Zucchini bread (Κέικ με κολοκύθι)

Zucchini bread

A wonderful, sweet way to enjoy summer squash

Zucchini bread

 

If you’ve been following Mia Kouppa since the beginning you’ll know that most of our recipes are inspired by our parents and their humble, authentic, and delicious traditional Greek cooking.  Of course, our parents don’t use actual recipes and so our job has been to painstakingly and with great attention to detail,  measure, document, photograph, video and share their wonderful way with food.  We know that we owe much, if not most, of our success to them and we are so grateful.

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Tsoureki inspired shortbread

Tsoureki inspired shortbread

Buttery shortbread cookies flavoured with mastiha and mahlepi

Tsoureki inspired shortbread

 

Our relationship with leftovers is complicated.  Well, not complicated exactly…just different.  One of us has a tendency to treat leftovers like a scourge occupying every limited fridge space, while the other one of us experiences physical pangs of guilt if every last bit of food isn’t used up, somehow.  This duality makes for some pretty interesting cooking moments. For instance, any recipe which only uses egg yolks means that one of us is pouring egg whites into the compost, while the other decides that it’s egg white omelets for breakfast the next morning.  A bit of dough remaining after all of the tyropites have been made means dough being tossed in the bin for one, and fried dough sprinkled with cinnamon sugar for the other.  You get the picture.

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Apple baklava (Μπακλαβάς με μήλο)

Apple baklava

An apple dessert inspired by baklava!

Apple baklava

 

So sorry if you’ve been planning on starting a diet, or are working hard at eliminating sweets and other reasons to live from your life.  If you’re committed to this, and have little to no will power, then we suggest you stop reading now, and head on over here. Quickly.  If you’re pretty sure that you can keep reading, for interests sake, and yet remain committed to your new ways, then we suggest you skim this post and try to avoid the photos.  If you feel yourself weakening, hurry on over here.  If however, you have decided that diets are for duds, and that life is too short to avoid deliciousness, have we got a treat for you!

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Citrus platter with pomegranate

Citrus platter with pomegranate

A delicious and beautiful way to present blood oranges

One of us was fortunate enough to spend part of our honeymoon in Morocco, in what will soon be 20 years ago! We still remember that trip so well, the souks, the snake charmers, the welcoming and lovely people…and the food.  The food in Morocco was nothing less than phenomenal.  From the tagines, to the couscous,  and the homemade nougat in the Jemaa el-Fnaa, we happily ate our way through weeks of North African adventure.  Over the years we have often tried to recreate some of the delicious meals we had while in Morocco.  After much trial and error we had some great success, like this lamb tagine, but other recreations allude us (we still haven’t mastered pastilla, although this recipe looks promising and we just might try that!)

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Vegan chocolate and strawberry cookies

Vegan chocolate and strawberry cookies

Chocolate and strawberry bites, which could easily be called brownies

Vegan chocolate and strawberry cookies

 

Don’t you just love it when you can convince yourself that dessert is healthy…or at least, not horribly bad for you?!  We do! and that is exactly what we do with these chocolate and strawberry cookies.  Not only are these two-bite cookies, which could just as easily be called brownies, vegan (automatically healthy right??!!) but they are also incredibly easy to whip together and contain a secret ingredient which makes them that much more lovely.  Who doesn’t love a recipe with a secret ingredient?

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Halva with apple and raspberry (Χαλβάς με μήλο και βατόμουρο)

Halva with apple and raspberry

A semolina based vegan dessert flavoured with apples and raspberry 

Halva with apple and raspberry

 

This is an example of what happens when you take basic principles, and then let your imagination run free.  The basic principle here is halva-making.  Semolina based halva (not to be confused with the tahini based dessert which goes by the same name) is really versatile, and once you understand the basic premise of how to put one together, it becomes very easy to make it your own.  We have already shared with you our parents’ basic halva recipe, flavoured with orange and studded with raisins.  It’s delicious and it’s a very popular dessert during periods of lent (halva is both dairy and egg free).  We’ve also shared with you a vegan chocolate halva, which is a bit more decadent, because, chocolate.  But the halva story does not end there.

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Portokalopita (Πορτοκαλόπιτα)

Portokalopita

A syrup cake made with phyllo and infused with orange flavour 

Portokalopita

 

As far as desserts go, this is a weird one.  Phyllo, which is a staple in Greek cooking both in savoury and sweet recipes, is usually used to hold things together.  Think the spinach in spanakopita or the creamy custard in bougatsa, delicious fillings wrapped in phyllo.  Phyllo used this way is lovely, convenient, and typical.  Although intimidating at first, working with phyllo in these recipes is easy when you get the hang of it.  Still, you always have to be careful not to dry it out or tear it.  Truth be told, phyllo can be a little finicky.

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Vegan rizogalo / Vegan rice pudding (Νηστίσιμο ρυζόγαλο)

Vegan rice pudding

A simply perfect non-dairy rice pudding

When we first posted our parents’ rizogalo recipe we explained that this was a food which was so deeply connected to our childhoods that we couldn’t help but find comfort in a bowl of warm, creamy, simply delicious rice pudding.  And that is still so true; rizogalo, the way our parents make it (and the way we now make it), is comfort in a bowl.

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Marble cake (Κέικ βανίλια και σοκολάτα)

Marble cake

A swirly vanilla and chocolate cake made with olive oil 

We admire professional bakers, and those non-professionals who have spent years perfecting their fondant skills and can transform flour, butter and eggs into edible works of art, like toilets and Chanel purses.  Having tried our hand at sculpting with gum paste and molding with chocolate, we certainly recognize the talent that is behind baking and creating this way.  Amazing!  But, the truth is, while we can appreciate and marvel at these jaw-dropping desserts, we tend to crave the mouth-watering desserts we grew up with…and let’s be clear, our parents wouldn’t know fondant if it hit them in the face.

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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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