By Helen Mouneimne, the Greek Vegetarian
I am Helen Mouneimne, a passionate Adelaide foodie. The Greek Vegetarian was born when I woke up one day and for some reason couldn’t eat my favourite dish that my mum lovingly prepared for me. I tried the next day and the day after that and for some reason, by body just said no. That was a few years ago now, and I haven’t looked back since. I used to think that vegetarian and vegan food was boring… I couldn’t have been more wrong. Documenting my journey on my food blog “The Greek Vegetarian” was my way of showing those who were interested, that food only has to be delicious…
Food brings people together. It can express thanks, love, admiration, appreciation and give you a hug from the inside. Food tells the story you want to deliver without judgement or pre-conceptions about what it’s going to be. Good food leaves you feeling not only nourished from what you are eating but nourished within your soul, as it should.
Whenever I think of koulouria, I am instantly transported to a simpler time where my house was engulfed with aromas of Greek Easter for weeks on end.
I chose to make koulouria as these biscuits are close to my heart - these are the first biscuits I ever made as a small child with my mum. My earliest memories of these beautiful biscuits are of us sitting at the kitchen table, rolling the koulouri dough. My mum would hand me a portion of dough and my own tray and would encourage me to make anything I wanted out of it. I would be bursting to see my creations after they had baked in the oven! Other then making my own koulouria, I was always in charge of the egg-wash and sesame seed station. Not a bad gig for a 5 year old!
Growing up, my parents always had fig trees. In the back yard, the front yard, the holiday house and the list goes on. I was always surrounded by delicious figs so when I thought of how I could put my own spin on such a classic - figs were the first thing that came to mind. The Greek dark chocolate with stevia and crushed pistachios are a perfect accompaniment to the fig and the soft texture of the koulouri.
I am incredibly honoured to be involved in such a special event with Grecian Purveyor. Being able to share recipes and conversations with like minded foodies from all over Australia about the traditions of Greek Easter has been a total joy!
Καλό Πάσχα everyone!
Fig Koulouria with Dark Chocolate with Stevia & Pistachios
Yield: 50 Koulouria aporox.
250g unsalted butter
1.5 cups caster sugar
1.5 cups full cream milk (plus half a cup)
3 medium sized eggs (plus 2 egg yolks)
Zest of one orange
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons ouzo (optional) - we like adding some Orange Agrumato EVOO by Ladi Biosas
800g-1 kilo self raising flour, sifted
2 packets (180g) Alexandros hand made dark chocolate with stevia
1/2 cup pistachios
Start by creaming the butter and sugar in a stand mixer for about 10-15 minutes, until the butter is creamy and fluffy. Add in the vanilla, ouzo (if using), orange zest and chopped figs and mix until well incorporated.
Whilst the mixture is creaming, blitz the figs in a food processor until they are very fine.
Meanwhile, heat the milk 1.5 cups of milk in the microwave for approximately 1.5 minutes until warm but not hot.
Add the 3 whole eggs (into the butter-sugar) mixture one at a time, whilst mixing, allowing time for each one to be absorbed, before adding another. Pour in the milk and mix to combine.
Remove the mixture and pour into a larger mixing bowl. Add the sifted flour in small increments and combine using your hands. The dough should feel wet but not sticky. The amount of flour required will depend on the size of your eggs, the type of milk you use and the humidity on the day.
Place the dough for the koulouria on a clean working surface, take small pieces of dough and form long cords. Shape the koulouria with your hands, giving them any shape you like. You can make traditional shapes like the double helix, the twisted ‘S’ or the plaited wreathe. You can also make these into small cookies or any shape you wish.
Line a large baking tray with baking paper and place the koulourakia, leaving some distance between them as they will rise and spread when baked. You will bake approximately 4-6 trays of biscuits depending on the size of your koulouria.
In a small bowl add the egg yolks and half a cup of milk and whisk well with a fork.
Brush the top of the koulouria using a pastry brush with the egg wash and bake in the oven for approximately 15 minutes or until lightly golden.
Allow the koulouria to cool before decorating.
In a food processor, blitz the pistachios until they form a crumb. Set aside.
In a small heatproof bowl, heat the chocolate in the microwave in 30 second increments until melted.
Dip half of the koulouria into the chocolate, wiping off any excess from the base and top with the pistachio crumb.
Repeat until all koulouria are decorated and enjoy!
Kali Orexi and Happy Easter!
Thank you Helen for this gourmet, delicious and healthier twist of Greek Easter koulouria, we just can't stop eating them!
Find more of The Greek Vegetarian delicious recipes at https://www.thegreekvegetarian.com.au and indulge on some incredible flavours all made by Helen!