Chewy Hachiya Persimmon Cookies

by Mary Papoulias-Platis

Post image for Chewy Hachiya Persimmon Cookies

Hachiya Persimmons are a Fall sweet honey-like fruit making the perfect cookie for a tea or an afternoon treat!

There are many types of persimmons on the market but these are made with this particular variety. The heart-shaped Hachiya persimmons are astringent, meaning they are very high in plant chemicals called tannins that give the unripe fruit a dry, bitter taste. This type of persimmon needs to be fully ripe before eating. This persimmon can be found at your local stores.  The Hachiya and more varieties are available at Melissa’s Produce.

The fruit is eaten when very soft, with a jelly-like touch. The pulp should also look like jelly when cut open, and pureed with a blender until smooth. Add them to your baked goods such as cookies and cakes. The pulp can also be pureed or blended and added to drinks, made into a fruit sauce, or made into puddings. When soft and ready to eat, place it the refrigerator until ready for use. Don’t forget to simple dig into your persimmon with a spoon for pure enjoyment!

Hachiya Persimmon are longer and “heart-shaped” variety of the persimmon family. They are originally from Japan and China, but today are grown in California. They were grown for thousands of years for their delicious fruit and beautiful wood. The smaller shorter persimmon are called Fuyu, and can be sliced and eaten fresh. They also can be used for baking or candied.

What are the Health Benefits of Persimmons? There are many!

  • They are loaded with nutrients, mostly vitamin A and C and many others.
  • They contain Powerful Antioxidants such as carotenoids and flavonoids. Diets rich in these compounds have been linked to a reduced risk of certain diseases, including heart disease and diabetes.
  • They are Heart-Healthy – Persimmons contain flavonoid antioxidants and tannins, which benefit heart health by reducing blood pressure, lowering inflammation and decreasing cholesterol levels.
  • Persimmons are rich in the powerful antioxidant vitamin C, which helps lower inflammation, a common cause of many diseases.
  • Fiber-rich foods like persimmons can help lower cholesterol, reduce blood sugar levels and keep your digestive system healthy.

Feel free to eat them alone, they hold up as a chewy spicy cookie. Add a simple sugar icing if you would like a fancier cookie. ( 2 cups powdered sugar, 1/4 cup lemon  or orange juice). Just mix and drizzle on top of each cookie.

I can guarantee you cannot eat just one!

 

 

 

Chewy Hachiya Persimmon Cookies

Make these for a tea or for friends dropping by, enjoy their unique flavor.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword cookies
Servings 24 cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg room temperature
  • 1 cup Hachiya persimmon pulp
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup raisins

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

  3. In a medium bowl, beat white and brown sugar, and butter until smooth. Mix in egg. Stir in the persimmon.

  4. Add the persimmon mixture into the dry ingredients. Stir until combined well.

  5. Stir in walnuts and raisins.

  6. Drop dough by teaspoons onto a greased cookie sheet.

  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown.

You may also be interested in other persimmons varieties from Melissa’s Produce.

 

From left to right:  Organic Sweet Pumpkin Persimmon, Fuyu Persimmon, Cinnamon Persimmon.

 

Don’t let the cookie monster near these cookies!

Best in Health,

Mary 

 

{ 0 comments }

Post image for My Number One Recipe on my Blog “Vasilopita”

For the past several years Vasilopita is my number one recipe on my blog! I bet most of you have never heard of this cake-like bread. It’s a Greek  traditional family recipe, made for the New Year. There are actually two types of breads that are baked during this time, but I find this one a bit easier to make. The other recipe is a New Year’s Bread made with yeast which happens to take 2 days to assemble. Many years I have traded off making both for my family. Here is the recipe for New Year’s Bread. One thing to remember about this recipe is not to forget the coin, that is placed in the raw dough before baking. I suggest you have it out and wrapped and ready to go before baking. The cutting can be done at the table and once you cut a piece for the House and the Lord, select the pieces for the family, and the person with the coin will have good luck for the year!

Let’s Get Started!

I’m always the baker that likes to organize all my ingredients ahead of time, for the ease of cooking. In cooking school this is called, Mise en Place, everything in place.

Once everything is ready, grease your pan the 12×3 inch round pan used in this recipe. We use this size so we have enough pieces for the entire family and guests. The pan can be found at any nearby baking shop such as Michaels. This is by Wilton.

Just wrap the coin you have chosen in wax paper before adding to the batter.

For this recipe head over to New Year’s Cake Vasilopita

Place the coin on the bottom and pour in the batter. Mix the batter and place in the pan.

