Leader of the Pack

Athens, a contradiction in time.

October 26th is Jimmy’s and James’ name day.  In the Greek Orthodox Church that is as important as your birthday if not more.  A person’s name day is the feast day of the saint for whom he or she was named.  And so October 26 th is a special day for all the Dimitri’s and Dimitra’s of the world.  I, on the other hand, am sick as a dog, stuck in bed with a high fever and with only enough energy to try to breathe.  As I lie here I allow my mind to wander freely and my memories take me back to the first time we took James to Greece.  Jim had never contacted his family on any of our earlier trips and I asked him if he was going to on this one.  “We’ll see.” was one of his more gentle responses.  It ran the gamut all the way to a heated, “Dammit!  You don’t know my family!  If they know we’re there they’ll NEVER leave us alone!”  “Okay!  Okay!”, I thought.  “I’m just asking!”  That first trip with James was also my first trip to the island of Lesvos.  It was also the first time we invited James’ cousin Elizabeth to join us.  The two cousins have always had a great relationship and not only would her perspective be appreciated but James would now have someone to hang out with now that they no longer fought over the blue popsicle.  My sister, Cynthia, kept repeating her instructions to me.  “Chicken.  You CANNOT take your eyes off those children for one moment.  DO YOU HEAR ME?”  In the days leading up to our departure it became her mantra.  We left without a hitch and spent a wonderful week in Athens, making friends with the hotel staff, discovering new dishes and soaking in all that the Acropolis has to offer…which is quite a bit! We spent countless hours in the big museums and patted ourselves on the backs for having the foresight to bring Elizabeth.  It was more than once we heard James mutter, “Mama.  You’ve seen one 570 BC pediment, you’ve seen ’em all.”  We took a day trip to the island of Aegina…we had a blast!  After an exhausting but fulfilling week on the mainland we left for the island of Lesvos, the island of Jim’s family.  We boarded a rather large ferry secure in the knowledge that we had nonsmoking space reserved for the four of us in the first class cabin.  I don’t know why but all the passengers were to stay below.  We weren’t allowed topside maybe because we were traveling at night.  But to say the trip was hideous is an understatement.  It lasted an eternity.  Everyone smoked, EVERYWHERE, including the nonsmoking sections.  Even the babies were smoking!  Well, maybe not the babies but there WAS a woman accompanying her father who was one step away from death.  He was lying on a gurney with an IV and oxygen.  He had that “death rattle”.  And just what do you think was dangling from his daughter’s fingers the entire ferry ride?  It was vile, JUST VILE!!  We did, however, strike up a conversation with a terrific man who turned out to be world traveler and Greek blogger Matt Barrett!  On that initial trip we decided on our hotel stay based on his comments which we had read in his blog.  We have been staying at that same hotel, the Sunrise, ever since and consider the owners and many of the staff our good friends! We finally arrived on the island at two or three in the morning and took the last unoccupied taxi to a nearby hotel.  After a quick rest and breakfast we took off for our final destination, Molyvos!  Our rental car had been delivered to us, the young agent eschewing our offers to drive him back to his office.  He said it was a beautiful walk and that he enjoyed it greatly, but thank you very much.  And off he went!!  I understood completely.  In the soft light of the morning the sweet town of Pirgi glowed, with it’s narrow streets and historic, colonial estates framed by huge, iron gates that looked liked frosting on a cake.  We loaded the car and started off with the excitement and anticipation of the beginning of an adventure heightened by the promise of a new day.  Up and down mountain roads, snaking hair pin turns and shuddering at the sheer drop from the side of the road to ravines and gorges below we finally made it to the Sunrise.

Oh, boy! Lunch!!

What a splendid escape!!  The resort was  carved out of the hills each level of rooms terraced with a killer number of steps.  I made a mental note not to forget ANYTHING when going down to the pool!  Our days were filled with exploring the hotel, neighboring towns and local dishes.

Our beloved Molyvos.

We decided to go to Jimmy’s mother’s village, Morea, and check out the ancient Roman aqueduct.  We easily found the village, signage in Greece is pretty darned good, and started poking around on foot.  After taking in the aqueduct, the beautiful church where his parents had wed and the different Turkish watering holes for horses and travelers, Jimmy said, “Maybe I’ll see if we can find my favorite cousin.  I heard she moved back here from Athens.”  We went to a kiosk in the middle of the town square and after buying the children sweets he asked if there were any people around with the last name of “Hondrobilas”, his mother’s maiden name.  “Oh, sure”, the man replied, “just go down this street and it’ll be the fifth house on the left.”  Okay. We went to the fifth house on the left and knocked on the door.  And knocked.  And knocked.  And pounded!  When we were just about to turn and leave a very irritated young man came to the door and asked if he could help us.  Jimmy answered yes and explained that we were from America, that his family’s last name was Hondrobilas and would he know of any in town or could he actually BE a family member.  The young man responded yes, reluctantly invited us in and invited us to sit down.  He was a third cousin and explained whom we really wanted to see was another cousin, Athena, and he left us to call her.  Jimmy and I sat quietly in the living room whispering vagaries to each other to break the stillness of the atmosphere.  While the cousin was talking on the phone in his rapid-fire Greek we heard a rustling from upstairs.  In unison we turned  to the staircase not believing what we saw.  With big eyes and jaws dropped we watched as the cousin’s daughter came downstairs.  She was the EXACT 16-year-old mirror image of Jimmy’s sister in Boston, Tina, (actually Athena)!!  The same high cheek bones, the same light blondish brown hair, THE SAME CLEAR AQUAMARINE EYES.  We were positively stunned!  As much as we tried to explain, the family just looked at us with complacent amusement and moved right on to the business at hand.  “Okay,” the cousin briskly started, “Athena’s going to meet you in the town square, just go back the way you came in.  Bye-bye!”  We shook hands, gave him our thanks and headed back to the town square which was just a stone’s throw away.

Greater downtown Morea

We stood in the square, the kids chatting with each other, Jimmy and I took pictures.  I slowly acknowledged a mounting clamor increasingly creeping into my consciousness.  It began as just a little din and rose and rose to a small commotion.  As if in slow motion Jimmy and I both turned at the same time to see a crowd approaching us, dogs jumping and yipping about as if THEY knew something was going to happen, the sea of villagers headed by a petite woman in a very cute linen outfit.  Well.  Everyone was talking a mile a minute and then the woman had her arms outstretched and Jimmy had his arms outstretched and they’re hugging and crying and smiling and crying.  It was, indeed, Jimmy’s favorite cousin, vivacious, slightly naughty, always laughing and smiling, Athena.

