Greek mountain tea cake (Κέικ με τσάι του βουνού)

Greek mountain tea cake

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.

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Upside down apricot and molasses cake

Upside down apricot and molasses cake

A classic cake which tastes of gingerbread and happiness

Upside down apricot and molasses cake

 

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.

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Orange and cranberry olive oil cake

Orange and cranberry olive oil cake

An elegant cake that is perfect for breakfast, snacking or dessert

Orange and cranberry olive oil cake

 

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.

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Custard with cherry spoon sweet (Κρέμα με κομπόστα κεράσι)

Custard with cherry spoon sweet (Κρέμα με κομπόστα κεράσι)

A simple make-ahead dessert that can be dressed up or down

Custard with cherry spoon sweet (Κρέμα με κομπόστα κεράσι)

 

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.

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Bougatsa (Μπουγάτσα)

Bougatsa (Μπουγάτσα)

Bougatsa (Μπουγάτσα)

 

There are some pretty hefty debates which exist in the culinary world.  Should peanut butter be creamy, or chunky?  Is it best to eat your macaroni and cheese with a fork, or a spoon?  Is a hot dog a sandwich? And, is bougatsa just galaktoboureko, minus the syrup?  We’ll get to that last one in a minute, but first: peanut butter should be creamy, mac and cheese tastes best with a spoon, and a hot dog is barely food…let alone a sandwich (having said that…we love hot dogs).

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Double chocolate zucchini cake

Double chocolate zucchini cake

Rich chocolate zucchini cake with a hint of orange

Double chocolate zucchini cake

 

Let’s get one thing straight.  We are firm believers that there is always a time and place for cake.  It doesn’t matter what your food preferences are, what the diet fad of the moment is, how much weight you think you need to lose or how much sugar you need to cut out of your diet.  Everything in moderation is fine.  The only problem is that it’s going to be hard for you to keep to moderation with this double chocolate zucchini cake, because it is so darn delicious.  However, given that there are 3 cups of grated zucchini in this bundt, we’re not sure that it even qualifies as cake.  Come to think of it, it’s more of a vegetable side dish.  Moderation problem solved.

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Oatmeal and chocolate chunk ice cream sandwiches

Ice cream sandwiches

Oatmeal and chocolate chunk ice cream sandwiches: summer held in your hands

Oatmeal and chocolate chunk ice cream sandwiches

 

During the summer, the internet spaces occupied by Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest are replete with images of perfect, refreshing ice cream sandwiches.  All manner of cookie seem to be sandwiching all manner of creamy, cold filling, and they all look pretty darn delicious.  And so, we figured that we should feature our own take on ice cream sandwiches on Our Kouppes; after all, we love baking cookies, we enjoy ice cream, and we hate being left out of the loop.

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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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Mini apple pies with phyllo or milopitakia (Μηλοπιτάκια)

Mini apple pies with phyllo or milopitakia (Μηλοπιτάκια)

Mini apple pies with phyllo or milopitakia (Μηλοπιτάκια)

 

There is something about pie which just makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside.  The almost meditative act of rolling out the crust, the smell of the pie in the oven, and the sight of the filling bubbling out through the vents on the top crust are enough to make us swoon.  Apple pies are a particular favourite because they are appreciated by so many; who doesn’t love a classic apple pie? (If you answered “yes” to this question, please send us a private message so that we can talk about it).  Although we love baking pies, and have a pretty fail-proof pie crust recipe and technique, sometimes we don’t have the time to get involved in pastry making.  So when time is limited but we can’t shake the need for a dessert with a warm apple filling, we get creative…and that’s how this recipe came to be.

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Revani with coconut (Ρεβανί (ή Ραβανί) με ινδοκάρυδο)

Revani with coconut (Ρεβανί (ή Ραβανί) με ινδοκάρυδο)

Revani with coconut (Ρεβανί (ή Ραβανί) με ινδοκάρυδο)

You may have noticed that Greeks love syrup.  We’ll take a perfectly delicious walnut cake, a delightful phyllo and custard dessert or a simply yummy pear shaped cookie and make them better with syrup.  Sticky, and now even more perfectly delicious, syrup soaked cakes are a particular favourite around here (and by here we mean our family, not the internet…although, we’re working on it!).

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