Showing posts with label dough. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dough. Show all posts

Tsourekia-Greek Easter Bread


Happy Greek Easter - Kalo Pascha!

Easter in Greece is beautiful. There have been a few times that I was able to go back and celebrate Easter in Greece besides the times when I was growing up. The flowers are blooming, the weather is warm, and the trees have leaves on, unlike here in the the Midwest, in the middle of April. Greek Easter is one of the biggest holidays in Greece besides Christmas. The preparations start early, as soon as Lent begins. Homes are cleaned, they might even get a fresh coat of paint, the winter rugs are removed and replaced with spring/summer area rugs. Homes are decorated beautifully, not with Easter eggs and wreaths as they do here, but with embroidered doilies that depict spring and flowers.

During the beginning of the Greek Holy week the final touches of cleaning are put to the homes, and then the baking begins. We make koulourakia-Koulourkakia Portokaliou-Greek Easter Cookies to have and offer to visitors with coffee. Then there is the traditional Greek Easter bread. That can be made ahead of time as it takes a full day to make it (of course it all depends how many loaves you want to make). Or you can start making it on Holly Thursday so that you will be able to place a hard boiled red dyed egg on the bread before baking it.

Holly Thursday is the day that we color our eggs. The Greek traditional way of coloring eggs is with a dark red dye that it is quite difficult to find here. You will have to either find it at a Greek market that sells it or have someone from Greece to mail it to you. A few times that I went back to Greece I was able to purchase some and bring it back with me. But if you travel to Greece after Easter it will be very difficult to find it since it is sold out for Easter.

Over the years I tried different food dyes to color my eggs. I finally settled for the liquid red food coloring - the ones that are about 1fl oz each - and use about 4 of those bottles along with 5 cups of lukewarm water mixed with 1/2 cup of vinegar. I lay about 20 eggs inside a large dutch oven and pour the colored water over the eggs. I let them boil for about 10 minutes and remove the pot from the heat. Once they are a bit cool I remove them with a spatula and rub them with olive oil for shine.

The Greek Easter bread is sweet and delicious. This recipe is a combination of my mother's recipe with my own touches by adding cardamon, crushed anise seeds, vanilla, orange and lemon zest. This bread makes excellent toast spread with butter or jam, and even makes excellent french toast. But it tastes so good alone that there is not enough left for toast or even french toast. Enjoy! Happy Greek Easter or as we say in Greek Kalo Pascha.

Greek Easter Bread - Tsourekia (Tsoo-re-kia)

Calories C- 1165 for a 12 oz loaf; 95 calories for 1oz slice

Ingredients
Makes 8-12oz loaves

8 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup flour for kneading
½ tsp. salt
1 ½ cups skim milk
3 packages dry yeast
1 2/3 cups butter
2 cups sugar
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. Cardamon
1 tsp. crushed anise seeds
1 heaping tbsp. of orange zest (zest of one large orange)
1 heaping tbsp. of lemon zest (zest of one large lemon, like a Meijer lemon)
1 tsp. vanilla
5 eggs

Egg wash
2 egg yolks
3 tbsp. milk
½ cup sliced raw almonds

Directions

Sift the 8 cups flour with the salt and set aside. Grate the lemon and orange zest and set aside. In a mortar and pestle crush the anise seeds and set aside.

Warm the 1.5 cups skim milk in the microwave (do not boil it; just bring it to lukewarm temperature-about a minute in the microwave). In a large bowl, combine the 3 packages of dry yeast with the lukewarm milk, 1/2 cup of the flour/salt mixture and 1 tbsp. of sugar.  Mix well. Cover tightly with saran wrap and a thick towel and let it rise for about 1/2 hour in a warm place.

In the meantime, melt the butter in the microwave. In another bowl break the eggs and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter with the sugar, the orange, lemon zest, the cardamon, the crushed anise seeds and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well together. You can use a handheld mixer for this. Add the yeast mixture that has already risen and blend well together. Gradually add the flour as you mix. The mixture will begin to thicken. From the extra 1 cup of flour, flour a clean surface with a little bit of the flour and pour the dough on it. Start kneading adding the extra flour gradually, until the dough no longer sticks to your hands or the surface. Place the well-kneaded dough in a large bowl, cover tightly with saran wrap, and towels and place it in a warm place to rise for about 2-3 hours until double the size. The warmer the place the quicker the dough will rise.