Sweet Athena with her handsome Yiorgos, George

After all the runaway emotions were reined in we made plans to go to their house for dinner the following day.  We drove back to the hotel marveling over the fact that this reunion had taken place.   Jimmy thought back on his time with Athena’s father, his dearest uncle, walking the streets of Athens discussing different philosophers and choice authors.  Dinner the following evening was magical!  Athena had gathered all the family members  in addition to making a feast that just did not quit!!  We met Athena’s equally generous brother Dimitri and his fabulous wife, Evangelia, along with their remarkable children.  Neither Athena nor Evangelia have sisters so they are to each other not only sisters-in-law but best friends… soul sisters.  Each a treasure to the other.  And now treasures to me.  James and Elizabeth met their cousins and disappeared through the narrow streets of the village, running and playing as if they had all known each other since birth.  We laughed and ate and drank until the wee hours.  Athena and her handsome husband, Yiorgos, (he looks just like Clark Gable), with Dimitri and Evangelia hosted us at countless seaside tavernas each one better than the former to remote all-night, tear it up, Greek parties taking place in the most unlikely, remote, never to be found again mountains!  We would have to follow Yiorgos in the car as there were no street lights and sometimes no streets!!  White lights had been strung from tree to tree, the local band was playing songs and their delighted audience was dancing, and clapping to the strains of the classic Greek music.  They were all brilliant celebrations of sheer love of life and joy.  Our Greek family has enriched our lives beyond belief and now we always… ALWAYS look forward to the phone call when we can say to Athena, “Tekanes, sister!!  Eimaste etho!”  “We’re here!”

The REAL, somewhat naughty Athena!!! We love you, sister!

When there’s a reason to celebrate one needs roasted lamb!  This is an incredibly easy and wholly satisfying dish whether you prepare just a leg of lamb or the entire animal.  To a good cup of olive oil mix in 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, one head of garlic minced, a couple of tablespoons of oregano, and a tablespoon or two of salt and pepper.  Mix all together and rub all over lamb.  Chill lamb with marinade in the refrigerator three or four hours.  Before cooking bring to room temperature.  Based on a 7 or 8 pound leg of lamb, boned, grill for 2-3 hours.  In the oven it can be roasted for 2-2 1/2 hours at 400° basting frequently.  Greeks eat their lamb well done but tender.  And there’s no reason you can’t throw some potatoes in with that meat either!!

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The Hot Springs of Lesvos

Lesvos, Greece.  Poolside.  No makeup, hair could really stand a wash, and I couldn’t care less! Past the majestic date palms which line the length of the pool I look down upon fields dotted with ancient olive trees, hundreds of years old, their trunks gnarled and twisted, their leaves gently swaying in the afternoon breeze coyly showing off the silvery underside as a girl might let her secret love catch a quick glimpse of her petticoats.  Beyond is the Aegean.  These waters are cold, I mean, REALLY cold. Lesvos is known for many things.  Their ouzo is world-renowned.  Their olive oil is some of the best on this planet.  Greeks consider Lesvos one of the most gorgeous islands not only because of her beaches but the island is also home to thousands of birds which stop here during their migration to and from Africa.  This is not an arid island.  Not only are there olive groves and pine trees but meadows filled with wild flowers and butterflies. Horses, goats and sheep graze peacefully in fields filled with pine and elm trees.  Cool breezes wrap themselves around you and, yes, the sun is warm, but not like a hot flame licking the bottoms of your feet.  No, the sun is warm and golden.  Down the road from our hotel is a natural hot spring. The building housing the spring dates back to Roman times.  The entrance is a small, cement doorway which opens to a large, domed structure.  The rounded ceiling opens to a 15 small, square holes which send down a brilliant rays of sunlight that dance and shine smack dab in the middle of the rectangular hot spring.  The floor of the spring is covered with smooth, round rocks and a several well-worn boulders have been strategically placed for seating.  It’s so pretty and relaxing.  Until you open one eye and catch the fat man from some unnamed Slavic country who was just sitting across from you attempting to get out of the steaming waters and shooting you a HIGHLY unattractive backside view of his private parts as seen through his speedo.  Eeeeeeew.  Pretty nasty, but I know you can get past it. Other than that, it’s a pretty spectacular place.  When you first try out the hot springs a gentlewomen explains the correct procedure of immersing yourself.  Cold water is the first step and you have your choice of an outside shower or the Aegean Sea.  The waters of the Aegean are dark, cobalt blues to shimmering, pale aquamarine and colder than you can imagine.  It’s painful just sticking your big toe in.  I’ve even seen Russians scream upon contact.  It takes quite a bit of self-discipline to stay in such frigid waters but after five or six minutes you can drag yourself out and tackle the next step.  The springs are a toasty 109 F to a blistering 115 F.  She advised us to slowly ease ourselves into the waters and advised us the feet are some of the most sensitive parts of the body.  The first time we went I remember thinking, “Oh, no. Not me. I could probably do a cannonball into the water and be just fine.  I’m a mermaid.”  Boy, was I wrong. The tops of your feet truly ARE highly sensitive creatures so we heeded her words and took our time.  Little by little, inch by inch we lowered ourselves until the water came up to our necks.  The hot spring pool is relatively shallow so we were almost horizontal by that point holding onto the edge of the pool for leverage. The recommended time in the pool is no more than 20 minutes so we were happy to get out.  It.Was.Hot.  You could feel yourself perspire, submerged, while watching your skin turn pink.  Time to get back into the cold.  Funny thing tho, when we felt the cold of the Aegean again on our bodies, and believe me, we were dreading it, if didn’t hurt!  Matter of fact, it felt nice. Cool against the heat of our skin.  And it was the same when we went back into the springs.  Felt like bath water!  Back and forth we went, sometimes chatting with each other or other bathers until we surrendered to the luxurious point of limp relaxation.  After a quick towel rub down, a towel can be purchased for a mere 1e, one can take in a little sun and enjoy the drowsy aftermath and post-springs conversation.  “I’m hungry.  You hungry?”  “Yeah.  I could choke down a little something.  Sure.”  “You wanna go to “Our Favorite Restaurant?”  “Oh, yeah!!”, and off we go with our liquid limbs and at a leisurely pace still relishing the warm sun on our skin.  As we approach the Efftalou Restaurant we take in the Aegean and Turkey to our right and, yes, more olive trees to our left.  A quick scan of the restaurant and we take our seats outside.  Usually under the shade of a fig or lemon tree.  This restaurant is known for its fresh fish and never disappoints.  With a cold Mythos beer for Jimmy and an equally cold, crisp glass of house white for me, our order is taken and is usually the same. Grilled whole fish or grilled octopus and loads of vegetables! The fish is from local waters and never more than an hour or two has passed since being caught.  The typical grilling method is to rub the fish with olive oil, give it a light sprinkling of salt, slip it into a flat grilling basket and onto the fire.  It’s served with lots of freshly cut lemon and good Greek olive oil.  And it’s always out of this world!!  A side of boiled, wild greens with more lemons and olive oil, zucchini blossoms stuffed with feta, maybe a Greek salad and, baby, lunch is served!

