Citrus platter with pomegranate

Citrus platter with pomegranate

A delicious and beautiful way to present blood oranges

One of us was fortunate enough to spend part of our honeymoon in Morocco, in what will soon be 20 years ago! We still remember that trip so well, the souks, the snake charmers, the welcoming and lovely people…and the food.  The food in Morocco was nothing less than phenomenal.  From the tagines, to the couscous,  and the homemade nougat in the Jemaa el-Fnaa, we happily ate our way through weeks of North African adventure.  Over the years we have often tried to recreate some of the delicious meals we had while in Morocco.  After much trial and error we had some great success, like this lamb tagine, but other recreations allude us (we still haven’t mastered pastilla, although this recipe looks promising and we just might try that!)

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Vegan spanakopita (Νηστίσιμη σπανακόπιτα)

Vegan spanakopita

Homemade phyllo and spinach filling, perfect for Lent, and anytime

Vegan spanakopita

 

Growing up we lived close to our grade school, and so lunches were eaten at home after a short walk down one street and one lane.  Our mother, who worked at different periods either at home, or in the evenings, was available to meet us at the school and walk the short distance home with us. Once there we would very occasionally be treated to our parents’ newly discovered convenience food; the TV dinner.  We loved those surprise lunches, from the compartmentalized courses to the odd looking sauces and vegetables which were less than vibrant.  We especially loved returning to school and, on those days only, asking our friends “what did you have for lunch?”, knowing that they would probably ask us the same.  Then, we could nonchalantly, but with a quiet glee, say, “Oh, you know, a TV dinner”.  Our non-Greek friends would nod their heads with approval and understanding. Our Greek friends would look bewildered.

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Marinated olives

Marinated olives

Olives warmed up with herbs and spices!

We have a difficult time understanding people who don’t care for olives; a challenge because one of us is married to one of those people.  It’s hard to wrap our head around why anyone would turn their nose on fruit (yes, olives are fruit!) that comes in so many wonderful varieties, colours and flavours.  We’ve come to accept that perhaps the tartness, bitterness and occasional spiciness of olives is an acquired taste, and growing up in a Greek household, it was a taste that we acquired quite young.

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Halloumi fries with a citrus lime mint dipping sauce

Halloumi fries with a citrus lime mint dipping sauce

Halloumi sticks with a sweet, spicy and tangy dipping sauce

We grew up eating so much cheese, one could imagine that we might be sick of it. But really, how could anyone tire of the endless variety of wonderful Greek cheeses, and the countless ways they can be enjoyed.  Oh sure, we would sometimes find a block of orange cheddar in the refrigerator, but we were much more likely to find feta, kefalotiri, kefalograviera, mizithra and halloumi; Greek cheese heaven.

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Stewed Swiss chard with vegetables and feta (Σέσκουλα γιαχνί με λαχανικά και φέτα)

Stewed Swiss chard with vegetables and feta (Σέσκουλα γιαχνί με λαχανικά και φέτα)

A perfect mess of vegetables that tastes better than you could hope

Feeling somewhat bloated and heavy after the holidays?  Resolved to eating healthier, including more vegetables in your diet, and to limiting processed foods?  Committed to cutting out all sweets, and eating only food which serves a vitamin and mineral fuelled purpose?  Well, we’re here to help!  And to remind you that we have a whole category of dessert recipes like galaktoboureko, baklava and koulourakia, because cutting out all sweets is dumb (unless your doctor tells you to cut out all sweets, in which case it’s very, very smart).

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Mushroom and chestnut phyllo triangles (Πιτάκια με μανιτάρια και κάστανα)

Mushroom and chestnut phyllo triangles (Πιτάκια με μανιτάρια και κάστανα)

A vegetarian meze that is slightly sweet, light and crispy; perfect two-bites!

Mushroom and chestnut phyllo triangles (Πιτάκια με μανιτάρια και κάστανα)

 

We think that phyllo is the answer to most of life’s food problems.  Although rolling out your own phyllo is a skill which is honed over years of practice (or much quicker if you have a great recipe like this one), store bought phyllo is a breeze! Seriously!  Don’t listen to the stories about how it dries out too quickly or tears easily.  In fact, once you get used to working with store bought phyllo, you’re going to find yourself searching for things to wrap up in it!  True story!

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Custard with cherry spoon sweet (Κρέμα με κομπόστα κεράσι)

Custard with cherry spoon sweet (Κρέμα με κομπόστα κεράσι)

A simple make-ahead dessert that can be dressed up or down

Custard with cherry spoon sweet (Κρέμα με κομπόστα κεράσι)

 

One of our favourite treats growing up was a creamy vanilla pudding that came from a box.  This product, imported from Greece, was one of the only “processed” foods that our parents ever made for us, and we loved it!  Whenever we would see the unique blue box with a corn on the cob design on it in the pantry, we got pretty excited. We remember how our parents would mix this pudding powder with milk, cook it while stirring slowly and serve it in shallow bowls. Occasionally they would add a topping of fresh fruit (sliced bananas were a particular favourite) or a spoon sweet they had previously made and preserved.  We still see this box of pudding in the Greek grocery store we frequent, and although we have considered picking one up for old times sake, we’re a little worried that our adult taste buds won’t love it as much as we used to.  Uncomfortable about disrupting such fond food and family memories, we’ve decided to create something similar, using ingredients we know we love.

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Spanakopasta

Spanakopasta

A deliciously quick and simple way to enjoy the flavours of spanakopita

Spanakopasta

 

Ask any non-Greek, or Greek, what one of their favourite Greek foods is, and you will often hear spanakopita.  There’s a very good reason for that!  Spanakopita, in all of its variations is a delicious treat; perfect as a meze, and at the same time substantial enough for a light meal.  The problem (if you are really trying hard to find one) is that spanakopita is encased in phyllo, which you either may not have on hand (if you are opting for the store bought variety) or which you may not have time to make (if you are going for the do-it-yourself variety).  Alas, every problem has a solution, and in this case the solution is pasta.

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Maniatiki Salad (Potato salad with oranges and fennel) (Μανιάτικη σαλάτα)

Maniatiki Salad (Potato salad with oranges and fennel) (Μανιάτικη σαλάτα)

Perhaps your new favourite potato salad!

Maniatiki Salad (Potato salad with oranges and fennel) (Μανιάτικη σαλάτα)

 

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.

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