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Does anyone have a GREAT go-to Greek cookbook for me? I love, love love Greek food, Greek flavors, but it's the only cuisine I've never cooked. Recently bought "Three sisters Around the Greek Table", a much celebrated book, but cannot find anything in it to cook. Help, help.

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  1. My friend (from Sparti) gave me "The Complete Book of Greek Cooking: The Recipe Club of St. Paul's Orthodox Cathedral" as a starter book. It's pretty comprehensive.

    1. The Olive and the Caper by Susanna Hoffman. I have quite a few Greek cookbooks but this one is my favorite.

      1 Reply
      1. re: rasputina

        I like that book as well.

      2. "The Complete Book of Greek Cooking: The Recipe Club of St. Paul's Greek Orthodox Cathedral" is a great resource. Easy Greek-American cookbook that has been revised many times.

        My favorite is "The Olive and the Caper" by Susanna Hoffman. The perspective of a non-Greek author keeps the recipes true to their origins. No "interpretations" here. Just Greek recipes observed by the author.

        Another Great Greek Cookbook is "How to Roast a Lamb" by Michael Psilakis. A true Greek Chef who's food is true to his mothers Greek recipes and a celebration of Greek Cuisine. A must in any cookbook collection.

        Good Greek recipes can also be found here:

        http://www.kalofagas.ca

        and here:

        http://www.kopiaste.org

        3 Replies
        1. re: Gastronomos

          Honestly, I would think it would be the opposite: the perspective of a Greek author would keep the recipes true to their origins. The perspective of a non-Greek author is problematic and inevitably leads to interpretations. It is unavoidable, as the non-Greek perspective labels all the recipes "Greek" regardless of their regional origins. When she observes a single cook, she is reporting their interpretation; if she observes a higher number of cooks and then formulates her own recipe derived from what she observed, that's *her* interpretation.

          1. re: reptilegrrl

            I would think the opposite as well. But all too often many of these recipe books, even those by Diane Kochilas, are interpretations of true recipes that the author may think are easier for a home cook to follow or, worse, lists ingredients that may be more readily available in some places.

            "The Complete Book of Greek Cooking: The Recipe Club of St. Paul's Greek Orthodox Cathedral" is a great resource. And one that allows a non-Greek or Philhelene to make Greek inspired dishes with Greek style recipes. I've had little success coaxing true Greek flavor from any of the recipes in that book. But for those looking to replicate a greek diner type/style recipe, this might help.

            "The Olive and the Caper" by Susanna Hoffman isn't the best book out there, it's just one of the best for true Greek recipes as she saw them made first hand. And, yes no regard to regional differences.

            For true Greek flavor. Really Great Greek food. As I wrote before, "How to Roast a Lamb" by Michael Psilakis. A true Greek Chef who's food is true to his mothers Greek recipes and a celebration of Greek Cuisine. A must in any cookbook collection.

            I've eaten in his restaurants when he was in the kitchen. If he isn't the best Greek chef in the US, he is the only one.

            1. re: Gastronomos

              oh, i'd forgotten about the olive and the caper. i loved that book, but i'm no greek food expert. i seem to recall it wove lovely stories of place with food, and had nice photos, as well.

        2. My favorite greek cookbooks are ones that I have picked up at church run greek festivals. But I can recommend a great site. http://www.dianekochilas.com/ and another I enjoy http://greekgourmand.blogspot.com/

          1. I love the website http://www.organicallycooked.com/ . A very smart Greek woman writing about how she cooks for her family.

            1. I don't use cook books all that often but one I do use is
              Food From Many Greek Kitchens by Tessa Kiros.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Paprikaboy

                I was going to suggest the same one! And the pictures in it are lovely!

              2. I recommend anything written by Diane Kochilas. She lives on the island of Ikaria where she was born. In my mind she is the quintessential expert on Greek cuisine. I have her "The Glorious Foods of Greece: Traditional Recipes from the Islands, Cities, and Villages", and "The Country Cooking of Greece". Her web site, as mentioned above, is packed with recipes and information.

