Greek Easter bread (Tsoureki)

Isn’t it interesting how unlike Christmas, there aren’t really any desserts associated with Easter? Obviously, light, fruity desserts feel right for springtime but I am not aware of any treats that are made solely for Easter. That is, apart from the celebration breads that are made in most countries around the Mediterranean. In Greece, this is called Tsoureki and it is a sweet, braided loaf with a brioche-like texture.

bookworm_tsoureki

My mum and I have been using this recipe since I can remember and I couldn’t find the original source. I can however guarantee that this yields a delicious bread that is wonderful for breakfast or to accompany coffee after your Easter meal.

bookworm’s variation: We do a simple three-strand braid but you could try your hand at a six-strand one for a more impressive look. I’ve also seen variations of this where instead of using almonds as a topping, the bread is covered in melted white chocolate or apricot jam.

Tsoureki

Makes 4 loafs
2 tbs dried yeast
1 kg self raising flour
1 pinch of salt
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
1 cup of milk
4 tbs unsalted butter
1 cup of caster sugar + 1 tbs of caster sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon or orange zest
1 egg yolk beaten with 2 tbs of milk
handful of flaked almonds
In a cup of warm water, mix in the dried yeast and 1 tbs of sugar and set aside for 10 mins.  Then add 1 cup of flour and mix. Leave the mixture to rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hour.
Beat the eggs and egg yolks and set aside. Place a pan on low heat and pour in the milk, butter and sugar. Mix until combined. Remove the pan from heat and slowly add the beaten eggs, lemon juice and zest.
Pour this mixture in a large bowl and add the yeast mixture. then proceed to add the remainder of flour and mix until you get a firm dough. Knead in the bowl for about 10 minutes, until the dough is soft and elastic. Cover the bowl with a plastic bag or wrap and put in a warm place for 2-3 hours, until it doubles in volume.
Tip the dough on to a floured surface and knock back the air by kneading it for 5-10 minutes. Then, divide the dough in 4 parts. Each part should be separated into 3 parts that you roll out to form the strands, with the ends slightly thinner than the middle. Stick the 3 strands together on one end and proceed to make a braid.
Carefully lift the loafs and place on buttered baking sheets. Cover and leave in a warm place until double in size.
Once ready to bake, preheat the oven to 210C/400F/Gas 6. Brush the egg and milk wash over the loafs and sprinkle the flaked almonds on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the loaves are lovely and golden brown. Set the loaves to cool on wire racks.
Posted in Cooking and baking, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

I’m at home.

bookworm_home

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Let the sunshine in!

bookworm_sunday

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

From my kitchen: Roasted red pepper and tomato pasta

I’ve been working quite hard this week, trying to finish a project before my holiday. So when I was on my way home last night, exhausted and hungry at 8:30pm, I promised myself I would make something nice for dinner. And when I want to eat reasonably easy and fast to make but also filling and delicious, it’s usually something with carbs and cream and cheese. This time it was Roasted Pepper and Tomato Pasta.

bookworm_rptp11

And it was good! I wasn’t working from a recipe, I simply combined things we already had at home and I have to say, the result was divine!

bookworm_rptp1

It’s really simple, really. I preheated the grill  to the hottest setting (I think Americans might call this the broiler) and stuck 2 red peppers and 2 tomatoes under it for about 10 minutes. The idea is to char the skin, so you want it to be really hot. I made sure to turn them every few minutes so that they would get black all around. Once they were done, I removed them to a plate for a few minutes and when they were slightly cooler, stuck them in a plastic bag to steam up.

bookworm_rptp2

Meanwhile, I chopped some garlic and diced an onion.

bookworm_rptp4

After a few minutes of steaming, I simply pulled the skin off the tomatoes and the peppers. The steam makes it slide of without much effort.

bookworm_rptp5

I mushed (is that a word?) the tomatoes in a bowl. For the peppers, I cut them open and scraped out the seeds with a knife. Then I sliced them into thin pieces. You could stick everything in a blender if you prefer a completely smooth sauce, but I didn’t.

bookworm_rptp3

Then, I let the onion and garlic gently sweat in a hot pan with some olive oil.

bookworm_rptp6

Once they were translucent and beginning to go golden around the edges, I poured in the tomatoes and peppers. (At least that was the plan; I actually got distracted and my garlic got a bit more colour but it doesn’t matter.)

bookworm_rptp7

While everything simmered on low heat for a bit, I boiled some pasta in hot, salted water. After a few minutes of simmering, I added some vegetable stock to the sauce, seasoned with salt, pepper, and sweet paprika and turned the heat up.

bookworm_rptp8

Once it came to the boil, I lowered the heat and left it to reduce a little.

bookworm_rptp9

I drained the cooked pasta (I always reserve a bit of the water in case the sauce is a bit thick in the end). When the sauce had simmered for a few minutes, I poured in a nice healthy amount of double cream. I gave it a stir and checked the seasoning, I found that I had to add a bit more salt.

bookworm_rptp10

Finally, I added some finely chopped parsley and tossed in the pasta. I piled it all on a plate and grated some nice parmesan on top. It was so good! It was just a heavenly combination of cream and tomato and cheese, with a lovely sweetness coming from the roasted peppers and paprika. It was exactly what I needed.

Here’s the little recipe card:

 

roastedpepperpasta

Posted in Cooking and baking | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

bookish: Do you have a favourite passage or quote?

One of my most favourite quotes comes from J.R.R.Tolkien’s The Hobbit:

“Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking stick.”

It perfectly captures that feeling of wanderlust I often have, the intense desire to have adventures in far away places, just like Bilbo.

Of course, my beloved Bertie Wooster has so many brilliant thoughts. Here’s one that always makes me laugh:

“He looked haggard and careworn, like a Borgia who has suddenly remembered that he has forgotten to shove cyanide in the consommé, and the dinner-gong due any moment.”
-from Carry On, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse

He also offers some excellent relationship advice:

“Love is a delicate plant that needs constant tending and nurturing, and this cannot be done by snorting at the adored object like a gas explosion and calling her friends lice.”
-from Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit by P. G. Wodehouse

In fact I’m thinking of getting this last one printed and framed.

I’d love to hear some of your favourites!

Posted in Bookish | Tagged , | 3 Comments