on-line contest

What's New

Most Popular


Jim Botsacos has been chef at New York's acclaimed Greek restaurant, Molyvos, since it opened in 1997. His cookbook, The New Greek Cuisine, published by Broadway Books, a division of Random House Inc., (ISBN 0-7679-1875-4) boasts 150 mouth-watering recipes.

Recipes feature fresh ingredients and intense flavors characteristic of meals from Lesvos Island, where Molyvos owner, John Livanos, grew up. Chef Botsacos traveled with the Livanos family to Greece to collect the recipes and adapt them for discerning cosmopolitan diners.

The cookbook begins with a helpful glossary of Greek ingredients, like horta (wild greens) and tarama (cured carp roe). Informative overviews of Greek wines, olives and cheeses follow.

The chapter on Mezedes (small plates) details appetite-stimulating recipes for Melitzanosalata (Grilled Eggplant Salad with Tomato, Vinegar and Parsley), White Bean Hummus and Keftedes (Greek meatballs) in Red Sauce.

A section on Pites (pies) features finger foods that make irresistible snacks, appetizers and light meals, when served with salads. Recipes include Spanakopita (Spinach, Leeks and Feta, Wrapped in Crispy Phyllo), Leek and Cheese Pie and Spicy Lamb Pie.

Appetizers include Cheese Saganaki, flamed with ouzo and Grilled Lamb Pizza with Mint Pesto. Soup and salad recipes are equally tasty: Vegetarian Lentil Soup, Kakavia (Greek-Style Bouillabaisse) and Octopus Salad with Grilled Peppers, Tomatoes and Baby Greens.

Among the seafood main dishes are Grilled Whole Fish and Crispy Cod with Marinated Beets and Skordalia (potato, garlic and almond dip). Meat and poultry recipes span the spectrum from Lamb Youvetsi to Rabbit Stifado (stew) and Cabbage Dolmades, filled with ground lamb and beef.

Side dishes are not forgotten, with delicious recipes for Makaronia (pasta) with Walnut Pesto, Briam (Mediterranean vegetables and beans) and Vegetable Moussaka.

Sweets are served on holidays, saint's days and festive occasions. Recipes include decadent Baklava, Bougatsa (sweetened semolina custard baked in phyllo) and Mastic Ice Cream, made with crystallized sap from mastic trees.

Spoon sweets, or jams, are served with cookies or as toppings for Greek yogurt. The New Greek Cuisine Cookbook has recipes for spoon sweets made with lemons, sour cherries and quince.

Final sections on stocks and broths and US sources for Greek products, spices and cheeses, complete the book. All chapters include personal comments about recipes and ingredients. Our only complaint is a wish for more of the full-page lip-smacking color photos.

The recipes and commentaries left us longing to visit Molyvos and Greece and itching to try the recipes in the meantime. Why were we so smitten with The New Greek Cuisine Cookbook? It brought back memories of our honeymoon in Greece, when we walked through a small village, looking for yogurt. Word spread. Before we knew it, local cooks and bakers invited us into their kitchens to watch them prepare everything from moussaka to baklava. The day ended at the local butcher's farm, where we enjoyed a barbecue with all our new friends.

We learned an important lesson that Jim Botsacos and Judith Choate convey in The New Greek Cuisine Cookbook: Warm hospitality and conversation are as much a part of Greek cuisine as the fresh ingredients, fruity wines and traditional recipes.