The Green, Winter Greek Salad

Inspired from the traditional Lesbos winter salad as I adapted it from the recipe in my book The Foods of the Greek Islands.   Greek Salad is seasonal here; in the summer tomatoes are its basic ingredient but in the winter it is definitely green.

 

 

Greek Salad is seasonal here; in the summer tomatoes are its basic ingredient, but in the winter it is definitely green.  From the first October rains up until the end of April, the greengrocers of Mytilini, the capital of Lesbos, used to sell each head of romaine lettuce tied together with two or three sprigs of borage (often with its little blue flowers), two or three scallions, several sprigs of peppery arugula, four or five sprigs of dill or fennel fronds, a few sprigs of peppery wild cress and either fresh mint or a little wild celery. Once home, these essential ingredients for the local green winter salad are thinly sliced and tossed with a simple vinaigrette.

It’s important to cut the greens at the last moment and to slice them very thin. If they are coarsely cut, the salad will taste different.

 

 

Makes 4 servings (more…)

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Butternut Squash Soup with Yogurt

This is the soup I make often varying the ingredients slightly –with more onion or leek, sometimes adding chopped, dried mushrooms instead of the chicken broth. The topping also may vary; once I made a kind of caper-scallion-chard pesto instead of the fried peas.

Just toasted pine nuts with chopped cilantro are also a fine, simpler topping for this comforting winter soup.

 

Serves 6-8  (more…)

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“Mallorcas” Sweet Tsoureki Buns

Adapted from the Puerto Rican ‘Mallorcas, the slightly sweet breakfast buns I found in the festive pages of SAVEUR magazine.

 

“Fluffy, eggy, buttery, sweet, coiled like a snail’s shell, and generously dusted with powdered sugar, the pan de Mallorca is named for its land of origin, in Spain. They are delicious on their own, or split and turned into sweet-and-savory ham, egg, and cheese sandwiches,” the magazine’s introduction explained.

 

The dough is very similar to challah and the traditional Greek tsoureki,  –the sweet brioche-like festive breads we bake for Christmas and Easter. In my version I substituted light olive oil for the butter, and used whole eggs, instead of just egg yolks, then I decided to brush the dough rectangle with my Seville orange marmalade before rolling and cutting the buns. I also placed them one roll next to the other, like cinnamon rolls, and I wish I had managed to make all the buns roughly the same size…

(Photo from Saveur magazine

 

Makes 6 large buns            (more…)

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Pumpkin, Cranberry, Ginger, and Pistachio Cake

Adapting Julia Moskin’s wonderful All-in-one Holiday Bundt Cake I baked this simpler version using olive oil instead of the butter –as I usually do—and pistachios instead of pecans. I omitted the chopped apple, using a bit more mashed, freshly baked butternut squash.

 

“This holiday recipe comes from the baking expert Dorie Greenspan. She calls it “all-in-one” because it includes elements from both Thanksgiving and Christmas: pumpkin, nutmeg, cranberries and ginger. It’s really the perfect dessert for either feast, or any occasion in between,” writes Moskin in her introduction.

 

 

Both our friends, who were with us this past weekend, as well as Costas, who loves all kinds of moist and nutty cakes, agreed that this is a real treat!

It is very easy to make, especially if you bake it in two long cake pans, as I did, instead of the more elaborate but tricky Bundt pan.

No glaze is necessary, but if you happen to have some lemon curd it is a lovely addition!

 

Makes 2 long Cake Pans (more than 12 servings) (more…)

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Nutty, Fruity, and Seedy Bread

This is our morning treat: a somewhat heavy bread, close to a fruit-nut cake, with complex, bold flavor.

I decided to make a variation of this bread for our vassilopita

(the New Year’s cake where the lucky coin is hidden) instead of the traditional rich, elaborate cake I used to bake.

 

I experimented with more and less nuts and dried fruit, and I feel that here I have pushed the nut-fruit additions to the limit. Feel free to add less nuts and/or fruit if you prefer to make a lighter bread that will rise more.

 

I cut the loaves into thick slices and freeze them in zip log bags. Every morning I take out the slices we want to eat and toast them.

 

We like them on their own, but they are wonderful with fresh cheese –cottage or ricotta– or just with yogurt.

 

Yields 3 medium loaves, or 2 loaves and a round bread (more…)

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