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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Ginger-Grape Molasses Cookies

My take on the classic Ginger Snap Cookies, based on the recipe of King Arthur Baking.

I reduced the amount of sugar in the mix since the topping makes them far too sweet, anyway. Also I choose to make them with olive oil, instead of any ‘shortening,’ and of course I use grated fresh ginger that gives them a lovely, fragrant kick.

As for the ‘molasses’ mentioned, the only kind we have here is Grape Molasses, which have a wonderfully deep flavor. In Greece the traditional Moustokouloura (grape molasses cookies) are vegan –no egg– as they are a favorite Lenten treat. But frankly, these gingery ones are far better-tasting and easier (!)

 

 

As for the ‘molasses’ mentioned, the only kind we have here is Grape Molasses, which has a wonderfully deep flavor. In Greece the traditional Moustokouloura (grape molasses cookies) are vegan –no egg– as they are a favorite Lenten treat. But frankly, these gingery ones are far better-tasting and easier (!)

 

 

 For about 3 dozen cookies (more…)

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Kiki’s or ‘Lazy Woman’s Pie’ (Pita tis Tembelas)

As feta is usually too salty, I often use a combination of feta and myzithra (the Greek ricotta). I like to add fresh oregano or fresh thyme, and occasionally red pepper flakes.

Scroll down to see the variation with roasted vegetables, which makes the pie more substantial.  

Read more about the pie and our adventures to get the recipe.

 

Keartisanal-cheese-Pie1

Serves 4-6

 

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TART with Summer/fall Fruits

You can make this tart with a versatile Olive Oil, Whole-wheat Yeasted Pastry that will give you a more rustic delicious sweet; or use a good quality puff pastry, which will give you a more elegant-looking pie. 

Either way, use up any overripe summer or fall fruit you have at hand: cherries, peaches, plums, strawberries, or apricots. Complement them with some homemade or store-bough jam or marmalade and you can totally omit any added sugar, as I usually do.

Serve on its own, or maybe together with the Fruity, Guilt-free Ice Cream.

 

 

Makes a round or square 9-inch (23 cm) tart

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