I had never heard of Tessa Kiros until she was an I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC) featured chef last year. Food from Many Greek Kitchens was my introduction to Tessa Kiros, and it was quite an introduction. It still remains one of my favorite cookbooks on my shelves.
The stories Kiros tells in her books are full of things I want to read--history and lore related to her recipes. These personal stories highlight those real life moments that elevate recipes to family favorite status. These personal stories make for my favorite type of cookbook. I'm not here just for the food. I'm here for what started the food in the first place, what the food means today, and what carries on after it.
In case you're now thinking that Kiros is full of huggy, touchy-feely fluff, I'm going to add that her recipes are solid. Out of everything I've made (> 30 recipes), only two didn't work out. And one of those was because I horribly mismeasured tahini. My bad.
A new feature during IHCC Potluck Week, which happens once a month, is that ANY current or previous chef is fair game. I had to pull my Tessa Kiros books down from the shelf. There are still many recipes I want to try.
This Gratinéed Tomato dish from Twelve, for example.
It is a simple dish. But there's a certain elegance in it. In the individual portions of tomato halves sitting on my plate rather than a scoop cut from a casserole dish. There's also versatility. Herbs and cheeses can be switched out. We ate these tomatoes alongside grilled steaks for The Husband's birthday. Fish, chicken, burgers, sandwiches, or soup would also have worked.
adapted from Twelve by Tessa Kiros
6 Roma tomatoes
salt and black pepper to taste
3 Tbsp chopped parsley
10 mint leaves, chopped
10 basil leaves, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
3-4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
5 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese, divided
4 Tbsp panko bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Halve the tomatoes lengthwise. Scoop out the flesh and seeds, leaving the shell intact. Place the empty tomato halves into a baking dish cut side up, and season with salt and pepper.
Finely chop the tomato flesh and seeds and put into a bowl. Add the fresh herbs, garlic, oregano, 2 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, and 1 1/2 Tbsp bread crumbs. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. Gently but thoroughly mix.
Distribute the mixture evenly among the tomato halves. Mix the remaining Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs together. Top the tomatoes with this mixture. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the bread crumb mixture. Bake about 30 minutes until the bread crumbs are golden.