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Cinnamon Cookies

traditional Greek cinnamon cookies

These traditional Greek cinnamon cookies are golden brown circles of perfection. Just a bit crunchy with the subtle taste of cinnamon and oranges, each bite will have you wanting another!

So simple to whip up, Greek cinnamon cookies are my coffee’s best friend and I make them often. ‘Often’ because you can also mix up the dough ahead and bake your cookies within a week OR freeze portioned dough Continue Reading →

Constantinople Cake

traditional golden cake from Constantinople

Our dad’s mom, Yiayia Maria, would make this cake for us and we loved it, still do! It was a favorite of our grandfather’s who hailed originally from Smyrna (now Izmir in Turkey) and  he preferred it to all other sweets. That tells you something right there because he had one, SWEET tooth 🙂

You can tell this cake recipe has it’s roots in Asia Minor from these key ingredients: white (fancy) flour, white sugar AND spiced almond milk. The Persians brought almond milk to Constantinople and the trick to using it in baking will change the way you use, and drink, almond milk forever more! Continue Reading →

Greek Carrot Cake

traditional Greek carrot cake

This is, hands down, the tastiest, most flavorful, most delicate carrot cake you will ever enjoy. Authentically Greek and traditionally vegan, this easy recipe is a winner every time. Yes, I love it very much 🙂

Like to know the secret to this simple carrot cake’s divineness? Traditional Greek carrot cakes do not use raw, grated carrots and instead go a wonderfully different way. The carrots are first boiled in just a bit of orange juice and water with a few whole cloves and a cinnamon stick.  Right there you know this recipe is going in an amazing direction! The moist, dense and light crumb Continue Reading →

Almond Cookies

golden, gluten free, Greek almond cookies

These beauties are as delicious as they are lovely and gluten free too! When wheat flour was less available, nut flours were used instead in both sweet and savory recipes.  Nut flours have a long and tasty history in traditional Greek food culture and this cookie recipe is a wonderful example of baking with almond flour. Greek almond cookies are authentically sweetened with honey, easily substituted with agave nectar if you prefer, and lightly spiced with cardamom – just made for a cup of coffee or tea. You will LOVE these!

On our Dad’s island of Chios, Greek almond cookies were often flavored with an almond flavored syrup called soumatha  (σουμάδα) and I’ve learned Greek Cypriots also have this tradition. Soumatha is also used to preserve cherries, a local fruit tree on Chios and more well known in Continue Reading →

Pumpkin Sweetbread / Tsoureki

traditional Greek pumpkin sweet bread

traditional Greek pumpkin sweet bread

This traditionally dairy free sweet bread (tsoureki) was made during the winter months when eggs and butter were less available, using autumn harvested pumpkins.  Greek sweet breads are most often braided and have a moist, denser crumb than regular table bread as well as being just slightly sweet 🙂 This one is especially flavorful and amazing all on it’s own or slathered with your favorite jam. And don’t be afraid of making your own bread – it’s not difficult at all and this is a great recipe to start your homemade bread making career with! Continue Reading →

Lalagia / Λαλάγγια

lalagia - traditional donuts of the Peleponnese

lalagia – traditional donuts of the Peleponnese

Lalagia (Λαλάγγια) are the donuts of the Peloponnese! You can grab a bag of these ridiculously addictive authentic fried dough snacks in probably every bakery in all of Messinia and in many Greek markets in the US/Canada too. Whether you enjoy them as a savory or sweet treat, warm from the stove or days later, you’ll soon understand why they’re so popular!

