Bagels with “smoked salmon” and fried capers

Bagels with "smoked salmon" and fried capers

A surprising and delightful vegan alternative to smoked salmon

Several weeks ago we received a complimentary review copy of The Buddhist Chef, 100 simple, feel-good vegan recipes written by Jean-Philippe Cyr, the creator of The Buddhist Chef. Published by Penguin Random House Canada, this book arrived at exactly the right time. We have just begun the Orthodox Nativity Fast, during which time we essentially eat a vegan diet (although there are certain seafood which are permissible during the fast). We were hoping that this book would offer new ideas and inspiration, and it did not disappoint.

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Tiganites (Τηγανίτες)

Tiganites

Fried dough, sometimes called Greek-style pancakes, topped with honey

How fitting that we are posting this recipe for tiganites, sometimes referred to as Greek pancakes, in early November. Fitting, because November is when much of the olive harvesting in Greece is occurring. Our mother remembers that when the men of the village set out to begin their long and hard days of manually picking olives from the trees, they were sent off with their satchels loaded with tiganites. These disks of fried dough helped to sustain them and nourish them for the day. Tiganites, she explained, were a great option when options were limited as they are made from ingredients that even the poorest family likely had on hand.

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Fried potatoes and egg (Τηγανητές πατάτες με αυγό μάτι)

Fried potatoes and egg

Home cut french fries tossed with crumbled feta and topped with an olive oil fried egg.

Our dad is the egg guy of the family. Although our parents usually cook together, and can each manage to make any number of dishes alone, there are certain recipes that belong almost exclusively to each of them. Our mom is the Queen of rizogalo for example, and our dad is the one who often turns to eggs to feed hungry mouths. This recipe which combines home cut fries, feta and an olive oil fried egg is one that he would make for us relatively often. Simple, satisfying, and a pretty well-balanced meal.

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Neopolitan marble cake (Κέικ βανίλια με σοκολάτα και φράουλες)

Neopolitan marble cake

A pretty cake with vanilla, chocolate and strawberry swirls

Our childhood’s were predictable in many ways. Sundays were for church, summers were enjoyed in Greece or Cape Cod, and weekends were spent with friends and family. When it came to food, there were things we could expect as well. We knew that Fridays meant fakes for supper, that we would be expected to help forage for wild dandelion greens, and that ice cream would be neopolitan.

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Rice with mizithra and burnt butter (Ρύζι με μυζήθρα και καμμένο βούτυρο)

Rice with mizithra and burnt butter

A simple and delicious rice dish with the nutty flavour of burnt butter and the salty goodness of mizithra cheese

If you’ve been following along on our Mia Kouppa trails over the past few years you will have learned a few things about us, and our parents. You would know that we are two sisters, who also have an awesome older brother, that we each have two darling girls, xeno (that is, non-Greek) husbands, and feathered and furry pets. If you haven’t been with us for very long, or tend to skip right to the recipe (that’s okay…we do it sometimes too!), then welcome! We’re so happy to have you join us!

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Spinach and feta pork roll-ups (Χοιρινό με σπανάκι και φέτα)

Spinach and feta pork roll-ups

Pork roll-ups filled with Greek flavours!

Sometimes our parents like to get fancy. Lovers of food and cooking, to this day they still enjoy watching Greek and non-Greek cooking shows (Akis is a favourite) and perusing through recipes that they find in the local Greek paper or behind those daily calendars that they get from church or our local Greek supermarket. Of course, they don’t actually follow the recipes that they happen upon, because let’s face it, that’s not how they function. Instead they get inspired, and over the years have come up with some pretty delicious and even unexpected things. We remember their sudden interest in Asian cuisine and the resultant homemade egg rolls. We have no idea how or why they decided to make egg rolls, but once they did, egg rolls and their accompanying jarred plum sauce became staples at every family gathering. Their popularity resulted in our aunts and koubari and other family friends making egg rolls too and so there you had it; a buffet table filled with dolmades, moussaka, keftedes, and egg rolls. Of course.

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Mung bean soup (ψιλοφάσουλα σούπα ή ροβίτσα )

Mung bean soup

A hearty and humble soup made of nutrient packed mung beans

One of us loves beans; loves to eat them, loves to buy them, and loves to store them in her pantry in pretty glass jars where their various colours, adorable shapes and infinite possibilities can be admired. It was this love of beans, and a commitment to capturing as many of our parents’ recipes as possible, that had us inquire about a soup which we had vague and disturbing memories of. We remembered a childhood where a soup of little green beans was served, and the sadness which it elicited. When we asked our parents about it, they immediately knew what we were talking about. Psilofasola (also called rovitsa) is a Greek soup made of mung beans (pronounced moong) and it is a staple around Kalamata, Messinia, which is near where our parents were raised.

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Zucchini salad (Κολοκυθοσαλάτα)

Zucchini salad

A simple salad of boiled summer squash dressed with olive oil and red wine vinegar

We love everything about fall. The colours, the warm knit sweaters, the cool crisp air, the fact that you can call it fall or autumn. We love that everyone is busy pumpkin-spicing everything, and baking all manner of apple wonderfulness. But, we love summer too and despite the fact that it’s October and Canadian Thanksgiving is right around the corner, we’ll hang on to summer just a little while longer if you don’t mind.

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Artichokes and peas in an egg-lemon sauce (Αγκινάρες με αρακά αυγολέμονο)

Artichokes and peas in an egg-lemon sauce

A stew of artichokes, peas and potatoes in a rich and tangy egg lemon broth

This recipe is pretty intense. Not in preparation; you’ll see that it’s no more difficult than many of the other recipes we’ve posted. No…it’s intense in the feelings and thoughts it elicits. Some good; this dish is delicious and today we love to eat it. But some, less good; when we were kids we thought it looked and tasted like throw up, and cried when it was for dinner.

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Fide soup (Fithe soup) (Σούπα φιδέ)

Fide soup

A simple pasta soup made with thin noodles and flavoured with a touch of olive oil

Growing up Greek, our chicken noodle soup was called fide. To be honest, it was a little different than your traditional chicken noodle soup; for one thing, it had no chicken. It also had no chicken broth, no vegetables and no herbs. In fact, fide (also spelled fithe) is nothing more than a noodle soup, cooked in water, flavoured with olive oil, sometimes sprinkled with a bit of mizithra, and ready to comfort every bit of your soul.

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