We bring to you some of the herbs and plants easily found in Dalmatia, and thus the most of the Mediterranean. Some are imported from centuries back, some are truly of local origin, but all are tasty and definitely worth exploring!
Almond blossom, sent to teach us
That the spring days soon will reach us.
Edwin Arnold—Almond Blossoms.
Well known and much cultivated today, almond are perhaps the most elegant, swank nuts you can find. Possessing a smooth, low impact taste, it still has that ending tang that speaks of a hidden zesty, spicy aftertaste.
From the BBC website (http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/almondsemifreddo_82380):
- For the praline
- For the semifreddo
- For the praline, toast the almonds lightly in a dry frying pan. Add the sugar and stir until melted and golden brown. Pour onto a lightly oiled baking sheet and, when cool, break into pieces.
- Put into a blender and grind into breadcrumb-sized pieces. Don’t worry if you have some larger pieces; it adds to the texture.
- For the semifreddo, whip the cream until thick, then beat the egg yolks with 25g/1oz of the icing sugar until pale. Beat the whites until stiff peaks form, and add the rest of the icing sugar, beating until the mixture stands in stiff peaks.
- Fold the yolks into the cream, then fold in the egg whites and the praline. Stir in the vodka and the cherry syrup if using.
- Line a small loaf tin with cling film. Spoon in the cream mixture, level and cover with more cling film. Freeze for 24 hours. Leave to stand for a few minutes before turning out of the mould and serving.”
“And lavender, whose spikes of azure bloom
shall be, ere-while, in arid bundles bound
to lurk admist the labours of her loom,
and crown her kerchiefs witl mickle rare perfume.”
The sight of endless fields of lavender stirs ever the hardened hearts of modern men – such is the power and glory of this uniquely colored plant. Not just stunning to look at, but of a extremely pleasant and easily recognizable smell, lavender is so deeply intervened with the history of the Mediterranean that it is often forgotten how he is also successfully cultivated in less warm climates, like England.
For the cakes:
- 125g (4oz) caster sugar
- 125g (4oz) self-raising flour
- 2tbsp lavender flowers, fresh or dried
- 125g (4oz) butter, softened
- 2 medium eggs
- 2tbsp milk
For the topping:
- 350g (12oz) fondant icing sugar
- Purple, violet or lilac liquid or paste food colouring
- 12 sprigs of lavender
- 12-hole bun tray, lined with paper bun cases
- Set the oven to gas mark 5 or 190°C. Tip the sugar and flour into the bowl of a food processor, add the lavender flowers and whizz to grind the flowers a little. Sift the mixture into a mixing bowl, then discard the pieces of flower left in the sieve.
- Add the butter, eggs and milk to the bowl and beat the mixture until smooth then spoon it into the paper cases in the bun tray. Bake the cakes in the centre of the oven for 15-18 mins, or until they have risen and are just firm to the touch. Remove the cakes from the oven and transfer them to a wire rack to cool.
- To make the topping, sift the fondant icing sugar into a bowl and then beat in 4-6tbsp cold water to give a thick, glossy icing. Add some food colouring to the icing to give it a lilac colour, mixing well so that it’s not streaky. Use a small palette knife to spread some icing over the top of each cake and, before the icing sets, place a sprig of lavender on top of each cake. Leave the icing to set before serving.
Cook’s tip: Make sure the lavender you use is of edible grade, either from a reputable supplier or from a garden where you can be certain that it hasn’t been sprayed with any harmful chemicals.
“What is green? The grass is green,
With small flowers between.
What is violet? Clouds are violet
In the summer twilight.
What is orange? Why, an orange,
Just an orange!”
This exotic fruit has been cultivated successfully in the regions for decades now, especially Spain. The vibrant color and very sweet taste gives it a happy go lucky feeling, something to brighten anyone’s day and put some much needed felicity into the hearts of men.
From Open Source Food:
- 4 eggs, white and yolk separated
- 50 grams of sugar
- 3 tablespoons of wheat flour
- 2 tablespoons of corn flour
- 1 teaspoon of matcha powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
- 350 grams of cream
- 400 grams of mandarins
- 1 package of orange jelly
How to make Matcha & mandarin roll
- Whisk whites till they turn into firm foam.
- Add sugar bit by bit while continue whisking.
- Add yolks, one at a time, keep whisking.
- Sift flours and matcha, mix well.
- Add flour mixture bit by bit to the foam, stiring gently.
- Line baking tray with baking paper, pour over dough. Form rectangle about 0,5 cm thick.
- Bake in preheated oven in 180 C degrees, about 10 minutes.
- When sponge cake is baked, put it on the kitchen cloth and roll.
