Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Amalia Cooks Up a Storm

Although she's not quite two and a half yet, Amalia already has a favorite hobby -- cooking.  She loves pouring ingredients into bowls and then "misking" them all together--a word she created out of "mixing" and "whisking".
Her first culinary triumph was making confetti cupcakes for Mommy's birthday back in October, when Yiayia Joanie was her sous chef.  Amalia's job was putting the sprinkles on top of the frosting and eating any that spilled.
When she went to Massachusetts for Thanksgiving, she helped make a raspberry swirl cheesecake pie and a pumpkin pie--including the delicate task of decorating the latter with candy corn (and eating the leftover candy corn.)
After Thanksgiving she and Yiayia made gingerbread cookies--she watched them bake.
And the next day she decorated the cookies with her friends Natasha and Sophie.
For Christmas, Amalia went with Mommy and Papi to Abuela Carmen's house in Managua, Nicaragua. There, at a restaurant called "Italianissimo", she learned to make her favorite food--pizza!  The restaurant even provided her with a pint-sized apron for the cooking lesson, and let her take it home with her.
Step one is to spread exactly the right amount of tomato sauce on your pizza.
The waiter showed her how to top it with extra cheese, since she didn't want pepperoni.
After the pizza was baked in a brick oven, Amalia got to eat it.  Bon appetit!
For New Year's Day in Nicaragua, Amalia and her Mommy baked a fusion version of their traditional Greek vassilopita--the sweet orange-flavored bread with a coin hidden in it which is cut on New Year's Day to see who will find the coin in their piece and have a year of good luck.  Instead of the usual Greek Metaxa brandy, they substituted Flor de Caña, a Nicaraguan rum.
Inspired by her latest culinary triumphs, Amalia, back in Manhattan, insisted on making cupcakes for her Papi's birthday in early January.  Her assistant was Julia, her favorite cooking, playtime and yoga companion.   Here's Amalia "misking" the dough.

The proper balance of sprinkles to frosting is critical.
Now for the tense moment--the taste test…


Amalia has agreed to share with you her recipe for Vasilopita, which she originally learned from her  Greek Yiayia Neney.  You can use the brandy (or rum) of your choice.

Vasilopita (from Eleni Nikolaides)

5 cups flour
6 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 pound sweet butter
1 demitasse cup brandy
3 teaspoons baking powder
juice from one orange
shavings from one grated orange peel

Mix together the softened butter, eggs and sugar.  Beat it so that it's a soft cream.  Then add the brandy and little by little beat in the flour (which has the baking powder in it.) Also add the orange juice and the grated orange peel.

This recipe will make one large or two smaller cakes.

Bake it at 370 degrees for about 40 minutes.

Don't forget to put in the coin and to make the number of the New Year on top
with toasted almonds before you bake it!

Happy New Year 2014!

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