Moustokouloura

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Happy Thursday, everyone! How’s your week been going?

Today is Holy Thursday, which means that we are three-quarters through Orthodox Holy Week – I cannot believe how quickly time has passed! It has been a whirlwind of clinical rotations, paper writing, and watching my mom whip up spectacular vegan dinners and one amazing vegan dessert that satisfies my late-night-paper-writing sweet tooth. With three days left until Easter, I’m sharing my parent’s adaptation on my Thea Goldie’s moustokouloura.

Thea Goldie was my godmother’s mother – I met her briefly when I was little so I don’t have any concrete memories of her. According to my mother, Thea Goldie was a feisty woman who could cook and bake like no body else… this cookie recipe is a testament to those baking skills.

It starts out with combining sugar and vegetable oil in the bowl of your stand mixer.

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Then comes the “mousto” part of the moustokouloura…

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WINE! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, wine. Mousto is the leftover residue of the grapes after they are crushed to make wine – since we don’t have any leftover grape bits, wine is a great (and easy) substitute. Crack open a bottle of your favorite red wine and pour some into the mixer (and maybe pour some for yourself!). We use a basic pinot noir but a merlot will work too! Just a word of warning – wine makes the color of the cookies… interesting. I’ll talk more about it in a minute, but if you are expecting totally brown cookies, you’re in for a surprise.

All that’s left is to combine the dry ingredients – flour, oat bran, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

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And gently mix them into the wet ingredients.

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Toss in some walnuts for crunch, mix, and you’re ready to go!

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Form into two logs. Score the logs by making several shallow cuts ½-inch apart in the top of each log – this will help with ease of cutting later. Chill them for an hour and then stick them in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes until the tops of the cookies are set.

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Yummy! Let them cool completely before proceeding.

As you can see in this photo, the wine turns the cookies blue-green! They are perfectly fine to eat – they just look a little different!

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Then cut the logs into pieces (like biscotti!) and lay them on a baking sheet flat-side down. Bake the cookies again for 12 minutes, flipping the cookies over halfway through the baking process.

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All that’s left is to dig in!

Enjoy these Lenten, vegan treats, everyone!

Your friend,

C

Moustokouloura

  • Servings: approximately 30-40 cookies
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup red wine

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup oat bran

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup chopped walnuts

 

Steps:

  1. In the bowl of the stand mixer, combine oil and sugar and mix to combine.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, oat bran, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  3. With the mixer on low, slowly add in the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Stir in the chopped walnuts.
  4. Form the dough into two equal logs, score the top of the logs ½-inch apart and chill in the fridge for an hour.
  5. Bake the logs in a preheated, 350° for 30 minutes. Let the logs cool completely.
  6. Using a serrated knife, cut the logs into pieces on the score marks. Lay the cookies flat-side down and bake in a 350° oven for 12 minutes, flipping the cookies over halfway through.

Serve with your morning coffee or as a midnight snack – enjoy!

Palm Sunday Recap

Hi there, everyone! I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday weekend!

We celebrated Palm Sunday yesterday (we’re on a different calendar, so our Easter falls a week later this year), which is one of my mom’s favorite religious holidays to celebrate with family and friends. So we had a dinner party with my grandma (The YIA) and our good family friend S.

Palm Sunday is usually a traditional fish supper and my mom whipped up an amazing Asian-inspired feast.

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Ina Garten’s Asian Grilled Salmon and Ellie Krieger’s Aromatic Lime Peanut Noodles… delicious, nutritious, and absolutely beautiful when served on my favorite blue plates.

But it wasn’t only Palm Sunday yesterday – it was also The Cat’s 11th birthday!

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So we had a huge dessert bar with chocolate cupcakes, sorbet, and a vegan Greek biscotti (recipe coming this week!).

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A sweet end to a festive day!

How was your weekend, kiddos? What did you do/eat/see? Let me know!

Your blue plate lovin’, cupcake makin’ friend,

C

Easter Dinner

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter! In my neck of the woods, the weather was beautiful and provided a wonderful end to an insanely relaxing weekend.

The end of which was highlighted by a magnificent Easter feast my parents put together (and I helped… slightly).

Here is the obligatory table picture we take at each holiday.

EASTER TABLE

The flower centerpiece is beautiful, but I was more excited when it was replaced with this!

EASTER DINNER

Yum, yum, yum. Greek roasted chicken and lamb. This was even more exciting than receiving a one-pound SOLID chocolate bunny in my Easter basket (and you all know how much I love my chocolate).

My mother rounded out the Greek tradition of Easter lamb with Greek lemon potatoes, roasted vegetables, and the famous Greek yogurt sauce tzatziki.

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So pretty… and so good! It was the perfect dinner after breaking my vegetarian fast with bacon earlier in the morning.