                "The Olive and the Caper: Adventures in Greek Cooking" by Susanna Hoffman, also mentioned above, is a particular favorite of mine. Everything I've made has been a delight. Both this book and The Glorious Foods of Greece have been Cookbooks of the Month:

                Kochilas...
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/544541

                Hoffman...
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/836485

                9 Replies
                1. re: Gio

                  +1 for Diane Kochilas. I don't recall off the top of my head which of her cookbooks I have, but her recipes are excellent

                  1. re: Gio

                    According to her own website, Diane is a native New Yorker and only lives on the Greek island of Ikaria in the summer.

                    http://www.dianekochilas.com/about/

                    I own most of her books. They are good cookbooks / recipe books.

                    1. re: Gastronomos

                      Ah, "Diane is a native New Yorker whose family hails from the island of Ikaria..." I thought she did too.

                      1. re: Gio

                        Here's a recipe from another New Yorker of Greek descent:

                        http://michaelpsilakis.com/feta-stuff...

                        1. re: Gastronomos

                          All you Hounds have bowled me over with your generosity. Thanks for all. I've just spent an afternoon scoping out these books on Amazon, and checking out the suggested websites. Exceptional, all! Trying now to decide on two or three books. (When I had concluded there were none!) Chasing your recommendations bumped me into some other promising books: "Culinaria Greece" by Milona, and "Kokkari" by Cosselmon, and "Greek REvival" by Moore-Pastides.

                          Thanks and happy cooking to all.

                          1. re: dickgrub

                            Great! Let us know what you choose to cook from and how it goes. We learn from eachother.

                            1. re: Gio

                              Excellent! Will do.

                              PS: I note that Amazon reviewers dinged Psilakis and Kokkari on the same ground: Great chef, but inferior cookbook.

                              PPS: Special thanks to Gastronomos for the recipe. Looks deelish. Will make before the weekend.

                              1. re: dickgrub

                                Amazon is right. Chefs skills and writing cookbooks are not the same. Michael Psilakis is a Greek cook above and beyond all others. I own the Kokkari book because I collect Greek cookbooks.

                        2. re: Gio

                          According to Diane, "Then my Brooklyn-born, Greek mother’s voice, God bless her soul, entered my head."

                          http://zesterdaily.com/events/throwdo...

                    2. I'm guessing I've got around 3 dozen Greek cookbooks. The Culinaria (if it's the same one I've got) has great photos and regional info, but the recipes are very simple/basic.

                      Kochilas' recipes tend to be more sophisticated/complicated, with more ingredients, more herbs/spices and more precise measurements, compared to the fairly basic recipes in Greek church cookbook recipes and in the regional cookbooks I've bought in Greece.

                      I like Kochilas' recipes the best, of the books I've bought in the last 10 years. Quite a few of her recipes are available online, including some on her website.

                      I haven't bought any Three Sisters books, but I've looked through the books, and went to an event serving some food from their newest book. Most of the recipes seemed fairly typical to me. I got the feeling their books aren't too interesting for cooks who already know a fair amount about Greek food, but my friends who don't cook as frequently as I do seem to like their books.

                      Vefa's Kitchen is another book you might want to consider. http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandsty...

                      14 Replies
                      1. re: prima

                        Prima! Bless you! Speaking of generous posts!!

                        Vefa's Kitchen IS another book on my Consider This Book list. And your post squirts VK right to the top.

                        And too your post rescues Diane Kochilas from the downgrade I gave her (mistakenly apparently), after previewing on Amazon some of her book, which seemed overly self-absorbed story-telling ("I was feeling weary, but the lovely smells from the tiny cantina....")

                        Your comment about your "friends who don't cook as frequently as I do (who) seem to like (the Three Sisters) books" makes me ask whether you mean that they enjoy READING the books, or whether they profitably cook from them? I do both, eagerly and often, and especially treasure a book that has real "coaching" and authentic recipes, interlarded with RELEVANT anecdotes ("I had always used basil, but my friend Vefa cooked the most divine meal for me on the balcony of her Athens apartment, and she showed me how the flavor is multiplied with torn fresh oregano, added at just the moment when....")

                        Thank you, again, for your contribution.

                        1. re: dickgrub

                          I culled my Diane Kochilas cookbooks. I just never was drawn to cook anything from them and since I had others I was cooking from I decided to use the shelf space for other cookbooks. I had her Glorious Foods and her Foods and Wine of Greece. I also culled my St Pauls Cathedral cookbook for the same reason and Foods of the Greek Islands by Aglaia Kremezi. All of those I bought years ago and just never cooked from them.

