Saturday, April 30, 2011

Baking the Greek way...for Sweet Saturdays


"Yum" ACEO



Mother’s day is right around the corner and it has me thinking about and missing my mom who passed away several years ago after a short illness.  Recently while searching through my recipe books for ideas for Easter dinner I was surprised when a scrap of yellowed paper fell out onto the floor.  I discovered that it contained the handwritten recipe for Koulourakia (Greek Easter Cookies). Wow, I found my mom's cookie recipe one week late but just in time for Mother's day.

Now let me be clear here, most Greeks don’t write down their recipes.  It’s all up there in the cranium and you learn by doing.  So when I say recipe, I mean that written on this aged scrap of paper was a carefully printed title and a list of ingredients. What you did with it was up to you.

Cooking the way I learned it from my mother is not an exact science. She didn’t even own a measuring cup.  The cup she drank her coffee from each morning was good enough, thank you very much.  And you do stir your coffee with a teaspoon, right? Somehow I know some fancy TV chef is cringing at my very words.  They are thinking, “How can you bake without exactness? “  Let me say right now that whatever was baked, roasted, fried, or stirred in this Greek inspired kitchen tasted, well, heavenly. Somehow I think Greek thinking can be summed up in two words…. no fear.  It will all come out ok, and if it wasn’t exactly what you were aiming for, well then its something new altogether.  Opa!

But I digress. When I was a child, every Easter we all set out to help my mother create these tasty sugar type cookies. In my family there are many variations to the look of a Kolourakia. Most cooks roll them into long ropes and then braid or twist them into the traditional shapes. We on the other hand, have always tried to tweak the usual, with circles and twists and braids and curls.  Our cookies were like snowflakes like snowflakes in the fact that no two were ever alike. They became an artistic expression of ourselves.  Everyone tried to outdo the others in ways that were, well unconventional.

Everyone became a baker, from boys to girls, men to women. It didn’t matter if you were 2 or a 102.  We all got to make our very own cookies and we all held dibs on our particular creations. My mother’s more traditional looking cookies were carefully placed in Tupperware containers for sharing with visiting friends and relatives.

Koulourakia seemingly lasted forever so it didn’t matter if we made a few thousand.  I think they may even have a few in the Smithsonian’s natural history museum on display. (kidding!)

Want to make some?  Well, what follows is the easy peasy listing of ingredients, the rest, of course is up to you.  Maybe baking a cake is more to your liking?

Koulourakia

¾ lb. butter (melted)
2 cups sugar
7 eggs separated
½ c. orange juice
Sesame seeds
4tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
6 c. sifted flour
3 tbsp. vanilla extract
3 tbsp. lemon juice

Ok, I will take pity on you and print up what I know to be the rest of the story…

Mix the sifted flour, baking powder, and baking soda, in bowl.  Mix in the melted butter.  In another bowl beat egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add orange juice and vanilla extract gradually.  Beat egg whites and combine with the wet ingredients.  Add wet ingredients to flour mixture.  Add lemon juice.  Knead well.  Pinch off pieces of dough and roll into desired shapes (braids are traditional) roll in sesame seeds.  Brush with milk.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes till lightly browned. 

Makes a ton…8 dozen cookies so you are free to halve this recipe!!


Why not visit Sweet Saturdays and join in the fun?  http://dianaevans.blogspot.com/2011/04/sweet-saturdays-week-005.html


P.S.  My Mac is still my best friend!  It wasn't him after it, it was the internet service being squirrelly, all better now.  :-)


25 comments:

craftattack said...

The cookies look yummy and sweet, but your memories of cooking and baking with your Mom and the rest of the family are priceless; thanks for sharing!

Katerina Galati said...

Hello Crystal,
I can imagine what you mean because I'm Greek too and I adore cooking by following my mood and my instinct. However, concerning cookies, koulourakia, cakes etc I follow the exact amounts of the ingredients because otherwise It won't be the same :)

In my blog: http://painting1katerina.wordpress.com/
you'll find my mother's recipe for Easter koulourakia and I assure you they are tasteful!!! :)

Wish you happy suterday

maddyrose said...

