The first time I made bergamot spoon-sweet, I ended up thinking of recipes where I could use the inner part of the fruit. The spoon-sweet recipe requires only the peel of the bergamots. However I felt that I had to find a way to make use of their flesh and the simplest thing I thought was to prepare a jam, which would be flavored with the zest I kept while preparing the spoon-sweet. After all, even if this wouldn’t work, I would waste a little sugar and a little time…
Fortunately the experiment was absolutely succesful and since then when bergamots are in season, I look forward to preparing the jam rather than the spoon-sweet! The jam has a sour and sweet taste, like a lemon jam, without being bitter. Moreover it is incredibly fragrant, owing to the bergamot zest.
In order to cut down the amount of sugar, I add an apple that balances the intense acidity with its sweetness. Additionally, apples contain pectin which helps getting jam to set properly, even with less sugar.
- 550 g bergamot flesh (the inner part of about 7 bergamots)
- 1 large red sweet apple
- 1 ½ tsp bergamot zest
- 250 g sugar
- Cut bergamot flesh into slices and carefully remove the seeds. You need 550 grams of flesh.
- Wash the apple very well, peel it and add the peel to the pan, along with the bergamot slices. The pectin in the peel helps the jam to set. Remove the seeds, cut the apple into slices and add to pot.
- Add the sugar and zest and simmer without the lid for 25-30 minutes, until the jam sets. To make sure that it has the right texture, add a little jam on a saucer and wait a while to cool down. Form a line over the jam with your finger. If the line shuts immediately the jam is not ready. A more accurate way to see if the jam is ready is by measuring its setting point. The setting point for a relatively loose jam, appropriate for mixing with ice-creams, creamy ingredients or spreading easily is 102 oC but if you want a firmed consistency your jam must reach 105 oC. A good way to test for setting point is to have a sugar thermometer clipped to the side of your saucepan, with the end dipped in the boiling jam. Once the boiling mixture has reached the correct temperature then your jam is ready.
- Remove the peel of the apple. Pour the jam into sterilized jars while still hot and close with their lids immediately. This way they can be maintained for long time. After opening, keep refrigerated.
Peanut butter and cacao powder are two ingredients that are rarely absent from my cupboards. Especially, when they are blended together into recipes, most of the times the final result is yummy!
So this time, I decided to experiment with peanut butter and cacao, in order to create a rich, creamy and in the same time, healthy spread. It’s exactly what it takes when we crave for some chocolate stuff or when we want to relish our breakfast and add some taste to our afternoon snack. Additionally it can be used as a topping in our cakes, muffins or biscuits, adding extra bonus to our creations. In any case, this chocolaty spread is something that one should try at least once!
- 1 cup peanut butter
- ½ cup agave nectar or other liquid sweetener
- 1/3 cup orange juice or water at room temperature
- 4 tbsp unsweetened cacao powder
- Put in a bowl or in the blender the orange juice, the agave nectar and the cacao powder and stir with a fork or blend until all the ingredients are well mixed.
- Then add gradually the peanut butter, stirring (or blending) well each time, until smooth and creamy.
- Put the spread in a sterilized, airtight glass jar and keep in the fridge. You can keep it for more than a week.
Note: Although the recipe is very simple, it is necessary to follow the steps above in order to achieve a smooth, creamy texture.
I am passionate with herbs and I use them both in cooking and as remedies, since, thanks to their numerous therapeutic properties, they promote our health in a less invasive –more natural way. Fortunately, nature has endowed most of them with seducing aromas and flavors so that most people love cooking with herbs.
However we cannot have all of our favorite herbs in their fresh form throughout the year, since, depending on their type, each herb has its season. In the Mediterranean, a traditional way to keep herbs as fresh as possible throughout the year is by blending them with olive oil.
In this recipe I am preparing a herbal oil in order to conserve one my favorite summer aromatic herbs –spearmint. During summer, our spearmint grows big and we can enjoy it in abundance but during winter we rarely find some small leaves on it. So as to bring the freshness and aroma of spearmint in our kitchen all through the year, I prepare some jars of spearmint herbal oil and I keep them for very long time in our refrigerator. The uses of it are numerous since it adds fragrance in our fresh salads, especially Greek salad, it enhances the taste of our dishes or it simply relishes a slice of warm bread.
- 100 gr (about 2 cups) washed and drained leaves from the herb of your choice (spearmint, basil, dill, rosemary, rocket etc.)
- 200 ml (1 cup) virgin olive oil
- 4 tbsp apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar or other good quality vinegar or lemon juice
- 1 tsp salt
- Wash and drain herbs and place them on a clean towel for 1-2 hours or spin them in a salad spinner to dry.
- Put in a food processor all the ingredients and blend them until a smooth paste has been formed.
- Divide the mixture into two sterilized airtight jars and keep them in the refrigerator. Whenever we want to add extra flavor to our dishes, we can replace a part of the oil required by the recipe with our favorite herbal oil.