Cookies around Christmas Time

Now, 12 days before Christmas, I start getting into the mood…it’s feeling a lot like Christmas!
Today, I tried to create a new, not-so-traditional cookies and since they turned out being really yummy and refreshing, I thought I share the recipes with you.


Orange-Almond bits

for the dough:
400g white flour, me 00
125g icing sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Vanilla extract
1 egg
200g cold butter, cut in pieces

Juice of 1 Orange, set 3 tablespoons apart
Orange zest of 1 orange
125g finely ground almonds
125g caster sugar

3 tablespoons orange juice
80g icing sugar

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl, add the egg and butter, I used my Kenwood Food Processor to make a smooth dough. Takes only a few minutes, of course, if you want build muscles in your fingers and arms, feel free to knead manually.

For the filling:
Mix the orange juice, orange zest, almonds and sugar, stir until smooth.
Heat the oven to 180c.

Cut the dough in half and roll the dough on a baking paper into a rectangle of approx 30×40 cm, same with the other half. Now spread the filling evenly on one dough rectangle, leave 1cm on each side free. Cover with the other half, press the edges well with a fork and punch some holes into the top.

Bake for 25 minutes. Maybe 30 if the surface is still too soft.

Meanwhile stir the remaining orange juice and the icing sugar very well until you get a creamy glazing. Remove the giant cookie from the oven and immediately apply the glazing.
Let it dry well and then cut the dough into small cookie bits, depends on your taste, i cut it into 2×2 cm squares.

The bits remain fresh for 3 weeks if stored in a tin. But I doubt they will last that long…


Ginger-what? Brunsli are very traditional Swiss Christmas cookies. I tried to make them with a twist. Actually, I altered not only the recipe, but also the shape.

You will need:

200g caster sugar
250g finely ground almonds
3 tablespoons white flour, me 00
2 egg whites, beaten until very stif
100g chocolate, bitter, me Lindt 65%, broken in bits
Boiling water
1 tablespoon freshly grind ginger or ginger powder
1 tablespoon candied ginger, finely chopped

Sugar, ginger powder to form cookies

And here’s how to do them:

Stir the sugar, almonds, flour in a bowl. Add the beaten egg white, blend together

In a separate bowl, pour boiling water over the chocolate bits and let melt for 2-3 minutes. Test with a toothpick if the chocolate has melted. Drain the water carefully, then stir the ginger, fresh or powder, into the chocolate. Blend the chocolate with the other mix until smooth. The mix remains quite fluffy and moist. Now comes the fun part: mix sugar and ginger and add some to the palms of your hands, take some of the moist mix (size of a walnut) and form a ball, place it on a baking sheet. Continue until the entire mix is used up.
If you have sugar/ginger mix left, spread it evenly on the balls, using a sieve.
Flatten the balls pulling them gently with the straight bottom side of a glas or cup.
Decorate each cookie with some of the chopped candied ginger.
Let dry over night. The next day, bake them for 4 minutes at 220c in the preheated oven.
Again, in a tin they remain fresh for two weeks, really? They won’t last neither:-)

From Athens to Nafpliò in spring

Epidavros, Argolis, Peloponnese
After having done business in Athens the past days, it was time to enjoy life. We did rent a car (hint: become an Avis preferred member and they will never ever again ask you to effect additional insurance etc., what a treat!).

First stop was at the Corinth Canal (Greek: Διώρυγα της Κορίνθου, Dhioryga tis Korinthou) which connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea. It cuts through the narrow Isthmus of Corinth and separates the Peloponnese peninsula from the Greek mainland, thus effectively making the former an island.


You can do Bungy Jumping, but I am not crazy enough to try this! Imagine you bang your head on a vessel that is just passing underneath…no, no!
It was early afternoon and we had plenty of time, so instead of driving the direct route inland to Nafpliò, we chose the coastal road. The beauty of travelling off-season in spring is that the nature is in full blossom, Oranges are ripe, hanging low in the trees, almost no people around. The downside of it: not many Tavernas are open yet. We drove to Nea Epidavros where we found the Avra Taverna at the port. We met Matina (nick name for Stamatina) and her parents who run the place. Avra is also a hotel…but, oh well…the rooms are not my favourites really.
We told Papa Tolias that he should cook for us whatever he has available, and that was the best decision. We got a freshly squeezed orange juice to start with, a healthy greek salad and a plate of different fried fish! It was very tasty and since it was far too much fish, we shared it with about 4 cats.


We also got some fresh veggies from Mama’s garden, flavoured with fantastic oive oil. With the coffee, we were offered pieces of bergamot which was slightly candied in very sweet syrup. And then the family sat with us and chatted about Greece, their lives, history of Epidavros, and so on! I am always amazed how open minded the people here are, they want to share their lives and ideas with us as if we were best friends or family. I love that a lot!

After a longer stop than planned, we continued on to Nafpliò where we will stay for the weekend.
The journey coming here led us along the coast for a few more kilometers before we finally drove inland, along green hills, thousands of olive and orange trees, watching shepards taking care of their flock of sheeps. I fall in love with Greece each time I visit a bit more, the countryside is absolutely amazing right now!

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