Greek Yogurt with Honey

Greek yogurt with honey has been in my life ever since I can remember. We pair it with walnuts, but you’ll definitely see people having it with all sorts of nuts. In Crete, there is also the custom of honey and walnuts during the wedding ceremony. These two are mixed and given to the bride and groom. Honey symbolizes the sweet life of the couple and walnuts are a symbol of fertility!

You know back in the old days, before people started travelling a lot and the free flow of information, people in Crete made do with their local ingredients for desserts. Bees have been kept  for their honey since antiquity. Nuts, honey and fruit – among others – were used for desserts. Greek yogurt with honey and walnuts is a traditional desserts in the island of Crete. So simple and beautiful at the same time.

 

A few facts about yogurt and honey

One thing I need to point out before we set course on anything… If you really want to make an original yogurt with honey dessert that will allow you to savor it in its peak taste, you must use prime quality ingredients. What do I mean by that? The yogurt should be Greek strained yogurt, of the thick or set type. Preferably, you can get the one made in Greece or at least made from milk produced in Greece. The terrain, vegetation and the nutrition of the animals varies from country to country, which plays a big role in the quality and taste of the milk, hence the yogurt too.

 

Secondly, the honey. Again you need good quality honey. Honey can have a quite different taste, depending on if the bees were kept near flowers, bigger trees or even thyme bushes. If the trees have been sprayed with pesticides, that can affect the honey or even kill the bees. Things to keep in mind when you pick your honey jars. In Crete, you can get excellent “thyme honey” as we call it, the taste is amazing! My father used to grow his own honey. He studied a lot about bees during that time, and he used to give them nothing else but plain garlic to guard them from sickness in the winter. Completely organic! Every time I fly home, I bring back a few jars of honey with me 🙂

 

To make our dessert

One very simple way to enjoy these flavors is to put a few spoonfuls of yogurt in a dessert bowl, sprinkle in some walnuts and then drizzle with honey! Thats it. Ready in seconds and tastes delicious.

I tried to make a different presentation here. Firstly, take a kitchen brush and make a straight line across the plate with the yogurt. Secondly, arrange two round rings of different sizes on the plate and fill them with yogurt. Carefully lift the rings. Thereafter, sprinkle some walnut pieces on one side and drizzle with honey on top. Enjoy your dessert!

Greek Yogurt with Honey

This is a very simple and traditional Greek dish. Its great as a dessert but wonderful for breakfast also. Yogurt with honey and walnuts is deeply rooted into the Greek culinary history and is a widely – and rightfully so – celebrated dish among the locals. It is quite simple to make with 3 ingredients only. Yet it will give you all the energy you need to start the day or a delicate sweet note to finish your dinner. Just enjoy! 

  • 8 tbsp Greek thick yogurt
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp roughly crushed walnuts
  1. Firstly, take a kitchen brush and make a straight line across the plate with the yogurt. Secondly, arrange two round rings of different sizes on the plate and fill them with yogurt. Carefully lift the rings. 

  2. Thereafter, sprinkle some walnut pieces on one side and drizzle with honey on top. Enjoy your dessert!

Alternatively you can add the yogurt in a bowl. Sprinkle with walnuts and drizzle with honey.

 

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Beautiful Lemon Cake

Lemon Cake is a childhood favorite of mine. In Greek cuisine, lemon is used abundantly. We put it in everything. I love lemons so much, I actually eat them raw.  And lemons have huge health benefits!  They help with digestion and weight loss, are great for the skin, and they hydrate and cleanse the body. But I primarily drink lemon juice because I just love it!

Lemon Cake

 

I also think that desserts made with lemons are absolutely delicious. Because lemon sort of balances out the sweetness and gives the dessert a freshness. For example, lemon tart (or Tarte au Citron as my French friends would say :)) has a light texture that leaves you with a fresh taste, especially after a meaty meal.

So, I decided to make Lemon Cake. My 2 year old James loves it also. And it’s wonderful to have homemade goodies for the little ones. In this recipe I use lemon glaze on top. To regulate the sweetness, I go lighter on the sugar in the recipe.

 

Making the lemon cake

The first thing you want to do is get the butter going. So before you gather your ingredients together, take the butter out of the fridge and  and bring it to room temperature. It should be soft, but not melting. Put it in the mixer bowl and start creaming it. For around 5 mins, until its fluffy.

In the meantime, gather the rest of the ingredients for your lemon cake and get your oven going at 180 C / 350 F. After 5 mins add the sugar to the butter and mix for another 5 mins. Now, add the lemon zest and eggs, alternating between the two. Mix for another 2 mins or so.

In a bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together: flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Now what you want to do is add the dry mixture to the batter, alternating with the liquid ingredients. So add a few tbsps of the dry mixture and then add some lemon juice. After that add the dry ingredients again and some butter milk and vanilla. And continue repeating this process until you have a nice creamy batter. It should take you around 10 mins.  At the end taste the batter and see if you wish to adjust with sugar or lemon. It’s a matter of personal taste really!

 

Grease a cake pan generously with butter and add the cake mixture.  Bake this beauty in the oven for 50 mins to 1 hr at 180 C / 350 F. Baking time can vary from oven to oven, so just insert a cake tester or toothpick or… a wooden souvlaki skewer in my case lol. Well I did you know, it’s thin enough and does the trick 🙂 So if it comes out clean, its ready.

Take it out of the oven and let it cool down. Drizzle with lemon glaze.

 

Making the Lemon cake glaze

In a bowl sift the confectioners sugar and add the lemon juice tbsp by tbsp. Mix until combined. For a thick glaze it’s about 1 1/2 cup confectioners sugar to 4 tbsps lemon juice. If you like it thinner, add more lemon juice.

