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November 15 marks the beginning of the Nativity Fast for Orthodox Christians, a period of fasting which prepares us for the Feast of the Nativity of Christ on December 25th. This is one of four major fast periods observed during the ecclesiastical calendar and although there is an important focus on abstaining from certain drink (wine) and food (meat, dairy, eggs, fish and oil) there is equal emphasis, if not a larger emphasis, on prayer and almsgiving.
Almsgiving is the giving of alms; money and physical gifts offered to the needy or the poor. It is meant to change the giver, encouraging us to detach from physical comforts and excesses, and it reminds us that giving is a social act, which places us in a relationship with others. It is an act of solidarity with those who are struggling, and can be a show of support to those who are facing seemingly insurmountable odds and life challenges.
Continue reading “Mia Kouppa Nativity Fast Meal Plan – 2020”
Thick cut country bread grilled with olive oil and oregano flavour.
Just when you thought bread couldn’t get any better, along comes this. If you have ever eaten in a Greek restaurant, either in Greece or elsewhere, you would have likely been served a basket of bread like this; thick cut slices of country bread brushed with olive oil and kissed with oregano, grilled so that they are at once crispy, toasty and yet still soft and able to sop up all sorts of deliciousness.
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A classic and traditional Greek side dish of rice cooked with fide
Frugality. Simplicity. Versatility. These are definitely values that homemakers of years gone by looked for in recipes that they would prepare for their families. You can be sure that women in villages all over Greece, and our mom when she came to Canada, would often make this side dish of rice with fide to serve their families. More economical and easier than this is hard to come by!
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An incredible Greek side dish of fried eggplant which is then baked in a rich tomato sauce
We know that eggplant is a divisive fruit (yes, eggplant is botanically a fruit!) and that there are camps of people who love them, and others who hate them. We happen to be lovers of the aubergine and are thrilled when our gardens start to offer this versatile, hearty and delicious purple gift.
We have already posted several eggplant recipes, and here we are finally sharing what may be one of our favourites. In this classic Greek dish, which can be served as a side or just as easily as a meze or light lunch, eggplants are fried and then baked in a rich tomato sauce. This is a dish best served with a nice loaf of fresh bread for dipping; the sauce is to die for! You can even layer the eggplant and sauce between two slices of bread and make yourself an eggplant and tomato sauce sandwich. Sound strange? Have we ever steered you wrong before?
Continue reading “Fried eggplant with tomato sauce (Μελιτζάνες τηγανητές με σάλτσα ντομάτας )”
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.
Continue reading “Cactus pear, lavender and walnut halva (Χαλβάς με φραγκόσυκο, λεβάντα και καρύδια)”
Vegan meal of quinoa and rice pasta tossed with vegetables and a bit of chili heat.
There are so many special diets out there these days. Aside from all the ways that people are trying to either lose weight, or get fit, there are also medical reasons and lifestyle choices that can sometimes make cooking for guests a little challenging. But we love a challenge, and we love coming up with recipes that will probably satisfy every food restriction you may host.
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A new take on a classic Greek recipe: spinach and quinoa cooked in a rich tomato based sauce.
Quinoa is not a grain we grew up with, and it is not traditionally used in Greek cooking. The grains you will more commonly find in Greek recipes include semolina, corn, barley, bulgur and whole wheat berries. All delicious and all used to make incredible foods and desserts.
But we do love quinoa. Our first introduction to this super grain was while one of us was an undergraduate in university. Walking through the neighbourhood around campus, trying to find dinner to carry us through an evening spent in the library, we came across a health food store. Although quite commonplace now, at the time natural food stores which sold things like vegan mayonnaise, tofu, nori, and quinoa were rare. Optimum was a two floor shop; the first floor on street level sold aromatherapy oils, incense, books and herbal medicines. The basement level was the grocery store and it was here that one could wander the aisles and see things that were foreign and fascinating.
Continue reading “Spanakoquinoa (Σπανάκοκινόα)”
A Greek meze using all the delicious flavours of summer.
If you’re longing to spend time in Greece but can’t get there this year, these tomato fritters may be the next best thing. Domatokeftedes, as they are called in Greek, are perfect bites of sunshine; an explosion of freshness and herb-y goodness in every bite. A taste of Greece, in the literal sense.
Keftedes actually refers to meatballs (you can find our recipe for Greek meatballs here) however Greek cuisine has a huge repertoire of vegetarian and vegan fritters which are referred to as a composite of their primary ingredient and the word keftedes. An entire array of dishes popularized because they are less expensive to make than anything which is meat based. Also, because they often contain no eggs or dairy they are perfect for periods of lent, and for vegans and vegetarians. It doesn’t hurt that these mezes or appetizers are so easy to eat; two bites and they can be done, your hands free to pick up another.
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A hearty vegan stew made with potatoes and greens in a tomato based sauce
This spinach and potato stew, also called Bonamatsi (Μποναμάτσι), is a dish common in the northern part of Greece, and not necessarily where our parents our from. Still, this was a meal that we would occasionally have growing up, particularly on fasting days. In fact, it was most often served in the days before Christmas, probably because a bowl of bonamatsi was filling and warming, perfect for the December in Canada. Holiday fasting periods aside, this was also a dish often made on Fridays, competing with the other simple vegan meal, fakes. By Friday, we now understand that our parents were relying on simple and straightforward meals to end the work week with.
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Baked oatmeal mini-muffins filled with healthy, vegan goodness
Who doesn’t want a healthy snack that satisfies a need for something sweet, a bit of crunch and just the right amount of chocolate? We certainly think that a recipe which checks all those boxes should be in everyone’s repertoire.
What we love most about these vegan oatmeal cups is that they can be whipped together in only a few minutes, require very little baking skill, and can be enjoyed by almost everyone. Vegan? These are good for you! Gluten-free or Celiac? These are good for you too! Extremely picky? Well there’s no guarantee, but we think you’ll find these pretty okay!
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