For the starter:
The egg wash:2 egg yolks plus 2-4 tablespoons milk
The Chocolate Sauce:
The Hazelnut Chocolate Filling:13 ounces (370 grams) chocolate hazelnut spread
Optional fillings:dried cranberries, raisins, chopped nuts, candied fruit, ground cardamom, toasted hazelnuts, chocolate chips
Note: This dough can be prepared in a table top mixer or kneaded by hand in a large bowl or on the countertop. Using a mixer will require less kneading time. About 10 minutes. If making the dough by hand, knead it at least 15 minutes so that the gluten forms well to achieve the desired consistency and texture.
To make the dough: Combine the starter ingredients together in the bowl of a tabletop mixer. Whisk and set aside for 10 minutes to activate the yeast. It is ready when a puffy cloud forms above the mixture.
In another bowl, combine the flour, sugar, orange zest, salt, and mahlepi together. Mix well to combine.
Whisk the eggs, vanilla extract, and milk together in a small bowl and set aside.
Once the yeast is activated, add all of the remaining ingredients to the mixer's bowl. Turn the mixer on low and knead for 8 minutes.
Add the softened butter and increase the speed to medium (4 on the Kitchen aid) and knead for 2 minutes.
Place some oil in the bottom of a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl. Toss around to coat and form a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place until doubled in volume. About 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours.
Quick Rise Tip: My favorite place to keep the dough so that it rises quickly is in the dryer. Here is what I do:
1) I put 3-4 clean bath towels in the dryer and turn it on (high heat setting) for about 5-6 minutes.
2) I place the bowl with the dough into the dryer (on top of the warm towels) and close the door.
3) Make sure the dryer is OFF!!
4) Remove from the dryer when it has doubled in volume.
This trick usually cuts 30 minutes from the rise time.
Make the Chocolate Filling:Place the butter and sugar in a small sauce pan and cook over medium heat stirring constantly until they melt. Place the chocolate, cinnamon, salt, and cocoa powder in a mixing bowl and pour the melted butter/sugar liquid over them. Whisk together until chocolate melts and everything is combined.
Make the Vasilopita: Punch down the dough to remove the air. Cut into 2 equal portions.
Roll each portion into a large rectangle approximately 13 by 18 inches. Spread the chocolate sauce or the hazelnut spread over the surface of the dough. Roll it up starting from the wide side and form into a long log.
Cut the log down the center to create 2 ropes. Twist the two ropes together and pinch the edges to connect. Join both edges to create a wreath. Place each wreath on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Loosely cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm area until it rises for 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 °F, 180 °C.
Brush the tops of vasilopita with the egg wash.
Bake in the center rack of the oven for 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and cool at least 30 minutes before serving.
Once baked and cooled, the bread can be frozen up to a month. Just make sure to wrap it well with plastic wrap.
Makes 25-30 pies:
For the dough:
For the filling:
Oil for frying
To make the dough, combine all of the dough ingredients in the bowl of a table top mixer fitted with the hook attachment. Knead for 5 minutes or until the dough is smooth. Add a little more flour if the dough is too sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rest at room temperature for an hour.
Note:This dough can be kneaded by hand as well. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and knead 5-7 minutes or until a smooth ball of dough is formed adding a little flour if the dough is too sticky.
To make the spinach filling,combine the chopped scallions and olive oil in a large skillet. Cook over medium heat about 5 minutes until soft. Add the chopped spinach, parsley, dill, and mint. Season with salt and pepper and cook over medium high heat until the spinach wilts. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. Set aside to cool completely and crumble some feta and mix it in if desired.
Cut the dough into 8 portions. Roll each portion to 1/8-inch-thick rectangle on a lightly floured surface. This can also be achieved by using a pasta roller attachment. Using a 4- inch round cookie cutter, cut out rounds of dough and set aside.
Place a tablespoon of filling onto each round and fold over to seal. Press the edges together with a fork to seal. Place on a baking tray lined with a kitchen towel that has been lightly floured so that the pies don’t stick.
Pierce 2-3 holes on the top layer of dough so that steam releases while frying to prevent them from bursting open.
Fry the Kalitsounia 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden.
Set on a plate lined with paper towels to drain the excess oil. Serve immediately.
Uncooked pies can be stored in the freezer up to a month.
1 (5 pound) boneless leg of lamb
3 pounds potatoes, quartered
For the stuffing:
For the marinade:
Preheat the oven to 350 °F, 180 °C.
Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk well to combine.
Place the lamb on a baking tray and open it up. Cut some slits through the thick parts of the meat.
Pour the marinade over the lamb and season both sides with salt and pepper. Set aside while the stuffing is made or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 12 hours.
Place a large pan over medium heat and toast the pine nuts until fragrant. About 5-7 minutes.
Put the toasted pine nuts into a large mixing bowl.
Combine the olive oil and scallions into the pan and cook until soft over medium heat. About 5 minutes. Add the grated garlic and heat through for a few seconds. Take care not to burn it.
Add the chopped spinach to the pan and cook until it wilts.
Place the spinach and scallion mixture into the mixing bowl and crumble the feta cheese into it. Fold in the mint and season with salt and pepper.
Spread the spinach stuffing over the lamb filling all of the cuts.
Roll up the lamb and tie with kitchen twine at one-inch intervals.
Place the quartered potatoes in a baking pan and pour about ¼ cup lemon juice over them. Season them with salt, pepper, and oregano.
Place the stuffed lamb in the center of the baking pan between the potatoes.
Pour the leftover marinade over the lamb and season with salt and pepper.
Cover with parchment paper then with aluminum foil.
Bake covered for 2 hours.
Remove pan from oven and uncover.
Raise the temperature to 425 °F and roast for about 30 minutes more or until golden.
Tip: Use an oven safe meat thermometer to cook the lamb to your liking. This recipe will produce a well-done lamb. Follow the temperature gage to cook to your liking.
Allow the meat to rest at least 15 minutes. Cut the twine and discard.
Slice and serve with a yogurt cucumber salad.
1 large English cucumber, chopped
2 cups yogurt
¼ cup sour cream
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all of the ingredients together in a bowl and mix well. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
Makes about 24 pieces:
1-pound (#4) phyllo pastry, thawed and at room temperature
¾ pound unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
For the syrup:
Garnish: ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 °F, 180 °C.
Make the syrup:Combine all of the syrup ingredients in a small saucepan. Mix well and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Combine the filling ingredients in a bowl and mix together. Set aside.
Take the phyllo out of its packaging and unroll it. Lay it flat onto a cutting board or clean work surface. Place a baking dish over the phyllo and cut the sheets to fit the inside of the pan.
Note:I usually cut my phyllo roll into 2 equal stacks to fit a 9 by 13-inch baking dish.
Brush the bottom of the baking pan with butter and lay 4 sheets over it. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of the nut mixture over top.
Take 4 -5 sheets of phyllo and set them aside for the top of the baklava. Cover them with a clean kitchen towel.
Layer 2 sheets of phyllo in the pan and sprinkle some nut filling over top. Continue this pattern of 2 phyllo sheets and nuts until all of the nuts mixture and phyllo are used. Place the reserved 4 sheets of phyllo on top.
Cut the baklava into 24 squares or diamond shaped pieces.
Pour all of the melted butter over top and sprinkle some water (about 3 tablespoons) over the edges of the baklava.
Bake for 45 minutes – 1 hour or until golden brown on top.
Remove from the oven and pour the cooled syrup over the baklava.
Set aside and allow the baklava to absorb all of the syrup. About 4 hours.
Serve alongside some Greek coffee.
2 and ½ Russet (baking) potatoes, peeled and cubed
6 egg yolks at room temperature
6 tablespoons butter, melted
¼ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
Zest and juice of a lemon
Optional: white pepper, to taste, grated cheese such as Gruyere, Parmesan, Swiss, or Cheddar
Preheat oven to 425 °F, 220 °C.
Place the potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until very soft.
Drain the potatoes and either pass them through a food mill, a ricer, or mash them until smooth.
Add melted butter, sour cream, and salt, lemon zest, and juice. Taste it and adjust the seasoning. Mix in the egg yolks and thyme.
Transfer the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip or use a spoon and a fork.
Pipe mounds onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Make ahead tips:Pipe portions onto a baking sheet and store in the refrigerator until ready to bake that same day or transfer to the freezer until firm. Store in freezer bags up to 3 days.
Makes 2 (6-inch round) Bundt cakes:
The Dry Ingredients:
Preheat the oven to 350 °F, 180 °C.
Combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk well.
Zest the orange then juice it.
Cut the butter into cubes and reserve about 1 tablespoon to grease the pan.
Place the molasses and the cubed butter in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the butter melts.
Combine the eggs, brown sugar, vanilla extract, and orange juice liquid in a large bowl. Whisk well to combine. Slowly whisk in the melted butter and molasses mixture.
Add the dry ingredients and whisk together until the batter is smooth.
Grease the Bundt pans well with butter and then with some all-purpose flour. Remove the excess flour by tapping the pan and flipping it upside down so that the extra flour is released.
Divide the batter equally in the pan.
Bake in the center rack for 35-40 minutes. Insert a toothpick into the center of the cake at the 35-minute mark. When the toothpick comes out clean the cake is ready.
Cool the cakes in the pan 15-20 minutes.
Carefully run a knife around the pan to release the cakes, flip it upside down over a baking pan and tap to release the cakes.
Cool completely then dust with confectioners’ sugar.
Serve alongside some homemade whipped cream, ice cream, or as is.
Freezer instructions: Once baked and cooled this cake can be wrapped with plastic and then with foil and stored in the freezer up to 1 month. Let it come to room temperature before serving. It’s a wonderful gift!
Flavor Combinations: Dried fruit tastes wonderful in this cake. Fold in your favorite nuts, raisins, dried cranberries, chopped dates, even some chopped crystallized ginger. Get creative and make it as festive as you desire.
Toppings:My favorite way to serve this is simply with some confectioners’ sugar, but cream cheese icing or an orange glaze really pairs well with the warm spices. A maple syrup glaze is also fantastic.
1 cup confectioner's sugar
4 tablespoons orange juice
Make the glaze by whisking the two ingredients together until smooth. Thicken it by adding more confectioners’ sugar or thin it out by adding a little more juice.
For the cream cheese icing:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 ounces unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
4 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3-4 tablespoon orange juice
To make the cream cheese icing beat the butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Add the confectioner's sugar a little at a time while beating on the lowest speed and add vanilla extract. Increase the speed and beat until light, smooth and fluffy. Whisk in some orange juice until the icing becomes a thinner more pourable consistency. Add some orange zest for more intense flavor.
Makes 1 (9 by 13 inch) baking pan for about 12 guests:
For the crust:
For the filling:
For the syrup:
Preheat the oven 350 °F, 180 °C.
To make the syrup:In a small saucepan, combine all of the syrup ingredients except for the vanilla extract and bring to a boil stirring until the sugar is melted. Set aside to cool completely. The syrup must be cold.
To make the filling: Combine the walnuts, almonds, breadcrumbs, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves and salt and mix well to combine.
Place the egg whites in the bowl of a table top mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on high speed until the egg whites are thick, glossy and stiff peaks form. (Like meringue)
Transfer this mixture into a clean bowl.
Place the egg yolks and sugar in the bowl that the whites were in and beat on high speed for a few minutes until thick and creamy. Add vanilla extract and whisk until combined. Whisk in the nut mixture.
Add 1/3 of the meringue mixture to the egg/nut batter and fold it in to lighten it up.
Gently fold in the remaining meringue taking care not to deflate it too much. Set aside.
To assemble the dessert:Grease the baking pan and layer and drizzle butter between 5 phyllo sheets. The excess phyllo can go up the pan and the remaining can just hang outside the baking pan.
Pour the nut meringue into the pan. Place the phyllo sheets that are hanging outside of the pan over the nut mixture.
Cover with 5 more layers of phyllo, drizzling butter between each sheet. Tuck the extra phyllo inside the edges of the pan.
Pour the remaining butter all over the top of the phyllo.
Scour the phyllo to create slices.
