Greek Sweets

Ravani Syrup Cake

I personally am not a huge fan of all the Greek syrup sweets, most of the time they are just too sweet. Having said that though, I do like the occasional syrup cake. The two most popular are Ravani and Karydopita (walnut cake). Ravani, that you see here, is a simple semolina cake lightly infused with either lemon or orange zest. Two versions I have grown to love are a coconut Ravani or a cinnamon one, like below! 

Kolokythopita – “Greek Pumpkin Pita”

I can’t believe it is almost November, and even almost 2012! Where has the time gone?

Now that school has begun, the days fly by and Monday to Friday seems to come and go faster than I can keep up with. Thankfully though, life is really good right now. Amidst all the turmoil this country is facing and the extreme austerity measures we are forced to adapt to, we still feel very blessed. We are still being taken care of on a daily basis: we have shelter, food, work, health, love, and an abundance of so many more daily joys!

Baklava

correction+%25281%2529 Baklava

Thank you for your continued patience in my erratic posting, things have been very much overwhelming for me this past week or so and don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. The first wedding was really beautiful and a great success, tomorrow I am leaving for the second wedding (where I am matron of honor for my best friend from high school). I am so excited for my two great friends to enter into the wonderful roller coaster ride world of marriage; I am a HUGE fan of finding and marrying your best friend and spending the rest of your life loving and learning to love them!

A Twist on Galaktobureko

Well, summer weather here in Lesvos was in full force this weekend and instead of being home and writing the updated blog post that I needed to be, I was swimming in the sea and eating ice cream with my husband. The sea was cold, really cold, at first but after a few minutes my body adjusted and it was spectacular!!! Summer is really one of the best times to be in Greece, and I only have 10 more days of my Greek summer because I am heading to the USA in exactly 10 days! I will (unfortunately) be flying solo, my hubby will still have school and will not be able to join until (maybe) July – I am NOT too excited about that part though. Thank God for skype!!!

Walnut Syrup Cake with Vanilla Creme Filling

Yesterday was my husband’s birthday, and although Greeks don’t really celebrate birthdays, THIS American girl surely does!!! V requested strawberry cake but there were no strawberries to be found yet on the island, maybe in a couple of weeks. Instead, I made a double layer walnut cake and filled it with his favorite vanilla creme (instant and hassle free)!

Homemade Οrange Spoon Sweets

There is a (mostly) wonderful custom here in Greece that anytime you visit someone’s house, you should “arrive with your hands full and leave with your hands empty”! Basically, you should always bring something when visiting anyone, even if they are family. The exception to this is rule is only if you have already been to visit before in the previous days and took something with you then. Typical gifts are a box of delicious sweets, a bottle of wine, some flowers, or maybe even something you have prepared yourself.

Cream Bougatsa

Another popular breakfast on-the-go or make at home here in Greece is called Bougatsa. Now, bougatsa comes in both cream filled and cheese filled. I think both are mouth watering delicious, but when I buy them from the bakery or bougatsa shop I tend to feel a little greasy and heavy afterwards. I said they were delicious, I didn’t say they were healthy! It is true that they are not fried but they are layered with kilos lots of butter or oil. My version is definitely healthier, and that is solely due to the fact that I could not consciously keep drenching the butter on each phyllo sheet like I imagine you are supposed to do for the ultimate bougatsa experience! I made the cream filled and cinnamon and sugar topped version, it. was. scrumptious. 
bougatsa bite Cream Bougatsa
Bougatsa comes from Northern Greece, probably debated between Serres and Thessaloniki. I did learn though that Serres holds the Guinness World Record for the biggest bougatsa… ha! Most shops today order frozen bougatsa from the factories and simply cook it and serve it. It is also good to know that if you live in Greece, it is available in your supermaket’s freezer section, but the best bougatsa is undoubtably from a homemade store or with a little experience, yourself. I have not even come close to mastering making homemade phyllo, but here is a log of some videos that are definitely worth some of your time if you find bougatsa interesting! 
Videos of making bougatsa from scratch, HERE!
bougatsa large Cream Bougatsa
Whether you are more of a cheesy person or you have more of a sweet tooth, at some point in your lifetime you should try both kinds of bougatsa! I like being married because one of the perks is that we buy one cheese, one cream and just share . . . that is the best of both worlds!
Yiayia’s Homemade Cream Bougatsa Recipe
Serves four to six
Ingredients
2 c. milk
1 lemon peel
¾ c. butter
¼ c. fine semolina
½ c. sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
½ tsp. vanilla
10 sheets phyllo pastry
½ tsp. kanela (cinnamon)
Powdered sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Warm milk and lemon peel in a saucepan. Melt butter in a separate pan (save ¼ c. for later). Add hot milk to butter, continuously stirring. Stir in semolina with a wooden spoon, then remove from stove, stirring continuously until thickened (make sure the top does not crust). In a mixing bowl, beat sugar, eggs, yolks, and vanilla. Slowly add mixture to semolina, stirring until it resembles custard. Remove lemon peel; cover the pan and set aside to cool. If you want to make it in a pan, brush a baking pan with leftover butter. Line the pan with six phyllo sheets, brushing each with butter. Spread custard over phyllo. Fold over excess phyllo, then top with four leftover sheets, making sure to butter each sheet. If you prefer folded, individual bougatsa, then simply butter the phyllo, fill with 1-2 spoonfuls and fold up. Bake the pan for 30-35 minutes and the individual ones for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cut into bite size pieces. Sprinkle generously with kanela (cinnamon in Greek) and powdered sugar. Serve warm with coffee, milk, or chocolate, it also goes great if served with fresh berries!
cinn sugar Cream Bougatsa
Kali Orexi. 

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Semolina Halvas

So, I must confess this morning that as I am updating my blog, I am enjoying a latte with regular milk . I made it only one week being completely vegan icon sad Semolina Halvas I think if I had more resources I could last a lot longer, but my main excuse is that I just missed coffee too much! I will continue to restrict my dairy and am committed to not eating meat until after Easter. I hope this training leads to stronger self control . . . even when it isn’t convenient! 
halvas cluster Semolina Halvas
Enough about me, I want to share a very popular sweet that IS Lent appropriate. Semolina halvas is usually made in the shape of a cake and sliced, but I made mini halvas bites. This recipe is so simple and easy, yet so tasty and delicious it is the ideal Lenten snack. 
There are two types of halvas. One is made with ground sesame seeds and usually mixed with cocoa or vanilla forming a kind of sweet yet chalky snack. And this one, which is made with semolina or a kind of cream of wheat textured grain. You gently heat in a pan, mixing everything together and then let it set up in whatever shape you desire. The bite sized pieces turned out perfect in my opinion! Topped with cinnamon or almond slivers and you have an ideal sweet. 
halvas trio Semolina Halvas
Semolina Halvas Recipe: Makes 2 mini muffin pans, or a medium – large cake mold
1 cup light oil (EVOO, sunflower, or canola, or a mixture)

2 cups coarse semolina
1/2 – 1 cup nuts: walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, ect, chopped finely or processed quickly
Cinnamon and a few nuts for topping

Kataifi Sweets

A sweet very similar to the famous Greek sweet baklava, is called καταϊφι. I actually prefer it over baklava every single time. I like phyllo just okay, but kataifi is made with shredded phyllo; I actually think it looks like phyllo hair. The inside is typically the same, made with a mixture of walnuts, almonds, and pistachios blended with a cinnamon and sugar to make it quite unbelievable. All of this is then rolled into the hairy phyllo, baked, and like all Greek sweets is topped with a simple honey syrup. 

kataifi single Kataifi Sweets
I wouldn’t say the process was difficult, but I think it is definitely a recipe that you perfect and become better at over time. This was not my par best in the looks category, but I think the flavors hit a birdie (and I don’t even play golf)! 
I can’t even really give you an official recipe because I kinda just winged it. I added a handful of toasted almonds and walnuts, about 1 T. cinnamon + 2 T. sugar + 1 egg + ~1/4 cup bread crumbs + 1 tsp. vanilla powder. I then poured some melted butter over the kataifi hair and proceeded to roll the filling up tight. Cut them into 2″ pieces and baked them until golden brown. While they were cooking I made the syrup with 2 cups water + 1 1/2 – 2 cups sugar + 1/2 cup honey + 1 cinnamon stick + a few cloves + some lemon zest (and a squirt of lemon juice) and let this cool. When the kataifi came out hot, I poured the cool syrup on top and let soak. I don’t like mine overly sweet or drinking the syrup so I have a light hand when pouring, even having some left over. 
Viola = Kataifi. Simple. Delicious. Lightly Sweet. Addictive. 
kataifi double Kataifi Sweets

I will be making this again when we are expecting some guests, it is a bit dangerous to leave around the house when there are only two of you!

Brown Rice Pudding

Rizogalo me mavro rizi. 
Rice Pudding w1 Brown Rice Pudding
Everything about this is says Greek to me because Greece was the first place I tried Rizogalo. It was actually in my mother-in-law’s kitchen when V and I were still dating at the time. His parents speak Greek. Did I mention that they speak only Greek! And I do not speak Greek, well, I am trying to learn (teaching myself), but I would say that I am far from fluent. Anyway, back to the amazing rice pudding. I have typically only been fond of rice in Chinese food or maybe with Poppyseed Chicken, so I was a little hesitant when handed a small dish of what V explained to me was rice and milk. Normally, I wouldn’t have chosen such a dessert, but the two things this sweet had going for it were: 1) it was topped with a generous sprinkle of cinnamon; I am in love with all things cinnamon; 2) it was made by my mother-in-law, who is to this day, the best Greek cook I know! Anything she touches turns to gold, or should I say silver since that is her name’s meaning in Greek! And once again she won my approval, the rice pudding soon became a treat that I would enjoy frequently! This is a very popular dessert here in Greece, you can find it at any zaxaroplastio (sweet shop) and even at restaurants and tavernas served as complimentary sweet.  
Rice Pudding w Brown Rice Pudding

I would like to introduce you to brown rice pudding, Rizogalo is usually made with white rice, but this recipe was made using brown rice. More fiber, a more dense and chewy bite, and all around a more wholesome flavor.

