The Greek melomakarono

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How many of you know what a melomakarono is?

The Greek melomakarono is an olive oil cookie dipped in sugar syrup and sprinkled with chopped nuts. It is a traditional Christmas delight that you can find in every Greek home during Christmas and New Year’s holiday period. Every pastry and bakery shop sells them, and along with kourabiethes -another Greek Christmas delight- are the top 2 delicacies of the season.

A few things about its name (melo= honey & makarono=spaghetti)

Although the first thought that probably comes to mind is the Italian word “macaroni”, the melomakarono name derives from ancient Greece! Specifically, the “macaroni” comes from the Greek word “makaronia”, a funerary dinner based on pasta. The aim of the dinner was to bless and farewell the dead.
The makaronia comes from the ancient Greek word “makario” which means blessed. It was a piece of bread in the shape of modern melomakarono, that was offered after the funeral. Later, when the “makario” was drizzled with honey syrup they named it  melomakarono.

Melomakarono Recipe

{http://akispetretzikis.com/en/categories/keik-mpiskota/ta-melomakarona-toy-akh} 🙂 

However, if you are an importer or distributor and melomakarona or kourabiethes interests you as a product, do not hesitate to contact us and we promise to bring you some of the Greek Christmas spirit!

info@greekbrands.com  |     http://www.greekbrands.com

Vasilopita the pie

“Vasilopita” cake is the dessert – symbol of New Year and is connected with the feast of St. Basil, from which it took its name.

vasilopitaWe find it in many forms and different ways of preparing, in all Greek houses, urban and rural. Made mainly with flour, eggs, sugar and milk and most commonly on the surface is written the number of the New Year with peeled almonds.

Inside the dough is placed a coin and whoever finds it is the lucky person of the year.  In some rural areas instead of coin they used to place a piece of straw, vine or olive strand depending on the production area, and whoever found it would have a good harvest during the year.

The cake is cut and shared with a ritual in the night before the New Year, right after the year change!

There is, however, the Christian tradition for the custom of New Year cake.

When St. Basil was bishop in Caesarea of Cappadocia, the perfector of Cappadocia wanted to plunder the city. St. Basil asked the city’s wealthy citizens to collect cutlery that could deliver as “ransom” to the conqueror. They gathered many valuables. However , according to the tradition the city was saved either because the perfector regretted, or because of a miracle with St. Mercurius and numerous angels removed his army from the province.

flouri_konstantinatoBut in order for St. Basil to return the valuables to the citizens, not knowing who owns what, he instructed to prepare small loaves into which he placed one of the coins or valuables and distributed them to the citizens the next day. The tradition continued in the memory of the day of his death, January 1st.

Newer versions of this tradition from Pontus and Asia Minor show St. Basil winning the collector of taxes on gambling and then distributed them with small breads or a big pie.

In Athens it is common to serve the so-called “Politiki” Vasilopita which is produced mainly from flour, eggs, sugar and milk, manufactured in various sizes and types, but is usually inflatable, fluffy and sweet. Other Vasilopita recipes are served throughout Greece, with spices , fruit etc.

In western Macedonia instead of Vasilopita they serve a cheese or leek pie. Basic but common feature is that inside they have a coin, usually an ordinary one but in some cases gold (“Constantinato”) or silver.

Then Vasilopita is cut on the table, in which the family is sitting. The landlord after the “crossing” of the pie with the knife three times, starts to cut into triangular pieces offered in each attending family member or friends and relatives. First piece is for the house (or the Christ, the Virgin Mary and Saint Basil), and the line continues with the landlord, landlady, family members and guests, with the last piece going for the poor, without of course forgetting any immigrants, patients and other family persons who for various reasons weren’t able to attend.

Vasilopita

Ingredients

850 g. flour
100 gr. beer yeast
6 eggs
180 g. butter
180 g. sugar
 1 level tablespoon salt
100 gr. Sugared fruits cut in small cubes
100 g. raisins
zest of one orange

Preparation

IMG_8705Mix 100 g. flour with yeast, previously dissolved in warm water thereby making a dough and leave in warm place for 3 hours. Knead in remaining flour with whole eggs, butter dissolved, sugar, salt and leaven uploaded. We continue to work the dough for a while until it “thickens”. Add the chopped fruits, raisins and orange zest.

