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


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Amygdalota –Lemon-Scented Flourless Almond Cookies

Traditionaly these fragrant cookies are scented with orange flower water, but I prefer to use the very aromatic zest of my lemons. They can also be made with tangerines, when in season. I use lemons from my garden or organic lemons in my recipes. If you cannot find organic lemons, wash your lemons thoroughly.

See also the baked Kean Almond Cookies

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Makes About 50 Cookies (more…)

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The Other Halva: Sumptuous, Vegan and Occasionally Gluten-Free

Sesame halva is one thing, but quite a different and very popular Greek as well as Eastern Mediterranean sweet –also called ‘halva’– is made with flour, semolina, corn or other grains toasted in butter or olive oil and steeped in syrup.

Halvas simigdalenios (semolina halva) is the Greek version of this simple old sweet. In our halva the grains are toasted in olive oil instead of the butter used in Turkey and the Middle East. I have also come across an old frugal confection of olive oil halva made with chickpea flour instead of semolina. The simple, yet enticing sweet is often prepared during Lent as it is vegan with no eggs or dairy. Halvas simigdalenios used to be the free dessert offered at Greek taverns; but now it is replaced by the simpler yogurt topped with commercial preserves or jam that requires no cooking.

halva-cornmeal-small (more…)

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Lemon Curd: my Favorite Treat

A brilliant English invention, this tart, lemony cream is truly irresistible!

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Our trees are brimming with fragrant lemons and I made lots of marmalade with and without Seville oranges; I also made lemon liqueur, and this year I took the time and candied some peels (see recipe). I was inspired by the exquisite “tasty, bite size, fruit candy” my friend June Taylor–the marmalade-maker par excellence–makes! (more…)

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