I Swear This Is My last Post about Easter

Chocolate Easter Egg Slice

I actually never realised that I was as into Easter as much as I obviously am. Even though Greek churches are so beautifully decorated and adorned with amazing mosaics and icons and smell so wonderfully of incense, I haven’t actually gone to an Easter mass for a few years now. That doesn’t mean that I won’t ever go again but I tend to spend so much time over the Easter period preparing food and baking for Sunday’s feast that I am just too exhausted to get off the couch (or I’m still baking) in the evening when it’s time to go.

I try and do something different every year, for the kids, involving chocolate and this year I spied something on a lifestyle TV show here and slightly tweaked the recipe for myself. It’s sickly richly sweet and I’m not even sure if the quantities given on the TV show were accurate as it didn’t set as well as other slices I have made in the past. However it was still wonderful but not something you could eat a lot of but was great fun for the kids.

It’s a Chocolate Easter Egg Slice…A biscuit base with a layer of whipped peanut butter with rows of creamy filled Easter Eggs then covered in melted dark chocolate and topped with crushed peanuts. What was great about this was that once you poured the melted chocolate over the Easter Eggs, the creamy insides set and when you cut it open, they looked like real eggs. Clever, I thought!

The kids were really amused by this once they realised that we weren’t trying to trick them into eating hard boiled eggs covered in chocolate. It was fun to watch them discover all the different layers. Even the adults loved this but it is sooooo sweet and half a slice each was more than enough. This is not something you would make all the time but it was awesome as a surprise Easter treat and it just looked great too.

Of course, when it’s not Easter, you could just omit the Easter Egg and mix in whatever you liked with the melted chocolate and dish up with coffee when friends drop in. There’s no baking involved but like any slice, needs a couple of hours in the fridge to set.

Base

250g butter shortbread biscuits

90g butter

Ingredients

1 cup smooth peanut butter (optional)

1/2 cup soft icing sugar (optional)

400g dark chocolate

300ml thickened cream

2 tablespoons golden syrup

1 heaped teaspoon butter

6 cream filled easter eggs (or caramel)

crushed peanuts or pistachios

Method

Crush biscuits and add melted butter. Mix to combine and press into base of tin or throw away foil tray.

Refrigerate until set.

Beat peanut butter and icing sugar until fluffy and spread over biscuit base. (This stage is optional. I love peanut butter and wanted to add it).

Press easter eggs into peanut butter biscuit base making sure you leave space between them so there is an easter egg on each slice when you cut it.

Melt chocolate, cream, golden syrup and butter in a saucepan.

Pour chocolate over the easter egg base.

Top with crushed peanuts (or pistachios)

Refrigerate until set.

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My Second Easter

HELP!

Today I had my second Easter. While last week’s Good Friday was a seafood fest and quiet, today was  a meat bonanza and loud. Spit roast with lamb and pork and I slow cooked beef spare ribs last night ready for today. They were marinated in maple syrup and red wine and a bit of beef stock. Just wonderful! They were sticky and smoky sweet but meaty and beefy too and melted in your mouth. I wrapped them in layers of foil and placed them on the coals when I got to mum and dad’s to gain a little smokiness too…took the camera…remembered the camera. I seriously had to leave myself a written message on the kitchen bench as I usually forget and am forced to take photos on my phone and everything ends up having a slight greyish look…not pretty.

Speaking of cameras, I live in Australia and the new Lytro camera is not available here yet. All I can say is that my birthday is in June and I want one for my birthday. I keep thinking about the way I will be able to focus and blur and zoom and play with these living pictures…so get your act together and release it here!

Back to today’s shits and giggles with my family. Firstly, everyone spoke as though they had a hearing problem and tried to get everything in at once and yelled over each other. My partner refers to my parents as ‘the real Costanzas.’ Not nice! But have to secretly admit it’s true! Dad being almost 84 years old has decided that he doesn’t have to ‘dress’ properly for such occasions so he was wearing his track pants with multiple top layers. I swear I’ve never seen anything like it…singlet followed by T.Shirt followed by long sleeve shirt followed by jumper and finally a zip up jacket. It was warm today so he dispensed with the zip up jacket. He was wearing his outdoor slippers and his baseball cap…Why was a Greek man living in Melbourne, Australia wearing a baseball cap? Anyway, mum wouldn’t let him any of the pictures.

“Go away Kon! No photos for you! You look like you still living in the village in Greece!”