Once baked cut out numbers or decorate with pearls, icing, or candy.

Add any decorations and your done. Here I added gold glitter around the edges.

Enjoy the party and good luck in getting the coin!

This is last year’s cake, we haven’t cut ours yet this year.

 

For the recipe head over to New Year’s Vasilopita!

 

Enjoy the New Year, and May God Bless You!

Mary 

 

For more Traditional Recipes take a look under my category: Traditional Greek

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

{ 0 comments }

Greek Escarole Soup with Orzo

by Mary Papoulias-Platis

Post image for Greek Escarole Soup with Orzo

Escarole soup is my favorite new weeknight meal. Bitter greens are important in the Greek Diet, and I do have many recipes using greens on my blog. Growing up in a Greek home, my mother served them weekly as a side dish or in soups. Bitter greens are packed with nutritional value often included in the common Mediterranean region. Why are they called bitter? The bitterness comes from a chemical called gluosinolates. Many of these greens are members of the Brassica family, also know as cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cabbage and kale. Many of these greens can be found today at your local supermarket and farmer’s market. They are used in many green drinks for their high nutrient value.

Below are a few examples of bitter greens you can cook with. Add them to your soups and stews, saute with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon or add them to any quiche or egg-like dish.

Escarole This green is leafier than kale, and is usually sold in bunches that look a lot like a head of lettuce, with short, wide, wavy-edged leaves. The color and texture of the leaves varies—those on the outside are darker-green and a bit tougher, while the interior leaves are pale-yellow and more tender.

Dandelion Greens – Dandelions are similar to chicory, with a slight resemblance to curly endive. The rich distinctive flavor offered by this common green is slightly bitter, but appetizing, and somewhat sharper than collard greens or spinach.

Kale- My favorite kale, the type I grow in my winter garden. This kale is packed with nutrients, though it cooks much quicker then curly kale and is much more subtle as a flavor additive when used in soups or stews.

Collard Greens – These greens are traditionally boiled until very soft with a smoked hock or a piece of salt pork. Producing paddle-like, oval deep green, substantial chewy leaves, collard greens offer an assertive flavor that lies somewhere between cabbage and kale.

Let’s Get Started on the Escarole Soup!

Escarole is a very delicate green, with many colorful curly leaves.

Wash the greens in cold water. Roughly chop the greens.

Finely chop one red onion.

Heat a dutch oven or deep pot, add olive oil and saute onions until softened. (Excuse my old soup spoon,  I love it!)

Add the water and salt and cook until soft for around 20 minutes.

Add the precooked pasta to the soup. Reheat if necessary.

You may also want to add a squeeze of fresh lemon and grated cheese to your soup.

Greek Escarole Soup with Orzo

A nutritional weeknight soup with less than 6 ingredients! Delish!

Course Soup
Cuisine Mediterranean
Keyword pasta, escarole, soup
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 head escarole, washed and roughly chopped
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup dried orzo or pasta
  • 1/2 grated Parmesan or Pecorino
  • sat and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a dutch oven or large pot, add olive oil and chopped red onion and saute until onion is softened.

  2. Add the chopped escarole and salt and saute coating greens with oil.

  3. Add the water and 1 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce and cover to a simmer for 20 minutes.

  4. Season with salt and pepper if needed.

  5. Meanwhile cook the pasta and drain. Add to the soup.

  6. Season with salt and pepper if needed.

  7. Serve with grated cheese and a squeeze of lemon.

A big thank you to Melissa’s Produce for the beautiful escarole.

This recipe was inspired by “Coming Home to Sicily, authored by Fabrizia Lanza.

You may want to try more of my recipes using greens:

Dandelion with Lemons and Olive Oil

Grilled Lamb Chops with Greens

Greek Grilled Whole Fish with Greens

Enjoy this beautiful winter soup,

Mary 

{ 0 comments }

Bearss Lime Curd

by Mary Papoulias-Platis

Post image for Bearss Lime Curd

Have you heard of Bear Limes or the correct spelling Bearss Limes?

My backyard is perfumed with fresh limes from our Bearss Lime tree. We have a 15 year old tree that continues growing and giving us several crops a year. This specific lime can be used as a young lime, when reaching 2 inches round for flavoring cocktail drinks and as they mature to 3-4 inches, they produce more juice for limeade, pies, baked goods, and sauces.  It’s a very diverse lime variety. And don’t forget to use the zest before squeezing, for added flavor to your meals and desserts. IT’S FREE FLAVOR!

