Hello, lovely friends. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas celebration, filled with all manner of delicious things! I thought I would share with you, one particular treat, which featured on our Christmas table this year - and also a new tradition. Like many families, we spent half of Christmas day at the homes of both of our parents. In the morning, we started Christmas day with delicate little glasses of Metaxa brandy, on ice, and delicious slices of home made hortopita (wild greens pie) that had been lovingly made by my mother-in-law. In the afternoon, we headed down to my parents home to share Christmas evening with them and my gorgeous cousins and aunt - as well as an uncle who had surprised us on Christmas eve and was visiting all the way from far North Queensland.
Not having our families altogether this year (we hosted one big combined Christmas in the first year we were married), I wanted to bring something to both Christmas tables, to be shared by our families - across Sydney. On our recent trip back to Greece, I had been inspired by a recipe I was given for "Christopsomo", a Greek Christmas bread. The recipe was similar to an Italian panettone and was baked into a large round loaf - again similar to panettone. Like many countries in Europe, Greece also has its regional specialities. I was told that in Zakynthos, the home island of my mother-in-law and her family, the Christopsomo is made a little differently to the rest of Greece. It includes the famous Zakynthian currants, for which the Island is famous and instead of the Christopsomo being baked into a big, high round loaf - it is shaped into a large ring.
On Christmas eve, I made one large bread for each family. The recipe makes HUGE breads - and I probably made not only enough for each of our families, but also my mother-in-law's village in Zakynthos! On Christmas day, at my parents home, I asked my dad, as the eldest member of the family at our table to carry out a Greek Christmas tradition, involving the Christopsomo. The eldest family member pours a little sprinkle of olive oil - and sometimes also a little wine - over the bread before cutting it and making a Christmas blessing for the family. Slices are then passed around to all those gathered at the table. A coin is hidden in the bread and it is supposed to bring good luck throughout the coming year to the one who finds it - I added a cleaned euro coin!! It was a lovely way to start our Christmas feast and it was also a beautiful way to bind together the traditions of both our families. My dad then added his own twist to the tradition, by opening a bottle of French champagne to enjoy with the bread - instead of the customary red wine. This beautiful bread, rich with spices and red wine is also lovely toasted the next day! We continued our Christmas celebrations this morning, by toasting some slices of the bread and topping with grilled fresh peaches and a little ricotta sweetened with Greek honey. I think this touching tradition and beautiful bread will be part of our family Christmas for many years to come!!