Tsoureki and feta grilled cheese

Tsoureki and feta grilled cheese

Tsoureki and feta grilled cheese

For years, when we thought about grilled cheese we thought only about two pieces of white toast slathered with butter, with a slice of processed cheese in between them.  This would get fried in a non-stick pan and served, usually with a cold glass of milk.  A thin, crispy, but at the same time kind of soggy, sandwich…and we loved it.  It was one of the first things we learned to make ourselves when we were young, and we felt that we were teaching our parents a thing or two…grilled cheese was not something they grew up on. Now that we are older, and more culinary (we have a blog after all!), we still occasionally enjoy this classic…but we’ve also learned that there is more than one way to grill a cheese sandwich.

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Tsoureki bread pudding

Tsoureki bread pudding

Tsoureki bread pudding

 

Greek Pascha is the holiday which keeps on giving…leftovers.  One of the things that our Easter season seems to leave us with plenty of is tsoureki, and we’re thrilled.  It seems that most Greek homes bake a huge number of these sweet loaves during this holiday season, many of which are then are gifted to family and friends.  If you are Greek however, you usually end up receiving as many tsourekia as you give away; you end up breaking even!  Good problems to have!

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Tsoureki French Toast

Tsoureki french toast

Tsoureki French Toast

Can you ever have too much of a good thing?  We don’t think so.  Tsoureki is one of those very good things, and like us, you may find yourself having an abundance of it at this time of year.  Although we spent several hours baking loads of loaves which we then offered to family and friends, many of these family and friends presented us with their tsourekia.  We broke even!  How wonderful!

There are so many ways to enjoy tsoureki.  We love to have a plain slice of tsoureki in the morning along with our Greek coffee.  We also often enjoy a slice with a warm cup of mountain tea in the evening.  It is something that we pick at when trying to decide what to make for supper,  something we pack up for school snacks, and something we often turn to when we’re hungry…but not really.  And then,  often on the weekends which easily lend themselves to decadent breakfasts, we like to start our day with tsoureki French toast.

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Tsoureki (Τσουρέκι)

Tsoureki (Τσουρέκι), greek easter bread

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Sweet is the day that you decide to devote some time to making tsoureki, the traditional Greek Easter bread which is often served to break the Lenten fast.   On Easter Sunday it is offered to family and friends as a way to express friendship and love.  Godparents often include a loaf of tsoureki in the Easter gifts they give their godchildren, tucked into the gift bag next to the shoes and the lambada (Easter candle).

Similar to Jewish challah bread, tsoureki is sweet, soft and fluffy.  What sets it apart from other, similar, egg- enriched breads however are the flavourings of mastiha and mahlepi.  Although these unique ingredients are key, and present in almost all tsourekia recipes, there are numerous variations, with some families adding additional flavours of orange or brandy or other nice things.

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