- Meanwhile prepare jelly using half of water (250 ml of water for packege of jelly calling for 500 ml).
- Peal mandarins, divide and put into jelly.
- Whip cream and add 3/4 of it to jelly and mix well. Wait till jelly is almost set.
- Unroll the sponge cake, arrange mousse and roll.
- Serve garnished with remaining whipped cream.
“The whole Mediterranean, the sculpture, the palm, the gold beads, the bearded heroes, the wine, the ideas, the ships, the moonlight, the winged gorgons, the bronze men, the philosophers -all of it seems to rise in the sour, pungent taste of these black olives between the teeth. A taste older than meat, older than wine. A taste as old as cold water.”
The quote by Lawrence Durrell says it all. Nothing symbolizes the region like olives do. The lean, durable tree can withstand immense heat and other natural disasters, and rise like the phoenix every year in late spring.
From Food Network:
Bucatini With Olive-Caper Sauce
12 ounces bucatini or spaghetti
1 small clove garlic
2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
Pinch of red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound tomatoes, diced
2/3 cup pitted kalamata or nicoise olives, chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, finely chopped
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain the pasta.
Meanwhile, pile the garlic, 1 tablespoon capers and the red pepper flakes on a cutting board; mince, then mash with the flat side of a chef’s knife to make a paste. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the olive oil, tomatoes, olives, the remaining 1 tablespoon capers and the butter. Stir in the basil and cheese.
Add the pasta to the bowl with the tomato mixture and toss until the butter is melted, adding the reserved cooking water to moisten, if needed. Season with salt.
“There’s rosemary and rue. These keep
Seeming and savor all the winter long.
Grace and remembrance be to you.”
– William Shakespeare
Rosemary – the name notions something sweet, something innocent. That can be quite misleading. To get the gust of what I am saying, just add to any dish, and you immediately heighten its savor, add to its quality. Unlike lavender, which gives a gentle allure, rosemary is potent, muskier, attention-stealing, with a strong whiff and intense aftertaste.
From Food Republic:
In this rustic dish, sturdy fresh rosemary sprigs serve as the skewers. First, trim the sprigs to roughly 6-inch lengths, then use a small knife to carefully whittle the thicker ends to a point. Thread the scallops onto the rosemary skewers. It’s easier than it sounds, and it will give you loads of flavor with only six ingredients.
12 large diver scallops, side muscle removed
4 6-inch sprigs rosemary
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large lemon, halved crosswise
- Thread 3 scallops onto each rosemary sprig. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to high. Brush grill grate with oil. Place lemon halves, cut side down, on grill.
- Grill scallops until golden brown and just opaque in center, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to plates and serve caramelized lemon halves on the side for squeezing over.
“If you climb a lemon tree
feel the bark
under your knees and feet,
smell the white flowers,
rub the leaves
in your hands.
the tree is older than you are
and you might find stories
in its branches.”
Lemon indeed is a “strange fruit”. If cynicism had a fruit to represent it, lemon is the perfect one. No doubt, it is sour, biting and almost caustic. Yet, the blistering color, a vehement taste and exotic original make it highly ambiguous and unusual.
From Bubble and Sweet blog:
Lemon Buttercream filling for macarons adapted from the book Macaron by Alison Thompson
(makes enough to fill approx 30 macarons)
Juice and zest of 1 lemon (I used 3//4 because my lemon was super juicy)
140g (5oz) caster sugar (superfine sugar)
165g (6oz) softened unsalted butter chopped in small squares
3 egg yolk
2 tbsp (1 1/2 fl oz) water (US – 1 1/2 Tbsp water)
1. Combine lemon juice, zest, 50g (1 3/4oz) sugar and 40g (1 1/2 oz) butter in a saucepan over low heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved and then remove from heat and add the 1 whole egg (not the yolks yet still need them).
2. Mix well and return to heat stirring continuously until the mixture thickens.Transfer to a bowl and press cling wrap over the surface to prevent skin from forming and pop into the fridge.
3. Put the 3 egg yolks into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment and beat the egg yolks on high speed for 10 mins until they have increased in volume and are pale and creamy.
4. Place water and remaining 90g (3oz) sugar in a small saucepan and bring to boil, simmer until the syrup reaches 121 C (250 F).
5. With the mixer on medium speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the creamed yolks. Beat on high speed for 10 mins until cool.
6. Turn the speed down to medium and add the remaining butter slowly, making sure each addition is incorporated before adding the next lot.
7. Beat at high speed for 2 mins, add the cooled lemon mixture and then beat for another 2 mins.
Makes enough for at least 30 macarons.
That is it for now! Tune in more next week!
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