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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Greek Easter

Greek Easter has always been a fun holiday for my family.  I must say that Greek cookies are some of my favorite cookies.  Sure, I have made my share of chocolate chip cookies (which I like very much), but when it comes down to favorites..they are Greek.  The Greek Easter cookie is special because I only make them once a year.  Is that the reason that they taste so good?  My brothers and I used to devour them during family gatherings.  Since they have Cognac in them (well, my favorite ones do), my aunt used to say: "you're going to get drunk you're eating so many cookies"!!  Yes, my aunt has a terrific sense of humor to this day (she is 89 now).  This year was no exception.  I made the batter the night before and spent all day rolling, shaping, and baking these delicious treats.  I must say that by the end of the day I was tired of smelling the sweet cookies bake.  I also had my fair share of  "samples" as I do only make them once a year!! I guess you could say that they are somewhat of a shortbread cookie: butter, cake flour, super fine sugar, eggs, vanilla, and cognac.  Doesn't get much simpler than that?  I use a recipe from the NY International cookbook, but I also have recipes in my many other Greek cookbooks that vary only slightly in ingredients.

Along with the cookies, and baklava, my brother did the honors of cooking a leg of lamb and beef tenderloin on the grill.  Many years, we have made whole lambs on the spit, but since this was a small family gathering, we opted for a leg of lamb.

Greek salad is also a "must" at any Greek gathering.  We could be having hot dogs, but by gosh there will be a Greek salad served as a side.  We had salad every night when I grew up, and I eat salad every day for lunch as well as have one most nights with my dinner.  If you are one to measure all ingredients, it is really difficult to tell how to make the salad.  This year, the honors went to my niece Lea.  Oil, lemon, wine vinegar, oregano, salt, and pepper.  A taste here, a dash more of something, another taste, until it's just right.

Of course, no Greek meal would be complete without the Greek potatoes, and an appetizer of Kalamata olives, feta cheese, Greek marinated vegetables (my new find...not the Italian ones. Entirely different taste) and my favorite stuffed grape leaves.  We also had grilled Haloumi cheese in honor of my grandfather who is from Cyprus.  The cheese can be purchased at most "world" markets.  Grill over coals until it is golden brown on both sides (about 10 minutes), sprinkle with lemon juice (or basting butter, lemon, oregano, for lamb) before serving.  It's a treat  and something different to eat for an appetizer.

It doesn't have to be Easter for me to enjoy all of these foods of my childhood.  As a matter of fact, I just discovered that there is a Greek restaurant/market about 10 minutes from my home.  I think I'm a decent cook, but a Gyro is something that I can get at the restaurant when I have a craving for lamb, yet don't want to cook an entire leg.  I may try it this week.

Do you have a favorite Greek food?  Let me know... I may just make it for you one day!! OPA!!


  1. Aha! I learned something here, Lisa. Lemon and wine vinegar on the Greek salad. Can't wait to try that combo along with lots of olive oil, of course. :)

  2. Oh, yes!! You do need the lemon. I can't remember the last time I had no lemon in my house. I will put 1/2 a lemon in a glass of tea!



Ingredients I must have in my kitchen (It's a long list, but I try and have these items on hand)

  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Cheese
  • Cumin
  • Curry
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fresh Bread
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Greek Oregano
  • Kalamata Olives
  • Lemon ( At least 3 or 4 ALWAYS)
  • Peppers (Wax, Jalapeno, banana)
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Regular Olive Oil
  • Rice
  • Salad Ingredients
  • Sea Salt
  • Spanish Olives
  • White Balsamic Vinegar