Flooded with Exquisite Eggs!

The moral of the story is that the very fresh eggs from hens that roam around the fields in the winter are best eaten in savory, rather than in delicate sweet dishes.

 

Just before Christmas holidays, our friends and next door neighbors sometimes leave Kea to spend the end of the year festivities with their family in Albania, so Costas undertakes his favorite chore: taking care of their hens and cats. 

 

We wish we could be able to have cats and hens, but, unfortunately, our dog does not permit it…

 

From the coop every night Costas brings at least five and often seven wonderful eggs, and after a few days we are flooded with an incredibly abundant lot! We enjoy them fried in olive oil, add them to pilafs and risottos, scramble them with whatever vegetable or green we have at hand, and occasionally we made paspala, the traditional Kea winter delicacy.

 

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Winter Cold and Spectacular Moon!

January is cold, often very windy and it may even snow for a day or two. But we also enjoy some occasional sunny days, to do the needed garden work.

We also experience THE most spectacular  moon this January, not just in the evening, but also early in the morning… 

 

We may even get some snow on Kea this coming weekend!  

People are often surprised to hear that we occasionally get snow on the island, but we do; not much, and mainly high, on the mountains. It only lasts for a couple of days at the most.  But we do experience snow once a year, usually in January or February, as you can see in the pictures from previous years.  
 

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Dried Fruit and Nuts for Sweetness and Strength

Nuts and dried fruit are associated with the Holiday Season and the New Year.

They are supposed to bring luck and help start the year with sweetness and strength, something we particularly need these difficult times…

 

English pudding is one of such festive cakes, but it is somewhat too complicated, with lots of strange ingredients, while the Boozy Fruitcake I propose is quite simple, provided you have help chopping dried fruit, and do not spare the cost of real, aged Cognac, Armagnac, or Grand Marnier needed to douse the cake. 

 

There is also our morning treat: the somewhat heavy yeasted Seedy, Fruity and Nutty Bread, close to a fruit-nut cake, with complex, bold flavor I always have sliced in the freezer. We toast pieces to enjoy with our coffee.

A variation of this bread can become a vassilopita —the New Year’s cake where the lucky coin is hidden.

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Holiday Cookies: Traditional and Others…

Orange, cinnamon, and cloves are the main fragrances that pervade the kitchens around the world in the dark, winter days and long nights. Their sweet, enticing aromas set the mood for the upcoming holidays that mark the end of the year throughout most of the world.

 

 

Melomakarona, the traditional Greek, fragrant, honey-infused Christmas cookies are my favorites! They are vegan, because people ate them during the days of Lent that precede Christmas according to the Orthodox doctrines that some people follow, even if they are not religious. Now they are being rediscovered, as baking with olive oil has become trendy, and even the NYT published a version recently. I have slightly updated my mother’s recipe –which she had from her own mother– adding some ground nuts in the dough.

I think you will find these cookies irresistible, but if you manage to save them for later, they will get even better the next days. They keep for up to 1 month so you may want to double the recipe, especially if you bake melomakarona with friends, as we usually do.

An extra bonus of this aromatic but healthy dough is that you can use it as pie crust, filling it with cooked apples, quince, or make an irresistible lemony tart with just Lemon Curd as its filling. 

 

 

A recent favorite of ours is the old German Lebkuchen  which are fragrant with the enticing Lebkuchen Spice Mix.  It contains all kinds of spices, even ground coriander seeds, but strangely, no ginger! The blogger whose recipe I fam following, strangely calls it German Gingerbread Spice Mix, probably because she caters to Americans, for whom Lebkuchen is not a household name. My only addition to her recipe is an extra 2/3 cup finely ground almonds or almond meal because I don’t use the rice-paper wafers –difficult to find on our island—and wanted to make the dough somewhat thicker. Also, Costas and I prefer the cookies plain, or just drizzled with some bitter chocolate, so I skip the full dipping in chocolate the recipe calls for. (more…)

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Cabbage Salad in Orange-vinegar Dressing

Cabbage is associated with winter in Greece. “You can’t have tender, sweet cabbage before the winter cold,” a farmer in Kea told me one October morning. The trick to turn almost any cabbage into a good salad is to “knead” the finely shredded leaves with salt and lemon juice. Here, instead of lemon a combination of orange and white ‘balsamic’ vinegar is used. The cabbage and carrots wilt and shrink, becoming juicy and delicious.

I tasted this salad recently at Ourania’s Tavern, on Samos island, and was fascinated. Ourania, the owner and cook, told us that the longer you leave the salad in the fridge, the better it gets;  she was right,  of course. 

 

 

4 to 6 servings

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