We are half way through Holy Week today and it doesn't really seem like it. It is difficult to feel it when you are an expat I guess...Easter in Greece is a very important holiday, more than Christmas even, and this week is filled with different festivities depending on which part of Greece you are from. That's why we try to at least keep some of the food traditions where we are...so we can feel the vibe of it. Good Wednesday is typically a slow day when it comes to preparing food for Easter. It is mostly a cleaning day. Most of the preparation is done on Good Thursday where you have to make the Easter bread, the easter cookies and paint the eggs red. Women in my mother's village still do this, but if you ask me I think the day for them must have more than 24 hours because to do all this in one day and prepare food for your family and do all the other chores...well impossible. Bare in mind that when they make these recipes they double and triple the quantities which is a lot more work!
So...we decided to split it because we want to take it easy...No need to rush and mess up everything right? So for today we will do the easter cookies. They are not really cookies but more of a biscuit or as we said the greek biscotti. They are crunchy and light but not very sweet. They go well with milk if you want to feel like a kid. But as our friend Tania said when she tasted them, these will be delicious if you dip them in your coffee! :) It is true they accompany any type of hot coffee very well.
To get this recipe I called one of the great aunts back in my mom's village. After she asked me how everybody is doing she gave me the recipe, which by the way she knew by heart! She is almost 80 years old...how she can remember it by heart beats me! I don't remember any recipe unless I have it written down...I don't wanna know what's gonna happen to my memory when and if I reach 80! She kept telling me the ingredients and she says ammonia...what?! I said excuse me? Ammonia? She said yes...I said is that even ok to add as an ingredient? She replied casually, that's how the cookies are made. I asked her why she uses ammonia but her reply was, I found the recipe as is and never questioned it. OK...I thought I'm gonna have to google this and tell her if I manage to find anything.
And I did! Because ask google about anything and you will find it! Apparently, adding ammonia acts as a rising agent. Long before bicarbonate of soda was used, ammonia was used to help dough rise. But that's not the only info I found. Ammonia was and still is used in eastern Europe to make cookies crunchy and light. It is only used in biscuits that are crunchy and not soft at all, because if they are soft then the smell of ammonia remains and it is unappetising. Because they hold no moisture, they last longer and so I'm guessing that was also another reason to use ammonia.
The thing was where would I find ammonia here? I had decided that I would use bicarbonate of soda instead, but when I went through my spice drawer to find paint for the eggs for the next day, I found two small bags of ammonia. My mother had brought them from Greece with the paint! Yes! Now I could add ammonia and see what would happen...
And both Google and my aunt were right! The easter cookies came out light and crunchy! Called my aunt and told her the reason behind the use of ammonia. Her reply? How does your friend know about this? He is not from here and he knows why we use ammonia in our cookies? My friend is Google by the way...and it is a he...
I just replied, well he just knows I guess... :)
We hope you enjoy!
for more information on how to make the Easter cookies please click here
© All right reserved Greek your food 2019
The Greek cuisine