                          I do have some newer Greek cookbooks like Michael Psilaki's cookbook and Vefa's Kitchen and I haven't cooked from them either but I haven't had them too long.

                          1. re: rasputina

                            Rasputina:

                            May I say your good post needs one addition to be 100%. You say you culled Kochilas cuz you never cooked from them, and "...since I had others I was cooking from...." Please name those books you WERE cooking from, and I will thank you.

                            1. re: rasputina

                              Yeah, for some reason I have never been able to get into Kochilas' books either. I never found enough recipes in Glorious Foods I wanted to make to justify the purchase. I though her latest book - The Country Cooking of Greece - might be the one, but I ended up returning it after I pre-ordered it.

                              I also have Vefa's Kitchen, but haven't cooked anything from it. I have enjoyed a few recipes from evelyn/athens (particularly her melomakarona) on the recipezaar site, which looks to have been absorbed by food.com:
                              http://greek.food.com/recipe/melomaka...

                            2. re: dickgrub

                              I don't know that any of my friends have cooked much from the cookbooks, and I'm not sure whether they've read them since flippping through the pages before buying them. Most of the friends who have the book are Greek Cdn, and know how to cook their family's regional recipes off by heart, but bought the book to see the Three Sisters' contemporary take on Greek food (lighter, quicker, new flavour combinations). The Three Sisters live in the same province as me, and some Greek organizations have helped them market their book to the local community, so some friends have bought the book to support some local cookbook authors.I wouldn't think their recipes and their knowledge base reach the level of Kochilas or Vefa.I wouldn't consider the Three Sisters to be an authority on Greek cooking or Greek home cooking.

                              1. re: prima

                                Thanks, Prima. I just re-reviewed "Sisters" and I think I was unfair when I groused that I "couldn't find anything to cook". Today I found lots to cook, and am searching online for elephant beans. I also just bought on Amazon Vefa's "Greek Cuisine" which seemed, from Az reviews, to be the best choice, as vs Vefa's Kitchen, for inst. If you, or others, are not sick of this correspondence, I ask opinion on Kochilas's books too. Criterion: 1. Recipes, 2. coaching on cooking methods, 3. reminiscences, anecdotes. Thanks.

                                1. re: dickgrub

                                  I meant to say, That's the order of priority: First, recipes, etc.

                                  1. re: dickgrub

                                    Are there certain foods you'd like to try to make first? Might help us with providing more specific recs.

                                    1. re: prima

                                      I'm partial to fish, and love the Greek fish dishes. I've decided to make this weekend Fish Baked with Okra from Diane Kochilas's site.

                                      My reference to "coaching" seems too vague to be understood. I refer to the comments that some, but not all, cookbook authors make, about the process of building the dish: Do not allow the onions to brown, just cook until they soften; add the basil at the very end and only after taking the pot off the heat.

                                      1. re: dickgrub

                                        Great Choice! "Fish Baked with Okra" is a classic!

                                        1. re: dickgrub

                                          http://www.dianekochilas.com/recipe-o...

                                    2. re: dickgrub

                                      Re: elephant beans
                                      They're usually called gigantes in North America. Most Greek and Mediterranean stores should carry the dried gigantes.

                                      I like the regional recipes and holiday recipes in the Kochilas' book I've got ( I couldn't find it this morning, to confirm the one I've got) . I mostly use her recipes (online and from the book) for inspiration, rather than following them to a T. Re: coaching, I'm not sure. I'd consider the recipes to be closer to a beginner-intermediate level than absolute beginner. There are some diagrams for folding filo, in some recipes. I've mostly used the book for vegetable dishes (okra, eggplant, briam, etc), the melomakarona, and maybe one lamb dish. Kochilas' videos and tweets tend to be more personalized/wordy, whereas the book I've got gives more of a historical/geographical/regional blurb before the recipe, rather than anything personal/anecdotal, and there are no photos in the book.

                                      1. re: prima

                                        Thanks for this! I Googled Elephant Beans, and ended up emailing a vendor in Greece about buying a 3 kg bag, which might last me until the next millennium.

                                  2. re: dickgrub

                                    "...after previewing on Amazon some of her book, which seemed overly self-absorbed story-telling ("I was feeling weary, but the lovely smells from the tiny cantina....")

                                    dickgrub, you weren't mistaken.

                                    at all.

                                2. Okay. Kinda cheesy, but my first exposure to Greek cooking was the Frugal Gourmet. His book, "Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines" got me started on my chowhound path....

                                  13 Replies
                                  1. re: Westy

                                    I don't think that's "cheesy" at all. If the book got you interested enough to seek out more traditional recipes that says a lot for Jeff Smith. He ^was^ a good cook, after all.

                                    1. re: Gio

                                      That's a generous and accurate assessment. I also liked the "on our immigrant ancestors" recipe collection. Very good beginner book.

                                      1. re: pinehurst

                                        Hey PH and Gio and Gastro and all:

                                        Just ordered "Immigrant ancestors" from Abe.com: 4 bucks.

                                        Gastro: Made the feta/fig from Psilakis you posted: Yummm!

                                        PS re MP: Those restaurant interiors featured on his site are scrumptious too.

                                        Made Kochilas's Fish Baked w/ Okra: fair. No doubt part operator error, but partly sloppy recipe: I assumed she intended bake in oven, but no spec and no temp; left the okra whole cuz no spec, but next time I'd cut into 1" pcs; "chop up bunch of dill"...but then no mention of when to add, no further mention at all. AND...No vivid Greek flavor! Has anyone tried Billygoat Greek seasoning from Spice House? Any faves?

                                        You guys are great! Thanks.

                                        1. re: dickgrub

                                          Psilakis is the best Greek chef in the USA. I've eaten from his hands. I trust everything he says and does.

                                          Kochilas gets kudos for trying so hard. She is great, but of a different caliber.

                                          these are two picks of okra Greek style (sans fish)

                                           
                                           
                                      2. re: Gio

                                        I made a version of his "Chinese take-out roast chicken" for my then-girlfriend 9now wife). it was the only recipe I was confident I could make using ingredients in Taiwan. Eventually, she broke down and asked "Can you....make anything else?" She was afraid to hurt my feelings, but looking back....it WAS a solid week of me making that one dish.

                                        There is a fine Greek roast chicken recipe in there as well as a super simple one for a "Roman" roast chicken (honey, sesame oil, and I think soy sauce in equal measure as a marinade). I recall att he timebeing concerned that sesame oil would be too exotic.....and thus waited until I was very confident. LOL.

                                        1. re: Westy

                                          Re: Taipei!

                                          Do you know/recall name of that 3-floor dumpling restaurant where patrons stood in the street watching the workers make dumplings in the 1st floor kitchen window, till your name called and you climbed the stairs for OMG deeeeelish dumplings?

                                          1. re: dickgrub

                                            I know the one, but couldn't tell you the name.
                                            My favorite place to eat: People's. Really classy Chinese food.
                                            Second favorite: There is a guotiei shopex dor t myin-laws in HsinChu. I recall standing in line every morning alongside everyone from cops to hookers.
                                            Best lunch: Cantonese place marked (I think) Wong kee Catering. Great roast duck. Cook had a cleaver that was pretty close to being an axe. No cutting boards, just a tree stuump.

                                            1. re: Westy

                                              Thanks; loved living there, loved eating there. Have tried to duplicate the ginger-based dumpling dipping sauce from that three-floor place and others. Have twenty Chinese cookbooks, including some bought there, but no dipping sauces. Do you have a spec you could share?

                                              1. re: dickgrub

                                                I can look one up. Givent hat this thread is for Greek cooking...maybe start a new thread? I bet others have some good ideas.

                                      3. re: Westy

                                        I agree with Gio. His TV shows and then books were probably the inspiration for my first beginning to 'really' cook. His Lamb and Orzo Pasta has remained a go-to for many years.

                                        1. re: Westy

                                          that's a good book. jeff smith had some good background info on each cuisine.

                                          1. re: alkapal

                                            Since Smith must have published eighty books, I assume all these comments relate to "...Three Ancient Cuisines" which is in the mail to me from ABE.

                                            1. re: dickgrub

                                              yes, i was replying to westy's recommendation.

                                        2. I don't have prima's level of knowledge on this specialty, but certainly my best experience of cookbooks for cuisines of various countries is from authors in or from those countries, who grew up with the myriad details that a visitor (however diligent) won't know about. After using books like what follows, I can't imagine recommending something like the "Frugal Gourmet" 3-Ancient book (which I certainly also have and have cooked from) for an inquiry like this one. It's a decent beginners' cookbook, but he dumbs down many imported recipes, and omits details a native author would find unthinkable.

