Showing posts with label bread. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bread. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Happy New Year Vasilopita

Yours truly got the coin in her own Vasilopita bread - a Greek new year tradition in honor of a holy saint who gave money to the poor disguised in loaves.
This was the last slice of my loaf, a leftover slice, and the coin was so buried not even I could see it - nor could the people at my New Year's Eve dinner party. Και του χρόνου! To the years to come!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sicilian Easter Egg Bread

A Sicilian tradition on display at Rose & Joe's Italian Bakery this Sunday morning.
A true local bakery, this place still has Lenten cookies for Greek customers waiting for Orthodox Easter in early May. Someone really needs to unite our calendars.
In the meantime, I will be reading recipes for the "bread" at right and other delicious concoctions on this interesting cooking blog, "The Italian Dish" and its recipe for Italian Easter bread.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Balakian Book: Baking Choereg & Fate

In a nod to Armenian Christmas on Sunday, the fates left on my office desk today a book apparently delivered in August - !!! - that was lost in the bowels of our mail room.
It was Peter Balakian's historical memoir that I ordered long ago: "Black Dog of Fate." It starts with a timely description of making a bread called "choereg."
I am amazed that my mom, when I said the word choereg, which I don't recognize and can't quite pronounce, conjured up some Greek: "Of course. Tsourek-i. Our recipe for holiday sweet bread."
Balakian writes of spending an afternoon with his Armenian grandmother, who was born near Turkey but lived in New Jersey. They prepared bread, which helped her tell deeply buried, moving stories:
"To make choereg, we mixed milk and melted butter into a ceramic bowl. I poured [yeast] into a glass measuring cup and watched it fizz. Eggs, sugar, salt, rising agent, and my grandmother poured in the mahleb."
Mahleb, or mahlepi, is a spice that looks like a small nut, but is the essence of a cherry pit, his grandmother explained. Then she quoted the Song of Solomon on spices and praised the merits of memorizing the Bible and prose.
"She sifted flour and we mixed it all with a large wooden spoon until it was dough. Then she scooped the dough out and put it on the flour-glazed bread board. We squeezed and pressed it with our hands. I liked how the wet dough stuck between my fingers. I liked how she took it to another bowl and turned it all over its oiled surface, then covered the bowl with a towel and put it in the unlit oven. It was warm there and free from drafts, and when we opened the oven two hours later, the dough was an airy saffron-colored mound. I loved punching the dough down so that it's porous insides collapsed. We pulled it into pieces and made ropes, braids, and rings."
You can see ours, a vasilopita, but always with mahlepi and sesame.
Perhaps it was again fate, but tonight I also received the latest Columbia Journalism Review offering this feature: "Where Truth Is a Hard Cell: Although Seen as Modern & West Leaning, Turkey leads the World in Jailing Journalists," by Stephen Franklin, a former Chicago Tribune Middle East correspondent.
"The most dangerous problem is self censorship," according to one veteran Turkish editor who's quoted. "You don't even ask questions. And that kills journalism."
A recipe for disaster, not bread, in that case.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Plakotiganites Meet Saganaki

Making my Yιαγιά proud: fresh, flaky flatbread cooked on the griddle, vegetarian and half wheat flour, from the Indian store, sprinkled with grated, salty Kefalotiri from Mediterranean Foods.
Fried the cheese side, which mixed nicely with the bread oils, and squeezed a little fresh lemon on top for Greek measure.
Whole abode smells divine!
Serving a decent French Bordeaux (mis en bouteille au chateau.) Funny enough, the Kawan brand uncooked dough (frozen, 25 flatbreads per package) is made in Malaysia.
A poor man's very rich and multicultural Friday night.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Prosfora Bread

How good the house smells from baking flour, yeast and water! This is a recipe for three small loaves to be offered for an Orthodox liturgy. You could make two loaves and cook longer. Crust reveals cooking time: it should be light golden brown. Ingredients: six cups flour, 2 cups warm water, 1 yeast pack. 15-20 minutes at 375-400 degrees.

Editors Note: some tips:
  • Put the yeast pack in warm water, let it foam in a warm place. This can take time, depending on weather. Then combine a half cup of flour with yeast mixture,  let that sit 10 minutes. Then in a larger bowl, add this to the rest of the flour, mix until flour is fully integrated and knead thoroughly. You don't want yeast bubbles, which only result if you didn't knead properly.
  • Knead with your hands for best results -- you'll get tired using muscles you didn't know you had. 
  • Dust the seal with flour, to avoid sticking, and you press the seal into the formed dough as if you were flattening the dough completely into a pancake. Leave the flour on the bread. (Brush it away after bread is baked and cooled.)
  • After you press the seal, let the dough rise a bit - dough won't quite double. In a drafty house, put the oven on and place rising dough nearby. Surfaces touching bread pans should not be hot.
  • Before placing in oven, poke 6-8 times outside seal area with toothpick. 
  • It's ok to use disposable, round aluminum baking pans.