This is one of those go-to recipes that gets wheeled out for any and all occasions in our family, from birthdays to dinner parties! This coconut squares recipe is the perfect sweet finger food for kids and adult parties alike and is a real crowd-pleaser. These are basically coconut cake pops but without the added faff of making them round - you can always add a lolly stick to the cake bites before dipping into the chocolate and coconut if you want them to be on sticks, but there’s little point in all that extra hard work (plus the cake falls off the stick so easily!). As a kids party snack, you can even add different coverings (the cake itself is a basic one which works well with all sorts of toppings, from sprinkles to chopped nuts). When serving these coconut cake morsels up to adults, you’ll find they disappear just as quickly - they’re the kind of sweet treat where you pop one in your mouth, intending to stop there, and soon discover you’ve demolished five without blinking! They’re great birthday cake bites for adults, to make the recipient feel indulged and treated, but without committing to the pressure of baking and decorating a whole birthday cake.
Lent is traditionally a fasting period in Greece, where the Greek Orthodox church still has a lot of power over the country’s traditions. From Shrove Tuesday to Easter Sunday we traditionally wouldn’t eat dairy, as well as abstaining from meat and fish (but not shellfish). But that doesn’t mean no enjoyable meals! No, in fact a whole Greek cuisine has sprung up around the culture of fasting - Greek fasting food is called Ladera, or Lathera - food that is full of veggie and made with olive oil, containing no meat or dairy products. This is the healthy heart of the Mediterranean diet (although this recipe doesn’t necessarily uphold this principle!) This Greek semolina cake recipe is unusual, but very authentic and moreish - I definitely urge you to try it. So plenty of dairy-free cakes have sprung up over the centuries to ensure Lenten fasting is still a seasonal celebration. This semolina halva recipe is one of my favourite desserts, whenever I eat it, and it is dairy-free, egg-free and butter-free. Turns out a Greek halva dessert ticks all the boxes as a perfect recipe to have up your sleeve for any fasting or vegan visitors (and is completely glorious for anyone not sticking to any dietary exclusions, too)!
Fooodlove combines the UK culture of afternoon tea with some Greek bakery favourites to give you a roster of exciting ideas for a Greek-inspired afternoon tea.
What’s a Greek carrot cake, I hear you ask? Well, for me, all things Greek use Greek yoghurt wherever possible! So yes, this is a carrot cake without cream cheese -I substitute in that tart, rich tang of Greek yoghurt instead, to make for a slightly healthy carrot cake, as well as a yummy one. That tart, sweet tang is literally ‘the icing on the cake’ when it comes to carrot cake - that vegetable, spiced moist batter is just complemented so perfectly by a tangy sweet frosting. Carrot cake might just be my favourite cake - and that’s saying something! Being wholemeal flour, as well as containing carrots, raisins, and walnuts as well as eggs and plenty of spices, I can convince myself that this indulgent treat is at least doing me a little bit more good than a decadent fudge cake, for example. Yoghurt icing for carrot cake isn’t completely pioneering - it really does mimic that slightly sour-sweet tang that cream cheese frosting delivers, but with the added goodness of Greek yoghurt. A creamy Greek yoghurt frosting is just as easy to make as a cream cheese one, and we are always more likely to have Greek yoghurt in the fridge - so it just makes this cake a real easy store cupboard bake for our household.
Sometimes indulgence is the only way forward, and this carb fest is a real treat! Makaronopita, or Greek pasta pie, uses indulgent pastry, pasta, evaporated milk and feta cheese to ensure no stone is left unturned on your journey to the ultimate in comfort food! You can use any type of pasta with this really, but the ones that work best are the small tubes called pasta for pastichio, or pastitsio, in Greek. It’s almost like a hollow spaghetti. But bucatini, macaroni, gomitini, or maybe a small rigatoni at a push, will work too! Using spaghetti emulates the longer strands but without that hollow centre, so makes for a Greek spaghetti pie would be much denser. The idea is to keep the pie full of air with the tubes, but also rich with that baked cheesy sauce. Makaronopita with filo on top is the ultimate in texture contrast too, as the soft pasta contrasts so well with the crunch of the crisp filo. That’s why I suggest cutting your pie into portion sizes before you bake it - otherwise you’ll shatter the filo when you try to serve it, and there’s nothing nicer than breaking that crisp top yourself! Serve up this Greek pasta bake with a nicely dressed side salad for a lunch or dinner (I love it with a zingy lemon dressing), or help yourself to an indulgent slice when those hunger pangs hit, mid-afternoon! This is cold weather comfort food, at its best.
