little village

little village
freewheelin' it

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cheeky Immigrants

Good Day Friends! Happy Wednesday!

Recently, my dad told me a short story that still makes me chuckle and I want to share it with you.

Many moons ago at the original Koutouki location on 124th st. next to the Roxy,  Yianni my father, would roast meat on a rotissirie on the sidewalk just as he would back in the old country to entice passer byers.

On this occasion though, Yianni was roasting an entire lamb over the spit on the street corner.  Two neighbourhood children approached and thought it would be kind to strike up some idle chit chat.

"Sir, what kind of animal is that spinning over the barbeque?"  "German Shepherd" replied Yianni in his thick southern European accent.

The two kids ran home in horror and Yianni received a few phone calls.
Good one Dad. Real funny.  Poor kids are probably traumatized for life.

  Aaahh... Few people can get away with that sort of humour.

With Love,

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sweet Potato Moussaka

Good Day Foodies!

I opted to swap out the usual eggplant, zucchini and potatoes found in Moussaka for sweet potatoes because of their texture, flavour and vitamins.  And it tasted incredible. Makes 6-8 portions.


- 4 to 6 sweet potatoes peeled and sliced lengthwise about as thick as your pinky
- About 1 kilo or 21/4 lbs. of lean ground beef
- 1/4 of a large onion chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic chopped
- 156 ml of tomato paste
- 796 ml of whole plum tomatoes
- Cinnamon
- Nutmeg
- 1 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
-  Bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup of butter
- 3/4 cup of flour
- 750 ml. of whole or 2% milk
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil


Moussaka is prepared in layers and each layer is cooked separately but baked altogether in the end.

To begin, place the slices of sweet potato and lay them flat on a baking sheet. If you run out of room it's okay to stack them in a pyramid fashion.  Then drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper and bake for 30 minutes at 400'F.

For the meat sauce, you can make it in advance if you like or if you're well prepared you can have it ready by the time the sweet potatoes are done. Also, if you have any leftover meat sauce from the spaghetti you made the night before, moussaka is the perfect dish to use it with. There are no rules. Just add cinnamon and nutmeg and voila!

Fire the burner on high and in a large pot add a couple of swigs of olive oil.  Add the onions and cook till aromatic and light brown and then add the garlic.  As soon as the garlic begins to brown add the ground beef and stir it to incorporate the onions and garlic.  Then add about 2 tbsp of cinnamon and 1 tbsp of nutmeg followed by 2-3 tbsp of salt or enough to taste and a pinch of pepper.  Once the is beef cooked, ( no signs of pink) add the tomato paste and the plum tomatoes with the juice.  Stir well and simmer on low. After five or ten minutes, give it a taste and add final seasoning - salt or pepper or nutmeg or cinnamon etc.  Finally, strain the meat sauce to discard the rendered fat and let the meat rest.

In a casserole dish or deep baking pan ( I used a 12x8x3 ceramic dish for this recipe) layer the sweet potatoes and sprinkle with breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. If you have enough sweet potato for another layer or even a partial one then repeat the process.  Then add the meat sauce on top of the sweet potatoes and sprinkle bread crumbs and parmesan cheese as well.

Next, for the bechamel (white sauce) have a medium sized pot, butter, salt, flour, milk, parmesan cheese and a whisk or a wooden spoon at the ready and set the oven to bake at 425'F(for later).  Be  prepared for every step and don't leave the sauce alone until it's done.  It can easily be fouled up if you're distracted with other things.  So, set the burner on high and place the butter and a pinch of salt in the pot.  As soon as it melts, add the flour and mix until it becomes a roux (thickening agent). It should look like clumps of wet fine sand. Immediately add a quarter of the milk and stir, stir, stir until the roux and milk become one. Then add another quarter of the milk and stir.  Repeat two more times until the sauce is as thick as gravy.  Finally, fold in a pinch of nutmeg and a cup of parmesan cheese.

With a rubber spatula, pour the bechamel sauce over the meat and use the spatula to cover every corner.
Sprinkle with cinnamon ever so lightly and put in the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until it's golden brown. Let it rest for 15-20 minutes before eating.

I hope you like it and if you're trying this recipe and come across any obstacles, send me a note and I'll help you along the way.

With Love,

Monday, September 20, 2010

Memories of Paris at The Duchess

Good Day Friends.

I might have a mob outside my house wielding pitchforks and torches for saying this, but double doubles and doughnuts are becoming tiresome.

