There’s more to great food than just a recipe.
Where does a recipe come from? At first blush, it seems like a simple question to answer. You have a basic idea of what you would like to make. You add some things to it and take some things away. You experiment with cooking times and techniques and before you know it, Voila! A dish is born.
Do you think that’s how your mother did it? Or, how about your great grandmother? I’m going to go out on a limb and say probably not. I’m not suggesting that there wasn’t some creating back then. But, I think there was a lot of passing too. Passing family recipes from one hand to the next. Hoping to preserve a legacy of great food and important family food traditions.
There’s a lot of history in all ethnic foods. None more so than Greek cuisine. The Greek culture is proud of their dishes. They are woven into the very fabric of their lives. For those of us who don’t share that heritage, it’s hard to pass up an opportunity to have an insider’s view. And, three sisters, originally from Toronto Canada are offering you a great look.
Their cookbook, Three Sisters Around The Greek Table is a tribute to the recipes of their past (and their future). These are classic Greek dishes that have more than stood the test of time. They hold a special meaning for Betty, Eleni and Samantha. For the rest of us the history might not be there, but, the amazing flavors sure are.
These dishes are presented in a simple and straightforward manner. There isn’t anything tricky about any of them. It’s more about a passion for sharing a piece of their culinary roots than anything else. That’s a good thing.
I wanted to make something that would really exemplify the rustic nature of traditional Mediterranean fare. The Grilled Whole Red Snapper would be a perfect choice.
Understand, I fully intended to make this recipe using the above-mentioned red snapper. But, something unexpected happened when I was shopping for my ingredients.
One word, Branzini. I like red snapper, but, I love branzini. Whole branzini right there in my local fish counter. And, to make things even better, the sign below the fish read “Fresh From Greece”. There couldn’t be a better choice. I was living right.
The recipe is super easy. Have your fishmonger scale and gut your fish. Stuff it with some fresh oregano and lemon slices.
Heat your grill. Rub your fish with olive oil. Salt and pepper generously. Grill 6 to 8 minutes per side. I cut a couple of small slits in the skin on each side of the fish to help distribute the heat while it’s cooking.
It’s just that easy. That skin was really crispy and delicious too.
The recipe calls for a Lemon, Oregano & Olive Oil Dressing to drizzle over the top.
You didn’t think I forgot a side dish did you? No way. The Horiatiki Salata (Tomato & Cucumber Village Salad) made an excellent partner for the fish.
3 tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
½ sweet onion, chopped
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
½ tsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. salt
In a large bowl, toss all of the ingredients together. Mix well. Add a little fresh feta to the top of each salad when serving.
I have a friend of mine who is from Greece. He’s from an older generation than I am (is that OK to say?). When I told him that I was going to make a Horiatiki Salata, his eyes lit up! He was happy to inform me that each small village or town in this native Greece, has their own unique variation on this classic dish. You could just see him effortlessly drift back in time. Amazing what food can do!
Here’s how it all came together. The fish was light and flaky.
The Bottom Line: If you’re in the market for a cookbook that really captures the essence of traditional Greek cuisine then look no further. Around The Greek Table will make you feel like you have special access to the Bakopoulos sisters family recipe box.