Tag: orange zest

Gattò di Patate, Potato Cake with Orange and Oregano

Potato Cake with Orange and Oregano

I ate my first gattò di patate a couple years ago in Sicily, a rich potato pie flavoured with Parmesan and herbs. It’s a simple dish, as comforting as a nice bowl of pasta savored on the sofa. I liked it so much that I had to try it in my kitchen when I was back home. Some fill it with minced meat or Mozzarella but mine is a celebration of my favourite Sicilian ingredients, orange and oregano. I first encountered this aromatic combination together with a little olive oil and sea salt, as a refreshing breakfast salad during a holiday on a picturesque farm in Noto. This duo is so good that I’ve used it in quite a few dishes since then, always with satisfying results!

This pie is another example of the French influence on Sicilian cooking, the name for the Italian dish gattò di patate comes from the French gateau (meaning cake). When I shared my Sfincione recipe with you a couple weeks ago I mentioned that there was a big French movement in Sicilian kitchens in the beginning of the 18th century, very often evident by the generous use of eggs and butter. Today’s pie follows this rule as well, eggs, butter, flour, parmesan and spices turn simple mashed potatoes into a savory cake. You can eat it as a primo piatto, thinly sliced as it’s so rich, or as a main on a cosy night.

Potato Cake with Orange and Oregano

Gattò di Patate, Potato Cake with Orange and Oregano

For 4-6 people you need

potatoes, peeled, cooked and drained, warm, 600g / 21 ounces
butter 70g / 2.5 ounces
parmesan, grated, 120g / 4 ounces
organic eggs, 2 big or 3 small
a pinch of nutmeg, freshly grated
salt 1 teaspoon
oregano 1 teaspoon plus 1 teaspoon or more for topping
zest of 1 small orange for topping

Set the oven to 180°C / 355°F and butter a 20cm / 8″ baking dish or springform pan.

Press the warm potatoes through a ricer and mix with the butter, cheese, eggs and spices. Put in the baking dish, even it out and bake for 45 minutes until the pie is cooked through and the centre is set. Let the pie cool for 5-10 minutes before you turn it around (or take it out of the springform pan). Sprinkle with oregano and orange zest and serve warm.

Potato Cake with Orange and Oregano


Potato Cake with Orange and Oregano

Spiced Hot Cross Buns with Orange Zest


My first Hot Cross Bun baking experience lies way back in the past and it wasn’t very successful – one morning I managed to destroy two doughs in a row. The water I used was a bit too warm and knocked out the yeast. I was so desperate that I even baked the buns from the second batch of dough but it was hopeless. I could have used the buns as cannon balls, they were as hard as a rock and impossible to eat. I needed a few years to recover from this experience but now I’m totally at peace with them again.

Hot Cross Buns are traditional Easter buns but to me they are a great treat for a big weekend breakfast or brunch all year round. They are made with lots of aromatic spices such as cinnamon, coriander, allspice, nutmeg, ginger and cloves and I also add lots of orange zest and raisins. Spices ground in a mortar unfold their entire range of aromas, I find them stronger and without the artificial touch which industrial mixtures tend to have. These buns are complex in their taste and the texture is nice and fluffy. I love to tear them with my fingers when they are freshly out of the oven and spread some butter on them, or my homemade plum jam with lots of cinnamon. I even ate one bun with liver paté, both sweet and aromatic, they make a perfect match.

Traditionally, Hot Cross Buns were eaten during Lent, always marked with a cross standing for the Crucifixion. Besides the religious connections there are further meanings passed on, sharing a bun with someone else is supposed to ensure friendships and each bite should bring good health.

Hot Cross Buns


Hot Cross Buns

 Hot Cross Buns

For 10 buns you need

For the dough

plain flour 500g / 1 pound
dry yeast, 1 package for 500g / 1 pound of flour
sugar 60g / 2 ounces
salt 1 teaspoon
ground cinnamon 2 1/2 teaspoons
2 1/2 heaped teaspoons of ground mixed spice or a spice mixture made of:
coriander, ground in a mortar, 1/2 teaspoon
allspice, ground in a mortar, 7
cloves, ground in a mortar, 5
nutmeg, grated, 1/4 teaspoon
fresh ginger, grated, 1 teaspoon
zest of 1 orange
butter, melted, 60g / 2 ounces
milk, lukewarm, 190ml
organic egg 1
raisins, soaked in warm water for 4 minutes, 100g / 3.5 ounces

For the cross paste

plain flour 4 tablespoons
milk 3-4 tablespoons
vegetable oil 2 teaspoons

For the glaze

milk 5 tablespoons
icing sugar 5 tablespoons

For the dough, combine the dry ingredients (including spices and orange zest). Mix the hot melted butter with the cold milk and the egg, this way the liquid mixture will have the right lukewarm temperature (check with a finger). Mix the dry and the liquid mixture with your dough hooks for 5 minutes until well combined. Continue kneading with your hands for a few minutes until you have an elastic dough ball. Mix the raisins into the dough and put it back into the bowl, cover with a tea towel. Let the dough rise in a 35°C / 95°F warm oven for 70 minutes. This works really well but make sure that your oven is set to top/ bottom heat and not to fan.

Take the dough out, punch it down and knead for 1 minute. Divide into 10 pieces and roll into balls. Put them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and let them rise for 30 minutes, covered with a tea towel, in a warm place.

Set your oven to 200°C / 390°F.

