A perfect marriage of Greek coffee and Irish spirit!
March in Montreal is a lovely time; the snow promises to begin melting, the days are longer and the weather warmer. Although we look forward to seeing green grass again, even if winter is stubborn and decides to stick around, by mid-March we are seeing green elsewhere, and everywhere. And, we’re all Irish, even if it’s just for a little while.
The lovely parts of autumn in Montreal include pumpkins and fall mums adorning front porches, watching children roll around in the pile of leaves their parents spent hours raking up, and the Garden of Lights exhibit at the Montreal Botanical Garden. The less lovely parts include fall colds. This seems to be a particularly popular time for getting sick, and not wanting to be left out, one of us just spent a week congested, achy, slightly feverish, and generally feeling crummy.
If you read our previous post you know that Penguin Random House Canada recently provided us with a review copy of The Great Shellfish Cookbook: From Sea to Table More than 100 Recipes to Cook at Home by Matt Dean Pettit. This is a lovely book that any home cook who is curious about seafood, or who simply wants to increase their repertoire of great seafood recipes, should have on hand. We tested the Chili Lime Side Stripe Shrimp Lettuce Wraps; a mouthful of a recipe title to match the many mouthfuls you will want to have of this dish.
This is a silly little recipe. We wonder if it is even a recipe at all! Regardless of whether it is or not, we couldn’t resist sharing this post, primarily because many of you seem to enjoy the memories that Mia Kouppa brings up. So, we wonder, how many of you were served warm milk with a touch of coffee growing up?
Remember last week when we posted about cantaloupe with ouzo, and you hurried off to make that recipe because it sounded so refreshing and delicious? Aren’t you still pretty amazed by how great those flavours come together? Do you perhaps have some cantaloupe left over, and some ouzo remaining in the bottle? And are you perhaps, a little bit thirsty?
If you answered yes to those questions, boy, do we have a treat for you. This frosty cantaloupe and ouzo drink is a slushy sensation. Serve it at your next rambunctious get-together, or quiet evening on the porch; this cocktail will make any moment that much more memorable.
Maybe we’re a little late to the party, but this, folks, is a breakthrough for us. While thinking about what lovely cocktail to share with you in an upcoming post, our minds wandered across the myriad of possibilities. We contemplated the delicious ways we could serve up ouzo or Metaxa, all while sipping a lovely frappé, and munching on some fresh koulourakia; food blogging is hard work. It was then that we thought, “Hey, now hold on a minute! How about jazzing up a frappé?”
We just got a little bit smarter. In preparing this post, which features our parents’ delicious and oh, so refreshing, rose flavoured lemonade, we learned that roses are herbs! Did you know that roses are herbs? You did?! Really?! Then you are were smarter than us!
For those of you who didn’t know…it’s true! Roses are herbs, just like rosemary, mint and oregano! This makes sense, when you consider that herbs are simply plants used for food, to enhance the flavour of food, for medicine, and for their aromatic properties. Herbs are either the leafy green or flowering parts of a plant. Enter the rose. Who would have thunk it? Although we have known that roses are edible for a long time, we never thought to wonder about their classification, until now. And so, dear friends, a rose by any other name…is basically, an herb.
What wonderful memories we have of summer trips to Greece, and what additional, vivid memories we have about the preparation to travel. In particular, we remember the care that our parents put into the gifts they would bring over for family. Suitcases were packed full of items which they felt would be appreciated, either because they were costly in Greece, or difficult to find. Often in the gift rotation were bedsheets, fabric for our uncle, a priest, to be used to make his everyday robes (ράσα), and thick, plush, bath towels. Yes, those towels in particular took up a lot of space, but they served an additional purpose; they were used to wrap and protect the many, many, jars of Nescafe instant coffee that we were lugging overseas. As we sat on the suitcases, trying our best to squish things down enough so that our folks could close them, we remember asking, “Why in the world are we bringing our family instant coffee?”, and the answer was always, simply, “For frappé!”.
Happy New Year friends!! We hope that this holiday season has been one of love, family, friends who are like family, and great times for everyone. Given that we are all, possibly, feeling a little over-indulged, we thought it would be timely to write about chamomile tea; a fragrant, herbal tea which goes a long way towards easing and settling a cranky stomach.
Chamomile tea is made from the dried family of daisy plants called Asteraceae. You can drink it because it is delicious, but you can also try it because it reportedly has many medicinal properties. Chamomile tea is said to treat inflammation, insomnia, muscle spasms and skin disorders, along with other aches and pains. Growing up, a sore throat, tummy ache, or nagging cough were always invitations to brew a pot of chamomile tea and to serve it, usually, with a heaping teaspoon of Greek honey. This herbal concoction is of course free of caffeine, making it pretty perfect for any age. If you are pregnant at any age however (congratulations!), you should speak to your doctor before enjoying chamomile tea; certain varieties had been found to cause uterine contractions and induce miscarriage. Chamomile is good…but nothing is that good!
Greek mountain tea (τσάι του βουνού) is made with a genus of flowering plants called Sideritis (which literally translates into “he who is made of, or has, iron”). It is sometimes referred to as ironwort or shepherd’s tea. It’s a pretty tea, with little yellow flowers, silver tinged leaves, and light green buds and it is usually sold, in Greek markets or on-line, in dried branches or stems. This is a plant which is resilient and stubborn, producing flowering shrubs which are capable of growing at high altitudes with little soil, or even on the surface of rocks.
Mountain tea is made using a method called decoction (that’s right…this blog will also make you smarter). Decoction is a way of extracting chemicals and other goodies from plants by boiling them. What you end up with, in this case the mountain tea which results from this process, is also called a decoction. It has a very unique earthy taste, and a floral scent, particularly if you use the flowers (which you should).