Day trip to Aegina Island and fresh pistachios! 

 

Island Map

Island Map

Out of rest of our stay in Athens, we had planned to visit nearby Island by ferry or speed boat. There were many organized trips available which took you to three different islands giving you brief time at each place but instead of that we decided to only visit one  of the islands as we wanted to spend some quality time at one island rather than island hopping to three different places and not be able to enjoy thoroughly one place.

More specifically we chose Aegina island because it was one of the largest pistachio growing island. I was already excited to be visiting Aegina island being a big fan of pistachios.

We took a speed boat to Aegina which took us there in around 30-40 minutes. Aegina is a very small island and if you rent a motorbike you can get around pretty easily and cover the whole island because that’s what we did.

As soon as we got off the ferry, we rented a motorbike. I have to say, my husband was most excited to ride a motorbike. That’s how we grew up, driving two wheeler back in India.

Close to port of Egina

Close to port of Egina

We got a map of famous or must visit places from the bike rental company and I had also done little bit of research so with that we headed off to explore the island immediately after renting the bikes.

We went to this beautiful church called Agios Nektarios.

Agios Nektarios

Agios Nektarios

Then we got back to our road trip, and went to the other end of the island to beach agia marina, spent some time there and on our way back to port stopped to see the Temple of Aphaia.

Temple of Aphaia

Temple of Aphaia

10655177_10152580834634272_8683306192653693103_o

The views were amazing as some parts were hilly and gave us a height to enjoy the scenery.

DSC_5457

Cypress trees and scenic view

On our way, we came across so many pistachio fields, lemon groves, pomegranate trees, olives and fig trees. You name it and we have got it. It was so much fun specially the open pistachio fields. I had never thought of seeing fresh pistachios for real. We stopped and took several pictures.

DSC_5504

10417549_789425287767791_1971156408955377939_n

DSC_5492

After that, we headed to village Perdika. From the port of Aegina heading south along the coast road towards Marathonas bay the road leads to the fishing village of Perdika.

DSC_5521

On our way to Perdika

We had amazing lunch at this restaurant called Remetzo in Perdika. Such simple ingredients and so delicious and it had amazing views. It was not at all crowded and we felt like we had that place to ourselves. If you plan to see Aegina island , try to visit this restaurant you will definitely not regret.

IMG_4507

Lunch with a view

 After spending some time and having lunch, we headed back to port to do some pistachio shopping. We bought some pistachio butter and pistachios and enjoyed gelato from a nearby gelato shop and waited for our ferry to take us back to Athens.

We were tired after going home but were looking forward to the next day as to what would it bring to us.

Pistachio butter and creme. Ohh so delciious!

Pistachio butter and creme. Ohh so delciious!

IMG_4523

Pistachio stands

DSC_6506 222222

Pistachios

 

Trip to Athens!

10514556_10152580831864272_2169019793795342364_n

Finally, I took some time out from my laziness to write about our Greece trip which we took in September 2014. I was super excited about this trip. It was our first trip to Europe and Greece is so beautiful in pictures that it was first thing on my bucket list to see in Europe. We stopped at Paris for one day and from Paris we came down to Athens. We spent about three and half day in Athens.

We had our morning flight from Paris to Athens. By noon, we were in Athens and then took metro train to our rental apartment. It was a nice residential area where we stayed and close to most of the places. It had a small living room, tiniest kitchen which had everything we needed and a spacious bedroom. Our host was waiting for our arrival. Tatiana, our host was very kind enough to talk to us and suggest us few places to eat and get around. She showed us how to get the trolley. We use to take trolley from Zakinthou street. She also showed us how to make greek style coffee. It’s always fun to meet local people. 

Soon we got ready and decided to spend the rest of the half day to hike to acropolis site and spend our evening there.

1614228_10152580833709272_8393462230999234551_o

Acropolis site from Lycabettus hill

 

10683742_10152580833199272_4349696676635871490_o

Erectheum

10536578_10152580830724272_8364961327485781605_o

10603623_10152580830719272_128123863358250870_n

Odeon of Herodes Atticus

It was the best decision as the sun was going down and perfect pictureque sky. Look at that view. We could not get enough of it. We spent quite sometime at the top. After Acropolis we hiked back through Plaka seeing beautiful churches on the way and ended our day dining in the busy neighborhood close to the Museum. Our first day in Athena ended with amazing Greek food and fresh pistachios that a vendor was selling on a small cart.

The next day we started our trip by taking a cab and visited the lycabettus hill or likavitos hill, Olympic Stadium, Temple of Zeus, and many other sites.

10623334_10152580833799272_6450312606857637252_o

Olympic Stadium

10426739_789424374434549_3441157043332544063_n

Statue at the stadium

10626319_10152580833409272_243864619320440946_o

Open Air theatre (Orange/Yellow) at Likavitos Hill

At metro station

At metro station

 We could not see the change of guards ceremony at Snytagma Square, but one of the days we were travelling around the square and saw guards moving towards Snytagma Square. They guards looked handsome, I think overall Greek men are really really handsome.

Changing of the guards

Changing of the guards near Syntagma Square

Temple of Olympian Zeus

Temple of Olympian Zeus

DSC_5423

Local Greek Men playing traditional games

DSC_5425

Monastiraki Square

We did lot of people watching at Monastiraki . It is a very crowded place. And, also a great neighborhood for shopping. Yes, I said it shopping. We bought lot of things from here. Most of the sites are accessible by foot. We used mixed means of transportation. Most of the time we used the trolley, tram, bus, metro and cab. Cabs are really cheap, as the distance is very short between most of the sites. Athens is really accessible by all means. I have to say though, be careful people drive very fast as there are lot of two wheeler drivers.

Overall, Greek people are very generous and helpful. On our very first day, we met this old lady sitting at a tram station and I tried asking her the direction to our apartment. I have to say she saved our trip because we were going to get into wrong tram and go into totally wrong direction. She spoke no English and I spoke not a word in Greek but she was so helpful and it made me really happy that without knowing the language we both communicated and it worked out. We wete not suppose to take that damn tram glad I asked the old lady. After missing our trolley we decided to cab. 

As I said earlier, cabs are really cheap and you will get some funny talkative and humble cab driver. Our’s made sure that we know where to get the bus for our rest of the trip. I thought he would make sure to drop us inside our apartment , he was that gracious and helpful. Overall, Greek people are very hospitable. 

Athens reminded me so much of India. The people are always eager to help and the lifestyle. The way people dry their laundry outside their apartments and the way people drive ruthlessly.

I was eagerly waiting to see what would the next day bring to us. We had planned to visit a nearby island and do a day trip. More about it in the next post. Until then “Kalimera” ! 

All the pictures are taken by my talented husband! 

Vegetarian Manchurian – Indian Chinese dish!

 

DSC_6407

Do you know that there is nothing like a spicy and warm bowl of Indian Chinese food during winter like  soup or a dish called Manchurian or Hakka noodles which fall under Indian Chinese food category?

Indian Chinese food is adaptation of Chinese flavors and cooking techniques but suitable to Indian tastes. Originally, Indian Chinese cooking became famous or developed when Chinese immigrants moved to Calcutta now known as Kolkata  in 18th century. Chinese cuisine is very popular within Indian communities. It is really different from the authentic Chinese dishes and often influenced by Indian flavors.

If you are interested in learning more about the history of Indian Chinese Food then I would recommend this article.  It is interesting to know how one culture can influence others through food and has a wonderful result. With out further ado, try it for yourself with this recipe. Please don’t freak out with the list of ingredients.  I usually have most of them in my kitchen and I am sure you do too.

DSC_6403

Ingredients:

For the vegetarian balls:

4-5 medium sized shredded carrots

1/2 cups Shredded cabbage

1/2 cups shredded green bell pepper

1 tbsp Green Chilies

1 tbsp Ginger

1 tbsp Garlic

1/2 cup boiled rice

¼ cup bread crumbs

3 tablespoons Corn starch

Salt to taste

Black pepper to taste

Oil for frying

For the Sauce:

1 tbsp oil

1/2 Green Bell pepper, cubed

1/2 onion, cubed

1 teaspoon Chopped green Chilies

1 1/2 teaspoon Chopped Ginger

1 1/2 teaspoon Chopped garlic

salt to taste

Black pepper to taste

3 tbsp Soy Sauce

2 tsp Corn starch

1 tsp sugar or honey

1/4  cup Scallions

1 cup water or vegetable stock

Garnish – Chili oil

IMG_5186

DSC_6393Method for the balls

Shred the vegetables using a food processor . Make sure you do not blend it and make a paste. Because it is easy to do so. In a separate bowl add corn starch, bread crumbs, boiled rice, vegetables, salt pepper, soda bicarbonate, ginger chili paste, soy sauce and mix well. Add two tablespoons of water if needed. First check whether you can form balls without adding extra water. There is usually water from the vegetables that helps bind everything together.

Make rounds about the size of tennis ball out of the mix and deep fry them until golden and crisp. Keep them aside till we are ready to serve them. Lot of times, I make a big batch and then once they cool down, store them in ziploc bags to and freeze them for future use. It saves so much time and the sauce hardly takes 10 mins to prepare.

