Winter time, cookie time… This year winter has been amazingly reluctant to flood us with snow before the calendar winter. Yes, here in St Petersburg winter comes quite early with its short days and loooong dark mornings and evenings. So the first official snow fell just before my b-day which I usually use a kind of a winter point – the first snow normally arrives before the end of November. This year I was busy with the 2-day educational fair I was participating in, so I kind of missed my b-day actually! Anyway, it was a great experience actually being responsible for an effective performance at the fair!
So instead of a b-day meal there was a three-layer sandwich from home-made buns (one of the best basic bread recipes that I’ve been twisting around for quite a lot of times already, last time even turning it into hamburger buns for easier sandwiches, check it out!) and instead of a b-day cake there was pain d’épices (which can be easily turned into quicker baking muffins), another staple of mine – a great recipe to use the (now seeming to be finally ending!) jam leftovers! I’ve made these 2 recipes so many times already, they just deserve more than mentioning here!
The best view from my office window,well, almost, because this photo was taken from the street. Thanks to my parents all the materials made it safe from the office to the fair venue. And then mounting and decorating together. Feels like a family business,)
The next day was so busy I didn’t even take a photo of the grounds. The fair venue was one of the blocks of Lenexpo, the largest fair ground in St Petersburg. Been there last time with Mariinsky theatre, the same block #3 where they were rehearsing the opera. It’s near our city seaport, so the view is what you’d expect in such a place. Looked a bit like Arkhangelsk to me. Yesterday it was below zero in the morning and the sky was … freezingly beautiful. And in the evening too:
So, since winter is here now, with its piercing wind and snowflakes circling outside the window, let’s see what we can do to bring in some warm comfort. Cookies, right?
The first recipe has been waiting for its turn for ages already, so let it go first.
Garlicky Cream Cheese & Buttermilk Biscuits adapted from sinfullyspicy.wordpress.com will make crumbly thick savoury cookies to go with your soup or butter : )
I’ve made a number of changes to the original recipe: I used a thicker Adygea cheese rather than cream cheese and added black olives for … extra savour, I guess. It just came to me that olives should be there too. I used kefir instead of buttermilk, but it’s more or less the same soured milk thing.
Result: The recipe will make a bag of these cheesy garlicky things. I think that some herbs would be a good addition to them next time. I’m sure you can leave the garlic out if you don’t like it but after being baked it doesn’t make the biscuits overly garlicky.
Ok, so those were to accompany your main dish, here’s what you should do to satisfy your sweet tooth (or more likely teeth : ) Let’s try a Greek recipe for change! Thanks to my sis we have a bag (well, we HAD it) of authentic pistachios from my favourite Aegean island Aegina. I reeeeaaaally owe it an entire post, this is a place which is just like my third home, so very dear to me. The first place I ever been to in Greece and in Europe, back in 1996 was our first visit to this island and since then I’ve returned there several times and will certainly return again. Should you have some (equally gorgeous!) pistachios on hand, here’s what you can do with them:
Ouzo and Pistachio Paximadia adapted from souvlakiforthesoul.com will make sweet and oh so creamy (!) Greek biscotti with nutty pistachios.
Changes: I used regular sugar instead of caster sugar and I guess this is why I had to add in more flour as the dough seemed to be too liquid. When I made it into a log and put it in the oven, it continued to spread and flatten, and didn’t brown much on top. And as for the pistachios, tsssss… I think they are salted 🙂 Well, I KNOW they are salted, actually but the sweetness of the dough was such that it overdid the salted pistachios.) I had no ouzo so used vodka instead, the biscotti lost the anise flavour they should have but we didn’t mind.
Result: Chewy, sweet and yes, creamy! The procedure with biscotti (and paximadia is a type of twice baked cookies) is usually long, well, at least it seems so with its two bakes (I forgot to turn the paximadia over when baking!). But it’s worth it. Really! These paximadia were somewhat… creamy! I’m not sure what added this creaminess to them, perhaps the eggs or the sugar.
The brownish hue of the photos is due to the lack of sufficiently long daylight here… I had to put the board with the paximadia under my desk lamp which has this old school yellow bulb. So actually the true colour would be more on the white side with distinct green specks of pistachios, amazing!
Paximadia is a traditional Greek treat. I don’t remember trying such cookies in Greece but I definitely saw them around, especially at bakeries. Oh God I miss Greece these winter days… The author suggests dunking these crunchy biscotti in good coffee (as it would traditionally be, with a cup fo Greek coffee to make it more authentic) but I assure you any drink will do (ouzo too? :), as long as it warms you up. Thank you Peter for this great recipe!
One more fair next weekend and just two weeks before the deadline for my Russian applicants, hopefully future students. I hope snow will encourage them to apply and move to a warmer country to study : )