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The Olive and the Caper
Adventures in Greek Cooking
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Format:ebook (Digital original) $18.99 $24.99 CAD
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around August 1, 2004. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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In Corfu, Ms. Hoffman and a taverna owner cook shrimp fresh from the trap–and for us she offers the boldly-flavored Shrimp with Fennel, Green Olives, Red Onion, and White Wine. She gathers wild greens and herbs with neighbors, inspiring Big Beans with Thyme and Parsley, and Field Greens and Ouzo Pie. She learns the secret to chewy country bread from the baker on Santorini and translates it for American kitchens. Including 325 recipes developed in collaboration with Victoria Wise (her co-author on The Well-Filled Tortilla Cookbook, with over 258,000 copies in print), The Olive and the Caper celebrates all things Greek: Chicken Neo-Avgolemeno. Fall-off-the-bone Lamb Shanks seasoned with garlic, thyme, cinnamon and coriander. Siren-like sweets, from world-renowned Baklava to uniquely Greek preserves: Rose Petal, Cherry and Grappa, Apricot and Metaxa.
In addition, it opens with a sixteen-page full-color section and has dozens of lively essays throughout the book–about the origins of Greek food, about village life, history, language, customs–making this a lively adventure in reading as well as cooking.
… THAT HUNGER
MAY HATE YOU, AND
MAY LOVE YOU AND
FILL YOUR BARN
WITH FOOD …
—HESIOD, CA. 700 B.C.E.
TO VICTORIA WITHOUT WHOM I WOULD NEVER HAVE PLUCKED THIS BOOK FROM THE EMBERS, WITH LOVE AND ENDLESS THANKS
HONORED DRINKS, SMALL DISHES, AND SAVORY PIES
from water to wine
Of utmost importance in Greece, each drink is special, from glasses of crystal clear water and fruitade to anise-flavored ouzo and piney retsina; from cups of rich, freshly ground coffee to fragrant tea
BRANDY AND SWEET LIQUEURS
FRUITADES AND OTHER DRINKS
THE GRAND ARRAY
A lavish gallery of little foods to go with drinks, mezedes appear at all times of the day as well as at the start of the meal. They can be as simple as a piece of cheese or a few olives, or more complex—tasty meatballs, Russian salad, marinated shrimp, stuffed grape leaves, taramasalata, and houmus. All tease and appease the appetite
THE SIMPLEST MEZEDES
The Glorious Cheeses of Greece
The Many and Varied Greek Olives
THE BANQUET OF DISHES
THE STAFF OF LIFE!
Crunchy-crusted country bread, lighter city bread, dense bread rings and dried paximadia, versatile pita, breads studded with olives, garlic, and lemon zest, Easter bread with its red-dyed eggs, fruit-filled breads for Christmas—no Greek meal or snack lacks bread.
The Bread Man Cometh
Greece’s First Bread Bakers
Cooking Bells and Beehive Ovens
Cyprus: the Coppery Island
FOR HARD TIMES AND GOOD TIMES
From ancient times to modern, hot soups, cold soups, and thick soups have figured on the Greek menu. Filled with beans, lentils, bits of meat or fish, vegetables, noodles or rice, bread, and a splash of flavorful olive oil, soups are frequently a key stone dish on the table
The Mycenaeans and Their Bill of Fare
A VERITABLE BOUNTY
Salads in Greece vary from just a single vegetable dressed with fruity olive oil and a little lemon juice or vinegar to the famous feta-strewn village salad known as a Greek Salad. Compositions of tomatoes and breads, artichokes and potatoes, beets with their greens add up to lively medleys to enjoy at lunch or dinner
The Tomato Revolution
Pericles, the Father of Democracy
The Sarakatsani, Greece’s Roving Shepherds
THE DAILY GIFT
Fried in a bath of the finest olive oil, whipped into plain or filled omelets, served with thick yogurt or an innovative salsa, in Greece the egg is anything but breakfast food
Oregano, Dill, and Mint
The Greek Diaspora and the Denver Omelet
BARLEY, WHEAT, RICE & NOODLES
Grains were thought by the ancients to be the basis of happiness. The tasty array of grain-based dishes—barley pancakes; pastitsio; pilafs of rice or bulgur with lentils, spinach, artichokes; noodles crowned with a variety of sauces—will definitely help to elevate the mood at the table
CONFECTIONS DULCET AS AMBROSIA
Greek sweets—served with afternoon coffee, with late-night drinks, to celebrate a special occasion, or because you just have to have one—are seductive. Filo-crusted baklava, kadaifi, and other cakes; fried pastry ribbons; rice, semolina, and milk puddings; pine-nut cookies; the jewel-like spoon sweets—all help make any occasion feel special
FROM BEEHIVE TO OVEN
The Nuts of Greece
Tsikoudia and the Moor
A Final Validation
How Spices Got to Greece
SWEETNESS BY THE SPOONFUL
Croesus and His Golden Coins
Plato, the “Cool” Philosopher
SEVEN INNOVATIVE SWEETS
Night Wine, Day Wine, and the Barefoot Compressor
Cyclades Village Wedding
The Ottoman Rule and the Greek Fight for Independence
AND THE LEGACY OF GREEK FOOD
BAKED BY A STARK AND CRYSTAL SUN, ENHANCED BY MINERAL-LADEN SOILS AND BUOYANT SALTY SEAS, PARCHED INTO THE HIGHEST CONCENTRATION BY SUMMER’S LONG DROUGHT, THE FOODS OF GREECE ARE THE RICHEST IN THE MEDITERRANEAN. EVERY MORSEL EXPLODES WITH FLAVOR.
