Sesame coated fried feta with honey and walnuts

Sesame coated fried feta with honey and walnuts

Sesame coated fried feta with honey and walnuts

 

This dish looks so impressive, so fancy, that it is hard to believe that it can easily be whipped together in a moment’s notice.  The sweetness of the honey, paired with the saltiness of the feta and the crunch of the sesame seeds and nuts, creates a dish which is rich in both flavour and texture.  Pretty impressive for a recipe which has only a few basic ingredients and can be ready in under 10 minutes.  We wish everything in life was this easy, and this tasty!

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Apple cake (Κέικ μήλου ή μηλόπιτα)

Apple cake (Κέικ μήλου ή μηλόπιτα)

Apple cake (Κέικ μήλου ή μηλόπιτα)

 

There are so many things that are wrong with this recipe, starting with the name.  This is an apple cake, which our parents have forever referred to as a milopita (μηλόπιτα).  Now technically, a milopita is an apple pie…which, this is not.  It’s a cake, and many Greeks might call it just that, an apple cake or keik milou (Κέικ μήλου).  If you are one of those people, please don’t send us emails and well meaning comments informing us that this is not a pie.  We know it’s not, but the reality is, this recipe has bigger problems.

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Cheesecake (Τσεισκέικ)

Cheesecake topped with strawberries and cherries

Cheesecake topped with strawberries and cherries

 

We are so excited to introduce you to our mom’s sister, Θεία Βούλα (Thea Voula).  The second oldest in a family of four (our mom is the eldest), our Θεία Βούλα is currently the only one of our mother’s siblings living in Canada; luckily only about a ten minute drive from where we all live. Θεία Βούλα is a powerhouse who certainly knows how to command a room.  Her laughter is infectious and is rooted deep in her belly.  She wears her heart on her sleeve and her hugs are epic, enveloping you in an embrace which is at once fiercely tight and, at the same time, gently protective.  Like our mom, and many other women of their generation, Θεία Βούλα epitomizes strength.  Life was not always easy; she worked hard and long hours to make ends meet while raising her family, all while integrating into a new society and country.  This is a brave, inspiring woman.

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Cantaloupe with ouzo (Πεπόνι με ούζο)

Cantaloupe with ouzo

Cantaloupe with ouzo

In our home, desserts like baklava and galaktoboureko were not staples after every dinner, but fruit certainly was.  Even when we were fortunate enough to have a sweet dessert, fruit was still served, between the main meal and the grand, often syrupy, finale. Whether it was a bowl of clementines, some grapes, or cherries, fruit was always part of our meal.  Even when we felt so full that we couldn’t possibly eat another bite, as the fruit bowl hit the table, we dove right in.  Fresh fruit is hard to resist.

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Spoon sweet vanilla with ouzo (Βανίλια με ούζο)

Spoon sweet vanilla

Greek spoon sweet vanilla

Like many immigrants of their generation, our parents started a new life, in a new country, with very little in their pockets, no social support network, and no knowledge of the language they were now surrounded by.  To make ends meet, they both worked long and hard hours.  When our mother first arrived, alone, in Canada, she worked as a live-in maid for several wealthy families. When she married my dad, they then went on to work in the garment industry,  food processing plants and housekeeping department of a rehabilitation center.  These were not glamorous jobs, but they were always done with pride, respect and commitment.  We can’t remember our parents ever taking a sick day, or ever complaining that they wished they didn’t have to work that day.  As young girls, we saw our dad leaving the house at 6 am, returning home at approximately 4 pm, and then leaving again shortly afterwards to meet our mom at her job.  Her employers were nice enough to allow our father to help her with her work, so that she could finish earlier, and come home to her children.  Looking back, they both must have been exhausted, but we never heard either of them complain that they were tired.  Instead, our father would often say, work is health (η δουλειά είναι υγεία).

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Baklava (Μπακλαβάς)

Greek Baklava

Greek Baklava

Before our Mia Kouppa launch about 7 months ago, we established a few goals and rules to keep us focused, and on track.  Our goals included increasing our reach (that’s blog speak for people seeing our stuff) every week, learning all about Tweeting and Pinning, and being invited to appear on Ellen.  Some goals are clearly more attainable than others.  As for the rules, we decided that we would post twice a week (Mondays and Thursdays), not talk about our blog incessantly to friends, family and strangers, and never use the descriptors “THE BEST ever”, “THE MOST delicious”, “THE WORLD’S greatest”, in reference to any recipes we shared.  How could we make such bold assertions? We are not that worldly…but baklava is!

Baklava is one of the most popular and delicious Greek desserts, and it is also an international favourite; there are variations of this sweet treat in many middle Eastern and European countries.  Lucky for us (and you), baklava may be the easiest dessert you will ever make.  Truly, there is actually no way you can mess this up.  Even if you tried, we don’t think you could ruin it.  It is impervious to destruction.  It is less baking and more assembling. If you were really committed, we suppose you could burn it, but then you might burn down your whole kitchen, and we don’t think it is worth it, just to prove us wrong.

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Olive oil cake with lemon (a.k.a. einai keiki mori)

Olive oil cake with Lemon, a delicious dairy free lemon cake recipe

Olive oil cake with Lemon, a delicious non-dairy lemon cake recipe

On April 19th we paid hommage to the 15 year release date anniversary of one of the funniest movies of all time; we marked the event with a bundt cake we feel is delicious enough to be called “keiki mori”.  If you have seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding, then you know exactly where this is coming from, and why the original cake was adorned with flowers in the center.  If you find yourself scratching your head, then pop some corn (or bake this cake), and settle in to watch this inflated (but not too inflated) representation of what growing up with Greek immigrant parents could be like.  Trust us, Nia Vardalos, who wrote the screenplay and portrays Toula Portokalis in this movie, will become your new comedy hero.

Movie aside, this cake stands on its own merit.  It is a favourite in our parents repertoire of desserts, in part because it contains no dairy, making  it perfect for anyone who has a sensitivity to milk and butter.  Not overly sweet, but rich with the taste of olive oil and the tang of lemon, this easy cake is a real treat.

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