Beautiful Lemon Cake

This is a beautiful, light and lemony cake. It will make you crave for more and lift your spirits with its zesty aroma. Perfect match for a Sunday afternoon with tea or coffee. 

  • 230 g (8 oz) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • the zest of 3 lemons
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt

Lemon Glaze

  • 1 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 4 tbsps lemon juice

Making the Lemon Glaze

  1. In a bowl sift the confectioners sugar and add the lemon juice tbsp by tbsp. Mix until combined. For a thick glaze it’s about 1 1/2 cup confectioners sugar to 4 tbsps lemon juice. If you like it thinner, add more lemon juice.

Making the cake

  1. Take the butter out of the fridge and  and bring it to room temperature. It should be soft, but not melting. Put it in the mixer bowl and start creaming it. For around 5 mins, until its fluffy.

  2. Gather the rest of the ingredients and get the oven going at 180 C / 350 F. 

  3. After 5 mins add the sugar to the butter and mix for another 5 mins. Now, add the lemon zest and eggs, alternating between the two. Mix for another 2 mins or so.

  4. In a bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together: flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

  5. Add a few tbsps of the dry mixture and then add the liquid ingredients, alternating between the dry ingrediens mixture and the liquid ones. 

  6. Mix for 10 mins and taste to check if it needs adjustment. 

  7. Grease a cake pan generously with butter and add the cake mixture. Bake it for 50 mins to 1 hr at 180 C / 350 F.

  8. Take it out of the oven and let it cool down. Drizzle with lemon glaze.

Black Cherry Jam with Pepper – Μαρμελαδα με Μαυροκέρασα και πιπέρι

Hello from beautiful Athens, Greece! In Dubai the temperatures have been boiling hot the last few weeks, so we decided it was about time for me and little James to hit the road.

Among other lush vegetation the house is surrounded by fragrant pine trees. There is an open air market every Friday where you can find fresh vegetables and fruits. After I was tipped off by my mom that they sell the most tasty black cherries, I decided it’s cherry jam time!

 

These specific cherries are called black cherries – mavrokerasa and are very dark skinned.  They come from northern Greece, a part that is renowned for breeding the best cherries in the country. Their taste is sweet with lots of flesh that’s quite firm and juicy. Heaven!

 

 

Prepping the cherries

 

 

We bought 4 kgs of cherries which is about 9 pounds. After washing them thoroughly and removing the stems, we destoned them. This yielded 2.5 kgs (5.5 lbs) of fruit.

 

 

We put the fruit in a big heavy bottom pot and boiled it for 20 mins. Took the fruit off the fire and measured it. It was precisely 9 cups.

Destoning the cherries
Don’t mind my black cherry colored fingers!

 

 

Making the cherry jam

 

At this stage, please put a plate in the freezer. We will use it later.

Now I’m one of those people that do not prefer a particularly sweet jam. Therefore, I like to taste the fruit more, especially when they are in their peak season and so tasty. I think it’s a shame to over sweeten it. So anyway, we put the fruit back in the pot, brought it to a boil and added the juice and zest of 1.5 small lemons. Just be careful to grate the lemon with a small hole grater. As a result, you will grate off only the outer yellow part of the lemon and not the white skin underneath that tends to be bitter.

 

Next we added the sugar, regular white sugar, cup by cup. Tasting along the way, we decided to stop at 5 cups. Honestly, to my taste that was perfect. We lowered the heat to a simmer and stirred frequently so it doesn’t burn. Now I decided to experiment with pepper. Yes, you heard me, pepper, the regular black powder kind. The pepper gives the taste a big kick and enhances it quite a bit. If you want to take your jam a level or even two up, be bold and add pepper. If you are still not convinced, do me a favor and add the pepper powder bit by bit, checking the flavor as you go.

 

 

Simmer the jam for about 50 mins. You’ll know it’s ready when your jam has a thick-ish gel like consistency. Don’t expect it to be too thick though.

 

 

Remember that plate in the freezer? Take it out now and spread a teaspoon of jam on. It will cool down in seconds. Check the thickness of the cooled jam to see if you have what you are looking for. Yes? Congratulations get ready for breakfast! No? Simmer 5 mins more and check again.

 

 

 

We ended up with 8 cups of jam. To store, boil a few glass jars (and their lids) for 15 mins so they are nicely sterilized. Let them cool and spoon in the mavrokerasa jam.

 

 

 

Black Cherry jam with pepper – Μαρμελαδα Μαυροκέρασο με πιπέρι

Black Cherry jam. From sweet, firm and juicy cherries. Add pepper in it and make it a rockstar jam. By penelopeCooks right into your kitchen.

  • 2.5 (5.5 lbs) kg destoned and destemmed black cherries ((about 4 kg / 9 lbs of whole fruit))
  • 1.5 small lemon juice and zest
  • 5 cups regular white sugar
  • 1/5 tsp vanilla powder
  • 1/3 tsp black pepper powder
  1. Wash thoroughly the cherries. De-stem and de-stone them.

  2. Cook them in a heavy bottom pot and for 20 mins. 

  3. Put a plate in the freezer.

  4. put the fruit back in the pot, bring it to a boil and add the juice and zest of 1.5 small lemons. Add sugar and stir frequently.

  5. Add the vanilla and pepper powder and stir. 

  6. Simmer the jam for around 50 mins.  

  7. The jam is ready when you have a thickish gel consistency.

  8. Take the plate out of the freezer and spread a teaspoon of jam on to check the thickness of the cooled jam.