Yogurt Cake with Lemon, Olive oil, and Lemon Liqueur

Light and aromatic, it is the perfect dessert that my mother used to make. 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 was not a common ingredient in Greece then. I use lemons from my garden and I suggest you seek organic lemons for this and my other recipes. If you cannot find organic lemons, wash your lemons thoroughly.

Bake it the day before you plan to serve it so the flavors can completely infuse the cake.

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Serves 12 (more…)

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Stuffed Dried Figs (Syka Gemista)

Traditionally made on the island of Lesbos, those fragrant figs keep forever because they are baked in the oven. They can be eaten on their own, as a snack, or can be soaked in sweet wine –preferably the famous one from the neighboring island of Samos— and used as a topping for ice cream, yogurt or custard.
Use small, thick skinned figs, like the ones from Smyrna (Izmir).
The recipe is based on Maria Koutsoumbi’s detailed instructions.

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(more…)

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Fig Jam

Rinse and dry leftover fresh figs that are not perfect to eat, or figs that have fallen from the tree. Alternatively, you can use dried California figs. Cut off the stem, slice in half vertically, and cook the figs for about 20 minutes in sweet Samos wine that barely covers them, stirring every now and then, until softened.

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They should have absorbed most of the liquid. Puree the figs in the blender, let cool, measure the amount you need, and freeze the rest in batches to use in sweets, ice creams, sauces or marinades, adding honey or salt, hot pepper, spices, and/or herbs as needed.

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Kserotigana, Fried Pastry Ribbons from Crete

A specialty of Chania, Crete, this delicious sweet, is traditionally prepared for weddings and engagements, as well as for Epiphany. It is quite easy to make, but it’s time consuming, so most families have stopped making the sweet at home and order it from one or two specialty stores that prepare it in Chania. This recipe was given to me by Mrs. Hara Papadaki, owner of the last bell foundry in Chania.

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Photo by Martin Brigdale, from The Foods of Greece.

Makes about 30 (more…)

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