What sets lalagia apart from other Greek fried dough  like loukoumades or fried bread (ladopsomo/tiganopsimo) is that the recipe uses olive oil in the dough.  Adding this one ingredient makes all the difference and produces the most wonderfully light, crunchy sticks  that can be formed into all sorts of shapes.  Lalagia are traditionally a Christmas-eve treat and children are often told the rather odd shapes scare off any evil spirits working up mischief on the night before

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Chocolate Date Nut Bites

chocolate date nut bites

chocolate date nut bites

This recipe came from my Yiayia’s leftover date/nut baklava filling to which she added a spoon or two of carob powder for us kids as we hovered over her mixing bowl. Don’t laugh but I was eating a Kit Organics bar one day when in a rush to eat something not totally terrible for me and had the most wild tastebuds-deja vu that I had eaten this before.  The taste memory was foggy at first and then it came flooding back over me –  individual spoons of that incredible date nut baklava filling. Well, ladies and gents, here it is for you all in bite form – addictively positively wonderful in every way. Continue Reading →

Sesame Cookies

traditional Greek sesame cookies

traditional Greek sesame cookies

Sesame cookies (σουσάμι μπισκότι) are a light, tender, cake like, nutty, just lightly sweet, positively wonderful treat and they’re enjoyed all over Greece.  You’ll find these in bakeries in every region of the country and, of course, throughout the Greek diaspora.

These cookies are enjoyed especially during the lenten season as they are made without olive oil and appropriate for even the most strict fasters.  So good and so easy you’ll love them year round – and less than 45 minutes from start to finish! Continue Reading →

Baklava Saragli

saragli (rolled) baklava

saragli (rolled) baklava

Saragli (accent on last syllable) or rolled baklava is a style of baklava that come from the Greeks of Constantinople. This recipe calls for the traditional Greek walnut filling but feel free to use the chopped nuts of your choice. You will go NUTS over these 🙂 🙂

Super simple to roll – a half inch diameter wooden or metal dowel is perfect for rolling your saragli. Just be careful not to roll too tightly as a light touch works best here. And try scoring your rolls on a diagonal, that way the cut pieces have a little more visual interest when plated as above. If you cut each roll approx 4 times you’ll get 4 perfect pieces and 2 end pieces. Growing up, the end pieces always went to us kids because they’re not quite as pretty but no worries – they’re every bit as tasty!
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Pasta Flora – Traditional Greek Jam Tart

pasta floraPasta flora? No, The Greek Vegan hasn’t gone Italian – pasta flora is a delightful traditional jam tart and one of the most delicious, authentic sweet treats of Greece! A light, cookie-like crust with jam filling, this positively lovely dessert is found in Greek bakeries all over the world and can be on your table in less than an hour using ingredients in in your kitchen right now. Ready? Set? Go!! Continue Reading →

Apple Spoon Sweet

apple spoon sweet

traditional apple spoon sweet / milo glyko

Apple glyko or spoon sweet is one of the most delicate and flavorful of spoon sweets in Greek cooking. Something about vanilla bean and cinnamon sticks with tart sweet apples just works – and works really well! These authentic preserves are simple to make, a fantastic treat to eat and ready in just 30 minutes.

Bonus for this authentic recipe: apples are easy to find most everywhere and certainly easier to find in the US than quinces or sour cherries, two of the most traditional spoon sweets. The apples most often used in Greece for this dish are small, tart apples called firikia. Not having access to firikia here in the Northeast US, I most often use jonagold or granny smith apples.  A nice tart apple with just a bit of sweetness is ideal so feel free to use whichever local varieties fit that bill!  Continue Reading →

Traditional Greek Marzipan / Amigthalota

Amigthalota are the traditional Greek version of marzipan. These delicate almond sweets are often served at weddings and baptisms with their perfect pear shapes and snowy cover of powdered sugar – as beautiful as they are delicious!

Five ingredients and twenty minutes are all you need to whip up a batch of your own. Almond extract and rose water give the marzipan center the most wonderful fragrance and a whole clove tops each pearl white pear making this an aromatic as well as incredibly tasty treat. One bite through the just ever so lightly crisp outside into the dense, chewy, almondy amazing center and you’ll be hooked – they’re just that good! Continue Reading →

Sfakian Sweet Rusks

Sfakian Sweet Rusks – paximadia

My aunt would make this sweet bread (artos) for Great Vespers services when we were young. Five loaves would go to church and one small loaf stayed at home for us.  She would slice up the small home loaf and toast the slices in the oven until dried through and super crunchy.  Then we’d slather them with Merenda (Greek hazelnut spread similar to Nutella) and very happily munch through every slice!

