December 2, 2010

Mediterranean fancy sweets



Looks like everyone is talking about benefits of Mediterranean diet. Isn't that a proof that we have to respect our roots and look up to our wise ancestors' ways of life? Over there, even now, most of the diets consists of whole foods, where additives, pesticides and hormones are just unknown.
One of the oldest ways of preserving fruits for the winter is drying, and that method originated at those areas centuries ago. This method can preserve nutrients for a very long time.
Dried fruit is a strong energy food and contains little proteins, but it is very rich in other nutrients. For example dry fruits can help with potassium deficiency which is reflected in fatigue and the heart problems.
Dried prunes destroy free radicals in the blood, which besides all the health benefits, also means lower possibility  for your face to get the appearance of dried prunes.
Dried figs contain invert sugar (like sugar in honey) so it's not recommended for diabetics but it's rich in magnesium, calcium and fiber, and prevents intestinal diseases.

In addition to a great taste, these are some of the reasons why I wanted to share next few recipes. They are very popular in Mediterranean for some special occasions and religious holidays.
In addition I threw in one more exquisite, unusual and natural candy recipe, just because it is coming from the same region and as a finished product has a fairly similar taste to some dried fruit sweets.
So simple but so spectacular!

At the bottom of this post you will also find instructions how to easily dry fruits at your home, as one of the ways to preserve them for winter. That's in addition to my previous talks about winter foods and preserves.
If you don't want to make your own dried fruits, buy some (without added sugar) good dried fruits in your local stores, preferably organic (it really tastes better).





Stuffed dried figs-Italian style

Stuffed fig in a vine
 Ingredients:
 
20 black mission or any good dried figs
20 roasted almonds
chopped chunk of dark chocolate
candied orange peel 
red wine

Cut an entrance into every fig and stuff it with an almond and piece of orange peel and chocolate. In a microwave or an oven, heat a fig a little bit, so the chocolate melt but a fig doesn't bake. Place all figs in a jar, very tightly together and then fill the jar with some red wine. Cover and store in a cold place for about a week (longer the better, so figs absorbs the alcohol). If you prefer other liquor, instead of wine, you can not go wrong if you use some brandy or vodka.

Stuffed dried prunes-Oriental style

Stuffed dried prunes in a brandy
Ingredients:

20 pitted dried prunes
20 walnuts
chopped chunk of dark chocolate
2 oranges
candied orange or lemon peel
1/2 tbs orange flower water
 brandy
Make a pouch in a prune and take a pit out. Stuff it with a walnut, chocolate piece and orange peel. Heat a orange juice from a 2 oranges and add an alcohol and orange water. Place prunes in a jar close together and pour over hot orange-alcohol liquid, to cover. Leave to cool and than store it covered in a cold place for a week.

Carrot candy balls
Carrot candy

Ingredients:
2 cups (500 g) carrots
1 cup (250 g) sugar
1/3 cup (150 g) chopped walnuts
1/4 cup (120 g) ground walnuts
(juice of one orange or lemon can be added for nice citrus flavor if preferred)  

Preparation:

Grate the carrots finely. Add 1 cup of sugar and cook over low heat all together until the mixture is thick. Remove from a heat and when it cooled off, add the chopped walnuts. Stir well, making little balls, roll them in ground nuts and sugar and leave to dry.
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How to easily dry fruits in your oven:

Healthy and ripened fruits, first wash and drain, then put in a boiling water. After 5 minutes, remove them from water, drain well and put on the flat surface for drying. Larger fruits like apples and pears should first be cut in slices and apricots' pits should be removed.
The oven should be heated between 50 and 70 C or 150 F. Sheets with fruits should be placed in the middle. Cover the bottom of the oven with an aluminum foil (for fruit juices). The oven door cannot be completely closed, so lodge a wooden spoon between the door and inside of the oven. When fruit is dried (determine with a pressure of a finger - if it is sufficiently dried, it will not contain juice), remove it and leave it on a clean white paper or cloth, to air dry for another day.


7 comments:

ReverendS said...

carrot candy :) easy to make and so delicious! gonna make them with my doughter tonight, thx for the idea

Zexxy's wife said...

You can also add juice of one lemon or orange to the mixture.That gives to these balls nice citrus flavor.
It really depends on a taste!

ReverendS said...

She loved it, gonna make again tonight :) this time with lemon juice

Zexxy's wife said...

I know few more sweets similar to this one that kids love. One is made with grated apples, orange juice and candied orange peel and other with cooked quince,lemon juice and ground walnuts.

ReverendS said...

Both of them sound great! These recipes are easy enough to prepare for clumsy dads as well :D

Lu Tostes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lu Tostes said...

Stuffed dried prunes... delicious! In Brazil is "olho de sogra" (mother-in-law's eye), stuffed with coconut. Sorry for my bad english. :)
Do you know "Mario Quintana"? He's a great brazilian poet.
I think that you'll like this post. Kiss. Lu


http://quintaneandoeoutrosgerundios.blogspot.com/2010/12/as-vezes-tudo-se-ilumina.html