Apple and Quince Crumble with Caramel

I used apples, or apples together with quince instead of the pears Samantha Seneviratne suggests in NYT Cooking to make this quite wonderful crumble that has a caramel base enriched with cottage cheese, instead of cream. I omitted half of the flour, added breadcrumbs, olive oil and orange juice and the results were delicious, both with just apples, or adding some quince for texture.

Served with or without ice cream, this is a seriously addictive dessert.

 

 

SERVES 8 – 10  (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. 

 

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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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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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Bebinca: Indian Sweet Potato Pudding/Cake

The recipe, by Mayukh Sen, was published in the NY Times Cooking, in a piece he wrote about chef Nik Sharma. “The lightly sweet pudding cake is an ideal fall dessert — a far less stressful alternative to a more labored pie,” Sen writes.

The mild taste of this unusual sweet is certainly a wonderful complement to the spicy Indian dishes; for my version I love to add crystalized ginger to give it a slight kick.

 

 

Mayukh Sen notes that Mr. Sharma riffs on a traditional dessert from the Indian state of Goa, using a base of coconut milk, eggs and sweet potatoes that are roasted and then puréed, perfumed with nutmeg. “…the addition of maple syrup is a distinctly American touch. (Mr. Sharma likes to make this for Thanksgiving.) Be sure to leave time for the bebinca to cool and set — at least 6 hours in the refrigerator, but preferably overnight,” Sen writes.

 

 

Yield: 8 servings

 

 

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Damson and Pear Upside-down Cake

This is my latest fall dessert: an upside-down cake I baked using the wonderful, local damson plums and the very last local pears I got from the farmstand.

The fruit don’t look like much, but they taste wonderful. I wish we had more…

 

 

You can use plums instead of the damsons, but choose small, not large an juicy because they would collapse in the sugar.

This cake is basically another riff on the Apple or Quince Charlotka, the light and easy fruit cake both Costas and I love!  As I posted this recipe I received the Newsletter from Dorie Greenspan with the recipe for a Parisian  upside-down plum cake. Maybe you would like to try that one too…

 

For a 10-inch round cake –or equivalent square (more…)

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