Grinning up at me,
The casserole boils and chatters to itself
And fishes leap up in the frying pans.
—EUBOULOS, GIANTS, 385 B.C.E.
From the majesty of their bounty, over millennia the Greeks have spun a cuisine of sublime and captivating dishes. Great weavers that they are—plaiting wool into tapestry, ideas into philosophy, stone into monuments—the Greeks have done the same with food. Greek fare intertwines ingredients and tastes until preparations blaze with an intermingling of flavor, hue, and texture. Greek cooks marry savory meats with juice-absorbent vegetables in long-simmered stews laced with mountain herbs. They rub birds of every sort with native bay leaf and roast them until delicate meat falls from delicate bone. They simmer lentils until they are thick as pudding, add wild greens, and serve the dish with chunks of pungent goat cheese. The next day, frugal and imaginative cooks chop in scallions and tomatoes and fry the lentils into crisp croquettes. Greeks stuff peppers with eggplant, sultana raisins, mint, basil, and nutmeg. They braise rabbit with tiny onions and black-red, thick-as-custard tomato paste. Fish joins shellfish, all just pulled from the sea, in soups reminiscent of legendary voyages. Greek cooks turn their prodigality of sun-blessed vegetables—artichokes, beans, beets, cabbage, lettuce, okra, spinach, squash—into mixtures and casseroles so fine and filling that there’s no need to look farther than the fields for sustenance. They fold nuts and fruit in sheets of paper-thin dough and bathe the winsome pastries in syrups of honey, muscat, citrus, and brandy.
As I reacquired the books of my calling, the pots of my kitchen, and the fabric of my life, I was also part of a wonderful band of women, all of whom had also lost everything. We gave one another incomparable aid and abiding support during our recovery. To them I also owe much appreciation and with them I share much jubilation.
The untoward event also allowed me to transform the book, which began as a volume of traditional dishes, into one that more represents the way I really cook Greek food—with the same remarkable ingredients and style, but with the food elements often reimagined and differently combined than is strictly customary in Greece. The reader familiar with Greek cooking will find that while I include many classic preparations (some works simply cannot be improved upon!), most of the recipes present new variations based on a Greek foundation.
As much as the foods of Greece are foods of the past, they are foods of the future. The tradition, the style, the ingredients, and the way Greeks have dined since time immemorial are once again rising to the forefront, especially as the world turns back to more grains, more vegetables, more fish, to smaller portions, and to a wider variety of edibles. As the well-worn saying goes, we can learn much from history, and in the Greek case, especially from a people who honor their history in their continuing customs.
The ancient Greeks believed that the cook was no different from the poet, and the Greeks today believe much the same. So indulge your lyricism and enjoy.
honored drinks, small dishes, and savory pies
TWO FRIENDS ARRANGE TO MEET IN THE LATE AFTERNOON. THEY HAVEN’T SEEN ONE ANOTHER FOR A WHILE … OR PERHAPS THEY SAW EACH OTHER ONLY YESTERDAY. THEY SIT DOWN AT AN OUTDOOR CAFE AND ORDER DRINKS. THEY ARE GREEK. FOR THE TALK TO FLOW AS THEY DESIRE, THEY REQUIRE THE PRESENCE OF SOMETHING LIQUID. THE LIQUID ARRIVES, BUT NOT ALONE—THIS IS GREECE. THE DRINK IS ACCOMPANIED BY A SMALL MORSEL OF FOOD DESIGNED BOTH TO ROUSE AND TO SATIATE THE APPETITE.
