Baked figs with cinnamon, vanilla honey and greek yogurt

Baked FigsMy father’s side of my family is from Egypt, Syria and Turkey.  Ever since I can remember, at our family reunions there was always an abundance of home-made Baklava, Mamoul, dates, and figs.  And this dessert is what taught me to love figs.

Normally, you find those dried figs that look a little daunting, but delicious none the less.  Fortunately, my family had a love affair with fresh figs, and this was the dessert that was made for extra-special occasions.  And let me tell you, it is an incredibly delicious and seductive dessert.

Figs are delicious on their own, but paired with cinnamon, honey, vanilla, baked and then a dollop of greek yogurt, they become sublime.

This is a ridiculously easy dessert, and one that will shine at your next dinner party, or even just to make for a simple weeknight’s dinner.  Trust me.  You will make this over, and over again!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 4

12 fresh figs

4 cinnamon sticks, each one cut in 3 pieces to make 12 in total

1 vanilla bean

2 tbsp sugar

3-4 tbsp honey

Greek yogurt

Pre-heat the oven to 200 C.  Wash the figs, and cut them in a cross form, leaving the bottom intact.  Place in a large baking dish and  insert a cinnamon stick into each fig.

In a small bowl, place the 2 tbsp sugar.  Cut the vanilla lengthwise, and scrape the seeds into the sugar, and mix well.  Sprinkle the vanilla sugar over the figs.  Then drizzle the honey over the figs.

Bake for 15-20 minutes.  Place 3 figs in a bowl with some of the honey from the baking dish, and add a dollop of the greek yogurt.  Repeat for the remaining figs.

Place the honey and rest of the greek yogurt in bowls so everyone can help themselves to more if they want.

Baked figs in honey

 

 

Yogurt and Parsley Pesto Lamb Kebabs with Feta, Watermelon and Dill Salad

When summer rolls around, your body just naturally craves lighter, fresher foods.  That means chilled soups, salads and grilled meats.  Of course, when I lived in the States and had a nice backyard, that would mean grilling and eating outside.  But I changed countries, and therefore living space, and now I am stuck with a tiny stove top grill and the closest I can get to outside dining is to open up all the windows and let that lovely noise of cars and traffic become the soundtrack to our dinner.  Sounds idyllic, right?

Well, to tell you the truth it isn’t that bad.  But I do miss having a backyard.  Or front yard.  Heck….a porch would do.  But, I don’t.  So, anyhow, my body still craves these types of food, and today I satisfied that craving.  I wanted to use up the Parsley Pesto that I made for the Nicoise Salad the other day.  But, I also wanted to take it down a notch, so I added some greek yogurt to have that wonderful creamy, cooling effect.  So I marinated the lamb in that, it smelled divine.  It really reminded me of green goddess dressings, but with a gorgeous garlicky smell.  And I had some watermelon in the fridge and leftover Feta from those Feta and Walnut Cheese Coins I made a while back.  I have seen in all these magazines the birth of the watermelon salad.  I’d never gotten along to try or make one, but tonight seemed the perfect night for it.  I thought some fresh dill from my garden, balcony would be perfect, although I admit I was a bit scared because I had never actually made it before, it could have turned out to be a disaster!  But it wasn’t thankfully!  The whole meal was really refreshing, healthy, and delicious.  I especially loved the salad.  Who knew watermelon, feta and dill could become best buds?

I pulled out my little cast iron grilly-thing, and made some skewers with the lamb, zucchini and onion.

I thought they looked really nice, all green!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 4

1.5 kilos of lamb leg, cut into cubes

1 Zucchini, sliced in half, then cubed

1 onion, sliced thickly

Parsley Pesto

1/2 cup greek yogurt

For the Salad:

1/4 of a small watermelon, cubed

1 small package of feta cheese, cubed

2 dill sprigs, chopped

Juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste.

Mix the parsley pesto with the yogurt, and marinate the lamb and vegetables for about an 1.  Pre heat your grill.  Thread onto skewers, and then place them on your grill.  I prefer my lamb a bit charred, you might like yours less, so mine took about 20 minutes…..I’m sorry I can’t give you more precise times, but that’s the fun of grilling right?

In the meantime, mix the watermelon, feta, dill with the lemon juice, oil, and seasonings.  Set aside until your kebabs are ready.

In the end, I think it was a pretty perfect meal!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Chilled Tomato Soup with Yogurt

I adore tomato soup.  Especially in summer, when tomatoes are the ripest and juiciest, and the weather is warm, warm, warm.  This weekend was a holiday, and we had some friends in town from Germany, so it became this long and drawn out Bacchanal of food and wine.  Last night, I needed something light, not too filling and delicious.

I decided to make my tomato soup as always, but instead of adding fresh cream at the end, I decided to add low-fat greek yogurt.  The end result was incredible.  I don’t think I ever want to have tomato soup with cream again, EVER!!!!

The soup was smooth and luscious, but the yogurt gave it this wonderful tang, almost as if you had added sour cream, but without the fat!  And with only 2 tbsp of olive oil, you know you are giving yourself a heart-healthy and delicious treat!

So, here’s what you’re going to need:

For 3 people

4 large tomatoes, grated

1 large onion, chopped

1 clove of garlic, minced

2 tbsp olive oil

8 sundried tomatoes, chopped

1 tsp of fresh thyme

1/2 tsp cinnamon

400ml of vegetable stock

200g low-fat greek yogurt

salt and black pepper to taste

In a large stock pot heat the olive oil over med-high heat, add your onion and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, or translucent.  Add your tomatoes and cook another 5 minutes.

Add your sundried tomatoes, thyme, cinnamon and vegetable stock.  Bring to a boil, and lower the heat to medium.  Cook for about 10-15 minutes.  Take off the heat, let it cool and blend your soup.  Strain the soup with a chinois, and add the yogurt and whisk until incorporated.  Add your salt and pepper to taste, serve immediately or let cool in the fridge for 2-3 hours to have a silky smooth gazpacho-like soup.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla