Vlita (Βλήτα ή βλίτα)

Vlita (Βλήτα ή βλίτα)

Vibrant vlita! Quick, easy and so very good!

Vlita (Βλήτα ή βλίτα)

 

When is the last time you had boiled spinach for supper? Or a plate piled high with steamed collard greens?  Not as a side to anything, but as the actual meal.  Like, that was the only thing on your plate.  Well, if you’re Greek, then the answer might be, earlier this afternoon.  And if you’re not Greek, then this type of pauper, bland meal might seem a little strange, and sad.  But trust us…it’s not!

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Grilled corn, cucumber and feta salad

Grilled corn, cucumber and feta salad

Corn salad bursting with summer freshness.

Grilled corn, cucumber and feta salad

 

We were raised in an apartment building comprised of 10 apartments, in a neighbourhood that was filled, for blocks and blocks, with buildings similar to ours.  Our parents purchased this building with our aunt and uncle, shortly after arriving in Canada.  It may not have been the most picturesque area to grow up in; there were no white picket fences and carefully manicured lawns, but it was magical.  Our neighbourhood was bustling, with adults tending to their balcony plants, heading off to work, or walking to the corner fruit shop.  And children were everywhere.  Almost as soon as the sun came up you would find some kid outside, kicking around a pebble, waiting to be joined by the rest of us, knowing full well that she soon would be.

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Bacon wrapped dates stuffed with feta (Τυλιχτοί χουρμάδες σε μπέικον και φέτα)

Dates stuffed with feta

A bite-sized sweet party in your mouth… wrapped in bacon

Bacon wrapped dates stuffed with feta (Τυλιχτοί χουρμάδες σε μπέικον και φέτα)

 

Greeks love mezes, little bite-sized (usually) appetizers that you can serve before a meal, or in place of a meal.  It is not unusual to be served several platters of mezes, along with a lovely glass of ouzo or ouzo-infused cocktail, and be fully satisfied.  The mezes are usually plenty, and they are so delicious that you are never wanting for a complete and formal meal.  Common on the meze table are spanakopita, tyropita, meatballs (keftedes) and dips or spreads.  Less common would be something like these dates, stuffed with feta enhanced with orange zest and mint, wrapped in bacon.  These bite-size morsels of sweet, salt, savoury and awesomeness will definitely make you smile.

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Spanakopita (Σπανακόπιτα)

Spanakopita (Σπανακόπιτα)

The quintessential Greek pie: Spanakopita with homemade phyllo 

Spanakopita (Σπανακόπιτα)

Spanakopita; the King (or Queen) of Greek cuisine.  We doubt that there is a food more loved than this.  Regardless of culinary and cultural background, and whether or not you grew up in a Greek household, you have probably heard of spanakopita.  The lucky amongst us will have also tasted it, and the most fortunate know how to make it on their own, so that it can be enjoyed whenever the craving hits.   Spanakopita is the reason Greek parents can’t relate to other parents when they say “You know how kids are!  We have to puree and sneak vegetables into everything…Jack and Jill won’t touch anything green!  Kids, right?!”  Wrong.  We think Jack and Jill just need to be offered a piece of spanakopita.

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Greek-style Cobb salad

Greek-style Cobb salad

The Cobbopoulos; a delicious, Greek-inspired, Cobb salad

Greek-style Cobb salad

 

This salad is satisfying in so many ways.  First, it delivers in flavour, with simple and fresh ingredients that come together in a delicious way.  Second, it manages to put a Greek spin on a classic salad making it, in our opinion at least, even better; feta and Kalamata olives tend to do that.  Finally, the presentation speaks to each of us, at different moments.  The initial plating, ordered and with each ingredient clearly in its place, satisfies the need for organization that one of us has.  When the salad gets tossed together to coat every little bit with the delicious dressing…well that’s organized chaos in a bowl, and hits home with the other one of us.

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Grilled watermelon and feta salad

Grilled watermelon and feta salad

A salty and sweet salad perfect for summer eating!

Grilled watermelon and feta salad

 

This recipe proves (to us at least) that our parents have always been ahead of the game, trendsetters and taste-masters, flavour fanatics.  What appears to be a warm-weather craze these days has been a staple in our parents’ kitchen for as long as we can remember; watermelon and feta salads are incredibly popular, and with good reason.  People are in love with the salty, sweet, fresh and bright combination that is created when a ripe, juicy watermelon is tossed together with some great Greek feta.  Although ingenious and surprising to many, we grew up on this stuff.  As kids we loved watermelon, as did our girls, and our parents discovered that combining other foods with this favourite fruit was a sure-fire way to maximize nutritional intake (giagia and pappou goals!).  Feta and watermelon was always a winner combination and it was therefore on constant repeat. Other combinations were less popular (for the record, don’t try to feed anyone you love watermelon mixed with spanakorizo…it’s gross).

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Olive oil dip

Olive oil dip with balsamic

In Partnership with GeoEvoo Inc.

Olive oil dip

 

We were never a bread and butter family.  If bread was going to be served with lunch or dinner (and let’s face it, it usually was), it was used to sop up all of the delicious sauces and juices which came with our great meals, like green beans with potatoes, stewed green peas and horiatiki salad.  No butter required.  And even if the meal was not bathed in rich delicious sauces, butter was unnecessary because our parents would either drizzle our pieces of bread with olive oil, or create an aromatic olive oil and vinegar combination that we could then dip our bread into.

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Grilled fennel (Μάραθο στην σχάρα)

Grilled fennel (Μάραθο στην σχάρα)

Grilled fennel (Μάραθο στην σχάρα)

 

If you have been following Mia Kouppa even a little bit, you’ll know that we get most of our inspiration from our parents; they are, after all, the reason behind this little blog of ours.  However, we also get inspired by other great Greek home cooks, the culinary world around us in our great city of Montreal, and the varied and rich ethnic and cultural food influences we are presented with every day.  So much inspiration…so much great stuff to eat!  But it doesn’t stop there.  We are also influenced and inspired by the friends we may never meet in person; the food bloggers, Instagrammers, Pinners and Facebookers we follow, admire, and wish we could share a meal with.  This grilled fennel is a direct result of that admiration.

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Cherry spoon sweet (Κομπόστα κεράσι)

Cherry spoon sweet (Κομπόστα κεράσι)

Cherry spoon sweet (Κομπόστα κεράσι)

We cannot begin to tell you how excited we are to share this recipe.  Last year, our dear friend Maria popped by for a visit and brought with her a jar of cherry spoon sweet or kobosta that her mom, Κυρία Βασιλική (Mrs. Vasiliki), had made.  Anyone who is either Greek, or has invited a Greek into their home, knows that it is rare for us to arrive at someone else’s house empty-handed.   It’s not that gifts are required but when they do arrive they are appreciated, especially when they are as delicious as this cherry dessert.  Having already tried some of Κυρία Βασιλική’s creations, we knew that we were in for a treat, but nothing prepared us for the happiness found in that jar.

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Broiled chicken (Κότα ψητή)

Broiled chicken (Κότα ψητή)

Boiling then broiling gives the most delectable chicken!

Some things in life make no logical sense, and yet still seem to work.  This recipe is an example of that. Reading through the directions which follow you would assume that the chicken, which is boiled twice and then broiled, would end up over-cooked and dry; certainly not something worth writing about.  But, you would be wrong.  Despite the somewhat unusual cooking method and minimal seasoning, you end up with a meal which is delicious, tender and definitely worth posting about.

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