August 2008 COTM: The Glorious Foods of Greece by Diane Kochilas
Welcome to the links thread for the August 2008 Cookbook of the Month, The Glorious Foods of Greece by Diane Kochilas. You may wish to bookmark this thread for future reference, as it contains links to all the other threads for this cookbook.
Instead of having another thread for general discussion, recipe planning, links, and previous picks and pans, let's use this one. I'll copy over the links posted earlier, as well as some additional ones. Here's the link to the voting announcement thread:
Here are the links for full length recipe reviews. In reviewing the book further, the author does actually have subheadings in each regional chapter, so I've used those, combining them in some instances:
Vegetables, Beans, and Grains
Pasta, Rice,and Polenta
Fish and Seafood
A few of her recipes call for "tin-aged feta" or even "tin-aged hard Greek feta" (p. 218, for example) as opposed to barrel feta. Does she mean any factory produced feta as opposed to the artisanal barrel feta like she talks about in the beginning of the book (p. 14)? I doubt I could lay my hands on barrel aged feta anyhow! I've got a great middle eastern store that offers 6 kinds of fresh feta plus even more packaged, but I'd be surprised if any of them were artisanal. Frankly, my inclination would be to simply use any feta I had.
I haven't cooked anything out of the book yet, since I didn't have all the ingredients I needed. However, I have tried the method she describes for grating tomatoes, and it rocks! If you need to puree a tomato, this is much easier than peeling and using a blender -- it takes about 30 seconds, tops, to grate one tomato, and the peel protects your hand from scraping the grater. If you like your tomatoes seeded, this might not be the best method, but you could probably sieve them out pretty easily. I used very ripe Early Girls. I did have to score the bottom of one to get it started, but then, whoosh! As you may be able to discern, I am thrilled.
re: Caitlin McGrath
Take one tomato. Snip a little bit from the end opposite the stem end.
Get your box grater and turn to the broad coarse side. Put grater on a plate so grater sits without moving. Place snipped tomato side on the grater and grate away. Be careful of your fingers. Go slowly at first. Amazing result.
Everything on the plate goes into the pan to create the sauce. OR - you can strain but DK does not say to do that.
I've had a proper look through the boo now and my first attempt is simmering away on the stove right now. I like the depth she goes into but I find her style quite earnest (what can I say - I'm shallow).
It would also be nice if she could suggest some alternatives for the various cheeses. Although I'm off to a local Cypriot shop later to see if I can hunt down some ingredients I can see that some will be hard to source. I also find it a bit strange that she ignores Cyprus altogether, especially as most of the 160,000 or so Greeks in London are Greek-Cypriot (but maybe that's not the case in the US.
Earnest indeed - as I was plodding through the Ionian chapter I felt a bit as if I was back in university, dutifully making myself read through to the end! She does make a couple of suggestions here or there - one was for a pecorino as a substitute for something, and elsewhere she refers to "any hard yellow cheese". I'll try to find which ones she's referring to.
Yes, I was confounded too! That was recommended as a sub for kefalotyri, which I'm hoping to find in Astoria today - if I do, I'll report back as to what I think would work well instead. It sounds like one can use ricotta instead of myzithra. For aged myzithra, she says you can use any hard white cheese for grating - I'd be tempted to try ricotta salata for that. I can't seem to find right now the one where she mentions pecorino.
I found kefalotyri in the Greek Cypriot shop down the road - rather expensive but hurrah! The very nice lady in there (who was rather nonplussed but very supportive of my efforts at Greek cookery!) told me that myzithra is also known as anari. Not sure if that's a Greek Cypriot thing, but they had both fresh and aged versions so I bought those. And I found trahana as well. I also bought dried butter beans so I can make gigantes, which is one of my favourite Greek dishes.
Interestingly, the lady told me there were hardly any Greeks living in England who aren't originally from Cyprus. All the Greek Greeks are in America, apparently (the ones that don't live in Greece, that is!).
Cheese that I bought:
Graviera (didn't note which region it's from) - had tiny little crystals through it - fine, but not amazing.
