Yogurt, Olive oil, and Feta Drop Cookies (Koulourakia Almyra)

My mother used to made a version of these, with more flour together with the yogurt and olive oil, so that she could shape flat disks and fill the half-moon tyropitakia (turnovers) with feta mixed with eggs and chopped mint.

I just thought that I could probably whip up a savory cookie that contained the cheese and mint, and here is my version.  You can halve the recipe, but keep in mind that you can freeze these savory koulourakia and even if you don’t warm them up a bit before serving, they are still delicious.

 

Makes 40-45 cookie (about two-inch) (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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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)

 

(more…)

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Avgolemono: the Elegant Egg and Lemon Sauce

The most sophisticated of the Greek sauces, avgolemono, a sauce of eggs and lemon juice, seems to have its roots in the Sephardic agristada. It probably came with the Jews who settled in Greece in the 16th century, fleeing from Spain and the Inquisition. Lamb-Avgolemono

Agristada and avgolemono both cleverly use eggs beaten with lemon juice to create an emulsion which thickens the cooking juices, much in the way the French use tangy crème fraîche.

Avgolemono is used with meat, fish, or just with vegetables. Fish soup avgolemono is usually cooked during the cold winter months, and magiritsa, the traditional Easter soup prepared with lamb innards and flavored with scallions and dill, is popular all over Greece. The elegant avgolemono is often abused in restaurants where flour is used to thicken and stabilize it so that it can be endlessly re-heated. It is sometimes called ‘fricassée,’ from the French chicken dish whose white, flour-thickened sauce has neither eggs nor lemons.

Here on Kea I learned to make avgolemono with the winter wild greens that are cooked with pork, while in the spring it complements the local, thorny artichokes that we braise with fresh fava pods and complement with an extra lemony avgolemono made with the wonderful, deep-yellow yolks of my neighbor’s eggs.

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