Greek Easter Bread a.k.a Tsourekia

Food is unification of the family, that’s what my mom taught me. Easter at my house was an blend of beautiful aromas and family unification ! My mom began cooking in the middle of the week and finished at the end of the week just  a few hours before going to church. Nostalgic of her cooking and her presence,  I try to create my own moments with my own family using her recipes.   This recipe takes me back to a time of fun, a worry free life and a time where things were quit different. My mom’s holiday cooking would put a smile on all our faces. She was a very mommy type. She made everything seem effortless, whether she was tired or not she was had a smile when she cooked.   In return I want to give my children these moments that I still long for.No matter how old you are or how good you cook, mom’s cooking is always better. This Greek Easter bread resembles the Jewish Challah. It goes great with coffee, you can spread on it butter, honey, jam or just eat it plain,that’s how I like it.This is how coffee table looks when I wake up Easter Sunday !

My coffee table on Easter Sunday !

My coffee table on Easter Sunday !

The ingredients for the Easter Bread ( Tsourekia )

5 pounds of all purpose flour ( always buy a little extra)

10 whole eggs

3 cups sugar

1 cup mazola corn oil ( any corn oil will do)

1 stick sweet butter

5 yeast envelopes ( for the leaven)

3 glasses of milk

Red dyed eggs ( if you want to )

1/2 teaspoon Mahlepi ( a Greek unusual spice with an Arabic name) *

1/2 teaspoon of Mastiha ( Gum resin from the Mastic tree) *

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla powder ( I prefer vanilla powder, it’s stronger)

 

Leaven, this must be made overnight.

Heat one glass of milk till warm, add in a big pot then add your 5 envelopes of yeast. Dissolve yeast very well then slowly add your flour, add just enough to make it tight, set aside till next day.

The next day it should have tiny air bubbles.

This is how it should look.

This is how it should look.

The next day in a different pot:

Mix 8 eggs and 2 glasses of warm milk and then slowly all other ingredients, add your butter last.  Beat for at least 15 minutes.  Make sure your mahlepi and Mastiha are cracked I usually place it in a towel and crack them with a hammer.

* Mahlepi – can be found in Middle Eastern shops

Cracked Mahlepi

I crack the mahlepi and mastiha in the package

Once you are done you add your leaven to your mix.

Your mix before adding your leaven

Your mix before adding your leaven

Leaven into bread mixture.

Adding the leaven into bread mixture.

Once you add the leaven, slowly add the flour, when you add enough flour and the dough starts forming you begin kneading, rub your hands with corn oil this makes the kneading  a lot easier. If you do not use corn oil it will become a difficult task.  You must knead it for about 15 minutes, if you have a bread machine go ahead and use it. I like doing it the traditional way. I make the dough in the as soon as I wake up in the morning. When you are done kneading leave it in the pot and allow it to rise usually about 2 -3 hours. Every time it overlapped in the pot I just kneaded it over and over. Makes the bread fluffier.

The dough is ready and pliable !

The dough is ready and pliable ! See the bunny ears, lol😉

 

Start your creations !

Start your creations !

It’s traditional to make the Tsourekia in shapes of braids. We do this to keep all bad spirits away.

Creating the braid.

Creating the braid.

You are almost done.

You are almost done.

Final steps and you're done !

Final steps and you’re done !

 

Your Tsourekia are done !!

Your Tsourekia are done !!

 

If you have followed the recipe, you should have about 7 tsourekia. When they are all ready brush them with an egg for color, then you cover them  with aluminum foil and towels and you let them rise for about 2 -3 hours before baking. If they have not risen, they are not ready and yo will get a hard tsoureki. Preheat your oven for at least an hour. Bake them for 25 mins. at 248 or less. To check if they are ready place a skewer in the middle if it comes out clean they are ready!! Let them cool and eat !!

Love them !!

Love them !!

With her own little hands !

With her own little hands !

 

I hope you all have enjoyed this special recipe !

