An incredible melomakarona ice cream cake with chocolate fudge and whipped cream topping.
We can barely contain our excitement! It was during one of our recent phone conversations, which tend to cover everything from what we’re watching on Netflix to why we are wired to love bread as much as we do, that we came up with the idea for a melomakarona ice cream cake. This recipe came to us as we were talking about our melomakarona cheesecake, and we were wondering if we could ever create another dessert to rival that one! We were so excited by the possibility of this ice cream cake that the next day we baked up a huge batch of frozen tyropitakia to make space in our freezer, bought the ice cream, and set to recipe developing.
The perfect gingerbread cake with a luscious cream cheese frosting
We have a few things on our bucket list. A food tour through Tuscany is one. Front row seats to Fashion Week in Paris is another. Unlimited and uninterrupted time to invest in making the most magical and intricate gingerbread house in the days before Christmas is another. Tuscany and Paris may be harder to pull off, but a gingerbread house? Come on! Surely we should be able to manage that at some point.
Until then, we’ll be satisfied with baking ginger flavoured cookies and gingerbread cakes, like this one. The combination of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and molasses in our gingerbread cake with cream cheese frosting makes the entire house smell like Christmas, so maybe we do have a gingerbread house after all – and we live in it!
Phanouropita (or fanouropita) is a symbolic and traditional Greek vegan cake full of meaning.
On August 27 the Orthodox Church celebrates the Feast Day of Saint Phanourios (pronounced “fan-OO-ree-os”) (or Saint Fanourios), the Martyr and Miracle Worker. The saint’s name sounds similar to the Greek verb “phanerono,” which means “to reveal” or “to disclose”. In fact, people pray to Saint Phanourios to help them find lost objects, to reveal lost or hidden spiritual matters of the heart, to redirect them or reveal actions which should be taken, and to restore health. When a lost object is discovered, or when prayers reveal what is needed, a symbolic cake called a phanouropita is baked and brought to the church where it is blessed by the priest and then distributed among the parishioners.
Saragli or Baklava cigars are a traditional Greek syrup soaked dessert make with phyllo dough and nuts
Σαραγλί. Do you know what is arguably better than baklava, the king of Greek syrup-soaked desserts? Saragli ! Saragli (pronounced with the accent on the last syllable) are basically baklava rolled into cigar shapes, making them easy to eat with your fingers, which then requires you to lick your fingers clean of the sweet, sticky syrup the saragli are soaked in. Of course, you can always be civilized and use a fork, or a napkin. We won’t judge.
Greek biscotti, or paximadia, made with tsoureki bread and dipped in chocolate and sprinkles
Παξιμάδια τσουρεκιού. The common adage “if life gives you lemons, make lemonade” (or avgolemono soup) is pretty good advice. The sentiment can be extended to so many things, including tsoureki. If you have read the post that accompanies our tsoureki recipe you’ll know that although our recipe is now fail-proof and delicious, it wasn’t always so. We have survived many disappointing tsourekia, with some being too dense, undercooked, or simply blah. Having been raised in a household where “waste nothing” was a very important mantra, we could never just dump our tsourekia in the trash (except for the one we called “The Tsourocki”….read more about that disaster in the tsoureki post).
Very simple shortbread cookies that are perfect for Orthodox lent.
With these vegan shortbread cookies, what you see is what you get! We have lived the disappointment of using cookie cutters to shape cookies just the way we want them only to find that they have flattened, spread, or risen while baking. Cut out flowers, kittens and firetrucks end up looking like blobs. Still delicious, but blobs. Not these cookies! These cookies come out of the oven looking pretty much the way that they went in. No surprises!
Unconventional vasilopita for an unconventional year
Purists and traditionalists may cringe at this post, and we’re prepared for the fall out. We know that there are certain things that are sacred and should not be tampered with. Like garlic in tzatziki or bechamel on pastitsio. We get it, we really do!
But let’s face it guys, 2020 has been a very unusual and unconventional year and 2021 is starting off that way as well. In our part of the world we are in the midst of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and the implications are huge. Restaurants remain closed except for take-out, retail shops are now closed, schools are either closed or via distance learning, and gatherings of any kind are prohibited. For those who prefer to ring in the new year in the comfort of their bed, sleeping, this is great! For many others, this sucks – big time!
Christopsomo is a layered Christmas bread with the most unbelievable texture and flavour
Christmas rituals certainly vary across cultures, regions and families. Some are embedded within religious traditions while others are developed through years of “that’s just the way we do things”. One tradition which our family shares with many other Orthodox families is the baking of the traditional christopsomo, which literally translates to Christ’s bread. This bread is typically baked on Christmas Eve and eaten on Christmas Day and is replete with symbolism and meaning.
Much of the beauty of Greek cuisine is that it varies from region to region. In part this is due to agricultural possibilities (think mountainous landscapes versus islands surrounded by the sea), connections with other cultures, and local customs and traditions. Every recipe tells a story, and offers a glimpse into the rich web of history, both cultural and culinary, that makes Greece and Greek food such an important and fascinating area of study. Although many of these unique regional dishes are well known (think kalitsounia from Crete or lalagia from Messinia), others are so local that they are known only to isolated villages. The recipe which we are sharing here is one such example.
The great flavour of melomakarona and cheesecake combined in our melo cheesecake!
Today was officially the end of the holidays for us. Kids back at school, parents all back to work, and the merriment of Christmas and New Year’s gone for another year. One of us has succeeded in taking down the Christmas tree and packing away the decorations, while the other is still wondering if the tree should stay up until Easter, decorated for every holiday between now and then, the way it did last year. Despite our home décor differences, both of us agree that it might be time to do away with any leftover sweets and treats. After all, it’s a new year, and for a few weeks at least, we should focus on joining countless others who vow that this is the year that we eat well, and exercise more. But then again, life is short, and dessert is good.