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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Biftekia with french fries (Μπιφτέκια με τηγανιτές πατάτες)

Biftekia with french fries (Μπιφτέκια με τηγανιτές πατάτες)

Biftekia with french fries (Μπιφτέκια με τηγανιτές πατάτες)

 

Our neighbourhood growing up was filled with a lot of kids our age.  We lived in an apartment complex, which was one of many on several blocks, and everyone seemed to know everyone else, at least a little bit.  Our free time was spent meeting friends on the street, hanging out in the large back yards and driveways of these apartment buildings, playing catch, dodge ball, hide-and-seek, or just hanging around riding our bikes to the corner store to buy popsicles and sip-sacs.  On days where there was no school, we would be outdoors all day, coming in only for lunch and bathroom breaks.  Reluctant to fully stop all friend-related activities, we would often have friends over to share a quick lunch before heading back out.  Knowing this, our parents would usually have some quick and kid-friendly meals at the ready.  Included in this were lots of hamburgers and meatballs (called keftedes), and these were well loved, and understood, even by our non-Greek friends.  They would ask for ketchup (they were usually given tzatziki instead) and they ate, happily.

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Kouloures (Κουλούρες)

Kouloures (Κουλούρες)

Kouloures (Κουλούρες)

 

Every once in a while our parents would take us to a local Greek bakery to help select a dessert to bring to a dinner party or gathering.  Usually they would make and bring along their own galaktoboureko, baklava or melomakarona, but occasionally our parents would be too busy (because they were also bringing along some homemade spanakopita or keftedes) to do so.  We would walk into the bakery with them and be overwhelmed with the sights and smells of all the delicious Greek desserts, breads and snacks.  Our parents would typically ask us to choose a variety of small, individual serving size cakes (glyka or γλυκά), often 8 – 12 in a box.  This was so exciting…shopping for sweets!  We were sure to select vanilla cakes, kok, cream-filled pastries, chocolate mousses and anything else that made our box of cakes a sight to behold.  The only thing better than selecting the pastries was receiving these boxes of glyka when we had company over.  Well before dessert was served, all the kids would sneak into the kitchen, snip the ribbon which tied the box closed, lift the lid with great anticipation, excited to see what joy lay within the box, and then quickly call dibs on the particular piece of dessert that we wanted.

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Xenes Kouppes

So, this is exciting.  Really, really exciting…for us…and we think it will be for you too.  If you have been following our Mia Kouppa journey, you will know that this website began as a labour of love, to preserve and honour our parents traditional Greek recipes.  This will always be our primary focus, but as things evolve, our focus too has broadened.  We started by acknowledging that there were countless other Greek home cooks, with their own wonderful recipes and rich stories to share; we wanted to showcase some of them.  And so, More Kouppes was born.  Then, while cooking and baking our own recipes, we found ourselves wishing that we could share some of these on our blog too.  Well, we realized that when you’re boss…you can do whatever you want 🙂 and that was the beginning of Our Kouppes.

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No-knead bread with olives and feta

No-knead bread with olives and feta

No-knead bread with olives and feta

 

As we mentioned when we first introduced Our Kouppes, many of the recipes we will feature here are heavily influenced by our parents and Greek cuisine…but not all of them.  This particular bread recipe for example, although heavy with Mediterranean elements like Kalamata olives, feta, and oregano has very little to do with our parents.  In fact, this bread is brought to you because of a man hero named Jim Lahey.

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A post on toast

A post on toast

We were raised in a very traditional Greek home, with a large Greek extended family and many Greek friends.  Our neighborhood and primary school were full of Greeks, and we happily lived and learned alongside a smorgasbord of other nationalities.  As we grew up and ventured off to high school, college, and then university, as we got jobs and got involved in extra-curricular activities (that went beyond Greek folk dancing), our exposure to the people of the world grew and grew.  How enriching!  How wonderful!

It’s no real surprise then that we both grew up to marry Xeni.  For those of you who are not Greek, and who do not understand what “Xeni” are…well, that’s you.  Xeni, (the plural form of xenos (masculine) or xeni (feminine)) is essentially anyone who is not Greek.  This is not meant to be an insult or a derogatory categorization; it’s just a fact. So, our Anglo-Canadian husbands are Xeni.  So is our West Indian neighbour, our Japanese co-worker, and the Cameroonian cashier at our local grocery store.  All Xeni.  The Italian barber at the local salon is also a Xeno…but a little less so, because Italians and Greeks are the same-same…sort of.

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Our Kouppes

Mia Kouppa

So, we’ve been thinking.  This website was initially intended to be a place where we could preserve, and then share with all of you, our parents’ traditional Greek recipes.  Our goal, simple; to fill in the gaps, and answer the questions that most children of Greek immigrant parents (actually all immigrant parents) seem to have, including: “How much, really, is mia kouppa (one cup)  flour?” or “What do you mean, add as much water as it takes?”.  We set out to cook with our parents, document their recipes, measure out their ingredients, and take careful notes of each step and all directions.  At the same time, we have captured their kitchen wisdom, even that which is quite nonsensical, and we have been sharing that too.  Along with recipes, step by step photos, some videos, and helpful hints, we also share stories and memories which resonate with so many of our readers.  Mia Kouppa has been a true labour of love, that has received a lot of love!  Thank you, thank you, thank you, for all your support and encouragement.

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Soutzoukakia with rice(Σουτζουκάκια με ρύζι)

Soutzoukakia with rice(Σουτζουκάκια με ρύζι)

Soutzoukakia with rice(Σουτζουκάκια με ρύζι)

 

For most of elementary school, we came home for lunch,  and were greeted by our mom who had a nice, warm meal waiting for us.  We would eat, sitting next to our mother, and we would watch the Flintstones together.  This was the only time we were allowed to watch television during meals, probably permitted because our mother loved to follow Fred and Barney’s antics as much as we did.  When she first arrived in Canada, it was partially by watching the Flintstones that our mother learned English.  To this day, she can recite most of the episodes, and can yaba-daba-doo with the best of them.

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Chunky tomato sauce

Chunky tomato sauce

Chunky tomato sauce

 

This sauce!  How could we begin to describe the wonder which is this sauce!?  How could we convince you that this sauce, is something that you absolutely have to make…like, today…before it becomes difficult to find sweet, vine ripened tomatoes.  Will it help if we tell you that this sauce, so basic, so simple, will elevate your dishes in ways you could barely imagine?!  It’s true! It’s so deliciously true!

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