Diples (Δίπλες)

Diples (Δίπλες)

Diples (Δίπλες)

 

Summer is coming, and with it, wedding season.  We love everything about weddings; the blissful couple, the beautiful dress, the personal touches which permeate the entire event.  There is so much to appreciate!  What we love most however are the traditions. Whether they are cultural or religious or simply familial, these traditions situate the nuptials within something larger than the day itself.  How lovely!

Within our family, and Greek culture, we have our own set of traditions.  Some of these, of course, revolve around food.  In the Messinia region of the Peloponnese, which is where our parents and grandparents (and great-grand parents) are from, one of these sweet traditions is diples. Offering diples at weddings represents a wish that as two individuals become one couple and one family, their joys and blessings double. 

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Feta and fig crostini

Feta and fig crostini

Feta and fig crostini

We have a lovely relationship with figs, and so many warm fig memories.  One of our father’s sisters (who has passed away) lived in a beautiful spot in Greece called Chrani.  This was our favourite place to visit and spend our summers.  Our aunt was joyful, exuberant, generous and full of life.  Her home was simple but perfect, and connected to a small convenience store where she sold cold drinks and snacks to travellers getting off the bus which stopped at the corner of her property.  For those who think that all of Greece’s glory is found on the islands, we can tell you that the mainland is equally stunning.  In fact, over the years we saw our aunt’s town change from a relatively secluded oasis to a tourist hub, with hotels popping up all around her.

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Pantespani (Παντεσπάνι)

Pantespani (Παντεσπάνι). Orange sponge cake

Pantespani (Παντεσπάνι). Greek orange sponge cake

 

Mother’s Day is coming up! Although we are of the opinion that mothers should be celebrated every day of the year, this particular day is an opportunity to  perhaps go the extra mile in showing your mom how much she means to you.  When we were little, we would make cards for our mom; they were adorable, personal and made with such joy.  Our mother would always make a big show of telling us how much she loved these hand-crafted demonstrations of love.  When we had little ones of our own and they began doing the same for us, our hearts glowed.  There is nothing sweeter than a stick figure drawing meant to look like you, with the sweet words of your child written in crayon.  Except perhaps, this sweet cake.

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Fennel salad (Σαλάτα με μάραθο)

Fennel salad (Σαλάτα με μάραθο)

Fennel salad (Σαλάτα με μάραθο)

 

This summer we were so fortunate to have our cousin visit us from Australia. His mother and our mother are first cousins, but if you ask our mom, they were actually as close as sisters.  Raised in the same house, they grew up sleeping in the same room (actually, the same bed), eating at the same table, and living similar experiences, from schooling to household chores, to family joys and struggles.  When our mom left Greece to come to Canada she fully expected that her sister-cousins (there were 2) would soon follow her, as would her own siblings.  Unfortunately, Canadian immigration laws at the time prevented her cousins from coming to Canada as they were too young; they instead immigrated to Australia.  Although the cousins speak often, they have not seen each other since they were young women.

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Chicken kokkinisto with french fries (Κοτόπουλο κοκκινιστό με τηγανητές πατάτες)

Chicken kokkinisto with french fries (Κοτόπουλο κοκκινιστό με τηγανητές πατάτες)

Meat or poultry cooked in tomato sauce is a staple in most Greek kitchens, including our parents’.  This type of meal is called kokkinisto, which means red or reddened and refers to the fact that the cooking liquid is tomato sauce.  Whether you choose to use meat, as we did in our veal kokkinisto recipe, or poultry as we are doing here, you will find that this method of cooking results in something absolutely delicious, with minimal effort.  How wonderful is that!?

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Fried liver (Συκώτι τηγανητό)

Fried liver (Συκώτι τηγανητό)

Fried liver (Συκώτι τηγανητό)

 

Stop gagging! Some people actually love liver!  Not us necessarily, but some people. Mind you, we’ve never actually met these people, but we’re sure they exist.  Even our parents, who used to force us to eat liver at least once a month as we were growing up, aren’t huge fans.  In fact we realized that as soon as our parents became empty-nesters, they cook liver, like never!  We can’t recall calling or popping in on our folks, and hearing them say “Oh, we’re just frying up some nice liver for dinner. Why don’t you join us?”.  In fact, during a recent Mia Kouppa session, when we surprised our parents with a piece of liver and asked them to show us how to prepare it, we are pretty sure that our mom sighed and our dad cringed.

