The fact that something is frozen, looks like Ice Cream and it tastes like Ice Cream does not mean that it actually is Ice-Cream..
You see in order to give a dessert that name it has to abide by some rules. Those rules dictate the fat content in the dessert, what is the origin of this fat and also that dessert it needs to have a specific amount of air inside it. Up to 100%. Air makes ice cream fluffy and not dense but it also mean that you buy air... especially if the dessert is sold by volume and not weight... so you have to be careful about that.
Anyway.. with this I just wanted to tell you to be always mindful of the ingredients of anything that you buy... so make sure you check and see if you buy ice cream or frozen dessert...
About this recipe now.. technically it is not an ice cream because the fat is not from dairy products (well mainly at least). I was looking for a recipe that would have been easy to follow and easy to tinker.. And I found just that in a Donna Hay recipe.
Ingredients are simple and easy to find if you do not already have them in your pantry.. Great thing about it is that you can tweak it as you like. You can substitute almost anything for something else and that is always handy... Also you can add to it and make it even more special..
I was quite afraid about the results as in my family we have a history of diabetes, heart condition and high blood pressure. And the problem is that I adore sweet things, love butter and do not feed properly..
Last blood tests were 2 years ago and I was pleasantly surprised as I had nothing wrong with me and thought of that as a chance to make things better and treat my body better as well.
And then Covid-19 came and we had to stay home and bake and make banana breads etc.. :-) And I gained 2 kilos...
So, I thought to make a check up and I did.. And everything came back normal..
Well, not 100% normal as my blood pressure is high but that is dealt with but the rest of the tests I passed with no problems.
Still, I thought that I must be careful of what I eat and drink and do more exercise.
So I started with food.
Am not going to give up bread and butter and desserts but will try to make them a bit healthier... try to avoid a lot of fat, white sugar, and try to add a lot more whole wheat flour to my food..
So I began with these scones.. Instead of butter I used olive oil, they have a ton of whole wheat flour, brown raw sugar etc.... Recipe based on a recipe by Genevieve Ko who I absolutely love!
They turned out super delicious! Here is the recipe!
There is this guy I know and he grows Pistachio trees..
Last time he was here he brought me some and I must say I was amazed by their taste.
Unfortunately he on;y has whole pistachios with the hull and not just the edible bit from the inside. I found them so tasty though that I had to create a dessert with them.
So I made up my mind and decided to remove the hull from some and use it for a dessert.
Since I was already making the beetroot tart and I had double the amount of the dough I decided to make a tart but I was wondering what to use the pistachios for and then it hit me. I was going to make a pistachio marzipan and fill the tart with that.
On it I would use some summer fruit and the whole thing would come together.
So! If you want to make this tart you have to make sure you start off with tasty pistachios. Usually the shelled pistachios you find in the super market are of bad quality and do not taste very good. In that case you can use some rosewater or vanilla extract to give some more flavor.
Also I would suggest that you make a double portion of the filling and store it in a bag in the freezer and that way you can make the dessert a lot quicker next time.
The first time I tried blueberry pancakes was in the USA in 1985.. I had gone to stay with my Aunt Sandy (I was 16 and she was around 19) and she had just married my Uncle George (Or the “Sailor” as we call him at home) who had worked in the Merchant Marine before emigrating to America.
I loved them and still do very much and I spent 3 months at their home which totally changed my life…
The breakfasts that my Aunt Sandy cooked were legendary and huge..I put on about 10kgs in three months and my family didn’t recognise me when I returned..anyway.. In New Jersey they grow a lot of blueberries and I had eaten loads..
They made great pancakes for me too with the ready made packet mixture that you could buy from the supermarket! Unbelievably easy; but I wanted, at some point, to learn how to make them from scratch.. Until I found this recipe.. which OK, is not the healthiest, as it contains 60 grams of butter per person at least..apart from the topping that goes on them..
Try them though..it is a wonderful recipe and it is a mixture that doesn’t have to remain in the fridge overnight..of course now that I think about making them tomorrow I’ll try using the mixture in the fridge and mixing in the meringue at the last minute before frying them.. I’ll keep you informed of progress..
And naturally you don’t need to put blueberries ..but if you find any of the ones from the Nikolaou Estate put them in.. they’ll drive you wild!
In 1999 I was given a copy of Donna Hay’s cookbook as a present..the wonderful Australian chef who changed the way we look at food completely; she is an inspiration for her food presentation and food styling generally. Usually if you have seen a cooking magazine in the last few years, at least half have been inspired by her…In that book there is a recipe for American Cheesecake which is really good and I have made it many times in the last few years..
Afterwards while researching the food of Ancient Greece I discovered that American Cheesecake was not American after all but started out in our country…
In Ancient Greece they made a similar dessert which they gave to the athletes of the Olympic Games and it was also the traditional dessert made for weddings in Ancient Greece. The first surviving recipe was by Athinaios in 300B.C. and was contained in a book called ‘Deipnosofistes’ which means ‘Philosophical Sophist Dining’ and it was very simple..mix cheese which you have beaten with a rolling pin to become like an ointment and add flour and honey..then bake in the “oven”…
Only the base of crushed biscuits is missing..
