Fronds are those cute frilly light green leafy things attached to the stalks that grow out of a fennel bulb. They look like fresh dill, and they have a light taste similar to aniseeds. I grow fennels in my garden especially for these, I add this to spinach or chard to make the Greek kaltzunias (little small pies) and to attract butterflies in my garden. If you buy fennel with these, don’t throw these away and if you do not need them at the moment, freeze them! If you do not get them, then replace them with tinny fennel bulb slices.
The origin of fennel and orange salad is not completely known, but it may have its roots in the Arab world and come to Europe after the invasions of Spain and. The orange salad was created as a poor dish (wild fennel can be found at the border of many roads) and it doesn’t require cooking. Today, the fennel and orange salad is known all over the world and it is served as an appetizer/salad or as a final dish after an important meal.
I love to collect fennel fronds if traveling in Greece in Early spring, the same period as oranges get ripe.
In this recipe I completed the ingredients with avocado for its soft texture and the taste which combines well with citrus, In addition a roasted pine nuts give a welcome crunchy texture.
For the dressing I opted for some white balsamic vinegar flavoured with honey and Dijon mustard.
Green salad leaves to cover the bottom and the sides of the serving bowl, washed
2 ripe but firm avocados (reserve some slices for decoration drizzled with lemon juice)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 oranges peeled and diced (make a few slices and reserve for decoration)
2-4 tablespoons fennel fronds, chopped (reserve some for the topping)
2-4 tablespoons green onions slices (reserve some for the topping)
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly roasted
Arrange the green salad in the bowl.
Peel and slice the first avocado, place then in another bowl and sprinkle with the lemon juice and toss well with your hands. Peel and slice the second avocado add this to the first and gently again toss them together.
Add the other ingredients for the salad over the avocados.
Combine well the ingredients for the dressing.
Pour the dressing over the salad and very gently toss them together.
Place the mixture over the arranged salad leaves, decorate with the reserved avocado and orange slices and sprinkle with the herbs and the pine nuts
ماست و خیار Mast-o-khiar is a delicious, cooling and very popular Persian dish that is served with most meals. You will find the combination of yogurt and cucumbers in Greece (Tsatziki), but also in many other Balkan and Arabic countries and as well from Turkey to India (Raita).
The use of rose petals (fresh or dried) and rosewater for cooking was popular all over the Middle East and spread to Europe during the Middle Ages. However rosewater had been replaced by vanilla once world exploration had been brought from America to Europe.
About 20 years ago we planted in our garden a very strong scented white and red striped rose, since then its petals had been used in our cooking for several sweet recipes and we prepared hundreds of rose jam jars.
The basic ingredients for Mast-o-Khiar are yogurt, cucumber, mint, rose petals, salt and garlic. Other herbs can be added as well as chopped walnuts and raisins.
Tip: skip the cucumber for a delicious sauce for salad.
Wild greens constitute one of the greatest capital of Cretan cuisine. No one knows exactly how many different species of plants are used for human consumption and helped these people to survive during wars and occupation times. I read that more than 120 herbs from the coastal zones to the higher mountain regions have been identified and counted.
Picking wild greens is a very enjoyable activity and the prepared meals are super healthy food!
For this recipe I used self-seeded Swiss chard form last year who is sprouting here and there in my vegetable garden. A great gift form the nature.
For the “Cretan” flavourful taste, I added mint and dill and some feta.
Usually these greens pies are prepared in the oven and the dough used for this is the filo.
One of the specialties of Sfakia are the “Sfakianopites”: round flat pies filled with local mizithra cheese, pan-fried (without oil or butter) and then, served with a generous drizzle of Cretan honey.
For this pies I used the technique of the sfakianopites and worked very well.
½ cup sourdough starter (or ¼ cup water + ¼cup flour + 1/4 teaspoon dry yeast)
1 cup water
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon salt
300 greens (I used the green part of Swiss chards)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 spring onions, finely chopped, tender green part as well
3 tablespoons cup finely chopped fresh spearmint
2 tablespoons finely chopped dill
200 g crumbled feta
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine the sourdough starter with the water and the first cup of flour for the first rising into a big bowl, cover and let sit until spongy. The time depends of the kind of yeast (if using sourdough starter often I combine them the evening before or early in the morning) and the temperature.
