christmas

Vegan kourabiedes with olive oil and a scrumptious almond stuffing - Κουραμπιέδες χωρίς άχνη ζάχαρη, ζυμωμένοι με ελαιόλαδο, γεμιστοί με αμύγδαλα και πασπαλισμένη με αλεύρι καρύδας - veganinathens.com

Vegan Christmas kourabiedes with olive oil and a scrumptious almond stuffing

Kourabiedes (plural: kourabiedes / singular: kourabies) – named after the Turkish word “kurabiye” which means a cookie made of flour, butter and sugar – are delicious “snowy” almond cookies, similar to shortbreads, that are traditionally prepared in almost every Greek house just before the Christmas holidays! Usually, nowadays, they are made with butter, flour, sugar and almonds, they are baked until golden, sometimes they are flavored with rosewater and then they are rolled in icing sugar so as to form their white, snowy coating. However many years before, when the butter was not easy to find in each and every part of Greece, people still enjoyed this treat but they used virgin olive oil instead of butter as olives are abundant in our country.

Vegan kourabiedes with olive oil and a scrumptious almond stuffing - Κουραμπιέδες χωρίς άχνη ζάχαρη, ζυμωμένοι με ελαιόλαδο, γεμιστοί με αμύγδαλα και πασπαλισμένη με αλεύρι καρύδας - Veganinathens.com
Actually the recipe that my grandma used to make contained olive oil, spices and orange zest and every time she baked them, the whole house was permeated by their aromas, making us even more impatient to have our first snowy treat. Since I went vegan I always prefer to make her recipe, although I have made some tiny changes, as kourabiedes made with olive oil are much healthier and foremost they are cruelty free. So instead of white sugar I like to use the unprocessed brown sugar and instead of the icing sugar I use coconut or almond flour for a healthier snowy coating, which also gives to the recipe a distinctive aroma and taste.

Vegan kourabiedes with olive oil and a scrumptious almond stuffing - Κουραμπιέδες χωρίς άχνη ζάχαρη, ζυμωμένοι με ελαιόλαδο, γεμιστοί με αμύγδαλα και πασπαλισμένη με αλεύρι καρύδας - Vegan in Athens

Ingredients

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • ½ cup brandy
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 cups (about 450 g) all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup peeled almonds, ground
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 ½ cups (200 gr) unprocessed brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp natural vanilla extract

Vegan kourabiedes with olive oil and a scrumptious almond stuffing - Κουραμπιέδες χωρίς άχνη ζάχαρη, ζυμωμένοι με ελαιόλαδο, γεμιστοί με αμύγδαλα και πασπαλισμένη με αλεύρι καρύδας - Vegan in Athens

for the filling

  • 1 ½ cups peeled almonds, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons unprocessed brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp water

for dusting

  • ¼ -½ cup rosewater (optional)
  • 1 ½ cups (150 gr) coconut or almond flour

Κουραμπιέδες χωρίς άχνη ζάχαρη, ζυμωμένοι με ελαιόλαδο, γεμιστοί με αμύγδαλα και πασπαλισμένη με αλεύρι καρύδας - Vegan in Athens

 

Κουραμπιέδες χωρίς άχνη ζάχαρη, ζυμωμένοι με ελαιόλαδο, γεμιστοί με αμύγδαλα και πασπαλισμένη με αλεύρι καρύδας - Vegan in Athens

Method
1. In a bowl, add the oil, sugar, brandy and lemon juice and stir until sugar is dissolved.
2. Add in the mixture the baking powder, cinnamon, ground almonds and finally the flour, kneading with a spoon or with your hands until a soft, oily dough is formed. Usually it takes about 3 cups of flour but if the dough is not firm enough you may need to add a little more.
3. Mold the dough into a ball, cover it with a damp towel or a film and leave in a cool place to rest for at least 1 hour.
4. For the filling: In a bowl mix all the ingredients until they bind together.
5. Take small pieces of the dough (in the size of a small tangerine) and with each one of them form a disk of about ½ centimeter thickness with your hand. Place in the center 1 teaspoon of the filling and pull the ends of the dough to the center, so as to enclose the filling. Mold a little bit with your hands to seal and get the shape of a small bun.
6. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Place the buns, leaving 1.5 to 2 cm between them as they increase in volume during baking. Bake in preheated oven at 175 oC for 35-40 minutes or until they get a nice golden brown color.
7. Let them cool slightly and brush them with the rosewater. This step is not necessary but it is recommended.
8. When kourabiedes are completely cool, put the coconut flour in a bowl and dip them one by one so as to form a white coating. Place them on a platter and dust with the remaining coconut flour. Keep them for several days in an airtight container or in a platter covered with film.

Κουραμπιέδες χωρίς άχνη ζάχαρη, ζυμωμένοι με ελαιόλαδο, γεμιστοί με αμύγδαλα και πασπαλισμένη με αλεύρι καρύδας - Vegan in Athens

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Melomakarona, vegan and gluten free small honey cakes - Βέγκαν μελομακάρονα χωρίς γλουτένη με πετιμέζι - Veganinathens.com

Vegan and gluten free small honey cakes – melomakarona

Christmas are about to come, and for this reason, with the advent of December, many households are preparing the celebration. According to the tradition, special desserts are made during the period before Christmas and of course they differ from country to country. One of the most popular Christmas desserts here in Greece are the small honey cakes or melomakarona, not only for their great taste but also because of the spices they contain such as cinnamon and cloves, that create a sense of warmth and are almost synonymous with the Christmas atmosphere. The main basis for melomakarona consists of a crispy, aromatic biscuit, which once baked is submerged in hot, fragrant honey syrup to soften and absorb the aroma and the sweet taste. Finally melomakarona are sprinkled with chopped walnuts mixed with ground cinnamon and maybe ground cloves.

Melomakarona, vegan and gluten free small honey cakes - Βέγκαν μελομακάρονα χωρίς γλουτένη με πετιμέζι - Vegan in Athens

In order to make them gluten free I replaced the wheat flour with a mix of gluten free flours and to make them vegan and really peaceful, I substituted the traditionally used honey with grape molasses (petimezi) that blends beautifully with the rest of the ingredients. I really love this recipe as the result is absolutely delicious with a pleasantly moist and in the same time crunchy texture, without crumbling, while the taste is exactlyas  it should be and probably none will notice that they do not contain gluten or honey. Note that the buckwheat flour that I suggest is a personal favorite because of its earthy fragrance – like being in the woods in the middle of the autumn – which is paired very nicely with the orange zest, cinnamon and grape syrup. However if you don’t like its characteristic smell, you can replace it with an equal amount of corn flour.

Melomakarona, vegan and gluten free small honey cakes - Βέγκαν μελομακάρονα χωρίς γλουτένη με πετιμέζι - Vegan in Athens

Ingredients
(about 20-25 pieces)

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour or corn flour
  • 1 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch or white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 80 ml orange juice
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1/4 cup brandy or cognac
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

for the fragrant syrup

  • 1 1/2 cup grape molasses or another liquid sweetener
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • zest of an orange

decor

  • 1 cup walnuts, peeled
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • zest of an orange

Melomakarona, vegan and gluten free small honey cakes - Βέγκαν μελομακάρονα χωρίς γλουτένη με πετιμέζι - Vegan in Athens

Method

1. In a bowl put olive oil, orange juice, sugar, cognac and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add the baking soda and baking powder and mix well. Add the flour slowly, kneading with a wooden spoon or with hands. Shape a ball with the dough, cover with a damp towel or a clear film and leave in a cool place to rest for at least 1 hour.
2. Take small pieces of dough (in the size of a small tangerine) and form the melomakarona with 1,5-2 cm thickness. Traditionally they have the shape of an egg or a disc. Put them on a baking pan lined with parchment paper, leaving 1,5-2 cm between each other, as they are going to increase in volume during baking. Bake at 175 oC for 30 minutes or until golden.
3. For the syrup: Meanwhile in a saucepan put together all the ingredients for the syrup and simmer for 5 minutes over low heat.
4. Once the melomakarona are baked, immerse in the boiling syrup 4-5 at a time, depending on the diameter of your saucepan. Let them sit 3-6 minutes on each side and invert with a fork. Using 2 forks, remove the melomakarona from the syrup and put them on a plate. Repeat the process until all the melomakarona are immersed in the syrup.
5. Mix walnuts with cinnamon, cloves and orange zest. Once the melomakarona are slightly cooled, dip them in the walnuts – spices mix and put on a platter. They can be eaten immediately, but they become even more delicious the day after! You can keep them in air tight container for more than a week.

Melomakarona, vegan and gluten free small honey cakes - Βέγκαν μελομακάρονα χωρίς γλουτένη με πετιμέζι - Vegan in Athens

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Χριστουγεννιάτικη πουτίγκα - Vegan British Christmas Plum pudding - Veganinathens.com

British Christmas pudding – vegan, moist and delicious

When I was a child and especially a teenager I used to to imagine that when I would grow up, I would choose to travel all around the world during Christmas, in order to come in contact with other cultures, different customs and traditions. However, every time I’ve traveled during Christmas holidays in northern destinations, I had a really hard time with the cold weather, which seemed a very hostile condition to a tropical climate enthusiast like me – I used to live in a place where one could go swimming at Christmas! Therefore, I had to invent other ways to fulfill my childhood dreams and experience other cultures without leaving the relatively warm Greek climate.

Χριστουγεννιάτικη πουτίγκα - Vegan British Christmas Plum pudding - Veganinathens.com
Fortunately for me it was not that hard. As a true food lover, even the smell of food, the image and the taste of a juicy dessert, prepared according to authentic recipes of different countries, are enough to make me travel mentally miles away in space and time, in countries and cities that I would actually like to visit only during summer, when the temperatures raise above zero. That’ s how we started incorporating recipes, music and customs from other countries in our house, making Christmas a multicultural, peaceful day. One of our favorite recipes is the traditional English Christmas pudding.
So every year, in the last weekend of November – right, November! – me and my partner, decorate the house with colorful Christmas lights and a Christmas tree and afterwards we prepare together our vegan English Christmas pudding. It may seem too early, but according to tradition, Christmas pudding has to be prepared at least one month before Christmas, in order to age and acquire its full taste and flavor. If one month seems a lot, let’s just say that in England, they used to prepare this dessert even one year before, shortly after Christmas.
This is a recipe that really works, it is super tasty and probably noone will notice that it’s vegan. What I really like about it is that each small bite has a strong taste of Christmas, cinnamon, fruits and brandy. Even though it takes quite a lot ingredients and patience, it is really worth trying.

Χριστουγεννιάτικη πουτίγκα - Vegan British Christmas Plum pudding - Vegan in Athens

Ingredients

  • 150 g. dried figs
  • 200 g. dried cranberries
  • 150 g. sultanas
  • 100 g. black raisins (or more sultanas)
  • 200 g. dried apricots
  • 150 g. candied ginger
  • 200 g. candieded citrus or orange peel
  • 125 g. mixed candied or dried fruit, with or without sugar such as pineapple, papaya, various berries, cherries
  • 2 small green apples, coarsely grated
  • 1 large carrot peeled and coarsely grated
  • 2 oranges (juice and zest)
  • 1 lemon (juice and zest)
  • 225 g. brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 100 g. margarine (I use a homemade)
  • 150 g. bread, crumbled
  • 180 g. all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 40 ml rum
  • 40 ml brandy
  • 40 ml port wine or liqueur of your choice (orange liqueur is my favorite)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg

Χριστουγεννιάτικη πουτίγκα - Vegan Plum pudding - Vegan in Athens

To serve

40 ml rum or brandy

Powdered sugar or “drunk” vanilla sauce

For the “drunk” vanilla sauce

  • 150 ml vegan milk (preferably homemade such as almond or coconut milk)
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 ½ tbsp rice starch or corn starch
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 shots of rum or brandy

Χριστουγεννιάτικη πουτίγκα - Vegan Plum pudding - Vegan in Athens

Χριστουγεννιάτικη πουτίγκα - Vegan Plum pudding - Vegan in Athens

Χριστουγεννιάτικη πουτίγκα - Vegan Plum pudding - Vegan in Athens

Method
1. Chop all the dried fruits (except from the cranberries and raisins which do not need to chopping) and place them in a bowl together with the flaxseed. Pour in the bowl the alcoholic beverages, mix and allow to marinate for 1 hour.
2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl: flour, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, baking powder and soda.
3. Melt margarine in a saucepan and put it in a large bowl together with the sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon and add gradually the juice of the citrus fruits and the zest. Add the dried fruit together with the remaining soaking liquid, the grated apples, the grated carrots, the crumbled bread and the flour. Stir for a while, until completely homogenized.
4. Prepare a metal pudding mould of 2 liter capacity or use two smaller of 1 liter capacity.
Brush or spray the inner of the mould with some oil or margarine and lay its bottom with a round piece of greaseproof paper, equal to the diameter of the bottom. Fill the mould up to ¾ of its volume. Cut another round piece of greaseproof paper with a diameter equal to the mouth of the mould and press with your hands to cover the dough.
5. Cover the pan with more greaseproof paper tying it around tightly, using a string suitable for food.
Place the mould in a pot of water. The water should reach the ¾ of the height of the mould.
Put to simmer for 5-6 hours on low heat, but from time to time add some boiling water in the pot as it evaporates while simmering.
6. Let cool and put in a cool and dry place (over the cupboard maybe) for one month, covered and tight with the greaseproof paper. This procedure of aging is necessary for the perfect combination of flavors. Thanks to the alcohol, sugar and dried fruit it is not going to spoil but in contrast it becomes tastier as time passes.
7. How to serve: The pudding can be served plain or sprinkled with powdered sugar or with a creamy sauce. Usually I prepare one hour before serving the vanilla sauce as follows: in a saucepan, add the milk, the sugar, the vanilla and the starch and stir to dissolve as we don’t want any lumps. Put the mixture to cook over medium heat and stir constantly until it thickens and comes to boil. Remove from heat and add the brandy, stirring constantly. Transfer the cream to a glass bowl and cover its surface with a film so as not to form crust. Boil the pudding again for about one hour before serving, with the procedure described above. Then invert on a serving platter, remove the greaseproof paper, pour with 40 ml rum or brandy and flambe. This process is very impressive and your guests will surely enjoy it! Cut into pieces and serve with the cream.

Χριστουγεννιάτικη πουτίγκα - Vegan Plum pudding - Vegan in Athens

 

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