But what made everything shine was the tzatziki. It is not only adds great zip to any meal (Easter or otherwise), it really acts as a fresh complement to the earthy lamb. And it is the easiest thing to make.

Grab an (washed) English cucumber… This one was exceptionally large, so I used only three-quarters of it.

CUCUMBER

Split it in half.

SPLIT CUCUMBER

And use a spoon to scrape out the seeds.

SEEDED CUCUMBER

Grate the cucumber on a box grater set over a clean tea towel.

GRATING CUCUMBER

Look at that pile! Please resist eating the cucumber as you snap a photo.

PILE OF CUCUMBER

Now here comes the athletic part – gather up the edges of the towel and SQUEEZE the living daylights out of the cucumber. You need to wring out as much moisture as possible to prevent the tzatziki from getting watery.

DRAINING CUCUMBER

Some people grate their cucumber, put it in a colander, salt it, and let it drain into a bowl overnight. I do this too, but it takes a while and we wanted tzatziki with dinner last night. The squeeze method works just as well and is much quicker!

Dump the cucumber in a bowl.

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And add three cloves minced garlic (I was lazy and used a microplane), salt, pepper, olive oil, and white vinegar.

TZATZIKI INGREDIENTS

Then dump in some sour cream and a whole bunch of Greek yogurt. And forget to take a picture…

Stir the whole concoction together and taste. Adjust seasonings (and that includes the vinegar!).

TZATZIKI

My mom and I thought our tzatziki would benefit from an herbal addition, so I added some fresh dill.

ADDING DILL TO TZATZIKI

Serve in a gorgeous crystal bowl to your family and friends!

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I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does!

 

Happy Monday, everyone!

C

 

Tzatziki

  • Servings: 8-12 people
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

1 large seedless cucumber, washed, cut in half and seeded

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon of pepper

2-3 tablespoons of olive oil

1 tablespoon of white vinegar

1 cup of plain sour cream (whatever fat content you want)

1½ cups of plain Greek yogurt (whatever fat content you want)

1-2 tablespoons of fresh dill, finely chopped

 

Steps

1. Grate cucumber on a box grater set in the middle of a clean tea towel.

2. Gather up edges of towel and squeeze out excess moisture from cucumber.

3. Place cucumber in a large bowl.

4. Add in garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil, white vinegar, sour cream, Greek yogurt, and dill. Stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.

5. Serve with as a dip for grilled and roasted meats (I love it with lamb) or with carrots sticks and pita chips (or with a spoon out of the bowl!).

Enjoy!

Happy Easter!

To those who celebrate, Happy Easter!! I hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful spring day!

I cannot believe that today is Easter. These past forty days have flown by… I can’t imagine that the next big event will be graduation in a few weeks!

Since last week was the week that I had my thesis defense, my Master’s Comprehensive exam rewrite defense, and a million other things due, E and I decided that a trip home to do nothing was the perfect option. And Easter in your home church is the best Easter there is.

Plus The Cat is here.

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And nothing de-stresses you more than a good kitty cuddle.

 

Since my day was full of eating, I decided to share my Easter morning with you today and my afternoon with you tomorrow.

This morning was so fun, full of Easter candy and an amazing breakfast full of Greek traditions.

 

Like the traditional sweet bread, tsoureki.

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It is a dense bread that traditionally has a red egg placed in the center. It is perfect on the side of scrambled eggs or toasted and smeared with peanut butter (my post-Easter breakfast of choice).

 

And eggs. Lots and lots of hardboiled eggs.

Which E and I dyed with our mom on Holy Saturday – a family tradition.

DYED EGGS

Look how pretty!

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My mom puts them in a planter with grass, so it looks like the Easter bunny just placed them there… probably my favorite Easter tradition.

Except for the game that Greeks play WITH the eggs.

This game is simple – everyone grabs an egg and then take turns lightly smacking the ends together.

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E and I went first (skinny end vs. skinny end).

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I lost (but at least I have a great manicure!).

Then my dad did fat end vs. fat end.

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I won.

Ultimately, the winner is the person with the whole egg or the least amount of broken ends… they are said to have good luck for the rest of the year. E was victorious this year (good job, E!).

 

But let’s be serious for a moment… Easter morning was the first time I got to indulge in meat for the first time since Lent started.

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Hello, bacon. I’ve missed you. It is the best part of the…

EASTER BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS

… Easter Breakfast of Champions!!! (can you tell that this makes me happy?)

It was one of the best Easter mornings I had.

 

So, kiddos… How were your Easter mornings? Did you binge on chocolate bunnies for breakfast? Went to midnight mass and had bacon cheeseburgers? I would love to hear about it!

Your bacon addicted friend,

C