Xristos anesti! Today is Orthodox Easter, the biggest celebration in the Greek Orthodox church, and my favourite time of year – there really is nothing like it for for epic feasting. Last week we started preparations by baking about 25 flaounes (yiayia needed to do a test batch with a new starter her friend had given her), and this week she made 100 more. I’ve been baking today and I can guarantee she’ll have made a million biscuits too. And of course there are the daily church services (I did all the 5am ones one year, killer).
The last few weeks have been a bit mad, hence the lack of recipe writing and posting – I’ve really missed it. I’m back at work a bit more, been doing more in the kitchen, there have been a lot of appointments and a few trips, and for some reason it seems like we’ve gone from 0 – 60 in a short space of time. Also I’m really missing Archie at the moment too, I think specific occasions and days highlight his absence. Don’t take me wrong, I always miss him, but I was having some better days. On the way home from work the other day I become inconsolable as I walked through the (very sunny) park by my house, it was swarmed with families and buggies and the realisation that I shouldn’t be back at work yet and that should be me in the park was like a punch in stomach, face and heart. Some days its manageable, others not so much. But I guess celebrations and holidays you just notice the absence of a loved one that little bit more. Today would’ve been his first Greek Easter.
So, I’m taking it easy today. Church in the morning, lunch with my wonderful, gorgeous and crazy family and I’m going to eat everything that is put in front of me and just let it all hang out. I will start my Mexico diet on Monday?!
Oh, and these biscuits, whats the deal with them I hear you say? Well, if you’ve ever been to a Greek celebration chances are you’ll have tried them – and not just for Easter, they get made for any celebratory occasion. They are so delicious, my favourite Greek cookie, and incredibly simple to make. Be sure to drench them in copious amounts of icing sugar and roast the nuts first. You will be rewarded with a delicious, light and creamy shortbread style treat.
Perfect as an afternoon treat with a cup of strong coffee. They last for ages stored in icing sugar, in a sealed container.
- 75g blanched almonds or walnuts
- 250g butter, at room temperature, cubed
- 125g icing sugar, plus a lot extra for dusting
- 2 tbsp brandy
- 1 egg yolk
- 300g plain flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 3 tablespoons orange blossom water
Preheat the oven to 160C/gas 2–3 and line two baking trays with greaseproof paper. Place the nuts on one and toast them in the oven for 10 minutes, until lightly golden.
Place the butter in a free-standing mixer and beat until pale and creamy. Sift in the icing sugar, then add the brandy and egg yolk, and continue to mix for a few more minutes.
Finely chop the toasted nuts or blitz in a food processor, then add them to the butter mixture, along with the flour, baking powder and pinch of salt, then, using a metal spoon,
fold it all together, until combined.
Roll spoonfuls of the mixture into balls, then mould each one into a traditional crescent shape – you could also make them into fingers, or cut them with a star cutter, whatever you like. Place the biscuits on the second lined baking tray and bake for 15–20 minutes, until lightly golden.
Add a generous amount of icing sugar to a small, deep tray. Very lightly brush the warm biscuits with orange blossom water, then pop them in the icing sugar tray and toss to coat. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.