Cold Yogurt Soup with Cucumber, Herbs, and Rose Petals

This hauntingly aromatic Persian soup, adapted from a recipe by Iranian-American chef Hoss Zaré, combines nuts and raisins with dill, mint, chives or scallion, and dried rose petals, all suspended in yogurt, creating a delicate, refreshing, and crunchy soup.

Unlike the boldly flavored cacik, the Turkish yogurt-cucumber-garlic soup, common throughout the Mediterranean –an ancestor of tzatziki– this older, fragrant Persian soup has no garlic.

I use almonds or pistachios instead of the walnuts the original recipe calls for, and I add preserved lemon, which enhances the soup with its salty-tangy flavor. I suggest you double the recipe and enjoy it the next morning for breakfast.

 

 

Serves 6 (more…)

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My Boiled Vegetable Salad

This is a simple, delicious salad/lunch that you can make any season with the most wonderful local vegetables and greens you can find. With Claudia Roden, we shared our happiness that boiling vegetables have at last become the IN thing to do!  Our book editors, until recently, had stricken out of our recipes the mere mention of boiling any vegetable or green, replacing it by ‘blanching’ or ‘steaming…’ Read more

 

Potatoes, carrots and a couple of onions are boiled first, in a pot with 1-2 teaspoons salt, until tender and easily pierced with a fork. 

 

 

We discard nothing in our part of the world, and we have learned that for example the root-ends of spinach are delicious when fresh, (more…)

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Roasted Squash and Bread Salad with Tahini-yogurt Sauce

In this simple salad the sweet, sumptuous roasted squash is paired with crunchy olive-oil-croutons, and complemented with tangy yogurt-tahini sauce,  creating an irresistible combination.

It is inspired from a dish served by Semsa Denizsel, the celebrated chef and former owner of Kantin Lokanta in Istanbul. She has now moved to the Aegean coast, and teaches cooking in her beautiful home, amidst olive trees.

 

 

Serves 4-6 (more…)

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Salad of Beets and Beet Greens with Walnuts and Mint

I was inspired to re-create the salad often served at Fabrika tou Efrosynou, our favorite Athens tavern, in Koukaki. Sliced apples are mixed in the tavern’s salad, and the beets used are usually very small and tender. But since it isn’t easy to find this kind of beets unless you grow your own, I have adapted the salad for the more common large beets, omitting the apples.

Traditionally we boil the beets in water until tender, cooking the greens and stems separately, before assembling them in a salad, which is often complemented with Skordalia (garlic sauce).

 

 

Serves 6-8 (more…)

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Savory Cake (or quick bread) with Olives, Cheese, and Pine Nuts

This is a quite lovely meze-cake to enjoy in the garden, accompanied by crisp white or rose wine in the first sunny spring days. On this olivewood stand that I asked our friend, the brilliant wood-carver Panos to make for me the cake looks even more sumptuous. The basic idea comes from Les Cahiers de Delphine, the always interesting weekly newsletter.

 

Of course, I made quite a few changes, using local green olives instead of the black from Provence, and scallions, instead of the chives that are not available here. As I always do, I substituted olive oil for the butter, and grated aged graviera cheese for the parmesan, I increased the amount of pine nuts and sunflower seeds and added rosemary which gave a lovely aroma to the cake.

I baked it in a pan with a hole in the center, but you can of course use a loaf pan, or a simple round 8-inch pan. This meze cake is best slightly warm, or just cooled.

 

At least 8 generous appetizer pieces (more…)

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