Tiganopites: Olive Oil Pancakes with Spicy Cheese

The somewhat complicated shaping of these pancakes gives them a crackling texture, similar to that of cream crackers. The Samos tiganopites are topped with dermatotyri, a salty and sharp goat and sheep’s milk cheese, that is left to age inside a sheep’s hide.

For 40 small pancakes, 8-10 servings

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil, plus 4 tablespoons
1 small egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup warm water, or more, as needed

Olive oil for frying
2/3 cup coarsely grated aged Manchego, any hard cheese from Sardinia, or well aged Cheddar cheese (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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My Sour Grape Condiment

Last week, for the first time, I made my own concentrated sour grape juice. I have written about it before, as I became addicted to the Lebanese dark and syrupy condiment that I can no longer get…

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From the very old and robust grape vines that engulf the fence of our property in Kea we gather and stuff tender grape leaves in May for our trademark dolmades. But the dark grapes our vines produce later in the summer, although sweet, are filled with seeds and difficult to swallow. Plus we hardly ever manage to harvest them when they ripen, since wasps and all kinds of insects attack them as soon as they start to blush. Come harvest time we just find bunches of rotten half-eaten grapes. (more…)

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A Brilliant, Fruity LEMONADE

Ever since I was a child and my mother occasionally made thick syrupy, concentrated lemonade –which I didn’t particularly love– I had never tried to make my own. When my dear friend Barbara Abdeni Massaad visited us in Kea and saw our lemon trees brimming with fruit, she pointed me to a very different lemonade recipe…

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First and foremost this lemonade is not boiled, like my mother’s, and so retains its fresh fruity flavor. In her beautiful, extensively researched and documented book Mouneh: Preserving Foods for the Lebanese Pantry, Barbara writes that she got the recipe for the ‘out of this world’ lemonade from Dolly Shammah, a Syrian lady originally from Aleppo. (more…)

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