Mushroom and chestnut phyllo triangles (Πιτάκια με μανιτάρια και κάστανα)

Mushroom and chestnut phyllo triangles (Πιτάκια με μανιτάρια και κάστανα)

A vegetarian meze that is slightly sweet, light and crispy; perfect two-bites!

Mushroom and chestnut phyllo triangles (Πιτάκια με μανιτάρια και κάστανα)

 

We think that phyllo is the answer to most of life’s food problems.  Although rolling out your own phyllo is a skill which is honed over years of practice (or much quicker if you have a great recipe like this one), store bought phyllo is a breeze! Seriously!  Don’t listen to the stories about how it dries out too quickly or tears easily.  In fact, once you get used to working with store bought phyllo, you’re going to find yourself searching for things to wrap up in it!  True story!

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Custard with cherry spoon sweet (Κρέμα με κομπόστα κεράσι)

Custard with cherry spoon sweet (Κρέμα με κομπόστα κεράσι)

A simple make-ahead dessert that can be dressed up or down

Custard with cherry spoon sweet (Κρέμα με κομπόστα κεράσι)

 

One of our favourite treats growing up was a creamy vanilla pudding that came from a box.  This product, imported from Greece, was one of the only “processed” foods that our parents ever made for us, and we loved it!  Whenever we would see the unique blue box with a corn on the cob design on it in the pantry, we got pretty excited. We remember how our parents would mix this pudding powder with milk, cook it while stirring slowly and serve it in shallow bowls. Occasionally they would add a topping of fresh fruit (sliced bananas were a particular favourite) or a spoon sweet they had previously made and preserved.  We still see this box of pudding in the Greek grocery store we frequent, and although we have considered picking one up for old times sake, we’re a little worried that our adult taste buds won’t love it as much as we used to.  Uncomfortable about disrupting such fond food and family memories, we’ve decided to create something similar, using ingredients we know we love.

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Christmas koulourakia with yeast (Χριστουγεννιάτικα κουλουράκια με μαγιά)

Christmas koulourakia with yeast (Χριστουγεννιάτικα κουλουράκια με μαγιά)

Savoury Christmas koulourakia

Much of the beauty of Greek cuisine is that it varies from region to region.  In part this is due to agricultural possibilities (think mountainous landscapes versus islands surrounded by the sea), connections with other cultures, and local customs and traditions.  Every recipe tells a story, and offers a glimpse into the rich web of history, both cultural and culinary, that makes Greece and Greek food such an important and fascinating area of study.  Although many of these unique regional dishes are well known (think kalitsounia from Crete or lalagia from Messinia), others are so local that they are known only to isolated villages.  The recipe which we are sharing here is one such example.

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Bougatsa (Μπουγάτσα)

Bougatsa (Μπουγάτσα)

Bougatsa (Μπουγάτσα)

 

There are some pretty hefty debates which exist in the culinary world.  Should peanut butter be creamy, or chunky?  Is it best to eat your macaroni and cheese with a fork, or a spoon?  Is a hot dog a sandwich? And, is bougatsa just galaktoboureko, minus the syrup?  We’ll get to that last one in a minute, but first: peanut butter should be creamy, mac and cheese tastes best with a spoon, and a hot dog is barely food…let alone a sandwich (having said that…we love hot dogs).

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Black-eyed pea soup with kale (Σούπα με μαυρομάτικα φασόλια και κατσαρό λάχανο)

Black-eyed pea soup with kale (Σούπα με μαυρομάτικα φασόλια και κατσαρό λάχανο)

This nutritional powerhouse of a soup will have you feeling great, and full!

Black-eyed pea soup with kale (Σούπα με μαυρομάτικα φασόλια και κατσαρό λάχανο)

 

If you are a regular reader of Mia Kouppa, you may already be aware that we have a love affair with black-eyed peas.  We are actually fond of all things bean and legume, but the darling black-eyed pea holds a special place in our hearts…because it is so darn cute.  Take a good look at these beans, with their perfect small shape and perfectly situated black “eye” and we’re pretty sure you will agree, they are adorable!  Still, if you’re more mature than us and not that interested in appearances, we think we can convince you to love black-eyed peas anyways, because they are delicious, versatile and so, so good for you.

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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

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

 

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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Spanakopasta

Spanakopasta

A deliciously quick and simple way to enjoy the flavours of spanakopita

Spanakopasta

 

Ask any non-Greek, or Greek, what one of their favourite Greek foods is, and you will often hear spanakopita.  There’s a very good reason for that!  Spanakopita, in all of its variations is a delicious treat; perfect as a meze, and at the same time substantial enough for a light meal.  The problem (if you are really trying hard to find one) is that spanakopita is encased in phyllo, which you either may not have on hand (if you are opting for the store bought variety) or which you may not have time to make (if you are going for the do-it-yourself variety).  Alas, every problem has a solution, and in this case the solution is pasta.

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Maniatiki Salad (Potato salad with oranges and fennel) (Μανιάτικη σαλάτα)

Maniatiki Salad (Potato salad with oranges and fennel) (Μανιάτικη σαλάτα)

Perhaps your new favourite potato salad!

Maniatiki Salad (Potato salad with oranges and fennel) (Μανιάτικη σαλάτα)

 

Our parents are from the Peloponnese region of Messinia, the western-most peninsula of the part of Greece that looks a little like a hand which is missing a finger. Messinia is where our heart lies in Greece, and where many of the recipes which we share originate.  However, the Peloponnese is rich with variety and this potato and orange salad is named for the middle finger of the Peloponnese, the Mani peninsula.

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Hot toddy

Hot toddy

A warm delicious drink to soothe what ails you

Hot toddy

 

The lovely parts of autumn in Montreal include pumpkins and fall mums adorning front porches, watching children roll around in the pile of leaves their parents spent hours raking up, and the Garden of Lights exhibit at the Montreal Botanical Garden.  The less lovely parts include fall colds.  This seems to be a particularly popular time for getting sick, and not wanting to be left out, one of us just spent a week congested, achy, slightly feverish, and generally feeling crummy.

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Cod with eggplant and potatoes (Μπακαλιάρος με μελιτζάνες και πατάτες)

Cod with eggplant and potatoes (Μπακαλιάρος με μελιτζάνες και πατάτες)

Greek style fish and chips…with eggplant

There is something to be said for the thrill that comes with anticipation.  Like looking under the Christmas tree and seeing all of the gifts waiting to be opened.  Or carrying home the latest best-selling novel, imagining crawling into bed and cracking the spine.  Or marking “X”‘s on the calendar as you count down the days to your holiday.  Or opening up your refrigerator and seeing your fish soaking in cold water.  What joy!

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