Greek Wedding Cookies + Debbie Matenopoulos Cookbook Review and Giveaway!

Greek Wedding Cookies + Debbie Matenopoulos Cookbook Review and Giveaway!

We’ve all been told eating a Mediterranean diet is healthy for us, but sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin. That’s why I was so excited to get the chance to review Debbie Matenopoulos’ cookbook It’s All Greek to Me and be a part of her blog tour! Right on the cover, it notes it’s the way to “transform your healthy the Mediterranean way with my family’s century old recipes.”

I loved reading the introduction. In it, Debbie notes she never when to cooking school, but learned everything she knows from her mom. I think the best way to learn how to cook is just as Debbie did. Growing up with food, working with it on a daily basis, and learning to cook little by little through tradition is so important. It sets us up for a life of delicious and healthy eating.

Debbie Matenopoulos It's All Greek to Me

She learned to eat seasonally and focus on organic, free-range, and hormone free foods from her mom, who taught her this before it was trendy. Debbie also shares the schedule on which Greeks tend to enjoy their meals. It is quite different from what we have become accustomed to here in the US, with lunch being the largest meal, desserts enjoyed in the afternoon, and dinner only a light meal.

Following the introduction are basic cooking tips and an index of ingredients common in the Greek pantry and many of the dishes in the book. This was incredibly interesting to read. From the medicinal properties of cinnamon and garlic to Debbie’s favorite honey and vinegars, this is part of the book I will reference often, even when I’m just experimenting in the kitchen on my own.

Greek Wedding Cookies

The book is broken into sections with appetizers, basic sauces, salads, savory phyllo pastries, soups, stews, and one-pot meals, seafood main dishes, meat and poultry main dishes, vegetables and rice, sweet pastries, cakes, and cookies, and the extras. In between some of the sections is a feature on part of Greece. While they were all interesting, I loved reading about the Athens Baker Boys as well as how they read coffee cups kind of like reading palms in Greece.

Of course, I also have tons of pages flagged with recipes I want to try. Mom and I are dying to try the garlic sauce with potatoes. She once had sauce like that at a restaurant and has always wanted to recreate it. The lentil soup and baked cod with lemon garlic parsley sauce are also calling my name and sure to be on the dinner table soon. And the desserts, oh my, the desserts. I want to try them all, but I can’t stop thinking about the classic walnut cake.

Greek Wedding Cookies

Greek Wedding Cookies

Today, I have Greek Wedding Cookies for you. You’ll want to make these right away while you order a copy of the book and wait for it to come. I did make a couple changes to the recipe based on what I had in my pantry. I used regular sticks of butter instead of whipped, almond meal instead of grinding the almonds myself, and bourbon instead of cognac, and they turned out perfectly. Mom kept saying how they look just like the ones in the book! They are the lightest cookies, with a hint of crunch before they dissolve in your mouth, leaving the most pleasant vanilla flavor. I kept reaching for more and more, because they are just so good. The ingredients listed below are as written in the book; I included my adapted instructions.

Because I know you’ll love this book, the publisher has been kind enough to provide me with a copy to giveaway!

Greek Wedding Cookies

To enter, answer the question: What is your favorite Greek food?
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IMPORTANT: This giveaway is open to residents of the US only.
The giveaway ends Monday, August 4, 2014, at 11:59 pm EST.
The winner will be chosen via the Random Number Generator on random.org. The winner will be notified by email and will have 24 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond, a new winner will be chosen. Good luck!

Greek Wedding Cookies + Debbie Matenopoulos Cookbook Review and Giveaway!

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 40-50 cookies

Ingredients

2 cups slivered blanched almonds, toasted and coarsely ground

1 pound whipped unsalted sweet cream butter, room temperature

2 large egg yolks

½ cup confectioners’ sugar, plus 3 cups for coating

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons cognac

4 to 5 cups all-purpose flour

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.

In a large bowl, cream butter, egg yolks, and ½ cup confectioners’ sugar with a hand or stand mixer on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 6 minutes. Reduce to low speed and add in almonds, vanilla, and cognac, before raising the speed back to medium-high and beating for an additional 2-3 minutes.

Reduce speed to low again and add the flour one cup at a time. Start with 4 cups, add more as necessary until the dough comes together and is soft and not sticky. I used the recommended 4 ½ cups. Knead the dough by hand for about a minute to make sure all ingredients are incorporated.

Scoop out heaping tablespoons of dough, form them into half-moons and place on the baking sheet. Cookies do not need to be too far apart as they will not spread, but they should not be touching. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cookies are pale yellow. They should not be brown. Cool about 5 minutes on sheets before placing remaining confectioners’ sugar in a bowl and rolling each cookie in it until fully coated. Allow cookies to cool completely. Cookies may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Notes

Additional cooling time is necessary

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Disclaimer: I was provided with a review copy and the giveaway of It’s All Greek to Me, but all opinions, as always, are mine.

Greek Wedding Cookies

The Bird and The Bread Review

The Bird and The Bread Review

Spicy Greens Salad

My summer got a whole lot more fun when I met my friends Katie and Kelly for dinner at The Bird and The Bread in Birmingham, Michigan late last month. They are awesome ladies, and a girls’ night out was just what all of us needed.

We talked and talked and talked the night away. We covered every topic on the planet, enjoyed the lovely evening, and laughed harder than I have in a very long time. I’m lucky to count them as my friends.

Brisket Sliders

Brisket Sliders

Unfortunately, the restaurant wasn’t a hit with any of us. It all began when the waitress didn’t approach our table for at least ten minutes upon our arrival. Then they were out of bottled water. I know you all think I’m crazy with my bottled water demands, but we’re all different and it’s important to me.

The manager sent a busboy to pick up bottled water, but then reported the drug store didn’t have Panna. I never requested a specific brand – I’m not terribly picky about that. After stating I’d just pick up a bottle on the way home, the manager himself went back to the store and bought Perrier, which said right on the front of the bottle it was sparkling water. He then said he’d tried enough and was giving up. Guess I’d just pick up that bottle on the way home after all.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

The food didn’t fare much better. Kelly liked her spicy greens salad with goat cheese and roasted grapes. Katie wasn’t a fan of the brisket sliders, which tasted more like lackluster roast beef than brisket, nor the macaroni and cheese, which she felt needed a crispy topping. She did enjoy the green bean casserole and we all liked the roasted sweet potatoes.

Kale and Fennel Salad

Kale and Fennel Salad

French Fries

French Fries

I ordered the kale and fennel salad. It looked beautiful and was said to be dressed with a citrus-champagne vinaigrette. Imagine how that would taste in your mind right now. Light, bright, refreshing, a little tart. Instead it was heavily spiced with cumin, coriander, and cardamom – not at all as described and not at all pleasing to my palate. We did love the French fries I ordered.

Dessert may have been the biggest disappointment of all. We all have a sweet tooth and were looking forward to a treat. We ordered the peach galette. The galette itself may have been good, but we couldn’t tell since the pesto-tasting basil gelato and basically burnt Chianti sauce ruined it.

Peach Galette

Peach Galette

Luckily, Katie, Kelly, and I had an awesome time chatting three hours away. We can’t wait to meet up again . . . just at a different restaurant.

The Bird and The Bread Review

Me, Kelly, and Katie

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