Dessert!!! Always on the house!!

Country Mouse Goes to the City!

I’m back, everyone, back from a glorious and desperately needed vacation!  We had such a rough start that I was almost beginning to feel that God just wanted us to stay home!  We were to scheduled to leave on a Friday almost at the same time James’ flight was leaving to take him back to school.  The night before departure, the moment dinner had ended, Jimmy announced “There’s an issue!”  Apparently he had forgotten to renew his passport and it had expired.  What are you going to do?? I mean really.  New travel plans were made and we were then slated to leave the following Wednesday.  Was I happy?  Again.  What are you going to do?  Say “No. I’m not going.”?  Pamela said “Okay.  Just tell him you’ll go on ahead and meet him there next week.  ‘K?”  Well, that ain’t gonna happen.  Our dog had severely cut his sweet paw on a piece of glass just a few days prior so we consoled ourselves by saying at least we could keep an eye on him and not worry.  We went through rounds of bandage changes and antibiotics.  Three or four days later Jimmy’s checking his emails on his cell, it’s nonstop but that’s ALL I’m going to say, when he says “The bank says they called me.  They didn’t call me.”  He checked his voice mail and sure enough.  Message from the bank.  Apparently someone got his credit card number and was using it out in Phoenix!!!  The bank caught it but they weren’t going to be able to get the replacement card to us before our departure.   What a pain.  We thought “Okay.  We’re good.  We can roll with the best.”  Then the night before we were to leave I opened the refrigerator and noticed THAT IT WASN’T EVEN COOL!!  I opened the freezer and the ice was wet.  And dripping.  Are you kidding me??  Jimmy immediately called Sears.  The guy was coming out the following day. I was beginning to think, “This is creepy.  Is God telling us something but we’re so stressed and tired we aren’t listening?”  The following day I got up, threw my remaining necessities in my bag,  and started my travel preparations.  Hair, travel make-up, jewels etc.  I couldn’t shake that ookey feeling.  My bags were packed, I was ready to leave for the airport and the Sears man came.  What a nice man.  Took everything out of the freezer, told us what was wrong and how much the total repair would be, HAD THE PIECE IN HIS TRUCK, installed it, we paid and he was off!!!  AND SO WERE WE!!!  We arrived at the airport knowing we had lost all our first class seats but just relieved we were almost on our way!!! Short on time we ran to the gate where the gate agent happily informed us, “Just so ya know.  I was able to upgrade y’all to first.  Have a great flight!!”  BOOM!!!!  Yeah, baby!!  That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout.  We boarded the plane, settled in and took off.  It felt good.  It felt right.  Our bags made it to Heathrow and we set off for our hotel.

This is the $27.00 (after conversion) pot of coffee I just HAD to have in our hotel room the first morning in London.  Jimmy had a great, big, hairy fit.  Hahahahaha!!!  He sure was happy with the biscuits, tho!  And isn’t the china pretty?

I had packed a few lightweight sweaters and long pants assuming London would be cool and knowing Lesvos is cool in the late summer evenings.  What I failed to remember was Londoners don’t wear colors…at least not like in South Florida.  I had lots of red, white and hot pink. Oh!  And gold Jack Rogers.  I find the good thing about getting older is you cut through the BS really fast.  You’re in London?  Totally wrong clothing?? Get over it and get out.  There’s no right way or wrong way just YOUR way.  Now freshen up that gorgeous red lipstick and get out there!  Museums, shops, restaurants…tempest is fugiting!!! Even as we speak!  Off we went and what a blast we had.  We walked and walked through museums each more enchanting and fascinating than the previous, through countless neighborhoods, ducking into bookstores and pubs.

A little sparkling repartee between friends. Something about, “There was a young girl in Nantucket…”

We even stumbled upon a shop which carried needlepoint canvases and pillows exquisitely stitched by prisoners in the British penal system.  Jimmy most generously sprang for a magnificent canvas of a beetroot, rich in purples and greens.  “Thankyousweetheart,you’rethebest!!!!!”  It’s what I always say but it’s true.

Such loot. And we had a magnificent time.  By late afternoon on our second day the skies opened and the rains started.  We happen to be by a rather good-looking wine bar and restaurant.  I said to Jimmy, “It looks good!  C’mon!!”  So in we went and was it just a little slice of perfection!

A unexpected snippet of heaven!

We settled in, ordered a bottle of water and began perusing the menu.  Oh, glory be!  It was beautiful.  And to truly show that the god’s were smiling upon us the daily wine flight was completely Greek.  While waiting for our wines to be surrendered to us we decided upon two small plates to be split.  Roasted sweet potatoes, sauteed spinach, girolle, (a pale yellow or orange wild mushroom ours being from Scotland),  sandwiched between more roasted sweet potatoes and topped with a gorgeous slab of saganaki cheese broiled to a golden perfection.   Oh, wait!   And finished with a generous drizzle of small-batch Greek olive oil.  The second plate to be shared was a stacked dish of tomatoes roasted with fines herbes, guacamole, cold medallions of wild caught local lobster, another dollop of guac topped with a crisp round of local country bacon.  CAN I GET A WITNESS???  By the time the wine flight came out and I could barely contain myself.  It was exceptional.  Unfortunately, it was a bit of a tease and I wanted more…lots more!!

That siren call of the grape!

Then out came our plates.  What joy!  What bliss!  Both were just brilliant.  The Hadzidakis white was perfect with the silken avocado and buttery lobster.  And the Naoussa, you ask?  Mercy.  Like a Pinot Noir it cut through the richness of the sweet potato and the golden slab of saganaki cheese.


