Category Archives: Desserts

Strawberry Pie

Stawberry pie

Strawberry pie goodness

So here I am back to Goma after a good break back in Athens and other places. This time the strawberry pie story starts with myself crossing the borders from Rwanda to DRCongo. Waiting for my passport to get stamped across the DRC side a couple of young ladies with huge baskets full of freshly picked strawberries started harassing me to buy some. My travelling adventure and the 3 pieces of luggage I was carrying full with training materials for a workshop I had to facilitate in Goma didn’t allow much space for more shopping at the time. However here I am a day later asking from our house lady to spot some strawberries for me. Still no thoughts about strawberry pie. An hour later she comes back with a plastic bag and a couple of kilos of tiny freshly picked strawberries that smelled like heaven. Childhood memories popped up when I was spending my summers at summer camp up to Taigetos mountain and part of our Sunday activities included picking wild strawberries to cook giant baking pans of strawberry pies. So here is the puzzle of events and a recipe of strawberry pie. With love from Goma.


Breakfast at Goma. Strawberry pie, sage tea and some fine tunes to go along with the sunny Sunday morning.

… and in case you are looking for those fine tunes to accompany your Sunday morning breakfast. Check out  Sleepy Bedtime Mix For Young Ones by Henry Chinaski at Pinchy & Friends website

 Shopping List

For the dough I looked at a fantastic friend’s website My Easy Gourmet for some tips and a pie dough recipe

  • 330gr/2 cups of flour
  • 220gr of butter (I used vegetable shortening as I had difficulties locating unsalted butter in Goma)
  • 110gr/1 glass cold water (I used a couple of ice cubes to drop the temperature down)

For the filling

  • approximately 1 1/2 kg of strawberries hulled and quartered if they are big  (mine were tiny)
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar preferably  (but whatever sugar should work as well)

And now what?

Start with preparing the filling. In a heavy bottom sauce pan add the strawberries and the lime juice. Cook, stirring occasionally in very low heat for 40-45 minutes. This will bring out juices from the strawberries.

Add the caster sugar and bring to boil over high heat. Stir frequently. At this stage is better you stay on top of the pan and keep an eye while stirring for 15 minutes. Reduce hit if you feel your strawberries are burning. All you need a syrup-liked mixture. Set aside to cool down to room temperature.

In a bowl add the dough ingredients and mix with your hands. You may also use a food processor. Then cover in cling or baking sheet and put aside in the freezer for 30 minutes. I didn’t have either so I used a super market bag instead that worked well.

Preheat the oven to 200 C. Remove dough from freezer and use 2 baking sheets or 2 pieces of plastic bag in my occasion to roll the dough. You will need approximately a 2cm thick dough layer for your base. If your dough feels sticky you can place back in the freezer for another 10 minutes before removing from the baking sheet or plastic bag.

Place the dough in a 22cm round baking pan. This is only a guide so be creative about the pan. This time I used a small size square pyrex baking pan for example, which is what we had in the kitchen. Trim the edges with a knife and prick the dough with a fork several times. Place the remaining dough in the freezer again.

Bake the base for 20 minutes or until lightly golden. While baking pay attention and use a spoon to push down any rising dough or instead put a baking sheet and add some uncooked rice on top to keep the dough from rising. If you use rice remove after 15 minutes so you allow your pie to get crispy.

Remove the remaining dough from the freezer and using the same technic as before roll it to a 1cm thick layer. Then cut to 1cm wide strips with a cold knife.

Add the filling in the base and place the strips on top of the filling. Bake again at the preheated oven to 200 C for 25 minutes. When ready put the pie aside to cool down a little bit before cutting into pieces. YOu can remove from baking pan and let it cool down on a oven rack. This will keep your pie crispy until next morning.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Bon apettit.

Konstantza’s Christmas Qurabiyas (Παραδοσιακοί Κουραμπιέδες)

Icing our Qurabiyas

Icing our Qurabiyas

Qurabiya in Iranian Azerbaijain or Kurabiye in Turkish or Kourabies in Greek, is a shortbread-type almond biscuit very traditional in Middle East and Greece. Particularly in Greece ,baking Kourabiedes would be what Christmas smell like. Though the recipe is relatively simple to make, the details ,tips and secrets of past generations, is the key for success. Today in our kitchen we are proud to present a recipe that back dates to early 19th century. Our friend George, joined us today from Crete island, a few days before Christmas to bake with us his great-great-great grandmother’s recipe. Konstantza who is George’s grandmother is honoured on the title for sharing her family’s recipe and secrets.

Kostantza and George making Qurabiyas

Kostantza and George making Qurabiyas

George told us the basis for success lies in the fresh butter made from goat milk, elaborated knitting and attention during the making.

Shopping List (for approximately 100 small pieces)

  • 650gr fresh butter from goat milk  , cool down in room temperature  or melt in low heat.
  • 500gr fresh raw almonds (unsalted).
  • 2 egg yolks.
  • 1 shot of Cognac (preferably Metaxa)or other aromatic liquer (Dark Rum, Whiskey etc).
  • 1 tsp grounded cinnamon
  •  4 tbsp icing sugar for the dough and 500gr approximately for the topping.
  • 1400gr all purpose flour or as the recipe dictates as much as it’s needed for the dough to sit, so be flexible when it comes to flour and Greek grandmothers.

And now what?

Pre heat the oven at 180 C/356 F. Place the raw almonds in a baking sheet and    roast for approximately 30 minutes or until they are crunchy and dry. Then crush them in a mortar slightly to get some big chunks.