He, of course replied “I’m not going away. Who gonna see me here in my backyard…Maybe Queen Elizabeth? I give her some lamb and she not care how I dress. Why you care? Maybe you from Buckingham Palace not village too?”

“Stop it Kon. You’re silly man!”

Meanwhile, my brother was still cursing our footy team losing to our arch enemies two nights ago and is still shaking his head at our thrashing. His poor wife was retelling stories to my partner of how he lost his cool and was nearly escorted off the ground…had they not been in a corporate box…gotta love Aussie footy!!! Mind you I’m still grieving over Friday night’s loss too.

Get the picture? My family is fun. It was an unusually warm day for Autumn  (27C) and we ate outside in the sunshine. It was a gorgeous day. My sister and I were talking at the same time at each other, two totally different conversations but somehow responding to each other as if we were actually listening. The kids were running around…you know…just screaming and running in circles (maybe due to all the chocolate they had been eating while waiting for the food to be served) and the two teenagers were just looking at everyone, shaking their heads and saying “This is our family!”

The kids organised an Easter Egg hunt for everyone and it took forever as my parent’s backyard is huge, but if any of us adults found any eggs we had to surrender them to the kids as we were not allowed to keep any of them!

My best friend also came along and as we have known each other forever, she is more like family. Anything my family does that embarrasses us, she finds extremely amusing. Let’s just say that her face hurt from laughing!

Meanwhile, mum and dad were in and out of the house yelling instructions at each other and every now and then dad would check the meat on the spit and slice off a piece, fork it and hand it to me…because he knows I like it when I eat the lamb while it’s still turning over the hot coals. He always cuts off the pieces of lamb I like best. The pork was succulent and the lamb was soooo good!

It was exhausting but as usual we came home feeling full and fully satisfied. We also noticed how quiet our house was and after a day like today, we don’t even turn on the TV and when we speak it’s almost inaudible. We were ready to go back to work tomorrow and even though I will have a little cry later on tonight in bed that my two week break went so quickly and was swallowed up by celebrating two Easters, I know I will be enjoying lamb or pork rolls for lunch over the next few days and that’s always wonderful. I am also quite happy that the madness of having two Easters is over and I can begin to focus on my cooking again rather than baking. I am a cook rather than a baker…I have been teaching myself to bake…but cooking meals is my true passion and even though work is tough and I come home exhausted, the best way for me to unwind is to create homey, comforting yet healthy meals for my family and I love it!

Enjoy the photos 🙂

Baking For Easter With My Mumma Bear

Baking For Easter With Mum

Mum and I have been baking these together since I was a kid. Even when I was going through my teenage phase of “I’m not Greek, I’m Goth/Heavy Metal/Indie” I still baked these with mum. If mum had her way, we would have done the church thing and the fasting thing but she didn’t have her way…dad did…hated the church (and still does and ain’t giving up meat for anybody…and yes, not even Jesus!) He felt that that’s what you got for being a nice guy…Crucified!

Cynical man, my dad…

My partner is half Greek and half Italian so we did a Good Friday thing last week with his dad and wife, whom I suspect also don’t understand the point of Easter. So, you eat fish on Good Friday, you know, keep it simple…fish comes from the sea as do oysters, prawns and scallops…so it was a seafood fest with a white chocolate mud cake I had made for dessert. I just kept thinking that this wasn’t right. This is not a celebratory day but a day of mourning…are we meant to eat cake? My parents came too and as it wasn’t their Easter, had a ball…scoffed more than a dozen oysters and a kilo of prawns between them and were quite jolly indeed.

So, we are eating our decadent cake and drinking coffee and I overhear a conversation my mum is having with my partner’s stepmum. It went something like this (it helps if you say it in a Greek/Aussie accent)…”Yes, I so tired and my hands theys always hurting. I want my daughters to making the biscuits but ever year this daughter here, she call me to say, ‘we do biscuits together to my house?’ and what I do? I say yes…”

I mean WHAT? All these years I thought she would be devastated if I didn’t bake with her and all this time she was only doing it for me and didn’t really want to? What the Hell!!! Did this mean that all these years I didn’t need to cram in the Easter baking when I was exhausted and could’ve been lounging on my couch with a book or napping or lunching with friends? I could have bought the biscuits? Yes, apparently this was exactly what it meant. We had a few words about it today, a bit of squabbling and every now and then I threw in things like “Oh, our last Easter baking session…sigh!” In typical Greek mother fashion she replied, “No worries, this time next year I be dead for sure!” So I cut out the sarcasm and just rolled, shaped, glazed and sesame seeded the biscuits and held my tongue.

