Nosthimia!: The Greek American Family Cookbook (New American Family Cookbooks)

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Capital Books

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Popular TV chef Georgia Sarianides adapts healthy and delicious traditional Greek recipes to American ingredients and lifestyles. "My recipes are Greek with an American twist, just like me!" say chef Georgia Sarianides. In "Nosthimia!" (Greek for "delicious"), she adapts healthy and delicious Old World Greek recipes to new American ingredients and lifestyles with her unique blend of zest and humor. As a mother of four and with a full time career, Georgia plans meals that are healthy and don’t require hours in the kitchen. She emphasizes the use of fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, and olive oil—all healthy and delicious. Sprinkled among the 185 mouth-watering recipes, Georgia includes family stories, cooking tips, and customs from the Old Country.


Georgia Sarianides
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Nosthimia!: The Greek American Family Cookbook (New American Family Cookbooks)
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In her introduction, author Georgia Sarianides says  "I was born in Greece but I am an American now, a Greek American.  In the Old Country, we used lots of butter and oil and spent hours preparing meals.  But Americans are busy and health conscious, and I want my recipes to help them prepare easy and nutritious meals that fit their lifestyle." She goes on to describe her recipes as "Greek with an American twist," and this is important information to have when deciding whether this book will suit you. If you want the edgy, herbaceous, untamed  food of Crete or the islands,  it isn't here. If, on the other hand, you long for the hearty, friendly food  that you remember from your favorite Greek diner in college, this book may work  for you. 

The introduction tells some pleasant stories about life in the author's Greek family, and the role that meals and the anticipation of meals played in their lives.  Then she swings into a chapter of meze, titled "appetizers."  Nothing here is new, but all of it is solid and likely to be good. Since I'm a devotee of meze, I tried three.  To start with the saganaki, I found it a little puzzling that this pleasant small dish was called "saganaki" since this word refers to the two-handled small frying pan in which dishes called "saganaki" are usually cooked "grilled cheese in grape leaves" would seem more accurate, since this dish never sees a pan. That said, the grilled grape leaves do give a nice flavor to the cheese inside.  The spiced feta was tasty enough eaten with crusty bread, but it packs a powerful dose of raw garlic, and the taste was a little overpowering.  Her filling for spanakopitakia relies on chopped parsley and dill to give interest to the spinach, and the dill flavor was strong enough to prevent me from tasting spinach at all. 

There is a fairly good chapter of vegetarian dishes, which includes dishes intended to be used as vegetable side dishes. I would argue that fresh fava beans are too rare and precious in their brief season to be doused with a lot of chopped dill, but most of the recipes seem fine. It's a shame that artichokes are always specified as canned, and even in the list of vegetables used in Greek cooking with a snippet of information about each, there is no mention that artichokes come any way but canned.  The unique Greek Gigante beans are mentioned and one recipe for them is given. As a Gigante enthusiast I would argue with her suggestion of lima beans as a substitute, but necessity is the mother of a lot of near-misses, and Gigantes are not always easy to come by. 

As you would expect, there are a lot of recipes for lamb in the meat chapter, and in my opinion all the cooking times given for it are questionable. A rack of lamb roasted at 350 degrees  for one and a half hours will be gray clear through, and this is a sad waste of a beautiful cut. Leg of lamb is to be roasted at the same temperature for over two hours according to her directions, and lamb kebobs of 1" squares of lamb are to be grilled for 15 minutes on each side.   Use the marinades suggested if they appeal to you, but rely on your touch or a meat thermometer, not on the stated cooking times.  The fish recipes are better, although some of the cooking times still seem excessive. I chose the Mykonos Grilled Shrimp Souvlaki to try, precisely because I was skeptical about the honey in the marinade, but the amount is small and it does little more than play up the natural sweetness of good shrimp and accelerate the browning.  This dish is very tasty indeed, and I expect to make it again.

Avgolemono, described by the author as "egg and lemon sauce," appears in four places in the book, and each recipe is different. Out of curiosity, I studied the recipes for avgolemono in my various Greek cookbooks, and found that they were surprisingly consistent in calling for four eggs, sometimes with additional yolks, to 2 cups of broth. When the author's avgolemono is used as a sauce, she calls for two eggs to two cups of sauce, and stabilizes the sauce with a dollop of cornstarch.  Two of her variations call for two eggs to one cup of broth, but in these cases the sauce is poured into a soup or a dish that already contains some broth. I prefer to stick with the more classic ratio and forget the cornstarch.

This book is definitely one for the home cook, and specifically the home cook looking for easy comfortable food, not the one intent on searching out new flavors . Again, remember that college diner. If "friendly and relaxed" is your culinary style, there are recipes here that you might like to get to know.

Recipe from the book: Mykonos Grilled Shrimp Souvlaki


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