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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QUINCE Pie Rolls with Almonds, Raisins and Honey

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Inspired from apple strudel, the stuffing I propose has no sugar; the fruit is simmered in sweet wine with raisins and honey. I just sprinkle it with light brown sugar and cinnamon as I roll the pies. If you like the pie sweeter, sprinkle each piece with confectioner’s sugar as you cut to serve.

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If you are familiar, or you want to try the traditional Austrian way of making the dough and rolling the strudel on a piece of cloth you can roll one or two larger strudels with that filling instead of four pie rolls. And if you have no quince, use apples, following the instruction for the thinly-sliced, raw apple filing that is used in the strudel.

Makes 4 pie rolls; about 16-20 pieces  (more…)

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Bread and Red Fruit Pudding with Mascarpone

Summer-Pudding-Penny-SwThis is my variation on the renowned English Summer Pudding. It was originally created and tested for my book, but was omitted, along with other desserts, to make room for more savory recipes and also for the gorgeous Penny De Los Santos’ pictures.

Read more HERE.

Traditionally English Summer Pudding is served with double cream but mascarpone is for me the ideal cherry-on-top, though in this case it is white-on-red.

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Conveniently, it is one of the sweets that have to be prepared at least a day in advance and can be left in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.

The recipe is based on one from the July 2007 Gourmet magazine.

Serves 6  (more…)

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Citrus Fruit ‘Cheese’ with Pistachios

My way of recycling my leftover, homemade marmalade of previous years. The citrusy pieces are not dense and rubbery as Turkish delights, but somewhat creamier and really delicious, with intense flavor and aroma. I think they will pair beautifully with spicy cheese, with cookies, both sweet and savory, as well as with chocolates.

You can start with a smaller quantity of marmalade, halving the recipe.

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2 ½ kilos (quarts) marmalade: Seville orange, lemon, tangerine, or a combination of different kinds (more…)

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Chocolate and Nut Skillet Pies

Adapted from Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts

Skillet pies –tiganokouloures or tiganopsoma in Greek, and gözleme or saç böreği in Turkish— have become our everyday project these days. Read more HERE.

Gozleme-chocolate-SwMy version of a delicious skillet pie inspired by the Turkish gözleme  and it is easy to make, provided you can roll phyllo. Unfortunately, the frozen commercial kinds cannot be used. In some parts of the US fresh yufka sheets are available. If you have a pasta machine it is easy to make your own thin phyllo strips and to create rectangular or square gözleme. See the basic recipe for Spinach, Herb and Feta Skillet Pies.

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They may look different from the traditional pies, but they will be equally delicious, as they toast to crispy perfection.

I decided to use the same technique and make  sweet, dessert pies: I chopped bitter-sweet chocolate, added half a crumbled cinnamon-flavored, olive oil cookie, a cup of toasted almonds and walnuts, and a good sprinkling of cinnamon; I moistened the mixture with two teaspoons light cream, and with this filling we made the last six pies. The aroma, as they cooked on the hot-plate, was wonderful!

Serves 6-8

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Pompe a l’ Huile: Festive Bread from Provence

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Part of the traditional Christmas table in Provence this delicious olive oil bread is supposed to be torn into pieces with the hands and never cut with a knife. Pompe a l’ Huile is served along with twelve more desserts on Christmas Eve on the festive tables all around the Mediterranean coast of France. The thirteen sweetmeats include various dried fruits –figs, different kinds of grapes, plums etc.—candied pears and apples, as well as oranges and other citrus fruits, cookies and nougat.

Makes THREE 12-inch flat breads (more…)

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

The traditional, old and fragrant Christmas cookies are my favorite sweets! They are vegan because people ate them during the Lent that precedes Christmas. This year I updated my mothers recipe, adding ground nuts in the dough. I think you will find them 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.

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Makes about 45 cookies (more…)

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My Lemony Pandespáni Cake (a variation of Pan di Spagna, Italian Sponge Cake)

Pandespani (Pan di Spagna) is used as base for many Italian desserts and festive cakes. Usually it is sprinkled or brushed with liqueur-flavored syrup before the addition of a cream filling. The cake can be stored in the freezer (see Note). Starting from my neighbor Ela’s southern Albanian recipe, which has its roots in the old Italian Pan di Spagna, I added the boiled lemon and the lemon marmalade which lighten the flavor and make the egg-laden cake wonderfully fragrant…

READ more about the cake.

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MAKES One 8-inch round cake, and 1 small loaf   (more…)

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