Ivy on Απριλίου 16th, 2014

Almond and strawberry halvas

Easter is just a few days away and this will probably be my last post before Easter.  The fasting period is almost over but there are some days during Lent when not only animal products are not allowed for the Orthodox fasting period but also any kind of fat, be it animal or vegetable fat.  Good Friday is one of them as well as Holy Saturday.

This wonderful vegan dessert is perfect for these two days.  The recipe was given to me by my nephew’s wife in Cyprus.  It’s a very easy dessert and very healthy considering that it is eggless, milkless and without a trace of fat.   It’s main ingredient is almond in the form of a cordial, which is a syrup made from almonds and raw almonds.  It is then thickened with semolina.  The amount of sugar depends  on how sweet you like this pudding.  The amount used may seem a lot but believe me it is not sweet at all.  Now if you can’t find almond cordial you can experiment and make it with almond milk or rose cordial, vyssinada, which is a sour cherry cordial or just make some syrup with water, sugar and blossom water, or use fresh orange  or mandarin juice and why not pomegranate to make the syrup?  My twist to the recipe was the addition of the strawberry sauce.

Vegan Almond and Strawberry Halvas

Preparation time:  10 minutes

Cooking time:  10 minutes


Strawberry Sauce:

  • 300 grams strawberries, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

Halva Pudding:

  • 1 1/2 cups soumada (almond cordial)
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 4  cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups fine semolina
  • 1/2 cup blanched and finely chopped almonds


  1. Put the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in a non stick frying pan and cook for about five minutes.  Press the strawberries to release some juice and mix until the syrup thickens.  Set aside to cool.
  2. Put the water, sugar and soumada on the heat and when it begins boiling add the semolina.  Stir with a balloon whisk unit it sets.  Add the almonds, mix and remove from the heat.
  3. Wet the bottom of a mold or a bundt form with a few tablespoons of strawberry syrup.  Add half the pudding which spread evenly using a spoon.  Add half the strawberry sauce on top and cover with the remaining pudding.
  4. Refrigerate for a few hour and then unmold.
  5. Serve the pudding with more strawberry sauce on top.

Halvas me Soumada


You can find many more Greek recipes in my cookbook «More Than A Greek Salad», available on all Amazon stores.

You can find more Lenten or Vegan Recipes here. Wishing you all a Happy Easter.


Kalo Pascha


Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Vegan samali

This Lenten or vegan dessert is a twist to a recipe I used to make in the restaurant called Samali or Kalon Prama in Cyprus, which we offered to our clients after their meal free of charge.  The traditional recipe is a semolina cake flavoured with mastic and drenched in syrup.  Some blanched almonds are used to decorate the cake on top.

Kalon prama

This time of the year we have a lot of mandarins in our yard so I made the syrup using mandarin juice.  If you like you can substitute it with orange juice.  The mastic powder is what gives this dessert its distinct flavour.  I used some of the mastic I ground over 8 months ago and although mastic crystalizes, the method I used to store it keeps it perfect for months.   In this dessert apart from the mastic you can also sense the flavour of coconut.

Greasing the baking tin with tahini or tahini with carob syrup is optional but it adds additional flavour to the cake.

In order to make the dessert richer I decided to add some vegan whipped cream on top.  I used coconut cream and I was surprised to see how well it holds together and if you like the taste of coconut, it is superb.  If you want to skip the whipped cream, you can decorate the cake with blanched almonds before baking it, as in the traditional recipe.

The strawberry sauce is also optional but if you do add the whipped cream it goes well with the dessert.

Nistisimo Samali

Vegan Coconut Mandarin Samali (Semolina Cake) and How to Make Vegan Whipped Cream

Preparation time : 15 minutes

Baking time : 1 hour

Ingredients :

For the syrup:

  • 500 grams sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup mandarin juice

For the Semolina Cake:

  • 1/2 kilo fine semolina
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup  blanched and ground almonds
  • 40 grams grated dessicated coconut
  • 1 tsp mandarin zest
  • 3 heaped tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp mastic powder with sugar
  • 1/2 cup mandarin juice
  • 1/2 cup sunflower oil
  • 1/2 cup water

To grease the baking tin ( optional ):

  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1 tsp carob syrup

Vegan Whppped Cream:

1 can (400 ml) coconut cream which leave in the fridge over night
2 tsp icing sugar
1 packet vanillin powder


  1. Put the coconut cream in the fridge the night before .
  2. Put all the syrup ingredients in a small pot and boil for 5 minutes.  Set aside to cool .
  3. Mix the semolina together with the sugar , baking powder, the zest and mastic powder.
  4. Add all the liquid ingredients and mix well .
  5. Allow the mixture to sit for 2-3 hours covered .
  6. Mix the tahini with the carob syrup and coat a baking pan measuring 32 x 23cm (12 1/2 x 9 inches).
  7. Spread the cake in the pan and bake in a preheated , moderate oven to ( 160 ° C) until golden brown , about one hour .
  8. Pour the syrup on the hot cake and leave it to cool and absorb the syrup .

How to make Vegan Whipped Cream :

  1. Leave the coconut cream in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. Open the can carefully without shaking it.  When refrigerating, the cream stays on top of the can and the water will stay below. Use a spoon and collect all the cream which is on top.  Put the remaining in a strainer and collect the remaining cream.
  3. (Do not discard the coconut water left.  It can be used in desserts or savory recipes instead of water).
  4. Beat the cream with powdered sugar and vanilla until it is thick .

Decorate the cake as you like.

Store the cake in the refrigerator upto one week.

You can find many more Greek recipes in my cookbook «More Than A Greek Salad», available on all Amazon stores.

You can find more Lenten or Vegan Recipes here.

