2020 was quite the year, and Easter was no exception. During the lockdown, my daughters and I cooked different things and did a front porch, socially distanced food swap. We each ate our Easter Dinner in our own homes, different than our normal family gatherings.
The following weekend, our neighbor invited everyone in our cul-de-sac to partake in a Greek Orthodox Easter dinner. It was warm enough to gather outside, socially distanced, to celebrate this special day. For the potluck gathering, I made Koulourakia, Greek Easter Cookies. The cookies are a wonderful, orange-flavored butter twist cookie.
They were fun to make and similar in design to the Kringla I make at Christmas. The cookies are especially good with a hot cup of coffee. This year, Greek Orthodox Easter will be May 2, 2021. I may be inspired to make these yummy cookies once again!
KOULOURAKIA GREEK EASTER COOKIES
3½- 4 cupsall purpose flour420- 480 grams (3½ + ½ cup separated) 1½teaspoonsbaking powder 3/4cupgranulated sugar150 grams zest of 1 orange 1/2cupbutter115 grams, cubed, room temperature 2largeeggsroom temperature 1largeegg yolkroom temperature 1½teaspoonsvanilla extractpure 1/4cuporange juicefreshly squeezed 1/4cupmilkroom temperature 1teaspoonouzoor Sambuca (optional)
1egg yolk 1teaspoonwater 2tablespoonssesame seedssprinkled on egg wash
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Place rack in the center of oven. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Sift together 3½ cups flour and baking powder and set aside. The other 1/2 cup of flour is reserved in case we need to add extra flour (see recipe note).
In a bowl of a stand mixture, with the paddle attachment, whisk together the orange zest and the sugar.
Add the cubed room temperature butter and cream together with the sugar until light and fluffy. This can take up to 5 minutes. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times.
Add the eggs, one at a time beating well and scraping down the bowl between each addition.
Add the egg yolk and again, beat well and scrape down the bowl.
Add the vanilla extract, orange juice, milk and ouzo (if using). Beat together for 30 seconds.
On low speed, add the 3½ cups of flour and baking powder. The dough should be soft but not sticky. Add a few tablespoons of flour if the dough is still sticky. (Optional: cover dough with plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes).
With a medium sized cookies scoop, portion and roll into a 7-inch log.
Shape into desired shapes (braids, pinwheels, twists, etc…) Refer to pictures in the post.
Place on parchment lined cookie sheets about 1 inch apart.
Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Bake for 13 minutes or until cookies are golden brown. (This was too long in my oven. I baked for 11 minutes and probably could have done even less.)
Allow to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to wire rack to completely cool down.
Can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for about 2 weeks. Cookies can also be frozen.
Easter 2020 will be like no other. Most Americans will be home, distanced from family and friends. Our family will be doing the same but plan to share food and get together on Zoom for a short visit. Saturday we will be doing porch pickups of 1) homemade rolls, 2) Fresh Peach Cobbler…summertime favorite (using frozen peaches from last summer), and 3) Scotcheroos…Easter tradition. We will each cook our own dinner and enjoy a bit of what the others have made. It won’t be the same, but it will be an Easter to remember.
Today is the 26th day of self isolation and I am so blessed to be doing well, keeping in touch with family and friends and checking items off my ‘to-do’ list. Cleaning closets and recalling memories is part of the experience. While selecting books to read to my grandchildren, I found one of my childhood Easter books now very tattered but well loved. One of my daughter’s remarked that the bunny’s red eye creeps her out…I never even thought about that!
The pictures and stories are charming and would spark my childhood imagination. Here are a few pages:
‘Helping One Another’ is something we need to do all of the time, but especially now. ‘Jack In The Pulpit’ takes me back to springtime in Iowa and wandering the timbers with my Mother gathering Morel mushrooms and seeing Jack In The Pulpits, bluebells, Johnny Jump Ups, and many other wild flowers.
This week I also rediscovered my childhood bank, a bunny so sweet and tender. She was manufactured in the 1950s by Knickerbocker Plastics in North Hollywood, California. My mother saved her for many years, but why have I stored in the basement all these years? It’s time for her to shine her pretty little face again.
Memories are a wonderful thing…to be treasured and shared.
May your Easter be joyful…May your blessings be many. Happy Easter!
Spring brings wonderful strawberries to the markets. Honey goat cheese pairs beautifully with strawberries and with a hint of honey drizzle, you have a very simple, delicious appetizer (or dessert). Yummy!
STRAWBERRY HONEY GOAT CHEESE BITES
1 dozen large strawberries
8 oz. package Honey Goat Cheese (I use Haystack)
Wash, stem and halve strawberries.
Allow them to dry on paper towels.
Place a small piece of Honey Goat Cheese on top of strawberry and drizzle with honey.