Most had bases from ‘Plakous” the pies of Ancient Greece and some had sweet fillings like cheese and honey like a recipe that you see here..So this dessert started in Ancient Greece travelled the world and came back as American Cheesecake!!!
I should say at this point, that I make it much lighter adding quite a lot of yoghurt.. but you can maker it without or with strained yoghurt with only 5% fat..
Ever since I went to the Nikolaou Blueberry Estate I have tried to find recipes in which I can use their amazing fruit!
It’s summertime now and time to gather with friends for a drink on our balconies and in our gardens for an evening cocktail. Of course being Greeks we have to think of something new and unusual to take to these gatherings and often can’t think of what our hosts would like and what would be something new and of interest to them.
So I have found you a beautiful solution to that problem which you can find below..
We can use blueberries to give an aroma and taste to an alcoholic drink. I used vodka but you could use raki/tsipouro just as well…vodka simply works as it has a neutral taste so works well with this recipe and that is why I used it.
If you manage to find a raki/tsipouro without a strong flavour that would be fine!
We don’t have a lot to do and it is a fairly simple procedure…we need a glass receptacleand a mortar and pestle and a large spoon and we are ready in 10 mins. We just need a little patience as it takes a few days to achieve our aromatic vodka.
Of course you can use any other fruit or herbs apart from blueberries. I can think of citrus peel, thyme, rosemary ,lemongrass and so many more….
I didn’t put any of these as I wanted it to be as simple as possible so as not to have limitations while making cocktails from it later!
And of course a really good recipe can be made from the fruit we have used to infuse the vodka which can be used in cakes, salads or wherever we wish to put them! We can make amazing ice cones with blueberries in them or place them in ice trays and make cubes with them to add to drinks.
When I learnt that some ‘crazy guy’ was cultivating blueberries just outside Aegio in the Peloponnese I said to myself I must go and see for myself…
And I say crazy because it’s a really difficult and demanding job in our country to grow them!
A little history about botany now ….
Bluberries come from North America. The Indians have eaten them for thousands of years and they were able to dry them for use during the long winter months.
It is a demanding plant requiring a certain type of soil and a certain type of water to grow. And that is because where the plant comes from, the soil is acidic and the rainfall is regular and soft off the rocks and not full of salts. In Greece our soil is generally of an alkaline nature and the water is hard with lots of salts especially from well water and that is why certain plants such as the camellia, the hydrangea and gardenias don’t do well here. As the blueberries are in the same family group as camellias you can imagine how difficult it would be to grow them here in Greece.
Of course there are some places in Greece that happen to have acidic soil and in those places only, you can grow these plants.
Themis Nikolaou has such a farm- with acidic soil outside Aegio in the Peloponnese. It was strange because his farm with acidic soil is surrounded by other farms with alkaline soils no good for farming blueberries. Don’t imagine his place is big. He was just lucky that his plot was able to start growing this type of product.
I asked him how difficult and demanding it was to cultivate. He told me that it was quite difficult to cultivate even after the plants have been established as they require good soil and soft water continuously . They also need a lot of watering in the summer months because the roots are visible on top of the soil, are very thin and need lots of water. Pruning is very important as the new buds occur on the woody exterior of the old fruit so the pruner must be very experienced in the process of fructification to enable the new crop to grow successfully.
It’s not a tall plant and doesn’t get any higher than 2 metres in height so therefore is easy to harvest by hand. The worst thing as you can see from the photos is that not all the fruit ripen at the same time which causes the picking season to last over a month. This requires many man hours to strip the trees of all their fruit thereby causing the cost to the consumer to rise due to high labour costs.
The worst enemy of the crop is the locusts, that strip not only the leaves but the fledgling buds that become the fruit. Themis has to put huge nets over his entire crop to keep the locusts out and to maintain the organic status of his fruit by not using insecticides.
The locusts are very smart and still manage occasionally to get in.
As it is an organic fruit you can cut it from the bush and eat it straight away! Its magical! Still a little hot from the sun, soft and juicy, nothing is better on a hot day..
Its great to eat them cold from the fridge but eating them cut from the bush is wonderful…the workers who pick the fruit cannot resist eating quite a few berries during the harvesting process… maybe he should tell them they have been sprayed!! :)
At this point we should talk about the health benefits of blueberries; it’s not necessary to say much..they are little balls of antioxidant goodness that are really good for your body. They lower your blood sugar, cholesterol etc etc. I’m sure you are aware of their superfood status!
Talking to Themis I wanted to learn how he managed it all. He replied that he was a little lucky as there was very little knowledge amongst the local horticulturalists about how to go about cultivating them. He managed to overcome all the problems through hard work and a lot of reading up and watching youtube videos and talking to other ‘crazy people’ trying their luck growing the same thing mostly in Northern Greece.
The produce is sold fresh; even though Themis would like, in the future when things are easier, to plant more crops and make products out of it such as wine from the berries and tea from the leaves etc. For the moment he sells in some organic shops in Patras and some good supermarkets around Greece.
I should tell you that there is a type of ‘blueberry’ grown in Northern Greece that they make wine with, which bears no relation to this type from North America.
If you would like to communicate with Themis or his wife Gianna here is their FB