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Ivy on Απριλίου 15th, 2014

Mavromatika black eyed peas with wild greens

My last post about my trip to Cyprus was quite difficult and it took me about 15 days to finish it.  Now that I am done with this post, I can start blogging again, hopefully on a more regular basis and start posting recipes and visiting my favourite blogs again.

After coming back, we spent a week in Athens with our children and then came back to the village.  We found the basement flooded and the garden full of weeds, higher than us.  The basement is still flooded although we have emptied it three times.  The problem is not only ours as our neighbour has the same problems as well.  When we saw the weeds at first we were disappointed as we thought all our plants were destroyed.  We started removing the weeds manually and thankfully we found most of our plants hidden under the weed, better than they were before.

Collage return to Assini April 2014

One of the first things I did was to forage some wild greens such as mustard greens and dandelions, which were growing in the garden.  I cooked them and we ate them as a salad but they were a lot and had some leftover.  I had also cooked quinoa for another recipe and had some leftover of that as well.  I had lots of aromatic herbs I had bought from the farmers” market last week so I combined all of them to make this delicious, Lenten recipe which is vegan and very healthy.  It is perfect for those on a vegan diet or fasting, as quinoa is a good source of protein, so are dried legumes.

collage Aromatic Mavrommatica with wild greens

Aromatic Blackeyed Peas with Wild Greens and Quinoa

Serves:  4 – 5


  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup cooked wild greens ( mustard greens, dandelions, etc. )
  • 250 gr. black-eyed peas
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 leek, white part only , finely chopped
  • 1 spring onion , finely chopped (including green leaves)
  • 1 fresh  garlic, finely chopped
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup various aromatic herbs such kafkalithres (hartwort),  Myronia (Chervil – Anthriscus cerefolium), another Greek aromatic herb, parsley and dill
  • 1 juicy lemon juice
  • Water to cover (about 3 cups)
  • Extra virgin olive and more lemon juice (optional)


  1. Cook the blackeyed peas in plenty of water for about 20 minutes or according to instructions on the package.  Drain and set aside.
  2. Cook quinoa.  See how to cook it in this recipe.
  3. Wash the wild greens and boil them.  Drain and set aside.  If you cannot find any wild greens you can substitute with spinach or chard.  See a similar recipe here.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a pot and saute the leek and white part of the onion until translucent.  Add the fresh garlic as well as green part of the onion and saute for a few minutes.
  5. Add the blackeyed peas as well as the wild greens and saute for a few minutes.  Add water to cover them, lower heat and simmer until the blackeyed peas are cooked and until almost all the water is absorbed. Add more water if necessary.
  6. Add salt and pepper, the lemon juice, all the aromatic herbs and the cooked quinoa. Stir and turn off the heat.
  7. Serve with extra virgin olive oil and more lemon juice, if necessary.

Similar recipes are included in my cookbook «More Than A Greek Salad», available on all Amazon stores.

You can find more Lenten or Vegan Recipes here.

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Ivy on Απριλίου 15th, 2014

Hello my friends, Limassol and Akrotiri from above

It’s been three months since the last time I wrote a blog post.  As most of you know my husband and I were away in Cyprus the past three months working in a restaurant.  It was a lovely experience working in a professional kitchen.

Castle of Limassol

To Hani

I won’t be sharing food photos as it was impossible to have a camera with me while working, apart from a couple of times when I took a few shots on my mobile. Platter Today’s post is mostly a photographic travelogue to Cyprus to show you a few of the places we visited.  On most of our days off, my husband’s day off would not coincide with mine, so we could not go anywhere.  I spent most of my days off doing house chores. We decided to stop working a week before leaving in order to spend some time with our son and visit some places, mostly near Limassol. On one of my days off, my husband was working on that day, so my son drove me to Governor’s Beach, which is 26 km from Limassol, near the boundaries of Limassol and Larnaca. governors beach It was very cold on that day and there was not a soul in the nearby restaurants situated on the the beach but we enjoyed the lovely view, walked on the beach and after drinking a cup of coffee we headed back to the town. governors beach2   On another day we visited Pissouri.  Pissouri is a lovely village, 30 km from Limassol, towards Paphos.  The  village is situated on the side of a lovely mountain hill, near the seaside. visit to Pissouri2 On another day trip, we went to Paphos, 50 km west of Limassol. Before arriving to Paphos we passed from Kolossi.  My maternal grandmother was from Kolossi and her property was just behind  the 15th century castle which stands today and which was built on the site of an earlier castle.    In the 13th century it belonged to the knights of St. John of Jerusalem – Knights Hospitaller.  Control later passed to the Knights Templar.  The surrounding lands were highly cultivated with sugar cane and vineyards, from which the the famous ancient Cypriot wine was produced.  The name Commandaria was given to this wine much later, during the end of the 12th century A.D., when Richard the Lionheart sold the island to the Knight Templars, who then sold it to Guy de Lusignan. However, they kept a large feudal estate close to Limassol, where they would cultivate local vines. This estate was referred to as “La Grande Commanderie”.  This wine has the distinction of being the world’s oldest named wine still in production. commandaria On our way to Paphos we visited the ancient site at Kourion, also know as Curias or Curium.  Ancient Greek historians Herodotus and Stravon mention that it was founded by Argive settlers, being one of the richest and most powerful Kingdoms of Cyprus.  It is also cited by Esarhadon, King of Assyria (673-672 b.C) whose reports on Prism refers to it as being among other kingdoms of Cyprus, such as  Idalion, Kition, Salamina, Hytra, Tamassos, Ledra and Soloi. theatre The second century ancient Greco-Roman amphitheatre at Kourion (Curium), which has been completely restored is impressive and hosts open air musical and theatrical performances. kourion theatre Apart from the ancient Agora  you can visit, other important monuments, such as their many houses.  One of the most impressive house is that of Efstolios.  You can walk through its many rooms, which are around two courtyards as well as the baths of the house.  In antiquity it served as a royal house.   Efstolios house   Mosaic in the house of Efstolios:  a young woman wearing an armlet and holding a measure of the Roman foot.  The Greek Inscription «KTICIC» symbolizes the Founding Spirit of the Creation. mosaic at kourion What impressed me the most were the well preserved mosaics, which cover the floors of the buildings.  On the inscriptions the name of  its owner «Efstolios» is incribed, as well as the fact that he was a Christian.  It is also interesting that on an inscription God Apollo Hylates, who was worshiped in the archaic times,  is also mentioned.  You can visit the sanctuary and temple of Apollo Hylates which is 2.5 km, on the west side of the ancient site of Kourion towards your way to Paphos. Greek inscription on mosaic The sea view from the house of Efstolios is magnificent.  You can see as far as the coast of Akrotiri. view from Efstolios house   Coast of Akrotiri from Kourion

