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.
Fall in Canada brings so much wonder. Leaves change into the most beautiful colours, the air is brisk and fresh, and sweater season makes even the grumpiest of humans appear snuggle-worthy. But sometimes we think that all these wonderful things get usurped by pumpkin spice; we actually think that pumpkin spice might take over the world…and we are intrigued.
A grilled vegetable salad with a fresh herb dressing
Once again, zucchini feature prominently in this recipe. We just can’t get enough of this summer squash staple, whether we are turning them into chips, fritters or mixing them with other summer vegetables to make a quick meal. In this recipe, we use both green zucchini and yellow squash (which is often called yellow zucchini). Although both of these vegetables have very similar flavours, the difference in their colour makes this salad more interesting visually. Add to that the colourful bell peppers and the fresh green herbs and before you know it you will have a bowl of coloured goodness to serve.
When is the last time you had boiled spinach for supper? Or a plate piled high with steamed collard greens? Not as a side to anything, but as the actual meal. Like, that was the only thing on your plate. Well, if you’re Greek, then the answer might be, earlier this afternoon. And if you’re not Greek, then this type of pauper, bland meal might seem a little strange, and sad. But trust us…it’s not!
If you have been following Mia Kouppa even a little bit, you’ll know that we get most of our inspiration from our parents; they are, after all, the reason behind this little blog of ours. However, we also get inspired by other great Greek home cooks, the culinary world around us in our great city of Montreal, and the varied and rich ethnic and cultural food influences we are presented with every day. So much inspiration…so much great stuff to eat! But it doesn’t stop there. We are also influenced and inspired by the friends we may never meet in person; the food bloggers, Instagrammers, Pinners and Facebookers we follow, admire, and wish we could share a meal with. This grilled fennel is a direct result of that admiration.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.