If there is one thing that Greek’s do well, it’s eating. When Easter comes around every year, it is time to chuck the diets away; you would have to have extreme self control to not indulge on the wide variety of food on offer. My parents always cater for the amount of people coming x four, no one can complain that they missed out on something, and everyone is able to go back for seconds, thirds and even fourths if you can fit it. Our day isn’t broken down into lunch and dessert…I’d compare it more to interval training at the gym. Start off with some mezethes (appertisers) and work your way into lunch. Pile your plate high and ensure you get to try everything. Once lunch is done a short break occurs where you can digest a little and get ready for the multiple dessert choice. Eat dessert and then repeat the whole process again another two or three times.
If anyone leaves a Greek Easter not feeling like they have consumed enough food to last him or her a month, then they haven’t taken the opportunity to it’s full potential. Don’t feel disheartened though as there will always be next year. Almost all of the food shown below was consumed on the day, pretty impressive.
Fresh oysters with lemon wedges. My parents headed down to the fish markets on Saturday morning to pick out some fresh seafood for the day.
Few kilos of fresh prawns as well.
Fresh salad of blanched beans, basil, cherry and roma tomatoes and boconcini.
Yearly favourite…the caeser salad with crispy bacon bits, chunky croutons, cos lettuce, grated parmesan cheese and plenty of Paul Newman’s caeser dressing.
Whole tray of roasted vegetables drizzled in imported Greek olive oil. This year we roasted chat potatoes, butternut pumpkin, squash, baby carrots, onion, garlic, zucchini and red capsicums.
My Yiayia’s (grandmothers) hand made Tiropitakia (cheese) and Spanakopita (cheese and spinach) triangles. These are to die for, and she always makes plenty of extras for us to have and store in the freezer. The filo pastry gets so crunchy from the butter, and the triangle is packed with filling, which fills your mouth with each bite.
Chicken drumettes and wings marinated in a sweet chilli sauce and cooked on the BBQ.
This is a more traditional Greek dish and would not appeal to a lot of people’s taste buds. The above are called Kokoretsi and are traditionally made and served at Easter along with lamb on the spit. They are made from the internal organs of the lamb, and wrapped in caul fat to keep them together. I have grown up eating them so I quite enjoy the taste, but I can totally understand why some people would be more hesitant in trying them. The best bit would have to be the caul fat on the outside, once it is cooked it turns very crispy and has an almost sweet taste to it. My Yiayia only makes this once a year so we always look forward to eating it at Easter.
In past years we haven’t had a lamb on the spit as our machine had broken. This year we got the machine fixed, marinated the lamb and got it ready for cooking only to discover that it had broken once again. In the end we all had to take it in turns to manually turn the lamb by hand and ensure that it had even cooking time on each side throughout the day.
The meat cooked perfectly and was so tender and juicy when we were slicing it. The skin was especially crispy and was infused with the flavour of oregano and lemon juice, which is what we marinated it in. Before Easter I always fast for one week and have no meat, seafood or chicken, I find that it makes everything taste so much better on Easter day.
My Thia Maria (Aunty) is fantastic at dying the eggs for Easter. Before dipping them in the dye she will press a leaf on to the egg and wrap it in a stocking so that the leaf imprint is left underneath. The eggs are normally dyed red and are used in a game where everyone will crack their egg against an opponent in the hope of making it crack. Whoever is able to crack everyone else’s egg is declared the winner and will supposedly have good luck for the rest of the year.
This is another yearly favourite every Easter, my Mum’s 22 egg white pavlova. You can’t really tell from the photo but the thing was huge and decorated vibrantly with all the different fruit colours. The pavlova shell was crisp, but marshmallow like on the inside, just the way it should be. It was then layered in a considerable amount of vanilla infused cream, and laden with strawberries, kiwi fruit, figs, peaches and passion fruit pulp. Nothing beats it, and the whole thing was gone by the end of the night.
My cousin Patty made a lovely Raspberry and Chocolate trifle. I loved the visual effect on the sides of the bowl where you could see the chocolate sponge cakes lined up and filled in, with chocolate cream and raspberries.
Yet another cake which my mum made, she is quite the cook. This is a Greek dessert called Galaktoboureko and made of a semolina based custard, which is flavoured slightly with lemon and cooked in a filo pastry shell. It is served with a sweet sugar syrup that is placed on the dessert once it comes out of the oven.
The Galaktoboureko cut up and ready to be served. This is a favourite between all of my non-Greek friends. The dessert is not overly sweet, and the texture of the custard goes well with crunchy filo that has been drizzled with the sweet syrup.
We went and bought a cheesecake from Pasticceria Papas in Habberfield, who I have previously mentioned in another post as doing fantastic cakes. We went with a non-baked cheesecake with mixed berries on top. I personally prefer the baked variety, but I was out voted on the choice. The birthday candles were for my mum and her twin brother who ceelbrated their birthday on Easter Sunday. Happy Birthday Mum!!!!!
My boyfriend’s mum makes some of the best baklava I have ever had. Each piece is a perfect size, and the nut filling is chopped finer then most varieties which allows it to soak up the syrup more and keep it moist instead of dry. I love the clove in the centre of each piece, and even copied it for the presentation of my baklava ice creams below. My whole family love these as well, and it never takes us long to polish the plate off.
I wanted to be a little creative this year and make something for dessert that was Greek inspired. After looking online I came across the blog ‘Souvlaki for the Soul’ and fell in love with the Baklava ice cream sandwiches that were featured. I knew I had to make these and got to work. The biscuits are honey flavoured and I put the little cloves in for decoration. The ice cream is cinnamon flavoured, and the edge of each sandwich has been dipped into a mixture of chopped walnuts, almonds, brown sugar and ground cinnamon. The presentation is a bit messy as the ice cream kept melting but the rugged look is made up by how fantastic they tasted. Next time I would try to make the biscuit a little thinner, as the biscuit to ice cream ratio was a bit over powering.
So there we have it, Greek Easter in the Diamant household for 2011. We all had a great day of eating, drinking, talking and of course some chocolate bunny consumption. Until next year Xronia Polla (Happy Easter) and I hope everyone else had as much of a food filled day like we did.