Morning Tea With The Girls

Today was a beautiful sunny day spent with my favourite girls, drinking coffee, eating pastries and custard filled doughnuts and drinking a chilled pink sparkling. Yes, it was only 10:30am but we are still on holidays, and when on holidays, who takes notice of the time?

We are teachers and work together. We live in the same office and have done so for many years. Whilst on school holidays we always make a point of getting together for great food and drinks. We take it in turns and today we were at the new home of one of the girls. Her new place is gorgeous and I fell in love with her kitchen. The kitchen bench was long and sleek with wonderfully streamlined drawers and cupboards and the sun just beamed through the huge glass doors.

We were there to celebrate her new home as well as to support each other as we are back at work next week. This coming term is the most difficult; swapping sunny Autumn days for bleak Winter ones. Exams and reports and that mid year slump we know all too well. None of us are looking forward to the next 11 weeks. Our food get togethers become more frequent with the colder weather as we need something to pick us up.

This short post is a bit of a tribute to these amazing women who juggle work, children, home renovations, relationships, cooking, cleaning as well as handling hundreds of teenagers every single day. We manage to get together and laugh and speak over each other and eat great food and drink wonderful cocktails in the summer and great reds in the winter. Last week’s lamb, cooked on the BBQ served with a spiced up cous cous accompanied with a rocket, pear, feta and walnut salad and finished off with a sickly rich dessert was wonderful. I came home so full and intoxicated by the amazing sunshine (not the alcohol) that I napped on the couch for a couple of hours.

Today we indulged in pastries and a fruit platter and a wonderful homemade cheese pie. We drank strongly brewed coffee followed by this gorgeous pink sparkling. A perfect morning with wonderful people. Life doesn’t get much better than days such as these.

Cheers to my friends, the sun and to you all.

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 butterĀ 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.