Mia Kouppa Workshop – Sept. 8, 2018

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Hello Montreal and Laval friends (and those willing to travel!),
We are so excited to announce our first Mia Kouppa workshop; an evening of delicious food and fun. During this event you will learn how to make pork souvlaki, tzatziki, Greek salad, and baklava… and then get to eat it all!
There will be demonstrations, opportunities for hands-on learning and interaction, lots of eating and we’re pretty sure, a lot of laughs (there may even be some dancing going on!)

If you are going to be in Montreal or Laval on Saturday September 8th, we would love to meet you, and cook with you.

Your ticket includes:
– Cocktails and mezes prior to the active part of the workshop
– Dinner and dessert
– Wine
– Thank you token
– Lots of fun 😉

We look forward to seeing you there!

—————IMPORTANT—————

– Space is limited, don’t delay! 🙂 Click on the link to secure your spot: https://e.sparxo.com/Mia-Kouppa-Workshop-September-2018
– Please note that this menu includes nuts, gluten and dairy
– Please inform us on the members of your party (miakouppa@gmail.com) in order for us to arrange seating as best as possible
– Your ticket is non refundable. However, it is transferable! Please inform us on the name swaps

Biftekia with french fries (Μπιφτέκια με τηγανιτές πατάτες)

Biftekia with french fries (Μπιφτέκια με τηγανιτές πατάτες)

Biftekia with french fries (Μπιφτέκια με τηγανιτές πατάτες)

 

Our neighbourhood growing up was filled with a lot of kids our age.  We lived in an apartment complex, which was one of many on several blocks, and everyone seemed to know everyone else, at least a little bit.  Our free time was spent meeting friends on the street, hanging out in the large back yards and driveways of these apartment buildings, playing catch, dodge ball, hide-and-seek, or just hanging around riding our bikes to the corner store to buy popsicles and sip-sacs.  On days where there was no school, we would be outdoors all day, coming in only for lunch and bathroom breaks.  Reluctant to fully stop all friend-related activities, we would often have friends over to share a quick lunch before heading back out.  Knowing this, our parents would usually have some quick and kid-friendly meals at the ready.  Included in this were lots of hamburgers and meatballs (called keftedes), and these were well loved, and understood, even by our non-Greek friends.  They would ask for ketchup (they were usually given tzatziki instead) and they ate, happily.

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Tsoureki and feta grilled cheese

Tsoureki and feta grilled cheese

Tsoureki and feta grilled cheese

 

For years, when we thought about grilled cheese we thought only about two pieces of white toast slathered with butter, with a slice of processed cheese in between them.  This would get fried in a non-stick pan and served, usually with a cold glass of milk.  A thin, crispy, but at the same time kind of soggy, sandwich…and we loved it.  It was one of the first things we learned to make ourselves when we were young, and we felt that we were teaching our parents a thing or two…grilled cheese was not something they grew up on. Now that we are older, and more culinary (we have a blog after all!), we still occasionally enjoy this classic…but we’ve also learned that there is more than one way to grill a cheese sandwich.

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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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Rapini (Ραπίνι)

Rapini
Rapini
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This is rapini…or broccoli rabe…or broccoletti…or about a thousand many other names which would tend to have you believe that this lovely green vegetable comes from the broccoli family.  But it doesn’t!  In fact, rapini (that’s what we like to call it around here) is in the mustard family and a member of the Brassica rapa species, in the subspecies rapa…the same subspecies where you would find turnip!  Bet you didn’t see that coming!  In fact, once you taste rapini, it’s relation to turnip is not that surprising;  both have a peppery bite and a bitterness that is not at all unpleasant when the vegetable is prepared properly.

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Vegan pastichio (Νηστίσιμο παστίτσιο)

Vegan pastichio (Νηστίσιμο παστίτσιο)

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Welcome to More Kouppes, and to our first guest (meaning, not our parents’) Greek recipe! When we decided to share favourite meals from families which were not our own, we knew that we would focus on recipes we had either heard people raving about (Oh man, my mom’s spanakopita is like, The Best!), or food that we had been lucky enough to eat, and love.  Immediately we knew that this vegan pastichio would top the list.  A few times a year, during periods of lent, this dairy, egg and meat-free pastichio unexpectedly appears and replaces the brown bagged lunch of peanut butter or hummus. What a delicious surprise!  The sad sandwich gets tossed, and the day is immediately better.  The woman behind this delicious, and unexpected real meal, is Κυρία Αργυρώ (Mrs. Argyro), and her lenten pastichio is so, so, SO good!

