My Greek Table: Authentic Flavors and Modern Home Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours

My Greek Table: Authentic Flavors and Modern Home Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours

by Diane Kochilas


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Celebrity chef and award-winning cookbook author Diane Kochilas presents a companion to her Public Television cooking-travel series with this lavishly photographed volume of classic and contemporary cuisine in My Greek Table: Authentic Flavors and Modern Home Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours.

Inspired by her travels and family gatherings, the recipes and stories Diane Kochilas shares in My Greek Table celebrate the variety of food and the culture of Greece. Her Mediterranean meals, crafted from natural ingredients and prepared in the region’s traditional styles—as well as innovative updates to classic favorites—cover a diverse range of appetizers, main courses, and desserts to create raucously happy feasts, just like the ones Diane enjoys with her family when they sit down at her table.

Perfect for home cooks, these recipes are easy-to-make so you can add Greece’s delicious dishes to your culinary repertoire. With simple-to-follow instructions for salads, meze, vegetables, soup, grains, savory pies, meat, fish, and sweets, you’ll soon be serving iconic fare and new twists on time-honored recipes on your own Greek table for family and friends, including:

— Kale, Apple, and Feta Salad

— Baklava Oatmeal

— Avocado-Tahini Spread

— Baked Chicken Keftedes

— Retro Feta-Stuffed Grilled Calamari

— Portobello Mushroom Gyro

— Quinoa Spanakorizo

— Quick Pastitsio Ravioli

— Aegean Island Stuffed Lamb

— My Big Fat Greek Mess—a dessert of meringues, Greek sweets, toasted almonds and tangy yogurt

Illustrated throughout with color photographs featuring both the food and the country, My Greek Table is a cultural delicacy for cooks and foodies alike.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250166371
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 12/24/2018
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 23,826
Product dimensions: 8.20(w) x 10.10(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Diane Kochilas, celebrity chef, award-winning cookbook author, and cooking school owner, has been at the forefront of bringing healthy, delicious Greek cuisine to a wide international audience for many years. She is the host and co-executive producer of My Greek Table, a 13-part cooking-travel series about Greece and Greek cuisine airing nationally on Public Television. She runs the Glorious Greek Cooking School on her native island, Ikaria.

Read an Excerpt



classic and contemporary greek sauces & dressings

De hortainei m'oraia logia y koilia

* * *

"The belly doesn't fill up on nice words."

In Greek cooking, the approach to sauces is simple. While there are a few technique-driven sauces, such as avgolemono, the egg-lemon liaison that laces so many stews and binds so many soups, most sauces are easy to make. Most dressings and many marinades are simple emulsions of acid whisked with olive oil, riffs on the theme of what the world knows as vinaigrette.

It is in the contemporary Greek kitchen, spun from the whisks of modern Greek chefs in Greece and in Greek restaurants around the globe, that a new range of sauces and dressings has emerged over the past decade or so. Many have been co-opted by home cooks. I love them all. For the most part, the new range is an evolution of the classics: avgolemono spiked with alcohol or reddened with a pinch of saffron; ladolemono, the basic lemon–olive oil emulsion, as an open invitation to tweak with herbs, cheeses, liqueurs, honey, ginger, and more; basic tomato sauces perked up with orange and ouzo. The variations are endless.


It's safe to say that almost all dressings and marinades in the Greek kitchen call for olive oil, coupled with an assortment of other ingredients, from fresh citrus juices to alcohol (both deglazed and not) to yogurt, honey, mustard, herbs, garlic, ginger, and more. Marinades are used to "cure" raw fish dishes, a much-embraced newcomer to the Greek table, as well as to enhance grilled foods, from vegetables to fish, seafood, and meat. Dressings are mainly used over salads.

The Greek salad — that timeless assembly, in its purest, most authentic, seasonal form, of great tomatoes; unabashedly sharp onions; crunchy cucumbers; grassy, slightly bitter peppers; kalamata olives; and feta — need be dressed in nothing but olive oil and good sea salt. To my mind, any other addition in the dressing department (not to mention lettuce!) adulterates the clarity of flavor of this true Greek classic.

For boiled salads, such as those of wild greens, or horta, the rule of thumb is olive oil and lemon juice for sweet greens, olive oil and vinegar for bitter ones. Other cold boiled vegetable salads, such as of zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, and potatoes, are typically dressed with a simple ladolemono. Boiled beets usually like vinegar rather than lemon juice.

