Photographer: Annette Spaan
Our friends that visited Poros in late September and October will have probably noticed all the pomegranate trees along the streets of Askeli; full of this beautiful fruit. So colourful and generous. Often our guests come home to the Odyssey with a couple of pomegranates in their hands, given to them by a generous and proud owner of a pomegranate tree along the road.
If you cut pomegranates when they are still fresh and hang them in a small net, they will dry from the outside, but inside they will stay red and juicy all winter. This is probably why it’s considered the fruit of the winter.
This fall I went to the pomegranate festival in the village of Ermioni, on the Peloponnese. There I saw many ideas on how to use this fruit.
In Greece the fruit has such a long history that there is even a myth about it:
Persephone was the beautiful daughter of Dimitra, the goddess of the harvest. One day Persephone was kidnapped by Hades – God of the underworld – to be his wife and queen.
Because of her sadness and sorrow from missing the flowers, fruits and light from the upper world Persephone could not eat anything, but Hades came with the most colourful and tempting fruit of all: a pomegranate!
Dimitra was so sad that all the plants of the earth died. The catastrophe was so big that Zeus asked Hades to free Persephone to be with her mother. However Persephone had been tempted by the juicy fruit of the underworld and had eaten six of the pomegranate seeds. So for six months of the year Persephone would be in the underworld, leaving her mother sad and waiting patiently for the other six months where her daughter would come up and make nature flourish and grow again.
Throughout history pomegranates have been used as a symbol of the resurrection of nature. In modern Greece we use it for traditional weddings, funerals, and New Year’s celebrations. According to my family’s tradition, my father used to leave the house just before the change of the year. He would wash his face outside, step back into the house with his right leg first and throw a pomegranate on the floor for good luck in the new year. Leaving the floor covered with the red seeds of the fruit, my mother was not so happy that she had to clean the house the next day, but traditions are traditions.
With this recipe you can break your own pomegranates for New Years Eve and decorate your desserts with its seeds! Making 2015 the best year of your life!
First prepare the mixture for the lemon cake, spoon it into a baking tin and put it in the oven.
When the cake is ready, drizzle the syrup topping of sugar, lemon and orange juice over it.
Make a cream of feta and Greek yoghurt to go on top of the lemon cake!
Take the seeds out of the pomegranate and put them in a bowl.
Cut out a circle or square of the lemon cake and put it on a beautiful plate. Top it up with the feta and cream mixture and sprinkle pomegranate seeds over it. For the finishing touch: decorate the plate with the sauce of lemon, orange and pomegranate!
I wish everybody a very happy new year!!!
Ingredients lemon cake
225 gr. / 8 oz. butter
225 gr. / 8 oz. sugar
zest of 1 lemon
225 gr. / 8 oz. self-rising flour
The syrup topping
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 orange
120 gr sugar
Heat the oven to 180C / 360 F. Beat the butter and sugar until pale and creamy, add the eggs one at a time, slowly mixing through. Sift the flour, add the lemon zest and mix until well combined. Line a baking tin with greaseproof paper, then spoon in the mixture and level the top with a spoon.
Bake for 20 minutes or bake until a thin skewer, inserted into the centre of the cake, comes out clean. Let it cool for 10 min, then prick the warm cake with a skewer or a fork. Mix together the lemon and orange juice with the sugar and drizzle the juice over the cake. The juice will sink in and a nice citrus crust will be formed on the top of the cake. Leave the cake in the tin until it has completely cooled down.
Ingredients feta and Greek yoghurt cream
200 gr icing sugar
200 gr yoghurt
200 gr cream
100 gr feta cheese
100 gr sugared orange peel, cut in to very small pieces.
The seeds of 1 pomegranate
You beat the cream by hand or with a mixer until it becomes thick. In a food processor beat the feta very well until smooth and creamy, then add the yoghurt and sugar. Take the cream out of the food processor, put it in a kitchen bowl, and mix the cream very slowly and carefully. While mixing, add the small beats of the sugared orange peel, and the half of the pomegranate seeds. Then place the bowl in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Save the rest of the seeds in a cool place.
Ingredients sauce of lemon, orange and pomegranate
Juice of 1lemon
Juice of 1orange
50 gr sugar
20 gr corn flour
Seeds of a pomegranate
Put all ingredients (except the pomegranate seeds) in a small cooking pan and boil them for 7 to 10 minutes or until the sauce is thick. Let it cool for 10 min and then add the seeds of the pomegranate in the sauce.
Cut with a sharp knife a part (circle or square) out of the lemon cake. Place it in the middle of the plate. Top it up with the feta and cream mixture. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds on the top of the cream. Place the lemon and orange sauce around the cake with a tablespoon.