Showing posts with label Chios. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chios. Show all posts

Greek Almond Macaroons with Chocolate Mousse Filling

I've been wanting to make my Greek Almond macaroons, or amygdalota as they are called in Greece, with some type of a filling.  In Greece I had them with mastic filling (resin from the mastic trees on Chios island).  It's a sweet spoon dessert that's served on a spoon over ice cold water, mostly during the summer hot months.  It's chewy and very sweet. That's why you need a glass of cold water to accompany it and wash it down.  Unfortunately, I didn't think of bringing a jar of the sweet mastic dessert back with me.  And so far, I haven't figured out how to make that mastic spoon dessert ... well not yet any way.  

Since everyone in my family loves chocolate including my granddaughter -- she is over a year old and has become my newest taste tester in my kitchen -- I thought of making my chocolate mousse filling and use that.  Also, this time I thought of using almond meal instead of grinding almonds for the  cookies.  I used Bob's Red Mill almond meal.  It's a little easier and it doesn't make any difference in the cookies, either you use almond meal or finely ground almonds (if you'd rather use fine ground almonds, here is the link for that recipe:  Also, both recipes are gluten free. 
And voila -- the cookies came out tasting chewy, as that is their trademark, and the chocolate mousse filling came out creamy.  So here is my take on Greek almond macaroons filled with chocolate mousse.  Enjoy! 

Ingredients (Makes 23 sandwiched servings – approx. 1.5 oz each )

3 cups almond meal
1 2/3 cups sugar
3 egg whites
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cup sliced almonds

Chocolate mousse filling
1 envelope  dream whip
6 tbsp. icing sugar
3 tbsp. cocoa powder

Melted butter for the cookie sheets and the palms of your hands to roll the cookies -- about 3 tbsp.

Beat the egg whites with the sugar. Add the almond meal, and vanilla. Mix well together. Grease 3 cookie sheets generously with butter. Also, grease your palms with butter while shaping the cookies. Shape them into 1 1/4" balls. Roll in slivered almonds. Place on cookie sheet far apart. Cookies will spread.

Bake at 325 degree oven for 20-25 minutes till the edges are brown and they are firm to the touch. Remove from the oven. Let them cool and place them in an airtight container or they will dry out. 

This recipe will make about 46 cookies.  Sandwiched together with the chocolate mousse you get about 23 cookies.

Chocolate mousse:
Beat 1 envelope of dream whip topping according to package directions. When soft peaks form, add the cocoa powder and icing sugar. Beat well till it's all incorporated. Refrigerate.

When the cookies are cooled take one tablespoon (approx.) of the chocolate mousse and spread on bottom of cookie. Take another cookie and sandwich together. When done, refrigerate them in air tight containers.

Nutrition Facts (the nutritional value is per sandwiched cookie--each cookie alone is about 80 cal)
Serving Size 1 serving (40.2 g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 174
Calories from Fat 84
Total Fat 9.3g
Saturated Fat 1.1g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 6mg
Potassium 155mg4%
Total Carbohydrates 21.3g
Dietary Fiber 2.4g
Sugars 17.9g
Protein 4.4g

Smyrneika Soutzoukakia in Domatosaltsa - Sausages from Smyrna in Tomato Sauce and as appetizers with Tzatziki sauce

Smyrneika soutzoukakia or sausages from Smyrna is a very traditional dish in Greece. Its originality comes from Smyrna thus the name Smyrneika. Smyrna – which is now called Izmir - is situated in the outskirts of Turkey across from the island of Chios, Greece. You can get to Smyrna from Chios by ferryboat in only 30 minutes. The dish is brought to Greece by Greek refugees from Asia Minor in the early 1920’s when the Greek and Armenian genocide took place.

Smyrneika soutzoukakia are served, traditionally, over rice, mashed potatoes or French fries and are usually made with ground beef. My mother and sister in law used to mix the rice with the ground beef. I have a Greek – quite old cookbook - that states the same. In this recipe, I decided to omit the rice, and instead of serving them over rice, I served them over orzo. I also used ground turkey instead of ground beef. You can use ground beef if you would like. It tastes equally good.

