Sunday, December 2, 2007

Cookbook Review 6 - Wine and Food of Greece

This cookbook review is for my good blogging friend Valli at More Than Burnt Toast. Valli is a major Greek fan having visited Greece and attending a cooking school there! Valli shares with us on her blog wonderful photos of her visit and delicious recipes from her trip.
I have had “The Food And Wine Of Greece” by Diane Kochilas around my kitchen for quite a few years. The most used recipe out of her book is the flavorful Makedonitiki Skordalia, which is Mike’s favorite appetizer. This is a garlic and potato puree from Macedonia that will knock your socks off with the fresh garlic ingredient. Diane’s book is a great collection of Greek cuisine and pays tribute to the history, tradition, folklore and culture that surround each dish. Diane traveled in Greece and lived in Athens during the writing and testing of her cookbook. I so enjoy books like this written with such details on the different aspects of life and the background for the recipe.
Diane’s first part of the book is dedicated to the essentials of Greek cuisine. Actually, I totally enjoyed this part of the book as it is on Greek Wine! She starts with the mythology of Greek wine, the history of it, followed by the different wine regions. She has a very informative page on the “Appellation Wines Produced in Greece by Name and Region” with a map pointing out these regions. After the wine section, she goes on to discuss the “Spirits of Greece” and then other beverages like teas and coffees. The rest of Part 1 of the book is about basic ingredients and bread. Part 2 discusses appetizers, Part 3 is the main course section and Part 4 is on “sweets”. She has a great follow-up at the end of the book on Classic Greek Meals. For example, Diane lays out a sample menu of what you would serve for Easter, Christmas, Lent, Winter and a favorite Summer meal. This book is a must for anyone who would like to learn and taste authentic Greek dishes!

Here is a recipe that I adapted from “The Food and Wine of Greece”. And yes, here I go again with my tomato fetish!

Kotopoulo Kavourmas or Kokkinisto which is Braised Chicken With Tomato Sauce

3 lbs. of chicken legs, you could use any part of the chicken
Olive Oil and 1 Tablespoon butter
Flour for dredging
2 large red onions, sliced
1 can of petit chopped tomatoes with their juice
4-5 cloves of garlic finely chopped
3 tablespoons of fresh chopped oregano or 1 tablespoon dried
2 bay leafs
1 spring of fresh rosemary chopped (optional)
A good shake of hot pepper flakes (for Mike)
1-2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat some olive oil and butter in your stewing pot, dredge your chicken in flour, add to hot pot and brown chicken on all sides, remove to plate.
Add more olive oil if your pot is dry, add onions until translucent, add garlic for a few moments, add tomatoes, herbs, pepper flakes, and a bit of water. Cover and simmer for about 45 minutes over low heat. Check the pot occasionally to make sure there is enough liquid, if not, add a bit more water.
About 10 minutes before serving, add the vinegar to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

You could serve this chicken dish with rice, mashed potatoes, or like I did, over pasta. It is a very easy, flavorful dish for a cool evening.

I did not have any Greek white wine, so I just went with my favorite Sauvignon Blanc!



Peter M said...

Your Kokkinisto looks wonderfully delicious and I (a Greek) would eat that. Also, lots of sacue for dunking bread in it is a good thing!

Nora B. said...

Hi Deb,
This looks so yummy! I too much have a tomato fetish. I actually bought some chicken legs to make cacciatore (that's the only time I buy chicken legs), but I think I'll make this instead. Thanks for the recipe! I'll have having more than a few shakes of chilli flakes. ;-)

I hope that you had a nice weekend. Mine was spend trying to catch up with work, but I also tried two new Roses at the Opera Bar. Rose seems to be my thing this summer!


katiez said...

I could not cook...or eat... without tomatoes!
I can't believe I missed this cookbook. The Greek food and the wine - it's definitely going on my, very long, Amazon wish list!

Bellini Valli said...

You are such a sweetheart for mentioning me on your blog Deb. I will have to try your Skordalia recipe!!Diane Kochilas has a cooking school at her summer home on the island of Ikaria.When I was planning my trip to Greece I had thought of going there instead of Kea but she lives in Athens until the summer. I wanted to go in May when it was not as hot and fewer tourists.

Shaun said...

Deb ~ I love this cookbook review series that you're doing. I look forward to giving more in-depth reviews, too. I had every intention of doing it - and I did do one (Nigella Lawson's HOW TO EAT) - but then got caught up with summer then my thesis.

Anyway, the funny thing is I looked at the ingredient list for this dish, and I thought to myself..."Check, I have all of these things..." yet I wouldn't have come up with this dish. What people do in different quantities with similar ingredients all over the world constantly amazes me.

Thank you for the continued education. I hadn't given much thought to Greek food and wine before now(Ouzo, yes).

Figs Olives Wine said...

mmmm. The Greeks have such lovely braises this time of year. I think I know what's for dinner tonight. Thanks Deb!

winedeb said...

Hi Peter, I knew you too would like this lovely Greek dish. And yes, the bread was dunking!

Hi Nora! Yep the addition of extra pepper flakes would be good. I know what you mean about the weekend. Getting busy since Christmas is soon upon us!

Hey Katie, I know you use lots of tomatoes in your recipes. That is why I enjoy them so much!

Hi Valli, I knew you would enjoy this post!

Hey Shaun, I am thrilled you are enjoying the cookbook series. I am enjoying it also. I love books and am always excited when I come upon one that I have not seen. Thanks for your great comment!

Hi Amanda! It IS the time of year for stews and braises! Yum!

Shayne said...

I have to say look at all that leg. haha looks simply yummy.

Betty C. said...

This looks like a great book -- I'm unfortunately not that familiar with Greek Cooking, other than a few basic favorites.Thanks for sharing.