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Manestra (Μανέστρα)

Mantra soup (Μανέστρα)

Sometimes in life, you have to take risks.  Think outside the box.  Blaze a new path.  It can be scary and uncomfortable, but the rewards are usually worth it.  That’s what we have done here.  Manestra, a simple, tomato-based pasta soup, is usually made with orzo, but we decided to use pasta shaped as little stars (cue gasps).  We were brave.  We were ground breakers.  We were unintimidated.  We were out of orzo.

No matter what small shaped pasta you use, the end result is sure to be delicious. Manestra’s subtle flavour makes it a favourite amongst picky eaters, and when it is served plain (that is, not topped with grated mizithra) it is a perfect vegan and lenten option – particularly when you are all beaned out.

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Taramosalata (Ταραµοσαλάτα)

Taramosalata (Ταραµοσαλάτα)

Taramosalata (Ταραµοσαλάτα)

 

Don’t you just love pink food?  Us too! Like strawberry yogourt, raspberry smoothies and cotton candy, taramosalata is beautifully pink.  Its colour is not only beautiful, but handy, because when taramosalata has difficulty rolling off the tongue, it’s lovely hue is mentioned, and suddenly, everyone knows what you are referring to. That pink Greek dip is universally understood to be the traditional carp roe spread which is a staple in many Greek restaurants and homes.  It is caviar for the masses.

The key ingredient for taramosalata is carp roe (yes, fish eggs), which is called tarama.  It can be found in Mediterranean or Middle Eastern stores, or on-line. Tarama is not usually eaten in its pure form, but is instead mixed with other ingredients to create a spread which is delicious slathered over a thick slice of bread, some crackers, or even used as a dip for vegetables.

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Fasting and Fava

Greek Fava dip or spread

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Today is Clean Monday (Καθαρά Δευτέρα), the first day of great lent in East Orthodoxy. The date, like the date of Easter Sunday, varies from year to year and is the Monday seven weeks prior to Easter Sunday.  It is described as “clean” because today is the day we are meant to leave behind sins, sinful attitudes, and non-fasting foods.  In actual fact, lent began yesterday evening with the service of Forgiveness Vespers and the Ceremony of Mutual Forgiveness.  Forgiveness is a major part of lent, and the faithful are meant to embrace this period with clean consciousness (making confession an integral part of this week), clean hearts and even clean homes, as it is customary to clean the house thoroughly during this week.

The decision to fast, and the degree to which one undertakes the fast is, in our opinion, a deeply personal one.  It hinges upon many factors, including one’s health, life circumstances, and previous experience with fasting.  People may choose to limit only meat, to cut out all animal products, to allow olive oil or not, or to fast only the week before Easter Sunday.  We would never presume to tell you the right way to fast, but would instead suggest that you speak to your priest if you have any questions or concerns about your particular situation and the path you would like to follow.  Regardless of your decision, one of the best pieces of advice that our parents gave us growing up in relation to fasting was the following: When you fast, you don’t look at anyone else’s plate (they said this in Greek of course).  By this they meant that you should never look beyond your own self when fasting, and you should never judge another based upon what they put into their mouths.  They also always maintained that fasting should go hand in hand with prayer, confession and goodness towards your fellow man (and of course, woman).

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Tyropites with homemade phyllo (Τυρόπιτες με σπιτικό φύλλο)

Tyropites with homemade phyllo (Τυρόπιτες με σπιτικό φύλλο)

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In Greece, this week marks the last week of a festive carnival season, before the start of Great Lent, which precedes Orthodox Easter.  It is a week where many abstain from meat, but happily over indulge in cheese and dairy products in anticipation of the upcoming period of fast, which for many, typically prohibits most animal products.  Even those who will not follow a strict fast enjoy the opportunity to celebrate and feast on cheese and things made with cheese.    These tyropites, with homemade phyllo dough, are our nod to this carnival week of Tyrini (cheese week).

There are so many ways to make tyropites, and every family certainly has their favourite recipe.  This is ours.  Although making tyropites using store-bought phyllo dough (similar in technique to the spanakopitakia we have shared with you) is another delicious option, making your own phyllo adds another level of deliciousness.   In this particular recipe the phyllo is made with yogourt (let’s get as much dairy in here as we can) and the filling is a mixture of ricotta cheese and Greek feta; a combination which is flavourful and light.  The result are small packets of creamy, cheese filling wrapped in a flaky, but light, dough.  Lovely.

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