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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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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Boozy, Delicious Fruitcake

With lots of dried fruits and nuts, this dense cake, adapted from Amanda Hesser’s Good Fruit Cake, comes out perfect because it is baked in a very low oven for about 1 ½ hours. Apparently, this is the secret to making a fruit cake that is not hard and chewy… and of course lots of good liqueur and/or brandy!

This is a dense fruitcake, full of flavor, that should be thinly sliced and enjoyed in moderation, maybe accompanied by cream, mascarpone, or thick yogurt. 

 

 

Makes 2 Fruitcakes

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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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Chickpeas with Orange, Lemon and Squash

There are countless variations of slow-cooked chickpeas all over the Mediterranean. Most are vegetarian, like this one, inspired by a dish Stelios Tylirakis prepares in his wood-fired oven at Dounias tavern, high in the mountains above Chania, Crete.

In Crete chickpeas are commonly flavored with bitter (Seville) orange, while in most other islands lemon is used. I think orange peel is a wonderful substitute for the bitter orange, along with some lemon juice. This simple chickpea dish, like the one without squash, should be made with the best quality, preferably organic dried chickpeas, not the canned ones. Their flavor is so much more interesting. 

I add mustard, something I learned from my mother who claimed that it made all pulses more digestible. I’m not sure it does, but it certainly deepens the flavor of the beans and chickpeas.

 

I start describing the long, old fashioned oven-cooked method, and then I add my way of making the dish fast, with pre-cooked, frozen chickpeas without losing its original flavor and texture –by the way I, as most Greeks, like the chickpeas meltingly tender, somewhat mushy, not chewy.

 

I developed this recipe for EATING WELL magazine; part of a piece about the healthy Cooking of Crete (March 2020).

 

 

Serves 6-8 (more…)

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