Add the the other two cups of flour and the salt for the second rising knead shortly and let lit for about 20 minutes. Now knead again until smooth. I perform this step directly in the bowl using a dough spatula and folding over the bread until done. Let rise a few hour until doubled. During this time prepare the filling.
Wash the greens and drain very well. Then slice them.
Heat the oil and fry the onion until translucent. Add the greens and cook stirring from time to time until the liquid is almost adsorbed.
Add the herbs and combine well.
Add the feta and season to taste with salt and pepper. Place on in a bowl to cool down.
When the dough is soft, divide it into 6 pieces. Make 6 portions of filling. Note: you may make also more pieces/portions and make smaller pitas.
Roll out the dough to the size of about 15 cm on a well-floured surface. Place the filling on it and carefully close the filling into the dough trying to exclude as much air as possible.
Dust well with flour and slowly roll this out to the desired size. I made round of about 25 cm. Do not staple them, but place them on a well-floured surface until cooking time. Best if you would in team and somebody helps you the roast the pitas while you roll them out.
Heat a skillet and roast dry on both sides until browned. Note: We decided to cook them on the open fire.
Serve if warm with yogurt sauce.
Leftovers may be kept in the fried for a few day or be frozen.
Grease and dust with flour a 24-26 cm (9-10 inches) round cake pan. (Springform).
Sift together in a bowl the dry ingredient (flour, baking powder and salt).
In a large mixing bowl (or food processor), cream the butter, then slowly add the sugar, blending well. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each is added.
In another bowl, mix together the orange juice & zest.
Add this orange mixture spoon by spoon to the butter/sugar/egg mixture beating constantly.
Step by step add the dry mixture until well incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake mold bake for 40-45 minutes or until through (I recommend the toothpick test).
Cool in the pans on a wire rack for about 15 minutes, then remove from the pans and cool completely.
Slice the cake into 2 layers.
For the frosting, melt the butter, then combine it with the orange juice and the zest, beating well. Slowly add the powdered sugar and beat well until smooth.
Place the bottom cake layer on a serving plate and using, using about 1/3 of the frosting, frost the first layer. Put the second layer upside right on the first layer. Frost the top and the sides of the cake, or only the top allowing some of the frosting to run down the sides.
Guacamole is very popular Mexican dip with many variations.
This variation, which includes also the use of tomatoes, is the most appreciated in our family and every times is comes out a bit different as we do not measure the ingredients, we change it a little bit depending on what we have on hand.
This is great as appetizer with tortilla chips, but also with wraps or other dishes.
Never throw your stale bread away! You can make breadcrumbs, bread pudding, meatballs, and French toasts, and, and, and! Did you know you could also prepare a wonderful pizza? Once again, this is great opportunity to make your family happy with this great meal and at the same time, your stale bread will be gone very quickly!
Figs trees are native in the Middle East and western Asia and had been cultivated since ancient times. Today they are widely grown throughout the world, both for its fruit and as an ornamental plant. Two crops of figs can be produced each year. The first or breba crop develops in the spring on last year’s shoot growth. The main fig crop develops on the current year’s shoot growth and ripens in summer (August in Southern Europe) or autumn (September to October in Central Europe). The main crop is generally superior in quantity and quality, but some cultivars produce good breba crops. There are three types of edible figs: some of them need pollination by the fig wasp with pollen for fruiting and some not. In Central Europe where this wasp is not present, the cultivation of figs is possible. This year we had a many figs during summertime (breba crops) and in addition, after the warm September, we are getting many figs again and we are enjoying them.
I would like to present you this simple but very impressive recipe, which is perfect for a starter or appetizer.
Apples and grapes are already places in the storage room or converted in juice. Now it’s the turn for the our beloved quinces; this year we have really a lot of them and I’m looking for to try as much as possible different recipes. We all love sweets and cakes, but as quinces are very versatile, I hope we will travel virtually around the world and bring something new in our kitchen.
This recipe was inspired on an apple and bread ramequin. It is an autumn recipe for and comfort fully satisfying meal; you may serve this for Thanksgiving as well!
Missing Crete and missing Greece, we made a culinary excursion to Sifnos preparing and enjoying a super simple and delicous chickpeas soup called “revithia soupa” (ρεβύθια σούπα).
The ingredients for this soup are super simple: chickpeas, lemon, oilive oil, onion, water and salt.
As traditionally these soup is prepared in the night from Saturday to Sunday with the remaining heat of the wooden oven and we really used the wooden oven the day before, this was just the right moment for this soup.