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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Feta and fig crostini

Feta and fig crostini

Feta and fig crostini

We have a lovely relationship with figs, and so many warm fig memories.  One of our father’s sisters (who has passed away) lived in a beautiful spot in Greece called Chrani.  This was our favourite place to visit and spend our summers.  Our aunt was joyful, exuberant, generous and full of life.  Her home was simple but perfect, and connected to a small convenience store where she sold cold drinks and snacks to travellers getting off the bus which stopped at the corner of her property.  For those who think that all of Greece’s glory is found on the islands, we can tell you that the mainland is equally stunning.  In fact, over the years we saw our aunt’s town change from a relatively secluded oasis to a tourist hub, with hotels popping up all around her.

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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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Greek-style hard boiled eggs

Greek style hard boiled eggs

There are a few things we can always count on for Easter Monday, the day after Orthodox Pascha.  The first is the realization that another year has gone by, and we are overcome with gratitude to have been able to celebrate our important holiday with our family and friends.  The second is being reminded that an extensive fast and abstinence from meat, dairy and eggs, which ends with a day spent eating pretty much only meat, dairy and eggs, is rough.  Delicious, but rough.  And finally, we’ll note that regardless of how much we ate, there are leftovers for days!

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Irish soda bread

Irish soda bread

Irish soda bread

 

If you have been following our blog and reading our stories, then you may know that we Greek Canadian sisters are both married to Xeni (if you are Greek, you know exactly what this means…and if you are not Greek, well, Xeni is you).  One of us is married to a man who is of Irish and Scottish descent, and so it seemed fitting to share a recipe from his original neck of the woods, especially with St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner.

Irish soda bread is classified as a quick bread because it does not include yeast, hence there is no proofing time where the dough rises, and then rises again.  Here, baking soda and buttermilk combine to do all the work.  The result is a bread which goes from flour in a bowl to warm bread in your mouth in about 45 minutes.  The Irish know that sometimes, there are more important things to do than spend hours in the kitchen.

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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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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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Pasta with tomato sauce and feta

Pasta with tomato sauce and feta

Pasta with tomato sauce and feta

 

We sure love simple, and when simple is simply delicious, well…we love it even more.   When things get busy, hectic, and overwhelming, knowing that there is a way to get a meal on the table in short order, using a few ingredients you likely already have on hand, is a gift. This gift is often wrapped in pasta.

There is probably nothing more satisfying than a nice bowl of pasta, or comfort carbs as we like to call them.  Not only are they versatile, but they are usually inexpensive, and readily available.  Here we’re sharing a lovely recipe for spaghetti (one of our top 5 noodles) topped with a rich, but simple tomato sauce and handfuls of crumbled feta.   This might become your go-to meal when you are pressed for time, but it’s so delicious that you may find yourself making it even when you have the entire day to spend in the kitchen.  It’s simply that good.

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Citrus salad with fried halloumi

Citrus salad with fried halloumi

Citrus salad with fried halloumi

 

Our parents have a lovely marriage.  They have been married for over 50 years and are still wonderful partners in love, family and of course, the kitchen.  Sure, they argue once in a while (usually because our father has left the house without, what our mother deems to be, a warm enough jacket) but they are respectful, kind and considerate of one another.  It is really heart-warming to see, and throughout our lives, they have served as great role-models for love.

Great unions such as theirs bring to mind other partnerships, like this citrus salad with fried halloumi.  Growing up, our parents often served fried halloumi for breakfast, with a couple of fried eggs and some toast.  They would also cook some up when we had guests over for a quick visit.  Along with olives, nuts and bread, the fried cheese was great for impromptu visitors or to tide everyone over until dinner.  Here, we’ve taken the fried halloumi, introduced to us by our parents, and married it with a lovely, fresh citrusy salad in a Mia Kouppa meets Our Kouppes creation.  We hope you enjoy every part of it :).

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