As the day progresses, anticipation grows and mouths water for
the long-awaited Easter lamb. The day has been full of joy and
happiness as we reconnected with family and friends over fine
Greek food and wine. Finally, the main feature is pulled off the
spit and presented on an enormous platter that makes it way
to the grand table. Placed at the center of the table, the lamb is
surrounded by dishes of rice prepared with ground beef, roasted
vegetables, roasted potatoes, and more of the mezedakia.
At my table there will be two of my favorite red wines chosen
to complement most of the foods. One will be a lighter style
produced from the Xynomavro grape -- Greece’s version of a
Pinot Noir -- called “Raminsta,” from the Kir-Yianni Estates
winery. This wine is soft and light-bodied with great fruit
flavors and a touch of tannins. A second selection that I highly
recommend is a Rhone-style red from the Manousakis Winery in
Crete called Nostos. This full-bodied red has great big fruit and
is robust with dark cherries in every sip. Nostos is produced from
all estate-grown Syrah, Grenache, Mouverde, and Roussane
grapes. It has great balance and a long finish.
Great food and great wine abound throughout this wonderful
day. We finish off the evening with a groaning board of sweet
offerings and desserts that include cookies, pies, and cakes,
served with Greek sweet wine from Samos.
*Christ is risen!
Tsoureki (Greek Easter Bread)
Makes 5 loaves
Six 7 gram (1/4 ounce) packages active dry yeast
473 ml ( 2 cups) half-and-half, lukewarm
12 eggs, beaten, plus one extra egg
10 ml ( 2 teaspoons) orange zest
340 grams ( 3 cups) confectioners’ sugar
60 ml (1/4 cup) ouzo
60 ml (1/4 cup) metaxa brandy
30 ml ( 2 tablespoons) vanilla extract
45 ml ( 3 tablespoons) orange blossom water
2. 2 kg ( 5 pounds) all-purpose flour
15 ml (1 tablespoon) salt
2. 5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) ground cinnamon
15 ml (1 tablespoon) ground/powdered mastic (a Greek
flavoring and binder that comes from the resin of a
native Greek tree. Available online or in Greek
680 grams (1 1/2 pounds) butter, melted, plus additional
for coating bowl and dough
Sesame seeds for topping
Red-dyed Greek Easter eggs*
1. Preheat oven to 177° (350°F).
2. Dissolve the yeast in 118 ml (1/2 cup) of the half-and-half. Add remainder of half-and-half, eggs, orange zest,
confectioners’ sugar, ouzo, metaxa, vanilla, and orange
blossom water, and mix well.
3. Sift flour salt, cinnamon and mastic into a large bowl
and make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour
in yeast mixture and stir to blend in flour, gradually
adding the melted butter.
4. Mix dough with hands until it comes away easily from
the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a floured surface and
knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
Place in large buttered bowl. Turn dough over to coat
the top with butter and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise
in a warm place until doubled in size.
5. After the dough has risen, punch down and turn onto
lightly floured surface. Separate into five balls of dough.
Knead each one lightly and shape each into a round
loaf. Place a red-dyed Greek Easter egg on top and
press into dough.
6. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets or in greased,
round cake pans. Cover and let rise again in a warm
place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
7. Glaze with well-beaten egg and sprinkle each with
sesame seeds. Bake for 45-55 minutes until golden
brown. Cool on wire racks.
It is traditional part of the Greek Easter celebration to
dye and decorate eggs. Red is the most common color
as it symbolizes the blood of Christ, and the cross is
often drawn on the eggs. There are many other stories
about the origin of the tradition, but the brightly dyed
and decorated eggs are one of the most dramatic
symbols of the holiday. For recipe and instructions go to
MyGreekDish.com, usa.greekreporter.com, or just search