Sep 26, 2011

It's (not) All Greek

Since the first time I walked into a Greek restaurant in College Station, TX (of all places) and tasted hummus with fresh pita, I was in love with Greek food.  I may not know how to pronounce everything, but I'm willing to try it. 
Potato Salad from Tessa Kiros

Over the weekend, The Husband surprised my with a copy of Tessa Kiros' Food From Many Greek Kitchens.  He knew I was getting nervous.  The Tessa Kiros books requested from the library haven't come in yet and IHCC is starting w/ Tessa Kiros this week.  He handed me the book as we headed out the door on our way to Downtown Alive! in Lafayette.  I spent the 50ish minute drive looking through it in the car.

I Heart Cooking Clubs is now cooking with Tessa Kiros.
It's "Welcome Week!"
Click below for more information.

I really don't know how he got us there.  Every few minutes, I'd say, "Oh, look at this!."  "Man, that sounds good!"  "We need to try this!"  I think I've marked nearly every recipe.

This one image from Food From Many Greek Kitchens has really stuck with me.

Growing up where the Mississippi throws herself into the Gulf, our waters are silty, churned up.  What lies beneath is always a mystery--mysteries that call to me, draw me in, but sometimes skeeve me out.  It blows my mind that water can be this clear.  My brain almost doesn't accept that this boat is not floating in air.
When we left Downtown Alive, we were looking for a late supper.  The Husband wanted something Greek. 
I can't imagine why.  
Normally when we're in Lafayette and looking for Greek, we have our usual place.  Since we were downtown, we decided to try some place different--Athena.  We ordered the Athena Special Plate for 2.  Everything was excellent--from the salad, hummus, and lebna (yes, please), to the kibby, shawerma, and grape leaves...which we normally don't like.  Every time I tried another dish, I thought, "I could make a meal out of this alone."  Even the Lebanese Tea, made with orange blossoms instead of rose water, was a treat.
After this Greek feast, I was anxious to start cooking from my new book.  But on our menu the next day (besides leftover Greek food for lunch since this plate for 2 serves 2 giants) was...The Husband's Chicken & Sausage Gumbo.
I've seen my share of Cajun fusion...Cajun-Italian, Cajun-Mexican, Cajun-Asian.  Cajun-Greek?  Nuh-uh.
So I decided to play a little trick.
Not a lot of people know this.  In fact, it's not something I knew about until after leaving New Orleans for Lafayette.  Many Cajuns eat potato salad with their gumbo.  At first, I found the idea, well, ick.  But then I tried it, dipping a spoon of cold, creamy potato salad into my bowl of warm, spicy gumbo.  And I got it.  The hot-cold thing.  The creamy-spicy thing.  The way the potato salad thickens the gumbo (Cajun style gumbo tends to be thinner than the Creole style I grew up with).

My trick was that Tessa Kiros has a recipe for Greek Potato Salad and I made it the night The Husband made his gumbo.  We didn't eat the salad with our gumbo since the flavors and textures are not "gumbo potato salad."  We enjoyed the snappy, bright flavors from the dressing, capers, and olives while our gumbo cooled enough to eat.

Welcome to my Louisiana kitchen, Tessa Kiros!  Good to have you.
This is one to make again.

Notes: I followed the recipe (whaaat!) except for the anchovies; I'm anchovied out for now.

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Patatosalata: Potato Salad
from Food From Many Greek Kitchens by Tessa Kiros
This salad goes very well with all grilled fish dishes. you could also add a couple of hard-boiled eggs here. Use lemon juice instead of the vinegar if you prefer.
1 3/4 lb unpeeled potatoes
4 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped
1/4 c kalamata olives
2 tbsp capers
2-3 trimmed green onion including some green parts, sliced
1/4 c chopped Italian parsley
about 6 tbsp olive oil
about 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
freshly ground black pepper
Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender but not too soft.  Drain, and leave to cool for 10 minutes or so before pulling the skins away.  Cut up into good chunks and put into a serving bowl.  Add the anchovy, olives, capers, onions, parsley, olive oil, and vinegar, and season with pepper.  Toss gently, trying not to break up the potatoes.  Taste for salt and serve warm or at room temperature.  Even nice served cold the next day.


  1. I am so happy that you were able to get a copy of one of her books! Your husband is so sweet to surprise you with that book. Shows that he's a guy who really pays attention:)

    I ordered her Greek cookbook with my Fairy Hobmother money and I need an intervention too. I started putting post it notes on all the recipes and now my copy has tabs sticking out all over the place. My book looks ten kinds of crazy!

    Loved your observation of the crystal clear water in Greece versus the muddy waters of the Mississippi. Two completely different places, huh?

    I'm so glad you loved the potato salad (minus the anchovies). It looks beautiful!

    Apparently I'm writing you a book, but I also wanted to say that here in KY everyone eats peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with their chili. Seems strange to me, but I guess it's the same concept as eating gumbo with potato salad.


  2. What a sweet gift from your husband! I have requested two Tessa books (only two available) through my library but haven't gotten them either yet, not sure how long it takes...I just have so many cookbooks that I'm trying to to buy anymore unless I'm 100% in love with the recipes. Your good review of her Greek book has me wanting to go ahead and purchase it, since it wasn't an available library one anyway.

    I love Greek food and your potato salad looks amazing. Will have to try that one for sure. Looking forward to cooking along with you with this IHCC session :)

  3. I am soooo going to try and do this chef!

  4. Your potato salad and photo look fab and I love the ingredients in the recipe! I'm one of those Cajuns who eats their potato salad IN the gumbo. They say it's a sign of a true Cajun, but mainly it's just the way that I was brought up. :)

  5. I have made this potato salad from another Greek recipe several times and we love it...I can't wait to try Tessa's version of it. You make it all look so fantastic. I ordered four of her books and they all arrived TODAY...I cannot wait to get in there and see what's what!!

  6. Anonymous9/27/2011

    We have artisan Bakery in our village and the owner is Greek:) Not only his bread is famous but also all other stuff baklavas spanacopitas and too many to name.Greek kitchen(authentic) is fantatsic and I ma pleased you had great time and decided to try some yourself:)

  7. It's true...I'd never heard of the potato salad-gumbo thing. Cool! And this Greek Potato Salad sounds fantastic...I've made a version of it (though not Tessa's) in the past and remember loving it. Great way to welcome her in :D

  8. What a sweet man you have!
    This salad has all my favourite flavours (including the salted fishies!) I am definitely giving it a try! Looks delicious.

  9. I may not be able to pronounce greek food either...but eating it - I can handle. This sounds delicious!

  10. I could eat Greek food 24/7- I will be following the new cooking challenge-its going to be fun.


  11. What a great hubby you have. My copy is all tagged up too--this book has some wonderful recipes. Definitely going to have to try this potato salad--I love all of the ingredients.

  12. I soooo want that book - what a great hubby coming up with such a perfect gift. Your recipe has transported me back to my Greek holiday, and yes the water really is that clear!!
    Sue xo

  13. Great recipe to welcome Tessa! I can't wait to try it. Look delish!


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