View of Akrotiri peninsula.

Petra tou Romiou and Saracens rock

Petra tou Romiou in the background and the Saracen Rock in the foreground.

These two rocks are associated with two myths.  According to Greek Mythology, goddess Aphrodite, whose name means born out of the sea foam, was born here. «Aphros» in Greek means sea foam.  According to mythology, Aphrodite was born out of the foam that formed in the sea where Uranus” severed genitals landed, when his son Cronus tossed it out from the sky.   Petra tou Romiou9 The second myth associates the place with the exploits of the hero Basilios, who was half Greek (Romios) and half Syrian, as described in the epic narrative text called «Digenes Akritas» (which means «Two Blood border Lord». According to the legend, Basilios hurled the huge rock from the Troodos Mountains to keep the invading Saracens off  the island. Paphos After visiting Kolossi and Kourion we arrived at Paphos well after noon. paphos castle Paphos is situated on the west coasts of the island.   We walked on the seafront upto the Old Medieval Castle.  After taking some photos and having late lunch and coffee, we did not have much time to visit other places in Paphos. paphos castle2 On another day trip to Choirokoitia, we made a small detour to visit the Monastery of Agios Georgios Alamanos. Aghios Georgios Alamanos The monastery is only 20 km from Limassol.  We used to visit the monastery quite often when I was a child, as the mother superior was related to us but as my husband had never been there before, he wanted to visit it.

Aghios Georgios Alamanos2

We arrived around noon.  There were a couple of nuns there but by the time we visited the church and back we heard the «semantron» which summoned the nuns for lunch. Fountain Agios Georgios Alamanos I was planning to buy some homemade rosewater I saw on display at the entrance but there was not a soul there when we left so we left empy-handed as we were in a hurry to visit Choirokoitia. Aghios Georgios Alamanos3 Not very far from the monastery and on your way towards Nicosia or Larnaca you will find the Neolithic settlement of Choirokoitia on your left.   It stretches over the steep slopes of a hill and is enclosed within a wall which has been uncovered in the East and North. I must warn you that getting to the top is not as easy as it looks.  My legs were stiff for a week :) Choirokoitia The site is known as one of the most important and best preserved prehistoric sites of the eastern Mediterranean. Much of its importance lies in the evidence of an organised functional society in the form of a collective settlement, with surrounding fortifications for communal protection. Choirokoitia Culture (7000 – 5800 B.C.), or the Recent Aceramic Neolithic of Cyprus, results from a long process which began in the 9th millenium, if not before. Excavations on the site, which is included in the World Heritage List of UNESCO, began in 1936 under the direction of Porphyrios Dikaios, then Curator of the Department of Antiquities, and since 1976 have been continued by a French Archaeological Mission, under the direction of A. Le Brun. The constructions are circular with flat roofs in the form of a terrace.  A house constitutes the grouping of several of these circular constructions around a small inner «courtyard» with an installation for grinding grain.  Flint or bone tools and receptables made of stone or basketwork were used in daily life. The deceased were buried in pits cut into the floors of the habitation units.  Some of them were accompanied by stone vessels and necklaces. The nutrition needs of the inhabitants of Khoirokoitia were met by animal husbandry, hunting, cultivation of plants and gathering of wild fruits. The site was abandoned around 5800 B.C.  It was reoccupied from 5000 B.C. by people of the Sotira Culture who knew and had mastered the art of pottery.   Choirokoitia reconstructed houses   In the course of its efforts for the best protection of the site and in order to facilitate its interpretation for the visitors, the Department of Antiquities proceeded to reconstruct five circular units and part of the enclosure wall, including one of its entrances. Interior of choirokoitia house These are identical copies of the original structures.  The raw materials for their construction were collected from the immediate environment of the settlement and the project was carried out by taking into account all the relative information yielded from the excavation of the actual site.  One of the circular structures was left semi-finished in order to show the various stages of its construction and the materials employed for this purpose: stones, mudbricks, wood and reeds.  The roofs were made flat since, according to the excavarors, the old theory for domed roofs has become obsolute in light of new finds.


