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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Greek Easter

Happy Easter everybody! I hope you are all having a wonderful time with your families, friends, and furiends. This year I decided to celebrate Greek Easter in honor of my mother and her family. It's my way of introducing you to some of the wonderful and rather yummy traditions. Greece is ten hours ahead of our time PDT.

We started the day by going to church 
We were all quiet as we took in Sunday's sermon
The sermon
After a week of fasting, we were in a hurry to get back home so I could tend to the lamb I had started since 5 a.m. Our tummies were all growling. Being responsible for the lamb on the spit pauses a great degree of difficulty. How do I stop myself from nibbling?
As you can tell from my swollen cheeks, I didn't

Frankie and Linguini were in charge of the other traditional edibles
Linguini makes a mean tsoureki
(bonus recipe in the end)

Frankie makes the most pawesome easter cake
Oh, wait. She is the cake

The meal was exquisite
Afterwards, we kept up with the egg cracking tradition

The breaking of the eggs is meant to symbolize Christ breaking out of his tomb. We each grabbed a hard-boiled red egg and challenged the others to see whose egg would last the longest.  Usually, one person ends up with the winner, which means their egg is either intact or at least one end of it. In our case, we ended up with a boiled egg omelet. We got a bit carried away. We're also going to be eating egg salad sandwiches for a long time.

Greeks love to dance to celebrate life
We danced in order to digest our food
The more the merrier. We invited Jet to join us
Jet and I knew all the lyrics and sang along while dancing

Linguini, she's over 21, decided to have some Retsina wine
Ya mas
Cheers! To all of you!

I hope you enjoyed a break from regular dog food and my abbreviated version of a Greek Orthodox Easter. As a matter of fact, feel free to consider this entire post as a giant dog treat. Now, for those of you who like to cook, I will share mommy's recipe for Greek New Year's Yeast Bread. She loves this recipe, so she uses that one instead of tsoureki. They're both pretty similar in taste and texture. 

***Bonus Recipe***
New Year's Yeast Bread

Preparation time 3 hours
Baking time 30 minutes

1lb strong or all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2oz fresh yeast or 2 tablespoons dry yeast
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
1/2 cup milk, scaled
3 eggs
1 egg yolk beater with 1 teaspoon water
optional decor: almond halves or sesame seeds

Sift the flour and salt. Dissolve the yeast in 4 tablespoons tepid water (100 degrees). Add 1-2 tablespoons flour mix and let it stand 10 minutes to rise. Melt the butter and heat until very hot. Put the sugar and flavorings in a kneading basin. Pour in the scalded milk and stir with a spoon. Break in the eggs and add the yeast. With your fingers, crush the yolks and combine the eggs with the other ingredients. Gradually add the flour and knead lightly. Add the hot butter and fold it into the dough. Avoid over-kneading. Traces of butter remaining in the dough will be absorbed during the rising. The dough should be warm, light, and buttery. Cover and let the dough rise in a warm place until it is three ties its previous bulk, 1.5-2 hours. Punch down the dough. Shape it into one large or several small round loaves. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes. Brush the top(s) with the egg yolk mixture and decorate with the almond halves or sprinkle with sesame seeds. 
Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Cool on a rack. To keep the bread moist, store covered with plastic wrap. 

May your Easter be filled with joy and of course yummy!

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