Cherry spoon sweet (Κομπόστα κεράσι)

Cherry spoon sweet (Κομπόστα κεράσι)

Cherry spoon sweet (Κομπόστα κεράσι)

We cannot begin to tell you how excited we are to share this recipe.  Last year, our dear friend Maria popped by for a visit and brought with her a jar of cherry spoon sweet or kobosta that her mom, Κυρία Βασιλική (Mrs. Vasiliki), had made.  Anyone who is either Greek, or has invited a Greek into their home, knows that it is rare for us to arrive at someone else’s house empty-handed.   It’s not that gifts are required but when they do arrive they are appreciated, especially when they are as delicious as this cherry dessert.  Having already tried some of Κυρία Βασιλική’s creations, we knew that we were in for a treat, but nothing prepared us for the happiness found in that jar.

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Cucumber salad (Αγγουροσαλάτα)

Cucumber salad (Αγγουροσαλάτα)

Cucumber salad (Αγγουροσαλάτα)

 

Cucumbers! Who doesn’t love a fruit (yup, a fruit!) that can be used as a vegetable, which is a good source of Vitamins A, C and folic acid, and that can reduce eye puffiness.  That’s right!  Did you know that you can place cucumber slices on your eyes, lay back for about 5 minutes, and then  look 10 years younger.  It’s true! Now, that last little bit could be credited to the fact that during your do-it-yourself spa treatment, cucumber juice seeps into your eyes, blurring your vision temporarily…but whatever.

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Grated carrot salad (Σαλάτα με καρότα)

Grated carrot salad (Σαλάτα με καρότα)

Grated carrot salad (Σαλάτα με καρότα)

 

One of us loves orange!  One of the brightest and most vibrant of colours, it just screams happiness, don’t you think?  That’s part of the reason this carrot salad is so loved.  How could you be sad, or stressed, or frustrated when you’re eating a salad that is joyful, refreshing and so, so easy to put together?

Carrots have long been a staple in our family meals.  Our parents always tried to find ways to incorporate this versatile root veggie, super rich in beta-carotene and other vitamins and minerals, into our diet.  They add carrots to their fakes and fasolatha, they add a few to the roasting pan when they make roasted lemon potatoes and to the chicken stock when they make avgolemono soup.  When we were young, as we would head out to play, our parents would often pass us raw, peeled carrots that seemed to appear out of nowhere, to have as a snack.  These were never chopped up into rounds or carrot sticks and placed neatly into a plastic bag; they didn’t have time for that.  These were whole carrots, meant to be chomped on as Bugs Bunny would.

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Chocolate halva (Χαλβάς με σοκολάτα)

Chocolate halva (Χαλβάς με σοκολάτα)

Chocolate halva (Χαλβάς με σοκολάτα)

 

Have you ever heard of halva?  If you’re Greek, you probably have, as this is a staple dessert during periods of lent when many abstain from eggs and dairy.  This delightfully vegan dessert is a breeze to put together and when it is done in chocolate as it is here, you’ll find yourself desperate to come up with an excuses to make it over and over again.  We think that I just want to…is reason enough.

Not only is halva delicious, it is also so versatile.  We have previously posted a halva recipe which was flavoured with orange and raisins.  Super delicious! The lovely thing about halva is that once you get the basic recipe down, you will find it pretty easy to experiment with other flavours and combinations of ingredients.  So here, we did just that. We decided to mix in some cocoa powder, dairy free chocolate pieces and finely chopped walnuts to create a chocolate lovers halva.

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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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Pasta with tomato sauce (Μακαρόνια με σάλτσα ντομάτας)

Pasta with tomato sauce (Μακαρόνια με σάλτσα ντομάτας)

Pasta with tomato sauce (Μακαρόνια με σάλτσα ντομάτας)

 

This is about as great as one pot meal can be.  First of all, it includes pasta.  Usually, that would be enough to win us over, but this dish has a few other things going for it too.  In order to make this easy, quick and thoroughly satisfying recipe, all you need are a few ingredients that you likely hopefully already have in your pantry.  If you don’t have these things in your pantry, we suggest it’s time to do a bit of shopping.  Before you go…you may want to consult this 🙂 .

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Vegan date cake (Νηστίσιμο γλυκό με χουρμάδες)

Vegan date cake (Νηστίσιμο γλυκό με χουρμάδες)

Vegan date cake (Νηστίσιμο γλυκό με χουρμάδες)

 

Make no mistake, dates feature very prominently in this cake.  If you are not sure that you like dates, or if you think that you would not like dates, you should probably give this cake a try.  Truly.  The only reason you should pass on it is if you are 100%, definitely and absolutely, a date hater.  And even then, unless you are deathly allergic to dates (or any of the other ingredients in this cake), you should give it a go.  Dates are an incredible fruit, and frankly, we think that this is an incredible cake.

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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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Eggplant stew (Μελιτζάνες στιφάδο)

Eggplant stew (Μελιτζάνες στιφάδο)

Eggplant stew (Μελιτζάνες στιφάδο)

 

Several weeks ago we shared a favourite childhood meal, rabbit stew.  We knew  that this recipe would be met with some strong reactions; eating rabbit is clearly not for everyone.  Although we totally understand and respect this, we felt that it was a shame that not everyone would taste the wonderful flavours of this stew…rabbit aside.  Then we remembered that sometimes our parents would replace the rabbit with eggplant!  And we laughed, because we realized that this too could be met with some strong reactions; eggplant is not the most popular ingredient out there.

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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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