mahlepi and a subtle essence of mastic (mastiha). It is usually made at Easter and is a universal element in the celebration of this most important holiday of the Greek calendar. Such braided breads are an ancient tradition among Greeks.
The inspiration for this variation on the traditional tsoureki came from the storefront window of one of Thessaloniki’s best known bakeries, Τερκενλης (Terkenlis), which has been serving up its famous pastries since 1948. Today, Patisserie Terkenlis has several locations, mostly in Thessaloniki, with two shops in Athens, one of which is located at the Eleutherios Venizelos Airport (Greece’s main international airport).
Tsoureki: the Bread that Swallows its Tail recipe which I posted last year to make the traditional loaves. I usually bake three tsourekia (plural), one of which we keep and the other two go to our godchildren. Now, whereas the Terkenlis version of chocolate covered tsoureki includes a chocolatey filling, I avoided it altogether. This morning, after the other two loaves had been delivered to our godchildren, I applied the Terkenlis touch to our remaining loaf, blanketing it with chocolate and a sprinkling of slivered blanched almonds.
Crisco, in this case). I melted the chocolate combined with the shortening in a double boiler pan, mixed it well until smooth, and proceeded to pour the covering over the entire tsoureki loaf, starting with a thick layer along its centre; and then doubling back over its length until it was fully covered. I used an icing spatula to spread it over any bare spots. Next, I blanched a small handful of almonds, slivered them and sprinkled them overtop. The result was quite impressive, and a good likeness to the tsourekia we had seen in the window of Terkenlis.
With that, I would like to wish all those who are celebrating Greek Easter this Sunday a Kalo Paskha / Καλό Πάσχα (Happy Easter)! May the sun shine for Sunday’s spitted lamb roasts, wherever you may live, in Greece or in the Greek Diaspora. For those of you who have Greeks living in your neighbourhood, the likelihood that the scent of roasted lamb will waft your way on Sunday will make for an excellent opportunity to get to know your neighbours better, and to sample some excellent Greek food. Trust me; they will not turn you away should you decide to pay them a visit.
I will leave you with a description of the Easter celebration among the Greek Evzones in the 1930s by an American writer present at the time:
I shall never forget my visit one morning to the Evzone barracks at the edge of the royal gardens. In truly Homeric manner great numbers of lamb carcasses were being roasted over pits where the embers of pine branches glowed and sputtered as the scorched fat dripped down. The glistening “Arnakia a la Palikare” were tended by stiff-skirted Evzones of the royal guard, happy with virile gaiety, basting, jabbing, the slowly turning lambs. On that memorable Sunday morning the smells from the crackling fat and the smoking pine boughs joined together and rose on the clear spring air like most fragrant incense to the gods. Back, back, year by year, I thought as I watched them, that same ceremonious culinary rite had been carried out in that ancient land; the same odour of roasting lamb flesh and charred boughs had risen on the spring air since the dawn of time.
Kali Anastasi / Καλή Ανάσταση (Happy Resurrection)!
Greek Food Recipes and Reflections
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