Flooded with Exquisite Eggs!

The moral of the story is that the very fresh eggs from hens that roam around the fields in the winter are best eaten in savory, rather than in delicate sweet dishes.

 

Just before Christmas holidays, our friends and next door neighbors sometimes leave Kea to spend the end of the year festivities with their family in Albania, so Costas undertakes his favorite chore: taking care of their hens and cats. 

 

We wish we could be able to have cats and hens, but, unfortunately, our dog does not permit it…

 

From the coop every night Costas brings at least five and often seven wonderful eggs, and after a few days we are flooded with an incredibly abundant lot! We enjoy them fried in olive oil, add them to pilafs and risottos, scramble them with whatever vegetable or green we have at hand, and occasionally we made paspala, the traditional Kea winter delicacy.

 

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Holiday Cookies: Traditional and Others…

Orange, cinnamon, and cloves are the main fragrances that pervade the kitchens around the world in the dark, winter days and long nights. Their sweet, enticing aromas set the mood for the upcoming holidays that mark the end of the year throughout most of the world.

 

 

Melomakarona, the traditional Greek, fragrant, honey-infused Christmas cookies are my favorites! They are vegan, because people ate them during the days of Lent that precede Christmas according to the Orthodox doctrines that some people follow, even if they are not religious. Now they are being rediscovered, as baking with olive oil has become trendy, and even the NYT published a version recently. I have slightly updated my mother’s recipe –which she had from her own mother– adding some ground nuts in the dough.

I think you will find these cookies irresistible, but if you manage to save them for later, they will get even better the next days. They keep for up to 1 month so you may want to double the recipe, especially if you bake melomakarona with friends, as we usually do.

An extra bonus of this aromatic but healthy dough is that you can use it as pie crust, filling it with cooked apples, quince, or make an irresistible lemony tart with just Lemon Curd as its filling. 

 

 

A recent favorite of ours is the old German Lebkuchen  which are fragrant with the enticing Lebkuchen Spice Mix.  It contains all kinds of spices, even ground coriander seeds, but strangely, no ginger! The blogger whose recipe I fam following, strangely calls it German Gingerbread Spice Mix, probably because she caters to Americans, for whom Lebkuchen is not a household name. My only addition to her recipe is an extra 2/3 cup finely ground almonds or almond meal because I don’t use the rice-paper wafers –difficult to find on our island—and wanted to make the dough somewhat thicker. Also, Costas and I prefer the cookies plain, or just drizzled with some bitter chocolate, so I skip the full dipping in chocolate the recipe calls for. (more…)

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Upside-down Nectarine, Peach, or Apple Tart

I whipped up this fast and quite delicious dessert using the last nectarines of the year. But you can also use apples, instead.

I caramelized some sugar, then laid the peach or apple segments on it and cooked for a few minutes, before covering with two layers of pastry and baking. 

 

I bought quite a few nectarines the other day, as we at end of October, far beyond peach season. Although they looked unripe, when cut, their flesh was overripe, almost rotten around the stone –probably because they were refrigerated for far too long.

Since they were not good to enjoy as part of my morning fruit-plate, I thought of using them to make an upside-down tart, using frozen, store-bought puff pastry as the crust.

I have had quite a lot of misses in the past trying to bake upside-down fruit tarts, but this time I used my new, very light, aluminum, non-stick Neoflam skillet which made it so easy to bake and invert the tart perfectly, for the very first time…

 

 

Serves 8-12 (more…)

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Baked Sweet Squash

This simple, wonderful Turkish treat is called kabak tatlisi, and is a favorite dessert served in all kinds of restaurants and taverns.

Paula Wolfert, in her wonderful book  The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen, explains her most ingenious, simple way of making it perfect! All you need is time to bake the squash slowly. Use your phone timer if you have not an automatic oven that you can set it bake the squash for 1 ½ to 2 hours.

In my recipe below I have reduced the amount of sugar, as I find that butternut squash is by itself very sweet!

We like to serve it with mastic or vanilla ice cream sometimes adding the walnuts that Paula suggests sautéing in butter, something I don’t usually do.

In Turkey this baked squash is usually served with kaimak (clotted buffalo cream).

See also the elaborate Greek Squash or Pumpkin Preserves (rossoli).

 

 

 Serves 4

 

1 pound (500 gram) peeled butternut squash, cut into about 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces

 

2/3 cup superfine or baker’s sugar

 

Optional accompaniments:

 

About ½ cup toasted walnuts

 

1 cup crème fraîche, or thick yogurt, or ice cream

 

 

Mix the squash pieces with the sugar in a shallow glass or ceramic baking dish and let stand for at least 30 minutes, or until the squash weeps and the sugar melts.

 

Preheat the oven to 300°F (150 C). Use your fingers or a wooden spoon to mix the squash and sugar. Cover with a crumpled sheet of wet parchment paper, place in the oven, and bake for 1½ hours, or more, until the juices boil and the squash is tender.

 

Turn off the oven and leave the dish inside until completely cool. (The squash will continue to re-absorb their syrupy juices.)

 

 

Store in a cool place or in the refrigerator. Let return to room temperature before serving. If you like, sprinkle with walnut and/or accompany with crème fraiche, thick yogurt, or ice cream.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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