Spicy Pickled Green Tomatoes, Peppers and Onions

2-3 pounds firm green tomatoes, large or small
1 large or 2 medium onions, quartered or cut into 8 pieces
4 cloves garlic, halved lengthwise
3-4 bell peppers, red or green, seeded and each cut into 6 long pieces
3-4 fresh or dried chilies, halved lengthwise with scissors but left attached at the stem
4 bay leaves
2-3 tablespoons coarsely crushed coriander seeds

The Brine:
1 quart white vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons salt
2 cinnamon sticks

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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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Mediterranean Summer in a Bottle!

This fragrant liqueur is a variation from a recipe for Thyme Liqueur that I got from the south of France and is part of my new book. Since I still have tons of lemons, and also because my Lemon Liqueur is so popular with our friends, I came up with this fusion of the two flavors that I think are the epitome of the Mediterranean Summer!

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The French believe that thyme tisane is an excellent digestive and the perfect treatment for a hangover. But I suggest thyme not for its medicinal properties, but because its aroma, especially complemented with the lemon peels and with a bit of help from the alcohol, will transport you to the rugged hills overlooking the dark-blue sea—and if that is not therapeutic, I don’t know what is. (more…)

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Mushroom, Garlic, and Yogurt Avgolemono

Use the sauce for any kind of stuffed leaves –with meat or vegetarian— as well as with braised greens and other vegetables.

1/2 cup dried wild mushrooms
1 tablespoon wakame or any dried seaweed (optional)
1 1/2 cups very hot water
3 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup white wine
2 large eggs
1/4 cup lemon juice, or more to taste
1 cup thick yogurt, preferably full-fat
2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, or more, to taste

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a bowl soak for 20 minutes the mushrooms and seaweed, if using, in 1 1/2 cups very hot water. Drain, reserving the broth, and puree in the blender, together with the garlic.

In a saucepan warm the olive oil and briefly sauté the mashed mushrooms until the garlic starts to smell. Add the wine and the reserved broth, together with 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, 3 tablespoons of the lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of water and the yogurt. In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water and the remaining lemon juice, then whisk this into the egg mixture. Whisking constantly, slowly pour about 1 1/2 cups of the hot broth, 1/2 cup at a time, into the egg mixture.

Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan and simmer, stirring gently, until the sauce thickens and starts to boil. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding salt, pepper and more lemon juice if you like.

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