 I would like to throw a bouquet to the people at Duchess Bake Shop for providing us foodies with such tantalizing treats.  Day in and day out, their display cases are loaded with decadent pastries and baked lovelies from large to small and sweet to savory.  You must see it with your own eyes and you won't be disappointed.   However, don't be upset if something is sold out.  Everything is made by one baker who aims for perfection on every level and mass production is not in her vocabulary. 

When I step inside their shop, I feel as though I become more cosmopolitan. More chic. Yet visits here aren't greeted with pretense, but rather with the friendliest of staff.   So now I make it a regular habit to get a French Press and a brioche and each time I do, I spend a few minutes in Paris.

With Love,                                                    

-French Pressed Coffee (Two Lg Cups) & Brioche                    About Six Dollars


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Farmer's Market Risotto

Good Day Friends! And a Happy Saturday to you.

This is a recipe for a Risotto I had whipped up that turned out tasting lovely despite not having any exciting ingredients to work with.

But... I did have some carrots, a block of "well aged" cheese, and a pot full of fresh herbs.  All of which ( and I didn't realize this until after) were bought at the Farmer's Market and I thought that was pretty cool.


- 2 cups of aborio rice
- 1/4 of a large onion finely diced
- olive oil
- 4 carrots boiled until tender pureed until smooth (add a little water if necessary)
- 1 cup of grated cheese (parmesan, aged cheddar, or anything dry and sharp)
-  a small bunch of fresh thyme sprigs
- 2 tbsp of butter
- 500 ml of low sodium chicken broth
- Tall glass of lukewarm water
- Salt


Cooking risotto is a little different than cooking regular rice where you would mix rice and water in pot, throw a lid on it, put it on low and wait 20 min. Cooking risotto properly requires adding a little liquid at a time and constantly stirring over high heat.  So when you begin, do what ever you need to do so you don't need to leave your area for at least half an hour.
First of all, set up all of the ingredients and lay them out for the ready.  Then sautee the onions with a splash of olive oil on high heat in the pot which you plan to use for the rice. Once the onions are slightly brown and aromatic, add the rice and give it a little stir with a wooden spoon.   Then little by little begin to add the broth. Stirring constantly. Once the broth is finished then use the water and you may need to refill the glass. Keep stirring.  Season the risotto throughout this process adding a couple of pinches at time along with just the leaves from two sprigs of thyme and be sure to taste it periodically.  It's important to taste frequently, so to determine when the risotto is done and for seasoning.  Once the rice becomes soft in texture and looking a little gooey then it is done and remove from the heat. Add the pureed carrots, cheese and butter and stir very well.

Garnish with fresh thyme and serve it up.  Your gonna love it. And no that's not KD.

With Love,
Theo and Bruno

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Spaghetti with tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella

Good Day Friends!

This is a simple pasta recipe that you can make in a flash. Serves at least 4


- 500 gr. box of spaghetti
- 796 ml. can of whole plum tomatoes
- 1/4 of a large red onion finely chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 1 piece of fresh mozzarella or 4 pieces of bocconcini cut into 8's or so
- About 2 golfball-size chunks of Parmesan grated
- A handful of fresh basil leaves
- Olive Oil
- Salt and pepper


In a large pot, add about 2 tbsp of olive oil and the chopped onion and turn the burner on between medium and high.  When the onions begin to brown a little, add the minced garlic and stir occasionally with a wooden spoon.  When the garlic begins to brown which happens quite quickly, add the entire can of plum tomatoes.  While waiting for the sauce to come to a boil, mash the tomatoes with the spoon and as soon as it starts bubbling, turn the burner to low.   Then add half the grated parmesan and 8 two-fingered pinches of salt along with 2 two-fingered pinches of pepper.  Simmer for 5 minutes then turn off the heat completely and fire up a pot of water for the pasta.

Note: When I use the term "two fingered pinch" I'm referring to your index finger and your thumb.   As well, there are many variables from one cook to the next therefore always taste what your making and judge whether or not to add more salt and pepper.
Note: When cooking any kind of pasta, it's crucial that you season the water with salt.  This enhances the flavour of the pasta which in turn adds more depth to your overall dish.

So in this case, add about 2 - 3 tbsp of salt to the water.  If you're a nerd like me and want to determine exactly how much salt to use, taste the water and it should taste like a properly seasoned soup. Not bland but not like the ocean.

While waiting for the pasta to cook ( about 12 min.), add the basil and the mozzarella to the sauce. Once the pasta is cooked, strain it and mix it in the sauce right away or transfer it directly from the water with a pair of tongs.  Mix the pasta with the sauce until  the mozzarella begins to melt and become stringy.  Serve it immediately before the cheese hardens. 