When the dough has risen, cut it in 4 pieces.  Take one quarter of the dough while you keep the rest of the dough covered and cut it in half.  Take the half dough and cut it in 3 equal pieces.  Roll out each piece into a long strip and braid it together.  Place it in a well-buttered cookie sheet.  Continue with the rest of the dough until all dough is done. Place the braids about 4-5" apart (they will rise) and cover them tightly with saran wrap and towels. Let them rise for a couple of hours until about double the size. (They will also rise in the oven while baking).

When they are ready for the oven, beat the 2 egg yolks with the 3 tbsp. milk. Brush the braids with the egg wash and sprinkle with the sliced raw almonds. If desired place a hard boiled colored (preferably red) on the one end of the braid.

Bake at 350° F. for about 40 min until browned.  Remove from the oven and let them cool before cutting. Place them in plastic bags and refrigerate. They can also be frozen. They will last up to 6 months.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 serving (346.5g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 1162
Calories from Fat 422
Total Fat 46.9g
Saturated Fat 26.1g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 258mg
Sodium 492mg
Potassium 382mg
Total Carbohydrates 165.0g
Dietary Fiber 5.3g
Sugars 55.0g
Protein 23.1g


The dough

The braids before they go in the oven

The final product.  Enjoy!





Baklava with walnuts and almonds and its History

The History of Baklava

Many will argue about the origins of Baklava. Greeks will attest it’s their own creation. Turks will say that the Greeks claimed it since it was perfected while Greece was under the Ottoman Empire for 400 years. Lebanese will make their own version of baklava by using an array of nuts like pistachios, walnuts, cashews or pine nuts. In other areas, they will use dough with eggs, or plain dough, unlike the “phyllo” dough. Greeks perfected the use of dough by inventing the “phyllo” dough, paper-thin sheets of dough (“phyllo” in Greek means “leaf”). A baklava recipe with the use of syrup with rose water and cardamom and a filling variety of nuts will most likely be from the Arab countries. The use of syrup with cinnamon and cloves with walnuts and almonds filling will be from the Balkan countries.

Even with all these declarations, it is believed that it was the Assyrians who came up with this dessert in 8 B.C. Greek seamen travelling to Mesopotamia, brought it to Athens and eventually they perfected it by developing the “phyllo” dough. Baklava reached the kitchens of the Byzantine Empire until its fall in 1453 A.D. Under the Ottoman Empire, baklava was served to the Pashas and the very rich. Eventually, the dessert reached the western world and was brought to America by Greek immigrants, or as others might say, by Turkish or by Lebanese immigrants. I’d like to believe that it was the Greeks who brought it to the Western world and since the Greeks perfected the paper-thin dough, I’d say it’s more of a Greek origin than any other.

There are areas in Greece that they use olive oil instead of melted butter to make baklava. I remember my mother and grandmother making baklava while I was young and they used clarified butter. The butter was made from pure cow’s milk. The color of the butter was white and not yellow like the butters we see here in the US. The ingredients, of course, were more organic back then.

I’ve seen and tasted many versions of baklava while here in the US. I tried the pistachio filled baklava, baklava drizzled with chocolate, baklava with pecans, but I’m partial to the Greek baklava with walnuts and almonds, or just plain walnuts as I remembered it from my childhood. This version of baklava is the way my mother and grandmother used to make with the only difference that I added the chopped almonds to the filling. I still use butter to brush between the phyllo dough sheets.

This is also a very traditional dessert to make during the Christmas holidays and Easter. With the Christmas holidays upon us, here is my version of Greek Baklava. Enjoy!

Baklava with walnuts and almonds

Makes 30 servings

8 oz phyllo dough
1 1/2 cups walnuts
1/2 cup almonds
3 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp ground cloves
6 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup butter

30 whole cloves (optional)

MIx together the chopped walnuts, chopped almonds, sugar, cinnamon and ground cloves. Set aside.

Melt the butter. Brush a 12x7.5 pyrex pan with melted butter. Remove one of the two packages of phyllo dough from the box. You can refrigerate or freeze the other package. Open up the phyllo dough and cover it between two clean kitchen towels. Phyllo dough dries quickly, so it is best to keep it covered while working on the baklava. Take a sheet of phyllo dough and lay it on the pan. Brush with melted butter. Continue to layer the pan with approximately 10 sheets of phyllo dough, brushing them in between layers with butter, and extending the ends over the pan (like the Spinach Cheese pie (Spanakotyropita)).

Pour the walnut, almond/sugar mixture and spread evenly. Fold over the extended phyllo dough and layer the rest of the phyllo dough sheets, one by one by brushing in between with butter. Cut diagonally and place it in a preheated 350° oven for 45-50 minutes till golden brown. If desired you can place a whole clove in the middle of each piece before baking.

  Ready for the oven

The syrup

2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
Rind of one lemon

Bring to a boil 2 cups sugar and 2 cups water. Add the cinnamon stick and the lemon rind. Boil for about 5 minutes till is slightly reduced and clear. Remove from heat.  Remove the cinnamon stick.

As soon as the baklava is cooked, take it out of the oven and pour the syrup over baklava while it's still warm. Wait for it to cool and serve.
Ready to serve

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 serving (49.8 g) approximately 1.8 oz
Amount Per Serving
Calories 148
Calories from Fat 59
Total Fat 6.5g
Saturated Fat 1.4g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 4mg
Sodium 49mg
Total Carbohydrates 21.5g
Dietary Fiber 1.2g
Sugars 16.0g
Protein 2.4g
...or ready to give as a gift!






Phyllo Dough Spinach Roll

It is quite common in Greece to make just Spinach pie or just Cheese pie. And they are very delicious.  This recipe is a nice alternative to the Cheese-Spinach pie for people who don't want to have any dairy.  Enjoy!

12 servings (approximately 1.5-2 oz each serving).

The following ingredients will make 3 phyllo spinach rolls.

12 oz bag of frozen spinach (thawed and strained well to remove any excess water)
12 sheets of phyllo dough
¾ cup chopped green onion
3 tbs olive oil
1 tsp parsley (either fresh or dried)
1 tsp dill (either fresh or dried)
¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
4 tbs olive oil for brushing between the phyllo dough sheets


Defrost the spinach and squeeze any excess water with your hands. Set aside.

In a saucepan heat the 3 tbs of olive oil. Saute the green onions and add the spinach. Heat through. Remove from heat. Add the parsley, dill, ground nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Mix well together. Set aside.

In the meantime, line a cookie sheet with wax paper that’s brushed with olive oil. Set aside. 

Separate 12 sheets of phyllo dough (you can re-freeze the leftover phyllo dough as long as you wrap it in saran wrap first, then in aluminum foil).

Take 1 sheet of phyllo at a time and brush it from the 4 tbs of olive oil that you have set aside for that purpose. Take another sheet of phyllo dough and place it on top of the other and brush with olive oil. Repeat with the 3rd and 4th sheets of phyllo dough, while brushing with olive oil in between sheets.
 



Take 1/3 of the mixture and place it alongside the prepared sheets of phyllo dough. 




Fold the sides to hold in the filling. 



Then start from the end towards you, and roll away from you. 


Once you complete the roll, brush with olive oil and place it in a cookie pan lined with wax paper, that’s also brushed with olive oil. 

Repeat the above steps for the other two rolls. 



Bake in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven 30 minutes till golden brown. Remove from the oven and let it cool before cutting. 



Right out of the oven.
 Cut and serve.
Enjoy!



 
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 serving (50.9 g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 97
Calories from Fat 67
Total Fat 7.4g
Saturated Fat 1.1g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 69mg
Total Carbohydrates 6.5g
Dietary Fiber 1.0g
Sugars 0.3g
Protein 1.6g

Greek Style Veggie Pizza



Even though pizza is considered the ultimate Italian dish, it actually originated in ancient Greece.  Ancient Greeks used to cover flat breads with herbs, oil and cheese.  Later on, during Byzantine time, they called it “pita” meaning pie.  And the Romans topped their pizza dough with honey, bay leaves and cheese.  Everyone will argue of where the pizza came from.  Greeks can argue that it is their own invention.  Italians can argue that it originated in their country. In fact, the pizza that we eat today has originated in Italy.  Naples to be precise.  Which leads us to believe that it originated from Greeks, since the city of Naples (Neapolis in Greek) was founded by the Greeks.