Four friends meet at a tavern in the late hours of the night, long after they have eaten their evening meal. They joke and discuss the weather, crops, theater, and always politics. Such discourse—and discourse it is—never takes place without a potable to “loosen” it. Yet to drink and not eat is also unthinkable. Along with the drinks come a number of plates laden with zesty appetizers.
Three sisters visit in the morning. They make coffee, and the hosting sister puts out a plate of tidbits. As the day dwindles a guest arrives, and immediately the greeter brings out a glass of water, a cup of coffee, a fruitade, a brandy. To go with the drink comes a spoon sweet, a slice of cheese, some olives. On a name day a party takes place. There is much to drink—brandy, sweet liqueur, and wine—and with it much to eat—tiny meatballs, fish roe salad, singed peppers, assorted pickles.
No word can describe what water is to the Greeks more than osios, “blessed.” It is the word from which we derive “pious”. To Greeks water is life. Water is so important, as both drink and symbol, that no guest is ever greeted in a Greek home without being presented a glassful. No meal is ever served without water. No pause in the day is complete without a glass of water.
In ancient times many villages had a central well or spring, where communal cups hung on the rim so all could partake of the liquid. Today still, Greeks flock around gushing streams and crystal springs. Cups still hang from the taps at fountains. As in ancient times, when children brought ewers of clear water to pour over guests’ hands before eating, Greek hosts admonish their guests to do so now. And today as then, Greeks compare the water of different towns and fountains, describing in detail the taste and clarity as they would wine.
Greeks began to make wine long before their written history, but they were not the first. Archaeologists have found a clay jar containing wine residue from about 5400 B.C.E, soon after the first farming and settled life, in the Zagros Mountains of ancient Persia. Along with the wine traces, the jar contains evidence of resin. This means the ancient winemakers put the wine in pine casks or, more probably, put the resin in the wine as a preservative, and that the wine most likely tasted much like Greece’s present-day retsina. Wax, pitch, or resin was also used to seal wine amphorae. Wine was also kept in hollowed trees, the open end covered with skins.
Wine arrived in Greece soon after. Wild grapes thrived in stretches from Spain and France across all of Italy and Greece to beyond the Caspian Sea. People in Greece were eating wild grapes as early as 11000 B.C.E The communication between the Greeks and the Persians, while hostile at times, was continuous. The first winemakers lived near well-traveled trade routes connecting the two groups, so the cultivation of the grape and the making of the drink no doubt readily traveled to Greece.
Wine was an essential part of Minoan civilization. Pre-Greek and Minoan vases, drawings, and writings depict the importance of grapes and wine. Houses and palaces had storerooms filled with wine jars. By Mycenaean times wine was clearly an even more integral element of Greek culture. Winemaking installations were abundant; cups and jugs existed by the thousands. Indeed wine, winemaking, and wine drinking became the signature of Greek life. As Greeks emerged into the classical age they brought grapes and made wine wherever they went—to Cyprus, to Dalmatia, to the Crimea, to France, to Sicily, to Tarentum (modern Taranto) and Neapolis (modern Naples), and to rich Sybaris in the arch of Italy’s boot. Sicily and the toe of Italy were, in fact, called Oenotria, “The Land of Staked Vines.”
RETSINA AND MORE
Attica has the largest wine production of Greece, with the area dominated by one type of wine, retsina, both dry white and red-tinged. The region has only one appellation that makes non-resinated wine, Kantza. The retsinas have good acid and are piney and woody.
The Peloponnesos, in the warmer half of Greece, contains three appellations: Nemea, Mantinia, and Patras. Nemea has three districts: The lowest elevation produces a light-bodied rosé tasting of cherry and strawberry. The wines from the middle section have soft tannin, but can lack acidity. The nose is of strawberry and cherry with tobacco overtones. The high region produces super-premium fruit. The wines are more concentrated, with more tannin and acid, which brings their fruit up to the surface. Nemean reds are both dry and sweet. Mantinia is very high and grows a very versatile muscat-type grape called moshofilero. The region produces a sparkling wine and a rosé and is especially known for its dry white, whose bouquet is of apple, rose and other flowers, melon, lemon zest, and pear. Fermented in stainless steel, the wines are nicely acid and give off lazy bubbles. Patras’s wines, both red and white, are light in body with a great deal of fruit. The Peloponnesos also produces three noteworthy dessert wines: Mavrodaphne of Patras, Muscat of Patras, and Muscat of Rion.
