Last week I was given an advance copy of New York Chef Michael Psilakis’ first cookbook, “How to Roast a Lamb”. It turns out my copy wasn’t so advanced. Yesterday, I popped into Toronto’s “World’s Largest Book Store” and there it was!
For those not familiar with Michael Psilakis, here’s a recap:
Michael has also appeared on Iron Chef America and this past March he cooked for the Obama family at the White House on the occasion of Greek Independence Day.
In just a few hours, I will be heading down to Toronto’s Greektown (the Danforth) for our other parade, OXI day where Greeks stood up and said, “NO” to the fascist invasion of Greece in the period of WWII.
How to Roast a Lamb is different from other cookbooks as it includes chapter by chapter narratives from the chef himself. You get a sense of what it is to grow up Greek. Our customs, our way of living, our rituals, our celebrations. In each instance, food and drink are a big part of our lives.
The book will satisfy those looking for recipes as well. There are mezedes (appetizers), soups, sides and salads, fish & shellfish, beef, pork & poultry, lamb & goat, dairy & pasta and finally game.
One glaring omission is desserts. I would have liked to have seen some of his dessert creations. I predict another cookbook devoted to Greek desserts.
If you’re already familiar with Greek cuisine, this book will make for a wonderful edition to your Greek cookbook collection. Michael puts his spin on many of the Greek classics (like this pork sofrito) but never does he stray from the flavours we as Greeks grew up with.
Case in point is his Pork Sofrito With Spicy Pepper & Cabbage. Sofrito is a dish with it’s origins from the island of Corfu and it’s traditionally made with escalopes of beef or veal.
The ingredient list might read like it’s alot and your should have your ingredients on the “ready, set, go” (mise en place) for this dish. It’s quick, worth the effort and flavours just pop in your mouth.
From looking at these pics, it’s not a hard-sell that the dish also dances on the plate. Head over to your favourite bookstore and pick-up How to Roast a Lamb. You’ll get a better grasp of what it is to be Greek and in the end, eat a little more like a Greek.
Pork Sofrito With Spicy Peppers & Cabbage
(recipe adapted from Michael Psilakis)
For the side salad
1/4 cup of cracked, green olives (Tsakistes), pitted and chopped
1 cup of savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
1 cup of thinly sliced fennel bulb
1/4 of a red onion, thinly sliced
1 orange, peeled and cut into segments (no pith)
1 Tbsp. of roughly chopped parsley
2 Tbsp. of dill
1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. of lemon juice (or red wine vinegar)
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
2- 1/2 inch slices of pork loin, cut into 1/2 rounds
2 Tbsp. of olive oil
2 Tbsp. of chopped shallot (or red onion)
1 Tbsp. of capers (drained)
1 pepperoncini (pickled hot yellow pepper), sliced
1/2 cup of white wine
1 Tbsp. of fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbsp. of roasted garlic puree (or finely minced garlic)
1 Tbsp. of chopped fresh dill
capers for garnish
- In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients for the salad and toss with the olive oil and lemon juice (or vinegar). Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Pound each slice of pork between two sheets of plastic wrap until the meat is about 1/4 inch thick. Season both sides of the meat with salt and pepper and dredge in all-purpose flour.
- Place a large skillet on your stove-top over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. When hot, the the pork and and saute for a minute or so on each side or until a light brown. Transfer to a plate and reserve.
- Reduce the meat to medium and in the same skillet, add the wine and and lemon juice and reduce the liquid by two thirds. Add the garlic and stir into the sauce. Add the remaining dill and taste and adjust seasoning.
- Add the pork cutlets back into the skillet and gently swirl the pan with the sauce to coat the meat and to heat the meat.
- Transfer to a platter along with the juices and serve with the fennel and cabbage salad.
- Serve with a Vatistas Malagousia white, perfect for fish or white meat, like this briny pork sofrito.
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