Method For the sauce/ gravy –

Take oil in pan, saute the onions and green bell peppers. Add ginger, garlic and chilies. Mix well. Let it cook for couple of minutes and add soy sauce.

Dissolve 2 teaspoon corn starch in 1 tablespoon of water. Mix the cornstarch mixture to the pan. Add in the sugar, salt and black pepper and the 1 cup of water. Mix well. Let it simmer for sometime and add in half of the scallions.

Once the sauce thickens, add the fried manchurian balls to the sauce. Let it cook for two minutes and soak in the gravy. Garnish it with remaining half of the scallions. If I am making this dish for a party or so, I would only add the manchurian balls just few hours before serving so as to avoid them becoming more soggy and loosing its shape.

You can also freeze the sauce. Only thing you have to keep in mind is that once you defrost it, it will have thickened because of cornstarch so much that you need to add water and may be season it a little bit.

DSC_6398

DSC_6401

IMG_5190

 

I served them with hakka noodles. I will share the recipe some other day. But you can serve it with boiled rice. You can also make fried rice out of the gravy and balls and serve it as rice dish. Either ways you will love this dish.

Bon Appetite!

Pistachio Pancakes with Rose Butter !

Pistachio Pancakes with Rose Butter 

DSC_6497

I had been thinking about this flavor combination since many days. Initially, I was in the mood to make a cake and fill it with rose cream. But, before I could experiment I thought of trying it in small quantities. I had this perfect opportunity last week when I was home alone and wanted to eat something for breakfast but turned out I made it to lunch. I had prepared some apricot pistachio frangipane tart and had some leftover pistachio frangipane so what is the best use of it then try making pancakes. I used the pistachios we bought from our Greece trip. Oh , I tell you they turned out so good. I felt so happy and content. And, I had perfect lunch of pancakes. Yes, lunch. You can have them for dinner as well.

DSC_6494

 Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup of ground pistachio

1 tsp cardamom powder

¾ cup all Purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp Salt

1 egg

2 tbsp melted butter plus extra for pancakes

½ cup – 1 cup milk

DSC_6489

 

DSC_6506 222222

Compound butter:

4 tsp of rose petal jam (I used the one I bought from SOFRA, Boston)

½ cup Butter

DSC_6495

Method:

Compound butter

Place softened butter in a medium sized bowl. Mash with a fork. Add rose petal jam to the butter. Mix well. Place on a square of wax paper, shaped like a log. Roll it around a bit, so it’s nice and compact and uniform. Roll the wax paper around the butter. Twist the ends like a piece of candy. Refrigerate until firm (about 1 hour).  You can also use it immediately; it would not be firm but nice at room temperature. For pancakes, anyways it will melt and taste better. So, I prefer serving it at room temperature.

DSC_6498

Pancakes

Take all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl ground pistachios, cardamom, all purpose flour, baking powder and salt. Mix it well.

Take ½ cup milk, add the egg and butter and whisk all the wet ingredients together in a separate bowl.

Now, mix the wet ingredients to the dry mix and mix well until it does not look lumpy. If the batter is thin, I would add a little bit more flour.  If the batter is too thick then add the other half of the milk. That way you get the consistency that you want.

On the hand, heat a griddle or pan to cook the pancakes on medium heat. Grease it with a little bit of butter.

Using a measuring cup, pour about ¼ cup of batter enough to form a pancake.

Let it cook on one side, you will be able to see bubbles and then flip it. Let it cook on another side for half a minute and check if it is well done.  Work with rest of the batter in the same way until you have used all your batter.

Just before serving you can warm them in the pre heated oven for few minutes.

Serve it with a dollop or two of rose petal jam butter.

Variations: You can also use rose petal cream cheese or whipped cream with rose petal jam. I went with simple butter which packed a lot of flavor in itself.   Next time, I thought of trying a nice sabayon sauce with rose petal jam flavor. I assure you it will fantastic in any way you make it.

DSC_6499DSC_6503

Hope you like it ! Happy Valentine’s Day !

Mango Creme Doughnuts

DSC_6362

I know, it has been a long overdue for a recipe or an update from me. I still have to share with you my readers about the Greece trip. But, before I could share  everything about our trip;I would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year! And, a recipe of Mango creme filled donuts or doughnuts. Whatever you might wanna spell it as. I don’t care about how you spell it; I only care about the doughnuts. Don’t you..too..

