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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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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Artichokes in Olive Oil (Carciofi Sott’Olio)

The recipe is inspired from the traditional Italian way of preserving in olive oil—and not just artichokes, but also pearl onions, green garlic, peppers, fresh fava, peperoncini, and more.

I always have jars of artichokes in the refrigerator, using my garden’s crop of small, thorny, purple Kea artichokes. In the spring, when you find the best artichokes at the farmers’ market, dedicate a day to peeling and preparing them, filling jars with delicious artichokes that can become the base for all kinds of dishes. Add them to salads, appetizers, grains, or pasta recipes. I stuff small breads with the leftovers from the bottom of the jar and use the olive oil in sauces and dressings, or keep it for next year’s artichoke preserves.

 

Makes a 1-quart (960-ml) jar

 

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Pink Fermented Cabbage

Far from the heavy, fowl-smelling sauerkraut, this is a vividly-colored, tangy-fruity cabbage that you can eat on its own, as part of a meze spread, or add it to any of your winter or spring salads.

We love it so much, that we cannot do without it and as Sandor Ellix Katz suggests, start a new batch before you finish the old one (see NOTE).


Adapted from Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts

Makes about 4 1/2 quarts (4.3 L)

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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.

Melomaksrona 015 Sa

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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