Monday, September 27, 2010


A treat that's PERFECT FOR AUTUMN!!! Can be made vegan and/or Lent-friendly! A really nice, crunchy dessert made with phyllo dough and topped with pears, apples and cinnamon. There are some walnuts and sugar in it too. There's also butter, but if vegetable oil is used instead, the dessert becomes one hundred percent vegan and also suitable for Lent! That's one versatile recipe, isn't it? 

Delicately sweet pears and tangy apples are arranged on top of sheets of cinnamony phyllo dough. As the dessert bakes the aromas of cinnamon fill the house: scrumptious! There is no syrup here as there usually is on phyllo desserts. The flavour is unique, and with the absence of syrup, calories are fewer! Syrup does prolong the life of phyllo desserts, therefore, this delicious crisp must be consumed shortly after it's baked. 


  • 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, or a combination of both, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup plain, unseasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for dusting
  • frozen phyllo dough, thawed in the refrigerator; you will be using only ten sheets of phyllo. There are several varieties of phyllo on the market, and some brands of phylo are wider than others. The amount of butter and fruit might have to be adjusted depending on the variety purchased. 
  • 1/2 stick (four tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
  • Seckel pears, sliced thinly; Seckel pears are perfect as they are naturally small and will look gorgeous here! No need to peel the pears 
  • 2 baking apples, peeled and sliced thinly

  • Place a rack in the top position of your oven.
  • Preheat the oven to 350° F. 
  • Combine the walnuts, breadcrumbs, sugar and cinnamon.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and top with 1 phyllo sheet. 
  • Using a pastry brush, brush the phyllo with butter;  add another phyllo sheet on top. Brush the second sheet with butter. Add a third sheet of phyllo and guess what? Brush it with butter.
  • Hint: don't press down with the pastry brush. Use light, airy strokes. The lighter the brushing, the flakier the phyllo layers will turn out.
  • In each of the next four phyllo layers, the nut mixture will be used, so go ahead and divide the mixture into four portions. Use one portion for each layer: 
  • Add a fourth sheet and brush it with butter. Sprinkle a portion of the nut mixture on top. 
  • Repeat another 3 times, buttering each phyllo layer and adding nuts.  
  • Finally, top with two phyllo sheets, buttering each one. Top with the last phyllo sheet and go ahead, butter that one as well. 
  • Make sure that you brush the edges of the phyllo sheets with butter so that they won't dry up during baking. The original recipe called for a lot more butter but I cut down on the amount. Too much butter is unnecessary and makes for a heavy dessert. Therefore, don't soak the phyllo with butter. If you'd like to cut some of the butter amount even further, you can substitute part or all of it with a good vegetable oil. Do not, however, use olive oil.
  • Arrange the pears and apples on top of the phyllo. Brush the fruit with the remaining butter, sprinkle with sugar and dust with cinnamon.
  • Bake; rotate the baking sheet halfway through baking. After 25 minutes, when the phyllo is golden brown and the fruit is soft, the dessert is ready to take out of the oven. Let cool and slice into portions.  
  • The dessert should be eaten the same day; if kept longer, the phyllo will begin to lose its crispness.

This recipe has been adapted from Martha Stewart. It's a wonderful one, thanks, Martha!

Friday, September 24, 2010


Eating a Greek salad is one of the best parts of summer. Simple to make and so very delicious. Just about every one has their favorite version of Greek salad, and here is mine. I make it without lettuce, because a traditional Greek salad contains no lettuce. It seems that here in the US we can't think of a salad not having some type of leafy green in it. That's fine. Actually, I have a favorite American style version of Greek salad, that includes lettuce & arugula. Today though I am presenting the rustic, country style version that goes on the table in every Greek household and seaside taverna. It 's usually served along with the entrée rather than before or after it. The dressing is simply olive oil and lemon, maybe a little vinegar too. There's always some dressing left at the bottom of the bowl and it absorbs the taste of the salad ingredients. In keeping with the rustic nature of this salad, a common practice is to mop up and eat the leftover dressing with pieces of freshly baked bread. This disregards a large measure of savoir-vivre one might possess, but sometimes, who cares? It's a fun, sharing experience to break bread with family or friends in this way. There is even a name for these morsels dipped in dressing. They are called "papara," which is a term for bread dipped in olive oil.