Choirokoitia ruins

Several objects, both authentic and copies, were placed inside the circular structures in order to recreate some aspects of the daily life in Neolithic Cyprus. Choirokoitia ruins2 Cyprus has always had problems with drought so there are a lot of Dams anywhere near rivers.  Yermasoyia Dam is the closest to Limassol.  Dam of Yermasoyia3 It is only 10 – 15  minutes drive from the town and is worth visiting to enjoy the view and for those who like sports can go for walks in nearby trails, fishing, canoeing etc

view of Limassol from Yermasoyia

Dam of Yermasoyia4 The last time I visited the dam it was more than thirty years ago.  Yermasoyia village was separated from Limassol and to my surprise the whole area from Yermasoyia bridge to the Dam is now inhabited. fishing Omodos is a village  nestled in the southern foothills of Troödos Mountains, in the Limassol wine making region, about 42 kilometers from the city of Limassol (about 30 minutes drive).   The area is known as the «Krassochoria», which means «wine villages» and is found north of Limassol on the southern slopes of the Troodos Mountains. Wine has been produced in this area for centuries and still forms an integral part of village life.  The medieval winepress of the village is one of its attractions as well as numerous wineries and wine museums. Omodos1 You can visit the 4th Century stone built monastery of The Holy Cross, which dates back before the arrival of Saint Helena to Cyprus  who according to historians, when she visited the island, on her way back from The Holy Land, she offered a piece of the Holy Rope with which Christ’s hands were tied to the Cross and a piece from the Holy Cross, where he was crucified. Church at Omodos This as well as fragments of saintly bones and the skull of Saint Philip, as well as other relics, attract many pilgrims to the village. The Holy Cross at Omodos In the village you can visit some folklore museums, lace workshops, etc.  There are many restaurants, cafeterias, shops selling local products, most of which you can sample for free at many outlets, or  buy some of the unique «arkatena» which is a local bread make from chickpea yeast and «shoushoukos», the traditional one made with wine must, filled with nuts.  However, now you can find shoushoukos made with carob, pomegranate, pistachio etc.  It is also famous for its handmade embroideries and laces.


Local goodies such as arkatena, honey etc.


Carob and Pomegranate Shoushoukos filled with almonds and walnuts respectively.

lady making lace

A local woman sitting in the street, making lace.


Lace made using crochet hook on the right or just a sewing needle on the left.

  Embroideries and laces at Omodos

Embroideries and Laces

Restaurant at Omodos

A local «taverna» / Restaurant

On our way back to Limassol we made a small detour and visited my father’s village «Lophou».   «Lophou» takes its name from the word «lophos», which means hill. Lophou village The village of Lofou is  about 26 kilometers northwest of the city of Limassol.  The village  is built in a circular pattern on hills, at an altitude of 780 meters. It is surrounded by mountains with narrow and steep versants. The landscape is divided by two rivers that are canals of ‘Kryos’ and ‘Kouris’, which both come from the river ‘Kouris’. Panaghia Evaggelismos at Lophou village Lofou is a village dating back from the Byzantine period although archaelogical findings trace it back to the bronze age. It is one of the «krassohoria» of Limassol and it used to be one of the richest villages in Cyprus and had a lot of underground water. Lions, church Evaggelismos at Lophou After the First World War and then after the Second World War there was a tremendous decline of the population in the village.  Most of its inhabitants already owned land in Ypsonas, which they used during the summer months, to cultivate carobs, cereal fields etc.  Several of these farmers gradually settled in Ypsonas. During the period of the British rule there is a steady population decline of Lophou in favour of Ypsonas and after the Independence in 1960, due to urbanization many moved to Limassol, to find a job. Eventually the village was almost totally abandonned.  In 2001 only 50 inhabitants remained in comparison to 962 in 1921.  In 1987, the Association of Expats of Lophou is formed aiming to help the village in many ways especially to bring the village back to life.      The church of Panaghia Chrysolophitissa is dedicated to the Annunciation of the Virgin «Evagelismos tis Panaghias».  The church was built in 1872 by all the villagers who volunteered to help build it.  Only a few technicians fron other villages were paid. Lion, church Evaggelismos at Lophou     Lophou3 Some of the locals who owned property in Lophou turned their stone built houses into summer houses and now you can find a lot of tavernas, cafeterias, a hotel has been built and the village hosts over 2000 inhabitants during the summer. Lophou2 There is a folklore museum and an old olive mill you can visit. Traditional House in Lophou

Renovated, traditional house in Lophou

interior of house in Lophou The houses were usually two storey buildings.  There are still some old stone houses which are yet to be restored and we went inside one of them to see how they were.  These traditional houses were protected by a tall, surrounding wall and entering inside there was a courtyard where they kept their domestic aninals, such as their horses or donkeys, some hens, ducks, turkeys etc.  Their storage rooms were on the ground floor and the toilet was far away, in some corner of their courtyard.   house interior fireplace at Lophou   The kitchen with the fireplace, which was mostly used as their living room, as well as the bedrooms were on the «anoi» that is to say on the top storey. Anoi, second floor house at Lophou The roofs were made of wooden beams (huge tree trunks) called volitzia, supporting the roof. roof volitsia You can learn more about Lophou village watching this interesting video prepared by Lophou Association. On our way back, we stopped to take a picture of the sunset as well as the Dam of Kouris. Sunset at Lophou As I said before, Cyprus is full of Dams.  The village of Alassa, which was used as an intermediate stop by the inhabitants of Lophou on their way to Ypsonas, who owned property there as well, was moved to a higher location and the village was flooded by the river Kouris in order to create this huge Dam of Alassa or Kouris in 1985. Kouris Alassa Dam   Μy Cypriot cookbook «Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!» is available on all Amazon stores. You can read more about my travels to here. Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Ivy on Ιανουαρίου 10th, 2014

Book Cover 14 Dec 13

Over the festive period of the Christmas and New Year holidays, we all gather with family, friends or at other social gatherings which are always associated with food, alcohol and lots of desserts.

Studies have shown that after the holidays, we usually gain an average of 1 – 3 kilos (2.2  – 6.6 lbs) because of overeating during the holdidays.

To assist you in losing these kilos, I have summed up some simple but useful tips you can follow:

1.  Be patient when trying to lose weight. A weight loss of one kilogram (2.20 lbs) a week is the typical recommendation. Although that may seem like a slow pace for weight loss, it’s more likely to help you maintain your weight loss in the long term. Remember that 0.45 kilogram (one pound) of fat contains 3,500 calories. So to lose one pound a week, you need to reduce your daily caloric intake by 500 calories, either by eating 500 less calories, or burning that many (500 calories x 7 days = 3,500 calories).   Add some exercise to your life and you will have a successful outcome, as this will also help your metabolism. 

