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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Chicken Soup Avgolemono

Egg-and-lemon-thickened chicken soup is the iconic, typically Greek variation on a much-loved, comforting, winter soup.

It is the traditional one-pot Christmas dish on Rhodes and other Dodecanese islands. Christmas in the Greek islands is not the big feast celebrated in the United States or northern Europe: Easter and the Virgin Mary’s Assumption (August 15) are the important island festivals.

 

The addition of ginger and a piece of lemon peel is my twist on the basic recipe I got from my mother. I think their flavor and aroma deepens the broth’s taste. I prefer making the soup lighter, with vermicelli instead of rice, or even plain — just the broth and pieces of chicken. In that case you may want to add one more egg if you want to make it thicker, creamier.

Sometimes instead of chicken meat,  meatballs such as the Scallion Meatballs,  are cooked in a chicken or meat avgolemono  soup.  

 

 

Until the late 1960s, chicken was considered a great delicacy on the islands. It was the most expensive of all meats and, except for important feasts, it was usually reserved for children and the sick as the lighter of all meats.  The free-range chickens or capons of Greece need a long time to cook, and even then, their flesh can sometimes be tough and stringy. But they make the most delicious soup or youvetsi.

Instead of chicken you can make the soup with de-fatted broth from beef bones or make an exquisite fish soup (psarosoupa) boiling down fish heads, bones, and small fish. I try to always have various homemade stocks in my freezer so that I can make not just soups, but flavor risotto and all kinds of sauces.  

 

 

 Makes 6 to 8 servings as a first course, 4 to 6 as a main course 

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Winter Cold and Spectacular Moon!

January is cold, often very windy and it may even snow for a day or two. But we also enjoy some occasional sunny days, to do the needed garden work.

We also experience THE most spectacular  moon this January, not just in the evening, but also early in the morning… 

 

We may even get some snow on Kea this coming weekend!  

People are often surprised to hear that we occasionally get snow on the island, but we do; not much, and mainly high, on the mountains. It only lasts for a couple of days at the most.  But we do experience snow once a year, usually in January or February, as you can see in the pictures from previous years.  
 

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Seville Orange or Lemon Marmalade

I have updated the more traditional English recipe I made for years.

Thinly slicing the raw fruit helps make the marmalade faster, and even more wonderfully fragrant. I start with this new version and then you will find the more traditional way. In both recipes I opt for less sugar as I love the tartness of citrus marmalade. If you prefer it sweeter you can increase the amount of sugar. 

 

1-Marmalade-Beginning-copy 

You can make the same marmalade using Mayo lemons, varying the amount of sugar you add, and also maybe cooking less time the lemon slices, as they are definitely more tender that the Seville oranges. 

I often add some julienned tangerine, orange, and/or kumquat peels together with the sliced lemon or Seville orange to make a mixed citrus marmalade.

 

 

Makes about a dozen  8-ounce jars

 

4 pounds small Seville oranges (about 25), washed 

 

2 cups water

 

3-4 pounds sugar, or more to taste

 

 

Lay a wet, double cheesecloth in a bowl.

Using a very sharp, or a good serrated knife cut off and discard the ends of the fruit, then halve each Seville orange and remove the core, making sure you carefully take out all the pips.

Drop the pips and core into the cheesecloth.

 

 

Carefully slice each fruit VERY thinly, and drop the slices in a large, heavy-bottomed stainless steel pot. This is the most important part of the job, and it will take some time… (more…)

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Dried Fruit and Nuts for Sweetness and Strength

Nuts and dried fruit are associated with the Holiday Season and the New Year.

They are supposed to bring luck and help start the year with sweetness and strength, something we particularly need these difficult times…

 

English pudding is one of such festive cakes, but it is somewhat too complicated, with lots of strange ingredients, while the Boozy Fruitcake I propose is quite simple, provided you have help chopping dried fruit, and do not spare the cost of real, aged Cognac, Armagnac, or Grand Marnier needed to douse the cake. 

 

There is also our morning treat: the somewhat heavy yeasted Seedy, Fruity and Nutty Bread, close to a fruit-nut cake, with complex, bold flavor I always have sliced in the freezer. We toast pieces to enjoy with our coffee.

A variation of this bread can become a vassilopita —the New Year’s cake where the lucky coin is hidden.

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