Serve it individually or on a large platter family style and sprinkle the rest of the Parmesan cheese on top.

With Love,

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Enema Anyone?

Good Day Friends.  Happy Wednesday to you.

Perhaps it's not the most tantalizing heading for a food blog but I am in dire need of a cleanse physically and spiritually.

That said, I would like to have a quick word about fresh locally grown vegetables.  Yes, going local is today's trend, but the proof is in the pudding.  And the pudding is lovely.
Last weekend, the fam and I went to the farmer's market in St. Albert.  We approached one of the produce pushers where the lady was handing out carrots from her family's farm. We gratefully accepted and joyfully snacked on our carrots like little rabbits.

I was taken aback.  I realized in an instant that I have become accustomed to the flavour and texture of the little, orange,  whittled down nubs that you get at the supermarket.  I had forgotten what a real, fresh carrot tasted like. Sweet and crunchy. That's it.

I'm not completely poo pooing the ready cleaned carrots and I'll still continue to buy them because they are nutritious convenient alternatives to many processed snack foods.
Rather, I'm praising  the fresh and the natural.  And reminding myself how tickled my tastebuds get from something so simple.

With Love,

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Not-So-Holy Buddha Burger

So last night me and I my special lady went to our friends house for and impromptu get together and some Labour Day cheer. This is what transpired.
Before I begin, I would like to add the disclaimer that in no way am I a promoter of fast food. Though I do like french fries and cheeseburgers with bacon, we all know that corporate fast food is the devil in disguise making delicious morsels of fried everything that keeps us coming back for more.

Now I can't quite recall how the conversation began but a friend at the party said, "Theo, did you know that if you go to the Mcdonalds in Spruce Grove, Alberta and ask for the "Buddha Burger", you will get a burger with 10 patties?" I replied, "No, I did not know that, friend, but I would like to try one."

And so it began. There was pandemonium. Like the floor of the NY stock exchange, party guests were on their phones making wild gestures with their hands.  "Who knows CPR?!" someone shouted. 
Somebody knew somebody who knew somebody and orchestrated a delivery of two Buddha Burgers and within a half hour, they arrived. I paid $13 for my burger and tip for the delivery.

So here we are, me and the Buddha Burger.  So ominous, sitting in its tiny little box and towering ever so high, all ten storeys of meat with cheese on every floor.  And shiny. It was oh so shiny. I mean glistening under the kitchen lights. I must admit, it was a lot bigger than I anticipated. I rolled up my sleeves and like David vs Goliath I attacked this monster. With two meat hooks and a snapping jaw, I squeezed the burger down as much as I could but the bun dissolved in my hands.  I picked it up and it was spitting and hissing at me and then a stream of burger juice ran down each arm, off my elbow and into my lap. I tried taking a bite but the burger was bigger than my face.  I tried one more and it was over. I was in a dream like state surrounded by giant shiny patties.  Buddha 1 - Theo 0.

I was wounded. Defeated. Covered in grease. Pants ruined.  Shirt ruined. I needed a shower.

Legend has that a young local finished the Buddha plus two big macs in one sitting.
I challenge you Friends! I challenge you to take on the Buddha Burger!

With Love,


Friday, September 3, 2010

New Beginnings

Good Day Friends!

As Summer comes to a close, September brings new and fresh changes.  I can now be found on 124th street joining the rest of my family under one roof just as we were almost ten years ago. 
With each family member ( and there are a few new additions)as an ingredient in creating a memorable dining experience, we hope to re-create that delicious and exciting Greek dish we once had. 
Throw caution to the wind though, as this dish can be full of fire and spice.

So stop by and say Hi. We'll visit. We'll have an ouzo, or some ouzo or lot's of ouzo. Eat till we're full. And do it again.

Hope to see you soon!

With Love,

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hail Caesar!

Hi Friends!

Recently, my brother-in-law asked me for a good a Bloody Caesar recipe.  I'll cut and paste the email because I'm a slack.

Ok here we go.
Find something fun for a garnish at the grocery store like pickled beans or asparagus or big **** olives. Use the juice from the jar, just a splash. The rest is all preference. But I like just one dash of tabasco and four to five dashes of worchestershire. "Dark and Dirty" and a squeeze of lime and don't forget the celery salt rim. If the Caesar tastes tangy and salty then mission accomplished.


Food Fact      The Bloody Caesar was invented in Calgary Ab (Calgary again) in 1969 by WalterChell.                          He used real clams mashed with tomato juice in his original recipe. Since then, the Caesar                        has recently won the title as Canada's national drink.

With Love,