Greek Melo Cheesecake

This is one of the easiest and most delicious cheesecakes I’ve ever made. The recipe comes from a Mediterranean cookbook my friend Trish used to have. It was a thin volume with a blue spine and “Mediterranean” in the title, and that’s all I can remember. I believe it’s out of print, but I would snatch. it. up. if I ever ran across it again.

Ingredients:

For crust:

  • 2 cups walnuts, toasted (place on cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees F for 5 minutes) and cooled
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

For filling:

  • 4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons each grated orange and lemon peel

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place ingredients for crust (walnuts, sugar, cinnamon) in a food processor and mix until nuts are finely ground.
  3. Press crust mixture into a 9-inch springform pan and set aside.
  4. Mix cream cheese, honey, sugar, and vanilla until thoroughly combined and smooth.
  5. Add eggs and mix until blended, then stir in orange and lemon peel.
  6. Pour filling over crust mixture.
  7. Bake for 50-55 minutes until center is almost set.
  8. Cool and then refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.
  9. Serve garnished with walnut pieces, orange slices, and honey.
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Greek Chicken Soup (Avgolomono)

This soup is so easy and fast. If you have everything you need, you can be eating soup-from-scratch in fifteen minutes. It’s easily Simon’s favorite soup and generally a hit with all of us.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup uncooked orzo (I’ve started using 1/2 cup per my family’s preference)
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (you could use fresh, of course, I almost always use the bottled stuff)
  • handful chopped fresh dill (I omit per my family’s preference, but I bet it would be great)
  • cooked chicken (leftover or shredded rotisserie chicken), optional

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, bring the broth to a boil.
  2. Add the orzo and cook until tender but still al dente, about 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and reduce heat to low; let simmer.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and lemon juice until smooth. Ladle about 1 cup of the hot broth into the egg-and-lemon-mixture; whisk to combine.
  4. Add the mixture back to the simmering saucepan. Stir just until the soup becomes opaque and thickens as the eggs cook, 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add dill, salt and pepper, and chicken (if you’re using it) and serve.