Simple ingredients slow-cooked to create the perfect Greek comfort food
There is a whole world of Greek food called kokkinista (κοκκινιστά), and we love them all. The term kokkinista means reddened, and the concept behind these dishes is simple; take a protein or vegetable, cook it slowly in a rich tomato sauce, serve it over something that can help sop up this lovely sauce, and realize that great food does not need to be fancy or complicated.
A great cake infused with Greek flavour
Although we enjoy it year round, the winter months are when we really appreciate a nice warm cup of Greek mountain tea or τσάι του βουνού (tsai tou vounou). This lovely tea made with a genus of flowering plants called Sideritis is sometimes referred to as ironwort or shepherd’s tea. It is identified by little yellow flowers, silver tinged leaves and light green buds and is usually sold in Greek markets in dried branches or stems.
A Croque-Madame, Greek-style!
This recipe draws its inspiration from the classic French sandwich called croque madame, itself a variation of the croque monsieur. Their name is based on the French verb croquer, which means “to bite” or “to crunch”. And happy eaters have been biting and crunching for a long time; the croque monsieur was first served in Paris in 1910 and it’s earliest mention in literature is seemingly in volume two of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time in 1918.
A classic cake which tastes of gingerbread and happiness
There is something so old-fashioned about an upside-down cake; whenever we make this dessert we feel that we should wear long, flowery dresses with embroidered aprons and then serve it with Salada in vintage tea cups and conversation about good books and family values. We’re not actually sure when the first upside-down cake was made, but we’re pretty sure it was a long time ago and that it created quite a happy commotion.
A perfect mess of vegetables that tastes better than you could hope
Feeling somewhat bloated and heavy after the holidays? Resolved to eating healthier, including more vegetables in your diet, and to limiting processed foods? Committed to cutting out all sweets, and eating only food which serves a vitamin and mineral fuelled purpose? Well, we’re here to help! And to remind you that we have a whole category of dessert recipes like galaktoboureko, baklava and koulourakia, because cutting out all sweets is dumb (unless your doctor tells you to cut out all sweets, in which case it’s very, very smart).
Cranberry sauce that is not from a can…. you can do it!
We believe that there are three types of cranberry sauce people in the world. The first are those who like to open up a can and plop the contents onto a dish to be sliced and served. We are not those people, although we 100% respect and adore that many canned cranberry sauce friends tell us that the sight of the unmolded can of sauce, complete with rings from the can, reminds them of home and their childhoods. You know, we are all for that! The second class of cranberry sauce people are those who realize that making fresh cranberry sauce may be the easiest culinary feat possible, and so they do. We have become those people, but the truth is, for most of our lives, we fell into category three. This last group of sad, deprived folks are those who never knew of cranberry sauce growing up, because holiday turkey was lamb and it was served with tzatziki.
An elegant cake that is perfect for breakfast, snacking or dessert
We love to bake with olive oil. In part this is because growing up, our parents very rarely used butter in their cooking or baked goods. This was not because butter is not delicious, but because of our mom’s dietary restrictions and the underlying philosophy that despite the fact that butter may makes things better, olive oil makes them best. The other reason that we love baking with olive oil is that sometimes we find ourselves out of butter, but we can’t remember a day when we looked around our kitchens and discovered we were all out of olive oil. Lucky, for sure.
A layered Christmas bread with the most unbelievable texture and flavour
Christmas traditions certainly vary across cultures, regions and families; some are embedded within religious traditions while others are developed through years of “that’s just the way we do things”. One tradition which our family shares with many other Orthodox families is the baking of the traditional christopsomo, which literally translates to Christ’s bread. This bread is typically baked on Christmas Eve and eaten on Christmas Day and is replete with symbolism and meaning.
A vegetarian meze that is slightly sweet, light and crispy; perfect two-bites!
We think that phyllo is the answer to most of life’s food problems. Although rolling out your own phyllo is a skill which is honed over years of practice (or much quicker if you have a great recipe like this one), store bought phyllo is a breeze! Seriously! Don’t listen to the stories about how it dries out too quickly or tears easily. In fact, once you get used to working with store bought phyllo, you’re going to find yourself searching for things to wrap up in it! True story!
A simple make-ahead dessert that can be dressed up or down
One of our favourite treats growing up was a creamy vanilla pudding that came from a box. This product, imported from Greece, was one of the only “processed” foods that our parents ever made for us, and we loved it! Whenever we would see the unique blue box with a corn on the cob design on it in the pantry, we got pretty excited. We remember how our parents would mix this pudding powder with milk, cook it while stirring slowly and serve it in shallow bowls. Occasionally they would add a topping of fresh fruit (sliced bananas were a particular favourite) or a spoon sweet they had previously made and preserved. We still see this box of pudding in the Greek grocery store we frequent, and although we have considered picking one up for old times sake, we’re a little worried that our adult taste buds won’t love it as much as we used to. Uncomfortable about disrupting such fond food and family memories, we’ve decided to create something similar, using ingredients we know we love.