You can serve the soutzoukakia (sausages) with tzatziki sauce as an appetizer, with my domatosaltsa (tomato sauce) that I specifically created for them, or you can cook them in the domatosaltsa (tomato sauce) and serve them over orzo, rice, mashed potatoes. I have also served them in the past with gluten free orzo, and instead of regular breadcrumbs in the meat mixture I used gluten free breadcrumbs. The sausages can also be fried once you lightly coat them in flour.  I don't usually fry any foods, so these ones I baked them in the oven.  Enjoy!

Smyrneika Soutzoukakia - Ground turkey sausages from Smyrna

Makes 30 servings (approximately 1.3 oz each)

2 lbs ground turkey
½ cup shredded onion
2 tsp. crushed garlic
½ cup bread crumbs
½ cup chopped parsley
1 tsp. cumin
½ tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tbsp. olive oil
½ tbsp. olive oil to coat the cookie sheet

Peel and shred the onion and the garlic. Set aside. Wash and chop the parsley.

In a large bowl, mix together the ground turkey, the bread crumbs, the parsley, the shredded onion and garlic, the cumin, nutmeg, salt and pepper and the 1 tbsp. of olive oil. Mix well together and shape into 3" long sausages. About 1.3 oz each.

The sausages (soutzoukakia) before they go into the oven

Preheat oven to 400° F. Use the ½ tbsp. of olive oil and brush a cookie sheet. Place the sausages on the cookie sheet and bake for about 40-45 minutes turning around in between, till lightly browned. Remove from the oven and serve.

After they come out of the oven

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1.284 oz (36.4g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 74
Calories from Fat 38
Total Fat 4.2g
Saturated Fat 0.7g
Cholesterol 31mg
Sodium 124mg
Potassium 97mg
Total Carbohydrates 1.7g
Dietary Fiber 0.2g
Sugars 0.2g
Protein 8.6g

Domatosaltsa For Smyrneika Soutzoukakia

Tomato sauce specific for Smyrneika soutzoukakia to dip or to serve with the soutzoukakia over rice, orzo or mashed potatoes.

Makes 6 servings (approximately 8.3 oz each serving)

¼ cup olive oil
1 ½ cups chopped onion
1 tbsp. chopped garlic
14 ½ oz diced tomatoes
15 oz tomato sauce
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup chopped parsley
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. cumin

In a large saucepan, sauté the diced onion in the olive oil. When the onion is transparent, add the diced garlic. Sauté for a minute or two, but don't burn it. Add the diced tomatoes, the tomato sauce (the can and the cup) and one cup water. Bring it to a boil and reduce the heat to simmer. Add the cumin, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and parsley. Add the oven baked cooked sausages.  Cover and simmer for about 1 hour. Serve over orzo, or rice or mashed potatoes.  Or serve the domatosaltsa (tomato sauce) on the side as a dipping sauce for the soutzoukakia.

Served over orzo in domatosaltsa (tomato sauce)

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 8.148 oz (231g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 131
Calories from Fat 80
Total Fat 8.9g
Saturated Fat 1.3g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 983mg
Potassium 643mg
Total Carbohydrates 12.8g
Dietary Fiber 3.6g
Sugars 7.9g
Protein 2.8g

Tzatziki Sauce
Makes 28 servings (approximately 2 tbsp. each serving)

16 oz reduced fat sour cream
8 oz Greek, Non-Fat, Plain Yogurt (oz)
1 cup chopped cucumber
1 tsp. garlic
2 tbsp. dill
2½ tbsp. red wine vinegar
4 tbsp. olive oil
¼ tsp. salt

Blend all ingredients together, refrigerate.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 serving (31.4 g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 43
Calories from Fat 32
Total Fat 3.6g
Saturated Fat 1.4g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 6mg
Sodium 30mg
Total Carbohydrates 1.3g
Dietary Fiber 0.1g
Sugars 0.4g
Protein 1.4g

Served with Tzatziki sauce and with the Tomato sauce as appetizers

Note:  The sausages freeze well by themselves.  The same with the tomato sauce.  You can freeze them if you are making a big batch of either of these dishes (except of course the tzatziki sauce).  I froze them in the past and heat them up in either the microwave or in the oven.  Or I would defrost the sausages and the tomato sauce and then cook them in low heat till heated through.   

If you try this recipe and like it please comment below. If you like what you see on this blog, feel free to follow it. If you have any questions post them in the comments box.