These healthy blueberry muffins are a must for my daughters’ packed lunch boxes, or for those rumbling tummies at around 4 pm when dinner still feels far off. The wholegrain flour and oats make them more sustaining and low GI compared to white flour-based cakes, so your blood glucose levels don’t crash and burn like after a quick sugary snack. You can even substitute the quick oats for steel-rolled oats for even better slow energy release, but the texture is a little chewier - try half and half to begin with to make sure you like the substitution! These wholewheat berry muffins also work as healthy muffins for breakfast. We’re constantly running out of time in the mornings, and so I do like to have something on hand to push into a Tupperware for myself for later, or to give my daughters as they rush out of the door. This way I can make sure they’ll be eating something with slow energy release, protein, and even some fruit in it. Sure, these are cakes - there’s no avoiding that - but I feel much happier giving them these than the processed, sugar-filled breakfast ‘cereal bars’ that are another popular option. They’re also great to sub-in for a refined sugar sweet treat, as the aforementioned wholegrain content (the oats and the wholewheat flour) work together to make sure this sweet treat is sustaining as well as satisfying for that sugar craving. Give them a go - they might become your new favourite!
This simple and tasty feta pie is best straight from the oven, whilst it’s still crisp-edged, buttery, and warm. It’s a lazy pie; just a simple batter dotted with feta, which turns out the most mouth-watering results. It’s the kind of cooking I need sometimes - when you know you haven’t got much energy, but you really want to create something tasty, satisfying, and homemade. It’s a great ‘first pie’ or ‘first pastry’ for a new cook, too, as there are so few steps to consider. It depends on your larder, but as big feta fans in my household, this is basically a store cupboard pie, as I will always have the ingredients in my cupboards and fridge for an alevropita! The name translates as ‘flour pie’, as you just make a simple batter and dot this with feta and butter before baking. It’s important to follow step one, and get that tray into the oven before you start the recipe (though keep an eye on it, as you don’t want the fat getting too hot and burning) - because it’s that contact with a hot tray immediately that makes sure the thin batter gets a hit of heat from the start and creates those all-important crispy edges. This is a recipe that’s great at any time of day; a quick and easy breakfast, or a tasty lunch served with a side salad. For me it really comes into its own as a quick mezze to make to add to a table when you have guests coming round!
Vasilopita is a Greek New Year cake, and an unmissable tradition! Cooked up throughout Greece, the texture is sometimes more bready, almost like my recipe for Tsoureki Easter bread. On Rhodes however, where I am from, the Vasilopita traditionally has a moist and cake-like crumb, as in this recipe, for a Vasilopita with hazelnuts. Greek Vasilopita cake hides a secret, however; this isn’t just cake! Much like a traditional Christmas pudding in the UK, it is customary in Greece to hide a (foil-wrapped!) coin inside the cake batter when you bake it. The lucky recipient of the slice of Vasilopita with a coin (called a ‘flouri’ in Greek) is considered to have received luck for the New Year ahead. In some houses, it’s even customary to give them a small gift, too! In our family, we always divide up the Vasilopita by the number of guests present at the table, to make sure that somebody definitely receives the lucky coin. You can imagine, though, that this method can sometimes result in rather large pieces of cake for everyone! Once the coin is found, many guests will stop eating their portion and cut their cake neatly. Then the remnants can be enjoyed the next day, with coffee (when you have a little more appetite!). Equally, we might crumble up the cake to use as the base for making Kariokes.
These deliciously soft and nutty butter cookies are a festive staple come Christmas time in Greece. Kourabiedes are basically Greek almond cookies. Of course, people always try alternatives, like replacing the almond with pistachio - but I have to say I prefer an authentic Kourampiedes recipe. As well as Kourabiedes, we make Melomakarona at Christmas - a honey-soaked orange and spice cookie. Together, these two make up a crucial Greek foodie Christmas tradition, so we always make plenty! They’re also the traditional gift of choice when you’re invited around to somebody’s house for a Christmas get-together or house party - instead (or as well as!) a bottle of wine, we will bake up a plate piled high with Melomakarona and Kourabiedes. The rose water is optional, but I love the slight floral note it adds. Make sure not to add too much, though, as if you’re heavy-handed it can add a medicinal flavour. Rose goes perfectly with the almond and vanilla flavours, though, so don’t miss it out unless you dislike it! This Kourabiedes recipe might be different from your traditional British or American Christmas sweet treats, as it doesn’t contain orange, spices or dried fruit. But I can guarantee you will love this; this is one Greek festive food tradition you simply have to try!
