For days now I had been trying to get myself into the spirit of the holidays. The house had been decorated for about two weeks but I still hadn’t gotten into that Christmas-y swing of things.
But nothing says Christmas for me like the smell of cookies and sweets baking away in the oven. So what better way to get into the Christmas mood than to start baking? By the end of the week, I should have ready our traditional family recipes for koulourakia and kourambiedes but to start things off today I decided to try my hand at a new recipe.
This weekend I found myself devouring an issue of a Greek food magazine called “Gastronomos;” an issue which I perused a number of times before but which really grabbed my attention the other day. I was salivating over many, if not all, of the dishes illustrated on the vibrant pages–it was the December 2006 issue of the magazine so, of course, it was dedicated to holiday cooking and the rich food set out against the rich Christmas color palette really brought out the holiday spirit in me.
One of the issue’s articles featured Kaiti Koufonikola, owner of Cafe Avissinia in Athens’ Monastiraki, cooking at home for the holidays. Kaiti Koufonikola’s cooking, according to the article, combines the distinct cuisines of Constantinople and Northern Greece. I think her simple dishes spoke to me the most as the article so successfully illustrated her passion for cooking traditional, no frills recipes and sharing those heartwarming dishes with a large group of family and friends. I related not only to her style of cooking but to her style of entertaining and giving back to those who surround her through life’s simple pleasures.
It is my daughter’s “name-day” today–Dec. 15–as it is the feast day of St. Eleftherios and I’ve decided to prepare some of Kaiti Koufonikola’s dishes for our family and friends who will visit us this evening. I’ll share the rest with you later this week as I have yet to begin cooking (speaking of which, I really should get back to the task at hand) but today I wanted to share this recipe for Seker Pare which I adapted from Kaiti Koufonikola’s recipe I found in the pages of “Gastronomos.” Seker Pare are delightful “cookies,” if you will, made with fine semolina, baked until golden and then soaked in sweet syrup. I love the texture of desserts that call for semolina (ravani being among my favorites) and plan on adding these simple seker pare to our family’s holiday baking repertoire.
P.S. I’d like to send these cookies to Susan of Food Blogga for her Eat Christmas Cookies event. All the entries look absolutely delicious and it’s a great way to swap cookie recipes and get into the spirit of the holidays. Have a look here!
(Adapted from a recipe by Kaiti Koufonikola featured in “Gastronomos”)
Makes about 36 pieces
2 sticks butter, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar