Vasilopita cupcakes

Vasilopita cupcakes

Unconventional vasilopita for an unconventional year

Purists and traditionalists may cringe at this post, and we’re prepared for the fall out. We know that there are certain things that are sacred and should not be tampered with. Like garlic in tzatziki or bechamel on pastitsio. We get it, we really do!

But let’s face it guys, 2020 has been a very unusual and unconventional year and 2021 is starting off that way as well. In our part of the world we are in the midst of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and the implications are huge. Restaurants remain closed except for take-out, retail shops are now closed, schools are either closed or via distance learning, and gatherings of any kind are prohibited. For those who prefer to ring in the new year in the comfort of their bed, sleeping, this is great! For many others, this sucks – big time!

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Lemon ricotta cookies

Lemon ricotta cookies

A cake-like cookie that is bursting with lemon goodness!

One of the most wonderful things about Mia Kouppa has been the opportunity to bake and cook with amazing home cooks. Our parents of course are the driving force behind this blog, but we have also cooked and baked with other amazing home cooks. Each has been so gracious in sharing their special recipes with us, so that we can then share them with all of you. Whether they are other Greek home cooks that we feature in More Kouppes, or non-Greek home cooks that we feature in Xenes Kouppes, they have invited us into their kitchens with joy and pride. And, they have been wonderful teachers, sharing their own bits of kitchen wisdom and lessons they’ve learned about life, love, and family. One particular lady taught us that we had been missing something our whole lives, a Nonna!

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Chocolate crinkle cookies

Chocolate crinkle cookies

A rich chocolate cookie with a sweet sugar coating

Do you know how you can tell when a recipe is a winner? When you ask a smartphone distracted teenager to have a taste, and she does, and she then looks up from Tik Tok long enough to exclaim, “Oh man! These are really good!”. That, dear friends, was how we knew that this recipe for chocolate crinkle cookies was post-worthy.

How best to describe the taste of this popular Christmas cookie that is more informative than “Oh man!”? Well, if you live in Canada and have ever visited a Tim Hortons the same teenager said that these cookies taste like the chocolate timbits from this favourite coffee shop – but better (sorry Tim).

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Amygdalota (Αμυγδαλωτά)


The classic Greek almond cookie

Remember when you were a kid and you made someone that you loved a card, or a macaroni Christmas tree ornament, or a finger painting of what was clearly an abstract masterpiece? Remember how excited you were to offer your gift and to sit back and listen to the accolades? Remember the pride, the joy, the downright glee? We really, really hope that you do.

We remember that feeling, and frankly, we’re having the same kind of feels right now. But now it’s not about art, or arts and crafts…it’s about baking and we are practically bursting to finally be able to share with you our recipe for amygdalota. Youppi!!

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Almond and pear cake (Κέικ με αμύγδαλα και αχλάδια)

Almond and Pear cake

A perfect fall dessert of delicious almonds and fresh pears.

If you’ve been here with us for a while, you may have read about our parents’ glorious and bountiful garden. Although our growing season here in Canada is limited, they make great use of the time we have and grow almost any vegetable you can imagine – and even some you can’t! But vegetables aren’t all they tend to.

Walking towards their garden from the house you’ll pass an array of fruit trees. When we were teenagers, we tried valiantly to convince our parents to install a pool in their back yard; they certainly had the room. We imagined pool parties, with poolside loungers scattered near the flowers and tomatoes, perhaps with the tall stalks of green beans providing shade, and snacks. We weren’t asking for much.

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Plum cake (Kέικ με δαμάσκηνα)

A fragrant and delicately spiced Italian plum cake

A year after marrying, one of us bought a house in the city.  Our new home came with a finished wood-paneled basement, a kitchen with original cabinetry (which we have yet to get rid of by the way) and a bathroom with baby blue and pale pink tiles cemented onto the walls, to match the blue bathtub and toilet, of course.  We love our home, and love that despite being in an urban area, we have a backyard that is large enough to have accommodated baby pools and sandboxes, gardens, football games, badminton nets, gangs of people during Greek Easter, and most recently a spa. That is not to say that outdoor living was always easy however, and here’s why.

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Cactus pear, lavender and walnut halva (Χαλβάς με φραγκόσυκο, λεβάντα και καρύδια)

Cactus pear, lavender and walnut halva

Classic Greek semolina dessert with a seasonal twist

Halva is the perfect go-to dessert during periods of Orthodox lent. Naturally vegan it meets all the requirements of no meat, eggs, or dairy when we are fasting. Although the Orthodox calendar is almost 1/3 fasting days, halva is so good that we find ourselves making it even when we can have egg, butter and dairy filled desserts like bougatsa or galaktoboureko or double chocolate zucchini cake.

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Watermelon and feta bites

watermelon and feta bites

Watermelon and feta in bite size serving, drizzled with balsamic glaze

The pairing of watermelon and feta, usually served as a salad, is gaining in popularity and there is a good reason for that! The fresh, sweet crunch of watermelon and the salty creaminess of feta cheese is a perfect combination.

Although we have posted the requisite watermelon and feta salad (with grilled watermelon no less!), we thought it would be fun to serve this great combo as an appetizer.

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Peaches and cream cake

Peaches and cream cake

A moist cake full of peaches and topped with whipped cream

Peaches and cream go together like macaronia and kima or like kota me patates. The delicate, sweet flavour of the peaches combined with the light and creamy taste of homemade whipped cream is celebrated with this peaches and cream cake; a cake so good, it should be invited to any of your celebrations. Like birthdays, or anniversaries, or Wednesdays.

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Strawberry and watermelon frozen ouzo cocktail

Strawberry and watermelon frozen ouzo cocktail

A Greek aperitif cocktail make with strawberries and watermelon

Cheers to summer! We love to entertain at home, and now that our world has changed, inviting a few guests over for an evening under the stars is even more appealing. Not really bar and club people to begin with (those days are long gone), the idea of going out to mix and mingle with too many other people is a little unsettling. So, we’re thankful to have the opportunity to host comfortable get-togethers chez nous. And we’re even more thankful to ouzo, the lovely anise flavoured liqueur that we have grown very fond of playing with.

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