Flavours of Greece by Rosemary Barron – review

cookbook review Flavours of Greece Greek cookbooks are surprisingly thin on the ground. I am glad to see that Grub Street has noticed the void and has chosen to fill it with this particular volume, Flavours of Greece. Both the recipes and the photography will remind you of balmy Aegean evenings sitting under vine-draped pergolas eating fresh produce laced with aromatic herbs and spices. The romance of a setting sun and Nana Mouskouri playing in the background. Yes, the ambiance was heady and the food delicious and not too difficult to replicate at home. Greek food is simple, relying on fresh meat, fish and vegetables. Add olives and feta and filo pastry and you have the staples of Greek cuisine.

Flavours of Greece is a comprehensive lexicon of the Greek kitchen. The author, Rosemary Barron, is an expert with decades of experience. She had a cooking school which was described by Vogue Magazine in the 1980s as “one of the best cooking schools in Europe”. Her recent cookery courses in Santorini have been described by Condé Nast Traveller as “one of the top 10” in Europe.

Rosemary is evidently an expert but she doesn’t expect you to be. Her recipes are well written and none of the cooking methods will be over-taxing, even for the novice. There are plenty of dishes that don’t require cooking of any description. There are pages of vibrant salads which just need deft arrangement. A selection of these would make a stunning summer lunch along with some Greek cheese and some grilled marinated meat – the very essence of summer al fresco dining.

But that hot weather (did we have any in August?) will give way to cooler autumn days when we crave hearty fare with robust taste. Yes, Greece has dishes that fit the bill. They have winter there as well. Sofrito (Piquant Garlic Beef) is a classic dish in both Greece and Greek restaurants worldwide. It has bold flavour and a rich texture. Served with a Greek rice dish, green salad and perhaps some crusty bread, this casserole is easy to prepare and truly authentic. An ideal dish for a winter dinner party. All the work is done in advance. The house will be filled with a tantalising aroma as the meat slowly cooks for three hours. Don’t panic: you are not expected to watch the food for the duration. Its preparation time is a matter of minutes so it’s ‘fast’ slow cooking.

Greeks love desserts and Galakoboureko (Filo Custard Pie) is a popular end to a meal or even to help down a cup of thick Greek coffee. It isn’t difficult to make. The pastry is ready-made, the syrup takes just a few minutes, and the custard filling will cause you no problems. Only skill needed is the ability to stir. None of the ingredients are expensive and the pie offered here will feed 12 to 15 people. It’s made in stages so another ‘make ahead and assemble at the last moment’ recipe.

Arni Kanellas – Cinnamon Lamb with Aubergines – is a striking and unusual dish but easy to prepare and moreish. The addition of cinnamon to lamb dishes is common throughout the southern Mediterranean but this particular recipe also has vinegar to give a tangy bite, and a scattering of capers to introduce a very distinct savour. Make this a day ahead to allow the full flavour to develop.

Flavours of Greece offers every popular Greek recipe and many authentic dishes that are less well known. It’s rustic cooking for the most part but the finished results are tempting. You’ll be able to present truly Greek meals for every season and every occasion. A delightful and informative book introducing a cuisine which should be more celebrated beyond its homeland.

Flavours of Greece
Author: Rosemary Barron
Published by Grub Street
Price: £18.99
ISBN 978-1-906502-60-7


Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018