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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Photopites, Spicy Dough Fritters from Amorgos

I am very intrigued by these very special Epiphany fritters of Amorgos, the southernmost island of the Cyclades. Instead of the plain water or milk used in the dough fritters of Greece and the Middle East (called lokma, zalabia etc.), photopites are made with a spicy brew laced with hot peppers, and scented with bay leaves and anise seeds. I have no idea where the recipe comes from; I suspect that it was either brought to the island by North African sailors, or is a medieval remnant of the savory-spicy-sweet dishes that we still find in some Aegean islands.

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Makes about 50 walnut-size fritters (more…)

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Kean Amygdalota (Flourless Almond Cookies)

The flourless almond cookies of Kea are traditional festive treats prepared for weddings and christenings and for other joyous family occasions. They are the perfect kosher-for-Passover sweet, as a participant in our classes pointed out, watching my neighbor Zenovia prepare amygdalota.

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Most people now use blanched almonds, but I find that, although less attractive, cookies made with whole, un-skinned nuts are equally delicious, not to mention a bit less labor-intensive — if you’re starting from the harvest-field. (more…)

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Saffron, Allspice and Pepper Biscuits

The week before Easter it is customary throughout Greece to bake biscuits; but these bright yellow, spicy ones from the island of Astypalaia were very different from the sweet, laden with eggs cookies I was familiar with… Read MORE

 

I start with the baking-powder version, a variation on the original yeasted biscuits, which produces very good results quite fast. If you want to make a more interesting yeasted one as it was the custom in the old days, use my recipe for Yogurt Bread adding the saffron diluted in the milk, as I describe below, and the other spices (allspice, nutmeg and pepper). Make the dough, omitting the stuffings, and when it has risen form into doughnut-like paximadia or smaller biscuits. Sprinkle with caraway seeds, if you like.

These biscuits are great as snacks, with coffee or drinks, and are an ideal accompaniment to soft cheeses, both sweet and creamy ones, like manouri and ricotta, and sharp ones, like Gorgonzola, Roquefort or any other blue

 

Makes about 56 biscuits


(more…)

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