Saturday, April 15, 2017

Chef Christine Cushing’s Easter Tsoureki

From the book Happy Hens & Fresh Eggs: Keeping Chickens in the Kitchen Garden – with 100 Recipes, ©2015, by Signe Langford, Photography by Donna Griffith. Published by Douglas & McIntyre. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.

An excerpt from Happy Hens and Fresh Eggs: Keeping Chickens in the Kitchen Garden–with 100 Recipes by Signe Langford. Many thanks to Signe and her publisher Douglas & McIntyre for allowing me to share this recipe here– Jennifer


Post By Signe Langford 


Tsoureki is a traditional Greek Easter egg-bread recipe, a gorgeous golden braided loaf with dyed-red Easter eggs baked right in.

I called on my friend, Chef Christine Cushing to share her family’s recipe and her know-how for my book, Happy Hens & Fresh Eggs; Keeping Chickens in the Kitchen Garden and here it is! Traditionally, the eggs are dyed with onion skins, giving them a very subtle hue indeed. I wanted a little more pizzazz, so I added some beet juice to the water when dying mine.

Chef Cushing shares these reminiscences about a Greek childhood Easter:

“My grandmother came from the beautiful island of Crete at a time when there wasn’t much wealth or excess, and despite that she was so particular about everything she ate and impressed upon me at an early age how important the quality of the ingredients was. Our tradition of dyeing Easter eggs and making this fragrant, delicious Easter bread started for me when I was a teenager and Yia Yia (that’s Greek for Grandma) told me about how different the eggs were in Crete. I don’t think I fully appreciated that until I first went to cooking school in Paris and then on my first visit to Crete a decade ago."

“Easter isn’t Easter unless I make this bread,” says Chef Cushing, who was born in Greece, raised in Canada and has proudly served as the family keeper of this Easter tradition since the age of 12. “I used to camp out in sleeping bags in the living room with my cousins so we could set the timer and sleep between risings—it took me all night.”

Here's Chef Christine Cushing's Greek Easter Egg-bread Recipe:

MAKES 3 LOAVES

Ingredients:

4–4½ cups (950–1060 mL) all-purpose flour, divided

1 tsp (5 mL) sea salt

1½ tsp (7.5 mL) ground mahlepi (cherry stones), available at specialty Greek stores

1 tsp (5 mL) ground mastiha (hardened resin of the mastic tree), also available at specialty Greek stores

Zest of 1 lemon

Zest of 1 orange

¹⁄3 cup (80 mL) warm water (about 98F/37C)

¾ cup + 1 Tbsp (180 + 15 mL) sugar, divided

½ oz (14 g) active dry yeast

½ cup (120 mL) warm 3.5 percent milk
(about 98F/37C)

4 free-run eggs, divided

¹⁄3 cup (80 mL) melted butter

About ¼ cup (60 mL) chunky sugar for a final sprinkle (optional)



Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer using the dough-hook attachment, or in a large bowl with a wooden spoon, combine 4 cups (950 mL) flour, salt, mahlepi, mastiha and the zests.

In a small bowl, combine warm water, 1 table-spoon (30 mL) of the sugar and yeast; stir and let stand 5 minutes or until frothy.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together warm milk, 3 of the eggs, remaining ¾ cup (180 mL) sugar and melted butter; set aside.

Add yeast mixture to flour mixture and blend on low speed, or stir to combine.

Add the egg and milk mixture to the flour and yeast and continue to mix (on low) until dough is sticky and begins to come together.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead, adding more flour as required; the dough may not require the full amount of flour. It should be smooth and elastic but slightly sticky to the touch. The process should take about 10 minutes.

From the book Happy Hens & Fresh Eggs: Keeping Chickens in the Kitchen Garden – with 100 Recipes, ©2015, by Signe Langford, Photography by Donna Griffith. Published by Douglas & McIntyre. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.

Place in a well-buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and let rise in a draft-free area at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until doubled in size.

From the book Happy Hens & Fresh Eggs: Keeping Chickens in the Kitchen Garden – with 100 Recipes, ©2015, by Signe Langford, Photography by Donna Griffith. Published by Douglas & McIntyre. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.

Punch down and transfer to floured counter. Gently pat into a rough rectangle of about 7 x 23 inches (18 x 58 cm). Cut dough length-wise with pastry cutter or knife into 9 equal strands.

From the book Happy Hens & Fresh Eggs: Keeping Chickens in the Kitchen Garden – with 100 Recipes, ©2015, by Signe Langford, Photography by Donna Griffith. Published by Douglas & McIntyre. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.

Working with one strand at a time, gently hold each end and tap like skipping rope on the counter until slightly and evenly stretched. Repeat with 2 other strands, then braid the 3 strands together, tucking the ends under to fasten. If desired, place red-tinted hard-boiled eggs (kokkina avga; see below for instructions) between the strands of the braids. Transfer braid onto a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough to form 3 braids, each on a separate baking sheet.

Cover with a floured tea towel and let the braids rise in a warm place for about 50 minutes, or until the dough does not spring back when pressed with a fingertip.

Beat remaining egg and brush egg wash over loaves. If desired, sprinkle with sugar while egg wash is still wet; coloured sugar would be fun for the kiddos and very festive.

Bake loaves on middle rack of preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until golden and hollow when tapped on bottom.

 Making Traditional Greek Red Easter Eggs




The traditional Greek way to make red Easter eggs (kokkina avga) is to boil them up in a whack of onion skins, so I suggest you plan on making a big pot of onion soup or caramelized onions, which are fine for freezing, canning or eating on just about anything! Or—and don’t tell Yia Yia— do what I do, and use beet juice or red wine.

This post was written by Signe Langford




From the book Happy Hens & Fresh Eggs: Keeping Chickens in the Kitchen Garden – with 100 Recipes, ©2015, by Signe Langford, Photography by Donna Griffith. Published by Douglas & McIntyre. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.


Read Signe's other Easter post about making Easter Eggs with natural dyes here.











About the Author

Signe Langford is a restaurant-chef-turned-writer who tells award-winning stories and creates delicious recipes. She is a frequent contributor to the Globe and Mail, National Post, Toronto Life, Canadian Living and Garden Making magazines. In 2105, Signe published her first book Happy Hens & Fresh Eggs; Keeping Chickens in the Kitchen Garden- with 100 Recipes
Raised in the town of Hudson, Quebec Signe grew up surrounded by an ever changing menagerie of critters, both wild and domestic, and her special affection for all feathered creatures has never flagged. At present, she shares a downtown Toronto Victorian with a tiny flock of laying hens. For more stories and recipes please visit www.signelangford.com

Photographer Donna Griffith is based in Toronto. She has taken photographs of food and drink, homes and gardens for a number of publications and books.

Chef Christine Cushing is a celebrity chef and television programme host. She is a resident chef on the Marilyn Dennis Show. She has written three cookbooks and has her own line of artisan food products.

Super Easy Devilled Eggs with Herbs


Devilled eggs seem to be a rather uninspired thing to serve at Easter time, but they are one of those quintessential appetizers that seems to make it onto almost everyone's plate. They're finger food at its most convenient; creamy morsels that slide easily into your mouth and disappear in a bite or two.

I love traditional devilled eggs with mayonnaise and a dusting of paprika, but sometimes it's fun to change things up a bit. Here are some really simple variations on the tried and true classic. They are flavour combinations that are purposely simple with herbs that are easy to find in any grocery store.




Devilled Eggs with Tzatziki & Dill

Makes 6 Eggs

6 hard boiled eggs cooled and halved
2 generous tbsp of tzatziki
1 generous tbsp of half-the-fat mayonnaise
1 gherkin pickle finally diced
the light green section of two green onions
1 tsp fresh dill finely choped
1 tbsp of parsley finely chopped (I used curly parsley)
a sprig of dill to garnish

A "generous" tablespoon of tzatziki

Remove the yellow yokes from 6 hard boiled eggs and put them into a wide-mouth bowl.

Add the tzatziki and the of half-the-fat mayonnaise.

Mash the yokes, tzatziki, and mayonnaise with a fork until smooth and creamy.

Mix in a finely diced gherkin pickle.

Finely chop the light green section of the green onions. Don't use the white part of the onion (too strong) or the tops of the green leaves (they can be tough).You want the light-green segment right in the middle. Add the onions to your bowl.

Finely chop and add the parsley and dill.

Mix everything together with a spoon.

Spoon the egg yoke filling back into the white part of the egg and garnish with a sprig of dill.




Devilled Eggs with Humus & Parsley

Makes 6 Eggs

6 hard boiled eggs cooled and halved
2 generous tbsp of light-Humus
2 generous tbsp of half-the-fat mayonnaise
1 tsp of lemon zest
2 tsp of lemon juice
1tbsp of freshly chopped parsley
1 tbsp of chopped chives
pinch of black pepper


Remove the yellow yokes from 6 hard boiled eggs and put them into a wide-mouth bowl.

Add the light-Humus and the half-the-fat mayonnaise.

Grate and add the lemon zest. Then add the lemon juice.

Mash the yokes, humus, mayonnaise, lemon zest and juice with a fork until smooth and creamy.

Add the parsley and chives. Grind in a little bit of fresh black pepper.

Mix everything together with a spoon.

Spoon the egg yoke filling back into the white part of the egg. Garnish with a sprig of parsley.



Curried Devilled Eggs with Chives

Makes 6 Eggs

6 hard boiled eggs cooled and halved
3 generous tablespoons of half-the-fat mayonnaise
1/2 tsp of mild curry powder
1/2 tsp of cumin
1 tbsp of thyme chopped
1 tbsp of diced red pimentos
1 tbsp of parsley chopped (I used curly parsley)
fresh black pepper
sprinkle of paprika

Remove the yellow yokes from 6 hard boiled eggs and put them into a wide-mouth bowl.

Add the half-the-fat mayonnaise.

Add the mild curry powder and cumin.

Mash the yokes, mayonnaise and spices with a fork until smooth and creamy.


Finely dice the red pimentos and add them to the yoke mixture.

Remove the leaves from sprigs of thyme and chop them finely. Then finely chop some parsley. Add both herbs to the egg yoke mixture. Grind in a little bit of fresh black pepper.

Mix everything together with a spoon.

Spoon the egg yoke mixture back into the white part of the egg. Dust with paprika and garnish with a couple of sprigs of chives.



If you have the patience for a devilled egg that is a bit more finicky to make, you can try slicing off the top third of your hard boiled egg and stuffing it from the top.


Let me know if you try out any of these ideas, I'd love to hear how your devilled eggs turn out.