During the early 1900’s pizza was introduced to Americans.  Even though pizza was originally Greek, it took a few centuries for Greeks to eat the Italian version of pizza.  When I first had pizza in Greece, many, many years ago, I was not too impressed.  I actually thought that I’d never have pizza again.  But when I tried the American style pizza I was hooked. 

As with everything else, that has progressed, so has the pizza and its toppings.  Traditional pizzas have the basic tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese, but that’s not quite the norm any more.  We can have stuffed crust pizza, deep-dish pizza, thin crust, round and square shape, toppings like pineapple and anchovies, or Cajun chicken and pork sausage.  As with everything else in my Greek Fusion cuisine, I had to incorporate something Greek, Italian and American to my pizza.  I give you a Thin Crust Vegetarian Pizza, with roma tomatoes, artichoke hearts, spinach, and of course mozzarella and feta cheese.  It turned out delicious and quite easy to do. 

Enjoy!


Pizza dough from scratch


This will make two (2) 14 inch pizzas

1 packet dry active yeast

1 ¼ cups warm water

Pinch of sugar

1 tsp salt

4 cups flour

2 tbsp olive oil

In 1 ¼ cups warm water dissolve the dry yeast. Add the sugar. Stir till well blended and let it stand for 10 minutes.

In another bowl, sift the flour and the salt together. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture. With an electric mixer that has a dough hook begin blending the yeast/water mixture into the flour mixture. Add the olive oil. Continue beating until the dough is firm and has absorbed all the liquid. You will know that the dough is ready when it pulls away from the bowl.

On a slightly floured surface, begin kneading the dough for about 10-15 minutes, till the dough is smooth, elastic and springy when trying to pull. Put it in a floured bowl and let it rise in a warm place for about 1 ½ - 2 hours. This will make two (2) 14 inch pizza’s. (You can freeze 1/2 the dough before letting it rise. It will last for about 1 month in the freezer).

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 1 serving(34.8g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 87
Calories from Fat 12
Total Fat 1.3g
Saturated Fat 0.2g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 98mg
Total Carbohydrates 16.0g
Dietary Fiber 0.6g
Sugars 0.1g
Protein 2.2g

Toppings for Greek style vegetarian pizza from scratch - these ingredients are for one (1) 14" pizza 

12 servings – this will make one (1) 14-inch pizza

1 tbsp olive oil

½ tsp oregano

1 cup shredded mozzarella

4 roma tomatoes sliced (about 1 cup)

¼ cup red onion thinly sliced

1 small can (4 oz) mushrooms

1 cup artichoke hearts quartered (packed in oil or frozen)

1 cup spinach, washed and roughly chopped

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. I use a 15 inch pizza stone. You can use any 14-15 inch round pizza pan.

Preparing the ingredients:

Wash, pat dry and roughly chop the spinach. Set aside. Shred the mozzarella; set aside. Slice the roma tomatoes and set aside. Thinly slice the red onion. If you are using frozen artichoke hearts, make sure they are defrosted and warmed up by heating them in a little bit of water in the microwave. Crumble the feta cheese and set aside.

Roll out the dough to a round shape. No need to use any flour. The dough will be elastic and will stretch to the round shape. If you are using a pizza stone, make sure that it’s already preheated in the oven. If you are using a pizza pan, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to use it for a pizza. Some might have a coating on it, and there is no need to brush the pan with oil. If not you might need to, so that the pizza won’t stick to it while baking.

Assemble the pizza:

Brush the pizza dough with the olive oil. Sprinkle with the oregano. Sprinkle with the mozzarella. Spread the roma tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, artichokes, spinach and the crumbled feta on top.
The pizza assembled before it goes in the oven 

 Return to oven and bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for about half ( ½ ) hour or until the edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven and let it cool before cutting it. 

  The pizza hot out of the oven

Nutrition Facts 

Serving Size 1serving(62.5 g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 70
Calories from Fat 41          
Total Fat 4.5g
Saturated Fat 2.3g
Cholesterol 11mg
Sodium 141mg
Total Carbohydrates 3.8g
Dietary Fiber 1.4g
Sugars 1.1g
Protein 4.5g

Note: The Nutrition facts are separate for the dough and separate for the toppings.  

Enjoy!!!!