A Taste of Greek Christmas

New to the BB Kitchen! Bring a taste of Greece to your home this Christmas!

Hi Ballet Beauties!

I'm Ballet Beautiful NYC Master Trainer, Dioni. I'm from Greece, and I'm so excited to share more traditional Greek recipes with you! There are numerous culinary traditions associated with the Christmas season, and I've shared three of my favourites with you.

Pomegranate is considered a symbol of Christmas in Greece, and a symbol of prosperity and good fortune. A single fruit is hung up above the door of the house on Christmas Day. On New Year’s Day, the fruit is smashed on the doorstep to ensure another year of good luck for the household. So no surprise that this ingredient made it into many of the season’s dishes, like this delicious salad!

Bulgur salad with chestnuts and pomegranate

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoon(s) olive oil
  • 200 g bulgur wheat
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 200 g water
  • 3 leeks
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 150 g chestnuts, boiled
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 50 g pomegranate balsamic vinegar
  • Salt & pepper

For serving:

  • 1 lemon
  • 100 g feta cheese
  • Mint
  • Parsley
  • Seeds of one pomegranate
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Pepper

Place a frying pan over high heat and add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the bulgur wheat and sauté for 2-3 minutes, until golden. Add the bouillon cube crushed with your hands, the water, and wait till it comes to a boil. Cover with a lid, remove from the heat, and set aside until all the water is absorbed.

Cut the leeks into rounds. Place a frying pan over high heat , add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, add the leeks and saute. Add the garlic (finely chopped), salt, pepper, and wait until they get caramelized. Add the pine nuts, the chestnuts crushed, and mix. Deglaze the pan with the pomegranate balsamic vinegar, add the tomatoes (cut into cubes), and allow 2 minutes for them to boil. Now add the bulgur into your pan and mix. Serve with the mint and parsley finely chopped, lemon zest, crushed feta cheese, pomegranate seeds, olive oil, and pepper. Your salad is ready!

Aetopita

Pork is without a doubt the top traditional Christmas food eaten in most parts of the country. It’s a tradition that comes from Ancient Greece. Recipes vary according to the region. Today I’m going to present you with a flavorful pork pie!

Ingredients:

For the dough:
• 450 g all-purpose flour
• 250 g water
• olive oil
• 1 teaspoon vinegar
• Salt

For the filling:
• 600 g pork, cut into small bites
• 300 g water
• 50 g olive oil
• lemon zest of 1 lemon
• lemon juice of 1 lemon
• 2 leeks
• Fresh thyme
• Fresh rosemary
• 100 g sweet trahana pasta
• 250 g feta cheese
• 1 beaten egg
• Olive oil
• Salt & pepper

For the dough:
Add the flour and salt in a bowl and mix well. Make a small indentation in the center and pour into the olive oil and vinegar. Start taking the flour little by little and mixing it with the liquids. Gradually add the water slowly by kneading very well, until it gets velvety. Divide the dough into nine balls, add into a bowl with some flour, cover and let it rest for an hour.

For the filling:
Put the meat into a pot with water and boil. Skim the froth and season with salt and pepper. Cook for half an hour. At this point, the water will have been evaporated. Then, add the olive oil, lemon zest and juice, thyme, rosemary, and the white part of the leeks cut into thin rounds. Keep cooking for 10 minutes, until the leeks soften. Add the trahana into the pot, mix well, then pour the mixture into a bowl and let it cool. Now add the cheese and the beaten egg and mix well.

To make the pie:
Preheat the oven to 170ο C (338ο F) set to fan. Roll out all the dough pieces into thin sheets, by using a rolling pin. Take a round baking pan, grease it and spread two greased sheets at the bottom of the pan. Make sure that they stick out a little bit around the pan. Add one more sheet and 1/3 of the filling. Spread one more sheet, grease it and add another sheet. Add 1/3 of the filling. Add one greased sheet, cover with another sheet and spread the last 1/3 of the filling. Finish up with the two last sheets, well-greased. Turn the edges of the first 2 sheets inwards, so to shape the crimp of the pie. Bake for 1 hour.

Your pie is ready!

Melomakarona

Sweets are always plentiful during the Christmas season, with these Greek Christmas honey cookies being one of the most famous – and my personal favourite!

Ingredients:

For the syrup:
• 500 g water
• 800 g granulated sugar
• 150 g honey
• 3 cinnamon sticks
• 3 cloves
• 1 orange , cut in half

For the 1st mixture:
• 400 g orange juice
• 400 g seed oil
• 180 g olive oil
• 50 g powdered sugar
• ½ teaspoon cloves
• 3 teaspoons cinnamon
• ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• Orange zest of 2 oranges

For the 2nd mixture:
• 1 kilo all-purpose flour
• 200 g semolina, fine

For serving:
Honey & walnuts

For the syrup:
Boil all of the ingredients for the syrup, apart from the honey, until the sugar melts. Remove from heat. Add the honey and mix until combined. Let the syrup cool for 3-4 hours. It must be cold by the time the cookies come out from the oven. You can also prepare the syrup the day before!

For the cookies:
Preheat the oven to 190*C (370*F) set to fan. To make the cookies, you need to prepare 2 separate mixtures. For the first mixture, add all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Mix, using a hand whisk. In a separate bowl, add all of the ingredients for the second mixture. Combine the first and second mixture. Mix by hand, very gently and for a very short time (10 seconds at the most). If you mix longer the mixture will split or curdle. Mold cookie dough into oval shapes. Try to keep them as similar as possible. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until they are crunchy and golden brown. As soon as you remove them from the oven, soak the hot cookies in the syrup for 10 seconds. Allow them to drain on a wire rack. Drizzle with honey and chopped walnuts.

ΚΑΛΕΣ ΓΙΟΡΤΕΣ!

With love,
Dioni

 

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