 

 

 

Baked Pasta with Chopmeat A.K.A Pastichio ( A Greek Dish )

You can’t get more Greek than this,well you can but just as a matter of saying. Waking up on Sunday,  the lingering scent of this beautiful dish just tickled our noses and instead of toast, we would say, is it ready ??? My mom being Greek, would always get up before anyone and prepare this beautiful dish, even if we went out to lunch she would still cook  therefore when we would come back from our outing we would have something to eat. She was just being Greek. Pastichio was not only a Sunday dish, it was a holiday dish, Christmas time, Birthdays, namedays, barbecues etc. Any  holiday would be accompanied by Pastichio. I learned to make it just like my mom and now I’m serving it from my table to yours. It takes about 3 hours to make but you will have it for two days, if it’s possible .

Let’s start wit the ingredients:

Red Sauce

2 pounds chopmeat

1 medium onion or three small ones

1 medium tomato

2 cloves of garlic

1 whole nutmeg or  1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg

4 whole cloves or 1/3 teaspoon of ground cloves

1/2  teaspoon of cinnamon

1/3 cup of olive oil

oregano, salt and pepper

2 tablespoons tomato paste

 

Pasta Pennes or if your have access to a Greek store ask for Special Pastichio Spaghetti I still prefer Penne Pasta

1 egg

2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese

4 tablespoons of  butter

 

Cream or Pudding what ever wording you prefer

8 cups of milk

1 evaporated small can of milk

1 whole nutmeg or black pepper

2 whole egg

1 stick of sweet butter

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Let’s begin with the red sauce:

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Chop up your onions,tomato and garlic cloves. Place them in your skillet add your olive oil, ( if you like olive oil you can add more )  1/2 teaspoon of oregano and a dash of salt and pepper then saute for about 10 min. then add your chopmeat, saute for about 15 minutes or until brown. Cover chopmeat with water let cook for about 1 hour on high. Once it’s ready to thicken add your tomato paste, grind nutmeg, add whole cloves, cinnamon, salt and pepper to taste and a dash of oregano. When it’s ready set aside for later use.

Next we prepare our cream:

Place 8 cold cups of milk in a pot

for each cup we need 2 tablespoons of flour ( all purpose flour)

so 8 cups x 2 tablespoons = 16 tablespoons of flour

1 cup of milk should be the evaporated milk ( tastes a lot better)

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Before placing on stove add flower and stir very well with a whisk

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Once the flour has dissolved completely place on stove on high and keep stirring until it thickens into a cream, if the flour hasn’t dissolved completely before placing on stove it will crumble up into tiny balls and your cream will not come out good. Make sure it has dissolved completely !!!!  When the cream is read add the whole stick of butter and stir, then add a whole beaten egg and stir, then ( usually) I add at the tip of my teaspoon black pepper, if your prefer nutmeg you can grind nutmeg into your cream. Stir very well  and set aside.

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Your cream is ready when it can form a somewhat ball shape when placed in a plate I added red sauce so you can see what I mean.

Pasta time

Cook as per package add salt for taste while boiling

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I didn’t have Penne Pasta so I used these, they’re very  close

Once they are ready drain and place in a pot.

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Add 1/2 stick of regular butter

3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon of butter

1 whole egg and mix all ingredients together.

 

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Now get your pan, make sure you butter your pan very well.

Add your first layer of pasta make sure you’re not able to see the bottom of the pan

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Then add your chopmeat sauce, don’t use it all set aside about 4 big salad spoons, this will be our topping when we serve the Pastichio.

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Then add your final layer of pasta

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Then your final layer, the cream

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When your are done, beat 1 egg and spread on top of your Pastichio this gives it color. Bake for 45 minutes  180 celsius or 350 Fahrenheit.

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This is how it should look when it’s ready. Before serving set aside for 1/2 hour or else you will not be able to cut proper pieces.

While this is cooling you make your sauce for the topping

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Take your leftover sauce place it in a small pot, add two cups of water,2 tablespoons of tomato paste, 1 tablespoon olive oil, cinnamon,cloves, oregano,salt and pepper to taste. Let it boil until it thickens, when it’s almost ready to thicken simmer it on medium heat. Place in a small bowl, when you are ready to serve your Pastichio. On top of your piece you can add a teaspoon of parmesan cheese. I prefer to grind with my fork Feta Cheese. I just love feta.

Another dish from my table to yours !! And by the way, if you have kids lots of licking and eating before everything goes into the dishwasher and sink !!😉

One final tip and most important: When baking this dish, add a bigger pan with water, than the one your are baking with, in the oven, underneath the Pastichio, because it will drip therefore this way, the juice swill drip into the pan with water.

