One Pot Monday Presents: Kolokithokeftedes! (AKA Greek Zucchini Fritters)

ImageImageSince returning from my overseas adventures, I’ve slowly gotten back into the swing of things. I have noticed that I am cooking more Mediterranean-themed meals, however, hoping to hold onto my Cyprus summer memories just a little bit longer through my cooking: yet another magical quality of food. So, in keeping with this “not wanting to let go of summer” theme, I present to you: My version of squash patties, or “kolokithokeftedes”.  These are also “One-Pot”, so a great One-pot Monday meal as well. Just make sure to use the freshest ingredients possible, as usual, to do these babies the justice they deserve. I actually remember making some version of these at the beach house in Cyprus, after plucking a few stolen zucchini from the farm next door. One bite, and you will be transported to a Mediterranean island far, far away.

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Ingredients:

 

1.5 lbs zucchini squash, grated

1 large egg

¼ cup olive oil

1 ½ tsp salt

1 tsp freshly cracked pepper

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp fresh thyme

1 heaping tablespoon of freshly minced mint

¼ cup parmesan cheese

 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

¼ cup bread crumbs

½ cup grated yellow onion

zest of 1 large lemon

 

½ cup of flour, for coating

1 tsp lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving

 

The instructions are easy. Just mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Form the patties at your desired size.

In a large frying pan, heat up 4 tbs olive oil over medium high heat.

Right before placing patties in the pan, coat each side with flour in a shallow plate.

Cook for about 4 minutes per side, until golden brown. Repeat in batches 

As soon as they come out, season with extra salt and lemon juice.

These are really good with tzatziki sauce or hummus on the side.

 

 

 

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Melomakarouna for the Decapentavgustos! (Greek Honey cookies for the August 15th Holiday!)

ImageImageHappy 15th of August to all of my Greek friends! For those of you who aren’t of the Hellenic persuasion, the 15th of August is a big religious summer holiday that celebrates the Ascention of the Virgin Mary or “Panayia”. She represents Mother Earth to the mainlanders, and Mother sea to all of the islanders. All Greeks named after the Virgin Mary with names ranging from Mary to Mario to Panayioti celebrate this special day along with her and are given many presents, asked advice, and considered closer to God on this day. This even includes the name Despina, or the ancient version of how they addressed the Panayia (woohoo it’s my name day too! So, if anyone wants to surprise me with a really nice, lavish present today, please, by all means, feel free! ) On this day, which is the third holiest aside from Christmas and Easter, the Virgin Mary, or Panayia, is asked to preform miracles on Earth, ranging rom solving family feuds to playing matchmaker. Whatever the miracle, Greeks can be sure of a couple of things: the day(s) off from work surrounding the Holiday (those Greeks and their excuses to take off work and party, right?), a Panigiri or festival will take place, and lots of good food, wine, and merriment. Maybe even a miracle or two. 

In commemorance of this special day, I decided to make one of my all-time favorite Greek desserts to share. Melomakarouna, or “Honey Cookies”, are a delicious treat that always reminds me of the holy holidays: Easter, Christmas, and hey, why not Decapentavgoustos as well? These are super easy to make, and the orange and cinnamon flavors really evoke the warm feeling of celebrating a holiday with friends. There is nothing better than enjoying a Melomakarouno cookie with a steaming cup of coffee or tea and chatting with friends and family. On a side note, yet another perk is that these are Vegan-friendly, as there is no egg or dairy in these cookies! I hope you enjoy, and add these to your holiday favorites as well, though they are delicious any time of year you want to feel that warm holiday feeling.

 

 For the Cookies:

-4 cups flour

-3/4 cup olive oil (regular, not extra virgin)

-1/4 cup vegetable oil

-1/3 cup sugar

-zest of 1 large orange

-1/2 cup orange juice

-5 tbs brandy

-1/2 tsp salt

-small pinch of freshly ground nutmeg

-1 tsp baking powder

-1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, for topping

– ½ tsp cinnamon

 

For the Syrup:

-1 cup honey

-1 cup water

-1/4 cup sugar

– 1 cinnamon stick

-3 whole cloves

-1 small 1” piece of lemon rind

-1 small  1” piece of orange rind

-1 tsp lemon juice

-cinnamon for sprinkling on top

 

In a medium sized bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a small bowl, lightly press together the orange zest and sugar until they form an orange colored sugar, and the orange oils have coated the sugar well.

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Transfer to a large mixing bowl, and blend in the oils, brandy, and orange juice.

In the mixing bowl, slowly add in the dry ingredients, pulsing and mxing with every ½ cup or so of added dry ingredients until all is blended and a dough forms. The dough should be moist, but not sticky.

On an ungreased cookie sheet, place 1 tbs rounded dough balls, spacing evenly. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the cookies are a light golden brown.

While the cookies are baking, begin making the syrup immediately.

In a large saucepan, whisk together all of the syrup ingredients, and bring to a boil. Now reduce the pan to a simmer on medum low, and simmer for about 25 minutes.

ImageOnce the cookies are done, immediately submerge them in batches in the syrup, dunking them on all sides for about 30 seconds. Remove from the oil, and line on a serving platter. Sprinkle with walnuts, lightly pressing the walnuts into the tops of the cookies to stick.

Repeat this process with the rest of the cookies. To serve, serve warm with coffee. To store, keep them at room temperature, so that they stay soft.

 

 

 

 

 

Goodbye, Cyprus: My last meal at Zephyros

ImageImageAfter 3 relaxing weeks of adventures in Cyprus, topped off with an overnight stay in Amsterdam, it’s bittersweet to be back. Since my husband could only partake in a week’s worth of Cyprus fun, I’ve been so happy being back on the same part of the planet as him. However, leaving my cousins, whom I consider my “second” brothers and sisters, is always such an emotional and tearful experience.  Continue reading

Glikolemono: The Sweetest Cafe in Larnaca

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The other day after an afternoon of perusing the shops in downtown Cyprus ( very exhausting life while on vacation here, I know), we decided to find a cafe to sit down for an afternoon caffeine pick-me-up. After walking around for a bit, my cousin Christoula suggested we try out her favorite cafe, Glikolemono, which means “Sweet Lemon” in Greek. Nestled in an alleyway, which is quite the trend for cafes and restaurants on this island, with rows of adorable vintage cafe tables and chairs, sits this charming little cafe. Inside, the floor is a Moroccan tile, and the pastry windows are alive with the sweet treats that they churn out fresh daily from their quaint little kitchen in the back.  Continue reading

Thia Koula’s Famous Keftedes

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The other night we went over to one of my favorite Great Aunts, Thia Koula’s, house for dinner. We always look forward to such occasions as, aside from my amazing Yia Yia who is no longer with us, she was our favorite cook of the family. We always arrive at her house famished, knowing that there will be plenty of delicious food to sample and fill our bellies to the point of almost exploding with happiness. Thia Koula is pictured below, the beautiful lady on the right:

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Continue reading