The Cookbook Collector: Food From Many Greek Kitchens + Tahini Soup

December 8, 2011

Upon turning the first few pages of Tessa Kiros new book Food From Many Greek Kitchens you are immediately transported to the turquoise Aegean sea where 6,000 Greek islands are nestled within its waves.  You visualize yourself walking along the winding cobbled streets, passing white and blue houses until you reach an outdoor market where you are confronted with the strong aromas of garlic, lemon, and oregano.  Once you have flipped to next next page, you realize that you are totally and completely in love with this book, this place, and this cuisine.   At least, that was my reaction.

Food From Many Greek Kitchens is as much about cooking as it is photographic memoir.  Each page invites you to get to know Greece a little bit better, a little closer, a little more intimate. Kiros has included 115 recipes that she has collected from family, friends, and cooked herself.  Each recipe is accompanied by the dish's cultural significance, its culinary context.  For example, the Tahini soup (recipe below) is eaten on the Cycladic Islands in the week leading up to Easter when meat-less meals are consumed.  This book will teach you how to cook authentic Greek cuisine and gain an understanding for Greek life.

The book is divided into ten chapters covering subjects like traditional foods and shared foods to fasting foods and Easter foods.  In the traditional foods chapter, you will find delectable recipes for wedding rice, New Year wish cake, baked stuffed vine leaves and many more.  While reading, you get the sense that Greek food is about celebration, whether it's around a particular holiday or celebrating life itself.  Food from Many Greek Kitchens will inspire you to make your own sweet honey scented baklava and crisp calamari.  Until you are able to visit the islands yourself, this book is a pretty good substitute.

TAHINOSOUPA or TAHINI SOUP

Serves 4

2 teaspoons sesame seeds

1/2 teaspoon paprika

sprinkling of ground chile, optional

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

About 5 1/2 ounces fresh egg-free noodles or 2 ounces dried

1/2 cup tahini

juice of 11/2 lemons

olive oil, for serving

freshly ground black pepper

This is a very simple soup that can be made in minutes. Traditionally itís from the Cycladic Islands and is eaten in the week leading up to Easter, or on Good Friday, when simple meat-free foods are eaten.

Toast the sesame seeds lightly in a small dry skillet. Add the paprika and the chile, if using, and cook briefly, taking care not to burn it. Stir in the lemon zest and transfer to a small bowl.

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a pot with some salt. Add the hilopites and boil until just tender, about 2 minutes, or according to the package instructions if dried.

Meanwhile, put the tahini and lemon juice into a bowl, add a ladleful of the boiling hilopites water and whisk until smooth. When the hilopites are ready, pour the tahini mixture in and stir gently over the heat for a couple of minutes. Taste for salt. Serve in bowls with a drizzle of olive oil, a scattering of the sesame-paprika mixture and a grind of pepper.

—From Food from Many Greek Kitchens by Tessa Kiros/ Andrews McMeel Publishing

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