This traditional Greek Christmas recipe is a must-bake in our household come Christmas time, infusing the house with that festive scent of baking, orange, cinnamon and spices. It’s also our go-to gift, when visiting friends and family over the festive period. Instead of a bottle of wine or bunch of flowers, we tend to create a plateful of Melomakarona and Kourampiedes to take round for the host (sometimes there’s a bottle of wine too, of course!) These Greek Christmas cookies take their name from a mixture of ‘meli’ - honey, and the ancient Greek word ‘makaria’ - blessed. With that kind of meaning, you can see the reason that they’re a central part of foodie Greek Christmas traditions (as well as for their taste, of course). Once soaked in honey, these biscuits are moist, flavoursome and gently spiced - in short, the perfect Christmas mouthful. In some regions Melomakarona are known as Finikia, but occasionally recipes for Finikia ask you to deepfry them instead of oven bake them. Don’t worry about making too many - they always get eaten one way or the other. Traditionally, we use any Melomakarona crumbs to make these walnut-filled Kariokes! These are a great Christmas dessert, or an addition to your midmorning cup of coffee - it’s Advent, after all, so it’s time to indulge! I love to sit down in a cosy chair for ten minutes and eat a honey cookie, taking in a moment’s quiet during the festive rush. I highly recommend it!
Fooodlove explores the traditions behind Saint Fanourios and his cake, the Fanouropita. Our Rhodes version is flavoured with sweet wine and is vegan too.
This vegan filo potato pie is a brilliant crowd-pleaser. Any vegetarian filo pie is a hit with me, as a veggie myself, but I love to have lots of vegan recipes in my arsenal to make sure I can feed all of my guests equally well. Filo pie is a brilliant use of filo pastry, which is very popular in Greek cuisine, and so versatile. Any Patatopita recipe (that’s potato pie in Greek!) has to be topped with that filo crunch, and then have a rich centre. Serve this eggless potato pie with a side salad for a lighter lunch, use it as a luxurious side to a bigger meat, or veggie, main dish, or make a big dish and cut into smaller pieces, for brilliant party mouthfuls! Adding leek, and going for a potato and leek pie, is another option which is really lovely come wintertime, and a little bit of an alternative to the classic potato and onion pie that’s so classic in the UK. This potato filo option has all of those Greek flavours, imparted by the dill and parsley, and the sprinkle of sesame on top adds both that Greek nuttiness and of course a range of essential nutrients and vitamins, like phenolic antioxidants, minerals and protein - all vital, particularly to a vegan diet.
These Greek walnut-filled chocolates, or Kariokes, are a moreish delight. Kariokes, filled with the rich darkness of cocoa and a hint of brandy, are the epitome of indulgence, for me (and not just for me - they’ve been my husband’s favourite since he was a boy!). When we have friends around for supper, my take on Greek walnut crescent cookies are a perfect treat after dinner. Greek bakeries make these into perfect crescent shapes, but the easiest method I’ve found at home is to roll the mix into ‘sausage’ shapes, press to slightly flatten the bottom, and freeze them, before slicing (incidentally, that’s pretty much how I do my chocolate mosaic with halva too!). This recipe uses Petit Beurre biscuits, but any rich, buttery and plain biscuit will do the trick here. In fact, the recipe traditionally uses up the crumbs of Vasilopita (Greek Lucky New Year’s Cake) and Melomakarona (Greek Christmas Honey Cookies); keep your eyes out for these recipes on fooodlove over the festive period, but in the meantime, a plain biscuit like a Petit Beurre is a great alternative. This hack makes for a quick and easy recipe, which nevertheless will wow at dinner parties - or you might like them so much you keep them just for you! These are the perfect treat for darker wintery days; imagine a roaring fire, a rich dinner, a glass of red wine - and then a coffee and my Kariokes for dessert. What heaven!
This Dried Fruit and Nut Loaf is a perfect British ‘tea time’ treat. Served up with a lovely cup of tea on a grey and drizzly afternoon, it will put a smile on anyone’s face! This dried fruit and nut bread recipe is, like banana bread, truly more of a cake - although I’m not averse to a slathering of butter on my slice, and I always feel, however untrue it is, that calling a cake ‘bread’ somehow takes away some of the naughtiness! A no yeast bread with dried fruit is surprisingly versatile. We enjoy it as a sweeter breakfast treat, swapping out toast, a croissant or a hot cross bun for a nice slice. I also wrap it up and add it to my daughters’ packed lunch boxes. I’ll always make sure there’s a good portion left for afternoon tea though - in the mid afternoon with a cup of tea or coffee, it’s a great excuse for a ten minute sit down and a little time to yourself. This loaf cake is truly one of those great hybrid bakes that functions as both breakfast treat and afternoon tea indulgence. It’s a quick and easy recipe that has a distinctly warming, seasonal feel due to the aromas of cinnamon and orange that emanate from the oven whilst it cooks…it’s an Autumn staple in our house!
