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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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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