There are many different recipes out there and today I wrote down the recipe mum uses. It’s not written down, it’s in her head. How much flour? As much as it needs…I think we used just over 2 kilos but could’ve been a bit more.

Below is the standard recipe. We tripled it.

So, here goes and hope everyone had a Happy Easter, and, if you’re Greek, I hope you have a Happy Easter this week.

Easter Biscuits (Koulourakia)

Ingredients

4 1/2 cups S.R Flour

1 tspn baking powder

4 eggs, separated

1 cup caster sugar

1 cup sunflower oil (or 125g unsalted butter at room temperature)

grated zest of 1 lemon or orange

1 small pkt vanilla sugar or 1 tsp vanilla extract

egg & milk for glazing

sesame seeds for sprinkling

Method

Preheat the oven to 160C and line baking trays with baking paper.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl.

Using hand held beaters, cream the butter and sugar. Beat the egg yolks in a separate bowl, then add to the butter and sugar mixture.

Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, then fold gently into the batter. Stir in the vanilla and lemon or orange zest, then add the flour mixture, a little at a time, to make a soft dough.

Knead the dough for about 2 – 3 minutes. With lightly floured hands, shape the dough into your desired shapes and arrange on the prepared baking tray. The most common shapes are twists, rounds and plaits.

Beat milk and 1 egg in a bowl and use to brush each biscuit. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake for 25 – 30 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Greek Easter Biscuits

So, this is my second attempt at a food blog. The first post on a different blogger was accidentally deleted (I’m still finding tufts of my hair all around the house) and I can tell you that it was the best piece of writing…quirky and well written (even if I do say so myself) so this one is just going to get straight into a recipe and will leave the funny anecdotes for when I’m less homicidal. It was a great introduction to blogging about who I am – a nobody really – but someone who loves shopping for food and is obsessed with my pantry. So, here are the Easter Biscuits I made yesterday. My mum was so proud and dad thought I lied and had bought them. I will take that as a compliment – I think!

Enjoy 🙂

So, it’s Easter time and everyone is all chocolate, chocolate chocolate! Horrible little hollow bunnies that don’t taste much of anything really. Don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate. I love chocolate so much in fact, that I have declared Saturday 14th April “Chocolate Day” for no other reason other than to show how much I love chocolate. My partner and I are going to have a 24 hour chocolate day…see how much I love chocolate? But, I digress and that’s another blog entirely.

This year I am lucky enough to be celebrating 2 Easters (although I don’t think my thighs and arse would agree) so it’s double the chocolate fun. However, when you have a Greek background it’s not all about chocolate. Although I did make a chocolate Easter Egg slice that was simply amazing and will blog that one next week when I make the second one for Greek Easter. There is also room for biscuits and cake with loads of butter, sugar and syrup… I used to make Greek sweets with my mother when I was a kid but haven’t done so in years. Oh sure, we get together every year and bake the odd 200+ Greek Easter Biscuits but that’s not the kind of baking I’m talking about here. I’m talking butter, icing sugar and ouzo and more icing sugar here.

These kourabiedes are amazing. They stick to the roof of your mouth a little and you need to drink a couple of litres of water after just eating one…but what the hell…they’re sooo good!!!

Try this recipe and even though you won’t be able to speak afterwards, you will want to make them over and over and your friends will love them and your family will think you’re just grouse…mine do anyway!

Kourabiedes (Greek walnut shortbreads dusted with icing sugar)

Kourabiedes
Serves 26
Ingredients
250 gm soft unsalted butter
110 gm (2/3 cup) icing sugar, sifted, plus extra, for dusting
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
300 gm (2 cups) plain flour, sifted with ½ tsp baking powder
90 gm walnuts, finely chopped
3 tbsp ouzo
2 tbsp orange flower water
Method
 Using an electric mixer, beat butter until pale and creamy, then add icing sugar, vanilla and egg yolk and beat until well combined. Add ouzo and combine.
Fold in combined sifted flour and baking powder, then add chopped walnuts and stir to combine.
 Roll tablespoons of mixture into balls, then roll into 5cm lengths and form into crescents. Place crescents on baking paper-lined oven trays and bake at 160C for 15-20 minutes or until just starting to colour.
 Transfer shortbreads to wire racks and, while still warm, sprinkle with orange flower water and dust with icing sugar, then leave to cool.
When completely cool, dust generously with icing sugar.
Walnut shortbreads will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week.