The first time I ate an eyeball was at a Greek name day celebration.
My family was always invited to these all-day lamb-on-a-spit backyard parties hosted by our then neighbours, Sia and George.
I fondly remember the Georgiopolous family as the most wonderful home cooks.
Some of my favourite bites were the sweets, which made frequent use of honey. These were all prepared by Sia’s father, who owns a Greek bakery in Montreal.
At Christmas, Sia would bring over a plate of Greek holiday sweets nestled in pretty papers. Melomakarona were always included.
For the cookies:
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup walnut oil
1/2 cup melted butter, cooled
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 cup orange juice
1 cup fine semolina
7 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 orange
3/4 cup crushed walnuts
For the soaking syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup honey
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
peel from 1 orange
Preheat oven to 375F.
Slowly bring syrup ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool completely.
Whisk semolina, all-purpose flour and baking soda to combine well. Set aside.
In a very large mixing bowl, whisk oils, melted butter and sugar until sugar dissolves. Add the orange juice, zests and cinnamon. Whisk to combine.
Add the flour mixture in several additions, stirring with a wooden spoon and then your hands. The dough should be crumbly, but able to form into clumps when pressure is applied.
Form the dough into 2-inch-long ovals. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Flatten slightly.
Bake 30 minutes, or until firm and golden brown all over. At 22 minutes, flip the cookies onto their sides to prevent the bottoms from over-browning.
Remove from oven and cool on sheet 2 minutes. Place the cookies in the syrup, turning to coat completely. Let them soak for a minute or so. Press the tops of the cookies in the crushed walnuts. Place on wire rack and cool completely.
Best eaten the next day, when the syrup has had time to properly absorb into the cookies.