A classic cake which tastes of gingerbread and happiness
There is something so old-fashioned about an upside-down cake; whenever we make this dessert we feel that we should wear long, flowery dresses with embroidered aprons and then serve it with Salada in vintage tea cups and conversation about good books and family values. We’re not actually sure when the first upside-down cake was made, but we’re pretty sure it was a long time ago and that it created quite a happy commotion.
Oatmeal and chocolate chunk ice cream sandwiches: summer held in your hands
During the summer, the internet spaces occupied by Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest are replete with images of perfect, refreshing ice cream sandwiches. All manner of cookie seem to be sandwiching all manner of creamy, cold filling, and they all look pretty darn delicious. And so, we figured that we should feature our own take on ice cream sandwiches on Our Kouppes; after all, we love baking cookies, we enjoy ice cream, and we hate being left out of the loop.
Our first Xenes Kouppes! We wouldn’t dream about starting this segment of our blog featuring anyone but dear Isabel. Isabel, who sadly passed away in 2016, was Helen’s mother-in-law; in fact, she may not have realized it, but I considered Isabel to be somewhat of a mother-in-law too. Isabel was so kind, so much fun, so full of life that everyone who met her wanted to claim her as their own, in some way.
Of English and Scottish descent, Isabel was a great lady who along with her husband Frank, raised 4 children. Family was everything, and some of her greatest moments were spent surrounded by her sons, daughter and their families. Blessed with 10 grandchildren, and the ultimate joy of her life, her great-grandson Lincoln, Isabel was the epitome of love.
Before our Mia Kouppa launch about 7 months ago, we established a few goals and rules to keep us focused, and on track. Our goals included increasing our reach (that’s blog speak for people seeing our stuff) every week, learning all about Tweeting and Pinning, and being invited to appear on Ellen. Some goals are clearly more attainable than others. As for the rules, we decided that we would post twice a week (Mondays and Thursdays), not talk about our blog incessantly to friends, family and strangers, and never use the descriptors “THE BEST ever”, “THE MOST delicious”, “THE WORLD’S greatest”, in reference to any recipes we shared. How could we make such bold assertions? We are not that worldly…but baklava is!
Baklava is one of the most popular and delicious Greek desserts, and it is also an international favourite; there are variations of this sweet treat in many middle Eastern and European countries. Lucky for us (and you), baklava may be the easiest dessert you will ever make. Truly, there is actually no way you can mess this up. Even if you tried, we don’t think you could ruin it. It is impervious to destruction. It is less baking and more assembling. If you were really committed, we suppose you could burn it, but then you might burn down your whole kitchen, and we don’t think it is worth it, just to prove us wrong.
Have you ever made a bowl of Cream of Wheat cereal and not been able to eat it right away? Maybe you had to tend to a fussy baby, a pesky telemarketer or a parcel delivery (hurray for on-line shopping). No matter the interruption, when you finally settled in to add milk to your porridge, you were faced with a solid mass of wheat semolina. The fact that, as semolina sits it firms up, is what halva banks on.
The halva recipe which we are sharing here is grain-based and not the same thing as the nut butter or tahini based crumbly dessert with which it is often confused (no kidding, since they both go by the same name!). This halva is semolina based and has a soft and somewhat gelatinous texture. It is a great dessert to pull together when you have unexpected company or a sudden onset of sweet tooth-itis. Because halva is not baked, it can be made quite quickly, and is ready to eat as soon as it cools and retains it’s shape. An added bonus is that halva does not contain eggs or any dairy products, making it a wonderful treat for anyone following a vegan diet or for those abstaining from eggs and dairy during lent.
There are certain foods which bring us back to our childhoods instantaneously, and rizogalo (rice pudding) is one of them. Coming home from school we were often greeted with a still slightly warm, soup bowl full of the stuff, sprinkled generously with cinnamon. We would sit in front of the television, with our mother by our side, watching a bit of after-school specials before starting our homework or going out to play with our neighbourhood friends. Now that we are older, and have made this for our own families, we can appreciate that our mother likely benefited from the almost meditative act of making rizogalo, enjoying the last bit of quiet before everyone returned home, and before she went off to work in the evening. Making rizogalo is not complicated, but it does ask that you stand by the stove, stirring quite constantly. Not too much thinking required, just a steady, rhythmic, and repetitive circular movement. A perfect opportunity to free your mind and focus, zen-like, on being in the moment. An also perfect opportunity to, for example, tell your husband to find his own socks, since you can’t possibly leave the stove.
Growing up in a close-knit Greek family within a strong Greek community makes a significant impact on your values, your beliefs and, of course, your ideas about food. As young children we were taught about kindness, generosity and hospitality. We learned that one way to show love and caring was to cook and bake and to then share what you had made with your family and friends.
This post might look a little different, since we first posted it. We gave it a little bit of a facelift with new pictures. All text and recipe remain the same.
You know how sometimes things sound much more complicated than they actually are? This may be the case with this recipe. We tried our best, but making this phyllo-encased, custard-filled, syrup-soaked dessert may read as though it would be very difficult, but fear not! In reality it is super easy….and oh, so worth it! We have added some extra pictures and videos to help illustrate the technique in case the words alone were too unclear.