                                          (F'rinstance, he gives a lamb-and-orzo dish, without revealing it's of the wonderful famous youvétsi or giouvétsi "pot" home-cooking genre using orzo, sometimes oven-baked, very Greek, and recalled with haunting nostalgia by Greek expatriates who grew up with them. The presentation in that book doesn't argue much perspective on Greek cooking.)

                                          A fine Greek cookbook from Greece, loaded with comfort foods like that, and "170 colour illustrations with calorie count" is Sofia Souli's "Greek Cookery and Wines (Gastronomy)," 1997, Editions Michalis Toumbis. Available translated into several languages including English (ISBN 9605401762, I just checked and it's available cheaply, used: http://www.amazon.com/GREEK-COOKERY-W... )

                                          Lots of cool stuff; reference sections with overview of Greek cheeses and wines. You can notice certain rituals, e.g. use of cinnamon in meat dishes, distinctive in that part of the world. Has a few unusual, but perfectly understandable, translations; British English ("mince" for ground meat), metric units of course, and the European habit of writing rigani for what North Americans call oregano -- but nothing intrepid Chowhounds can't handle.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: eatzalot

                                            Yes, I'd agree 2 cents + shipping is cheap enough; just ordered the book. Thanks for your post.

                                            1. re: eatzalot

                                              "sometimes oven-baked,"

                                              can you give us an example, just one, of when a "youvétsi or giouvétsi "pot" home-" is not "sometimes oven-baked," ?

                                              1. re: Gastronomos

                                                'can you give us an example, just one, of when a "youvétsi or giouvétsi "pot" home-" is not "sometimes oven-baked," ?'

                                                Yes, gastronomos, such an example was already in this thread. Pp 280-281 (hardbound edition) of Jeff Smith, "The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines," Wm. Morrow, 1989. Begins "In a stove-top Dutch oven, ..." I was trying to be generous to Smith. Yet his adapted dish was clearly related to the Greek orzo tradition. Which I've also heard described, intriguingly and appetizingly, in a version where the lamb (presumably marinated, as usual?) is preliminarily roasted, over charcoal maybe, then put to finish slowly in what I recall as an _open_ casserole with orzo, tomatoes, broth, and grated hard cheese. The lamb juices flavoring the orzo as it bakes. (Related by a Greek expatriate who said his mother did it in a special, incomparable way -- tough competition for even the best cookbooks, it's true.)

                                                But Jeff Smith is not the best of sources on the cuisines he wrote of. The situation is typical of popular US cookbooks that adapt, without explanatory comments about it, established and justly celebrated regional specialties from elsewhere. Smith's "Bolognese" meat sauce in the same volume strays even further from that dish's traditions (if less far than some weird versions I've encountered over the years and once listed here -- one of them from Greece). A point brought home in a Chowhound thread title: "Is there really no garlic in a traditional Bolognese sauce?"

                                                I've even heard that some Americans assume pizza was always meant to be sliced... :-)

                                            2. Aglaia Kremezi is the author of The Foods of the Greek Islands

                                              I recommend her books

                                              http://www.amazon.com/Aglaia-Kremezi/...

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: Gastronomos

                                                Hey Gastro, thanks for stayin' with it! Thus far, the cookbook that has been the most successful for me is Flavors of Greece by Rosemary Barron. My lunch today was a steaming bowl of her Fassolatha. Yumm. Will definitely check out AK.

                                                1. re: dickgrub

                                                  I got fasolada on the menu for this Wednesday. The weather is getting real cold and a bowl of fasolada is gonna hit the spot. :-)

                                              2. I'm not a great cook, so I tend to like simpler recipes, but I do love Greek food.

                                                I found this to be pretty good. I use it often.
                                                http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/greci...

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: atomicpurple

                                                  Thanks Gastro, thanks Purple! Copies of Kremezi's book and Grecian Plate are enroute to me, thanks to your recommendations. I may not be the next Psilakis, but I'm havin' fun and eatin' good!

                                                  1. re: dickgrub

                                                    "but I'm havin' fun and eatin' good!"

                                                    yeah! that's the Greek Way !