Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Greek almond shortbread (Kourabiethes) with yoghurt and honey custard

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:

Ingredients:
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup yoghurt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour

Method:
  • 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.

Kourabiethes:

Ingredients:
  • 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.

Method:
  • 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! 

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Tuna and zucchini fritters - Italian Christmas tradition

As Christmas draws near I wanted to use my next few blog post recipes to explore what other culture’s Christmas table looks like. In Australia, prawns, ham, BBQ and the humble Pavlova commonly fill people’s Christmas table. However for other countries, traditions differ. The Japanese celebrate Christmas with KFC and the Dutch make a biscuit called banketletter (meaning letter cake), which is made from marzipan or pastry and made in the shape of the first letter of people’s name that attend a family’s Christmas party.

I was intrigued by the Italian tradition of eating fish on Christmas Eve. Drawing on the Roman Catholic tradition of abstinence, which in this case refers to not eating meat or milk products, the Italian-American community took this tradition one step further with the Feast of the Seven Fishes. 

This feast involves families coming together and sharing seven fish and seafood based dishes.

The first course is often something snack-like, since there are six more dishes to follow. So in honour of this Italian Christmas tradition, I prepared tuna and zucchini fritters with a corn and cherry tomato salad.




Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon yoghurt
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon lemon
  • 1 small zucchini, grated
  • 95g onion and tomato tuna
  • 2 tablespoon ricotta
  • 3 tablespoon self-raising flour
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Olive oil for cooking.
Method:
  • Mix together the yoghurt, egg white, lemon, grated zucchini, tuna, ricotta, dried basil and salt
  • Mix the self-raising flour in with the wet ingredients, until well combined
  • Heat a pan on medium heat and add a little oil to the pan
  • Once the oil is hot, add a tablespoon of the mixture into the pan and cook each side until brown (around 3 – 4 minutes per side, depending on the size of the fritter and heat of the pan)
  • Serve with cherry tomatoes, corn and parmesan cheese.
While not a traditional Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes dish, it is my take. To be honest, I love the idea of a fish-filled Christmas Eve. Such a great way to start the marathon of eating.

Fun-farewell yoghurt fact: “Genghis Khan, the founder of the Mongol empire, consumed yogurt with his armies.


Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Beef koftas with yoghurt garlic sauce

As the weather gets warmer and days longer, beef koftas with salad is one of my favourite dishes to make. With the yoghurt garlic sauce, these koftas are packed with aromatic spice and flavour.

You can also cook these koftas on a stick, one of the most basic, ancient forms of cooking. It also makes it a lot of fun to eat and the kids will love it.

Ingredients:
  • 1 kg mince beef
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped finely
  • ¼ cup bread crumbs
  • 1 ½ tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoon yoghurt (heaped)
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • Pepper to taste

Yoghurt sauce:
  • 4 tablespoons yoghurt
  • 1 small cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon


Method:
  • Mix all the kofta ingredients together
  • Shape into short sausage shapes
  • Heat a non-stick pan until hot
  • Place the koftas on the pan and turn the heat to medium
  • Cook until brown on all sides – approximately 3 minutes on each side


Don’t overcook – cut one open to see whether they are cooked and still moist.

Serve with salad, pita bread and the garlic yoghurt sauce.


Fun farewell yoghurt fact: “Yogurt processing begins with reducing the fat content and increasing the total solids in the milk.”