The selection that follows is a reflection of my personal favorites and of the sauces and dressings I use most in my own home cooking.



* * *

yield varies

The most fundamental flavor profile in the Greek kitchen is the mixture of fresh lemon juice and olive oil called ladolemono. When whisked and emulsified, the combination becomes a viscous, creamy elixir, the Greek answer to French vinaigrette but predating it by millennia; the ancient Greeks were fond of acidity and used vinegar in many different sauces and dressings. Lemons, while not the first citrus fruit to travel from the Arab world to Europe, were an early one, arriving on the shores of the Mediterranean some time around AD 1000 and faring well in the region's temperate climes.

In Greece, circa 2018, lemon trees grow in country gardens, and the main variety is one that bears fruit twice a year. Commercially, there are a few places renowned for lemon cultivation, and these happen to be the same regions where the olive tree also flourishes best: the Peloponnese and Crete. Other varieties of citrus fruits abound in many parts of the country: kumquats in Corfu; mandarins in Chios; oranges of every sort in Argos and other parts of the Peloponnese; the odd citron and bergamot here and there. In Athens, city streets are lined and shaded by thousands of bitter orange trees, nerantzi in Greek, the juice of which is a great substitute for the lemon juice called for in this recipe. Green, young, and whole, or ripe and carefully skinned for their the peel, bitter oranges become the stuff of spoon sweets, preserved in a sugar syrup and served forth as an offering to visitors at home.

The perfumed travels of lemons and their like have been long and meandering in this sunny country. Like most Greek cooks, I use ladolemono on a wide range of foods, from dressing a simple shredded cabbage slaw to drizzling over all manner of fish and seafood. Indeed, the creamy, almost yellowish-green, soothing but astringent mixture is the de facto dressing to be spooned over basic grilled fish and much, much more.

Fresh lemon juice, strained Extra-virgin Greek olive oil Salt and freshly ground black pepper (optional)

The basic ratio is 1:3 — that is, one part fresh lemon juice to three parts olive oil. Put the lemon juice in a bowl and, while whisking vigorously, drizzle in the oil. Add a pinch each of salt and pepper, if you like, and oriste — that's "voilà" in Greece — you have ladolemono, the most basic Greek sauce and dressing.

NOTE: You may also add 1 teaspoon dried Greek oregano to this; whisk it into the lemon juice at the start before adding the oil.


* * *

Ladolemono me Meli kai Moustarda

Lemon-Honey-Mustard Dressing

This is my favorite dressing for simple, fresh greens salads. It's also great over grilled seafood, such as shrimp and squid. You can try adding a grated knob of fresh ginger to this, as well as some fresh herbs of your choice, such as chopped dill, parsley, mint, and/or basil.

I like to use Greek honey and Greek mustard in this dressing, but any good honey and pungent mustard will do. makes 1 1/2 cups (360 ml)

1/3 cup (80 ml) strained fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons Greek honey
1 tablespoon Greek, Dijon, or other pungent mustard
1 cup (240 ml) extra-virgin Greek olive oil Salt

Whisk together the lemon, honey, and mustard in a medium bowl. While whisking, drizzle in the olive oil in a slow, steady stream and whisk until the mixture is smooth, creamy, and emulsified. Season to taste with salt.

Ladolemono me Portokali kai Skordo

Orange-Garlic Olive Oil Dressing

Orange adds a sweet note to this refreshing dressing. Try it over boiled or roasted beets or any leafy green salad. makes 1 3/4 cups (420 ml)

2 tablespoons strained fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup (60 ml) strained fresh orange juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) extra-virgin Greek olive oil Pinch of salt Freshly ground black pepper

Whisk together the lemon and orange juices and the garlic in a medium bowl. While whisking, drizzle in the olive oil in a slow, steady stream and whisk until the mixture is emulsified. Season with the salt and pepper to taste. Use immediately.

Vinaigrette me Elies

Greek Olive Vinaigrette

To either the Lemon-Ouzo-Garlic Dressing (opposite) or the Orange-Garlic Olive Oil Dressing (above), add 2 tablespoons finely chopped pitted kalamata or other Greek olives.

