Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hot cocoa

If you like chai tea, or chocolate combined with cinnamon or chilies, then you are going to love this.

I took a picture, which looked like crap, so I won't bother with it. I also modified it from a recipe from Michael Smith's Chef at Home...

Super awesome spicy aromatic hot cocoa

-milk (I poured some 1% milk into the mug I wanted to use, then poured it into the pot...this mug usually will hold approx. 3c of coffee).
- cocoa powder (I used 2 heaping tbs of Fry's cocoa)
- brown sugar (1-2 tbs)
- vanilla powder (a Greek product - I didn't want to use artificial vanilla, whereas Michael Smith calls for real vanilla extract)
- dark chocolate (I took a block of Baker's Secret semi-sweet baking chocolate, which is a smallish cube, and cut/shaved it all up into small bits, and threw it into the milk)
- one cinnamon stick, broken into a few pieces
- 3-5 cardamom pods, cracked
- 3-5 whole cloves
- sprinkle of powdered nutmeg
- sprinkle of powdered allspice
- sprinkle of freshly-cracked black pepper
- sprinkle of cayenne pepper

Heat this up at a low temperature, whisking often. Strain (I have a mesh strainer that fits right on top of my mugs), and drink slowly, enjoying the symphony of flavours dancing around in your mouth!

Friday, September 25, 2009


There were a lot of Greek dishes that I ate for the first time when I went to Thessaloniki & Chania in the summer of 2008, and dakos was one of those. My aunt would make these as a snack while I was staying with her, and they were just SOOOooooo delicious! I've had to wait a while to replicate them, because I can't buy rusks east of Montreal, and it's an 8-9 hour drive from here...

She (my thia Renna) sent us a giant package of food a while ago, and included in it was a bag of rusks from the little bakery in Galatas, my family's village. So that was one authentic ingredient tracked down. Another was the bag of good Cretan wild oregano, still on the branch. I'll never be able to replicate the cheese she used, because it was made by my uncle with milk from his own goats! (and it was every bit as amazing as you'd think!), so I had to settle for feta...and feta made in Nova Scotia (Holmstead brand), which isn't terrible...at least it's produced by a Greek! My tomatoes weren't great, they never really are here. I realized they needed to be used up so I decided to take the plunge and use up my rusks so I could use them up, but they were already getting mouldy. I threw the softer of the pair out, but the second one was fine except for a bit of mould around the stem area, so I cut it off and used it (I wanted dakos and couldn't turn back now!). I'd read that it was best to put the tomato on first, THEN the olive oil if you have hard rusks you need to soften, so that's what I did...I threw the tomato in our new mini-food processor which left kind of a chunky, pulpy liquid. I was fine with this since I wanted the rusks to soften. Then I drizzled oil, crumbled some cheese, drizzled some more oil, then carefully crumbled my oregano over it all. I was worried that the rusks would have gotten soggy in the meantime, but they hadn't! In fact, they had absorbed little moisture at all, and were cutting up the inside of my mouth instead. Oh well, it was worth it because these were tasty! I think tastier tomatoes would have helped, and maybe I could have sprinkled some water on the rusks first? Dunno...

Καλή όρεξη!

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I've noticed a few things while out shopping this afternoon:

1) Superstore (a local grocery store chain) has stopped selling their loose-leaf chai tea with whole spices. This makes me sad as it was awesome, and I am almost out. I noticed it on sale a little while ago but it didn't occur to me that it was going to be going out of production. They still sell a chai that comes in tea bags, but it just isn't the same! And here I was ready to wax rhapsodic about its charming qualities yesterday...

2) Superstore has heavy-gauge aluminum cookware, which I have been looking for ever since *somebody* in the blogosphere, I no longer remember who, mentioned that it was the secret to crispy, delicious pites. I want to buy the cake pan for this purpose, but can't decide if it's too small. Oh and speaking of Superstore, I bought some of their own-brand phyllo for my next project...we'll see if it's any fresher than the Krinos stuff they have at Scoop and Save.

3) I love halva. Seriously. And I feel a little ashamed to say so but I think I prefer a Turkish brand (Koska)! At first I thought it was too oily, but its creaminess won me over. There are times though when I do prefer a crumblier Macedonian halva. If anyone is keeping score, my favorite flavours are pistachio and cocoa (especially Koska's cocoa, because it has some flavour to it!), but I'd eat any halva if you coated it in chocolate!

I think that's all for now...hopefully I'll cook something of interest on the weekend...and then starting next week I'll have to try putting something in the slow cooker every Tuesday, because I have class from 4:30-7:30 pm and that way I have a warm meal waiting for me, without having to yang at Chris to do it for me!

EDIT: Actually, one more thing! While I was at Scoop and Save I noticed that they now carry Yiotis brand products! Or at least they carry some: the vanilla, chocolate, and "assorted" pudding mixes, the creme caramel, instant whipped cream, instant bechamel, etc. I don't know if I'd ever buy any of it (maybe the creme caramel?), but any time they start selling more Greek products I can't help but be happy.

Monday, September 7, 2009


So, I finally broke down last night and moved the box of phyllo from my freezer down to my fridge to thaw overnight...I was going to make a pita (Greek pastry pie)! Since I had a bag of mixed "Euro Greens" (kale, spinach, swiss chard, beet greens, mustard greens, etc.), I decided to make a hortopita, or wild greens pie. I knew I didn't have a lot of cheese (about half a pack of feta), so I combined some recipes from The Greek Mama's Kitchen: Authentic Home-style Recipes - part of it was from a leek and swiss chard pie recipe, part from a kalitsounia recipe. I cooked up a semolina, milk, and egg mixture, added onions and garlic fried up with cumin, coriander, oregano, and sumac (I thought the extra moisture of lemon juice would be detrimental) and as much feta as I had. I wilted the greens and pressed some of the water out of them, then went to work with the phyllo.

I'll admit it, it was tricky. The top sheets were dry and brittle, as were the bottom ones, which meant they would tear where they had been folded, or stick together, but once I got to the middle of the stack it was easier. I had some salted butter in the back of the fridge so I melted some, brushed it on the phyllo and layered the sheets in a baking pan, turning it every few sheets at a time. I poured the semolina mixture in, topped that with the greens, covered that with the rest of the phyllo except for the last one. I folded the excess phyllo toward the centre, covered that with the last sheet, and tucked in the edges. I sprinkled the top with cold water and sesame seeds, threw it in the oven, and...behold!

(mmm, crispy golden brown!)

Now that I've gotten over my phyllo-phobia, I'll be making a lot more pites! Maybe even every weekend! I think next time though, it'll be a baklava...