Dolmades (Ντολμάδες)

Greek dolmades. A mixture of rice and herbs wrapped in vine or grape leaves. A traditional and delicious Greek recipe.

Greek dolmades. A mixture of rice and herbs wrapped in vine or grape leaves. A traditional and delicious Greek recipe.

We love things that are wrapped.  Presents, mummys (Come on!  They are fascinating!) and especially, dolmades, a mixture of rice and herbs wrapped in vine or grape leaves.  Greek dolmades are perfectly delightful treats often served as mezedes, but which can easily find their way onto a lunch or dinner plate.

When we were little, we remember sitting with our parents at the kitchen table,  watching them with fascination as they so deftly used the vine leaves they had picked, to wrap up the delicious filling.  They would encourage us to have a go and, regardless of how badly our inexperienced and clumsy little fingers wrapped the dolmades, we were told that they were perfect.  When the dolmades came out of the pot, and several of our poorly wrapped ones had opened, causing their filling to spill out, our parents would take complete ownership of them.  They would feign frustration and disappointment, and criticize themselves for not knowing how to wrap their dolmades as perfectly as we did.  As we got older, we realized that they were simply encouraging our efforts, but as young kids we ate our dolmades with a big helping of pride.

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Tzatziki (Τζατζίκι)

Greek Tzatziki

Greek Tzatziki dip

When we were young, we didn’t have all of the gadgets and gizmos that kids today have to keep us amused.  We made our own fun, often out of nothing.  One of our favourite games was dubbed “Try to make the other person laugh”; one of us would be seated, and the rest of us would take turns, using a variety of tactics, trying to make that person laugh, without touching them.  The person who could hold out the longest without laughing was declared, The Winner!  We especially liked playing this game when our family was visiting from Ontario, as their visits usually prompted a larger get-together, with more aunts, uncles and cousins.  With so many kids, this meant hours of silly fun. It also meant that there was, of course, plenty of food.  Along with the pitas, keftedes, salads and grilled meats, there was always tzatziki.  Aside from being delicious, this garlicky dip provided more amusement. Invariably, a few of us would sneak a generous helping before the meal was served. We would then get really close to our cousins and siblings, preferably backing them into a wall, and breathe into their faces.  Oh, how we laughed and laughed, as they practically choked on the noxious garlic breath they were forced to inhale.  Good times.

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Black-eyed pea salad (Σαλάτα με μαυρομάτικα φασόλια)

Black-eyed pea salad

Black-eyed pea salad

Perhaps you remember reading that black-eyed peas with spinach is one of our absolute favourite meals.  It’s true, and that, of course, meant that our parents would make it often; they still do, and now we do too!  Over the years, being the efficient cooks that they are, they learned that if they soaked and boiled extra black-eyed peas (more beans = same amount of time and effort as fewer beans), they could use them in different recipes.  It was black-eyed pea surplus that led them to whip together this salad.

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Rose flavoured lemonade (Λεμονάδα με τριαντάφυλλα)

Rose flavoured lemonade

Rose flavoured lemonade

We just got a little bit smarter.  In preparing this post, which features our parents’ delicious and oh, so refreshing, rose flavoured lemonade, we learned that roses are herbs!  Did you know that roses are herbs?  You did?! Really?!  Then you are were smarter than us!

For those of you who didn’t know…it’s true!  Roses are herbs, just like rosemary, mint and oregano!  This makes sense, when you consider that herbs are simply plants used for food, to enhance the flavour of food, for medicine, and for their aromatic properties. Herbs are either the leafy green or flowering parts of a plant.  Enter the rose.  Who would have thunk it? Although we have known that roses are edible for a long time, we never thought to wonder about their classification, until now.  And so, dear friends, a rose by any other name…is basically, an herb.

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Pork fillet appetizer (Χοιρινό φιλέτο μεζέ)

Pork tenderloin fillet appetizer

Pork Fillet Appetizer, Greek meze

We try really hard to be good people, and that includes living in a way which helps respect and protect our environment.  We compost, we recycle and re-use, we try and limit our carbon footprint and we re-purpose whenever and whatever we can. Therefore, in the spirit of making something old, new again, we’ve decided to re-share a recent recipe.  By presenting it in a different way,  it serves a new, delicious purpose.

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Frappé coffee (Φραπέ)

Greek Frappe Coffee

What wonderful memories we have of summer trips to Greece, and what additional, vivid memories we have about the preparation to travel.  In particular, we remember the care that our parents put into the gifts they would bring over for family.  Suitcases were packed full of items which they felt would be appreciated, either because they were costly in Greece,  or difficult to find.  Often in the gift rotation were bedsheets,  fabric for our uncle, a priest, to be used to make his everyday robes (ράσα), and thick, plush, bath towels.  Yes, those towels in particular took up a lot of space, but they served an additional purpose; they were used to wrap and protect the many, many, jars of Nescafe instant coffee that we were lugging overseas.  As we sat on the suitcases, trying our best to squish things down enough so that our folks could close them, we remember asking, “Why in the world are we bringing our family instant coffee?”, and the answer was always, simply, “For frappé!”.

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Roasted chicken thighs

Roasted chicken thighs

Are you looking for something easy, inexpensive and delicious? We always are!  Good thing that our parents have shown us how to make their delicious chicken thighs.  If you have a nicely organized spice drawer, you can probably get this meal in the oven in less than 5 minutes.  If, however, your ratio of spice jars to available spice storage space is a problem, causing your spice jars to be piled up, one top of one another, which makes opening the door to retrieve the oregano a cause for alarm…it might take you 10 minutes. For the record, we have NO idea how you could live like that.

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