Roast the raw almonds in the oven for 30 minutes or until they are crunchy. Then crush them slightly

Roast the raw almonds in the oven for 30 minutes or until they are crunchy. Then crush them slightly

Place the fresh butter in a big mixing bowl. Add the icing sugar. Use a fine sieve to dust the sugar before adding to make sure it will blend nicely with the butter. Then add the egg yolks.

Add the melted butter, icing sugar and egg yolks in a big mixing bowl

Add the melted butter, icing sugar and egg yolks in a big mixing bowl

Mix very well for 10-15 minutes with your hands. Do not use a mixer. Then add the almonds, Cognac and ground cinnamon and keep blending with your hands.

Add the crashed roasted almonds in the mixture and keep blending with your hands.

Add the cognac, cinnamon and crushed roasted almonds in the mixture and keep blending with your hands.

Now is the time to start adding the flour in small batches. The original recipe stands for as much flour needed. For the ingredients above we counted approximately 1400gr flour. The dough will have to be hard and stuffed with flour. The butter will keep the Qurabiya fluffy so don’t be afraid to add more flour than what we propose here if you feel your dough is not stiff enough. It really depends on the consistency of the butter you will use.  As a best practice guide consider the dough should crumbling in your fingers (η ζύμη  να θρουλάει=θρυμματίζεται στα κρητικά οπως λέει και η Κωνσταντζα).

Start adding the flour in the mixture

Start adding the flour in the mixture

This photo will guide you on the consistency of the dough

This photo will guide you on the consistency of the dough

When the dough is ready you can now start moulding the Qurabiyas. Traditionally in Greece we make a half moon shape but it is usually quicker and easier to make small round bites too. The temperature of your hands keep the butter warm and helps in shaping. Place the Qurabiyas in a large buttered baking sheet

Kourabies 8

Shaping time!

It’s now time to bake our first batch. Pre-heat the oven at 180C/356 F and bake for approximately 40-45 minutes or until the dough gets a golden colour . The baking depends on the size so keep an eye on the oven after 35 minutes.

Once Qurabiyas are baked let them sit and cool down a little bit. Then with a fine sieve dust them with icing sugar until they are all covered with sugar. Once you remove them from your baking sheet you can roll them in sugar to make sure they are uniformly covered.

Top the Qurabiyas with icing sugar

Top the Qurabiyas with icing sugar

Tips and things to pay attention

  • The aroma of Qurabiya comes from the almond and ground cinnamon
  • Do not use a mixer, always use your hands for blending
  • The fresh butter keeps the Qurabiyas fluffy
  • Because it s never really clear how much flour to add, It s better to add more than less
  • Slightly crush the almond, the big chunks add to the flavour
Merry Christmas you all!

Merry Christmas you all!

The Jazzmin Cheesecake

There are a few places on earth where a tourist will feel like home upon arrival and Jazzmin is one of them. Jazzmin, physically is a beautiful coffee shop, bar and occasionally restaurant in one of the most unique Greek islands, Amorgos,   but more than that is a social hub, a cocoon of love, serenity  and hospitality amidst the picturesque chora  (main town) of Amorgos. The fabulous owners and good friends  Thodoris and Giorgos who are responsible for this little heaven on earth, will  be there to share stories and information about the island or help you find your way in case you are lost!


We tasted everything we could from the menu or everything we had time to, cause it’s a long menu with recipes and flavours from Asia to Africa and Greece to Latin America. In case you find yourself in the island do not miss the opportunity for a belly-filling, flavour-exploding breakfast.

Snapshots at Jazzmin with friends

On this trip we also had the unexpected opportunity to sneak into Jazzmin’s kitchen and bake together a New York-style cheesecake with an Amorgian goaty kick. One of their signature recipes.

The yummy Jazzmin Cheesecake

Thank you Jazzmin for sharing this yummy recipe with us. We look forward to another one next summer.

Shopping List


  • 250gr/1 packet of digestive crackers
  • 100gr butter (soft at room temperature)
  • 3tbs/100 gr sugar


  • 500gr yogurt (preferably Greek  style yogurt, very thick)
  • 500gr non-salted  creamy goat cheese-“ανάλατη μυζήθρα” in Greek (in Jazzmin they will use locally produced fresh goat cheese and this is the little -big secret of the recipe, however you can always use any cream cheese)
  • 70gr/2 tbs all-purpose flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 5gr/1 teaspoon vanilla powder
  • 400gr/ 1 & 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs

And now what?

Pre-heat oven at 175 Celsius/350 Fahrenheit

Lets start making the crust together with Thodori. Start by finely crumbling the digestive crackers in a bowl. Add the 3tbs of sugar and the butter and mix well with your hands or pestle.

The make of the crust

Place the crust mixture in a round  30cm/9 inches pie pan and press firmly with your hand to fix the base. Place in the oven for 5-10 minutes maximum.

Arranging and baking the crust for 5-10 minutes

In a large mixing bowl add yogurt, goat cheese or cream cheese, vanilla powder, sugar, eggs and salt (all the ingredients for the filling) and use an electric mixer to blend well if available. You can always use a whisk instead.

Theo mixing the ingredients of the filling.

Theo blending the mixture

Pour the filling mixture in the prepared pie pan and bake for 60 min at 175 Celsius/350 Fahrenheit. Chill overnight and enjoy some Jazzmin goodness.

Final steps and our cheesecake is in the oven. Enjoy!