Archive for the ‘Friday Friandises (dessert)’ Category


These are the plums I cut up today, in a bit of a rush. This has been a busy week. So when I’m this busy, it’s all about simple pleasures.

I’m not sure if this sounds like a wierd breakfast, but I’ve been craving Roasted Plums. Craving dessert in the morning comes naturally to me.

Sometimes I just cut them in half, add vanilla bean, pour honey, sprinkle a little brown sugar, maybe a dot of butter…and serve warm with either thick Greek yogurt or ice cream.

I was in the mood for something a bit different. I picked up a bag of chestnuts on the street yesterday. I have some leftover Port in my wine cabinet. Eureka! I tossed cut plums in a small baking dish with a drizzle of port wine, scraped vanilla bean, and sprinkled a small amount of brown sugar. If you want, you could also dot the plums with butter. I chose not to.  They roasted in a 180C/375F oven for 15 minutes or so. They should be tender and releasing juices, but not mushy.

While the plums were roasting I dropped the chestnuts in a food processor. Once roughly chopped (do not let them get too fine- then there is no texture!) I toasted them a bit, and added a tiny bit of sugar to the pan while roasting. Hey, I didn’t add any butter, can’t I have some sugar?

I plated my plums with a little yogurt and topped with the chestnuts. I drizzled the released juices from the pan over the yogurt.

An even nicer presentation would be making this into a trifle. In a glass you could layer the plums, yogurt, and nuts elegantly.

I had a nice breakfast with a serving of fruit and protein for the day. Sorry I didn’t take a pic of the finished plate.

When you find flavors that work well together, vary your recipes up. For example, with the same ingredients, I could have made chestnut mousse and a reduced port syrup to accompany the plums. Or I could have poached the plums in port and topped with chestnut ice cream. You get the idea.


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Yes, I’m using apples again. I want to share a simple recipe for a warm after dinner drink, which I’ll be serving at a dinner party tomorrow.

I knew this would be a busy week, so I chose the menu accordingly. The themes are Fall and French Bistro. I am making a Salmon Mousse appetizer, Blanquette de Veau (Veal Stew with White Sauce), Pomme Anne (a potato tart made with layered thin potato slices), Fennel Arugula Salad with Orange Vinaigrette, and two cheese plates. I chose a peppery blue cheese and a nice Camembert that I will heat and serve with apricot jam.

We’ll be ending the meal with Chocolate Mousse with Candied Almonds, and my Warm Apple Rum Drink.

That may sound like a lot, but honestly- the potato dish is the only one that requires a the most active time and energy. Veal stews by itself for hours, the salad and cheese plates are easy and quick to assemble, and chocolate mousse is one of the fastest desserts to prepare.

Here’s how I spread things out:

Thursday- grocery shopping, made salmon mousse (can be refrigerated up to 2 days)

Friday- chocolate mousse, candied almonds, apple drink (without rum)

Saturday- Morning: Veal-let stew all day, assemble salad without dressing, assemble cheese plates/ A few hours before party, make potato tart

Right before serving, I add dressing, add honey and other garnishes to cheese plate, and reheat the veal and potato. And a few friends always end up assisting with things here and there in the kitchen.

To serve the mousse, I pipe it onto plates and garnish with the candied almonds. Before serving the Warm Apple Drink, I add the rum, reheat slightly, and pour into glasses with a cinnamon stick and slice of apple (the apple that’s been used to flavor the drink).

I enjoy all the little distractions from work during the week. It’s nice to use my hands and satisfy my senses while escaping from the flat computer screen!

On Sunday I will post all the details, recipes and pictures from the dinner party. For now, here is one part of the menu that is super easy, for which you certainly don’t need a special occasion. Any cozy, cool fall night is the right setting for this drink:



  • -1 quart apple juice
  • -1 quart apple cider
  • -1 apple, studded with cloves (got that idea from Emeril)
  • -1 tbs grated orange peel
  • -2/3 cup brown sugar-(use just 1/3  if the apple juice youre using is sweetened).
  • a dash cinnamon
  • a grating of nutmeg
  • (i love clove, so i add more sprinklings of clove)
  • 1 cup dark rum (i like to add 2 cups, but keep in mind people may be driving soon after this after-dinner drink).
  • -3 tbs grand marnier (optional)


  • Stud the apple with cloves


  • -Mix first 7 ingredients in a pot over medium heat. Once it starts simmering, let it continue to simmer for 12 minutes.


  • -Take off of heat, remove apple, and strain.


(you can do all of this 1 day before serving)

Before serving- add  rum and reheat until just warm. Do not heat for too long, and do NOT boil. This will reduce the flavor of the rum.

Pour into glasses, and garnish with a slice of the cloved boiled apple, and a cinnamon stick.

If you wish, add a small drop of grand marnier to each glass.


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If you’ve read my last post, you remember that while I’ve resolved to eat healthier, I am not giving up dessert! So for this weeks’ Friday Friandises post, I thought up a seasonal fall dessert that tastes indulgent. Indulgent is one of my favorite words and concepts if you haven’t already noticed. 🙂

Pears are smelling mighty fine lately and roasted fruit always feels like comfort food to me.  This recipe kind of resembles the texture and flavor of fruit crisp, without all the butter. I wanted to incorporate some familiar Greek ingredients: honey, almonds and kataifi pastry (pictured above) are among the most common. I played with this combo a bit in my head and thus a recipe was born: Roasted Honey Almond Pears Wrapped in Kataifi

Kataifi is an ingredient feared much like Phyllo pastry is feared. It really is not difficult. The key is to accept that it does not need to appear neat or to be handled neatly. Actually, its wild shape is its beauty.

Kataifi is a thinly shredded dough made of wheat and water.The dough is squeezed through tiny holes through a disk  onto a heated metal plate, circling like a tun table. It then dries into its characteristic long, thin strands. It doesn’t take long – about 2 minutes, and then it produces a fluffy pile of pastry dough! The frozen variety is also wonderful to use, but if you can get your hands on fresh…I recommend it.

Here is a link to a video on youtube that demonstrates how it is made: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXcN6XIPEeo&feature=related  (You might want to turn the volume down, the machine sound is quite jarring).

It can be used for both savory and sweet dishes. One of my most successful dinner party appetizers was a kataifi wrapped scallop. mmmmmmmm. Wrap a scallop in a kataifi nest, drizzle with melted butter, season with salt and pepper and bake for 15 minutes. Then drizzle with balsamic syrup. Try this, it is Incredibly Good.

Here’s the dessert recipe:

Roasted Honey Almond Pears Wrapped in Kataifi-makes 4 small servings or 2 regular servings

2 large pears, ripe but not too soft

8 tbs honey

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup amaretto

1/2 cup sliced blanched almonds

1 tbs cinnamon (optional)

shavings of clove (optional)

Other optional additions-granola, raisins, crushed amaretti cookies, vanilla cookies, etc…anything with texture-take your pick

4 bunches kataifi pastry (a loose handful each)

Non stick spray

Preheat oven to 400F or 200C

Peel and core the pears; Cut in half lengthwise. Place in small baking dish, cut side up.

Drizzle each pear half with 1 tbs of honey each. Pour water and amaretto over the pears.

Add dashes of cinnamon and clove over the pears if you like as well.

(add dots of butter to the pears if you’re not dieting!) 🙂

Bake pears for 15 minutes.

While the pears are baking, toast the almonds in a pan on low heat until just lightly toasted-watch carefully, they burn fast!

After taking out the pears, let cool a bit, then chop them up and place in a bowl.

To the bowl, add almonds and -2/3 cup raisins, or crumbled cookies- a mix of anything you’d like- anything with texture.

Take 1/4 of the pear mixture and wrap inside a bunch of kataifi pastry. This may seem messy and difficult- but remember: it does not need to be neat. It looks beautiful no matter how uneven it may seem. Repeat with the rest 3 times.

Spray the non-stick spray on the bottom of a foiled baking dish.

Drizzle the rest of honey over the kataifi rolls and continue baking for 15-20 minutes, until katifi looks golden. (Again, if you don’t mind the butter, drizzle 1/4 cup melted butter as well over the rolls if you like).

Enjoy! You can add some ice cream to this with another drizzle of honey, although its satiating with its own roasted cinnamon honey pear goodness. 🙂

Let me know if you have any questions or to tell me how it turned out for you.

*above pic is from Danielle Sucher (sorry I didn’t take my own, I left my camera at a friends’ house)

More in a few days!

