Showing posts with label yeast. Show all posts
Showing posts with label yeast. Show all posts

Greek honey balls-loukoumades-drizzled with honey and cinnamon

Loukoumathes (pronounced loo-koo-mah-thes) is one of the most common and easiest desserts to make. Every restaurant in Greece will offer loukoumathes as a dessert after a meal, and sometimes as a token from the restaurant owners to its patron’s for eating there.
The last time I had loukoumathes in Greece was on one of my recent trips there. The loukoumathes I had were enormous. They were more like a large donut than the traditional “donut hole” shape they usually have. Those loukoumathes were large enough for 2-4 people to share.

Loukoumathes can be eaten drizzled with honey or sugar syrup, or even drenched in plain sugar. At the beaches in Greece, there are stands that sell loukoumathes drenched in sugar and cinnamon. A sweet treat to break the day between swimming in the blue waters of the Aegean sea and sunbathing under the warm Greek sun. Other times they can be served along with ice cream, crushed walnuts and/or pistachios.

They are best served warm. Enjoy!

Ingredients (Makes 50 servings)
1 pkg active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. lemon rind
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1/2 cup canola oil*

Mix the yeast with 1/2 cup lukewarm water. Let it stand for 1/2 hour till dissolved and bubbly.

In a large bowl sift together the flour, with the baking soda, baking powder, salt, lemon rind and sugar. When the yeast is dissolved add it to the dry ingredients along with the 1.5 cups of lukewarm water. Mix well with a mixer on medium speed for a couple of minutes till all the ingredients are well incorporated. Cover with a towel and let it stand in a warm place for 2 hours.

Heat up about 1 cup of canola oil in a frying pan. With two spoons dipped in water take some of the dough and drop it in the hot oil. Continue to drop the dough by the spoonful, but make sure you don't overcrowd the pan. Fry them till they are lightly brown turning them over until both sides are cooked. Lower the heat if you think that you don't drop them fast enough. When browned, remove from the oil and place them in a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the extra oil.

Serve warm drizzled with honey and cinnamon.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 serving (19.6g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 47
Calories from Fat 21
Total Fat 2.3g
Saturated Fat 0.2g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 37mg
Potassium 16mg
Total Carbohydrates 5.8g
Dietary Fiber 0.2g
Sugars 0.1g
Protein 0.8g

Note: * for the calories to be correct on the frying portion of this recipe, I only logged in ½ cup of canola oil. I added 1 cup canola oil in the frying pan but only used ½ cup for the frying.

Note: **if you prefer to serve the honey balls with sugar syrup, the recipe for this is below the picture.

2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 cinnamon stick

Make the syrup
Pour the sugar, water and cinnamon stick in a pan and bring to a boil stirring constantly. Lower the heat to medium and let it cook for 10-15 minutes while stirring. The syrup should be clear by the time you are done, and very slightly reduced. Remove from heat. Drizzle over hot loukoumathes.

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

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


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!

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. 


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.