Cherry and Sour Cherry Preserves: Kerasi or Vyssino Glyko

This is one of the easiest spoon sweets to make. Traditionally in Greece every July all cooks used to make Vissino (sour cherry) preserves to serve with ice cream or yogurt throughout the year.


Adapted from my book The Foods of the Greek Islands.


The cornerstone of Greek sweets are the preserves made with the fruits of every season.

Each home has several different jars of fruit in the pantry, and guests are offered a teaspoon with a glass of water as a welcome to the house.

I know that fresh sour cherries are not the easiest fruit for most people to get, and their season is so short, so I suggest you make the preserves with perokerasa (Rainier cherries) instead.

Unfortunately, the true color of the Rainier cherries preserves is a quite unattractive murky yellow, so you are better off adding a few drops of red food coloring.  Instead, I prefer to boil a red beet with the cherries, a trick I learned from Tunisian cooks.


Makes 3 cups (more…)


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Cold Yogurt Soup with Cucumber, Herbs, and Rose Petals

This hauntingly aromatic Persian soup, adapted from a recipe by Iranian-American chef Hoss Zaré, combines nuts and raisins with dill, mint, chives or scallion, and dried rose petals, all suspended in yogurt, creating a delicate, refreshing, and crunchy soup.

Unlike the boldly flavored cacik, the Turkish yogurt-cucumber-garlic soup, common throughout the Mediterranean –an ancestor of tzatziki– this older, fragrant Persian soup has no garlic.

I use almonds or pistachios instead of the walnuts the original recipe calls for, and I add preserved lemon, which enhances the soup with its salty-tangy flavor. I suggest you double the recipe and enjoy it the next morning for breakfast.



Serves 6 (more…)


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BOILED Vegetables and Lunch at Claudia’s

With Claudia Roden, we expressed our happiness that boiling vegetables has at last become the IN thing to do!

Up until recently our book editors had stricken out of our recipes the mere mention of boiling any vegetables or greens, replacing it by ‘blanching’ or ‘steaming…’


“Today we are starting with a very controversial statement — I boil my vegetables,” writes José in his always exciting Newsletter Longer Tables with José Andrés. “You may not believe me, but it’s true! I would not lie about something important like this,” he continues. “I was shocked when I came to America and saw many restaurants and people, and even cookbooks, roasting the whole carrots and roasting whole beets and roasting all their tubers, including potatoes. I will not lie to you that more than once I told my friends: Are you crazy? Roasting carrots?” he writes.

Last week, after the end of the fascinating Symposium in Oxford I had the privilege to be invited for lunch by the symposium’s president, the unsurpassed food writer and researcher Claudia Roden –a friend since the early ‘90s.


It was a hot, humid day in London, and along with the brilliant Alicia Rios we sat at Claudia’s inspiring kitchen and enjoyed a lovely salad of boiled beets, asparagus, carrots, and zucchini, topped with fresh pea shoots, and accompanied by thick yogurt, before the main course of a fragrant bulgur pilaf with chickpeas, tomatoes, and eggplants that she has described in her fabulous book MED.




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Grilled Calamari Stuffed with Olives, Almonds, and Chili

Whenever we get good fresh calamari of any size, Costas, my husband, likes to stuff and grill it over charcoal, or on the portable electric grill. He doesn’t like the feta stuffing served with calamari at most Greek taverns, so he came up with this mixture of olives, almonds and chilies. Calamari is quite filling, so serve with just a green salad.



Serves 6-8


8-10 medium-small calamari (1 ½ -2 pounds), cleaned, bone discarded, heads separated



3 tablespoons olive oil


2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice


Good pinch Aleppo or Maras pepper, or Pepper Flakes to taste



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HORIATIKI, the peasant roots of Greek Salad

It is curious how a salad called ‘horiatiki’ became such a hit in Athens and all over the country. The term may be translated as ‘from the village,’ or ‘peasant,’ a welcome suggestion today as it brings to mind authentic good-quality foods, but when it was first introduced –probably in the 1960ies or early ‘70ies– the country was desperately trying to shed its agricultural, Eastern Mediterranean past, and become urban and European. It was common to dismiss a garment or a conduct as ‘horiatiki,’ not modern and worthy of the new urban middle class.



Obviously, whoever first combined these basic ingredients created a salad delicious enough to be copied, improved upon and even exported and become a household dish all over the world!



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