Quince Preserves (Kydoni Glyko)

Quince is one of the most popular Greek spoon sweets. It is served as a dessert topping for yogurt in taverns all around the country. Tourists love it, though unfortunately most restaurants use cheap commercial preserves.

By cooking down the cores and seeds that contain most of the pectin, and adding their rich broth to the sweet, we can make our own quince preserves with less sugar and more fruity flavor and aroma. I prefer to fill small jars—once opened, the contents are difficult to resist. At least with small jars you might pause before breaking the seal, but then again you might not!  By adding spices, I turn some of the spoon sweet into an unusual relish (see Variation).

 

Makes 3 1/2 pints (1.5 L) or 6 one-cup (250 ml) jars (see Note) (more…)

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Apple Cake with Olive oil and Lemon

This moist, fruity cake is based on a recipe for Rustic Tuscan Apple Cake that my friend Val posted in her brilliant site More than Burned Toast.

I tweaked the recipe, substituting olive oil for the butter, and also used my lemon liqueur instead of the amaretto the Tuscan recipe suggests.I made it in a rectangular pan, and as I took it out of the oven I glazed it with some marmalade diluted in more lemon liqueur…

 

For a 10X7 inch (25X18,5 cm) cake (more…)

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Pomegranate and Rose Geranium Granita (sorbet)

Pomegranates are just coming to season and they are delicious, although not easy to peel. Later in the season I will probably juice our garden’s pomegranates, but throughout the summer I use the pure, local, thick pomegranate juice we buy frozen on Kea. It has a somewhat tart and tannic taste and no added sugar or anything else. Taste the pomegranate juice you get and adjust the proportions of simple syrup accordingly.

We love the aroma of rose geranium, of which we have plenty in the garden. It is traditionally used it in the quince preserves, but also add it in our fig jam.  The pomegranate juice has plenty of flavor but no fragrance so by adding rose geranium leaves you get a great aromatic granita. Some liqueur or vodka is essential, we think, making the frozen dessert much more complex and easier to serve.

 

Makes 6-10 servings  (more…)

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Fig-thickened Fresh, Creamy Goat’s Cheese

Figs and the milky, sticky sap from the tree were used since antiquity to curdle the milk and produce a fresh cheese. In Greece we call this soft cheese sykomyzithra  and in Turkey teleme. From Paula Wolfert’s Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking (Wiley, 2009) we get the ancient as well as the contemporary way of making this cheese, according to Musa Dagdeviren. In Musa’s beautiful video on Netflix we see the shepherds whip-up the fresh cheese in the mountains; and of course Dagdeviren has included the recipe for teleme in his recently published, encyclopedia-like Turkish Cookbook  (Phaidon, 2019)

The recipe for this dessert that lingers between sweet and savory, is from Musa Dagdeviren’s book. Instead of dried figs I once used fresh over-ripe figs and the result was a lighter, exquisite cream. I like to sprinkled the bowls with walnuts toasted with brown sugar, salt, and rosemary.

 

Makes 6-8 servings (more…)

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Mastic Ice Cream

The Greek equivalent of vanilla ice cream, this is uniquely flavored, scented with mastic—the crystallized sap of the wild pistachio shrub (Pistachia lentiscus), which grows only on the southern part of Chios island. Exported to the Arab countries and the Middle East, mastic was the ancient chewing gum: hence the verb “masticate.” To this day, it is still chewed to clean and sweeten the breath, while the ground crystals add their elusive licorice-pine-like aroma to many Greek breads and cookies.

Photo by Anders.

 

The recipe for this ice cream is a variation from the ice cream created by chef Jim Botsacos. You can serve it topped with sour cherry preserves, as is the custom in Greece, or simply sprinkled with pistachios.  It goes well with baked apples and quince, with the Olive-oil-yogurt Cake, and with the lemony Pandespani cake.

I still remember the wonderful ice creams we used to make in the summers, when I was a child, using a rented hand-cranked machine, to which we added ice and coarse salt. In those days, the cream was thickened not with eggs but with salep, a potent starch produced by pounding the dried tuber of a wild orchid. Ice creams thickened with salep form strands as you dip into them. Today, such wonderful egg-less ice creams seem to be an acquired taste and one can mostly taste them in Turkey.

 

Makes 1 quart     (more…)

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