Ladolemono me Ouzo kai Skordo

Lemon-Ouzo-Garlic Dressing

This is a great combination to use as both a dressing and marinadecure. See the note for changing the amount of lemon juice if you want to make crudo or seafood carpaccio at home. makes 1 1/2 cups (360 ml)

1/3 cup (80 ml) ouzo
3 tablespoons strained fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) extra-virgin Greek olive oil Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small saucepan or skillet, heat the ouzo over medium heat. (Keep the kitchen fan off and stand away from the saucepan because the ouzo may ignite, which is natural when heating alcohol; the flame will die down in a few seconds.) Cook until the ouzo has reduced by a little more than half, to about 3 tablespoons. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

Whisk together the reduced ouzo, lemon juice, and garlic in a medium bowl. While whisking, drizzle in the olive oil in a slow, steady stream and whisk until the mixture is emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Use immediately.

NOTE: To use this combination of ingredients as a marinade cure for all manner of fresh filleted fish, increase the lemon juice to 1/2 cup (120 ml) and keep the ouzo as is, without heating it or reducing it. Try grating a little fresh ginger into the mixture and adding a few chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, oregano, and/or mint.

Ladolemono me Feta kai Myrodika

Feta-Herb Ladolemono

The addition of feta to the basic ladolemono recipe considerably changes its consistency and character, transforming it from a refreshing, light dressing to a creamy, rich, substantial addition to any salad or cooked vegetable dish. I tend to use this recipe as the weather gets cooler, when the need to make even a simple salad more filling grows proportionately to the drop in mercury! makes 12/3 cups (400 ml)

1/3 cup (80 ml) strained fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup (50 g) crumbled Greek feta
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1 garlic clove, minced (optional)
1 cup (240 ml) extra-virgin Greek olive oil Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Whisk together the lemon juice, feta, oregano, and garlic, if using, in a medium bowl. While whisking, drizzle in the olive oil in a slow, steady stream and whisk until smooth and creamy. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

NOTE: You can reconstitute any of the above dressings and sauces by placing them in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shaking or by rewhisking.

Ntressing me Yiaourti


* * *

makes 1 2/3 cups (400 ml)

Greek Yogurt Ranch Sauce, sans mayonnaise and preservatives, of course, is a great way to enjoy a creamy salad dressing or cold sauce without the guilty burden of unhealthy calories.

1/3 cup (80 ml) strained fresh lemon juice Scant 1 tablespoon Dijon or Greek mustard
1 cup (240 ml) extra-virgin Greek olive oil
1/3 cup (80 ml) Greek yogurt, preferably full-fat
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs of your choice, such as dill, parsley, oregano, and/or mint Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the lemon juice in a medium bowl and whisk in the mustard. While whisking, drizzle in the olive oil in a slow, steady stream and whisk until the mixture emulsifies. Whisk in the yogurt until smooth, followed by the garlic and herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Use immediately or place in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for up to 3 days. To reconstitute, shake vigorously.

Saltsa Tartar me Yiaourti


* * *

makes about 1 1/2 cups (360 ml)

One of the great qualities of Greek yogurt is the ease with which one can use it to replace or reduce the quantity of mayonnaise used. This is a classic example.

1 cup (240 ml) Greek yogurt, preferably full-fat
1/2 cup (120 ml) good-quality mayonnaise
3 tablespoons minced cornichon pickles
1 tablespoon chopped capers
2 teaspoons Dijon, Greek, or other pungent mustard Grated zest of 1 lemon Juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon, strained Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Whisk together the Greek yogurt and mayonnaise in a small bowl. Using a spatula, mix in the cornichons, capers, mustard, and lemon zest. Taste and add lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste.

Mayioneza me Eliopasta


* * *

makes about 2 cups (480 ml)

One of my all-time favorite new Greek recipes. I use this to "paint" over a pretty serving platter before placing keftedes (here, here, here, and here) or vegetable fritters (here, here, and here) on top. It stands on its own as a dip with homemade pita chips, too!

1 1/2 cups (360 ml) Greek yogurt, preferably full-fat
1/3 cup (80 ml) store-bought kalamata olive paste Scant 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons extra-virgin Greek olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced Grated zest of 1 small orange Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Whisk together the yogurt, olive paste, mustard, and olive oil in a small bowl. Using a spatula or wire whisk, stir in the garlic and orange zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill before serving.

