You’ve been asked before and you’ll be asked again…”is there anything better tasting than fried dough”?
This delicious treat comes from the island of Cyprus. This predominantly Greek-speaking island lies in the easternmost corner of of the Mediterranean Sea (between Turkey and Lebanon) has a cuisine very similar to mainland Greece but it also possesses it’s own style.
Although it’s history can be traced to over 9000 years ago, it’s Greek influences can be traced back to 1400 BC when Greek traders settled on the island.
Cyprus is also known as the island of Aphrodite. According to Homer, Aphrodite (the goddess of love) emerged from the sea, crowned with foam. The very name Aphrodite is connected to the word á¼€Ï†ÏÏŒÏ‚ (aphros) “foam”, as in risen from the foam.
To this day, the use of rosewater, festivals in honour of Aphrodite (Ta Aphrodisia) are all closely associated with the goddess.
When it comes to Cypriot cooking, the usual ingredients like olive oil, garlic, oregano and parsley are present but the tell-tale signature of Cypriot cuisine is the recurring use of Halloumi Cheese and the abundant use of Coriander seeds and Cilantro.
Much like us Greeks, the Cypriots like to stretch out their meals…conversation, debate, eating & drinking can go into the wee hours of the night. “Kopiaste” is a word used by Cypriots to invite family & friends to sit down, a hospitable chair pulled put for you and a banquet to be served by your most hospitable host(ess).
My friend Ivy currently lives in Athens but she’s was born and raised in Cyprus and she writes and cooks for a dedicated audience. The name of her blog? KOPIASTE!
Lady Fingers are a dessert that’s easy to make and simply delicious: again fried dough is stuffed with a mixture of ground almonds, sugar and cinnamon. Some versions (like this one) also contain “anthotyro”, a cream cheese that has a little bit of the grainyness that ricotta possesses.
There are four components to making this simple yet delicious treat:
- Making the dough;
- Preparing the filling;
- Frying the Lady Fingers;
- Making and dunking in the syrup
The prep time for LadyÂ Fingers took less than an hour and because these are so small, the frying is quick and the dunking in the syrup even quicker. This treat is not only delicious but there’s a textural thing going on here as well. You get the crispy crunch of biting into the Lady Finger and then you get into the soft filling that’sÂ remarkably delicious for being just four ingredients!
Lady Fingers (Î´Î¬Ï‡Ï„Ï…Î»Î± ÎºÏ…ÏÎ¹ÏŽÎ½)
For the Dough
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 heaping Tbsp. of softened butter
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 tsp salt
For the Filling
2 Tbsp. of sugar
1 cup of blanched almonds
1 tsp. of ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp. of room temp. cream cheese
For the Syrup
2 cups of sugar
2 cups of water
2 Tbsp. of lemon juice
2-3 whole cloves
1 small cinnamon stick
oil for frying
Some eggwash to seal the pockets
- With your hands, mix the flour with the salt, butter, oil and press into a crumbly mixture. Add some tepid (lukewarm) water in increments until the dough becomes soft and pliable (shouldn’t be sticky). Allow the dough to rest for about 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, mix all the ingredients in a food processor and process to a mealy grind & reserve in a bowl. You may all prepare the syrup while you wait for the dough to rise. Add all the syrup ingredients into a pot and bring to a bowl. Reduce and then simmer for five minutes. Reserve but keep warm.
- Using a pasta machine or a rolling pin, roll out your dough ball to the thickness of a lasagna sheet (2 mm) and to the dimension ofÂ a square (about 8X8 cm).
- Place 1 tsp of of filling in the bottom third of each dough square, wet the inside edges with eggwash and fold them over into the shape of an approximate “finger”.Â Use your fingers to press and remove any air pockets and gently apply pressure around where the filling is to remove any air pockets.
- Heat your oil up to an approx. temperature of 365-375F and fry off your Lady Fingers in batches. Reserve on a platter lined with kitchen towels.
- Using some tongs, dunk each of your Lady Fingers in the warm syrup (your fingers wil have cooled by now) and place on your platter.
- Garnish with ground almonds plus a dusting of icing sugar and ground cinnamon. Leave uncovered until they have cooled. Cover with plastic wrap thereafter and never place in the fridge (will go soggy).
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Â© 2007-2009 Peter Minakis
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