Loukoumades – THE Greek Doughnut

There are so many wonderful Greek recipes, and my first experience of Greek food was in Crete when I was on holiday, not knowing at the time that I would fall madly in love and marry a handsome Greek with a heart of gold! It was similar to my first loukoumades experience, not that I am comparing the love I have for my husband to a small, delicious fried Greek donut covered in honey and cinnamon, although I am obsessed with cinnamon. 
DSC 0036 Loukoumades   THE Greek Doughnut

Anyway, my first encounter with loukoumades was at night when we were walking along the beach and we shared some just freshly made. I was taken away by just the smell of the honey and cinnamon, not to mention the crushed walnuts that also intrigued me. My first bit was melt in your mouth with every flavor and sweetness joining together to create a firework display in my mouth. I immediately began to count that there were only 4 left, which meant someone would get 1 more than the other person. As we shared this newly discovered delicacy, I savored each bite. I patiently waited until the end, and then I pretended to be done at which V insisted that I have the last one. Let’s just say that I didn’t put up much of a fight and that is when I knew I found someone pretty dang special!!! The last time I had that enlightenment was in high school and my now best friend Debbie came over to my house for the weekend and I actually shared my un-opened food with her. It sounds ridiculous now, but I used to hide all my favorite foods, mainly from my older brother. So, when I was willing to share something new and untainted, I knew she would be a friend for life!

donuts Loukoumades   THE Greek Doughnut
Okay, back to these little treasures, this is a simple and very basic recipe. It will make about 12-15 small donuts. 
Homemade Greek Loukoumades Recipe
250 g. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
3 tsp. dry fast acting yeast
250 ml water 
1 tsp. vanilla
Sunflower oil or Canola oil for frying
Combine all ingredient together until well blended and smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and keep in a warm place to rise up to 1 hour, or until double in size and looks frothy/bubbly. If you have a donut dropper, add batter and proceed to drop into hot oil (temperature should be about 360°F). If you are using a spoon to drop donut balls into batter, dip spoon in water each time before dropping batter into hot oil. Cook only until golden, about 30 seconds each side, depending on size. 
DSC 0044 Loukoumades   THE Greek Doughnut
Serve with warm honey and cinnamon or warm nutella. Skies the limit to what you can top these delicious Greek donuts with: powdered sugar, honey and walnuts, jelly, anything your little heart desires go for it! You can double or triple the recipe if you want to have a loukoumades party or even refrigerate the batter for up to 2 days.  
DSC 0049 Loukoumades   THE Greek Doughnut

Whether you are Greek or not, you should start a tradition of making these for a special occasion or just because you are special. I promise that your olfactory and gustatory (smell and taste) experience will leave you with very pleasant memories to relive again and again. My mother-in-law is THE best Greek cook that I have met and her loukoumades are out of this world. I still have a lot to learn and many more recipes to try. Thanks for letting me share and I hope you will enjoy these as much as I do icon smile Loukoumades   THE Greek Doughnut

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Galatopita me kanela.

Milk Pie dusted with cinnamon.

This is a delicious, filling, and popular Greek sweet.
It couldn’t be easier to make, and it always welcomes a crowd!

Revani%2B6 Galatopita me kanela.

Try this out sometime. Recipe:

5 cups milk (at least 2% but whole is preferred)
1 cup sugar
1 cup semolina (fine)
1/2 cup butter
3 eggs, beaten
1-2 tsp. vanilla
cinnamon
Puff pastry or phyllo optional for bottom crust

Revani%2B7 Galatopita me kanela.

Preheat oven to 350. Heat milk over heavy bottom saucepan on medium heat, adding butter until melted and simmering. Add sugar and semolina, stirring constantly with whisk until dissolved completely and thickens. Remove from heat, whisk for a few minutes to slightly cool, and then continually stream in eggs and vanilla while continuing to stir quickly.

Halvas

Greek Halvas

DSC 0104 Halvas

This is a very simple recipe made of semolina (like a cream of wheat), sugar, and a little oil. It is simple and sweet, and usually blanched almonds or pine nuts are added, but here I used chopped walnuts.

DSC 0108 Halvas

There are two types of halvas, this one made with semolina and another one made from sesame seeds and sometimes cocoa. It is very common in greek culture and quite filling too.

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Hi! My name is Jacquline. Welcome to my blog. I hope you will find some delicious Greek food recipes and enjoy the read along the way! Kali Orexi :)

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