Allow the dough to rise until doubled in volume . Place in mold and bake the pie at 180 Celsum degrees for about an hour. Leave at least for half a day, before serving.

Back to school Vol.2

New school year has begun, and everyone is trying to organize the daily routine, which requires a lot of time and energy. We gathered some interesting recipes of Greek inspired quick and easy meals, suitable for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner, that will save you a lot your valuable time. They’re also suitable both for kids and grownups.

Lack of time, brings lack of creativity sometimes. You can “save” this post, to read it every now and then in times of need!

  1. Greek Burritos!

888

http://kokocooks.com/2011/09/greek-burritos/

The classic Mexican dish with a Greek scent. You can prepare lots of them and put them in the freezer, so whenever you don’t have the time to prepare something new, you can defrost them. It is delicious, aromatic and everyone is going to love the flavors. Suitable for lunch and dinner.

  1. Feta, Olives and sundried tomato Bread

999http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/12424/kalamata-olive-sundried-tomato-and-feta-bread

A recipe for every hour of the day! Hand-kneaded soft bread with mixed in pitted olives, feta crumbles, and sundried tomatoes. You can experiment adding fresh or dried herbs. You can put in the freezer in small balls the size of a hamburger, in order to defrost and bake, so you have fresh bread every time you need it.

  1. Greek Yogurt – Fruit Cake

10

http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2015/03/30/greek-yogurt-fruit-tart/

A really simple and mouthwatering tart with no baking involved. Perfect way to incorporate fruits in a “dessert” recipe. Greek yogurt makes it creamy and fresh.

11http://www.juliasalbum.com/2014/10/peach-and-blueberry-greek-yogurt-cake-recipe/

A juicy cake recipe with peaches, blueberry and of course Greek yogurt.

  1. The meatless Feta sandwich

 12http://thefoodcharlatan.com/2013/08/02/grilled-squash-red-pepper-and-feta-sandwich/

A no meat delicious sandwich, which includes oven baked vegetables, with the addition of feta cheese chunks. A simple alternative to the old fashion cheese n ham sandwich. Use your imagination to create other interesting combos, a sandwich bread is the kind of canvas to paint on! You can even let kids choose their ingredients or make it something like a buffet, with a list of various fillings to pick from.

  1. Savory Feta muffins

13http://thecookspyjamas.com/savoury-feta-and-olive-muffins/

A different recipe for a savory muffin with delicious feta cheese and Greek olives. It’s easy, you make a batch of them and of course you can freeze them in order to use them up on a busy day.

Do you have other Greek inspired Ideas or recipes to share with us?

Find other interesting recipes here:

How can I enjoy Feta cheese?

Feta is a genuine Greek product and it is believed to be one of the oldest cheese types in the world.

feta jar olive oilMade from sheep’s milk or a mixture of sheep and goat milk, has a unique distinctive salty bite, a fresh acidity of taste, and a rich aroma. Feta is semi-hard in texture, with some non-shaped holes in its body. It has a salty freshness and a tangy aftertaste, with mild to peppery notes.

If you haven’t tasted Feta yet, we propose that you do, because no matter how we describe it, the taste is a personal experience. It is the Queen of the Greek Salad (Horiatiki) as it beautifully complements the fresh crunchy vegetables included.

Moreover, feta loves the company of Greek olive oil, and the combination with dried herbs like thyme, oregano etc. The majority of taverns serve it with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of a dry herb, most likely oregano.

Feta can be enjoyed in every hour of the day. Despite its salty taste, it is considered a versatile ingredient, which can be combined with many dishes and ingredients.

watermelon feta salad

Watermelon feta salad

It can be an ingredient of a breakfast sandwich, a lunch salad, a cheese platter, a pasta dish and many more. It pairs uniquely with fruits, as it forms a sweet and salty combination. In Greece many people eat feta along with watermelon. It may seem like an intellectual-gourmet combo, but the truth is people are enjoying it that way in Greece for a long time now. Not long ago, I came across this salad, which combines juicy watermelon with feta pieces and chopped mint leaves.

Another recipe for the bold ones is the feta cheesecake. It’s an alternative to the original recipe, and has some sweet saltiness in it.

lamb feta lasagna

Lasagna with lamb and feta sprinkles

Feta pairs uniquely with meat recipes as well as pasta recipes, as it doesn’t melt, and little white chunks of flavor remain intact. This recipe combines our beloved lasagna, with lamb and feta sprinkled on top.

Another sweet-savory recipe is this: Feta wrapped in fried phyllo (dough) with sesame and honey. The absolute balance between sweet and salty, keeps you astonished in every bite. You can find this dish in many Greek taverns nowadays, but is also a simple recipe to prepare on your own.

Feta snack options:

cucumber feta rolls

Cucumber feta rolls

Sushi inspired feta-cucumber rolls, perfect for warm days of spring and summer, for every snack occasion and finger-food party!

canapes feta goat cheese

Canapes with feta & goat cheese

Delicious snack-canapé with feta and goat cheese

These pancakes seem an interesting way to incorporate your feta cheese into a breakfast, a light lunch or a mid-day snack.

Feta is enjoyed in many ways, and there are tons of other ways that are waiting to be discovered. In Greece, Feta is our staple cheese. We even have some oily dishes, which can’t be eaten without the companion of feta cheese. It’s an authentic and integral part of our gastronomical heritage. We will continue to respect our tradition, to highly maintain its production process, and to promote it in order to highlight its nutritional characteristics and rich flavor.

GREEK BRANDS

Your source for Greek Fine Foods

www.greekbrands.com

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DIY|Summer Mediterranean Salad

hot weather

Officially, summer is here!

Our clothes are fewer, our smiles are bigger, the mood is getting better, and the food portions we consume are getting smaller. We generally try to avoid fatty foods during the summer, our bodies don’t need so much energy to make it through the day. We choose refreshing light meals that won’t keep us down.

So, I have a question for you! How do you feel about legumes salads? Salads with lentils, beans, split peas, peas etc?https://i0.wp.com/www.raw-living-food-success.com/images/Beans.jpg

Legumes are an important part of the Mediterranean Diet. In Greece we are used to consuming legumes at least once or twice a week. We are consuming large peas known as “giants”, lentils as a soup, split peas as a mousse, chickpeas as a soup or in the oven, and many more.

The first time I tasted legumes as a salad, I think I will remember it for a long time. I had not even seen it as a trend around the internet. I was in a comfort-food type of restaurant, in the alternative heart of the city, Keramikos. Since I like exploring new tastes, I ordered it from the menu right away.

It was a lentil salad, with carrot sticks, lots of parsley, feta cut in cubes, vinegar-olive oil dressing and ground black pepper. The taste was so refreshing and interesting, I was so happy to taste “boring” legumes in a different recipe.

Ingredients photos saladSince I knew that legumes is such an important nutrition source, containing significant amount of protein, I was glad that I was able to cook it differently, and set up a new recipe directory with the name “Legumes salads”.

Soon after I discovered it, it was already everywhere. On Pinterest, on foreign and Greek sites as well, in every respectable restaurant of the town, in every salad list etc. It had become a different dish, made with the same old materials that nonetheless gave it a new perspective.

If you know the basics in the kitchen, and you have enough imagination in order to experiment, the road is open and the dogs are constrained. (a famous Greek saying, meaning you are free to act as you will)Salad Recipe

I started experimenting with all kinds of legumes, lentils, chickpeas, peas, splitpeas, green peas etc. Not all of my experiments were crowned with success. However, I found where my taste met my capability, and this was somewhere near the Mediterranean bean salad.

So, from now on when it’s the legumes day of the week, one in two weeks I will experiment with a salad.

Waiting for your thoughts and comments!

Fenia Karkantzou

Marketing Manager | Greek Brands

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