We kept marveling at the knockout meal we were so thorougly enjoying all the while questioning why we don’t have something like this at home?  Local is so exciting and gratifying but nooooooo.  We have places like the Cheesecake Factory, (can you say morbidly obese to me??), or even worse Appleby’s.  Although I’vd been told that Appleby’s serves likker sooooo… I might have to take that observation back!!  But my point is that even if food is rich if it’s clean and eaten in small amounts it can only enhance the quality of life.  All you can eat is NOT the way to go.  Anyway, enough of my preaching.   I ate ALL of my lobster dish before I could photograph it so last night I made my version of it.  I added spinach sauteed with a little shallot to add another layer of flavor as I really wanted another green vegetable.  People, it was so good!  Granted the bacon wasn’t local but I bought the best I could find.  Well worth the effort.

Bacon. Another form of crack.

We decided against having dessert and had the last glass of wine in the flight as our after lunch treat.  YES!!!  A Muscat Petit Grain from Samos and our eyes were rolling back in our heads.  Again.  Cold, sweet and crisp I could easily see this not only with dessert but with foie gras or a pate.  Happy and sated we bid our adieux and stumbled back out into the rain.  We walked miles in the rain.  I’m not exaggerating.  And ALL I could think of was how my brand new gold Jack Rogers sandals were going to be ruined.  Ruined!  Slogging through the streets of London town I finally told Jimmy I have GOT to find some shoes.  Really.  I mean it.  My Jacks are going to be rurnt.  RURNT!!  We found a mini-mall and in the middle of six or seven Arab men haggling over the prices of suitcases I found the most darling hot pink, butter suede, closed toe loafer with a platinum link across the top.  And it was on sale!  Happy again we walked the 7 miles back to the hotel.  It was a good, good day!!

Nothing Wise About Wisdom Teeth!

James and I FINALLY went for his wisdom teeth consultation.  It could not have been easier or more stress free!  The surgery date was set for after New Year’s.  Made me think of the last time I had teeth taken out.  I had gotten into my head that as an adult I wanted braces.  My now dentist AND employer was, 22 years ago, Pamela’s boyfriend and my dentist.  Shortly there after he became Pamela’s husband.  We’ve all only had two dentists in our whole lives.  Dr. Schloss, Chris’ father, and Chris.  We loved his father!!  That man was SO nice!  AND he had mouthwash!  Coming from a household with NO sweets that big doins’!  He passed away while I was in college and shortly after, Chris graduated and started his own practice.  A few years later I told him at one of my appointments I wanted braces.  “What?  You don’t need braces!  You have beautiful teeth!  Don’t do it.  Leave it alone.”  But nooooo, I had this idea in my head, and, well, had to have ’em.  He gave me the name of a colleague and off I went to my consult.  Turned out to be a really good guy!!  He did, however, tell me I would have to have my four perfectly healthy premolars extracted and if was going to do that I might as well have that last wisdom tooth yanked.  I told Chris.  He was NOT happy.  “Your teeth are great.  They’re fine.  What if you need those teeth later on in life?  What if in your eighties you need a bridge and you need one of those teeth to anchor it?”  Hellooooo.  First of all can’t you count?  I have forty or fifty more perfect teeth in my mouth and second, I’m in my 20’s, I ain’t never gonna turn 80!  What, are you crazy??  Jeez.  So the date was set with the oral surgeon to extract absolutely perfect teeth.  I had never had cavities or anything!  It was a couple of months after our wedding…James wasn’t even a sparkle in his Daddy’s eye!!!  All I remember about the day I had the teeth out is getting home from the surgery, changing into comfortable sleep clothes and falling into bed.  I woke up I don’t know how long later and my mouth was throbbing…killing me.  I took a pain pill and fell back into a fitful sleep.  A little while later I woke up in worse pain.  I looked at the bottle of pain pills.  It said “Take as needed for pain.”  Well.  I’m in pain.  I took another.  This was quickly becoming awful.   I swallowed as best I could whatever it was for pain and tried to nap.  Why were these pills not working???  I took another.  I spent the rest of the afternoon alternating between trying to sleep and trying to kill the pain with whatever they had given me.  That was probably not a good plan.  Late afternoon I awoke not only to excruciating pain in my mouth but now I had a fire in my tummy.  In a semiconscious tangle I stumbled into the bathroom and got sick.  I was dying.  I called Pamela in a panic, “I don’t know what to do!!  My mouth is killing me, I’m puking, and now I’m bleeding!!  I can’t do this!!”  “Don’t worry, YaYa!”, she said,  “I’m on my way!”  The burning fire in my belly was roaring and I had never felt such pain as that which was in my mouth.  I ripped off my pajama pants and lay on the bed under the ceiling fan with a t-shirt on trying to cool off and contain the rivulets of perspiration running off my face and down my neck.  I heard the kitchen door open.  It was Pamela.  She came bursting into the room with Chris, DR. SCHLOSS!  He had immediately left his office and met her here when she called saying that there was an emergency, “Well, she’s bleeding and vomiting!!  It’s serious!!”.  He tilted my head back to examine the extraction sites and his eyes fell on the bottle of pain pills.    Gently putting my head back, he picked up the bottle and read the directions.  There were only a couple of pills left, rattling around on the bottom of the plastic bottle.  It quickly got really quiet in the room.   I felt self-conscious.  I realized I was scantily clad with only a tiny, pale yellow t-shirt on and skimpy bikini panties the size of dental floss.  And this was my dentist AND PAMELA’S FUTURE HUSBAND.   He didn’t even look at me.  He was there out of concern for one of his patients.  And I was wasting his precious time.  He threw the bottle down and disgustedly said to Pamela, “Tell her to quit taking this crap!”.   And that’s the story of when I OD’d.  He never talked about it.  Never mentioned it.  Not even today.  But Pamela and I still laugh about  it.  “Well, you were in pain!”, she’ll say and we’ll scream with peals of laughter!!  And then she’ll say, ””Well, it was an emergency!!”  More screaming!!  Then I’ll say to her, “How could you let me be seen with only a t-shirt on and panties??” and she’ll reply, “IT WAS AN EMERGENCY.”  And to this day he’s never made fun of me or made an off colored remark.  Ya gotta love him!  He’s just the best!!

This is a recipe for Leek and Potato Soup if served warm or Vichyssoise if served cold.  Either way it’s silky, smooth paradise.  It’s easy and fast but do know, it does not freeze well.  And it’s pretty.  It’s the perfect dish served cold for all those college students getting their wisdoms taken out.  Enjoy!

