I was part of a Greek Seafood feast yesterday and it was truly gorgeous. The weather was a little wet and miserable earlier and then, almost by some divine miracle, the clouds floated away and we were left with blue skies and sunshine which filled the room with amazing warmth and a lovely feel for the whole afternoon. Carol from the Greek food Odyssey came to work her magic here at Relish Mama cooking classes. Carol’s food is relaxed, very home style, lot’s of love involved and she always rouses a laugh. Our 11 guests arrived at 11:30am and over the three hour cooking class we cooked Saganaki me garides (Prawn Saganaki), Psari Plaki (Whole baked fish -3kg of snapper at that – in a rich Greek tomato spiced sauce) and Midopilafo (Rice with Mussels and fresh herbs). A Mezze platter was also enjoyed earlier and the chargrilled eggplant was the star of that show! Unfortunately, it was not captured here on camera. Turns out the guests had worked up a quite an appetite and how could they not given the smells that were wafting from that kitchen!
Our guests said their goodbye’s after a lovely lunch. They left well fed, loaded with new recipes and all had a smile on their faces. The only thing missing was a little Zorba the Greek in closing (next time!!!). My spirits were high, I bid farewell to gorgeous Carol and the sudden urge to cook some Greek biscuits was suddenly far more overwhelming than my urge to clean up from the aftermath of the class. Delay tactics at their best.
This Greek biscuit recipe was given to me by a lovely lady named Eleni, about 2 years ago. Eleni had attended a private cooking class here. It was a Hen’s luncheon and Eleni was the the future Mother in law of the bride to be. Eleni and I got talking about the delicious sweets we have cooked and loved over the years and she spoke of these glorious, melt in your mouth Greek biscuits. I guess she saw the eyes rolling back in my head and was witness to my drooling as the following week, she called in with a batch of these Greek biscuits and the handwritten recipe to go with it. They are wonderful, delicate (be warned) and melt in your mouth. They are the treat of treat’s! I cooked myself a mere 36 or so late yesterday afternoon and they went down perfectly (NO!!! not all 36 of them). They were still warm and I enjoyed them out on our back deck, biscuit in one hand, cup of tea in the other, sun streaming down on me but more to the point, with my back to the dishes! It was quite the moment!
These biscuits do not contain almond meal like many Greek biscuit recipes so they can be snuck in to school lunch boxes to put a little pep in your little tike’s step – they will feel the love, I am sure. I must warn you, they do not travel well. They are delicate and to avoid tears, protect them well. A measly paper bag will not do the trick here and trust me, they are worth every bit of gentle love that you give them. Olive oil replaces butter as the fat in this recipe and no eggs required (don’t let that fool you in to thinking I have given up working on my husband for our very own backyard Chook’s which we have spoken of, with such positivity in the past).
Greek biscuits with olive oil and honey
Makes approximately 36
Will keep stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week
80g plain flour
390g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of ground cloves
A pinch of salt
125g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
120ml freshly squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon of rose water
180ml olive oil
1 teaspoon of sherry (optional)
125ml runny honey
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon of ground cloves
Preheat the oven to 190oC. Line your baking trays with baking paper.
Sift the flours, spices and salt into a bowl. Tip these dry ingredients into a food processor with the butter and whizz until it resembles breadcrumbs. If you do not have a food processor, you can achieve this by rubbing the chilled butter in to the flour using your fingertips until you achieve the same effect.
Add the orange zest, juice rose water and gradually add the olive oil. Add the sherry if using. Combine and turn on to a floured surface to knead for approx 5 minutes. You could also do this in your food processor if you have a dough hook.
Take dessertspoon sized pieces of dough and either roll them into balls or shape them in to crescent moons – I often do both. Place on baking trays and bake for 13-15 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool slightly on the trays before dipping in to the honey syrup.
To make the syrup, place the honey, water and spices in to a small saucepan and heat. Stir until boiling, lower the heat a little and allow to simmer for 1-2 minutes to thicken and intensify in flavor. Take off heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
Now, this is the tricky bit…….I take one biscuit at a time and gently dip the underside of it in the warm honey syrup. I then place this on a spoon and with another dessert spoon, I scoop up a little more of the syrup and drizzle it over the top to soak in to the biscuit. Do this over the bowl so that any syrup not absorbed can flow back into the bowl and be used on the other biscuits waiting patiently in line. If you cannot be bothered with the syrup, they are also great with a really good smothering of soft icing sugar.