In case you are wondering why I haven’t updated my blog in 4 months, there is a good reason for it. I was in Greece for the whole summer; something that I wanted to do for a long time. I had been back to Greece other times of the year, but I hadn’t been back there during the summer since 2000. I had forgotten how hot and stifling it can get in the summer months; but it was something that I wanted to do for a long time so I welcomed the heat and the warmth of the bright sun.

We left in the middle of June and returned in the middle of September. It was an anxiety-ridden preparation since we had to take my little shih tzu, Nappy, with us. Papers needed to be prepared for his departure, shots that he had to get and getting to the Secretary of State for signatures so that we can bring him back. Then my preparation for the trip began. What to take, how much can I fit in the suitcase, and what do I need to put in my carry on.

The day arrived and we, along with my Nappy, boarded the plane for Frankfurt, Germany and then to Athens. After 20 long hours of travel (our layover time in Frankfurt was four hours) we all arrived in Athens, safe and sound. As soon as I got off the plane, I took a deep breath and while choking back my tears, I inhaled that distinct smell of warm weather mixed with the smell of pollution, and the occasional smell of pine resin.

We stayed in Athens for a couple of days, then rented a car and drove up to Salonika, the city that I was born. On the way up, we stopped at a seaside restaurant and sat at a table under an umbrella, watching the water crash to the shore, while waiting for our lunch to arrive.
Kamena Vourla beach on the way to Athens.  This seaside town is only 2 hours north of Athens.

You are probably wondering what our lunch consisted off. It was, of course, the traditional gyro with french fries, while my shih tzu had the chicken kabob. (I’m sure the Greeks around me were looking at me funny).

We spent a month and a half in Salonica.
The White Tower in Salonika. 

We visited places that I craved to see, ate foods that I could not get the same taste here in the States (something to do with the produce over there; I think less preservatives) or simply don’t exist, and took pictures. Tons and tons of pictures. We went to the beach and my Nappy came with us. We went to Chalkidiki where all the popular and clean beaches are.
My little shih tzu, Nappy at Kallithea Beach, Chalkidiki

We had our anniversary meal at Ergon Deli at Porto Sani Village - a resort village that operates from April to October. The food was exquisite and the presentation even better. We had fries smothered with different cheeses from other places in Greece, zucchini fritters, taramosalata (carp roe spread mixed with garlic and day old bread) melitzanosalata (grilled eggplant dip) and a beautiful baby arugula salad drenched in balsamic vinaigrette.
Ergon Deli meal at Sani Resort.  You can find more about Sani Resort in the following link:

At the beginning of August we began our second leg of the trip – our way to Chios island. We drove back to Athens, took the ferry boat and arrived in Chios on a Sunday afternoon. The island was busy with tourists from all over Europe and Turkey. The sun was bright and the sky was so blue you’d think a painter decided to take the blue color in the palette and paint it.
The Mills in the city of Chios

The whole time we were there, we were hoping for a cloud to pass by and conceal the sun for a few minutes. Unfortunately, no (or should I say “fortunately” for us?). We accepted it and enjoyed it, because we knew back home we’d have plenty of cloudy days.

While at our stay in Greece we tasted everything we could get our hands on. From gyro and their cheesy fries,
Cheesy fries and gyro!

 to gelato ice cream,
They have the most delicious mini ice creams.  The perfect size to satisfy a sweet craving!

and their syrupy sweets,
Syrupy sweets!

to fried calamari and grilled octopus, fresh caught the same day (I’m sorry but I forgot to take a picture of that meal;  I was too absorbed digging into it.) We walked to most places even in the heat. The island had a breeze all the time and it felt good even if it were hot.

The three months went by and we had to come back. I came back refreshed, with new ideas for creating recipes for my website. I’m not sure if they will taste as good as the ones I had over there; but I will definitely try to recreate the tastes and flavors. I learned how to make a St. Fanourios cake that is celebrated on August 27th. And smyrneika soutzoukakia (ground pork or beef sausages from Smyrna – thus the word smyrneika). And I perfected my spinach pie by adding more greens (horta)[1] to it. Going back was another extraordinary experience; and even though I’ve been back to Greece numerous times every time I go back is an added appreciation of how beautiful that country is.

Stay tuned for new recipes. In the meantime, enjoy the pictures while I prepare to post my take on melitzanosalata (eggplant dip).

[1]Greens or Horta are the collard greens, mustard greens, dandelions, dark green endives. All these are used, along with spinach, in spinach pie or just by themselves to make hortopita – a medley of greens into a pie.