Green beans baked with chicken and potatoes (Φασολάκια στο φούρνο με κοτόπουλο και πατάτες)

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Green beans baked with chicken and potatoes

A classic Greek one pan meal of fresh green beans baked alongside chicken and potatoes in a rich tomato sauce

Our parents’ garden is full of delicious things to eat, including a large section devoted to a few varieties of green beans. Growing tall, these plants are secured by using things like long bamboo shoots, old broken hockey sticks (because, Canada) and thin planks of wood that our dad has found, somewhere. Perhaps not the most elegant set up, but certainly functional. Like many things in their garden (old feta buckets as planters) practicality and availability supersede beauty, always.

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Hilopites with chicken (Κοτόπουλο κοκκινιστό με χυλοπίτες)

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Hilopites with chicken

Greek noodles and chicken prepared in a delicious tomato sauce

Have you ever had square pasta? Like small little squares of egg noodles that are delicate and full of flavour? If you’re Greek, or have ever visited a Greek home, we think that the answer might be (should be) Yes!

Hilopites are the small, square-shaped egg noodles that we grew up with. In fact, we have very vivid memories of our parents gathering with aunts and uncles and dear friends, spending the day making hilopites from scratch. Flour, water (or was it milk?), salt, eggs all worked together and transformed to make long strips of noodles that were then cut by hand into perfectly imperfect squares.

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Stewed rooster with okra and potatoes (Κόκορας κοκκινιστό με μπάμιες και πατάτες)

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Stewed rooster with okra and potatoes

A poultry dish loaded with flavour

Yes, we eat rooster.  And you know what?  We think you should to!  Although we recognize that rooster might seem to be an odd choice of poultry for many of you, we really want to convince you that in fact, it makes perfect sense.

But first, a little bird biology.  If you are thinking to yourself, “Yeah, thanks Mia Kouppa… but no thanks…I’ll stick to eating chicken”, guess what?  Rooster IS chicken.  That’s right.  You see, what you (and we), usually refer to as chicken is in fact hen; the female version of chicken that is most commonly found in grocery stores and markets.  Roosters are male chickens.

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Chicken kokkinisto with pasta (Κοτόπουλο κοκκινιστό με μακαρόνια)

Chicken kokkinisto with pasta

Chicken kokkinisto with pasta is simple ingredients slow-cooked to create the perfect Greek comfort food

There is a whole world of Greek food called kokkinista (κοκκινιστά), and we love them all.  The term kokkinista means reddened, and the concept behind these dishes is simple; take a protein or vegetable, cook it slowly in a rich tomato sauce, serve it over something that can help sop up this lovely sauce, and realize that great food does not need to be fancy or complicated.

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Chicken with tomato sauce and peas (Κοτόπουλο κοκκινιστό με αρακά)

Chicken with tomato sauce and peas (Κοτόπουλο κοκκινιστό με αρακά)

A pot of goodness that will satisfy your whole family

This may actually be one of our favourite meals. Not only does this dish of chicken, cooked alongside potatoes and peas in a rich tomato sauce satisfy all sorts of comfort cravings, it also comes together pretty easily.  Nothing too fancy in terms of technique or ingredients, this is humble, real Greek food.  This is the type of meal we grew up on, and this is the type of meal that we turn to today, when we want something that tastes like home.

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Chicken kokkinisto with french fries (Κοτόπουλο κοκκινιστό με τηγανητές πατάτες)

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Chicken kokkinisto, or stewed chicken in a rich tomato sauce served with homemade French fries.

Chicken kokkinisto, or stewed chicken in a rich tomato sauce served with homemade  French fries

Meat or poultry cooked in tomato sauce is a staple in most Greek kitchens, including our parents’.  This type of meal is called kokkinisto, which means red or reddened and refers to the fact that the cooking liquid is tomato sauce.  Whether you choose to use meat, as we did in our veal kokkinisto recipe, or poultry as we are doing here, you will find that this method of cooking results in something absolutely delicious, with minimal effort.  How wonderful is that!?

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Soutzoukakia with rice(Σουτζουκάκια με ρύζι)

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Soutzoukakia, a cross between burgers and meatballs, served in a rich tomato sauce and rice.

Soutzoukakia, a cross between burgers and meatballs, served in a rich tomato sauce with rice.

For most of elementary school, we came home for lunch and were greeted by our mom who had a nice, warm meal waiting for us.  We would eat, sitting next to our mother, and we would watch the Flintstones together.  This was the only time we were allowed to watch television during meals, probably permitted because our mother loved to follow Fred and Barney’s antics as much as we did.  When she first arrived in Canada, it was partially by watching the Flintstones that our mother learned English.  To this day, she can recite most of the episodes, and can yaba-daba-doo with the best of them.

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Veal kokkinisto with rice (Μοσχαράκι κοκκινιστό με ρύζι)

Veal kokkinisto with rice stars stewed veal slow cooked in a rich tomato sauce

Veal kokkinisto with rice stars stewed veal slow cooked in a rich tomato sauce

Happy Tsiknopempti everyone! It is carnival season in many areas of Greece and Cyprus and this festive week is called Kreatini (sandwiched between Profoni week and  Tirofagou week).  Tsiknopempti (Τσικνοπέμπτη), comes from the Greek words τσίκνα, which refers to the smell of roasting meat and Πέμπτη, which means Thursday. This is the day when many Greeks enjoy meat, and one of the last days in which this is permitted before the fast which precedes Greek Orthodox Easter.  Typically it is roasted and grilled meats which are feasted upon, however we live in Canada, where it is snowstorm and freezing temperature season. Canadian winters make outdoor grilling and roasting a little uncomfortable and although we are all for tradition, we’re not crazy.  So today, we offer a meat recipe to celebrate Tsiknopempti which does not require the great outdoors. Instead, here is the recipe for a traditional, slow braised veal in tomato sauce dish (kokkinisto / κοκκινιστό) with rice.  Kokkinisto means reddened in Greek, and represents the fact that the veal is cooked in a tomato sauce.

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