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This morning I woke up to thundering rain. Although I’ve enjoyed my long lovely summer, I’ve been quite in the mood for a change of season. Today was the first day it really felt like fall.

With a hooded sweater I walked to the grocery store to prep some meals in the morning while I work in the afternoon. Tonight my boyfriend is coming over and I want us to have a relaxing, cozy dinner in the house. The idea of French Onion Soup feels like a perfect choice.

I bought large yellow onions, a baguette, gruyere cheese and some fresh thyme. (I’ve tried to grow herbs in my garden for the past two years but it just isn’t fair to the poor plants to keep trying…:-/) I sliced the onions quickly and let the caramelize slowly while I got back to my editing. Later I flavored the soup by deglazing with with beef stock and brandy (I forgot the sherry), and seasoned with thyme, bay leaves, and sea salt. Once Niko gets here, I will broil his ceramic bowl of soup with a baguette slice covered in shredded gruyere. I will eat mine without the bread and cheese, because I am trying to shed some pounds. No need to take pity.  It is still an incredibly flavorful soup this way, and I have some wheat bread I will use to dunk. 🙂 I don’t know if you will think I’m crazy, but I actually like to grate clove into my french onion soup before eating…I like it, what can I say?

Now onto my favorite part of the meal…dessert, and the real point of this post!

I’m very sorry I don’t have a real picture of the dessert and used a copout Rembrandt painting! But my camera is on the fritz, I have no clue whats wrong with it…

Let me say first that I used to grocery shop prepared with strict lists and a strict idea of what I would be making. I think this is a mistake. It’s important to see what is available and what is fresh the day you are at the market. I am now less dependent on recipes, and more inclined to creativity. Today I bought apples because they smelled great and it’s another great ingredient to celebrate autumn. When I turned the corner and smelled the fresh wild mint from 3 feet away, I knew I had to get it! Every few minutes while I strolled the store,  I lifted the bunch up to my nose for a deep breath of the intense mint aroma. This was not the pre-packaged herb variety!

Well, this combination of apples and mint in my buggie led to a new experiment. I wanted to pick something relatively healthy while still tasting indulgent. I decided to make Calvados Baked Apples with an Oatmeal Crumble and Apple-Mint Sorbet. This combo has not only a play in textures but also temperature, which I love.

First I start on the sorbet:

I am making a small portion for two, but you can of course double or triple this recipe:

APPLE MINT SORBET (4 servings, i will have some left over maybe for tomorrow morning) 🙂

  • 4 apples, peeled and diced
  • 2/3 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup calvados liquor
  • juice of half of a lemon
  • a dash of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbs honey or 4 tbs sugar- or a mix- be careful not to overextend the honey, because then it will taste like honey sorbet! I’ve made that mistake before.
  • 7 big mint leaves, finely chopped.

Ok, I do not have an ice cream machine yet, so I made mine the old fashioned way!

Blend the apples with the wine, liquor,  and water. Then stir sugar/honey and lemon juice and dash of apple cider vinegar.

Stir well and place in an air tight container to freeze for an hour.

Stir well again; then freeze again- check it every 15 minutes or so to stir until its set. I can’t give you an exact time on this, you have to keep your eye on it.

When you see it’s almost ready to set, stir in the chopped mint leaves.

I love adding calvados to any apple dessert because the flavor is Apple X’s 10!


In a bowl, mix with your hands 1/4 cup oatmeal, 2 tbs honey, 1-2 butter(cut into tiny bits)- you can adjust this to your liking as well-this is just a ratio to help you if you need. I would advise to pour as much oatmeal into the bowl, add a little honey, put a few bits of butter, and see how it goes. You want a sticky, crumbly mixture. This makes very little. If you want more, double or triple this. Don’t be afraid to do this by sight and not strict measurements.

Before serving, toast the crumble in the oven on 375 for just 8 min or when it looks toasted and golden.


2 whole apples, peeled and cored

a sprinkling of juice from a half of a lemon

1/4 cup apple juice or cider

1/4 cup calvados liquor-or brandy

2 small dots of butter- or big dots 🙂

4 tbs sugar

Preheat oven to 200C or 400F

Wash apples and score them on top (slice a shallow X on the top)

Place apples in a small baking dish

In the cored holes, but the dot of butter and pour the juice-calvados liquids over the apples

Sprinkle 2 tbs of sugar on each apple

Bake for 25-40 minutes, depending on how strong your oven is- keep an eye after 20 minutes. you want them fork tender, but not mushy! There should be a nice bite, so there is a contrast to the soft sorbet.