Leek and Potato Soup

yield: one large pot

  • 8 leeks
  • 1/4 cup butter or good olive oil.  (I use olive oil.)
  • 6 red skinned boiling potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 2 large bunches flat leaf parsley, washed and rough chopped
  • 10 cups water or chicken stock, a mixture of both is fine
  • salt to taste

  1. Leeks can be really, really dirty… sandy.  You don’t want grit in your soup. So.  Cut off the tough, dark green  tops of the leeks and set aside for vegetable stock or discard.
  2. Without cutting through the root end, cut lengthwise from the base of the leek through the end.
  3. Rinse well under running water, separating the leaves to get out any lurking grit.  Continue with all the leeks.
  4. Drain and, holding the root, slice from the green end all the way to the root end.  Discard the root and slice all the leeks.
  5. Rinse sliced leeks under water using a colander.
  6. On medium-low heat butter or olive oil in a soup pot and toss in leeks.  Take care not to brown just clarify.
  7. Add sliced potatoes, parsley and water or stock.
  8. Simmer until potatoes are fork tender, maybe half an hour.
  9. Puree until smooth using food processor, blender or immersion blender.  I use an immersion blender.  I love it!
  10. Taste for salt and serve.

Little White Cakes

It’s James’ 21st birthday and, well..we are so happy!!  We had a great day, I spent a bit of time with our koumbaros, the best man at our wedding, who is also James’ nouno, godfather.  In our house James’ godmother and godfather are known as AmyNouna and ArthurNouno.  It’s just how it is.  In an Orthodox wedding the best man is always the godfather of the first child.  It’s just how it is.  ArthurNouno came with his son and James’ close friend and brother, Gary.  Gary is the world’s most darling bad boy.  He is truly legendary!  I imagine there are just scads of girls out there that consider being dumped by Gary an honor.  Charming, good-looking Greek boy…mm, mm, mm.  He bad!!  Anyway, they came down and all four boys, Arti, Gary, Jimmy and James, went to the Marlins game.  And I’m at home on my fourth glass of Prosecco.  It’s okay because I will not be operating any heavy machinery…not even hot rollers.  I started baking James’ birthday cake for tomorrow, Little White Cakes.  They’re made at home, incredibly easy and are awfully close to that delicious treat called the “Petit Four”.  I mixed and measured remembering the first time I ever tasted petit fours.  I was six and Cynthia eight.  We were being sent to Puerto Rico with my uncle, my mother’s brother Enrique, because Mama had just had a baby, Tommy, it was summer and Mama needed some easy time.  Tio Enrique had been doing his fraternity work I MEAN undergraduate work at Baldwin Wallace in Berea, Ohio.  Why my parents thought my uncle was an  appropriate guardian I’ll never know.  To me, he was the most handsome man on the planet.  At six years old I was head over heels in love with him.  He had this slow sexy smile that made me just melt when I saw it.  He was just a dream!  And he was bad.  Right up my alley.  Mama and Daddy put us on a Pan American flight with Tio Enrique and we were off!!  I sat quietly next to Cynthia, she got the window seat, and eventually we were served our meal.  This was back in the days of silverware and linen tablecloths.  My kind of travel.  Tio Enrique had pretty much forgotten about his nieces, his CHARGES.  I could see him up front with the first class stewardesses…they were all having drinks and laughing…every so often one would lean provocatively forward and my uncle would murmur something in glamor girl’s  ear.  I could see his hand on the small of one of the glamor girl’s backs.  It was all very sophisticated and intimate.  Our dinner was served and when we finished there was a small petit four for dessert.  I ate all of mine.  It was so good!!  Light and sweet.  I wanted more.  Common sense told me NOT to bother Tio Enrique, he didn’t care what we did.  He was tossing his handsome head back laughing at something one of the glamor girls had said.  So, ever so gingerly, I squeezed past my dinner tray and landed in the aisle.  I looked to see who had eaten their petit four and who hadn’t.  Solemnly and politely I asked the gentleman behind me if he wasn’t eating his petit four may I have it?????  With a big smile he said of course!!!  I discreetly ate it and moved on.  “Excuse me, Ma’am?  Are you going to eat your petit four?”  “Why, no!  Would you like it?”  “Yes, please.”  I continued working both sides of the aisle, rounding the rear of the plane and again ridding both sides of the aisles of their pastries.  Every so often I would look up at Tio Enrique who never even saw me, so occupied was he with the conquests at hand.  I ate all the petit fours that were given to me.  I returned to my seat and there was Cynthia where I had left her, quietly reading her book.  She didn’t question where I had been nor what I had been doing.  By then it was evening, we could see city lights as we left the water and approached the island.  After a smooth landing we gathered our things and made our way down the cool, metal stairs across the tarmac which was still warm from the day’s heat.  The entire family was there… our grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins.  Everyone was kissing and hugging, my grandparents ecstatic to have another boy home.  I remember all the lights on in the airport, night-time was setting in.  We walked down a side-walk, en masse, I recall a short little hedge of ixora.  I remember because that’s where I turned my head and, in front on my INCREDIBLY smothering, overprotective  family, projectile vomited.  I barfed up all those exquisite little petit fours all over that perfectly manicured ixora hedge.  I hadn’t felt sick but after that I felt all the more better!!  My family was horrified.  “Aye, Dios mio, pero esta nena esta enferma!” ” Oh, my God, this girl is sick!”  No I’m not!!!  I AM NOT!!!  I’m fine.  Just had a few sweets, that’s all.  There was to be a huge party back at my grandparents beautiful home….oh, God.  I looked at Cynthia.  Could she be any happier?  Just skipping along, refusing to look at me, “Oh, no, missy.  I ain’t savin’ YO ass.  Uh uh.  You’re on your own.  I gotta party waitin’ on me.”  Her look said it all.  Meanwhile, my aunts and uncles were all discussing “my condition” and making plans as to who was going to the party and who would be going to the DOCTOR’S.  Granted, the doctor was my grandfather’s cousin who lived down the street but still…. she didn’t REALLY know me and I didn’t care about her.  We pulled onto our street and Cynthia and her entourage disappeared into my grandparent ‘s house and off the rest of us went to Doctora Polo’s house.  Shit.  I was furious.  There was nothing wrong with me.  I puked, I feel fine.  She welcomed us all in and they began chattering away, everyone speaking on top of the other.  God.  Only my cousins know what I’m talking about.   She took me into her office and all them followed.  I was told to undress.  EXCUSE ME?  I may be six but I’m not baring my little bird-like chest to anyone.  Some of my uncles were there!!  I had to strip down to my panties.  I was livid.  I hated them all.  Especially when Dra. Polo said, “She’s fine!  No te preocupes!  Ella esta de lo mas bien!”  I quickly dressed and off we went down the street back to my grandparent’s house.  I was so humiliated.  We walked into the party and there was Cynthia holding court and I remember thinking, “I don’t know what I’m gonna do, but I’m gonna do SOMETHING and when I do you’re gonna be sorry!!”  I was angry at all my relatives except Tio Enrique.  The one who let me eat all those pastries.  He didn’t even make it back to my grandparent’s or the doctors!  Must have been one of those glamor girls in a big hotel in the Old City!!  So, Gentle Reader, please find Little White Cakes.  They are truly paradise!  And you WILL want to eat them all!

People, this is one of the most exquisite recipes of the Ages!!  It hails from my New Orlean’s born friend, Harriet.  These perfect Little White Cakes just melt in your mouth.  I know they spawn from a box mix but they are brilliant and wildly popular in our family.  I don’t use much of the icing…I just drizzle a little over each layer of cakes on the platter and continue stacking.  Then I tuck in deep, red garnet strawberry in random pockets and corners and it’s just gorgeous.  Harriet’s recipe calls for cutting off and discarding the edges of the cakes but I just can’t do it.  I just can’t.  I’ll eat them.  Don’t tell me to give them to James or Jimmy, I’m here to tell ya I’LL EAT THEM.  And it’s more than my girlish figure can stand.  So, it’s your choice.  But fair warning, those nasty, old dried edges?  They ain’t nasty and they ain’t dried.  They will melt in your mouth.  Birthday perfection!!!

Little White Cakes

yield:  1 9X13 pan

Pillsbury Moist Supreme White Cake Mix Pudding in the Mix

Ignore box directions.  Instead:

Preheat oven to 325°.

Melt 1 stick of butter.  Add to this 1 cup of water, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon almond extract, and 2 eggs.  Beat for 2 minutes.  Underbake.  If you use a 9X13 pan, bake no more than 25 minutes.  Till your thumbprint stays depressed.  Cool.  Put tinfoil over pan and invert. Cut off all edges 1/4″.  OPTIONAL!  then cut into small squares.  I do this diagonally.  Separate squares.  Frost.  Discard those old dry edges you cut off and any imperfect ones.  Perfect Little White Cakes remain.  For you.  For me.  If you don’t eat them all you can freeze them.

Icing

Melt 1/4 cup butter.  Stir in 4 cups powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and 1/4 cup evaporated milk.  Thin if necessary with a little more evaporated milk.  Pour over cake as icing or pour into a sturdy baggie, cut off the corner and drizzle all over the squares by gently squeezing the icing out.

MY Big Fat Greek Wedding

This morning was the ordination of a young man who went from Deacon John to Father John.  What a joyous morning!  All kinds of hot-shot priests flew into town to officiate.  I knew my brother-in-law’s brother would be on the altar.  My Jimmy had mentioned that Father Alex is Father John’s spiritual father, helping and guiding Father John through life as a young boy, through Hellenic College, the Seminary and now, priesthood.  The entire church would witness his vows, vows that are forever.  James was on the altar also, in his black robes…I call them “big boy robes”!  There was a wonderful Psalti chanting in Greek throughout the entire ceremony, his voice rising and falling in hypnotic notes while the priests on the altar sang and chanted their designated parts.  Then came the deep, baritone response “…through the ages of aaaAAAges”.  Jimmy turned and whispered in my ear, “Yup.  Father Alex is here!”  That low, rich timbre catapulted me back 23 years to when Jimmy and I were to be married.  When we first made plans to marry I got all the paperwork from St. Anthony’s parish church.  MY church.  The only church I knew.  The only church I wanted.  Turns out the Miami Archdiocese would have to annul Jimmy’s previous marriage in order to be married in the Catholic church.  Jimmy was furious.  “I am NOT having a panel of strangers in Miami pass judgement on me!  They don’t even know me!”  Well.  Okay.  I’m strong.  What matters is what’s in my heart.  I can marry in a church that’s not necessarily mine.  The Greek church is not THAT different from the Catholic church so it was decided we would marry in the Greek church.  But I told Jimmy, “You need to know RIGHT NOW I’m not doing anything.  I’m not taking any classes, I’m not going to any counseling, I’m not doing anything.”  He said that was fine and that he would take care of everything.  The day came when we were to meet with the parish priest whom, as yet, I had not met.  I recall it was a hot day but I was modestly dressed, my years at St. Anthony ingrained in me the appropriate way to dress in ANY church.  Jimmy and I were shown into the priest’s office.  Manners kicking in I immediately stretched out my hand and smiled as the introductions were made by Jimmy in Greek and English.  My heart just sank.  I knew, I KNEW, we were doomed.  The priest didn’t even stand up from behind his desk to greet me.  He just looked at me.  I knew he was judging me, categorizing me, grouping me with that brand of no-faith Anglo Philistine parasite that just takes up space on this planet and breathes other people’s fresh air.  Well, guess what?  I WASN’T that girl!  Yes, I was a “bad girl” but I was a “bad GOOD-girl”.  My stomach went into knots.  I looked at that man and thought, “Oh, God.  OH, GOD!  This is a bad man.  A bad, bad man.”  The priest’s eyes narrowed when he looked at me, he pursed his lips and spoke down at me.  I broke down.  My heart was screaming, SCREAMING I tell you, “This man cannot marry us.  He cannot marry me.” Jimmy and I had been through so much.  It had been difficult and rocky from almost the moment we met.  The priest spoke Greek to Jimmy knowing full well I spoke not a word.  I turned to Jimmy knowing the fateful words had to come from me.  After all we had been through and now this?  In a low voice I choked the words out to Jimmy, “I can’t do this with this man.  This man cannot marry us.”  There.  It was out!  I struggled unsuccessfully to control my tears.  I couldn’t breathe.  I knew if I did I would completely break down.  Every pore of my being felt an odious spirit emanating from this man and I couldn’t stand by and let this most precious of sacraments be condemned.  I bowed my head so he couldn’t have the pleasure of witnessing my grief but Jimmy saw the heartbreak and anguish building up inside me.  He leaned across the desk and in a cold, rapid fire burst of Greek Jimmy said something to the priest ending with, “Get Father Alex on the phone!  TORA!!!”  Tora means “now”.  The tension could be cut with a knife and the priest was furious.  I had never even met Father Alex, I only knew him as my brother-in-law’s brother who happened to be a priest.  I barely knew Jimmy’s family.  WELL.  The priest made the fated call.  Jimmy spoke into the phone, in Greek, then handed me the phone gently saying, “Here.  Just talk to him”, and then he and the priest left the office.  I couldn’t speak.   I was too busy trying to contain the flood of pent-up tears and snot.  I took the phone and scarcely let out a small “hello?”.  What came next I will NEVER, EVER forget.  A deep, booming voice took over the phone and asked me, “Alicia, what’s wrong?  What is the problem?”  Trying desperately to curb my sobs and manage some sort of composure I explained my position and thoughts.  That I didn’t know this man but that I felt he wasn’t a good man.  He wasn’t a kind man.  He wasn’t a man of God.  I had never been married.  I wanted the priest at my wedding to be a spiritual, insightful, loving man.  I told Father Alex I couldn’t have this man marry us.  Then came the deciding question.  “Alicia,” he said.  “Do you want to marry in the church or do you want to get married by some justice of the peace in some office somewhere?”  Are you kidding?  I’ve always felt if you ain’t married in the church then you ain’t married.  I squeaked out a pathetic, “In the church.”,  and Father Alex’s rich, baritone voice answered, “Good.  I’ll take care of it.”  He blessed me then asked to speak to Jimmy.  A few weeks later we set the date.  And Father Alex HAD taken care of everything!   We were to be married the end of July.  The day before the wedding Jimmy mentioned in passing, “Oh, you need to have some crowns made for us.”  Crowns?  “Just something with some flowers on them or something.  And they have to  have a ribbon connecting them.  ‘K?”  Sure, I thought.  There were a couple of gay guys that had moved into the apartment below me.  I had spoken to them already about the boutonnieres…what’s a couple of crowns??  The day came.  Jimmy had already moved into our house.  I wasn’t there yet.  The night before the wedding was spent at my parent’s house.  The day of the wedding we had champagne in huge, silver goblets while putting on our makeup and getting dressed.  Pamela did my hair.  Mama gave me her beautiful silver rosary, the one she carried on her wedding day.  Dana took video.  It was very surreal.  Slowly everyone left the house to get to St. Demetrios.  I looked around and realized there wasn’t anyone left at home to drive me to the church except my parents and my godfather!!  They all just left!!!  The last time I had seen my godfather was at my baptism.  I guess it’s safe to say I really didn’t know him!!  But I liked him.  A lot!  He and Dad had had loads of adventures that I had heard about all my life and besides, he had on a pale, lemon colored linen jacket with lavender pants!!  Loafers, no socks.  My godfather drove me to my wedding.  My glorious Jimmy was waiting at the altar with a wonderful NEW priest who was kind, gentle and loving.  Jimmy had arranged for a Psalti to chant at our wedding while we took OUR vows.  Vows that were forever.  And I have Father Alex to thank.  Pandote!!!  Forever!!

Father Alex, Jimmy, James and me! Please excuse the bad hair…I had been helping in the kitchen!

Spanakopita – Spinach Pie

A sublime Greek dish, Spanakopita is pretty easy to prepare, completely satisfying and freezes beautifully.  An authentic Spanakopita is slim with spinach and other greens  surrounded by diaphanous sheets of phyllo that shatter in a burst of crispy heaven when baked.  Yes, I am a big fan of phyllo!!  It is found in the frozen section of your grocery store usually in the pie section.  Some people butter every sheet, my preference is every two sheets.  Sometimes I use butter and it would be a good one.  Plugra and Kerrygold are both good products.  Often I use Greek olive oil in it’s place.  It’s just as rich and fulfilling but much better for you.  In tandem with the spinach I like not only fresh dill but also fresh mint.  I always use a high quality feta and sometimes jack the flavor up by adding a bit of freshly grated parmesan cheese.  Your choice.  Regarding eggs, whites are totally fine but use whites from eggs you cracked.  The ones in the cartons are just too thin and the filling oozes and spills all over the place.  I think I’ve covered everything.  Let’s get started!

  • 1 roll phyllo.  Most phyllo comes two rolls per box.  It will be frozen and MUST defrost in the refrigerator.  If you leave it on the counter to defrost the dough gets wet, mushy spots and tears when separated.
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil or butter, separated into 1/4 cups
  • 4 boxes frozen spinach, defrosted and drained of as much liquid as possible. I have a cotton tea towel I use only for squeezing the moisture out of spinach, grated cucumber, zucchini etc.  It’s ugly so I don’t care.
  • 2 grocery store bunches of fresh dill, washed and finely chopped
  • 1 large bunch flat leaf parsley, washed and chopped.  Curly’s fine if that’s all that looks good.
  • 1 bunch of mint, leaves washed and chopped
  • 3 eggs or the equivalent in whites
  • 1 8-ounce container feta, more or less.  Already crumbled is NOT an option.
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil or butter in a large pan over medium heat.
  3. Add onion and saute until softened and somewhat clear.
  4. Add spinach, dill, parsley and mint.  Stir until well combined.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. In a small bowl combine eggs and cheeses.
  6. Butter or use nonstick spray on a 9X13 pan.
  7. Set up your counter assembly line style with your phyllo covered with a damp, not wet, tea towel, the sprayed pan, a bowl with 1/4 cup olive oil or melted butter, and a clean basting brush or paint brush.
  8. Line pan with 2 sheets of phyllo and lightly brush dough with butter or olive oil.
  9. Continue using 2 sheets at a time alternately stacking and oiling until half the roll is used.
  10. Pour egg/cheese mixture into spinach and mix to combine well.
  11. Spread evenly over phyllo in pan.
  12. Continue stacking and oiling phyllo over spinach mixture until all the phyllo is used.  Finish last layer of phyllo with a light painting of the oil or butter.
  13. Using a sharp paring knife or a tomato knife if your friend, Selene, brings you back one from the Iowa State Fair, cut serving size pieces in the shape of diamonds or squares through just the top layer of phyllo.
  14. Spray a fine mist of water over the entire pan or use your hand to sprinkle water over it.  This will keep your pie from falling apart and the phyllo from curling up.  No one will tell you this!!!
  15. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes.
  16. I use a plastic knife to cut through the pie so as not to scratch my pan.
Mr. and Mrs. Carras!

Fruit Cobbler

My good friend Janey’s mama died this past weekend and the services were this morning at St. Anthony’s. Our beautiful church shone in the morning light, the stained glass windows threw shards of color across the terrazzo floor.  I stared up at the dramatic high beamed ceiling and it occurred to me that a good number of us had made our First Communion there.  Our children had been baptized in that exquisite church.  The soulful wail of the bagpipes echoed our feelings of sorrow and empathy.  So many old, familiar faces came together to show quiet respect and deep love for Jane and her family.  After the interment they hosted a lovely brunch at Lago where I had the good fortune to sit at a table with my childhood friends, Andrea and Alyson, and their father Dr. Beasley.  In fact, they grew up right across the street from Janey!  And also seated with us were Sarah and Julia McTigue who ALSO grew up around the corner from Janey and her family.  My family grew up one island away.  We laughed about neighborhood adventures and gossiped a bit, too.  Dr. Beasley mentioned our grade school, East Side Elementary.  I loved East Side.  It was a breezy, two-story, mint green building that took up one whole city block.  EVERYBODY went there.  You either went to East Side or St. Anthony’s.  If you lived in our area of town and went to another school that meant you had “a little problem”.  Maybe behavioral…issues everyone knew of, you just didn’t talk about it.  Dr. Beasley and I chuckled about teachers we adored and those we despised.  Made me think of all those wonderful women and men who gave so much of themselves.  Starting in first grade…Mrs. Brown.  Oh, how we loved her!  Gentle and friendly she knew how to make us WANT to be good.  My older sister, Cynthia, had her too, which made it ever so convenient when I came along and could just slip right into Cynthia’s ever-so-perfect wake.  I loved reading about Alice and Jerry and their dog, Jip. We learned to print on lined paper, we had snack time and recess. Then came second grade.  I didn’t really care for second grade all that much.  I got Miss Davis and she was old and had bad, curly, too short hair.  I recall being rather cranky that year.  I wanted a pretty, young teacher.  But nooooooo I had Miss Davis.  Third grade things were looking up, I got Mrs. Lennon.  I was crazy about her.   I knew she would teach me cursive and she let me take out as many books as I wanted from the library.  By the time fourth grade rolled around I was in trouble and didn’t even know it.  My teacher was Mrs. Ross…Lorraine Ross.  B**ch.  She was unpredictable and had the temper of a junk-yard dog.  She could be really, really mean.  I tried to tell my parents but they wouldn’t listen.  They went to a Parent-Teacher Night and I was thrilled.  Now they would see precisely what I was talking about.  Now they would see how cold-blooded and evil she truly was.  I was asleep when Mama and Daddy got home but the next morning the first thing out of my mouth was, “WELL?  See what I mean?  Isn’t she awful?!”  Mama shook her head and smiling she answered, “Oh, cielo!  Don’t be silly.  She was just fine.  And she really seems to like you!”  I went cold all over.  That was the kiss of death.  I knew I was done.  Off we went to school where I tried to put it out of my mind.  It was an ordinary, run-of-the-mill day, we did our schoolwork quietly until late morning.  And then it happened.  Cutting through the stillness of the classroom, the only sounds until then were that of our pencils scratching across papers, Mrs. Ross’ voice rose as she called out, “Alicia, please stand up and tell the class what time it is.”  Simple enough.  If you know how to tell time.  My parents had betrayed me.  They had shared with that Baba Yaga-like witch my shameful secret, that I didn’t know how to tell time.  Cynthia knew how to tell time in first grade, she even had a watch.  I was in fourth…not good!  I slowly stood up next to my desk, I remember feeling somewhat resigned but perfectly calm.  I stared at the big, round clock hanging above the blackboard and to this day still recall the admiration and amazement I had for those who COULD tell time.  Silently I gazed at the clock all the while thinking, “How do those people do it?  Is it 6:30 or 11:30? I dunno.”  I just didn’t say anything.  You see, no one had bothered to inform me that there was a “big hand” and a “small hand”.  The hands of the clock were never even referred to as the “minute hand” and the “hour hand”.  It was just, “Okay, what time is it now?  And now?  Alright, now.”  They neglected to point out the difference in size of the hands.  Well, thanks a lot.  But I didn’t get upset and that’s saying something because Mrs. Ross was clearly enjoying herself.  Guess she was into her own brand of abject humiliation.  I looked around at my classmates unsure if I would see any hint of contempt or derision on their fourth grade faces.  And there wasn’t.  I saw only compassion and kindness.  At one time or another every child in that class had felt the sharp sting of her tongue.  I looked back at her and in a very small voice I answered, ” No.  No, I can’t”.  And I sat down.  Later that day when I got home I flew to my mother’s side and confronted her.  I was furious.  “Mama, how could you?  You told Mrs. Ross I can’t tell time and instead of teaching me she made me stand up and show the class that I don’t know how!”  My emotions had become uncontrollable.  “I don’t understand, Mama!  I don’t understand!  Everyone in the entire world can tell time except me!  What is it?  Is there a secret code?  How can you just look at the clock and know?  How?  HOW?”.   I threw myself on her bed and sobbed.   And that was the moment my mother realized, “Jeez!  She doesn’t know there’s a ‘big hand’ and a ‘little hand’!”  She filled me in on the big secret, the paradox, the mystery of telling time.  And I’m happy to say I have been successfully telling time ever since.

-Front and almost center!

I don’t recall much of the East Side cafeteria but I remember all our food was served on pastel melamine plates and the cafeteria ladies made a mean cobbler.  I’ve used this recipe countless times with all different kinds of fruit from apples to peaches and nectarines.  I know it’s cheating using a biscuit mix but sometimes you want a warm, comforting dessert that’s fast and easy and this is it.  The recipe has been in the newspaper many times and on the box of the biscuit mixes as well.  Served with a scoop of ice cream, it’s beautiful!

Bisquick Fruit Cobbler

yield: one batch…serves 8-10

  • 1 cup Bisquick or biscuit mix
  • 1 cup milk, I use fat-free
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 7 or 8 Granny Smith apples or any combination of fruit you like, ie. peaches and nectarines, peeled or unpeeled and chopped into 1/2″ chunks

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Stir together Bisquick and milk then stir in melted butter.
  3. Pour batter into an 8X11 ungreased baking dish or one close to that size.
  4. In a large bowl mix fruit and sugar well.  If you are using apples feel free to add apple pie spices.  For the peach and nectarine mix I add 1/2 teaspoon almond extract, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and a large pinch of ground cardamom.  Heaven!
  5. Without mixing, spoon fruit over batter.  The batter will rise over the fruit when it bakes.
  6. Bake for 1 hour or until golden and bubbly.
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