I put down my two overloaded suitcases, looked around my new home on a cold, snowy January morning in Athens. I couldn’t have felt more alone. I had left UK because I had an overwhelming need to survive emotionally. I would not have survived if I had stayed.
What was I doing? What was going to happen to me now? A shrill sound stopped me feeling sorry for myself. What was it? Following the sound to the door, I opened it to find a small lady clutching a large plate of biscuits. Standing at that door was Veriki, my neighbour. My Greek was poor, her English non-existent but this was the start of a life-long friendship.
Veriki and her family welcomed me into their home. She taught me how to cook amazing Greek food – still my favourite. She taught me how to be a friend, how to be brave enough to cross borders. For a long time, I’m not really sure how we communicated but communicate we did. Little by little my Greek improved and her children helped her out with her English.
Very often the simplest of things can have the greatest impact. This was one of them. I learned so much from her, not just how to cook yummy Greek food but I learnt how to be a friend, to take risks, to accept people not see them as different. Thank you for being my friend, Veriki.
These biscuits are easy to make (you can leave out the alcohol if you wish and replace it with rose water), but when you give your plate of biscuits to someone, don’t leave out the warmth of the gesture. You never know how the receiver may be feeling and how much you may contribute to helping them.
Makes: 24 biscuits
- 225g butter, softened
- 55g icing sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon Brandy or Ouzo (or replace with rose water)
- 350g plain flour
- 115g ground almonds
- 1 packet icing sugar for dusting
Prep: 30min › Cook: 15min › Extra cooling time
- Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas 4.
- Mix the butter and the icing sugar until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the egg yolk and brandy, ouzo or rose water, then the flour and almonds until you have a soft, firm dough.
- Knead the mixture together.
- Cut the dough into 24 pieces and roll each into a desired shape or use a cookie cutter.
- Place on a well-greased/floured baking tray, allowing room for slight spreading.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Don’t try to remove them from the baking tray yet or they will break.
- Meanwhile, sift a thick layer of icing sugar into a large roasting tin.
- When the biscuits are cooler, place in the roasting tin in a single layer.
- Sift plenty of more icing sugar over the biscuits and cool for an hour or so.