In the Ionian islands there is only one appellation, Kefalonia. It is famous for its robola, a white grape variety. The wines have good acid and fruit and bear a nose of lemon peel, orange peel, and citrus. The strong dry white wines were once called “Wines of Stone.” Kefalonia also makes two sweet wines, Mavrodaphne and Muscat.
A number of Aegean islands are noted winegrowing regions. In the eastern Sporades, Limnos wines are all produced by a co-op, and the island is famous for its sweet wine, a light style of Muscat, though a dry white is also made. The wines have a luscious nose of apricot, peach, and marmalade.
In the Dodecanesos, Rhodes was recognized in ancient times for both dry red and white wines, as well as a sweet white wine, and these are undergoing reestablishment. Samos was famous in ancient times for its wine, and exceptional wines continue to be produced there today. Samos’s wines are from late-harvest fruit, very ripe. They are very concentrated, with good acid and residual sugars. Their nose is of ripe fruit, of apricot and pear.
In the Cyclades, Paros grows two varietals. The white Monemvasia is light-bodied, lacks acid, and is light of alcohol. The bouquet is floral, or of pears, green apples, and plum, making a great aperitif wine. The varietal red produces a wine so dark that it is almost black, so the law of the island dictates that the reds be a blend of 50 percent red and 50 percent white, fermented together. The result is a light-bodied, light-colored wine, similar to pinot noir in color and on the palate. It is big, ripe red, stony, and delicate. To the south, Santorini’s fertile pumice soils produce renowned dry and sweet whites. The main grape is the ancient asertiko. The island’s wines have never experienced the phylloxera blight and so are very old. They have naturally high acidity and are pressed from fruit that ripens early. Santorini’s wines have a glorious nose of melon, honey, and honeysuckle.
Crete contains four appellations: Arhanes, which makes a dry red; Dafnes, producing dry and sweet reds; Peza, producing both red and white dry wine; and Sitia, which makes a dry and a sweet red. The wines of Crete are light-bodied and taste of very ripe fruit.
In addition there are at least seventy-five areas throughout the country producing local table wines. Few of these are exported, but they are a delight to sample when traveling about the country. Just ask the restaurant or tavern owner for the local wine.
All across Greece, people sip an anise-flavored aperitif called ouzo. A latecomer on the beverage scene, ouzo was developed late in the nineteenth century, but it has deep roots in Greece. Hippocrates drank a similarly flavored beverage called anisum on special occasions.
What exactly is this mysterious yet compelling beverage?
Ouzo is distilled from grapes, figs, or raisins, and various sugars. It is then flavored, according to each maker’s secret recipe, with an assembly of spices and herbs. Among the predominant flavorings are such Greek favorites as anise, coriander, mastic, and lime. Even more than coffee, ouzo is the beverage of community and conversation. It mediates the lazy afternoon chat, eases the late evening repose when friends gather, refreshes the summer afternoon, and warms the winter get-together. It is served most commonly in outdoor cafés and in special ouzeria, where appetizers accompany each glass. The nibble might be a gift that goes with the glassful, or one that can be ordered from the meze menu. The cafés and bars sometimes reflect social classes; there are the workers’ ouzeria, the after-business ouzeria, and the elegant ouzeria of the wealthy connoisseurs. Ouzo bottles range from water-clear to mysterious black; the spicings range from strong yet subtle to sweet yet complex. The mix of flavoring is always hard to discern. Some ouzos bite, some glide; some are saccharine, most aromatic. And somehow, no matter what the collage of tastes, the drink is both fortifying and refreshing.
In Greece there are many brands of ouzo. For a long time only a few brands were available in the United States, but now in good Greek markets and restaurants the selection is wide and delightful.
To serve it, pour an ounce of clear ouzo into a tall narrow glass. Accompany it with a tall glass of water. Nowadays, the drink is often also accompanied by a small bowl of ice.
Unadulterated, ouzo remains as crystal clear as water. Add water or ice, and it becomes as frosty white as milk.
- On Sale
- Aug 1, 2004
- Page Count
- 608 pages
- Workman Publishing Company