DSC_6355 (2)Since, so many months I have been dreaming of making doughnuts at home and fill them up with some delicious mango creme. So, I did some research for a good doughnut recipe and came across one and decided that the first thing we eat on the New Year’s day should be a doughnut. Ahh, I did it! I started my New Year with a nice, soft, pillowy doughnut filled with sunshine. They are so good. I think I kept on tasting until my stomach begged no more. Wait, I have to before passing on the recipe. I have no choice. Somebody gotta do the tough job  of eating :-)

So, get your apron on and make some doughnuts. I know you want some.

DSC_6348 (2)Recipe for raised Doughnuts: adapted from Lara Ferroni’s recipe on Food 52!

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

1/2 cup lukewarm milk (about 110 F)

1 1/4 cup bread flour

1/4 cup whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 large egg

1 tablespoons cane sugar

1/4 teaspoon  salt

2 tablespoons butter (unsalted)

oil for frying the doughnuts

DSC_6334

For the Mango Filling: 

6 egg yolks

1/4 cup sugar or more (depends on the mango pulp)

1 cup mango pulp

1/4 cup corn starch

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Method:

Mango creme:

First let me share the recipe for the mango curd.

Take everything in a pot and using the double boiler method, keep stirring the yolk mixture until it thickens and comes together and is hot enough. It hardly takes 10 minutes. Remove it from the stove and stir in the butter until it mixes well.

Remove it in a bowl and let it cool a little bit and then wrap it with a saran wrap. At this point you can either use it immediately or refrigerate it over night. You can actually store it for one week in the fridge.

DSC_6353 (2)

For the Doughnuts :

Take 1/4 cup of lukewarm milk to 110 F and dissolve 1 teaspoon of yeast and 1/4 cup of flour and stir make a smooth paste. Leave it covered at a warm spot for about 30 minutes.

While the dough is resting, you can make the mango creme. It take them 10 minutes to prepare and another 10 to cool down. If you are planning to make doughnuts the next day then you can leave the mango creme covered with a plastic wrap in the refrigerator.

In another bowl, take rest of the 1 teaspoon of yeast and dissolve it in to the remaining milk and add the rested flour mixture that we prepared in the 1st step along with egg and vanilla extract. Stir it well so that everything mixes well. Then go ahead and add the all purpose flour or if you are using whole wheat flour. Top it with sugar and salt and mix it up properly. Then , add butter and keep adding rest of the flour until you have no flour left out and you can form a ball of dough. It might be a little sticky but do not worry.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest at a warm spot for another 30 minutes.

Once it has rested, punch it down and then refrigerate it for over night. Resting the dough overnight and then frying the doughnuts in the morning is the best thing as the dough is easy to manage and roll after being rested.

IMG_5046

Once you are ready to roll out the dough and fry the doughnuts, line a baking sheet with a dish towel and sprinkle some flour on it. Roll out the dough about 1/2 inch as Lara suggests in her recipe and then with the help of a cookie cutter or doughnut cutter, cut the rounds. If you do not want to make a round shape then you can also cut them into diamond shapes or squares like the shape of beignets.

Place the cutouts carefully onto the floured dish towel and let them rest for about another 30 minutes or so. You would know when they have risen, Lara suggests testing with the finger tip and if they spring back slowly then they are ready.

Heat a heavy deep pot of oil, as the doughnuts are proofed they are ready to be fried. With the help of a flat spatula lift them carefully and drop them in the oil . Fry them for about 1 minute on each side. The way to test your oil is ready to fry or not, I use old school method of dropping a small piece of dough and if it springs back to the surface of the oil then the oil is ready. If it sinks in and takes time to float up then give it few more minutes to heat up.

Use a slotted spoon to remove them from the pot once they are done. They will have nice golden brown color.

As I was making creme filled doughnuts I had to wait for them to cool down. But, there are so many ways you can have them. Incase, if you like glazed, then let them cool a little bit and then immediately dip them into the glaze. If you want sugar coated then also you follow the same method. But, incase if you wanted powdered sugar on it then you have to wait until they are completely cool.

Once they cooled down, we can fill them up. In order to do so, hollow the doughnut with the help of a chopstick and insert the piping bag filled with creme and withdrawing outside towards you as it is filled. Bring the creme a little bit outside as to know what it is filled with.

It’s always good to have a peekaboo of the delicious filling. Isn’t it?

Ready to dig in…I thought you might have already tasted the first filled one before moving onto filling the others. I did so, I could not wait until I filled all of them. Other doughnuts were busy cooling down, so what are going to do; of course give a taste to the first one. That’s the best part of blogging you taste everything you make.

Stop dreaming of the delish doughnuts filled with mango creme! Get up and make some, they are super easy and tasty and share them with friends and family.

DSC_6356 (2)