Citrus platter with pomegranate

Citrus platter with pomegranate

A delicious and beautiful way to present blood oranges

One of us was fortunate enough to spend part of our honeymoon in Morocco, in what will soon be 20 years ago! We still remember that trip so well, the souks, the snake charmers, the welcoming and lovely people…and the food.  The food in Morocco was nothing less than phenomenal.  From the tagines, to the couscous,  and the homemade nougat in the Jemaa el-Fnaa, we happily ate our way through weeks of North African adventure.  Over the years we have often tried to recreate some of the delicious meals we had while in Morocco.  After much trial and error we had some great success, like this lamb tagine, but other recreations allude us (we still haven’t mastered pastilla, although this recipe looks promising and we just might try that!)

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Vegan chocolate and strawberry cookies

Vegan chocolate and strawberry cookies

Chocolate and strawberry bites, which could easily be called brownies

Vegan chocolate and strawberry cookies

 

Don’t you just love it when you can convince yourself that dessert is healthy…or at least, not horribly bad for you?!  We do! and that is exactly what we do with these chocolate and strawberry cookies.  Not only are these two-bite cookies, which could just as easily be called brownies, vegan (automatically healthy right??!!) but they are also incredibly easy to whip together and contain a secret ingredient which makes them that much more lovely.  Who doesn’t love a recipe with a secret ingredient?

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Halva with apple and raspberry (Χαλβάς με μήλο και βατόμουρο)

Halva with apple and raspberry

A semolina based vegan dessert flavoured with apples and raspberry 

Halva with apple and raspberry

 

This is an example of what happens when you take basic principles, and then let your imagination run free.  The basic principle here is halva-making.  Semolina based halva (not to be confused with the tahini based dessert which goes by the same name) is really versatile, and once you understand the basic premise of how to put one together, it becomes very easy to make it your own.  We have already shared with you our parents’ basic halva recipe, flavoured with orange and studded with raisins.  It’s delicious and it’s a very popular dessert during periods of lent (halva is both dairy and egg free).  We’ve also shared with you a vegan chocolate halva, which is a bit more decadent, because, chocolate.  But the halva story does not end there.

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Portokalopita (Πορτοκαλόπιτα)

Portokalopita

A syrup cake made with phyllo and infused with orange flavour 

Portokalopita

 

As far as desserts go, this is a weird one.  Phyllo, which is a staple in Greek cooking both in savoury and sweet recipes, is usually used to hold things together.  Think the spinach in spanakopita or the creamy custard in bougatsa, delicious fillings wrapped in phyllo.  Phyllo used this way is lovely, convenient, and typical.  Although intimidating at first, working with phyllo in these recipes is easy when you get the hang of it.  Still, you always have to be careful not to dry it out or tear it.  Truth be told, phyllo can be a little finicky.

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Vegan rizogalo / Vegan rice pudding (Νηστίσιμο ρυζόγαλο)

Vegan rice pudding

A simply perfect non-dairy rice pudding

When we first posted our parents’ rizogalo recipe we explained that this was a food which was so deeply connected to our childhoods that we couldn’t help but find comfort in a bowl of warm, creamy, simply delicious rice pudding.  And that is still so true; rizogalo, the way our parents make it (and the way we now make it), is comfort in a bowl.

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Marble cake (Κέικ βανίλια και σοκολάτα)

Marble cake

A swirly vanilla and chocolate cake made with olive oil 

We admire professional bakers, and those non-professionals who have spent years perfecting their fondant skills and can transform flour, butter and eggs into edible works of art, like toilets and Chanel purses.  Having tried our hand at sculpting with gum paste and molding with chocolate, we certainly recognize the talent that is behind baking and creating this way.  Amazing!  But, the truth is, while we can appreciate and marvel at these jaw-dropping desserts, we tend to crave the mouth-watering desserts we grew up with…and let’s be clear, our parents wouldn’t know fondant if it hit them in the face.

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Greek mountain tea cake (Κέικ με τσάι του βουνού)

Greek mountain tea cake

A great cake infused with  Greek flavour

Although we enjoy it year round, the winter months are when we really appreciate a nice warm cup of Greek mountain tea or τσάι του βουνού (tsai tou vounou).  This lovely tea made with a genus of flowering plants called Sideritis is sometimes referred to as ironwort or shepherd’s tea.  It is identified by little yellow flowers, silver tinged leaves and light green buds and is usually sold in Greek markets in dried branches or stems.

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Upside down apricot and molasses cake

Upside down apricot and molasses cake

A classic cake which tastes of gingerbread and happiness

Upside down apricot and molasses cake

 

There is something so old-fashioned about an upside-down cake; whenever we make this dessert we feel that we should wear long, flowery dresses with embroidered aprons and then serve it with Salada in vintage tea cups and conversation about good books and family values.  We’re not actually sure when the first upside-down cake was made, but we’re pretty sure it was a long time ago and that it created quite a happy commotion.

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Orange and cranberry olive oil cake

Orange and cranberry olive oil cake

An elegant cake that is perfect for breakfast, snacking or dessert

Orange and cranberry olive oil cake

 

We love to bake with olive oil.  In part this is because growing up, our parents very rarely used butter in their cooking or baked goods.  This was not because butter is not delicious, but because of our mom’s dietary restrictions and the underlying philosophy that despite the fact that butter may makes things better, olive oil makes them best.  The other reason that we love baking with olive oil is that sometimes we find ourselves out of butter, but we can’t remember a day when we looked around our kitchens and discovered we were all out of olive oil.  Lucky, for sure.

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Custard with cherry spoon sweet (Κρέμα με κομπόστα κεράσι)

Custard with cherry spoon sweet (Κρέμα με κομπόστα κεράσι)

A simple make-ahead dessert that can be dressed up or down

Custard with cherry spoon sweet (Κρέμα με κομπόστα κεράσι)

 

One of our favourite treats growing up was a creamy vanilla pudding that came from a box.  This product, imported from Greece, was one of the only “processed” foods that our parents ever made for us, and we loved it!  Whenever we would see the unique blue box with a corn on the cob design on it in the pantry, we got pretty excited. We remember how our parents would mix this pudding powder with milk, cook it while stirring slowly and serve it in shallow bowls. Occasionally they would add a topping of fresh fruit (sliced bananas were a particular favourite) or a spoon sweet they had previously made and preserved.  We still see this box of pudding in the Greek grocery store we frequent, and although we have considered picking one up for old times sake, we’re a little worried that our adult taste buds won’t love it as much as we used to.  Uncomfortable about disrupting such fond food and family memories, we’ve decided to create something similar, using ingredients we know we love.

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