Spicy Carrot Jam with Oranges, Apples, and Lemons

I have never tried to make a carrot jam, as the ones I have tasted were sickly sweet, lacking any aroma or distinctive tang. But I was intrigued by the ‘Carrot Cake Marmalade,’ at Food & Wine. The recipe originated from “ Molly’s Rise and Shine in New Orleans, where diners rave about the yogurt bowl served topped with marmalade,” as the recipe’s intro states.

I liked the idea of adding warm spices, but increased the number of other fruits –oranges, apples, and lemons—which beautifully complement the carrots’ sweetness. Also, I didn’t over-process the fruit to get a very smooth jam, as the recipe suggests. Furthermore, my carrot jam is somewhat tart, much closer to my beloved citrus-fruit marmalades. But you can add more honey or sugar to make it sweeter, as most people probably would prefer…

 

 

Serve with creamy, thick yogurt, with fresh cheese –like myzithra or ricotta– or with the very creamy manouri cheese.

 

 

 

 

At Molly’s Rise and Shine in New Orleans their very smooth carrot jam is served with granola and yogurt, topped with orange segments and blackberries.

PHOTO from the restaurant’s FaceBook page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Makes about 2.2 quarts (liters) (more…)

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Olive Oil, Whole-wheat, Yeasted Pastry

A versatile, quite easy olive oil pastry with yeast that makes a lovely crust for savory as well as sweet tarts. See note to see how you can store the rolled dough in the freezer, which gives you the possibility to double the recipe, so that you have a pastry shell to use whenever you feel like whipping up a pie.

It is adapted from Martha Rose Shulman’s recipe, as published in the NY Times Cooking.

 

 

 

Makes Two 10-inch tart shells

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Oxymel: Mint and Honey Shrub (Vinegar Syrup)

         This sweet, tangy, and aromatic drink was thought to be not merely refreshing but also restorative and healthful! Long before shrubs became fashionable again, they used to be Ancient Greeks’ favorite refreshments, called oxymeli (vinegar-honey syrup).

 

From my 1994, out of print book Mediterranean Pantry, with photos by the brilliant Martin Brigdale

 

Sugar has replaced honey in most old recipes and people continue to enjoy similar drinks today, especially in the Muslim countries of the Eastern Mediterranean, where alcoholic beverages are prohibited.  

In an old Turkish cookbook compiled by Turabi Efendi in 1862, I found a vinegar-sugar syrup called oxymel that was scented with sweet marjoram. Starting from that basic recipe I experimented with different quantities of sugar and vinegar, using marjoram, mint, and rose geranium as flavorings.

My favorite was this mint-flavored oxymel, but you can try other herbs you like. I use sugar, but you may well substitute honey, choosing a somewhat plain, not too fragrant honey.

TO SERVE place 2-3 tablespoons oxymel in a glass, pour in very cold water and ice cubes, and decorate with a sprig of fresh mint.

 

Makes 1 cup (more…)

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Soumada: Almond Syrup

Before becoming the favorite commercial dairy substitute, homemade almond milk, almond syrup and a magnificent almond liqueur –called Crema alla Mandorla— were favorite Sicilian drinks.

 In Greece and the Middle East we dilute our precious almond syrup (called soumada in Greek) with ice-cold water and traditionally offer it at weddings, engagements, and other special occasions. At one time this expensive delicacy was given to nursing women as it was believed to help them produce milk.

 

From my 1994, out of print book Mediterranean Pantry, with photos by the brilliant Martin Brigdale

 

To serve, stir 2 to 3 tablespoons of the syrup into a large glass filled with 1/2 to 2/3 cup water and some ice cubes.  If you like, add a little liqueur Crema alla Mandorla.

You can also use this almond syrup as a sauce for chocolate ice cream or as flavoring when you make almond ice cream.

 

Makes about 3 cups  (more…)

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Shanklish: Spicy Levantine Cheese

Syrian-born chef Mohammed Antabli makes a modern version of this age-old sun-dried cheese of the Levant, using a mixture of yogurt and feta, then rolls the little balls in spices, and serves them at Al Waha, considered one of London’s top Middle Eastern restaurants. I used his recipe, but varied the spices slightly, following his brilliant way of ‘aging’ these wonderful cheese balls.

Crumble them over salads, like the one with beets and arugula, or slice the log-shaped cheese and serve it on its own as an appetizer, drizzled with good, fruity olive oil.

You can also preserve shanklish in jars, submerged in olive oil, in the refrigerator; it will keep for up to 4 months or more.

Adapted from my Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts

 

Detail from a photo by Penny De Los Santos

 

Sun-drying laban—a fresh cheese made by straining yogurt—was one means, before the invention of cold storage, to preserve perishable dairy products. The cheese was shaped into balls and then rolled in an aromatic mix of seasonings—za’atar, red pepper flakes, or a mixture of local herbs and spices—and then dried completely until rock-hard, finally ready for extended storage in clay jars.

These fermented, extremely pungent shanklish balls are a multipurpose spice in their own right. Ground with a mortar and pestle, they can be used to provide different dimensions of flavor to salads and vegetable dishes.

 

For about 32 golf-ball-size pieces, or 2 logs (more…)

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