Koulourakia with orange (Νηστίσιμα κουλουράκια με πορτοκάλι)

Koulourakia with orange (Νηστίσιμα κουλουράκια με πορτοκάλι)

Koulourakia with orange (Νηστίσιμα κουλουράκια με πορτοκάλι)

 

Our parents make so many types of koulourakia (Greek for cookies that are great for dunking into coffee or milk) that it is almost hard to keep track of them all.  To help differentiate one koulouraki from the other, they often refer to a key ingredient.  So here, we present to you koulourakia with orange…because, you guessed it, they contain a fair bit of orange juice.  They also often refer to different koulourakia by the person who prefers them over all others.  So these, along with being koulourakia with orange, are also affectionately referred to as “Georgia’s favourite”.

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Mussels with red sauce (Μύδια με κόκκινη σάλτσα)

Mussels with red sauce (Μύδια με κόκκινη σάλτσα)

Mussels with red sauce (Μύδια με κόκκινη σάλτσα)

 

Some ingredients give the impression that they will be a lot more complicated and costly to work with, than they actually are.  A great example of this is mussels.  Because we tend to talk about food a lot, we’ve learned that many people have never cooked mussels, assuming that it would be difficult to create a meal with them.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  In fact, mussels are an incredible way to present a fancy meal with almost no effort.

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Orzo with shrimp (Κριθαράκι με γαρίδες)

Orzo with shrimp (Κριθαράκι με γαρίδες)

Orzo with shrimp (Κριθαράκι με γαρίδες)

 

There are some foods which were always considered somewhat of a treat when we were growing up.  Shrimp was one of those foods.  Maybe because it was often a little pricier than our usual fare, or maybe because our parents tried to reserve seafood dishes for periods of lent, when they would be appreciated even more.  Whatever the reason, when shrimp made its way to the table, it was a good thing.

The great thing about cooking with seafood like shrimp, is how easily a delicious meal can come together; shrimp literally cooks in minutes.  It’s also incredibly versatile and is delicious grilled, fried, steamed, boiled and baked.  There is no shortage of ways to prepare shrimp (did you see what we did there?) 🙂

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Youvetsi with chickpeas (Γιουβέτσι με ρεβύθια)

Youvetsi with chickpeas (Γιουβέτσι με ρεβύθια)

Youvetsi with chickpeas (Γιουβέτσι με ρεβύθια)

 

Our parents always managed to put filling and delicious food on the table, whether they were rushed, tired, or simply not in the mood to cook (rare, but it did sometimes happen).  Youvetsi (sometimes called Giouvesti) was the perfect solution to any of these situations.  A baked dish of orzo, tomato sauce and protein, this is a relatively quick, and incredibly easy way to feed a family.

When our parents needed something quicker than quick, and easier than easy, they turned to preparing youvetsi this way.  Unlike the more typical versions which include meat, like lamb or  chicken, this recipe is made with chickpeas.  By turning to legumes, this youvetsi is perfect for meatless Mondays, during lent, or when you simply want a vegetarian (actually, vegan) option.

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Lagana (Λαγάνα)

Lagana (Λαγάνα)

Lagana (Λαγάνα), a traditional bread eaten on Clean Monday.

 

This is probably one of our favourite times of year.  In Greece, carnival season is ending and Monday marks the beginning of lent for Greek Orthodox Easter (Pascha).  Although we live in Canada, and there are no such Carnivals, we do what we can to keep with some of the Greek traditions and customs.  Many people have abstained from eating meat this past week and will now continue to abstain from meat, eggs and dairy until Easter Sunday.  Whether you are fasting entirely, partially, or not at all, is of course a personal decision.  Throughout our lives, for various reasons, we have fasted in the ways which were most appropriate for us at the time.  One thing that has always remained constant however is that on Kathara Deftera (Clean Monday), we eat lagana.

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Grilled octopus

Grilled octopus

Grilled octopus

 

Here it is….our first entry in Our Kouppes, the space we have carved into Mia Kouppa to share our own recipes.  As we mentioned when we introduced Our Kouppes, many of the recipes you find here will be inspired by the food that we grew up with, and this grilled octopus is definitely that!  We have vivid memories of summers in Greece, where we would see freshly caught octopus drying in the sun by the port, and sun-kissed fishermen eager to sell their bounty to locals and local restaurants.

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Chickpea soup (Ρεβιθόσουπα)

Chickpea soup (Ρεβιθόσουπα)

Chickpea soup (Ρεβιθόσουπα)

 

Most of the recipes we have shared thus far come from our childhood, but our parents’ cooking has evolved.  As years rolled by they would introduce new meals into their repertoire and onto our family table.  This chickpea soup for example, despite being a staple in many Greek homes, was not something that we had as little children.  In fact, we think we were both teenagers when our parents first served us a bowlful of this delicious meal.  This led to a pretty significant “Huh?!” moment.

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Eggplant, zucchini and potato bake

Eggplant, zucchini and potato bake

Eggplant, zucchini and potato bake

 

Have you noticed that we have a fondness for eggplant?  They are so versatile, and so very delicious.  This fruit (yes!  eggplant is a fruit, and botanically a species of nightshade, a family of flowering plants) can be treated in all sorts of ways, including being fried for eggplant chips, stuffed in yemista, and even used as a substitute for crostini!  It also plays well with others, and in this baked vegetable dish, it is combined with zucchini and potato to make one of our families most favourite dishes.  We are so excited to share it!

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Briam (Μπριάμ)

Briam! Greek roasted vegetable recipe

Briam! Greek roasted vegetables recipe

This is an incredible dish that we just know you are going to love.  Not only is briam a luxurious way to eat your vegetables, but it is an incredibly easy way to eat them too.  All the goodness is simply thrown into a roasting pan, mixed together, and baked; this makes clean-up a breeze, giving you more time to enjoy your family, your garden, or this blog.

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Grilled zucchini (Κολοκυθάκια στη σχάρα)

Grilled zucchini

Like many Greeks, we are a gardening family.  In our experience, it is rare to find a Greek who has access to even a little bit of land, who doesn’t then use it to plant some sort of vegetable or herb.  Even when all that is available is a balcony, eggplants and tomatoes find themselves growing in pots, next to the basil. Gardening is a lovely heritage, and although our parents are the master green thumbs, we do pretty well ourselves; we had wonderful mentors after all.

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