2. Learn how to cook healthier . You can prepare a meal with 200-300 fewer calories than normal by making some simple changes .  Here are a few helpful tips:

  • Instead of cream use milk and a little flour to make white sauces.
  • In salads avoid mayonnaise and prefer Greek yogurt 2% and mustard .
  • Eat more fish and poultry rather than red meat .
  • Do not fry the onion and garlic but use a non-stick sauteing pan and saute it in 1 tbsp olive oil.
  • In risottos increase the amount of vegetables and decrease the amount of rice .
  • Prefer tomato sauces with vegetables for pasta dishes instead of white sauces and minced meat with cheese .
  • Measure olive oil used when preparing your meals.  It should not exceed one tablespoon per serving .
  • If you crave for something sweet, prefer eating fruit, yogurt with fruit and honey or a small fruit preserve (glyko tou koutaliou).

3. Limit your bread intake to a slice a day.

4. Do not nibble between meals . Instead of eating sweets and salty snacks prefer 1-2 fruits mainly between meals or a protein snack.

5. Make it a habbit to eat breakfast . People who skip breakfast, gain 30% more calories, especially if they eat more during the evening. Here are a few ideas for breakfast :

  •  A toasted sandwich with turkey and low fat cheese and a glass of juice .
  • Cereals without sugar and milk.
  • A boiled or poached egg with a rusk and a salad or fruit .
  • Greek yoghurt 2% with honey and cereal.
  • A glass of milk  2%, a cereal bar and a fruit .

6. Always accompany your meal with a salad with 1 tbsp olive oil.  Eating salads is a great way to curb your appetite and add nutrients to your diet.  You will feel full and eat less of the main meal .

7. Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water a day.  Drinking water helps in many ways.  It regulates body temperature and appetite and helps shed toxins.

8. The evening meal should be lighter and about half the energy value of lunch.  Here are a few examples of healthy choices for the evening meal:

  • A salad with tuna and a rusk.
  • Milk 2% with cereal and a banana .
  • An omelette with low-fat cheese and a salad .
  • Ntakos (barley rusk) with anthotyros or ricotta cheese and tomato .
  • Chicken souvlaki and a salad .
  • Rice pilaf with yogurt and salad .

9. Limit your consumption of carbonated drinks, salt and sugar.

10. Avoid drinking more than 2 glasses of alcohol in the week. A unit of alcohol is equivalent to 125 ml of wine or a bottle of beer or a single dose of liqueur or spirit type of whiskey or vodka.

More Than A Greek Salad, is not just an ordinary Greek cookbook.  In this cookbook you will find all you need to know about the Mediterranean Diet, lots of healthy recipes to follow and menu suggestions to help you lose weight and stay healthy!

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Ivy on Ιανουαρίου 3rd, 2014

Ginger and chocolate mousse

I always start the first post of the year with something symbolic, which should be sweet so that the New Year will also bring sweet memories the next year to come.  My first dessert of the year is not only sweet but also peppery which makes it even more  interesting as they will be lively and aggressive,with a pleasant kick, if you know what I mean.

First of all I wanted to thank all the readers of my blog and wish you personal happiness, health and prosperity. Looking back on the months that have passed, most of 2013 was not a very good year for my family, although I tried to keep it private.  However, just before the year ended a few pleasant things changed it all.  So all’s well that ends well.  The message I want to convey is that we should not dispare and look forward to brighter days ahead of us.

My eldest son, who was unemployed for a very long time, is finally working in Cyprus.  My second eldest son has had a job since he graduated, but was supporting us finacially and now he is finally moving to his own flat.  My daughter is graduating university this year and hopefully after she graduates will be able to continue her studies.  She has been working the past months to create a collection of handmade accessories, which hopefully she will be selling her creations through her own e-shop.  Personally, I was working very hard for a long time, with endless hours to finish my second e-cookbook, which I finally I managed to publish just a few days after December.   I hope that it will have the same success and the first one.

Last but not least, my husband and I will be moving to Cyprus in a week’s time.  This is not something permanent but for the time being I do not know how long this will last.  We shall be helping out in a family, food related business.    At the moment I can’t tell you more and I don’t even know if I will have the time or access to the internet, so if you don’t hear from me in the months to come, that will be the main reason.  The restaurant will surely have wifi access so between breaks you shall be seeing my updates via my mobile phone on Facebook.


Ginger fruit preserve

In order to post the Chocolate Mousse, I want to show you how I made the Ginger Preserve.   However, if you don’t want to make the preserve, you can add some freshly grated ginger or ginger powder.

I like to make good use of what ingredients I have available.  When making «Mandarin Melomakarona», I had some delicious leftover syrup which I made with honey and mandarins.  It was a pity to waste it and as I had some leftover ginger root, I decide to make this preserve.


Preparing Ginger fruit preserve

If you will not make the preserve you can put some water, sugar, honey and mandarin juice together with slices of ginger and boil them together until the syrup sets.

Ginger Glyko tou Koutaliou (GingerPreserve)


  • Ginger root (250 grams) peeled 167
  • 2 cups leftover mandarin-honey syrup
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice


  1. Put the first three ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and cook for 30 minutes.  Turn off the heat and let it cool (I have a ceramic stove top which retains heat for a long time).
  2. Repeat the procedure until the syrup sets (I repeated the procedure twice).  Add the lemon juice and stir.
  3. Allow to cool and store in sterilized jars.

Note:  If the syrup sets properly no refrigeration is necessary.  If you are not confidient about that you can store it in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.