For the cross paste, mix the flour, milk and oil with a spoon. For the glaze, cook the icing sugar together with the milk in a sauce pan for 5 minutes on medium heat until bubbly and syrupy.

Cut a cross into the surface of each bun, wet your fingers and form slim rolls with the cross paste mixture. Lay the rolls into the crossed slits on top of each bun, wet your fingers in between. Bake the buns for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Glaze with the sweet syrup immediately. If the glaze is too thick, add a little water before you brush the tops of the buns.

Hot Cross Buns


Hot Cross Buns

Crispy Latke with Curry and Orange Cream

Pumpkin Hash Brown

It’s been a beautiful January morning. Blue sky, the air is crisp and clean and much to my surprise glowing with sunshine! I went to the park to enjoy the first sunny morning in 2014 and it felt like spring. This calls for a celebration, something equally warming and shiny on my plate: fried golden latke. I make mine with Hokkaido pumpkin and potatoes, a home made curry mixture and an orange, cinnamon flavoured cream.

At this time of the year, I often cook with my own curry mixtures. I guess it’s the cold, my body appreciates warming spices like cayenne and turmeric. For my pumpkin – potato mixture, I prepare a curry mixture that is not too hot, despite the inclusion of cayenne. I want strong flavours, but more on the sweet side, like cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. The cream gives a lighter feel to this meal, its milky sourness is a refreshing counterpoint to the fried latkes, the orange zest and spices reinforce it.

Pumpkin Hash Brown

Spicy Pumpkin and Potato Latke with an Orange Cream

I use around 600g / 21 ounces peeled potatoes and 400g / 14 ounces pumpkin for my latke mixture which is enough for 3 – 4 people:

For the latke

Hokkaido pumpkin (or any other pumpkin), grated, 400g / 14 ounces
(with peel, just scoop out the seeds and fibre)
potatoes, peeled, grated, 600g / 21 ounces
onion, peeled, grated, 2
plain flour 12 tablespoons plus more for mixing
organic eggs 3
salt 3 teaspoons
vegetable oil for frying

for the curry mixture (for the latke)
cayenne pepper, ground, 1/4 teaspoon
coriander seeds, ground, 1/2 teaspoon
black pepper, ground, 1/2 teaspoon
turmeric, ground, 1/2 teaspoon
cumin, ground, 1/4 teaspoon
cardamom, ground, 1/4 teaspoon
cinnamon, ground, 1/4 teaspoon
3 cloves, ground in a mortar

 For the cream

cream cheese 150g / 5 ounces
heavy cream 4 tablespoons
plain yoghurt 4 tablespoons
orange zest 3 teaspoons
a pinch of salt
a pinch of cayenne pepper (ground)
a pinch of cinnamon (ground)
a pinch of cardamom (ground)

Mix all the ingredients for the cream and season to taste.

Squeeze out the grated potatoes, pumpkin and onions and dry between kitchen paper (in batches) until you get most of the liquid out. Mix all the ingredients for the latke, add more flour if the mixture is too moist.

Heat a good amount of oil in a large cast iron pan. Form pancake shaped latkes and fry them in the hot oil, 1-1 1/2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Take down the heat if they get too dark. When the latke is done, remove excess oil with kitchen paper and keep in a warm oven until you finish your last batch. Serve together with the cream.

Orange Cheesecake

Orange Cheesecake

The first time I had New York cheesecake is quite a while ago – it was love at first sight! When I was fourteen I traveled to New York and Canada with a friend of mine and her family. As  soon as I took my first bite I was hooked and during the following three weeks of our holiday I don’t believe I left out a single chance to get a piece of cheesecake, every day, at every restaurant we went to. I became a true cheesecake specialist!

Now, when I bake my own, I’m always reminded of that trip and the excitements of being a traveling teenager. Over the years I tried out many cheesecake recipes and developed my own favourite with orange zest and juice and cream cheese mixed with ricotta. It is still as rich and moist as the traditional version, the citrus flavour just adds a fresh, fruity specialness and gives it a lighter feeling.

Orange Cheesecake

Orange Cheesecake

For a 20.5cm / 8″ springform pan you need

digestive cookies, crushed very finely, 210g / 7.5 ounces
butter, melted, 70g / 2.5 ounces
cream cheese, room temperature, 450g / 16 ounces
ricotta, room temperature, 100g / 3.5 ounces
sugar 100g / 3.5 ounces
vanilla sugar 1 teaspoon
organic eggs 3
cornstarch 1 teaspoon
zest of 1 orange
orange juice 1 tablespoon
zest of 1 large lemon
juice of 1 lemon (4 tablespoons)
a pinch of salt

Mix the crushed cookies with the melted butter until crumbly and combined and press into your springform pan. Put in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Set the oven to 165°C / 330°F and put a deep roasting tin in the oven on the lowest position. Boil water in a kettle.

Mix the cream cheese, ricotta, sugar, vanilla sugar, salt and eggs and beat until smooth. Add the cornstarch, lemon and orange zest and juice and continue mixing.

Take the baking pan out of the freezer and wrap in aluminium foil twice so that the bottom and sides are well covered to protect the cheesecake from the water. Pour the cheesecake mixture on top of the hardened crumbs and place carefully into the tin in the oven. Fill the roasting tin with the boiling water from your kettle. The water should come half way up the wrapped springform pan. Bake for 50 minutes, switch off the oven and leave the cake in the oven to cool. After around an hour you can take your cheesecake out and chill in the fridge for a couple hours.

Orange Cheesecake