You can enjoy these sweet rusks today, store bought and straight from Greece, or make your own – a wonderful rainy Saturday recipe! These sweet rusks are delicious on their own with a hot cup of coffee or topped with your favorite jam or Greek honey and the perfect afternoon snack. Traditionally from region of Sfakia on the island of Crete but enjoyed throughout Greece and the Greek diaspora, you will fall in love with this authentic, simple Continue Reading →

Kourambiedes

nistisima kourambiedes - sugar covered cookies

nistisima kourambiedes – sugar covered cookies

These snowy white, crazy yummy cookies are so quick and easy to bake up, they’ll amaze you with every bite! This recipe is for the nistisima (or vegan) version of kourambiedes, slightly different but just as authentic as the more well known butter cookie version.

Made with a combination of almond meal and flour, orange juice and a bit of brandy, the finished cookies are light and high and just ever so slightly crumbly. Kourambiedes are a cup of coffee ad tea’s best Continue Reading →

Halva Pudding

individual halva puddings with chopped pistachios and dried apricots

Halva is a delicious, traditional dessert made in a many different variations across Greece and throughout the Middle East. To be honest, halva is wonderful in all forms and flavors. We’ve shared our favorite family recipe below. Fine ground semolina flour, chopped nuts and sweet syrup make this the perfect pudding with it’s charmingly delicate texture flavored with aromatic cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. A very special way to end any meal!

The recipe is a simple one, using only a handful of ingredients, and is a dish that’s fun for children to help with too. You can mold it into all kinds of shapes using individual molds or even a large bundt or fluted cake pan. Halva pudding is quick to set up and can be dressed in an endless number of ways. I love topping halva with chopped pistachios and dried apricots or you can sprinkle a little cinnamon or powdered sugar over the top. Its easy to make this dish to suit your particular tastes – you can even drizzle melted chocolate over the top!

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Apricot and Almond Cake

apricot almond cake

apricot almond cake

The sunshiny sweetness of fresh apricots is baked into every bite of this amazing cake! Just the thing with coffee or tea, its another wonderful recipe that incorporates the tradition of Greek baked fruits.   This light, delicious cake showcases fresh apricots that are baked to sticky sweet golden perfection. You’ll end up eating quite a few fresh or baked apricots just on their own Continue Reading →

Baklava for Beginners

baklava for beginners

baklava for beginners

This amazing baklava recipe is for all of you who’ve written in asking for a beginner’s guide to baklava. Anyone, regardless of their Greek cooking experience, can make these perfectly every time – no unwieldy sheets of filo, an infinitely scalable recipe, just a few flavor packed ingredients and all ready in just 30 minutes or less – win, win, win, win (you get the idea!)

The oh-so-delicious authentic filling is one my Yiayia (and her mom before her) used when they wanted to make a special treat for someone during fasting periods of the year.  Warmed tahini is used in place of melted butter to bind the nut filling and is just the perfect complement to the traditional flavors of cinnamon and toasted walnuts. A bit of lemon zest and a squeeze of Continue Reading →

Tahinopita / Sesame Cream Cake

tahinopita / sesame cream cake

tahinopita / sesame cream cake

Tahinopita (ταχινόπιτα) or sesame cream cake is a delicate, traditional treat for Lenten periods of the year in Greece.  This cake bakes up light and high with walnuts and golden raisins, dusted with a bit of powdered sugar.

Perfect for breakfast with coffee or tea, tahinopita is equally delicious for an afternoon snack or tucked in a lunchbox. Its just ever so slightly crumbly and cuts neatly into slices that Continue Reading →

Loukoumades

loukoumades with sweet syrup and chopped walnuts

loukoumades with sweet syrup and chopped walnuts

Light, airy, puffs of fried dough drizzled in sweet syrup and sprinkled with chopped walnuts – have I got your attention yet? Loukoumades are AMAZING, its that simple.