If you want to make candied ginger, you must drain the syrup and roll the ginger in sugar and let it dry on parchment paper, before storing in an airtight container.

Ginger preserve

This may not be the traditional chocolate mousse but I did not want to add any raw egg whites in the mouse in order to avoid risking salmonella.  However, the mousse turned out delicious and the addition of crumbled, vanilla flavoured kourabiedes (cookies) with roasted almonds in it and more ginger on top made it irresistible.

Ginger Chocolate Mousse   Whipped cream:

  • 330 ml heavy cream (35%)
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar

Using a hand mixer, beat to make whipped cream.  

Chocolate mousse:

  • 250 grams couverture chocolate
  • 2 large eggs (60 grams each)
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp ginger syrup
  • 1/3 of the above whipped cream
  • Whipped Cream

Optional Ingredients:


  1. Whip the cream with icing sugar until peaks form and refrigerate.
  2. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler until it melts.  Stir in the ginger syrup.
  3. Whisk the eggs with sugar separately until they become white and fluffy.
  4. Using a hand mixer whisk the chocolate over the water bath, adding the beaten eggs a little at a time until incorporated.
  5. Remove from the water bath and keep whisking until it becomes lukewarm.
  6. Add the whipped cream until it is incorporated.
  7. Divide into four bowls and serve with more whipped cream on top or crumbled kourabiedes and some candied ginger preserve.


Ginger chocolate mousse


Wishing you beautiful moments, treasured memories and all the blessings a heart can know!

Until we meet again, take care!

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Ivy on Δεκεμβρίου 31st, 2013


Gkioulpassi is a dish which comes from Asia Minor.  It is usually made with lamb but it is also often made with lamb, port and veal.  Slits are made in the meat and spices, garlic and cheese are added in the meat.  It is wrapped in greaseproof paper with vegetables and spices and  slowly cooked for three to four hours in a «gastra», which is an earthenware or fired clay deep pot with a lid.  However, if you don’t have this pot you can still wrap it well in greaseproof paper and cook it on low heat for a few hours. The fat from the lamb melts away and flavours the other meat as well, keeping the meat succulent, tender and juicy.

collage Gkioulpassi

I first tried this recipe last summer when my friend Vivi Hadjinicolaou cooked it for us in Assini.  As she explained to me this is a traditional recipe which her in-laws brought with them to Assini when they became refugees after the persecution of the Greeks from Asia Minor. My friend cooks it in a wood fired oven which makes the meat even more delicious but unfortunately I’ll have to cook it in my old oven here in Athens. I haven’t cooked this recipe yet but I am confident that it is going to be perfect.   The above pictures were taken in a haste on my mobile phone.  I will update the post and add the pictures after I cook this dish on New Year’s Day. 

gkioulpassi with hasselback potatoes

Update 1/1/2014

As promised I am updating the recipe.  I added more peppers and carrots which were not included.  I also added coarse sea salt, cumin and paprika. After two and a half hours, I opened the greaseproof papers to take a look inside but it still needed cooking.  I carfully covered it again with the paper and cooked it for half an hour more.  This time I removed the papers.  I added another tray with hasselback potatoes on top and cooked it for 40 more minutes, raising the temperature to 180 degrees C.

The final result was delicious, especially the lamb.   I strongly recommend it but next time I will be making it, I will make it only with lamb.

Mushrooms with bacon ala creme

Gkioulpassi, a traditional recipe from Asia Minor

Preparation time:  20 minutes

Cooking time:  3 hours and 40 minutes

Serves: 6 – 8


  • 1 kilo lamb from the shoulder
  • 650 grams pork from the shoulder
  • 500 grams veal from the shoulder
  • 250 grams kefalotyri cheese, cubed (I added kefalograviera Amphilochias)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, cut in slices
  • 2 green peppers, deseeded and cut in slices  (I added 4)
  • 4 red sweet peppers (Florina type), deseeded and cut in slices (Iadded 6)
  • 4 – 5 cloves garlic
  • Salt and freshly grated black pepper (1 added 2 tbsp coarse sea salt and lots of grated pepper)
  • Cumin (0ptional)
  • Paprika (optional)
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 6 allspice berries


Make slits in the meat and add pieces of garlic, salt and pepper in the meat.

Make more slits and put small cubes of cheese in the meat.  (I combined all the spices in a bowl and in the end there was about 1 tbsp leftover).

Rub it with more salt and  pepper as well as oregano and olive oil.

Add the vegetables as well as the remaining cheese, spices and wrap well, two or three times, so that steam will not escape.

Tie the parcel with kitchen string and add some moisture to the greaseproof papers by wetting it with water.   (I wrapped it in three sheets of greaseproof paper and a final wrap in aluminum foil).

Preheat oven to 180o C (350o F). Put the parcel in the oven, (after 15 minutes) lower the temperature to 165o C (330o F) and cook for three (to three and a half) hours.

gkioulpassi with peppers and cheese

Serve with baked potatoes.

gkioulpassi and hasselback potatoes and muchrooms ala creme




Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Ivy on Δεκεμβρίου 27th, 2013


We Greeks like making «pites» ( Greek savoury pies) using whatever ingredients we have at hand.   In my cookbook «More Than A greek Salad», I have 15 recipes for «pites» using different types of phyllo with various fillings such as spinach, chicken, artichokes, leeks, cheese, meat,etc.

Collage Pittes

I had some frozen polluck fillets which I wanted to use in order to accompany the Turkey Soup I made today.   Originally, I was planning to make some fish croquettes but I remembered that last week I bought a package of phyllo, which I did not use, so  I decided to make a pie instead.