Deviled Eggs are an Easter ‘must have’, and this year will be no different. Everyone in the family loves them so as they say in ‘Fiddler on the Roof’…TRADITION! Back in the day, my Mother would make them from the eggs laid by our own hens. The yolks were deep yellow and it was a lucky treat when we would have an egg with a double yolk.
That was the good part. I can’t say that gathering the eggs was a treat since the hens were often pretty fussy about having anyone poking around their nests for their eggs. Then there was the washing of the eggs for our use and sale to others. All in a days work down on the farm.
Today, I usually buy my eggs at the grocery store but found that Chicken Track brown eggs closely resembled the eggs from the farm. This recipe does not include the direct measurements but was taught to me based on feel/texture. The filling should be moist but not runny.
Dill pickle juice
Salt to taste
Peel boiled eggs and cut eggs in half, lengthwise.
Remove yolks to a separate mixing bowl.
Mash egg yolks and add mayonnaise, pickle juice and dash of prepared mustard to taste.
Fill egg whites with yolk mixture. Sprinkle with paprika. Chill before serving.
Warm, sweet blueberry muffins fresh from the oven with melted butter. Oh, my gosh..it’s the best.
The Sweet Blueberry Muffin recipe is one I found (who knows where!) during my college years. I was reading cookbooks like novels in those days. I first tried this recipe on my family when I cooked several items for Easter Dinner. I still remember the wonderful muffins and memories of Easter celebrations at the Farm.
SWEET BLUEBERRY MUFFINS
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup salad oil
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh or 3/4 cup frozen blueberries (thawed & drained)
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease bottoms of 12 medium muffin cups.
Beat egg; stir in milk and oil.
Mix in remaining ingredients, just until flour is moistened. Batter should be lumpy. Fold in blueberries.
Crunchy Potato Casserole is a yummy side dish and family favorite. It has become tradition served with Christmas and Easter ham. I typically make the casserole the day before. Simple to make and bake. To make it easy on myself, I typically make the casserole the day before, cover, and refrigerate until ready to bake.
Many folks refer to this dish as ‘wedding potatoes’, since it is often served as part of wedding feasts.
CRUNCHY POTATO CASSEROLE
1 large bag frozen hash browns partially thawed
1/4 cup butter melted
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
8 ounces sour cream
1 can Cream of Chicken soup
1/4 cup butter, melted
crushed corn flakes (or seasoned bread crumbs)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix all ingredients together, except for 1/4 cup butter and crushed corn flakes.
Place mixture in lightly buttered 9″ x 13″ pan.
Sprinkle crushed corn flakes (or bread crumbs) over the potato mixture and top with remaining 1/4 cup melted butter.
Easter and Christmas holidays call for a baked ham. Easy-peasy recipes allow the host/hostess to enjoy their family and friends and this recipe, coupled with the crunchy potato casserole (March 29, 2013 post), make preparation easy.
My family doesn’t enjoy spiral sliced hams, honey-baked hams, but they LOVE this recipe. The leftover ham makes wonderful sandwiches, too. Typically I purchase a Butt Portion Ham, often available for $.99-$1.39 a pound, a true friend of the family budget.
BAKED HAM CROCKPOT STYLE
Pour 1/2 up water in Crock Pot. Wrap precooked 3-4 pound ham in foil; place in Crock Pot. Cover and cook on High 1 hour then turn to low for 6-7 hours or until ham is hot. If cooking a larger ham, cook 1 hour on high and 8-10 hours on low.
Cathy’s method: I follow the instructions above put typically have to cut a few slices off the ham to make it fit in the Crock Pot and . I start the process about an hour before bedtime and then turn to low and cook 12-14 hours. The ham is juicy, tender and delicious.
I will eat a Scotcheroos any time of year, but for some reason I associate these addictive treats with Easter. A pan of Scotcheroos regularly graced our family Easter dinner celebration along with the traditional baked hams, potatoes, etc.
They are an absolute favorite of mine and I’ve been known to eat them for breakfast, if left to my own devices. After all, they do have cereal and peanut butter in them! I find them so addictive, that I cannot make them often.
This year, Scotcheroos will again grace our Easter celebration, sprinkled with Easter colored sugars. Let’s hope the guests will eat several so I won’t have to! Scotcheroos…it’s tradition.
1 small package chocolate chips
1 small package butterscotch chips
1 cup light Karo syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter (crunchy is great)
6 cups Rice Krispies®
Melt chips in microwave.
In separate pan mix Karo and sugar. Stir in pan until slightly boiling. Remove from heat. Add peanut butter and beat until smooth.
Pour syrup over Rice Krispies in large bowl.
Put Rice Krispies mixture in buttered 9×13″ pan. Cover with melted chips. Let cool and set until firm. Cut into squares to serve.