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Yiouverlakia avgolemono and tomato (Γιουβαρλάκια αυγολέμονο με ντομάτα)

Yiouverlakia avgolemono and tomato (Γιουβαρλάκια αυγολέμονο με ντομάτα)

Yiouverlakia avgolemono and tomato (Γιουβαρλάκια αυγολέμονο με ντομάτα)

 

We don’t know about you, but we’re supposed to be having spring like weather here in Canada.  It seems that someone didn’t get the message.  In the span of a few hours this afternoon we experienced a tiny bit of sun, snow, hail and rain.  What ever happened to April showers bringing May flowers?  Hail is not showers!

Since we can’t control the weather (we have tried, promise!), we can at least control how we live with it.  Our winter coats are still accessible, as are our boots and hats.  We’ve kept the salt out for de-icing the driveway and our beds are still incredible cozy with our woollen blankets and duvets.  And in the kitchen, we’ve been leaning towards winter weather food, comforting for body and soul…like this deliciously soothing yiouverlakia soup flavoured with avgolemono and tomato.  Bring it on April…we can take you! Actually, we’re just kidding…we can hardly take this anymore!  We are dreaming of spring, and salads!

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Roast chicken and Greek-style potatoes (Κοτόπουλο λεμονάτο με πατάτες)

Roast chicken and Greek-style potatoes (Κοτόπουλο λεμονάτο με πατάτες)

Roast chicken and Greek-style potatoes (Κοτόπουλο λεμονάτο με πατάτες)

 

This may look familiar!  Given that it is one of our most viewed and downloaded recipes, we’ve decided to show some extra love to this post by incorporating new, and we think improved, photos.  Hope you enjoy them!

Pssst…want to know a secret?  We were really apprehensive about tackling this meal. You see, our parents’ chicken and potatoes are epic. They get requests from all over the world lots of people for their recipe and they are really happy to tell anyone who asks, including us,  how it’s done. They say something along the lines of ‘take a chicken, add some potatoes to the roasting pan, pour in some lemon juice, olive oil, oregano and bake it all for a few hours’. Easy, right?  So, we try, and it tastes good…but not phenomenal. Not mind-blowing delicious, like theirs is. Not let-me-tell-anyone-who-will-listen scrumptious, like theirs is. Not taste-bud-shockingly fabulous, like theirs is.  “Why?”, we wondered. We did what they told us to, so how to explain the difference between their phenomenal chicken and potatoes, and our pretty good chicken and potatoes? For a while we actually started to wonder if perhaps our parents were magic. Magic would explain everything! But then we watched them in action, took detailed notes, measured and counted, studied their every step and finally we were able to reproduce their roasted chicken and Greek potatoes ourselves, in our very own kitchens! Hourray!  We were once again amazed that such simple ingredients could produce something so marvellous…and so we thought, maybe magic is hereditary!?

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Eggs with loukaniko and potato (Ομελέτα με λουκάνικα και πατάτες)

Eggs with loukaniko and potato (Ομελέτα με λουκάνικα και πατάτες)

Eggs with loukaniko and potato (Ομελέτα με λουκάνικα και πατάτες)

 

Our parents always say that so long as you have eggs, you have something for dinner.  As usual, they are right.  Whether you simply dress up some hard boiled eggs, fry up a few, or make a Mediterranean style omelette, eggs are an easy and inexpensive source of protein and nutrients.  They taste pretty delicious too!  Growing up we may not have had the most fashionable clothes, the coolest toys or the most expensive bikes, but we always had plenty of delicious food to eat.  This was possible because our parents understood that you could always build delicious meals using a few staples.  Using some everyday ingredients they were experts at creating original, filling and healthy meals for their family.  Our kitchen was always stocked with what we’ve learned are the essential Greek pantry items.

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