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 spanakopita (Νηστίσιμη σπανακόπιτα)

Vegan spanakopita

Homemade phyllo and spinach filling, perfect for Lent, and anytime

Vegan spanakopita

 

Growing up we lived close to our grade school, and so lunches were eaten at home after a short walk down one street and one lane.  Our mother, who worked at different periods either at home, or in the evenings, was available to meet us at the school and walk the short distance home with us. Once there we would very occasionally be treated to our parents’ newly discovered convenience food; the TV dinner.  We loved those surprise lunches, from the compartmentalized courses to the odd looking sauces and vegetables which were less than vibrant.  We especially loved returning to school and, on those days only, asking our friends “what did you have for lunch?”, knowing that they would probably ask us the same.  Then, we could nonchalantly, but with a quiet glee, say, “Oh, you know, a TV dinner”.  Our non-Greek friends would nod their heads with approval and understanding. Our Greek friends would look bewildered.

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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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Potatoes yahni (Πατάτες γιαχνί )

Potatoes yahni

A traditional Greek potato stew

Potatoes yahni

 

Raise your hand if you love pototoes! You there, in the back, holding a fist-full of french fries, we see you!  And we love you!  And, we too love potatoes.  Whether they are roasted in the oven, bathed in all sorts of beautiful Greek flavours, or boiled and mashed and then transformed into the very distinctive Greek garlic spread called skordalia, we adore them.  Potatoes are so versatile, so available, so economical, that it’s no wonder that the rustic cuisine of Greece has taken this commonplace vegetable and made it the star of a stew which we know will find a happy place in your hearts and stomachs.

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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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Marinated olives

Marinated olives

Olives warmed up with herbs and spices!

We have a difficult time understanding people who don’t care for olives; a challenge because one of us is married to one of those people.  It’s hard to wrap our head around why anyone would turn their nose on fruit (yes, olives are fruit!) that comes in so many wonderful varieties, colours and flavours.  We’ve come to accept that perhaps the tartness, bitterness and occasional spiciness of olives is an acquired taste, and growing up in a Greek household, it was a taste that we acquired quite young.

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Cranberry sauce

Cranberry sauce

Cranberry sauce that is not from a can…. you can do it!

We believe that there are three types of cranberry sauce people in the world. The first are those who like to open up a can and plop the contents onto a dish to be sliced and served.  We are not those people, although we 100% respect and adore that many canned cranberry sauce friends tell us that the sight of the unmolded can of sauce, complete with rings from the can, reminds them of home and their childhoods.  You know, we are all for that! The second class of cranberry sauce people are those who realize that making fresh cranberry sauce may be the easiest culinary feat possible, and so they do.  We have become those people, but the truth is, for most of our lives, we fell into category three.  This last group of sad, deprived folks are those who never knew of cranberry sauce growing up, because holiday turkey was lamb and it was served with tzatziki.

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Christmas koulourakia with yeast (Χριστουγεννιάτικα κουλουράκια με μαγιά)

Christmas koulourakia with yeast (Χριστουγεννιάτικα κουλουράκια με μαγιά)

Savoury Christmas koulourakia

Much of the beauty of Greek cuisine is that it varies from region to region.  In part this is due to agricultural possibilities (think mountainous landscapes versus islands surrounded by the sea), connections with other cultures, and local customs and traditions.  Every recipe tells a story, and offers a glimpse into the rich web of history, both cultural and culinary, that makes Greece and Greek food such an important and fascinating area of study.  Although many of these unique regional dishes are well known (think kalitsounia from Crete or lalagia from Messinia), others are so local that they are known only to isolated villages.  The recipe which we are sharing here is one such example.

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Black-eyed pea soup with kale (Σούπα με μαυρομάτικα φασόλια και κατσαρό λάχανο)

Black-eyed pea soup with kale (Σούπα με μαυρομάτικα φασόλια και κατσαρό λάχανο)

This nutritional powerhouse of a soup will have you feeling great, and full!

Black-eyed pea soup with kale (Σούπα με μαυρομάτικα φασόλια και κατσαρό λάχανο)

 

If you are a regular reader of Mia Kouppa, you may already be aware that we have a love affair with black-eyed peas.  We are actually fond of all things bean and legume, but the darling black-eyed pea holds a special place in our hearts…because it is so darn cute.  Take a good look at these beans, with their perfect small shape and perfectly situated black “eye” and we’re pretty sure you will agree, they are adorable!  Still, if you’re more mature than us and not that interested in appearances, we think we can convince you to love black-eyed peas anyways, because they are delicious, versatile and so, so good for you.

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Maniatiki Salad (Potato salad with oranges and fennel) (Μανιάτικη σαλάτα)

Maniatiki Salad (Potato salad with oranges and fennel) (Μανιάτικη σαλάτα)

Perhaps your new favourite potato salad!

Maniatiki Salad (Potato salad with oranges and fennel) (Μανιάτικη σαλάτα)

 

Our parents are from the Peloponnese region of Messinia, the western-most peninsula of the part of Greece that looks a little like a hand which is missing a finger. Messinia is where our heart lies in Greece, and where many of the recipes which we share originate.  However, the Peloponnese is rich with variety and this potato and orange salad is named for the middle finger of the Peloponnese, the Mani peninsula.

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