As a child, I asked for these every year on my birthday.  First my Yiayia made them for me and after she passed away, my dad took over and now I make them for my birthday guests.  These are a bit of a special occasion desert  but I will admit to making them Continue Reading →

Tahini Walnut Swirl Cookies

tahini walnut swirl cookies

tahini walnut swirl cookies

These walnut pinwheel tahini cookies are so, so good! Filled to just bursting with sweet, crunchy walnuts, these almost bun like cookies rise up high and light to keep all the delicious filling wrapped up inside.  Also easy to make ahead of time as you can mix the dough days earlier and roll out/bake later!

We enjoyed these traditional sweets throughout the year growing up but especially on the first Wednesday afternoon of Lent. I know from family and friends that this is true of and a tradition in many areas of Greece but am not sure of the exact significance and would be very happy to hear if one of you might Continue Reading →

Apple Cake / Milopita

light, moist, traditional Greek vegan apple cake!

Milopita (Μηλόπιτα) or apple cake is traditionally enjoyed for breakfast in Greece. So moist, chock full of sweet, juicy apples and spiced with cinnamon and cardamom, milopita is a delicate breakfast or dessert that will become a fast favorite in your house!

This simple to bake recipe is a great way to use up apples that might be a little too bruised or old to eat on their own. And you can choose to mix in chopped walnuts or golden raisins for an apple cake with even more Continue Reading →

Koulourakia / Wine Cookies

koulourakia / wine cookies

These cookies will never last more than a few minutes in any cookie jar. They’re crunchy outside, soft inside and the perfect partner to coffee or tea. Our Yiayia, my father’s mom, started her day with these almost every morning. I can still see her at the kitchen table as we came down the stairs for breakfast, dipping a koulouraki into her coffee cup. I can see her there as if it were yesterday.

Koulourakia are simple and quick to bake up and so much fun to make!  The dough rolls out easily into a variety of shapes and it’s a job even little hands can do well. Cardamom, cinnamon and orange zest make these cookies so aromatic and full of flavor, they’ll become your favorites in no time! Mix up a big batch and refrigerate Continue Reading →

Finikia / Melomacarona

finikia are traditional Christmas cookies

finikia are traditional Christmas cookies

These sweet, crumbly, so tasty treats are made traditionally at Christmas time in Greece but, truth be told,  I make them all year round.  It’s so quick and easy to whip up a batch, finikia may just become your go-to Greek vegan cookie!

A few simple ingredients are all you need and they’re all things you probably have in the kitchen right now. Bonus, the dough keeps refrigerated for up to two weeks in case you want to bake a quick panful when friends drop in. The syrup can be made with either honey or agave nectar and is authentically flavored with cinnamon stick and orange peel.  Sprinkle with Continue Reading →

Hosafi (Apricot Compote)

Hosafi is a sweet, delicious treat brought to mainland Greece by refugees from Pontos in what is now Turkey. The flavors of cinnamon, cloves and cardamom seeds together with peachy, juicy apricots are an amazing combination.

This dish was often made in winter as a way to use dried fruits like apricots and raisins that were harvested in summer and hosafi is still a popular New Year’s treat today for Greeks hailing from Cappadocia.  Summer sun in every Continue Reading →

Peach Barley

peach barley with chopped pecans

peach barley with chopped pecans

This delicious dish hails from the peach orchards of northern Greece. Growing up, we often had a bowl for lunch on hot summer days. It was cool from the fridge, full of sweet peaches and honeyed chewy barley  – almost like eating desert and always a treat!

One taste and you’ll see what an amazing flavor combination peaches and barley make in this authentic Macedonian village dish. A touch of honey (or agave), a bit of orange juice, a dash of cardamom, a few sprigs of fresh mint and a pinch of cinnamon make this simple recipe so delightful Continue Reading →

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