Here is a definition of the Bearss Lime Tree also known as the Persian lime, other common names such as seedless lime, Bearss lime and Tahiti lime, is a citrus fruit species of hybrid origin, known only in cultivation. The Persian lime is a triploid cross between key lime and lemon. Wikipedia.

For more information on this specific tree, check out this  UC Davis report on Citrus.

Here I have picked small and large limes. This lime can change color from young dark green to a yellow-lime. Both can be used for various uses. The sizes vary so the smaller limes will give you much less juice but has a place in cocktail drinks with more sour notes. The larger size lime when squeezed is perfect for desserts and for adding to your sauces for main dishes.

This gives you a better look at their various sizes. And this is all from the same tree.

This is a good look at the smaller limes sliced to give you a better look at the interior and all the juiciness, compared to the more yellow one.

Next, is the larger lime and you can now compare the two. Slightly less green with a yellow tint.

And never forget to add the zest to all your dishes for that extra punch of flavor! It’s free!

Bearss Lime Curd

A quick curd using Bearss limes for all your fillings and desserts.

Course Dessert
Cuisine California Greek
Keyword Curd, Limes

Ingredients

  • 4 oz. lime juice
  • 6.5 oz. sugar, divided
  • 2 tsps. lime zest
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature

Instructions

  1. Combine lime juice, 3oz. of sugar, and the zest in a saucepan. Bring to a boil.

  2. Place the eggs and remaining sugar in a bowl. Mix well.

  3. Temper the egg mixture by adding one-quarter of the boiling juice. Stir. Add the remaining juice and place back on the burner.

  4. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking, continue and boil for 1 minute.

  5. Remove from the heat and chill over an ice bath until cooled.

  6. Add the butter in 5 pieces, beating well after each addition.

  7. Use immediately for a pie filling or cover and chill and refrigerate.

Recipe Notes

This makes enough for one 8 inch pie shell. Use the filling for layer cakes, tortes, meringues and sandwich cookies.

If you are looking for a new dish to serve your family, try my Avocado Lime Risotto, it’s so tasty and bright!

Here are a few more recipes you may be interested in:

Ina Garden Tequila Lime Chicken

Key Lime Bars from Martha Stewart

Lime Glazed Shrimp

Hope you enjoy these recipes and remember to give away your extra garden crops!

Best in Health,

Mary 

 

{ 0 comments }

Crunchy Jicama and Beet Salad

by Mary Papoulias-Platis

Post image for Crunchy Jicama and Beet Salad

What do jicama and beets have in common?

They are both root vegetables. and in this salad they are perfect companions, for they are both crispy and crunchy.

There is no cooking required, so this recipe is good all year around. No refrigeration is required which makes it a perfect dish for any outdoor gathering.  I do like to serve it cold, but it’s not necessary. Adding a touch of lemon juice perks up the flavors beautifully. And the addition of citrus, makes it a substantial  side dish or lunch.

So what is Jicama?

Jicama is a starchy root vegetable similar to a potato or turnip. The tuberous root tastes slightly sweet, but it is low in sugar, making it a good carbohydrate choice for people with diabetes and others attempting a low-sugar diet.

Originally from Mexico, the jicama is sometimes also known as a Mexican turnip or yam bean.

Jicama is usually served raw as part of a crudite platter or in salads, but you can stir-fry it, boil or bake it. Look for small ones, they tend to be more tender. You can find jicama at your local farmer’s market or at Melissa’s Produce,online.

 

This refreshing salad doesn’t need a recipe printed out! In fact, there are only 4 ingredients.

one raw beet, peeled
one jicama, peeled
one lemon
citrus of any kind (optional)

Directions
1. Grate the peeled jicama. Place in a medium bowl.
2. Grate the beet. Add to the bowl mix gently.
3. Add a pinch to 1/4 cup lemon juice to your dish, taste, add more if needed.
4. If adding citrus: peel the orange and cut into small 1/2 inch pieces. Add to the top as a garnish. (optional).

You can also add nuts, coconut, seeds for a crunch factor.

Perfect for a warm day!

Mary 

I do love jicama and you may enjoy these recipes!

Jicama Nachos with Rice, Beans and Pickled Radish

 

California Avocado Salsa with Jicama Chips

 

 

{ 0 comments }

San Diego County Farm Tour

by Mary Papoulias-Platis

Post image for San Diego County Farm Tour

CANCELLED BUT WILL BE RESCHEDULED!