*of course you can add any spice you like- cinnamon, clove, etc. I am keeping it simple so there is just an intense flavor of apple, enhanced by sugar/honey and accented by the apple-mint sorbet.

**make sure the apples are warm when serving.


Cut thick slices of apple and plate them attractively-overlapping on a plate.

Drizzle some of the natural sauce from the baking pan over the apples. (If you want, you can reduce the sauce in a pan to concentrate before drizzling)

Scoop a delicate quinelle of sorbet over the baked apples.

Finish by sprinkling the oatmeal crumble over the dish and top with a vibrant green sprig of mint.

I hope you enjoy this, let me know what you think after trying!

(tomorrow I will post my Ta Kioupia review, a great restaurant in Athens)

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sophias fig picture

Christina, one of my dear friends in New York is seeing figs everywhere and told me I should offer up a recipe. She’s always full of good ideas.

Our mutual friend Sophia visited me in Greece last year at the end of August, and we took advantage of all the fresh figs in season. We spent the night inside talking, drinking wine, and making a simple recipe: Figs stuffed with mozzarella, wrapped in prosciutto, drizzled with olive oil and baked! Once baked, a little drizzle of honey doesn’t hurt.  We had a lovely girls night. Our happy time in the kitchen was marked with red wine stains and fig flesh.

Every time I eat figs it feels like an indulgence. There is an inherent lusciousness and exotic quality to this fruit.

The Bengali saying: (tumi jeno dumurer phool hoe gele) “You have become invisible like the dumur flower” alludes to the invisible fig flower! Invisible? Yes, because the flower of the fig is actually inside the fruit. Verrrrrry mysterious.

Figs are one of the highest plant sources of calcium and fiber. They also have lots of antioxidants. So ignore the high content of sugar and carbs! 😉

When visiting my village of Menetes every summer, most homes have an overflowing bowl of figs for guests to enjoy. They are usually freshly picked from their own family’s fig tree. Everyone likes to feel that their own tree produces the best figs!

Even back in Athens, we have a fig tree that I pick at from my balcony when in season. Simple pleasures!

Many fig recipes pair the fruit with blue cheese, honey and walnuts. I enjoy all this options, but prefer the combination of fig with orange as well as caramel in fall or winter months. So this is a recipe I pieced together…


serves 4

For Poached Figs:

  • 1lb. figs (1/2 kilo)
  • 1 cup orange juice (preferably fresh)
  • 1/8 cup sugar or 2 tbs honey

Boil the orange juice with sugar or honey until it is reduced to 1/3 cup. Place quartered figs into a baking dish with the reduced liquid poured over it. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. Reserve the orange liquid.

For the Pudding:

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups whole milk, divided
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Add cornstarch and salt in a bowl. Slowly pour in 1/4 cup of the milk, and whisk until the cornstarch is dissolved. Then whisk in egg yolks.

Stir sugar and 1/3 cup water in large saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Boil, and brush down pan sides with wet pastry brush. Continue boiling without stirring until syrup is deep amber around 10 minutes. You can swirl the pan occasionally. Add 2 cups milk (mixture will bubble, don’t worry)! Whisk until caramel bits dissolve. Slowly whisk hot milk mixture into yolk mixture; return to same pan. Whisk until pudding thickens and boils, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in butter and vanilla. Chill uncovered until the pudding is cold and slightly firm, around 3 hours.

This can be a nice meal in both cold and warm weather, as it can be served either cold or warm. Personally, when I make pudding, I eat it warm out of the pot! 🙂

*To plate- in ring molds, pipe or spread pudding within whatever shape you like in the middle of the plate. Once you lift off the molds, drape the figs however you like over and on the side of the pudding.

Drizzle some of the orange poaching liquid attractively on the plate. and garnish with candied oranges and toasted sliced almonds for extra texture and flavor.

Let me know how you liked it if you try the recipe!

*note- I’ve replaced Friday Desserts with Friday Friandises- In the spirit of  alliteration. 🙂

Friandises means sweets or petit fours.

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