Irene’s Kourabiedes (Kourabiethes) (Greek Butter Cookies)

Kourabiedes are a traditional Greek cookie made for special occasions like Christmas. They are butter cookies covered with icing sugar and are a favourite among Greeks. This recipe makes a huge amount of cookies (about 8 dozen), so feel free to cut the recipe in half or simply give them away to loved ones as gifts!

2 lbs of unsalted butter
1 lb of Crisko
1 cup of icing sugar
2 cups of sliced and toasted almonds
6 egg yolks
2 tablespoons of ouzo*
2 teaspoons of vanilla
2 tablespoons of baking powder
½ teaspoon of baking soda
10 cups of flour
½ cup of rose water
About 3-4 cups of icing sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Using an electric blender, cream the softened butters together. Blend for about 5 minutes as you scrape the sides of the bowl. Slowly add in the icing sugar followed by the toasted almonds (be sure to toast the almonds in the oven for about 6-7 minutes at a low heat before you begin making the cookies). As you continue to blend the mixture, add in the egg yolks. Add the ouzo and vanilla and continue to blend. Add the baking powder and baking soda to the mixture (be sure to mix it with a cup of flour before you slowly add it to the mixture). Slowly add the remaining flour and continue to mix with the electric blender. With your hands, knead the dough for a few minutes. You can tell the dough is ready when it no longer sticks to your hands as you knead it.

To shape the dough you may use a cookie cutter or simply shape the dough into small crescents and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in the oven at 300 degrees for 15 minutes.

Once the cookies have finished baking, remove from the oven and sprinkle the cookies with rose water. Allow the cookies to cool slightly and then roll each cookie in a bowl of icing sugar. Set on a decorative plate. Enjoy!

*in this video Irene uses ouzo, but you could use either cognac or brandy (Metaxa is usually used)

Chicken Avgolemono (Egg-Lemon) Soup

This is another classic Greek dish which has been handed down from generation to generation. It is made with fresh and healthy ingredients, and it is the perfect meal to serve on a cold winter’s night. There are different variations of Avgolemono soup, but in this video Irene shows us how to prepare it with rice and chicken.

To prepare the base:

4 quarter chicken legs
2 medium potatoes cut into quarter pieces
1 cup chopped carrots
2 medium onions
2-4 stalks of celery
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of salt
1 tablespoon of vegetable seasoning (Irene uses Vegeta)
1 cup of rice

To prepare the Avgolemono

2 eggs, separated
The juice of 2 lemons

Boil the chicken in a large pot filled with water. After about 10 minutes of boiling the chicken, remove any film that develops at the water surface. Add the coarsely chopped vegetables, olive oil, salt, and seasoning to the soup. Allow to boil for another 20 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside. Add 1 cup of rice to the soup (be sure to wash the rice thoroughly before you add it). Add 1 cup of warm water and allow the rice to cook for 20 minutes.

Tear the chicken into small pieces and remove the bones. Add the meat to the soup and stir well. After about 2 minutes turn off the heat and allow the soup to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs whites until fluffy. Add the yolks and continue to whisk the eggs. Add the juice of 2 lemons and mix well. To add the avgolemono to the soup, first add a small portion of the soup into the egg mixture and then slowly add the entire mixture to the soup.

Garnish with fresh pepper and lemon.

Enjoy!

Irene’s Pastitsio

Pastitsio is a layered pasta casserole, also known as “Macaronia tou Fournou” (pasta cooked in the oven). It is a very popular dish throughout Greece and is the perfect dish to make for a large family gathering or party, as it yields a large number of pieces. Pastitsio consists of layers of pasta, a layer of ground beef, and a thick béchamel sauce. Traditionally, a dash of ground cinnamon is added to the ground beef, but in this recipe Irene has chosen to omit the cinnamon. Feel free to add a teaspoon of cinnamon to the ground beef if you like.

For the pasta
2 packages of ‘Pastitsio’ pasta, #4
2 egg whites
About ½ a cup of Parmesan cheese

For the ground beef
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 bulbs of minced garlic
1 small chopped onion
2 pounds of lean ground beef
1 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoons of ground pepper
1 teaspoons of oregano
300 ml of tomato sauce or 2 cups of chopped tomatoes

For the béchamel
5 cups of milk, warmed to room temperature
½ pound of butter
½ cup of all-purpose flour
A dash of salt and pepper
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon of breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon of paprika

Cook the pasta for about 8-9 minutes in a large pot of salted water.

In another large pot, heat the oil over low heat. Over low-medium heat, sauté the garlic and onion for about 1-2 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook until the meat has browned. Add the salt, spices and tomato sauce, and continue to stir the meat until it is cooked. Set aside.

Drain the pasta. Once the pasta is back in your pot add 2 egg whites and stir the pasta. Add a sprinkle of parmesan cheese to the pasta.

Brush the bottom of a large pan with olive oil. Place half of your pasta in the large pan. Make sure it is spread out evenly. Add another sprinkle of parmesan cheese to the pasta.

Spread your ground beef sauce over the pasta. Add another layer of pasta and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

To prepare the béchamel, melt the butter in a large pot at low heat. Once the butter is melted, slowly add in the flour while continually stirring. Slowly add in the milk and continue to stir the sauce until it is smooth. Add salt and pepper. Once all lumps have been smoothed out, remove the sauce from the heat and add in 2 egg yolks. Stir well.

Add the béchamel sauce over the pasta. Be sure to spread the sauce out evenly. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs. Add a sprinkle of paprika if you like.

Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Let the pastitsio stand for 10 minutes to cool before you cut into squares.

Enjoy!