24 March 2012

Weekend Cooking: Review: Food from Many Greek Kitchens by Tessa Kiros

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I love Greek food. I adore the flavor combinations: citrus, olive oil, cinnamon, salty cheeses, lamb, fish, mint, sesame, eggplant, olives, almonds . . . Sigh. Really, few cuisines are better in my opinion.

Tessa Kiros's Food from Many Greek Kitchens is a beautifully designed cookbook that is easy to cook from and will satisfy all your Greek food cravings. Its Aegean green and white color scheme helps put you in a Mediterranean mood, and the pretty bottles of ouzo on the cover add to the feeling of good cheer.

Whether you decide to make a traditional dish, such as the familiar baklava or dolmades, or something a bit more unusual, such as a wild greens pie or baked chickpeas, you'll find that the vast majority of the ingredients are readily available and that all the instructions are clear, chatty, and easy to follow. There only a handful of recipes that call for harder-to-find items: For me, the problem ingredient is always fish because I live in a land-locked state and simply don't have access to all the varieties available on the coasts.

The complexity of the recipes range from watermelon and feta:
Cut off the rind and then slice the watermelon flesh into chunks and put on a plate. Break the feta into chunks and eat with the watermelon. That's it.
To mussaka, which is not very difficult to make but requires several steps and lots of pots and pans. But, as the introduction to the recipe says, "If this dish seems like too much work all in one go, you can make the meat sauce the day before." Kiros also mentions that the dish freezes well, so you can cook once but eat twice.

Kiros includes helpful extras, such as a glossary, informative recipe introductions, and a useful index. This is is a cookbook I plan to cook from many times. I can't wait for our local farmers' market to open so I can buy fresh vegetables and locally produced meats and cheeses to use in my Greek dinners.

Here are some recipes I have marked to try:
  • Orange Semolina Cake (with a citrus-y syrup and almonds)
  • Stewed Green Beans in Tomato (with garlic and cinnamon; nice for summer)
  • Small Shoes (don't you love that name? similar ingredients as moussaka)
  • White Bean Soup (vegetarian and overflowing with good veggies)
Vegetarian/vegan alert: I didn't count the recipes, but my gut feeling says about two thirds of the recipes would fit a vegetarian diet. Appropriate dishes can be found in all courses from appetizers to desserts. Vegans will have a rougher time of it. Most vegetarian recipes call for cheese, yogurt, honey, eggs, or some other animal product.

I made the Baked Lamb with Rice-Shaped Pasta, except I used brown rice (because we ate pasta the night before). This was a yummy meal and easy dish to prepare: A small leg roast is rubbed with lemon, garlic, and oil and baked with cinnamon, oregano, scallions, and tomatoes. When the roast is almost done, the cooked pasta is added, and the pan is returned to the oven to give the pasta a chance to absorb the pan juices and to heat through. We loved it. I forgot to take a photo, but the photo from the book (above) shows the finished dish. I served it with a salad and steamed asparagus.

Buy Food from Many Greek Kitchens at an Indie, at Powell's, at Book Depository, or at bookstore near you. These links lead to affiliate programs
Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2011
ISBN-13: 9781449406523
Rating: B+
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


caite 3/24/12, 6:08 AM  

I must agree with you about the wonder combinations in Greek food and I too am a grand fan of lamb and fish and citrus and such. This sounds like a very interesting book.

Libby 3/24/12, 6:11 AM  

Thanks for telling me about this! I think that I would love it! You are right, the ingredients in Greek cuisine are great. And, I like a pretty cookbook with great pictures. Thanks!

Marg 3/24/12, 6:26 AM  

I don't often eat Greek food but I do always enjoy it when I do!

One of these days I want to find a really good recipe for moussaka and/or pastichio! I have good memories of eating them at various times.

Peggy Ann 3/24/12, 6:36 AM  

I have never eaten Greek food besides baklava. Would love to try it though this cookbook sounds really good. I wish my library had it! I think Beth should cook the lamb thing again and have us all over!

Rikki 3/24/12, 6:49 AM  

I also love Greek cuisine, especially all those awesome appetizers. The book cover looks lovely and very appropriate. I will def. have a look for this one.
Thanks for the veggie alert!

jama 3/24/12, 8:05 AM  

Mmmmmm. This review's taking me back to visiting Greece years ago, when I ate moussaka and baklava for the first time (and drank ouzo, which I didn't like). Feta cheese and olives were everywhere. Nice to know there's a good cookbook out there with recipes that aren't too complicated.

Anonymous,  3/24/12, 8:12 AM  

YUM I too love Greek food. I've never cooked lamb before, but the recipe you made sounds absolutely delicious. I will have to look for this cookbook so I can make it for myself.

(Diane) bookchickdi 3/24/12, 8:40 AM  

I haven't cooked much Greek food, although like you, I think the flavors are wonderful. And is there anything more refreshing than watermelon and feta?

JoAnn 3/24/12, 8:44 AM  

Think I'd like to take a closer look at this one...will look for it next time in the library or book store.

