Tuesday, December 29, 2015

more Greek inspired pastry

The other day I made baklava, which is not difficult, but is time consuming.
Since i use a precise number of filo sheets in its making, there was some filo left over and it does not keep once a package is open.

I also had left over baklava nut filling,
It was a bit "special" in that i included some sunflower seeds with the walnuts and almonds, was ground fine and had some of the honey orange syrup i make added to it.

Not enough filo for a traditional baklava, i made a roll and did mot soak it in the honey syrup.
From the tray of goodies i prepared, these were the first to go, with people asking for more.
i was surprised.

Baklava pinwheels

§       7 sheets Filo dough
§       2 pounds unsalted clarified butter
§       10 cups fine chopped nuts - walnuts, pecans and sunflower seeds (roasted and salted)
§       ½ cup granulated raw sugar
§       ½ teaspoon cinnamon
§       ¼ teaspoon ground clove
§       3 oranges or 6 clementines
                      the zest is set aside 
                      the pith is removed from the fruit
§       1 cup raw sugar
§       ½ cup honey
§       ½ cup orange juice
§       the citrus without the rind or pith, quartered
§       1 cup water
§       4 cinnamon sticks

melt the sugar in the water over a low heat with the citrus
add orange juice and honey and reduce the volume by half
remove the citrus and cinnamon sticks and set aside to cool.
this can be kept refrigerated indefinitely

The baklava
The nuts, 1/2 pound of melted butter, sugar, spices and citrus zest are all combined and mixed well and set aside
In a greased large pan, 7 layers of filo dough are placed, brushing melted butter on each.
The nut mixture with 1/2 cup of honey syrup is layered on one side of the dough
the dough is rolled into a log and baked for 30 minutes until golden brown.
this is removed, cooled AND placed in the refrigerator to get cold before cutting into 1 inch "wheels".
serve at room temperature

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas time!

For me it is all about the cookies!
Greek cookies and pastries, but I always work the recipes because some where there is the memory of what my mom made and those in the books do not seem to match.
what i made (in 2 cases) turn out to be almost too light and crumbly.
I did know what to do to fix the basic recipe and then as i scoured other recipes, i saw that adding more eggs made the cookies firmer and so for your entertainment are this years changed offerings.

a dunking cookie
my version

·                        ~ 5 cups flour
·                        1 tablespoon baking powder
·                        1 pound butter, softened, whipped
·                        1/2 cup sugar
·                        5 eggs, lightly beaten
·                        1 teaspoon vanilla extract
·                        1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
·                        Whole cloves
·                        raw sesame seeds to coat cookies

Sift 3 cups flour with baking powder. Set aside.
Whip butter and sugar.
Add eggs to butter mixture.
Add vanilla.
Add the flour mixture 1/2 cup at a time and mix well
sift and add the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until the dough is pliable
Roll dough into 5 to 6 inch logs ~3/8 inches thick
Shape dough with lightly floured hands into desired shapes
arrange on greased cookie sheets.
Brush with beaten egg white and water.
Add sesame seeds and a clove to each shape.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown at 350 F
 Cool on racks.

(Joe's version)

·       2 cups whipped butter
·       2/3 cup raw sugar
·       1 teaspoon TANG (this primarily adds acid, not flavor)
·       4 teaspoons vanilla
·       2 teaspoon orange zest
·       2 teaspoon anise flavor
·       1 teaspoon orange flavor
·       5 eggs, beaten (use fewer eggs for lighter, crumblier cookies)
·       3 cups pecans, chopped fine
·       2 teaspoons water
·       5 or more cups flour
·       powdered sugar to finely coat the cooled cookies

Add sugar and TANG to the whipped butter and whip till fluffy.
Add zest, nuts, vanilla, orange and anise flavor and continue to whip.
add water and change to a beater bar
Add flour slowly, continue to beat until the mixture begins to  “ball” into clumps. (Sometimes I need to add more flour)
roll the dough into 1 inch balls and place on a greased cookie sheet
You may shape the cookie, keep in balls or “squash down”.  Your choice
bake for 25 minutes at 350º F.
The cookies will have the edges just brown.
They must cool before removing from tray.
Place on tray and cover with powdered sugar.
Eat at room temperature.

