Well known for its simple, fresh ingredients and much loved not only in Greece but all over the world, the classic Greek salad adds colour to any meal, be it a formal dinner or a picnic basket. Traditionally consisting of torn lettuce leaves, chunks of ripe tomato, crumbled feta cheese, kalamata olives and sliced red onion, it is almost a meal by itself. Though it usually makes a good accompaniment to most main courses, my favorite way to serve this salad is with strips of grilled chicken wrapped in whole wheat pita bread. This Greek salad recipe, from DamnDelicious, uses light olive oil based vinaigrette with a huge burst of lemon flavor to be drizzled over generously right before serving.

GREEK SALAD

Ingredients:

For the Greek Salad

5 cups chopped romaine lettuce

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

1 English cucumber, thinly sliced

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup sliced Kalamata olives

1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese

Freshly ground black pepper

For the Lemon Vinaigrette

1/4 cup pure olive oil

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

Zest of one medium fresh lemon

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Method:

  • To make vinaigrette, whisk together olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon zest and juice and sugar.

  • Place romaine lettuce in a large bowl; top with red onion, cucumber, tomatoes, olives, goat cheese.

  • Add freshly ground pepper to taste. Pour dressing on top of the salad and gently toss to combine.

  • Serve immediately or keep chilled in the refrigerator until serving time. Makes 2 regular helpings.

Classic Greek Salad

After last year’s success of my 7-day Tour de Maurice, I wanted to repeat the experience for my upcoming birthday. It did not take me long to map out my travel plan and organize a tailor-made package for my first ever visit to Rodrigues. After hearing several reviews from different sources, I decided to trash the custom made family tours to plan my excursions and select my accommodation all by myself. The basis of the plan was to have minimum connection with the external world and nothing to remind me of work and related issues for a full 5 days!

After an uneventful flight aboard ATR, we landed in Rodrigues past noon and we immediately whisked off to Pirates Lodge, located only a few minutes from St Francois beach, well away from crowds and traffic. We were the only residents there and were quite happy to have the whole lodge to ourselves. Rooms were clean with comfortable beds and thankfully they have AC and fans on both floors. Though we stayed on B&B basis, food was not a problem as we found that there were quite a few snacks within reasonable walking distance whenever we did not feel like cooking.

Waking up early for my morning walk on the beach became my daily routine as I had no trouble getting up at dawn after a good night’s sleep. You can hike down to Trou d’Argent and Anse Bouteille by following the yellow markers on this easy 30-minutes walk or go further north towards Pointe Cotton through beautiful beaches like Anse Ally or Fumier for a swim before breakfast. Breakfast gets served everyday around 8 and is a simple one with bread/butter/ jam, pastries, tea/ coffee/ juice and a fresh fruit platter. It kept us full till lunch time especially when we planned to go on long drives.

Our 4×4 rental allowed to visit most of the northern and southern coast lines and discover the usual tourist spots as well as several roadside stalls selling pickles, salted fish, honey, dried octopus and handicraft. On our 4th day, we booked a very enriching tour with Rodrigues Friendly where we introduced to the typical aspects of Rodriguan culture through activities like octopus fishing, learning the basics of accordion, basket weaving and the customary Séga Tambour. It even included a culinary hands-on experience where we could actually bake our own tourte, a closed short crust pie filled with caramelized papaya and coconut.

I was not fortunate enough to taste the traditional gâteau maïs during my trip to Rodrigues. However, as a memento of this memorable visit and to honour all the lovely people I encountered during my stay, I wish to share this recipe, from Dans Ma Cuisine Mauricienne et d’Ailleurs, which it seems, is as close to the genuine gâteau as it gets. No need for me to say that I cant wait to go back for another taste of authentic cuisine Rodriguaise which uses only pure, unprocessed ingredients straight from their gardens or fresh catch from local fishermen for simple yet amazingly flavourful dishes.

GATEAU MAIS DE RODRIGUES

Ingredients:

100g butter, softened

250g white caster sugar

6 eggs, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

250g fine cornmeal/ polenta

100g desiccated coconut

3 tablespoons full cream milk

30g raisins, soaked in water

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180oC. Grease and line a 8-inch or 9-inch round sandwich tin with parchment paper.

