaspoons, depending on the brand), salt and pepper to taste. Add a little more olive oil if necessary and sprinkle with the roasted orange peel (broken into pieces), fresh mint and the chopped fennel green. Serve warm or as a cold salad.

Orange and Fennel Couscous

 

Orange and Fennel Couscous

 

Orange and Fennel Couscous

 

orangefennelmintcouscous10

A Salad of Rucola, Plum and Pear with Orange Blossom Water

Rucola, Plum, Pear and Orange Blossom Salad

Here’s another one of the kitchen leftover mash-ups I mentioned yesterday: There were 3 bunches of rucola (rocket) on the window sill, Italian plums which started to look a bit sad and ripe pears, ready to be eaten just before they get soft and mushy. I tossed everything together in a bowl and mixed it with my new favourite summer salad dressing: olive oil whisked with freshly squeezed orange juice and a little orange blossom water. It’s fantastic, the citrus’ fruitiness merges wonderfully with the orange blossom’s flowery aroma and the warm olive oil.

Citrus and olive oil is a delicious combination. One of my favourite recipes on eat in my kitchen features this glorious treat, it’s a very simple yet absolutely delicious Sicilian salad. The first time I ate it was at a farm in Noto where we stayed a few years ago. The lady of the house would make it for us for breakfast. She used the ripest oranges from the farm, cut them into fillets and sprinkled them with a little olive oil and dried oregano. It was a heavenly and eye-opening experience for me. I had never really thought of this combination before, mixing fruit with olive oil was quite new for me at that point and this morning treat influenced many of my recipes over the years. It taught me to be open minded and experimental, to combine various flavours, to mix what seems far away in taste but trust that it will lead to a satisfying result (which it often does).

However, the combination of fruit and olive oil needs a strong partner, either a herb or spicy rucola leaves as I chose. You could replace the plums and pears with any other sweet fruit you have at hand in your kitchen: strawberries, nectarines, figs or oranges. As long as they have honey sweet juices to add to the salad, they will be a good choice!

Rucola, Plum, Pear and Orange Blossom Salad

 

Rucola, Plum, Pear and Orange Blossom Salad

A Salad of Rucola, Plum and Pear with Orange Blossom Water

For a quick lunch for 2 you need

rucola (rocket) leaves, 2 handful
pear, quartered, cored and sliced, 1 (or an equal amount of another sweet fruit)
large plum, cut in half and sliced, 1 (or an equal amount of another sweet fruit)

For the dressing
olive oil 3 tablespoons
freshly squeezed orange juice 2 tablespoons
quality orange blossom water (preferably organic) 1-2 teaspoons, to taste
salt and pepper

Arrange the rucola and fruit in a bowl. Whisk the ingredients for the dressing, season to taste and sprinkle over the salad, serve immediately.

Rucola, Plum, Pear and Orange Blossom Salad

 

rucolaplumpearorangeblossomsalad7

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers:

%d bloggers like this: