Gluten-free pasta with vegetables

Gluten-free pasta with vegetables

Vegan meal of quinoa and rice pasta tossed with vegetables and a bit of chili heat.


There are so many special diets out there these days. Aside from all the ways that people are trying to either lose weight, or get fit, there are also medical reasons and lifestyle choices that can sometimes make cooking for guests a little challenging. But we love a challenge, and we love coming up with recipes that will probably satisfy every food restriction you may host.

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Spanakoquinoa (Σπανάκοκινόα)

Spanakoquinoa

A new take on a classic Greek recipe: spinach and quinoa cooked in a rich tomato based sauce.

Quinoa is not a grain we grew up with, and it is not traditionally used in Greek cooking. The grains you will more commonly find in Greek recipes include semolina, corn, barley, bulgur and whole wheat berries. All delicious and all used to make incredible foods and desserts.

But we do love quinoa. Our first introduction to this super grain was while one of us was an undergraduate in university. Walking through the neighbourhood around campus, trying to find dinner to carry us through an evening spent in the library, we came across a health food store. Although quite commonplace now, at the time natural food stores which sold things like vegan mayonnaise, tofu, nori, and quinoa were rare. Optimum was a two floor shop; the first floor on street level sold aromatherapy oils, incense, books and herbal medicines. The basement level was the grocery store and it was here that one could wander the aisles and see things that were foreign and fascinating.

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Strawberry and watermelon frozen ouzo cocktail

Strawberry and watermelon frozen ouzo cocktail

A Greek aperitif cocktail make with strawberries and watermelon

Cheers to summer! We love to entertain at home, and now that our world has changed, inviting a few guests over for an evening under the stars is even more appealing. Not really bar and club people to begin with (those days are long gone), the idea of going out to mix and mingle with too many other people is a little unsettling. So, we’re thankful to have the opportunity to host comfortable get-togethers chez nous. And we’re even more thankful to ouzo, the lovely anise flavoured liqueur that we have grown very fond of playing with.

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Greek chicken and quinoa salad

Greek chicken and quinoa salad

A healthy and delicious combination of chicken, quinoa and Greek flavours.

Sometimes a salad is a wonderful side to a meal, like our fresh and simple maroulosalata and our fennel salad. Sometimes a light salad can be a meal, as is often the case during the summer months when our garden tomatoes are ripe and our Greek horiatiki or village salad is on repeat 7 days a week. And sometimes, like with this recipe, a salad can be a hearty meal, one that you can happily serve to a hungry family, and one which is substantial enough to serve guests invited to dine with you under the summer stars.

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Loukoumades (Λουκουμάδες)

Loukoumades

Loukoumades, the original Greek doughnut hole!

So…in case any of you were wondering if our recent and exciting Hollywood and media attention would change us…don’t worry. We’re still keeping it real, which is why this post for loukoumades is going to include the following:

  • a full disclosure that sometimes, we mess up
  • an even fuller disclosure that sometimes one of us messes up, without anyone realizing it, even herself!
  • an admission that when questioned, and the realization of a mistake sinks in, the person having done the messing up maintains ignorance and innocence for about 5 minutes before breaking down and confessing all the yucky details

By the way…it doesn’t really matter which one of us messed up…we’re a team. Also, Helen wants it to be clear; the messer-upper was Billie.

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Tomato fritters (Ντοματοκεφτέδες)

Tomato fritters

A Greek meze using all the delicious flavours of summer.

If you’re longing to spend time in Greece but can’t get there this year, these tomato fritters may be the next best thing. Domatokeftedes, as they are called in Greek, are perfect bites of sunshine; an explosion of freshness and herb-y goodness in every bite.  A taste of Greece, in the literal sense.

Keftedes actually refers to meatballs (you can find our recipe for Greek meatballs here) however Greek cuisine has a huge repertoire of vegetarian and vegan fritters which are referred to as a composite of their primary ingredient and the word keftedes.   An entire array of dishes popularized because they are less expensive to make than anything which is meat based. Also, because they often contain no eggs or dairy they are perfect for periods of lent, and for vegans and vegetarians.  It doesn’t hurt that these mezes or appetizers are so easy to eat; two bites and they can be done, your hands free to pick up another.

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Chamomile and basil iced tea (Κρύο τσάι από χαμομήλι και βασιλικό)

Chamomile and basil iced tea

Greek chamomile tea made with basil and sweetened with honey, served over ice.

According to our mother, if you don’t have basil at home, you don’t have anything. That’s a little dramatic we think, and also problematic because keeping fresh basil alive during our Canadian winters is sort of impossible. Still, we think we understand what she’s trying to say.

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No-churn strawberry ice cream with chocolate chunks

No-churn strawberry ice cream with chocolate chunks

Chocolate and strawberry flavour in every cool and creamy taste

Years ago, probably 15 or so, one of us became obsessed with the idea of owning an ice cream maker. With young children at the time, we convinced ourselves that it was mandatory to serve them home-made ice-cream; domesticity and mothering at its finest.

Several months following the decision that our kitchen small appliances were lacking, there was a sale, and an ice cream maker was purchased. It came home, the box was opened and the instructions were quickly read. What was this? In order to make ice cream you first had to freeze the actual ice cream maker? Okay, so ice cream making would have to wait a few hours; actually 24 hours. No problem.

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Strawberry ricotta cake with olive oil

Strawberry ricotta cake with olive oil

An Italian-inspired dessert full of summer strawberry goodness

Have you ever heard of philotomo? Even if you have never heard the word, if you have had the joy of visiting Greece, or known any Greeks, you have experienced it we’re sure. We’ve wanted to write about philotomo for a while, but have been hesitant because we suspect that anyone unfamiliar with the term would not be able to appreciate its significance by simply reading about it. Alas, that’s all we can do for now, so we’ll do our best. We’ll also somehow link it to this strawberry ricotta cake with olive oil, we promise!

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Pan-fried pork chops (Χοιρινές μπριζόλες στο τηγάνι)

Pan-fried pork chops

Simple yet delicious way to prepare tender and flavourful pork chops

We feel that we need to apologize. Close to 300 recipes later, we still haven’t shared what is probably one of the most popular family meals in many Greek homes. Yikes!  What were we thinking? (Well, we guess we were thinking about moussaka, youvetsi and baklava…but still!)

Growing up we ate a lot of pork chops, called hoirino bridjoles, (or brizoles) in Greek.  The word bridjola actually means steak, and can be either pork or beef. However, in our home, if our mom said we were having bridjoles, we automatically knew she was referring to pork chops.  Steak from beef was simply called steik!  

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