I love my uncle despite the fact that he once gave me away. Ok, it was at my wedding but still, he didn’t even put up a fight! He is a sociology professor at the University of South Carolina and he told me about this new cookbook, written by the wife of the university’s president, Patricia Moore-Pastides.
Mrs. Moore-Pastides brings a unique background to her passion for Greek food: she married into a Greek family and quickly fell in love with its celebratory, family-oriented cuisine, and she spent her professional life working in the public health field. The result is a cookbook that includes all of the Greek dishes you would expect (moussaka, spanakopita, baklava) but tweaked ever so slightly to highlight healthy ingredients like seafood, vegetables, whole grains and unsaturated fats.
The recipes are simple but authentic and use fresh ingredients. There is a picture of every dish (yay!) as well as a nice running narrative throughout that combines family stories with solid information on ingredients and nutritional science (I love the story about a guest saying that her garlicky skordalia was bland and then discovering that her husband had actually served the guest pancake batter). And she’s got the cutest haircut!
I made three recipes and they were all delicious and will be made again. The Gyros held together amazingly well so I was able to cook them in long strips that simulated the slices you get at a Greek fast-food joint. I did not grill them so my adaptation below is for the stove top (I also adapted it to serve 6 vs. 12).
The Tzatziki was also very good and since Greek yogurt is readily available even in our chain grocery stores here, I did not have to drain it. This called for a bit of an adjustment in quantity which is reflected in the recipe below.
With the Greek Salad I was lucky enough to be able to use the two very last garden tomatoes of the season. If you can’t get “real” tomatoes for this I would probably substitute cherry or grape tomatoes.
There are many appealing recipes in this book — Roasted Red Pepper and Feta Dip, Chicken Kebabs, Lentil and Tomato Soup with Coriander and Cumin, Sweet Potato, Zucchini and Feta Tart, Cinnamon Cookies with Syrup and Walnuts — I will certainly be making more.
Apologies in advance for the photos. I realized only when I uploaded them onto my computer that I had a huge smudge on my camera lens. So I unintentionally gave these dishes the aging-starlet-blurry-lens treatment.