Sometimes our parents like to get fancy. Lovers of food and cooking, to this day they still enjoy watching Greek and non-Greek cooking shows (Akis is a favourite) and perusing through recipes that they find in the local Greek paper or behind those daily calendars that they get from church or our local Greek supermarket. Of course, they don’t actually follow the recipes that they happen upon, because let’s face it, that’s not how they function. Instead they get inspired, and over the years have come up with some pretty delicious and even unexpected things. We remember their sudden interest in Asian cuisine and the resultant homemade egg rolls. We have no idea how or why they decided to make egg rolls, but once they did, egg rolls and their accompanying jarred plum sauce became staples at every family gathering. Their popularity resulted in our aunts and koubari and other family friends making egg rolls too and so there you had it; a buffet table filled with dolmades, moussaka, keftedes, and egg rolls. Of course.
A simple salad of boiled summer squash dressed with olive oil and red wine vinegar
We love everything about fall. The colours, the warm knit sweaters, the cool crisp air, the fact that you can call it fall or autumn. We love that everyone is busy pumpkin-spicing everything, and baking all manner of apple wonderfulness. But, we love summer too and despite the fact that it’s October and Canadian Thanksgiving is right around the corner, we’ll hang on to summer just a little while longer if you don’t mind.
A simple pasta soup made with thin noodles and flavoured with a touch of olive oil
Growing up Greek, our chicken noodle soup was called fide. To be honest, it was a little different than your traditional chicken noodle soup; for one thing, it had no chicken. It also had no chicken broth, no vegetables and no herbs. In fact, fide (also spelled fithe) is nothing more than a noodle soup, cooked in water, flavoured with olive oil, sometimes sprinkled with a bit of mizithra, and ready to comfort every bit of your soul.
Home made phyllo dough filled with spinach, herbs and feta
Summer is almost over! How can that be?! As always, the months when school is out, the days are at their longest, and the sun smiles down warmly, pass all too quickly. We try to hold on to the season by enjoying every moment left and by looking back at our June picnics, July getaways and August pool parties and barbecues, recognizing that although quick, our summer was blessedly full.
Shrimp cooked in a rich and spicy tomato sauce with ouzo and feta
In Greek cooking there are a whole slew of dishes which are categorized as saganaki. One of the most popular is cheese saganaki, that meze of fried cheese set aflame with the help of a little ouzo or Metaxa, which causes restaurant patrons to exclaim Opa! in delighted unison. The term saganaki actually refers to the small, two-handled frying pan in which the food is cooked called a sagani, a derivative of the Turkish word sahan, which means copper dish. Remember long ago when we told you that Mia Kouppa would also make you smarter? You’re welcome.
All your favourite nacho elements, with a kick of Greek
A vice that we both share is our love for chips. Potato chips, corn chips, nacho chips, we devour them all. When we were young one of our favourite junk food snacks was taking a bowl of regular potato chips (Humpty Dumpty brand was preferred) and dousing them with white vinegar. Home made salt and vinegar chips! We were clearly meant for recipe developing. As our taste buds matured and we became more refined, we moved on to other things…like nacho chips, bottled salsa and creamy, is-it-really-cheese?, jarred nacho cheese sauce. Glorious!
Homemade phyllo and spinach filling, perfect for Lent, and anytime
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.
A semolina based vegan dessert flavoured with apples and raspberry
This is an example of what happens when you take basic principles, and then let your imagination run free. The basic principle here is halva-making. Semolina based halva (not to be confused with the tahini based dessert which goes by the same name) is really versatile, and once you understand the basic premise of how to put one together, it becomes very easy to make it your own. We have already shared with you our parents’ basic halva recipe, flavoured with orange and studded with raisins. It’s delicious and it’s a very popular dessert during periods of lent (halva is both dairy and egg free). We’ve also shared with you a vegan chocolate halva, which is a bit more decadent, because, chocolate. But the halva story does not end there.
Raise your hand if you love pototoes! You there, in the back, holding a fist-full of french fries, we see you! And we love you! And, we too love potatoes. Whether they are roasted in the oven, bathed in all sorts of beautiful Greek flavours, or boiled and mashed and then transformed into the very distinctive Greek garlic spread called skordalia, we adore them. Potatoes are so versatile, so available, so economical, that it’s no wonder that the rustic cuisine of Greece has taken this commonplace vegetable and made it the star of a stew which we know will find a happy place in your hearts and stomachs.
We’re not really sure where this recipe came from. True, it comes from our parents’ kitchen, but before that is anyone’s guess. We also don’t know where the pizza inspiration came from. Growing up, homemade pizza was not something that we remember having in our home, and then one day, on a day that we don’t really remember, our parents announced that they had made pizza…and there was no looking back.