  • The word "horiatiki" (χωριάτικη), derives from the word "horio" (χωριó), which means village. Horiatiki salata can be translated as rustic style, or country style, or village style salad. Because of its rustic nature there is no right or wrong amount of ingredients to use. Just make sure the salad looks good! I use the following:
  • 2 or 3 tomatoes, sliced (sometimes I use both red and yellow tomatoes)
  • 1 cucumber (preferably the English variety because it has fewer seeds and tastes the best), peeled, sliced lengthwise, seeds removed if they are too big, then cut up in slices crosswise.
  • 1/2 or 1 green pepper, seeded and sliced (for subtler texture and flavor you can use a sweet Italian frying pepper).
  • 1 red onion, peeled and sliced in thin rings
  • a combination of kalamata and oil cured olives, pits removed
  • feta cheese cut in cubes
  • chopped parsley
  • black pepper
  • a small amount of salt (salt is optional, you may not want it because the capers and feta all ready contain salt, plus salt will mask the fresh taste of the vegetables)
  • dried oregano
  • olive oil
  • a few capers
  • a bit of lemon juice
  • if you are a vinegar fan, a bit of vinegar

Arrange the sliced tomatoes and cucumber on the bottom of a nice sized salad bowl.
Next go the peppers and the capers. Then add the onion slices, salt if using, black pepper, oregano and olive oil. Sprinkle with a bit of lemon juice and the vinegar if using, and mix.
Once the above ingredients are mixed, add the feta, olives and parsley in a decorative pattern. Top with a bit more olive oil and oregano.
Before the salad is served let it sit in the refrigerator for a while. It will come out tasting refreshing, plus the aromas of the vegetables and olive oil will get a chance to mix together, creating their own unique flavor.
If you try this or any other Greek salad, I hope you really, really enjoy it!

Monday, September 20, 2010


Today I am making roasted vegetable soup from a recipe that can be found in Martha Stewart's web site. With fall just around the corner, and with the weather getting a just a bit chilly, making soup is the right thing to do.  Plus, this soup is a total winner!

I chopped the vegetables, seasoned them and roasted them. That was the best part. The kitchen smelled great as the vegetables were roasting and when they came out of the oven they looked wonderful and tasted wonderful. I pureed them in the food processor, added some broth and had a delicious chunky-creamy fall soup. Pru made and posted her recipe before I did, and I saw that she had added apples to the vegetable mix. What a great idea Pru! I hope you don't mind, but I followed suit. I peeled and chopped two juicy honey-crisp apples (my favorite), and mixed them in with the squash and the carrots and potatoes. Results? A very nice soup that I will make again and again. 

Delicious roasted vegetables with the honeycrisp apples right on top!

1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into  inch pieces
3 or 4 medium sized red potatoes, scrubbed well and quartered (leave skin on)
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
2 leeks, cut lengthwise, washed well, chopped into  inch pieces, white and light green parts only
5 carrots halved lengthwise if thick, and cut into  inch pieces
2 apples, peeled, cored and quartered. Use a sweet tasting variety of apple. (That does it! Too much talk about apples. I'm going to have to stop right here and go get a honey-crisp apple from the kitchen to snack on as I write this)......
one head of garlic left unpeeled, cut in half crosswise
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
6 sprigs of fresh marjoram 
optional : a bit of cream or milk to add to the soup at the end of cooking


  • Preheat oven to 450° F.
  • Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil (makes for easy clean up) and grease the surface of the foil with olive oil. Place the vegetables on the baking sheet - don't add the apples yet - and toss the vegetables with some olive oil, salt and pepper and the leaves from four of the sprigs of marjoram.
  • Roast until the vegetables are tender and beginning to brown, about 50 minutes.
  • Half way through roasting take the vegetables out of the oven, turn them over so they roast evenly, and mix in the apples.  Place them back in the oven and continue cooking until done.

  • In a large sauce pan warm three cups of the chicken broth along with the remaining marjoram.

  • Divide the roasted vegetables in two batches. Place each batch along with one cup of chicken broth in the food processor and puree well.

  • Add the vegetables to the saucepan with the warmed broth and stir to mix well.

  • Heat up the soup and taste it for seasoning. If you like, you can mix in a bit of cream or milk. The soup is great without any additions, but you can always spruce it up according to your individual taste.

  • Saturday, September 18, 2010


    Quick, easy and tasty. That's a perfect way to describe this meal. I was very hungry when I came into the house after having spent most of the day pruning, and weeding, and cleaning the garden. There was plenty of zucchini to be found in the refrigerator, and I also had on hand some fennel, scallions and pasta which were begging to be used. So I threw this pasta and zucchini dish together, and it only took twenty minutes. I had dinner and then I headed back outside to finish clearing a spot for planting mums. Satisfaction.


    3 small zucchini
    4 scallions, chopped
    3/4 cup acini di pepe pasta
    1/2 fennel bulb, finely chopped
    3 tablespoons slivered almonds
    juice of half a lemon
    3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
    4 tablespoons olive oil
    salt and pepper to taste
    2 tablespoons fresh parsley
    1 tablespoon herbes de Provence

    1. Wash the zucchini and peel some of their skin off with a vegetable peeler. You should wind up with zucchini that appears striped: white flesh and green skin. Doing this eliminates most of the bitterness that is sometimes given off by the zucchini skin.
    2. Slice the zucchini thinly lengthwise, and then chop it crosswise.
    3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and add the scallions. Cook them for about a minute and then add the zucchini, fennel, herbs de Provence and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and saute until the zucchini is soft.
    4. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions, and then drain it.
    5. Heat a small skillet over medium heat and and dry-toast the almonds.
    6. Toss the pasta with the zucchini and the toasted almonds.
    7. Serve garnished with Parmesan cheese.