Kefalotyri "for grating" - which reminds me of pecorino and was the most aged of the cheeses I bought
Kefalograviera metsovou - this was my least favorite of them - did seem like sort of a semi soft cheese (like a fontina), kind of bland flavor.
Two fetas - a goat one and Feta Aharova. Another hound (on the Outer Boroughs board told me to make sure to get it in the liquid, not wrapped in paper, as it lasts longer that way, which I did. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5445...)
pp. 393-94 have discussions of this cheeses (about the varieties from Crete), but I guess many of them can be found in other regions too, so sort of like "Pecorino Sardo" vs. "Pecorino Romano" vs. "Pecorino Toscanno". I didn't note where the other ones came from, but I guess Kefalograviera metsovou is from Epirus, maybe? "Metsovo" means "amid the mountains", per. p. 136. I think I"m going to do some more research.
I did take photos of all and will try to post later. Also got salted sardines, the gigantes, trahana (I bought sour rather than sweet?), rusks, carp fish roe, anchovies, medium grain rice, quince preserves (don't know why), amazing yogurt, and various other things, The bill was rather embarrassing, but I'm hoping I can blame the roe!
You did better than me - I'm finding the writing quite unreadable to be honest! She doesn't make the food sing like the best food writers do (Nigel Slater, Nigella). She needed a very talented editor imho.
I've seen the pecorino reference somewhere too but I think it would have been nice to have had an overview in the ingredients chapter at the end.
Well, I've come up with a quick menu for tomorrow night, from the Ionian chapter:
Crumbled Feta Spread with Bread (p. 73)
Rusks with Vinegar, Olive Oil and Salted Sardines (p. 74)
Meat Pie from Cephalonia (p. 90)
Garlicky Eggplant (p. 80)
I've read the chapter on Ionia, but not the general intro etc. - I'm wondering if I should make some yogurt with cucumber or something to go with it. Will probably just serve a plain green salad too. There are some nice sounding desserts in the chapter:
Almond Cookies, Pears & Almonds Preserved in Syrup, Cornmeal Fritters. And, she discusses other sweets that sound delightful that I'm hoping to find at a market - mandolato, pan di spagne, pasta frolla, pastelli, fytoura - all new to me!
Shrimp in a Skillet with Creamy Tomato-Ouzo Sauce
Garlicky Yogurt Dip with Dried Apricots
Bread Salad with Watermelon, Feta, and Red Onion
PASTITSATHA (Chicken Stewed in Fragrant Tomato Sauce with Pasta), p. 92
PASTA WITH YOGURT AND CARAMELIZED ONIONS, FROM KASSOS, p. 371
STEWED VEGETABLES WITH SAUSAGE, FROM LIMNOS, p. 278
Sauteed Bread with Onion and Tomato from Lefkada (Panada)
Grape Leaves Stuffed with Bulgur or Cracked Wheat and Cumin from Rhodes
Fava Bean and Raw Artichoke Salad, p. 409
Easter Goat Roasted on a Bed of Scallion Greens, p. 248
Easter Bread with Citrus Spoon Sweet from Corfu, p. 103
Shrimp with Feta (Garidas Saganaki), p. 222
Phyllo Flutes With Walnuts and Tahini, p. 261
Semolina and Ground Almond Cake, p.256
Roasted Eggplant Salad, with Capers and Onions
PRASOPITA ME YIAOURTI
(NORTHERN GREEK LEEK & YOGURT PIE
BASIC HOMEMADE PHYLLO DOUGH
Not in book:
ARUGULA, PEAR & FETA SALAD
DAKO - CRETAN BARLEY RUSK MEZE
GRILLED LAMB CHOPS WITH ROASTED TOMATOES & SHEEP'S MILK CHEESE
PASTA GRATIN WITH BRAISED GREENS, CHICK PEAS & FETA
(LAYERED VEGETABLE MEDLEY IN A POT
GREEN PEPPERS SAUTEED IN OLIVE OIL WITH TOMATO
GREEK-STYLE GRILLED ARTICHOKES WITH SMOKED POTATO-GARLIC DIP
ROASTED ASPARAGUS SPRINKLED WITH FETA, OLIVE OIL & DILL
[More to come]