Carol @ Always Thyme to Cook 3/24/12, 8:45 AM  

I have the book, I love all her cookbooks! Always such great pictures and delicious recipes in her books, this one no exception.

Amanda 3/24/12, 8:48 AM  

Though they are similar, I prefer Middle EAstern food to Greek, probably because of the abundance of feta, olives, and cucumbers in Greek food. :D

bermudaonion 3/24/12, 9:35 AM  

Oh man, reading this post has made me hungry! That cookbook is gorgeous!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 3/24/12, 9:40 AM  

I love to eat Greek food - yes, all those flavors like lemon, olives, rosemary, lamb (and the pastry ... don't get me started!), but I don't cook it!

The closest I've come is that easy Barefoot Contessa lemon chicken recipe :)

Will have to look for Tess Kiros's books!

Christine 3/24/12, 9:41 AM  

I love the flavor combinations of Greek food as well but have never made anything at home aside from some basic salads with feta cheese--one of my favorite cheeses ever. I went out for Lebanese food last weekend and was reminded how much I love Middle Eastern foods again. I will have to check out this cookbook.

Joy Weese Moll 3/24/12, 10:35 AM  

I'm with Amanda and not a fan of olives, but, if I'm careful about that, I do enjoy Greek food. That lamb roast looks wonderful.

Liz,  3/24/12, 11:24 AM  

Surprisingly hard to find a good Greek cookbook.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity 3/24/12, 11:47 AM  

baklava. That is all. :)

I haven't been able to find a really good Greek restaurant in Dallas so we don't eat it very often--I've always thought that the idea of cooking Greek food seemed too complicated. But I like the sound of this one and I think it probably has a lot of recipes that Scott could partake in as well.

Watermelon and Feta. What an interesting combination!

Liz,  3/24/12, 11:53 AM  

Addendum: Tomorrow is Greece Independence Day:

Peaceful Reader 3/24/12, 12:02 PM  

I love Greek food and it makes me think of my dad. He wasn't Greek but he loved the food. The leg of lamb sounds good and I think my chicken farmer man has lamb as well. This would make a great spring meal.

Narineh @ The Novel World 3/24/12, 12:38 PM  

Greek food is one of my favorites. I luck out though, because a large number of Armenian and Persian dishes are replicas, or very similar to Greek meals (the dolma for examples). Going to the Greek Festival has been a family tradition for over 15 years. =) Enjoy the cookbook!

Julie P. 3/24/12, 12:53 PM  

I like some Greek foods but I'm definitely not as adventurous as you are. I won't touch lamb!

Margot 3/24/12, 1:40 PM  

Greek food is one cuisine I haven't experimented with. I love gyros and baklava, but that's about it. When you mentioned all the traditional Greek flavors you like, I agreed with you. I think I need to give Greek food a try.

Carole 3/24/12, 3:04 PM  

Hi Beth - for a change from the Greek I have linked in to my take on sichuan chicken. Hope you and your readers enjoy it.

Robin M 3/24/12, 4:09 PM  

We love lamb here and your Baked lamb meal sounds delicious. Going grocery shopping today so know what I'm getting for dinner. :) Greek Kitchens sounds like a great cookbook. Will have to check it out.

Heidenkind 3/25/12, 1:41 AM  

I heard on a TV show once that after WWII, everyone thought the Greeks would starve because they had no food coming into the country, and zero food production. But instead they were all really healthy because they were living off of native herbs and plants in Greece! That's really the only thing I know about Greek food. :)

Uniflame 3/25/12, 7:14 AM  

Before I became a vegetarian I used to love Greek food, but they do rely heavily on meat. Still I wouldn't mind a vegetarian book on Greek cooking!

Esme 3/25/12, 12:57 PM  

I love this cookbook-Greek Food is one of my favourites-there are a lot of good recipes in this book.

Heather S-G 3/25/12, 7:12 PM  

I LOVE Tessa...and I adore this book. I've made quite a few recipes from it over the past six months (when I've been cooking w/ Tessa once a week) and enjoyed every single one!

I brought Fizzy Lifting Drinks inspired by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory this week =)

Stacy 3/25/12, 9:47 PM  

Greek food is something I am coming slowly too. I found a recipe for a dill yogurt sauce my youngest loves for her chicken and veggies, so I really need to do more exploring.

Daryl 3/26/12, 9:15 AM  

Visited Philly this weekend and took a ton of pix .. we started off in the Italian Market on South 9th ...

Robin 3/26/12, 9:27 AM  

The cover photo alone would be worth the price of the book - gorgeous and so inviting. I'm very intrigued by the idea of baked chick peas, I think I'll hunt down a recipe :).

Rachel 3/29/12, 1:01 PM  

Greek food is underrated, in my opinion. I think it should be up there in the pantheon of great food with Italian, Chinese, Thai, French, and NYC Deli.

My first time linking up with you at Weekend Cooking, but sure it won't be my last time.

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