Roasted Cabbage with Smoked Pepper and Rosemary

At Nolan restaurant in Athens, I tasted a salad of deliciously ‘burned,’ caramelized winter vegetables –pieces of cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli— dressed with a lovely Asian-inspired sauce.  “Roasting cabbage wedges at high heat makes them crisp at the edges and tender in the middle,“ writes Melissa Clark in NYT Cooking.



Her recipe, the very first I encountered of roasted cabbage wedges –many have been published since– inspired me to try my version.

I omitted the anchovies and parmesan, but added both soy and fish sauce, as well as a large pinch of my favorite hot Florina smoked pepper, along with plenty of rosemary, which I think complements beautifully this Asian-Mediterranean roasted cabbage.  Costas and I loved it, and we make it quite regularly these days.

It accompanies beautifully any kind of meat or chicken, but we also eat it with the wonderful olive-oil-fried eggs from our neighbor’s hens, and feta cheese.


Serves 3- 4  (more…)


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The Festive, Fragrant Olive Oil Bread from Provence

It is an old Mediterranean tradition to have several sweets on display during the end of the year holidays. 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.

From mid-December and up until after the New Year we usually keep on the festive table nuts and dried fruit, plus melomakarona and kourabiedes.  



BREAD Pompe cut S

Wikipedia refers also to the Sephardic Jewish tradition to serve various nuts, candied and dried fruits during Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year.  Catalans and Armenians share similar traditions. (more…)


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Yogurt and Olive Oil Cake with Citrus Fruits and Syrup

Light and aromatic, it is the perfect dessert that my mother used to make.

For the New Year I decided to dress it up, sprinkling with diced, caramelized citrus peels and pistachios; I also cut the year’s numbers on tangerine peels that I simmered in syrup before placing on the cake. 

See more New Year’s Cake recipes HERE and HERE



Bake the cake at least a day before you plan to serve it so the flavors  have time to develop. Cakes are best the day after!  

In our family it was simply called Tou Yiaourtiou (the one with yogurt), to distinguish with another, more elaborate festive dessert my mother and aunts prepared with store-bought lady-finger cookies and a heavy margarine-based cream –butter and heavy cream were not a common ingredient in Greece in my childhood years. 



Only recently I realized that this, ubiquitous urban Greek dessert is the Gateau aux Yaourt the simplest French cake, the first one kids bake as the portions are measured in the yogurt pot. Obviously my family, as most other bakers in Athens, got the recipe from Tselementes’ book. He obviously copied the French cake, but substituted margerine (!) for the olive oil, calling it Yiaourtopita (yogurt pie) a name that many bakers use today.  

Whenever I have, I use lemons from my garden, or our local tangerines and oranges that are wonderfully aromatic. I suggest you seek organic fruits for this and my other recipes. 


See also my Orange, Lemon or Tangerine Olive Oil Cake which I make pulsing the whole citrus fruit, not just zesting it.  



For a 9-inch (23 cm) round or square pan



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Wandering in the Festive Athens Streets

All out festive, with lights, wonderful exhibitions and museums, and of course terrific shopping and restaurants, downtown Athens is simply enticing…



Leaving Kea and our garden, Costas and I spent a few days last week pretending to be tourists in the festive city. We had lovely drinks at the much talked-about, charming Heteroklito bar,  and were amazed to see streets at the busy Psiri area so  heavily decorated… At the always vibrant Central Market I visited Periklis Petridis’ incredible olive store ( 17 Aristogitonos str. –no website) where I tasted and bought incredible freshly cured, delicious olives from all over Greece. His slightly spicy olives from Volos were a revelation!

