Too many cooks spoil the broth was confirmed as a myth on Sunday. My mission was accomplished! But try picturing four generations, an Italian guest (now member of the family), mum’s kitchen and ‘supposedly’ one task!My mum was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. She insisted we come back on another day but she was over ruled, I wanted to make ‘Kourapiedes’ (Greek sugar coated Christmas cookies) after our family lunch. I refused to leave it for another day because I liked the idea of us all being huddled together, including Amadeo, and finding time in the run up to Christmas is almost impossible.
Tidying up the kitchen for a second time, after lunch then after deserts and coffee, my younger sister, my Yiayia (grandmother in Greek) and I started gathering the ingredients and laying them out on the island bar. Having five children in the house, my three and my middle sister’s two, didn’t pose a problem until, our two youngest sons came to ‘help’. Bear in mind, both are more than a handful, they sat on the side working top next to the two blenders switching them on and off because they loved the whirring of the blender. At this point, my Yiayia, Elena, the two boys (a 3 and a 4-year-old) and myself were making a bit of a noise to put it mildly and it was probably at this point that the knob from one of the blenders ‘went missing’! Just my luck in walks mum with Amadeo and noticed it – what a hoo ha!!!
The boys and the blender:
Wohoo did the shouting start! Mum started searching for the knob to her 40-year-old Kenwood blender, the boys denied seeing it, blaming each other, my Yiayia was trying to concentrate, Elena was trying to shush us all up because she felt sorry for my grandmother who couldn’t even hear herself think and I was acting as photographer trying to capture these moments for the blog, trying to arrange everyone so they looked good in the picture. Writing this article, and recollecting this scene sends me into hysterics but it also fills my heart with nothing but love and appreciation because although it was bedlam and not your conventional baking environment, it was a happy, unforgettable time.
In came Nayia (8) and Annie (5), mine and my sister’s daughters. Being little girls they demanded to be part of it. Ordering them repeatedly to wash their hands and roll up their sleeves they then decided they were hungry. So while the cookies were being kneaded by one and rolled by another into balls ready to be put in the oven, my mum started making sandwiches and of course that became a never ending job – everyone wanted them!
Could it get any worse? Yes! The football match between Liverpool and Bournemouth had finished, so my oldest son and my husband also trouped into the kitchen. They then gathered round mum’s island gobbling up the sandwiches claiming they would never watch the football match again at my mum’s house because it had brought bad luck to Liverpool, their team. It was crazier than you can imagine.
Whilst the dough was being rolled, pictures were being taken, sandwiches were being eaten and more being made, everyone was talking over each other to be heard. Classic- that’s our household! I forgot to mention that we are considered to be a loud family but it really couldn’t have got any louder than this. No wonder my mum was against the idea on Sunday. It was panic and sheer pandemonium! But moments like this are to be cherished, they don’t happen too often and when they do, so what if it’s chaos? The result was spectacular, our fat free (NOT) lemon infused ‘kourapiedes’ are to die for and are ready to be eaten. Actually by the time this got written they were gone – bring on the next cooking session!
My Yiayia’s recipe is definitely worth jotting down.
Makes approx. 70
(Use the same cup throughout)
1 tin 350gr Spry
1 cup Sweetcorn oil / 250gr unsalted butter
4 cups plain flour
¾ cup icing sugar
2 egg yolks
2 cups unsalted almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ espresso cup brandy
2 vanilla sachets
1 whole lemon zest
1 teaspoon baking powder
Soak almonds, take off peel and roast till light brown. Blend into a powdery form.
Put the sugar, both butters, 2 egg yolks and almonds into the blender. Blend well. Add brandy, vanilla and baking powder to the mixture. Blend altogether.
Add flour slowly then kneed mixture as it will be thick. Make little balls and put in the oven at 175 degrees for 18/20 min.
Once cooled down sprinkle with icing sugar so they look like this: