Homemade Fresh Myzithra (ricotta-like cheese)

Here on Kea we make it with the milk our neighbors often give us. It is probably the first and simplest cheese ever made, and today the various commercial myzithra we get sometimes come from Crete –where is called anthotyro. Cheese makers make it now by adding fresh milk to the whey left from the first, usually the hard cheese they make, adding rennet to the milk.

If you can get leftover whey add fresh milk and do not add lemon or vinegar, just boil the whey with the milk and cream. Needless to say that if you make it with the usual cow’s pasteurized milk you get from the supermarket, combine it with goat’s milk, if you can, and add some cream –more or less, depending on how creamy and lush you want your myzithra.

Serve this delicious fresh cheese plain, as appetizer, sprinkling it with chopped herbs, shallots and garlic, or as dessert, drizzled with honey or jam. You can also use it to make savory myzithropita (cheese tart), or combine it with some feta cheese to make a Greek version of the cheese cake.

 

Makes about 1 pound soft cheese (you may double the quantities for more)

 

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Cheesecake with Feta and Myzithra (Ricotta)

This is my interpretation of the dessert made popular by Americans in  recent years. But fresh cheese desserts abound since ancient times all around the Mediterranean. Ricotta-like cheese, mixed with honey, dried fruit, and nuts was used for some of the first sweets our ancestors enjoyed on special occasions. Apicious the Roman cook and author, describes such a sweet in his book written the 1st century AD.

Both in Greece, in southern Italy, and in Sicily, ricotta-based sweets are very popular, especially around Easter time. Unfortunately, the current American version that uses packaged ‘cream cheese’ and has been adopted by bakers all around the world, is far from the delicious, if less refined-looking traditional cheesecakes from which I was inspired to make this one.

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Melomakarona – Honey-Infused, Olive Oil, Orange and Spice Cookies

The traditional, fragrant, old-fashioned Christmas cookies are my favorites! They are vegan because people ate them during the days of Lent that precede Christmas. I have updated my mothers recipe, adding ground nuts in the dough.

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I think you will find these cookies irresistible. 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.

 

Makes about 45 cookies

 

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Olive Oil and Yogurt Cake with Lemon, and Lemon Verbena Leaves

Often, this cake was doused in syrup as you see in the original recipe. Traditionally scented with plenty of lemon zest, I thought that adding lemon verbena leaves would make my cake more fragrant and interesting. Apparently, it seems that it does, at least this is what Costas and I thought after tasting the first new version.

Keep in mind that this is not a light, airy cake, but has a somewhat dense texture that we love! I suggest you bake it a day before you serve it, so its flavors have time to develop and deepen.

Serves 8-10 

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Rustic Chocolates with Dried Figs and Nuts

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Adapted from Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts.

These bitter-chocolate-nut-and-fruit bars are delicious and almost guilt-free, as they have no added sugar. You will enjoy eating them and they make a much-appreciated edible gift; in any event, they are less of a problem when you bring to a friend’s dinner party, since flowers are a pain for the hosts who must stop everything and try to find a vase…

For about 80 pieces (more…)

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