I used some of the leftover ingredients I had from Christmas, but you can easily make this pie from scratch, without using leftover gravy or fava soup or turkey meat.  All you need is boiled vegetables and broth.   From the ingredients given below, I used less than half the amount.  When I finished making the filling, there was still some liquid in the frying pan, so I added some bulgur wheat to absorb the juices.  Instead you can add some rice, trahanas or even quinoa.  I used graviera, which is one of the Greek cheeses I like in pitas but feta or halloumi can be used instead.

The phyllo I used is called «phyllo kroustas» and is the one used to make baklavas.  The phyllo sheets will be about the size of the baking tin, so when adding the bottom layer, make sure that with each addition, the phyllo will cover one of the sides of the baking tin as well, in order to enclose the filling inside.  Of course, if you like, you can make your own phyllo from scratch or use «horiatiko phyllo» (provençal style phyllo), «sfogliata» (puff pastry) or «kourou» phyllo instead.

As I said I used polluck but you can use cod, salmon, tilapia or other fish fillets.  Don’t use any kind of fish you don’t like as you won’t like the pie either.

Collage Psaropita

Ingredients I used to make the turkey soup:

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 roasted garlic cloves, mashed
  • 4 small potatoes. cubed
  • 4 carrots, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 cup bell peppers, various colours
  • ½ cup corn
  • 4 sprigs celery, finely chopped
  • 1 cup leftover fava soup (optional)
  • 1 cup leftover turkey meat (optional)
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp spice mixture
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 11 cups turkey broth (or water with chicken bouillon)

Cook the vegetables until soft.  Discard the bay leaves and drain the vegetables.

Psaropita (fish pie)

Preprations time:  1 hour 30 minutes

Baking time:  30 – 35 minutes

Yield:  12 pieces


  • 1 packet phyllo 450 grams (10 – 12 sheets)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp water

For the filling:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 400 grams haddock
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 roasted garlic cloves, mashed
  • ¼ cup leftover turkey gravy (or add 1 tbsp flour)
  • 2 cups boiled vegetables from turkey soup
  • 1 cup broth
  • 2 tbsp bulgur wheat
  • ½ cup parsley and dill, finely chopped
  • 250 grams graviera, grated


  1. Defrost the fish and sqeeze out any water.  Make sure that it has no bones.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and saute the onion until translucent.  Add the garlic and stir a few times.
  3. Add the fish and while sauteing it, break it into smaller pieces.   If you do not have any leftover gravy, add the flour and mix to make a roux. Add the cooked vegetables and broth and season with salt and pepper.  Cook for five minutes and turn off the heat.  Add the bulgur, mix and set aside until it cools.  Mix in the  parsley and dill, as well as the cheese 
  4. Preheat the oven to 180° C (350° F).
  5. Brush a large, shallow baking tin (32 x 38 cm) with olive oil.  The remaining olive oil will be used to brush the phyllos.
  6. Add half the phyllos, one at a time, making sure to cover all the sides and brushing them with olive oil. Add the filling and spread it to go everywhere.
  7. Fold excess phyllos, one at a time, towards the centre, brushing them with olive oil.
  8. Add the remaining phyllos on top, one at a time, brushing them each time, with olive oil.
  9. Use the brush to tuck the edges into sides of baking dish.
  10. With a sharp knife, score the phyllo into square pieces.
  11. Wet your hands or the brush with water and gently sprinkle some drops on top of the phyllo.
  12. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
  13. Serve warm or cold.

Fish pie

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Ivy on Δεκεμβρίου 25th, 2013

kourabiedes with candle

Kourabiedes are Greek shortbread cookies coated with icing sugar. They are usually offered in festivities such as weddings, engagements, name days, Christmas etc.

A very significant factor to have tasty kourabiedes lies mainly on the quality of butter used. Ewe’s milk butter or a mixture of ewe’s and goat milk butter is used but if you can’t find any, you can substitute it with regular butter, although still delicious, the taste will not be the same.

star shaped kourabiedes

We can shape them by hand by making small round balls around 23 – 25 grams each which can be flattened or give them a moon shape or even use a cookie cutter.  The time of baking will depend on their size and your oven.

Kourabiedes 2013

Kourabiedes, adapted from Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 12 minutes
Makes: 65 x 23- 25 grams each


  • 500 grams (1.1 lbs) ewe’s butter, at room temperature
  • 200 grams (0.4 lbs) blanched and roasted almonds
  • 300 grams (0.6 lbs) icing sugar (sieved)
  • 650 grams – 700 (1.4 – 1.5 lbs) all purpose flour
  • 1 shot (30 ml ) brandy
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence

For coating:

  • 2 tbsp citrus blossom water
  • 300 grams (0.6 lbs) icing sugar


  1. Blanche and roast the almonds in a preheated oven to 180o C (350o F), for about 20 minutes. Allow to cool and then coarsely cut them into large pieces.
  2. Sieve the sugar. Then sieve the flour separately.
  3. Beat the butter with the icing sugar at low speed until incorporated and then beat at high speed for ten minutes until it becomes white and fluffy. Add the brandy and vanilla and stir.
  4. Stop the mixer. Change the paddle to the dough hook, add the almonds and continue stirring, adding the flour gradually until the dough is soft but not sticky on the hands.
  5. You can use a cookie cutter or manually shape them into crescents or round balls and place on a baking tin lined with parchment paper, spaced apart.
  6. Bake for about 12 minutes, depending on your oven. (They will be very soft but will firm up when then cool).
  7. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  8. Using a spray bottle spray them on both sides with citrus blossom water.
  9. Turn them upside down on a dry surface and using a sieve, sprinkle some icing sugar and then turn them over again. Continue sieving until they are coated and then place them in a platter.

Note: The icing sugar used may be sieved and used again.

A similar recipe is included in my cookbook «Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!



Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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Ivy on Δεκεμβρίου 21st, 2013


«Melomakarona» (honey cookies) is a traditional recipe made during Christmas.  The cookies are made with olive oil and drenched in a honey syrup, with lots of walnuts on top.

making mandarin syrup

Last year I made these unique  Melomakarona which are full with the aroma of mandarin and I have made them again this year with  minor changes. Living in a place surrounded with mardarins, I wanted to make good use of the mandarin marmalade and mandarin liqueur I had made.  I used local citrus floral honey, fresh mandarin juice which I incorporated in the syrup, mandarin peel and in the filling I added mandarin marmalade until the walnuts could hold together.



Greek olive oil varies in quality, depending on the region.  I used  a very mild olive oil which has a subtle, fruity taste.  In case the olive oil you use is too strong, you can mix it with sunflower oil. In order that they become of equal size I weighed each piece of dough to be about 35 grams each.  You can stack them in a bowl and don’t have to worry as the olive oil will prevent them from sticking to each other.


Then I shaped them in my hand making a disc of about 7 cm diametre and added a teaspoon filling in the centre.  I wraped each side over the filling and then sealed the edges.

Designs onelomakarona

I put them on a baking tin, lined with parchment paper, seam facing down.  You can use a  grater, an egg cutter or even a fork, which is even easier.

Melomakarona with egg cutter

Attention must be taken regarding the baking time.  My oven here in Athens is quite old and needs more time for baking than usual.  You will either have to reduce the temperature around 170 degrees C or bake them a few minutes less.  Mine were baked in approximately 22 minutes.

melomakarona shaped with fork

I can assure you that if you love the taste of mandarin, you will love these aromatic cookies.  Even if you don’t add the marmalade or the mandarin liqueur, adding mandarin juice, mandarin peel and zest are enough to give these melomakarona a wonderful aroma.  This year, I did not have any mandarin marmalade, so instead I added can sugar and citrus blossom.

Christmas Cake 2013 3

This year I made homemade marzipan decorations for my Christmas Cake, which I dipped in white chocolate.  I had some leftover white chocolate so after dipping the Melomakarona in the syrup,  I then dipped the last then of them in the chocolate.

White chocolate melomakarona2

They smelled and tasted amazing and those who tried them gave me rave reviews.

Mandarin Melomakarona, recipe adapted from «Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!» 

Makes: 60


  • 1½ cups (250 grams – 8.8 oz) good quality mild olive oil  (1 cup olive oil and ½ cup sunflower oil)
  • 1 cup (230 grams – 8.1 oz) sugar (this year I used brown raw cane sugar)
  • 1 cup (250 grams – 8.8 oz) fresh mandarin juice
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 30 ml mandarin liqueur (or other liqueur or brandy)
  • About 7 cups (1kilo – 2.2 lbs) all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp cloves, powdered
  • ½ tsp cinnamon, powdered
  • 1 – 2 tbsp mandarin zest (from 3 -4 mandarins, only a very thin layer)

For the syrup:

  • 400 grams (14.1 oz) sugar, (almost 2 cups)
  • 500 grams (1.1 lbs) citrus blossom honey (a few more tablespoons to drizzle on top)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup mandarin juice
  • 1 mandarin peel
  • 1 piece of whole cinnamon


  • 200 grams walnuts, coarsly chopped
  • A few tablespoons mandarin marmalade*
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves

Additional ingredients:

  • 150 grams walnuts, finely chopped
  • Leftover honey syrup (or honey)

* Instead of mandarin marmalade you can add 4 tablespoons brown cane sugar and 2 tablespoons citrus blossom water, mixed with the walnuts and spices.

White Chocolate Coating (for about 15 melomakarona)

  • 200 grams white chocolate
  • 100 ml light cream
  • 1 tsp butter
  • A few drops of vanilla essence


  1. Start by preparing the syrup by adding sugar, honey, water, mandarin juice, cinnamon stick, cloves and  mandarin peel in a pot.  Mix and bring to a boil.  It will soon bubble and form froth.  Reduce heat, skim and simmer mixing a couple of time, for 8 – 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside.
  2. Sieve the flour and mix with mandarin zest, cloves and cinnamon.
  3. Beat the olive oil and sugar well for about 10 minutes on high speed.   Mix the baking soda in the mandarin juice and add to the mixture (be careful as it will bubble).  Add the mandarin liqueur.
  4. Change to the K paddle or to the dough hook and add the flour mixture gradually until the dough does not stick on the hands.  (If your mixer does not have the above paddles, use your hands).
  5. Preheat oven to 180o C / 350o F.
  6. Line a baking tin with parchment paper and taking some dough the size of a large walnut, shape melomakarona round and then slightly flatten it.  Add 1 tsp walnut mandarin mixture and fold again into a round or oblong shape, to enclose the mixture.  Turn the melomakarono over and on the side without any seems, press the cookie on a box grater or an egg cutter horizontally and vertically, to form a pattern on top.
  7. Place on the baking tin spaced apart and bake for 20 – 25 minutes, depending on your oven, or until they just start to get a light colour.
  8. When they are baked, dip them while still hot in the syrup for about 1 – 2 minutes.  Turn them over and remove with a slotted ladle in a colander until they cool. (At this stage they can be dipped in the white chocolate)
  9. Place them in a platter, drizzle some raw honey on top and add lots of walnuts on top.
  10. To coat them with chocolate, put the chocolate to melt in a bain Mari.  Add cream and stir to make a smooth cream.  Add vanilla and butter and stir until combined.  After dipping the melomakarona in the syrup, let them drain for a few minutes and dip them in the hot chocolate.  Using two forks carfully remove them on parchment paper until they dry.



My new cookbook «More Than a Greek Salad»



Christmas En 2013


Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,


Other relevant recipes:

Kourabiedes (Greek shortbread Cookies)

Christmas Fruit Cake

Easy Chocolate Truffles

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