Feta, Fig, and Herb Savory Cake, or Quick Bread

This is a wonderful and easy everyday treat “from France, where savory loaf cakes are often served with drinks before dinner,” writes Greenspan introducing the recipe she published in New York Times Cooking. She starts with soft goat’s cheese that I cannot get here, so I decided to try the recipe with feta, and it was wonderful!

 
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan

 

 

Rosemary and thyme, as well as the tangerine zest give it great aroma and complement beautifully the sweetness of the figs. “If you’d like, use olives or dried tomatoes instead of figs, basil instead of parsley, lemon instead of orange,”  Greenspan suggests;

she also notes that one can “experiment with other cheeses,” and this is exactly what I did.

“The loaf is pleasantly crumbly, and best enjoyed cut into thick slices,” she concludes.

 

Serves 8 (more…)

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Red Rice Risotto with Leeks, Mushrooms, Fresh Fava, and Cilantro

South of Arles, in Provence, the legendary wetlands of Camargue produce a superb red long-grain rice. Grown in Europe’s largest delta, the rice tastes incredibly nutty and lends itself to all kinds of dishes, warm or cold. This colorful risotto is vegan, nourishing, and satisfying so it can be a main course or side dish.

 

Adapted from my Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts.

 

PHOTO by Penny De Los Santos

 

Less known than the Italian Arborio or the Spanish Calasparra and Bomba – all medium grain rice – the red long grains of Camargue are easier to cook.  They don’t require constant stirring and retain their shape and bite beautifully. The recipe is simple, and you can use it as the base to create your own variations with seasonal vegetables, greens and herbs, or with dried fruits and nuts. 

 

Serves 3-4 (more…)

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Risotto with Greens, Herbs, Garlic, and Lemon

I fondly remember a light and delicious herb-lime risotto I enjoyed one sunny September day some years ago.  I was at La Fenière, the celebrated hotel and restaurant in Loumarin, Provence, and this was one of the dishes chef Reine Sammut’s offered in her Mediterranean olive oil tasting lunch. She served the risotto topped with thin strips of braised cuttlefish, drizzled with a few drops of its deep black ink sauce. The seafood was excellent, but the fragrant, fruity rice was the real revelation to me.

 

Adapted from my Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts

 

 

I didn’t get Sammut’s recipe, just a description, so this is my own rendition of the dish: a simple greens, garlic, herb, and lime risotto that I make often, using any leafy winter or spring greens, and all or some of the herbs on the list, whatever my garden provides. When I don’t have fresh herbs I use the ones I often freeze; unfortunately even good dried herbs will not give the same rich result.

I conclude by folding-in grated Parmesan, which brings out the flavors of the herbs, and very often top the risotto with a 7-minute cooked egg; the deeply-flavored ones from our neighbor’s hens.

You can also serve along with Baked or roasted Fish, or complement the risotto with grilled Halloumi.

 

Serves 4-6 as main course; 6-8 as a side dish

(more…)

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Spicy, Stuffed Bread with Broccoli or Spinach and Cheese

Inspired from the Sicilian stuffed focaccias of Catania. The same stuffing could have been used for a traditional Greek pie wrapped in phylo pastry.

Instead of broccoli you can use spinach or any chopped greens adding lots of scallions –previously wilted in olive oil– and dill or other herbs. Scroll down to see the Variation.

 

READ more about the stuffed bread.

 

 

Bread Broccoli close S

 

Makes 8 individual pies (more…)

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Tyropita : Creamy Cheese Pie

As kids, my sister and I used to love this  sweet, creamy tyropita. I hadn’t found my mother’s recipe since I never made this particular pie until Costas and I happened upon the mention of Tyrini, the traditional cheese-eating day. It is the last non-vegan Sunday before Kathari Deftera, the colorful beginning of Lent that precedes Greek Easter (May 2).

As far as cheese pies are concerned, we often make the crunchy Lazy Woman’s Pie. This galette-like cheese treat is the epitome of the day we devote to phyllo making during our Kea Artisanal Cooking vacation; all participants learn how to roll phyllo and the crunchy pie we whip up is such a delight! 

 

 

My mother’s tyropita must have been similar to the well-explained one I found online, accompanied with a video that you can follow easily, even if you don’t speak Greek.

Since we roll our own phyllo and hardly ever make pies with commercial phyllo I had not kept up with the latest technique of spraying the sheets with seltzer or water, a very interesting suggestion that somehow prevents them from drying out completely and becoming like paper, as they usually do.  

I make the creamy base using my basic olive-oil-yogurt béchamel. The olive-oil-egg wash that is brushed on the top layer is the same one we use for the delicious Chicken Pie and it makes a very big difference to the commercial phyllo.

 

Serves 6-8 as main course, and 10-13 as meze (11 X 15 inch –30 Χ 40 cm– pie)  (more…)

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