Enjoy this Sunday dish !!!!

 

 

 

 

Baked Feta Cheese

Feta Cheese,being Greek  you know I just love Feta, it’s a must on our table. My favorite feta is, Kefalonia it’s spicy and delicious !!!

You will need

A terra cotta pan ( tastes better) you can use any pan

1 pound of any feta cheese ( crumbled )

1 big tomato pureed in a blender

1 long green pepper

8 tablespoons of olive oil

salt, red hot pepper and oregano to taste

Bake for 1/2 hour at 350  or until feta has melted

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Crumble your feta cheese in your pan, add your pureed tomato, your cut up

green pepper ( red will also do) add your oil, less than a pinch of salt, red pepper as much as you like and

finally, add your oregano and bake and serve. This is good to eat with Greek bread ( but any bread will do)

Baked feta cheese

Once again a recipe from my table to yours🙂

Minced meat and leeks pie

This recipe has been given to me by a very dear and close  friend of mine, I shouldn’t say friend,she’s more like family to me.  She  has moved to another country with her family and each time I prepare this dish, I recapture all the moments we shared together.  At times my eyes do get watery but I hold back because I know her life is a lot better now .  I thank her and dedicate this post to her.

The ingredients for this dish are :

2 – 3 big leeks

1 pound chop meat

1 medium onion

1 medium tomato

2 garlic cloves

salt and pepper to taste

and if you like ( nutmeg and cloves ) a pinch of each

1 box of pastry puff ( phyllo) ( preferably the thin sheets )  if not use the regular pastry puff

1/3 cup of olive oil

1-2 tablespoons of butter

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061  068                                                                                                                                                    Once you have chopped up all ingredients you place them in the skillet you add 1/3 cup of olive oil

and saute for about 10 minutes then you add your minced meat add 1/2  a teaspoon of oregano and saute until meat is brown.

When meat is brown cover and cook for about 30 minutes, regular heat.

072  073                                                                                                                                                   It is cooked when it starts to thicken,when ready set aside and let it cool for about 15 min.

Butter your  pan so the pastry puff ( phyllo ) will not stick to the bottom.

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The phyllo package should have. about 10 -12 sheets of phyllo. You separate them in half the half that you will not use you will cover them with a towel so they will not dry and brake. Each phyllo that you place in your pan you will have to brush each one with butter before you lay one on to of the other.089   104

Once you have placed all the phyllo sheets in your pan add the meat. Then cover the pan with the remaining phyllo sheets. In some of your pans the phyllo sheet hangs too much over the pan. Cut it but not too much so you can roll a little bit into a crust as shown above. To create the crust,you turn the phyllo inward and slowly turning the pan and slowly your crust will form. Before placing the pie  in the oven dash some olive oil for color.

Cook for 30 – 45 minutes at 350 Fahrenheit

When you finish with your pie you will have leftover bits of phyllo. This is what I do, I place it in aluminum foil, I add honey, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and bake for about 15 minutes and you will have a nice cruncy sweet. My kids,hubby and I go crazy for this quick phyllo sweet. Nothing goes to waste !

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Another dish from my table to yours. If you have any questions feel free to contact me

 

Valentine Pasta salad

Heart shaped pasta

Heart shaped pasta

Parsley

Parsley

Frozen peas

Frozen peas

This is a recipe I had found in the back of a pasta package that I had bought a few years ago, I think I bought at Macy’s,  I kept the recipe, it’s quick and easy and it doesn’t have to be  Valentine’s day to make it.

You will need the following ingredients.

12 oz pasta ( any pasta will do) I used hearts ( it was Valentine’s Day)

3 cups frozen petite peas ( any peas will do)

6 green onions -sliced I used only two

1/2 cup Italian flat leaf parsley -chopped

Dressing

6 tsp. cider vinegar (I used grape vinegar,it’s just as good )

2 tsp. whole grain mustard  ( Regular mustard can be used)

1 tsp. sugar

1/2 cup olive oil

1 garlic clove -minced

 

Directions for pasta salad

Cook pasta according to package directions

Whisk the vinegar,salt,pepper,mustard and sugar together. when the sugar has dissolved, whisk in the oil very gradually – so that

the dressing doesn’t separate.Add the minced garlic. Combine the pasta,peas,parsley,onions and dressing

salt and pepper to  taste. Mix gently. Serve at room temperature,it can be served with

chicken schnitzel on the side. I hope you enjoyed this quick and easy dish.