I arrived in the city a few days before Costas to see my best friend Maxine from New York. She visited her doughter, the talented Zoe Mylonas, and my old friend Alexandros, her ex-husband, whom we admired at The Long Day’s Journey Into Night . With Maxine we had a lovely Japanese dinner at Gaku, Syntagma and I especially loved their crunchy Seaweed Salad.  All around downtown Athens the most talked-about restaurants are Asian, or Asian-inspired, and certainly the most interesting and famous is Nolan, where we had a fabulous lunch the minute Costas set foot in Athens.  The adjascent Sweet Nolan was a temptation I could hardly resist, although I am not a particularely avid dessert eater… 


But once more, as always,  we enjoyed both the food and the atmosphere at ERGON Market, the Thessaloniki implant that a few years back took Athens by storm. There is no chance one can get a table without a reservation either for lunch or dinner these days, but I managed to sneak in and have lunch at the bar a few times. Costas and I loved our long leisurely lunch at Ergon with our friend Seth Rosenbaum who just flew in from Nicosia, Cyprus, for a few hours just to meet as!


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We started our cultural stroll of the city by visiting the incredible ΑΦΗ exhibit at the Benaki Pireos, and were amazed by the work of the talented old friends, whose work I always admired, photographed, and first wrote about in Tachidromos magazine in the early 80ies. 


I was particularely moved to see in the catalogue’s opening the old photo I had taken then. 


The very talented Marios Voutsinas, another very old friend, amazed me once more with his new studio and exhibition space at Psiri. His new collection of jewellery is mostly created using various antique pieces his late father, the famous theater director Andreas Voutsinas, had collected over the years. These tiny spoons are one fabulous example. 


We loved the work of Photis Kontoglou at the Goulandris museum, which included various other well-known artists he has influenced.  


At the main Benaki building, in Kolonaki, Yannis Moralis in Private is a small, fascinating exhibit. It includes among some beautiful paintings of his family, his whole studio, as well as childhood sketches, and the designs he had done for various buildings, the theater, and fabrics. 











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Galaxidi Kourambiedes: a New, Very Old Festive Treat

A more than 200-year old recipe I got from Frosso Patiniotis, my very lively 96-year old aunt. She bakes every year these quite unusual, fragrant kourambiedes –shortbread-almond cookies– a few weeks before Christmas. I may have eaten them before, but I don’t seem to have noticed how very different they were from the ones I get from Tsourtis’ bakery, on Kea’s main town.

See also my previous recipe.


Frosso gave me the recipe she had gotten from Mrs Dandoura, mother of her class-mate and best friend Chrysouli who recently passed. Mrs Dandoura had learned to make kourambiedes from her mother and grandmother. They came from a wealthy, shipping Galaxidi family, a town 15 klm southwest of Delphi that had flourished in the 18th and through the 19th century as a result of maritime trade and commercial exchanges with the West due to its exquisite natural port.


Calculating the generations that baked these festive cookies, we concluded that the recipe must be at least 200 years old.  Thus kourambiedes were not, as the Greek version of Wikipedia cites “brought by prosfyges (refugees),”  the Anatolian Greek population who fled after the defeat in the Greco-Turkish War (1919–1922) from Smyrna (Izmir) and other parts of Turkey. Prosfyges did, indeed, introduce quite a few special foods to Palaioelladites —the local Greeks– but certainly kourambiedes were already part of the local festive table in many parts of the country.  


Probably the word kourabies (plural kourabiedes) derives from Qurabiya a Persian and/or Arabic word with many variations, used for similar short-bread cookies throughout the Eastern Mediterranean and north Africa. Often sprinkled or with the addition of rose or citrus-flower water, I have not seen any version of these cookies that contained so many spices, and I just imagine that the cosmopolitan Galaxidi merchants were maybe inspired by the festive European/Grerman cookies. But this is my assumption, as I am also baking Pfeffernüsse and Lebkuchen these days…


Paula Wolfert in her wonderful 1988 book ‘Paula Wolfert’s World of Food‘ has a version of kourabiedes she calls ‘Greek Butter-Almond Cookies’ and over the years she kept telling me how amazing they were. As she wrote in the headnote she served them in her wedding, as many Greek families do.  



Makes about 30 large or 40 small cookies. (more…)


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