STAY SAFE

Hosted by Chefs Secrets which is a new collaboration between
Debs Kitchen
&
California Greek Girl
Meet up at
Mountain Meadow Mushroom Farm, Escondido
San Diego County Farm Tour
Sat, April 18th
10:30-4
$125.00

Register Here

Farm Tour!
Do you know how mushrooms grow? You’ll learn everything about mushrooms that you need to know! Did you know that mushrooms are a nutrient dense food? Good for you!

Here’s a link to their website for more info
Mountain Meadow Mushroom Farm

Here’s a blog post about the farm & yummy Mushroom Risotto recipe from Mary at California Greek Girl
Mushroom Risotto

 

Next we’ll head over to
North County Olive Oil Co. and meet Sue Rober at her Sunshine Gardens location where we will taste and experience their True California Olive Oils with style.

 

Their vision is to share with you their experience in the California olive oil industry. They have selected a portfolio of top producers who make both extra virgin olive oils and vinegars from California olives and grapes. They represent a variety of regions which offer unique styles from many varietals and cultivars of local California olives. We look for producers that promote sustainable practices in the grove and throughout their day to day practices.

Our Olive Oil Tastings offer a unique experience created around a variety of artisan producers of California extra virgin oil, wine and specialty artisan products.

A cooking demo & lunch will be served by
Chef Debbi & Chef Mary

Menu*

Cheese Platter with Seasonal Vegetables & Fruit
Winter Salad with Pixie Tangerines
Mushroom Risotto Demo
Road Home Brownies

*Menu subject to availability
One glass of wine will be served with lunch.
Lemonade & Spring Water will be available.

Don’t miss the great swag bags that you’ll get to take home!

We encourage car pooling, need a ride or want to provide a ride?

Please email me at [email protected] for any questions, or leave a message below.

Register Here

{ 0 comments }

Ouzo Chocolate Truffles

by Mary Papoulias-Platis

Post image for Ouzo Chocolate Truffles

What a perfect ending to an evening dinner at home with these ouzo chocolate truffles. They make the perfect make ahead dessert or a wonderful gift for a loved one. These are not difficult to make, and they look so fancy and elegant. Serve them on a special dish, dress them up with various toppings and you are good to go.  So give then a try, and I bet you cannot eat just one.

Truffles are made with just a few basic ingredients. 

  1. Chocolate   2. Milk    3. Liquor (optional)

There are only 3 steps!

  1. Chop the chocolate and place in a bowl.
  2. Heat the milk and pour over chocolate and stir.
  3. Refrigerate and roll into balls.

Don’t have ouzo, add any liquor of your choice, or none at all. These small bites of heavenly goodness are made with dark chocolate, coconut milk and a touch of liquor. And yes, don’t forget the pinch of seat salt! Once you make these truffles, you can’t forget the silky pop from just one bite.

And for a little touch of Greekness…. drizzle some honey on or around your truffle for a touch of gold.

What’s Ouzo?  Ouzo is a very popular Greek liquor with a distinct dry-anise flavor.  It consists of pure ethyl alcohol that may be made from either grape or grain and then distilled with aniseed.  My favorite ouzo can be found at Athenee Imports, called Thrace Ouzo.

 

Ouzo Chocolate Truffles

These rich dark chocolate bites are flavored with any liquor of our choice. Easily prepared for any occasion, and loved by all.

Course Dessert
Cuisine California Greek
Keyword truffles
Author Mary Papoulias-Platis

Ingredients

  • 5½ oz oz. of quality chocolate (bittersweet or semisweet) (approx.1-2 bars) (150 grams) Use chocolate with 56%-72% cocoa.
  • 4 ½ oz. full-fat coconut milk (125 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon ouzo or liquor of your choice- optional You can use Grand Marnier, Frangelico, or Triple Sec.
  • pinch fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts, cocoa or sprinkles

Instructions

  1. Finely chop the chocolate and place into a heat-proof bowl. Set aside.

  2. Place the coconut milk in a small saucepan over low heat and bring to a simmer.

  3. Pour the milk over the chocolate. Shake the bowl to cover the chocolate with the milk.

  4. Add the ouzo and allow the chocolate to to set for a few minutes. Stir until smooth.

  5. Once the chocolate has melted, let cool slightly before adding the salt.

  6. Place the chocolate in the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until the mixture is firm.

  7. Prepare your topping(s) and place in small bowls.

  8. Using a teaspoon-size ice cream scoop or small spoon or melon baller, scoop up chocolate. Roll into a round ball. Roll in desired toppings. Transfer the balls onto a parchment lined tray.

