Dried Fruit, Pistachio, and Orange Olive Oil Cake

A moist, fragrant, and barely sweet vegan cake that can be a treat with tea or coffee, or enjoyed as a snack any time of day. It should be made a day in advance, and it keeps for at least a week, getting better each day if stored in an airtight container at cool room temperature.

 

My mother used to bake a cake similar to this during Lent. We were not so religious as to follow the rules of the Church, which prohibited eating any food derived from animals during the forty days before Christmas and before Easter (and on many other occasions). We were simply continuing a family tradition which dictated that various foods or sweets should be made at a particular time of year.

The caramelized ginger, my recent addition to the recipe, enhances the rich flavor of this cake that has a dense texture, somewhat like an English fruitcake. 

 

Makes one 12 X 5 inch (30 X 12cm) cake (more…)

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Apricot Tart with Rose Geranium Yogurt Mousse

In June, when we find plenty of lovely local apricots, we buy quite a lot and after eating the more ripe ones, we usually halve, pit and roast the rest, then freeze them to have at hand and make tarts, or top a flat bread, complementing them with spicy smoked cheese.

 

Make the mousse a day ahead, or even a couple of days before. When you are about to serve the dessert, assemble the pre-baked puff pastry and serve the mousse on the side.  

 

Serves 6-8   (more…)

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Flooded with Intensely Aromatic Roses

This year we are flooded with intoxicatingly aromatic roses, as Costas managed to multiply the first Rosa Damascena we transplanted from a late neighbor’s garden.

Now we have three thriving plants, and lots of roses to make Rose Petal Jam and the light rose-scented Yogurt Mousse flavored with it. Later when our guests come, we will offer them my refreshing Pomegranate and Rose Petal Granita everyone loves. 

 

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I also dry the fragrant petals –spread on clean towels all over the house– to use later in my herbal teas and in home-made Eastern Mediterranean spice mixes.

 

2a-roses-bowl2-small5-rose-petals-jam-plate-small2-rose-petal-jar1-small (more…)

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Moustokouloura: Grape must cookies

Much like Orange Koulourakia Cookies, you can get moustokouloura (grape must cookies) in the bakeries and in many homes all over Greece all year-round these days. They are made from grape must, the juice of grapes that is used to make house wine, something that used to be done in most parts of the country.

The cookies are deep-flavored and delicious. The grape must is boiled down to become thick petimezi (grape molasses) an pantry item in most traditional homes. Syrupy petimezi is diluted with an equal amount of water to make the cookies.

 

Grape must cookies, right, and Orange Koulourakia, left. 

 

The sweetness of the petimezi determines their taste, as moustokouloura have no additional sugar.  Commercial moustokouloura are usually large, but the homemade ones are smaller.

See also the Ginger and Grape Molasses cookies, my variation of the Ginger Snap ones.

To get 2 1/2 cups traditional petimezi (grape molasses) you need to simmer for about 1 hour or more 2 ½ kilos (5 pounds) grape juice. But to achieve the taste of my favorite island moustokouloura, made in August with the local fresh grape must, or with thinned down petimezi (grape molasses), I boil ordinary grape juice with sultanas and/or currents, and the result is great (see Note).

 

Makes about 3 dozen large cookies (more…)

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