Ethnic

Greek Christmas Cookies: Kourampiedes

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Every country or nation that has more than 50 years exposure to Christianity will have a special dessert that made exclusively around the Christmas time. Greece is no exception, and since it had embraced christianity for almost 2000 years the number of desserts for the occasion is huge. However, the one that is closer to my heart, because is delicious and also is what my grandma used to make every christmas, is the Kourampies (κουραμπιές, koo-ra-byies) that is a crumbly almond cookie dusted in powder sugar. Simple ingredients, humble cookie and big flavor. Although the Christmas reference of the cookie for most of the people comes from the white dusting of sugar, that resembles the snow, for me it is more the relation of the humble beginnings the cookies with the humble beginnings of the Messiah.

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Lentil Soup

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I am about to kick of the New Year with the probably most underrated legume of all times. Actually it is one of the most underrated food items of all time (except probably in India). Lentils! It is the one food that I used to hate as a kid and I love as an adult. As a kid all legumes were by far the worst food I could ever have. They were always served as a substitute to meat, especially during lent before Christmas, Easter or Dormition of the Theotokos (Assumption of Mary in the Roman Catholic Religion). They were usually (and by usually I mean 100% of the times) served in a soup form with tomato, garlic and the optional vinegar that very well suits them. I still, however, didn't like them because they were highly associated with the dreadful lent that meant one thing: no meat. And I am a generation Y kid. Born in the era of the fast-food globalization, the abundance of meat and wealth that spread all across Europe including Greece. And it is a shame. A big shame, because lentils are as reach in protein as meat. And of course a lot more healthy than meat.

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Baba Ganoush: An inevitable plate

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This is an inevitable post. Inevitable since just in the previous I presented the sibling dish of this one, the hummus. This one is all about eggplant. The one plant that has become a stable food around Mediterranean and primarily in the middle-eastern countries. Most of these countries rely heavily on vegetables as power source. Eggplant is not one of them. It is a plant, but not a power source. With a mere 25 kcal per 100 g of the fruit, eggplant is food with low energy value. It does have some other minerals and vitamins, but again they are not even enough to make eggplant a "super-food". Then why do we eat it? Why is it so valuable in Middle East, India etc?

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The Greek Adopted Dish: Hummus

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Greek restaurants across the USA had to adapt and adjust their menu and recipes. This usually happens with in three ways: i) the adaptation of classic recipes to whatever ingredients are available ii) the adaptation to the taste palette of the locals and iii) the adoption of dishes from other countries just because the locals seem to like them. Actually one of the most classic dishes, the poster child of the Greek food, the gyro sandwich originated in its final form in New York by Greek food track vendors out of necessity to battle tacos and shawarma as a fast food alternative. In the restaurant scenery, one of the Greek adopted dishes was, and still is, the hummus.

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One pot Wonders – Part I: Mexican Chicken Dog

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This is a strange post. It is the one and only post that has been created out of pure necessity. It is some of the inspirations of the moment that just make the difference between eating and indulging. And indulging in 5 mins is a lot more than just indulging! Sometimes I work late. I come home and easiest thing to cook is a sandwich, but a sandwich is not really cooking. Is more like putting things together! So one day inspiration came to me. And here they are the peanut butter and chocolate sandwich and the mexican chicken dog! Two recipes 3 or 4 ingredients and 3 minutes. Get your timers ready, time flies… All the ingredients are from Trader Joe’s. You can try whatever you like. I tried many combinations but this is the best I can come up with.

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On the Foundation of Any Serious Meal: Bread

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Bread is the quintessential food item; The base of every civilization; The ultimate utilization and refinement of grains. It is the beginning and the end each meal. I know too much to tell, but imagine this world without bread. Bread through the history of the humanity has been the solely energy source. In ancient Egypt the slave working in the pyramids were fed on bread onions and garlic. In Greece there is a saying that describes friendship that goes like “We ate bread and salt together”. Bread and salt. Bread the basic food. The elemental food source. Salt the most precious commodity.

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Down Home with The Dagas

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Exposure to various cuisine is the portal to understanding and embracing cultures around the world. The flavors represent not only the people’s lifestyle and philosophy but their attitude towards life. And I don ‘t speak of the food you eat when you go out, or the food you make when you have guests. I talk about the food you eat when you are wearing your pajamas and your hair is all messed up. I am talking about real down to home food that is family, nationality and you… Thee real you. The food you eat from a house in India, Bolivia, Ecuador, Greece, Russia, Pakistan and you think you are back home. For a split second that house becomes your home. 

That was exactly ...

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Baklava: A Desert with History

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One of the most recognizable greek deserts is baklava. It is a layered desert with lot's of nuts and a thick sweet delicious syrup. It a staple to almost every greek restaurant and pastry shop. The history of the desert is long and it is lost in past centuries, somewhere in the middle east. The first record of a desert like such was in ancient Syria where the Assyrians at around 8th century B.C. were the first people who put together a few layers of thin bread dough, with chopped nuts in between those layers, added some honey and baked it in their primitive wood burning ovens.

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Halvah

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Halva is on of my favorite deserts. Not only because it is simple to make, but mainly because in my eyes it is just a canvas where you can play with the spices and the flavorings you want. Traditionally this is known to be a Greek desert, however, I now that a similar variation is encountered in Turkey and in India. I will highlight the differences later on the post, but for now let me tell you more about the desert. It was originated somewhere in the middle east, most likely to the region close to India. The basic ingredients are, fat, starch and sugar. We start with the fat that will be the carrier of the flavors and intensify the sweet taste. The starch will provide the main body and structure of the desert. The sugar... Well that you can guess. The only other basic ingredient required here is a water based ingredient that will cook everything.

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Eggplant Quest

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Summer is here... And all that comes with summer. Warm weather, heat waves, ice creams... and eggplants. Yeah I said eggplants. You know it is a vegetable that you can find year around, but the price, the quality and the taste are so much better during the hot summer weather. It is a vegetable, or to be precise a fruit, that is very popular around the Mediterranean, specially in Greece, Turkey, Italy and Egypt. Yes I said a fruit. Technically a fruit, in botany, is the ripened ovary—together with seeds—of a flowering plant. And that is exactly what eggplant is.

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