Whether you have kids or not, I always want to find reasons to celebrate as the weather draws in, finding excuses for activities to bring the family together in the kitchen. These Halloween bakes are the perfect excuse. Following on from last week’s pumpkin chocolate chip bread recipe, these are a real commitment to the season! I tend to buy some little spooky figurines, or the cute googly eyes above, just to add that bit of Halloween fun for the kids for this bake. But they work perfectly well without, too, for a more grown-up treat! These Halloween pumpkin cupcakes channel the US tradition to use pumpkin in baking around this time of year. Using pumpkin in desserts just isn’t as common in the UK - I don’t know why, as it makes for a deliciously moist, flavoursome and seasonal addition to sweets and bakes! The warming spices make these cupcakes feel like little bites of pure autumn. They really can satisfy all season long; feel free to leave out the orange colouring and any fun Halloween decorative touches if you want a more stylish seasonal bake for the grown ups to enjoy - far beyond the 31st of October!
This crustless zucchini pie is the perfect lunch for a sunny day in the garden. The recipe originally comes from a friend in Crete. It’s both easy, and a great way to use up the glut of courgettes we seem to enjoy every July and August! Accompanied by a side salad (and maybe a chilled glass of white wine!), this courgette tart is so savoury and satisfying. The feta, parmesan and eggs give it that cheesey, almost quiche-like consistency, whilst the grated courgette/zucchini and the fresh herbs give it a real green vibrancy and fresh taste. Since it’s without a crust, it’s a really healthy, light option too. I’ve even been known to wrap the whole thing in tin foil and take it to the park for a picnic - and you can be sure that none ever comes back!
This pumpkin chocolate chip bread comes high on my list of healthy Halloween treats. This is a truly seasonal autumn recipe, that smells so good when it’s baking that I can barely bear to leave it in the oven long enough. It’s one of those breads that is really more of a cake - but I somehow feel slightly virtuous when enjoying it with a slather of butter and a cup of tea in the mid afternoon if I call it pumpkin bread! I love Halloween bakes; they’re a little break from the mountains of sugar and candy children seem to be fed around the 31st, but are still a really seasonal treat. This is one of the first recipes I’ll reach for, because it’s perfectly seasonal without being smothered in ghosts, ghouls and all things spooky! I’ll save those for the Halloween cupcakes recipe I’ll publish next week - so keep your eye out for those. The orange and spice combination means that this recipe shouldn’t be relegated solely to Halloween, either - it’s well worth its place on the afternoon tea table well through November and into December!
If you’re on the hunt for vegan chocolate treats, these vegan mint bounty bars are the one. In fact, as long as you like coconut, I can assure you that, vegan or not, you’ll love these! In fact, our family aren’t vegan but absolutely adore these little bites. I always find it so useful to have a treats recipe to hand that fits everybody’s dietary requirements. Homemade bounty bars might sound more effort than they’re worth, but nothing could be further from the truth. Plus, you know exactly what ingredients are going in. Easy homemade bounty bars, plus mint - they’re so satisfying, and actually, they’re kind of good for you as far as chocolatey snacks go! The healthy fat from coconut milk plus desiccated coconut and dark chocolate; this is indulgence without the guilt.
Everyone in our household has a sweet tooth! I try to cater to their desires, but without caving in to demands for small mountains of refined white sugar. I make smoothies for them as treats. Of course fruits are full of natural sugars, but the vitamins and minerals they contain make them a far better alternative, in my opinion, to the empty calories of a chocolate bar. This recipe for apple pie smoothie reminds the family of my apple cinnamon muffins (a big favourite at our house), satisfies their appetite for something sweet, the yoghurt fills them, and the recipe gets in one of their five a day plus antioxidants and minerals too, from the two fruits and two spices.
This ham and cheese pie is a homemade version of something you often find in Greek bakeries and pastry shops. It’s a great snack that I include in the kids’ lunch boxes to mix things up, but it’s also a yummy afternoon snack for me and perfect finger food for a birthday party, or picnic. The ham and cheese pie crust of flaky, buttery puff pastry adds a little crunch on top, whilst the mouthwatering filling of slightly herby tomato, ham and cheese ticks all the boxes for kids and adults alike! You can enjoy this hot or cold, but make sure to indulge in good quality ham - this is a simple recipe, so the flavour of the ingredients makes all the difference. 😊