Kafteri Saltsa Meliou


* * *

makes about 1 1/2 cups (360 ml)

I've been working in restaurant kitchens for a long time, and one of the great things about the intense, heated, noisy environment of a busy kitchen is the intuitive blurring of lines when it comes to making a quick snack for oneself. Most Greek kitchens I've worked in have been blessed with great crews of Mexican cooks. La Morena brand cans of chipotles in adobo sauce hide behind the tarama and feta; jalapeños have their place tucked behind the produce for Greek dishes; the Cholula hot sauce is drizzled with impunity over just about everything. So it stands to reason that a few Grec-Mex recipes have found their way into my own repertoire, Hellenized in a way, but also the products of an open palate and an open mind!

This recipe is great with pita chips, grilled chicken or seafood, or used to baste chicken wings on the grill.

1 cup (240 ml) extra-virgin Greek olive oil
10 fresh jalapeños, seeded and chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tablespoons strained fresh lemon juice, plus more for seasoning
2 cups (100 g) coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
2 to 3 tablespoons good-quality honey, preferably raw Greek pine honey Several drops of hot sauce, to taste Salt

Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and puree until smooth. Taste and season with more lemon juice, hot sauce, and/or salt as needed. Serve.

NOTE: You can store the sauce in a jar with a tight-fitting lid in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Saltsa Mparmpekiou me Vyssino


* * *

makes about 21/2 cups (600 ml)

The inspiration for this sauce goes back many years to the first experience I had dining at Kefi, chef Michael Psilakis's first Greek restaurant in New York. He served us a range of crudo, one of which was tuna paired ingeniously with Greek vyssino, the sour cherry preserves usually reserved for a sweet pick-me-up over afternoon coffee in a typical Greek home. The pairing catapulted me out of my comfort zone, pushing me beyond the purist's probity into a boundless horizon of fearless new uses for traditional old recipes. And a barbecue sauce was thus born. I make it every summer in batches, to be brushed over lamb and goat chops, burgers, and eggplant on the grill. You can find the Greek sour cherry spoon sweet and sour cherry syrup in Greek food shops or online. You can also substitute other sour cherry syrup.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin Greek olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2/3 cup (160 ml) tomato paste
4 cups (1 L) dry red wine
1 cup (240 ml) vyssino syrup or other sour cherry syrup
1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar or apple cider vinegar Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and shallots and cook until soft and lightly colored, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the garlic. Add the cumin, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for a minute or two to release the flavors of the spices.

Add the tomato paste and stir. Add the wine, vyssino syrup, mustard, and vinegar and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Simmer the barbecue sauce over low heat until it thickens and has reduced by one-third; it should be the consistency of ketchup.

Remove from the heat and either transfer to the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth or puree directly in the pot with an immersion blender until smooth. Pass the barbecue sauce through a fine-mesh strainer and let cool. If it is too thin, return it to the saucepan after it's been strained and cook to thicken it further, then let cool before storing. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Avgolemono kai y Parea Tou


No doubt the most sophisticated sauce in the Greek kitchen is avgolemono, the egg-lemon liaison that calls for tempering a mixture of eggs and lemon juice with hot broth, which results in a creamy, foamy, thick, soul-satisfying addition to soups and stews. It has a long history in the eastern Mediterranean, perhaps tracing its roots to the agristada or salsa blanca of the Sephardic Jews who settled en masse in Greece in the fifteenth century, during the Spanish Inquisition.

There are several traditional ways to make it, either with yolks, whole eggs, or separated yolks and whipped whites, each resulting in liaisons of varying density and thickness. There are also a few delicious contemporary variations, which call for additions such as saffron, wine, and other seasonings. You may also use the juice of bitter oranges, or even verjuice, in place of the lemon juice; both are old renditions of this dish, rehatched in the hands of contemporary chefs.

One thing to keep in mind when making any of the following versions is that the eggs should always be at room temperature. With room-temperature eggs, the whites and yolks combine easier when whisking. This means that the eggs will disperse more evenly into the mixture. You can soak cold eggs in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes to bring them down to room temperature. Instead of whisking by hand, you can mix the avgolemono in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl using the whisk attachment of an immersion blender.


Excerpted from "My Greek Table"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Diane Kochilas.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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