Bake in the center of the preheated oven for 45-50 minutes or until golden.
As soon as the dessert comes out of the oven, pour the cooled syrup over it. Cut through the slices all the way to the bottom so that the syrup drenches the pastry.
Allow the pastry to absorb all of the syrup at room temperature for at least one hour.
Serve with some homemade whipped cream,ice creamor chocolate shavings. Enjoy!
20 jumbo (uncooked) pasta shells
3 cups pasta sauce
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
Garnish: 2 scallions, finely sliced
For the Filling:
For the Béchamel Sauce:
Preheat the oven to 400 °F, 200 °C.
Cook the pasta shells in boiling salted water for 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water so that the shells don’t stick together and to stop the cooking process.
To make the spinach filling: Warm the olive oil along with the garlic clove over medium heat for a few seconds or just until the garlic releases its aroma. Take care not to burn it or it will become extremely bitter.
Add the chopped spinach and cook just until it wilts, stirring often.
Place the wilted spinach in a large mixing bowl. Add the ricotta cheese, crumble the feta into the bowl, add the dill, and season with some black pepper and crushed red pepper flakes. Taste and add salt if needed. Mix in the beaten eggs and set aside.
To make the Béchamel sauce: Combine the flour and oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk well while cooking a few minutes until toasted.
Slowly add the milk in and whisk well to incorporate so that it is smooth and creamy.
Cook until it comes to a boil and thickens. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Remove from heat.
Whisk the eggs together in a bowl. Add some of the hot milk mixture into the eggs and whisk to temper them so that they don't scramble when added to the cream sauce.
Add the eggs to the sauce and whisk well.
Add the parmesan (Gruyere) cheese and mix to combine.
To assemble everything:Pour a layer of tomato sauce in a 9 by 13-inch baking pan.
Stuff the shells with the spinach filling and arrange the shells over the sauce.
Pour some béchamel sauce over the shells and top with shredded mozzarella cheese and cover with aluminum foil.
Bake the tray of stuffed shells (on the middle oven rack) covered with foil for 25-30 minutes, then uncover and bake until the cheese is golden by turning the broiler element on for the last 5 minutes. Keep an eye on it so that they don’t burn.
Garnish the stuffed shells with some sliced scallions and serve. Enjoy!
Make Ahead Freezer Instructions: Thaw the tray of shells overnight in the refrigerator then bake as usual. If they are not thawed overnight, place them in the oven while it is still cold and allow them to warm through slowly while the oven is pre-heating. It will take about 15-20 minutes longer for the shells to cook.
Makes about 26 cookies:
The Wet Ingredients:
½ pound unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
2 egg yolks, at room temperature
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
The Dry Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup coarsely ground toasted almonds
1-2 cups confectioners’ sugar for garnish
Optional garnish: cloves
Combine the butter, sugars, vanilla, and almond extract in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on low speed until combined. Increase the sped to high and beat until fluffy.
Add the egg yolks to the mixture and beat on high speed until combined.
Combine all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl and whisk together.
Add the dry ingredients to the mixer and beat on low speed until a dough is formed.
Transfer the dough to a work surface lightly dusted with flour and roll out to almost ½ inch thick.
Cut out your favorite shapes using a cookie cutter and place on baking trays lined with parchment paper.
You can also make the traditional kourabiedes shape by rolling pieces of dough in your palms to form walnut sized balls. Press the center slightly with your index finger to form an indentation and if desired, place a clove in the center of each cookie.
Chill the cookies in the refrigerator or freezer until firm.
Preheat the oven to 350 °F, 180°C.
Bake the cookies on the center rack for 20-25 minutes or until golden all around.
Set aside to cool.
Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve with tea or coffee. These are also great to give as gifts!
Make Ahead Tips:Roll out the cookies and cut into your favorite shapes. Set in the freezer until chilled and very firm. Store the frozen cookies in freezer bags until ready to bake. Bake in a preheated 350 °F oven until golden.
Hi, I'm Dimitra and welcome to my blog! Here, I'll teach you just how much fun and easy it is to please a crowd with my versions of Greek classics. Kali Orexi as we say in Greek!