Gently mix ingredients

Gently mix ingredients

Serve on the side with the chicken

Serve on the side with the chicken

 

Mommy’s Kitchen

Having a natural flair for communicating with people and a passion for cooking, I have created this cooking blog with a dash of love. I will serve you, all the dishes that I place on my table for my family. Coming from a Greek background ( God knows ) we love to cook up a storm for our families. I will be  posting some Greek specialties  so I look forward to your comments and interaction. Enjoy !

Pork Chops

Add water

Add water, Once you add the water you let them cook f or about half an hour. When pork chops are brown then you pour the wine over them and let them sizzle, if you don’t have wine you can substitute vinegar instead of half a cup you use 1/3 cup. 

2nd step

2nd step

You will need 4 pork chops, 2 red peppers , 1 medium sized onion
Salt,pepper,oregano, 8 tablepoons of olive oil and 1/2 cup of white wine

Pork chops & red peppers

Pork chops & red peppers

After you cut peppers and onions, you place pork chops in a skillet and add ingredients on top.
Peppers,onions,1/2 teaspoon oregano,1/2 teaspoon salt & pepper and you saute for about 10 minutes.

Carbonara – A family favorite

Sun washed beaches, emerald waters and eating  a plate of Carbonara in Paleocastritsa, ahh the carefree days of summer ’94. I present to you my family’s favorite dish and a picture of this magical place, my father’s hometown, where I learned how to cook Carbonara !  I feel so young when I prepare this dish and I have my cousin to thank for. My family’s favorite and I’m sure if you love pasta you will love this dish !! From my table to yours.

Serenity !

Serenity !

Paradise !

Paradise !

The ingredients you will need :

skillet

wooden ladle

1 pound of spaghetti ( Linguine could also be used )

1 regular sized onion

1 whole egg

2 1/2 pints of creamed milk

butter for saute

10 slices of ham

10 slices of bacon

4 0z of sliced mushrooms ( fresh ones coould be used but have to be cleaned and sauted )

2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese

Salt & pepper to taste

 

Diced onions and butter

First dice onions and place in skillet with 1 tablespoon of butter

 

Saute for about 5 minutes

Diced onions in skillet,saute for 5 minutes

 

Diced bacon

Dice the bacon  add in skillet saute for another five minutes.

All in skillet

Cut 10 slices of ham in cubes and add in skillet, add mushrooms saute with butter for another 10 minutes

 

! whole egg once everything sauted

While on stove add one whole egg and stir everything together until egg is cooked thoroughly.

Almost ready

If you would like you could add extra butter.

Finished

Now it’s ready add salt and pepper to taste.

Spaghetti and all ingredients

Have your  spaghetti boiled, drained and ready in a separate  pot add  all ingredients stir well, sprinkle 2 tablespoons of  Parmesan cheese , pour your creamed milk, salt and pepper to taste stir very well  and serve.   It’s really easy to make takes about 30 minutes and serves  about  6 people. As we say in Greek, KALE OREXI -meaning have a god appetite🙂

 

Carbonara - A family favorite

 

 

 

Pizza Time

Add cheese and sauce.

Add cheese and sauce.

My simple family cooking !
Mommy’s Kitchen will start off with Pizza !

 

How to place your toppings

How to place your toppings

Saute peppers and onions  together for about 10 min.

Saute peppers and onions together for about 10 min.

This is how it will look one once you roll it out.

This is how it will look one once you roll it out.

I buy ready tomato sauce but  I jazz it up a bit.

I buy ready tomato sauce but I jazz it up a bit.

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Once you have buttered your pan you place your rolled out dough on it

Once you have buttered your pan you place your rolled out dough on it

085Pizza Time
First you need to make a leaven.
You will need one envelope of yeast and warm water.
Add yeast in a bowl add 1 glass of warm water, then add flour with a pinch of salt.
Add just enough flower make sure it’s sticky on your hands. Let it rise for
about an hour then when ready just keep adding water and flour. Dough is ready when it doesn’t stick to your hands.Make sure it’s pliable.