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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Chickpea salad (Σαλάτα με ρεβίθια)

Chickpea salad (Σαλάτα με ρεβίθια)

Chickpea salad (Σαλάτα με ρεβίθια)

 

If you have been following Mia Kouppa for a while, or even for a little bit of time (Welcome!), you may have realized a few things.  Feta should always be Greek (as should olive oil), fresh bread usually goes beautifully with just about any meal, and if you have a well stocked Greek pantry, you can make thousands of recipes (this is only a slight exaggeration) .  You may have also noticed that we are firm believers that beans should never come from a can.  But never is a really big word.

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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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Fennel salad (Σαλάτα με μάραθο)

Fennel salad (Σαλάτα με μάραθο)

Fennel salad (Σαλάτα με μάραθο)

 

This summer we were so fortunate to have our cousin visit us from Australia. His mother and our mother are first cousins, but if you ask our mom, they were actually as close as sisters.  Raised in the same house, they grew up sleeping in the same room (actually, the same bed), eating at the same table, and living similar experiences, from schooling to household chores, to family joys and struggles.  When our mom left Greece to come to Canada she fully expected that her sister-cousins (there were 2) would soon follow her, as would her own siblings.  Unfortunately, Canadian immigration laws at the time prevented her cousins from coming to Canada as they were too young; they instead immigrated to Australia.  Although the cousins speak often, they have not seen each other since they were young women.

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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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Roasted lemon potatoes ( Πατάτες λεμονάτες στο φούρνου)

Roasted lemon potatoes ( Πατάτες λεμονάτες στο φούρνου)

Roasted lemon potatoes ( Πατάτες λεμονάτες στο φούρνου)

 

When people think about Greek food, they tend to think about the big ones…the pastitsio, moussaka and spanakopita, foods that Greeks and non-Greeks often consider to be the quintessential staples of our cuisine.  These foods are revered, and the fact that many (erroneously) believe that they are next to impossible to prepare probably adds to their appeal.  But we think that there is another Greek food which should be added to the list of favourites, and that is roasted lemon potatoes.

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Kalitsounia (Kαλιτσούνια)

Kalitsounia (Kαλιτσούνια)

Kalitsounia (Kαλιτσούνια)

 

We’re not exactly sure when our parents starting making these delightful little cheese pies, but we are pretty sure we know their inspiration.  We are blessed to have close, long time friends who are originally from the island of Crete.  So throughout the years, we have frequently been privileged guests in Cretan homes, enjoying not only our friends’ wonderful company, but also their delicious food.

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Baked squash fritters without cheese (Κολοκυθοκεφτέδες χωρίς τυρί)

Baked squash fritters without cheese (Κολοκυθοκεφτέδες χωρίς τυρί)

Baked squash fritters without cheese (Κολοκυθοκεφτέδες χωρίς τυρί)

 

So, here’s the thing.  When we first posted a recipe for baked squash fritters, we told you that there were many variations of squash fritters out there.  We also told you that our parents made several versions; some fried, some baked, some with cheese, others without.  And, we also mentioned that the type of squash used was going to greatly affect the outcome of what was ultimately cooked.  What we didn’t really think through was the confusion which could result when sharing these recipes.  What the heck do we call all these squash fritter subtypes?  How to easily differentiate one squash fritter from another? We thought about starting a series of recipe entries, like Squash fritter 1, Squash fritter 2, Squash fritter 3 … (you get the picture), but decided against that boring and generic nomenclature.  We are much more descriptive, so brace yourselves for a future of very wordy recipe titles.

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Eggplant, zucchini and potato bake

Eggplant, zucchini and potato bake

Eggplant, zucchini and potato bake

 

Have you noticed that we have a fondness for eggplant?  They are so versatile, and so very delicious.  This fruit (yes!  eggplant is a fruit, and botanically a species of nightshade, a family of flowering plants) can be treated in all sorts of ways, including being fried for eggplant chips, stuffed in yemista, and even used as a substitute for crostini!  It also plays well with others, and in this baked vegetable dish, it is combined with zucchini and potato to make one of our families most favourite dishes.  We are so excited to share it!

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Warm feta packages

Warm feta packages, with tomatoes and olives

Warm feta packages

We love food; we love to eat food, write about food and talk about food.  It must run in the family, because we have recently (like right now) been enjoying a visit from our Australian cousin.  Along with showing off our beautiful city,  hanging out with all of our cousins, and hearing about the perils of living down under (we have decided that Aussies are much braver than us Canadians!),  we have found ourselves constantly talking about food…possibly because we are always eating.  We have been having a truly beautiful time.

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