The angle: Shake up your idea of Greek cuisine, one dish at a time
Recipes for right now: Cauliflower Soup with Fava Beans, Feta, Almonds, Mint, and Lemon; Wild Greens, Macaroni, and Cheese; Kalamata Olive Gnocchi; Lamb, Orange, and Chile Kebabs; Feta Polenta; Carrot Tabbouleh; Blackberry and Ouzo Sorbet; Apricot and Orange Blossom Meringues
Who would enjoy this book? Cooks who love the flavors of Greek cuisine, cooks in the mood for a bit of armchair-travel cooking.
• Who wrote it: Maria Elia
• Who published it: Kyle Books
• Number of recipes: 120
• Other highlights: A lot of cookbooks come across my desk, and a fair number of them claim to be a "modern" take on a traditional cuisine. Most of these leave my desk without making much of an impression. Smashing Plates is different.
Maria Elia starts by pairing the Greek cuisine of her heritage down to its essential flavors and ingredients: fava beans, rose water, mint, fennel, tomatoes, olives, Greek coffee, yogurt, figs, lamb, octopus (and so many more). Then she puts them back together again in surprising and alluring ways — combinations that nod to traditional Greek dishes, but aren't afraid to move beyond them. This is how we get dishes like seared scallops with watermelon, zucchini-coated calamari, and a savory baklava pie with tomatoes and string beans. I love it all.
There's an emphasis on shared dishes in this book — small plates and sharing plates, party-pleasing sides and big desserts — but the recipes still feel simple and elegant. The recipes aren't necessarily "shared" in the dinner party sense, but rather "shared" in the sense of sitting down together at the table. Some recipes are definitely more involved, but plenty could be made on a weeknight with a little bit of planning or even thrown together spur of the moment.
I'm so glad to have discovered this cookbook just as we're jumping into the fresh fruits and vegetables of summer. I can already tell that it will become a favorite before the season is over.
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: Smashing Plates by Maria Elia
• Visit the author's website: Maria Elia
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