  9. Truffles can be made ahead and refrigerated. When ready to serve leave out to almost room temperature before serving.

Love every bite!

Mary

{ 4 comments }

Chocolate Fondue for the Heart

by Mary Papoulias-Platis

Post image for Chocolate Fondue for the Heart

What can be easier for Valentine’s Day than this rich ultimate chocolate surprise for your loved ones?

This chocolate fondue can be served in one large bowl, or for a more intimate style in small individual servings. The most important ingredient of course is the dark chocolate. Use dessert chocolate if available, if not use good quality dark, milk or white chocolate. Try and use chocolate that contains at least 31% cocoa butter. I bought my chocolate bars at my local supermarket. This dessert can be whipped up ahead of time, and placed in a bain-marie to keep warm. I use a medium saucepan with a small amount of water and the glass bowl of chocolate sitting on top without touching the simmering water. Tip: When lifting the warm bowl make sure you wipe down the bottom from any water drops. You don’t want water drops in your chocolate when transferring it to your serving container.

What is a bain-marie?

A bain-marie is a cooking container filled with water in which another pan or dish is placed in order to cook food more slowly or with more moisture. The term is taken directly from the French, it literally translates as Mary’s bath. Note that when cooking with a bain-marie the pan or dish that contains the food is put directly into the hot water bath. A double boiler is a pan that is constructed in two parts. The lower half of a double boiler contains the boiling water, the upper half holds the food being cooked and fits above the water. The upper part of the double-bowl which holds the food does not touch the water, cooking occurs because of the steam heat generated by the boiling water.

Place the milk on a low simmer and add the vanilla bean and seeds.

Slowly add the chocolate and continue stirring until smooth and shiny.

Serve individually with skewers of fruit in season.

Here I selected golden kiwi and raspberries for a bright and cheerful display.

Chocolate Fondue for the Heart

This year-around chocolate fondue is a family or party winning surprise, just adjust the fruit seasonally and you have a terrific crowd pleasing dessert!

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword fondue
Servings 4
Author Mary Papoulias-Platis

Ingredients

  • 4 4 oz. dark chocolate bars, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 vanilla pod, split
  • fruit of your choice, banana, pineapple, kiwi, oranges, strawberries or pound cake

Instructions

  1. Chop the chocolate and set aside. (a serrated knife works well)

  2. Put the cream and milk into a saucepan. Using the point of the knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod into the saucepan. Add the pod and heat slowly until simmering.

  3. Remove from the heat and remove the vanilla pod. Add the chopped chocolate to the cream mixture and stir until completely melted. To keep warm: Place a small amount of water in a clean saucepan and place on low to simmer, place chocolate in a second clean bowl over the first pan with the water. This is called a bain-marie.

  4. Prepare and slice or cut fruit of your choice. Cube cake.

  5. Serve chocolate in a bowl with surrounding fruits. Or serve in individual bowls.

Other desserts to make from my blog:

Bitterweet Chocolate Baklava

Chocolate Valentine Pillows

Chocolate Rice Pudding

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

 

Enjoy every bite!

Mary

{ 1 comment }

My Top Desserts for Your Valentine

by Mary Papoulias-Platis

Post image for My Top Desserts for Your Valentine

Valentine’s Day is a day of celebrating with friends, family and loved ones. As the day nears, we all need a special treat to serve after a fabulous dinner. Or a wonderful dessert to come home to after an evening out. I enjoy making several of these desserts for my family and they can be made ahead so you can enjoy your celebration. So dig in, and have yourself a delightful sweet for your loved ones.

This recipe can be made ahead, and serves many! Organic strawberries is my choice but switch out with the berries of your choice.

Don’t skip the sauce , it adds so much more flavor to this dish.

BERRY SEMIFREDDO RECIPE

Cherries also are a beautiful presentation wrapped with phyllo in these crunchy triangles.

Make ahead and freeze the triangles before baking, and bake them off as you need them.

CHERRY PHYLLO PILLOWS RECIPE

Of course, my one and only chocolate baklava can’t be beat!

It’s made for a large group in a sheet tray, so this can made ahead and baked on your special day.

BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE BAKLAVA RECIPE

Lastly, if you have no time to spare this is and exciting ending to any day, especially Valentines.

Select your favorite ice cream and pour your favorite brand of hot coffee over for a warming evening drink!

WARMING COFFEE AFFOGATO RECIPE

Whichever recipe you select to make, place your  heart and soul into the kitchen and deliver a sweet-loving surprise!

Happy Valentine’s Day,

Mary

{ 0 comments }