I guess the Danes bake much like the Greeks. I remember staying with my grandparents when I was six years old and helping my grandmother bake. It was a handful of this and a pinch or that and a dab and a sprinkle.... Like your mother's baking, my grandmother's was like heaven to me. I've baked both ways, using standard measuring and grandma's measuring and quite truthfully it's all good. Thank you for sharing the memory and the recipe. I'm going to use the recipe next time I bake cookies.

Sophia said...

Oh my gosh, can you say NUMMY?! :) Great artwork and thanks for sharing the recipe. :) Happy SS!

Missy said...

What a sweet post, love the way your mom baked! I kinda cook like that! Lovin the ACEO!

Carol Blackburn said...

Sure is a yummy-looking ACEO, Crystal. My favorite Greek dish is Spanakopita (?sp). I used to eat this at least once a week when I lived in Massachusetts. We had an awesome Greet restaurant there that my boss at the time would take me to for lunch on Fridays. Ummmm, I can almost smell it and see the crumbly philo dough.

Jan said...

Crystal, what a delicious post this is...love that painting!

Christine said...

thanks for the recipe and I love your ACEO, it's simply gorgeous.

Joann said...

Your Mom sounds alot like mine but she's 1st generation Polish so the food was a little different. I love your ACEO! :)

Leovi said...

That must be very good, keep for a bit ...

lenoracle said...

Love the ACEO! Sorry to hear about your mom, but a very touching story. Thanks for sharing it as well as the recipe!p

Lee Pierce said...

YUM!

Magic Love Crow said...

Love the aceo and I agree with Lee, YUM!!!

jamberry_song said...

These sound amazing. Your story is a beautiful one and I feel very sorry about your mother; that must be painful still, but as you've shown, there must be many wonderful memories to dwell on, too. I might have to try making these, but I don't think I have your mother's courage to not rely on measuring cups and measuring spoons. D:

jamberry_song said...

P.S. Your ACEO looks fluffy and delicious enough to eat!

Diana Evans said...

Hi Crystal!!!! this aceo looks so so delish!!! and the recipe sounds amazing too....Thank you for sharing this heartfelt story with all of us....Memories are gifts that feed the heart as time goes by....

I am so thrilled you participated in Sweet Saturdays this week!!!

Have a wonderful weekend!!!

dthaase said...

That's a great post

Jehanne's doodles said...

That is a fantastic looking cake.
We try family baking once in a while ... very stressful :D but the kids love it lol

Liz Revit said...

Hi, Crystal. Thanks for stopping by. The pictures on my most recent post are of cherry blossoms and dogwoods.

I have a sweet tooth today, and
your ACEO is adding to it. Love the cake. It looks so delicious.

Marlene said...

The cake ACEO looks delicious and the cookies sound yummy, thanks for sharing.

Heather said...

oooh, this looks DELICIOUS and so does the recipe! I love this...i should try to make it! hee hee, we both had internet problems...maybe we should just stay off the computer this week and bake! have a great evening, crystal! xo

Judy Adamson said...

My mother used to infuriate me by the vagueness of her recipes when I asked her for them. 'A bit of this', 'a lump of that'....but they always worked for her! I suppose by the time I came along, by far the youngest of seven children, she'd made the same recipes so often she just knew, by eye, how much she needed of everything!

Leovi said...

Thank you very much for this excellent recipe, must be rich.

Marilou of Lulu's Lovlies and Heartful Creations said...

Happy Monday morning to you, Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving your sweet comment. Sometimes a girl just has to have fun, to me creating is fun and relaxing, so I decided why not? have a beautiful week! Marilou

Purple Pony Art said...

I didn't know you were Greek Crystal! My dad is from Karpathos. We never had traditional Greek food growing up like what some people think - Dad cooked an awful lot of beans for some reason! I have never heard of this recipe before either...I'll have to give it a try!

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