  • Beat butter and sugar together in a bowl until creamy. Add egg yolks and beat well till it is pale yellow.

  • Fold in cornmeal and milk into the butter mixture until everything is well combined and homogenous.

  • eat egg whites until they form soft peaks and carefully fold into batter until there is no trace of whites.

  • Fold in raisins and pour the batter gently into the prepared tin. Bake for about 50 minutes until golden.

  • Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes in tin before turning out. Cut into wedges and serve warm.

With love from Rodrigues

Welcome to our April Bakealong challenge. Each month, we’ll announce a new recipe for you to try, along with helpful tips and step-by-step instructions here on our blog. We invite you to bake, then share a photo of your creation, tagging it #bakealong. The New York Times says making it is “no casual undertaking.” Noted food writer David Lebovitz offers a recipe for a stunning version he enjoyed at Honey & Co. in London. Dean & DeLuca sells it online — for $28 a loaf. What is this mysterious bread, and is it really worth it? Take our Chocolate Babka Bakealong challenge, and find out!

Chocolate babka, a dense, rich loaf swirled with an equally rich chocolate/butter/sugar/nut filling, is a classic eastern European Jewish bread. Here in the U.S., chocolate babka has gradually spread from its native big city bakeries into suburban bistros and coffee shops — and thence to the kitchens of those of us who enjoy an interesting yeast bread project. This Chocolate Babka #bakealong offers everything you need to create a spectacular loaf. While we agree baking babka is “no casual undertaking,” it’s also attainable by bakers of any skill level — even beginner. Simply follow the steps one by one and before you know it, you’ll be pulling a couple of gorgeous loaves out of the oven.

CHOCOLATE BABKA

Ingredients:

For the Dough

1 to 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water

2 large eggs, room temperature

6 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1/3 cup milk powder

2 tablespoons instant yeast

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons kitchen salt

10 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the Chocolate Filling

1/2 cup muscovado sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/3 cup cocoa, Dutch-process or natural

1/2 teaspoon espresso powder

1/4 cup melted unsalted butter

1 cup finely chopped semisweet chocolate

1 cup diced pecans or walnuts, toasted

For the Glaze & Topping

1 large egg, beaten with a pinch of salt

4 tablespoons melted butter

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup all purpose flour

Method:

  • Combine all of the dough ingredients (starting with 1 cup water), mixing until everything is moistened.
  • Add extra water if necessary to enable dough to come together. Cover and let dough rest for 20 minutes.

  • Then mix/knead it until it is soft and smooth. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, and cover bowl.
  • The dough is going to rise for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until it is quite puffy. Now gently deflate the dough.

  • Divide the dough into halves. Set the pieces aside, covered with plastic wrap, while you make the filling.
  • To make filling, combine the sugar, cinnamon, cocoa, and espresso powder and stir in the melted butter.

  • The mixture will look grainy and slick. Shape each half of the dough into a 9″ x 18″, 1/4″-thick rectangle.
  • Smear each piece of dough with half the filling, coming to within 1″ of the edges. Scatter half of the nuts.

  • Then add half the chopped chocolate over each piece. Starting with a short end, roll each piece into a log.
  • Seal the seam and ends. Working with one log at a time, use sharp knife to cut the log in half lengthwise.

  • Be careful to prevent filling from spilling out. With exposed filling side up, twist the 2 pieces into a braid.
  • Tuck the ends underneath. Repeat with the other log. Place each log in a lightly greased 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.

  • Brush each loaf with the egg glaze. Mix the topping ingredients till crumbly and sprinkle over each loaf.
  • Tent each pan with plastic wrap, and let the loaves rise until they are puffy for about 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours.

  • Towards the end of the rising time, preheat oven to 300°F. Bake for 35 minutes and tent lightly with foil.
  • Bake for another 15 to 25 minutes (for a total of 50 to 60 minutes); loaves should be deep-golden brown.

  • Remove the loaves from the oven, and immediately loosen edges with a heatproof spatula or table knife.
  • Let the loaves cool for 10 minutes, then turn them out of the baking pans onto a rack to cool completely.

  • Slice babka and serve at room temperature or rewarm individual slices briefly in a toaster before serving.
  • Store any leftovers, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days or freeze them for longer storage.

KAF April 2017 Challenge

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