I have already made my traditional Baklava and Karidopida, but did not change the recipe for those.

I will be trying another item that is called Melomakarona, but will be using corn flour (maseca) instead - this will be an experiment, but heck everything i do in the kitchen is an experiment

Thursday, December 10, 2015

time consuming, but worth it

I am talking about a Greek dessert, I have started baking for Christmas and this is my first one.

the recipe i have memorized, but it is still a lot of work, but OH so worth it!

Greek nut cake

The cake
·       8 eggs, separated
·       1 cup sugar
·       1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
·       1/4 teaspoon allspice or nutmeg
·       1 teaspoon fresh orange peel, finely diced
·       1/8 teaspoon cream of tarter
·       2 teaspoons baking powder
·       1/8 teaspoon salt
·       1 teaspoon Hazelnut syrup
·       1 cup cake flour
*       i use regular flour with great results
·       2 cups ground hazelnuts (or Walnuts)
Honey/Orange/wine syrup or powdered syrup.
·       1/2 cup sugar
          i use raw sugar
·       1 whole orange, cut in quarters
·       1/4 cup honey
·       1/2 cup sherry or Port
·       1/2 cup water
make a flavored syrup with water, orange and sugar at a medium high heat
when the mixture boils add sherry and honey and lower heat to a simmer
reduce by 1/4, strain out the orange and then set aside.

Use a whisk attachment on a mixer first
beat egg whites with cream of tarter on high and set aside
beat egg yokes until thick and then add spices, sugar and salt and continue to mix
separately, mix baking powder with the flour
Change the paddle from the whisk to a beat bar and reduce the speed of the mixer
slowly add the flour mixture to the egg yoke mixture
When mixed remove from the mixer and fold in the egg whites
Fold in the nuts
Pour into a 9 x 12 greased cake pan
Cook at 350 F for 40 minutes
Remove from the oven and set aside for 10 minutes before adding any topping
When using the syrup, warm the syrup and pour 1 cup over the cake
If using the powdered sugar, cover a plate with powdered sugar and turn the baking dish onto the plate and allow the cake to fall onto the plate.

Serve cool 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


After much review, this is the recipe i make that is closest to what my mom made. It is much better (to me) than other recipes i tried that left me disappointed.
It has more spice and flavor and everything else you want for this dish.  I would never refer to it as "Greek Lasagna", it is not anything like a good Lasagna and like all things Greek, a bit more complicated.


meat/ pasta mixture
·      2 lbs ground beef (or lamb or a mixture of both)
·      olive oil to coat pan to cook meat and coat baking pan
·      1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
·      1/2 cup white wine
·      3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
·      1 tablespoon oregano
·      1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
·      1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
·      1/2 teaspoon ground clove
·      salt and pepper to taste
·      1 1/2 cups Kefalotyri cheese (or Locatelli)
·      1 lb #2 pasta (ziti or penne, I prefer penne to even the Greek pastitsio noodle)
·      1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted

béchamel sauce

§       1 cup butter (2 sticks)
melt butter on low heat
§       1 cup flour
whisk in flour till smooth
§       2 cups milk, warmed
add milk and pasta water 
§       2 cups pasta water
whisk until smooth
§       4 eggs, whipped
add clove, allspice and salt
§       1/8 teaspoon ground clove
whisk in egg yolks
§       1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
continue to heat until it just thickens
§       salt to taste

1.   cook, but do not brown the ground beef on a medium heat
2.   add onions and cook an additional five minutes
3.   add wine, 1/2 of the parsley, oregano, allspice, clove, cinnamon, salt and pepper and continue for 10 minutes on LOW heat
4.   cook pasta, remembering to salt the water,
5.   drain the pasta, reserving the water
6.   stir in the cheese, butter and flour to the pasta
7.   add meat mixture to the baking pan coated with olive oil
8.   pour portion of the béchamel sauce to cover the meat and mix
9.   add pasta over the meat mixture
10.         pour remaining béchamel sauce over the mixture
11.         add remaining cheese, 1 tablespoon parsley and a light sprinkle of cinnamon to the top
bake at 350 F for 40 minutes, when the top should be light golden brown