When I think about Christmas growing up I think about waking up early, opening presents, rushing to church and then coming home to a stomach-stretching lunch shared with family, whereby every belt buckle and pants button would fly open as soon as that final bite was taken. That is why I wear dresses on Christmas day.
Our lunch table was a mix of traditional Australian-Christmas BBQ and prawns and Greek-Christmas inspired Pastitsio (like Greek lasagne), tiropita, Greek salad and roasted vegetables.
For dessert icing-sugar coated Greek almond shortbread, kourabiethes, would almost always make an appearance. You won’t find many Greek houses not serving kourabiethes at Christmas time.
Truth be told, I never liked them because they are lathered in icing-sugar and could often be really dry. However when combined with a semi-sweet yoghurt and honey custard and only lightly dusted with icing-sugar, I’m all over them!
Yoghurt and honey custard ingredients:
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup yoghurt
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon cornflour
- Heat milk and honey
- Whisk yoghurt, egg yolk and cornflour
- Once milk is hot and honey dissolved, add a little of the milk into the yoghurt and egg mixture and whisk until well incorporated
- Then add the yoghurt and egg mixture to the rest of the milk and cook on low until the mixture thickens – keep stirring to avoid lumps and cook until flour cooks out
- Once you can put your finger through the back of the mixing spoon and the custard maintains the line, it’s ready.
- 250g butter
- ½ cup icing sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 100g chopped almonds
- 25g vanilla sugar
- 2 cups self-raising flour
- ½ cup plain flour
- 1 teaspoon orange rind.
- Pre-heat oven to 160 degree fan-forced and line a baking tray
- Beat butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy – give it a mix with a spoon first and then use the beater to avoid the icing sugar going everywhere
- Add egg yolk, orange zest, vanilla sugar and almonds
- Gradually add the flours (sifted) until well combined
- Bring the mixture together on a floured surface by kneading it lightly
- Roll small amounts into balls and squash into a biscuit shape – traditionally you can roll them into a crescent moon shape but I prefer them as circles. The mixture can be crumbly so work carefully
- Cook for approximately 20 minutes or until starting to brown and then left cool
- Dust with icing sugar – I don’t use a lot but traditionally, they are completely covered in icing sugar.
Interesting Greek Christmas fact: In Greek Merry Christmas is 'Kala Christougenna’.
Only 25 sleeps until Christmas!