TART with Summer/fall Fruits

You can make this tart with a versatile Olive Oil, Whole-wheat Yeasted Pastry that will give you a more rustic delicious sweet; or use a good quality puff pastry, which will give you a more elegant-looking pie. 

Either way, use up any overripe summer or fall fruit you have at hand: cherries, peaches, plums, strawberries, or apricots. Complement them with some homemade or store-bough jam or marmalade and you can totally omit any added sugar, as I usually do.

Serve on its own, or maybe together with the Fruity, Guilt-free Ice Cream.

 

 

Makes a round or square 9-inch (23 cm) tart

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Olive Oil, Whole-wheat, Yeasted Pastry

A versatile, quite easy olive oil pastry with yeast that makes a lovely crust for savory as well as sweet tarts. See note to see how you can store the rolled dough in the freezer, which gives you the possibility to double the recipe, so that you have a pastry shell to use whenever you feel like whipping up a pie.

It is adapted from Martha Rose Shulman’s recipe, as published in the NY Times Cooking.

 

 

 

Makes Two 10-inch tart shells

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Gorgeous White Eggplants

My friend Hara Alexandrou gave me a basket with these wonderful white eggplants she grows in her garden. As I had mentioned before, we have not been able to produce decent eggplants of any kind in our sandy, poor soil, although we tried for years. I roasted slices of these wonderful eggplants simply dressed with plenty of olive oil, sprinkled with coarsely ground coriander, salt, and Aleppo pepper.

 

 

Only once we managed to harvest from our garden a few tiny white eggplants, full of seeds… (more…)

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Oxymel: Mint and Honey Shrub (Vinegar Syrup)

         This sweet, tangy, and aromatic drink was thought to be not merely refreshing but also restorative and healthful! Long before shrubs became fashionable again, they used to be Ancient Greeks’ favorite refreshments, called oxymeli (vinegar-honey syrup).

 

From my 1994, out of print book Mediterranean Pantry, with photos by the brilliant Martin Brigdale

 

Sugar has replaced honey in most old recipes and people continue to enjoy similar drinks today, especially in the Muslim countries of the Eastern Mediterranean, where alcoholic beverages are prohibited.  

In an old Turkish cookbook compiled by Turabi Efendi in 1862, I found a vinegar-sugar syrup called oxymel that was scented with sweet marjoram. Starting from that basic recipe I experimented with different quantities of sugar and vinegar, using marjoram, mint, and rose geranium as flavorings.

My favorite was this mint-flavored oxymel, but you can try other herbs you like. I use sugar, but you may well substitute honey, choosing a somewhat plain, not too fragrant honey.

TO SERVE place 2-3 tablespoons oxymel in a glass, pour in very cold water and ice cubes, and decorate with a sprig of fresh mint.

 

Makes 1 cup (more…)

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Soumada: Almond Syrup

Before becoming the favorite commercial dairy substitute, homemade almond milk, almond syrup and a magnificent almond liqueur –called Crema alla Mandorla— were favorite Sicilian drinks.

 In Greece and the Middle East we dilute our precious almond syrup (called soumada in Greek) with ice-cold water and traditionally offer it at weddings, engagements, and other special occasions. At one time this expensive delicacy was given to nursing women as it was believed to help them produce milk.

 

From my 1994, out of print book Mediterranean Pantry, with photos by the brilliant Martin Brigdale

 

To serve, stir 2 to 3 tablespoons of the syrup into a large glass filled with 1/2 to 2/3 cup water and some ice cubes.  If you like, add a little liqueur Crema alla Mandorla.

You can also use this almond syrup as a sauce for chocolate ice cream or as flavoring when you make almond ice cream.

 

Makes about 3 cups  (more…)

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