Moving to Netherlands came with a certain comfort of already having friends and family there, and though I am a plan and organize ahead freak in all aspects of my life, the warm welcoming and the eye opening tips I got from them, made our adjustment in Amsterdam much easier.
The hugs, the kisses (three at a time), the flowers, the phone calls, the visits, the tips, but most of all the food offered to us with so much generosity, filled our hearts and stomachs with true family love and strength to deal with this new adventure.
How can you show your appreciation in such great gestures? Saying thank you didn’t seem enough. Buying presents seemed more than paying back rather than expressing gratitude. I had to find an immediate and direct way to let these people know how important they are to us and how much their love is appreciated .It didn’t take long when it became clear that food is the best solution. Offering food made by your own two hands is a true love gesture, it shows how much you care and value someone, or at least this is what I grew up to believe. It’s no coincidence that my most precious childhood memories are placed around a dinner table with loved ones, while grandma and mom offered their love shaped in heavenly smelling meals.
So it was definitely going to be food, and in particular cookies. But not just any kind of cookies. It had to be a special recipe, one that most hadn’t tried before. A signature cookie to fill their heart with the warmth they had given us, with flavors and aromas of the Mediterranean, and a hint of spices, exactly the way my grandma used to make them.
I knew exactly what I had to do!
My grandma called them “sarakostiana” meaning appropriate for fasting (a willing abstinence from some food groups for religious reasons). These cookies contain only a few ingredients in which eggs and butter are not included, and in their most original version honey is used instead of sugar! I know that by now some of you must be wondering how can a cookie be delicious without eggs and butter! I assure you that if you try this recipe you will adore them both for their rich flavor and their guilt free consistency.
Without any further ado, here comes the recipe of your next favorite treat:
- 1 cup Raw Tahini
- 1 cup Orange Juice
- 1 cup Honey / or brown sugar / or half and half
- 1 tea sp. Baking Soda
- 1 tea sp. Cinnamon Powder
- Zest from 1 Orange
- 4-5 cups All Purpose Flour
- Sesame to sprinkle
- Mix baking soda with orange juice, add honey (or brown sugar) and whisk to dissolve.
- Add tahini, cinnamon and orange zest, and whisk some more.
- Slowly add the flour by whisking with a pastry spoon until you get a batter that doesn’t stick in your fingers and can be shaped as a cookie.
- Make your cookies in a round knot shape (as shown in the pictures) and sprinkle with sesame.
- Bake in preheated oven in 180C for 15-20 minutes.
Simple in ingredients and yet rich in flavours, these cookies are another good example of the old original Mediterranean diet.
Even though I am confident about this recipe, I was anxious to see what the Dutch members of the family will think of them. It was a complete success! My “sarakostiana” cookies had done their job! Everyone kept asking for more and by the end of the evening there were only a few pieces left and I got asked twice for the recipe. Thank God I had baked double the dose and had enough to give them some to take back home. What more can a cook ask for?
Later that night I poured myself a glass of milk, grabbed the last cookie, soaked it in and while I was having that last divine bite I thought to myself…
Mission accomplished 😉