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Tag Archives: honey

Sweet Macedonian Semolina Halva

The name may confuse you into thinking store bought ground sesame seed halva, but this an entirely different recipe.  Each is delicious in their own way.

Ingredients:

2 cups olive oil
2 lbs. coarse semolina flour
2 cups honey (or sugar)
1 cup chopped blanched almonds
8 cups water
ground cinnamon

Directions:

1.  Prepare a medium size bundt form by lining it with butter and wax paper.

2.  Heat the oil in a deep skillet.  Add the semolina and fry it until begins to turn golden brown.

3.  In a separate pot, heat the water with the honey (or sugar).  Boil it until it begins to get syrupy.  Using a ladle, spoon the hot liquid into the semolina mixture while whisking all the time.  Keep stirring until all the syrup has been incorporated and add the almonds.

4.  Pour the halva into the prepared form and set it aside to cool.  Turn the halva out on a platter and peel away the wax paper.  Sprinkle it with cinnamon and serve.

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Greek Sweet Tooth

Pastry making is not a very old science in the Greek Islands.  The traditional old homes served yogurt made from goat’s milk with a bit of honey or a rice pudding, again from goat’s milk as a dessert or a sweet snack.  Sugar was scarce if not impossible to come by, especially during the war years.

In the northern areas of Greece, where cows were kept, the desserts of the villages used creams and butters as ingredients.  Sugar beets, which are also grown in the north, made that rare commodity available to the village folk to use recipes that the islanders just couldn’t replicate.

Instead, the island folk used nuts, seeds, fruits and simple doughs to make their desserts.  Honey, which is abundant in the mountainous islands, was the source of sweetening power used.  They came up with the wonderful combinations that have become traditional favorites not only for the Greeks, but internationally known as well.

For example, a simple pastry using flour and water could become a spectacular dessert when nuts and a mild honey syrup were added to it (sounds like the making of baklavá, doesn’t it?)  You see, the Greeks were resourceful.  They knew that gathering seasonal fresh fruits could be canned and preserved to make inexpensive sweets later.

Since Greeks always strive to use fresh ingredients, these differences of availability has to this day elected what is traditional for the different parts of Greece as well as the islands and villages themselves.  As modern times has brought with it abundances of sugar and different ingredients, the Greek pastry kitchen has evolved and become the unique delight that it is today.