New cookbook, A Taste of Greece, brings together top chefs who share their favorite recipes, AND their love for Greece. Proceeds benefit Boroume.
The opening lines of the press release stated, ‘This could easily be called “For the Love of Greece.’ That’s for sure! A Taste of Greece: Recipes Cuisine and Culture is like a love letter to Greece. The project is a collaboration with HRH Princess Tatiana and Diana Farr-Louis, to support the NGO Boroume.
Greek for “we can”, Boroume’s mission is to reduce food waste and fight malnutrition in Greece. The non-for-profit organization, founded in 2011, is the only such group that is dedicated to this cause. Through programs at schools, in neighborhoods, and more, Boroume connects food donors and receivers all over the country. Their motto is, “Saving Lives While Saving Food.”
Boroume’s founder, Xenia Papastavrou, explained how it works.
“We acquire food from donors of all kinds and offer it to charitable organizations all over the country.”
To date, Boroume has saved and offered more than 15,000 food portions every day, whether from individuals, corporations, special events, restaurants, farmer’s markets, and more.
A native New Yorker and Cordon Bleu Chef, Diana Farr Louis went to Greece for the first time in 1963.
“I think I must have been born Greek in another life. From the moment I set foot on Greek soil in July 1963, I felt at ease and at home.”
She married a Greek man and they spent many summers on the island of Spetses. She loved Greece so much, that when they split, she took a leap of faith, and moved with her young son to Greece.
She quickly became enamored of all things Greek, including the cuisine. She has traveled all over Greece, which led her to guidebook and travel writing. Diana said that since food is key in understanding a place and its people, she became a book and cookbook writer as well.
In 2012, with Greece in its second year of crisis, she took to writing for the Huffington Post, to show the good and positive aspects of what was happening. In the course of this work, she met Xenia.
“When I interviewed her, I was instantly attracted to Xenia’s clear energy, modesty, and drive to help. A year later, I met with her for a follow up, the team shared their successes. Their enthusiasm was contagious. We stayed in touch.”
Fast forward to May 2015. Xenia shared her vision for A Taste of Greece with Diana: a cookbook that was a collection of favorite recipes by well-known personalities, either Greeks living abroad or “passionate phiHellenes. All the profits would benefit Bouroume’s sister organization, Friends of Boroume, based in the U.S., then back to Greece to provide more meals. Princess Tatiana, who had signed onto coordinate the project, had already secured a publisher. Xenia asked if Diana would be the editor. Diana was “flattered and thrilled,” and quickly went to work
HRH Princess Tatiana
HRH Princess Tatiana of Greece and Denmark, and her husband Prince Nikolaos moved to Greece in 2013. Shortly thereafter, she heard about Boroume, and their efforts to help those in need. HRH looked for ways that she could get involved, and help those in need. She wished to show her love for Greece and show her support for Greeks in need. She brought people together to create a A Taste of Greece.
“Coordinating this project has been a heartwarming journey that has allowed me not only to connect with a passionate Greek community, but also to bring together people from around the world who share my own love for Greece, its cuisine, its culture.”
We all know that food to the Greeks is more than nourishment — food brings people together. Mealtimes are events in themselves. It not only nourishes bodies, but also relationships, and memories. This is evident by the length of a meal in Greece. Like the beautiful countryside, food is to be enjoyed slowly, fully, and completely.
The book brings together some very notable Greek-Americans, like 20th Century Fox CEO Jim Gianopulos, Actresses Olympia Dukakis and Rita Wilson, Sportscaster Bob Costas and Hockey Hall of Famer Chris Chelios. Well-known chefs like our friends Diane Kochilas and Peter Minaki are included. There are entries from fashion designers, like Diane Von Furstenberg and Mary Katrantzou. Recipes were contributed by 38 individuals — too many to name here, but with a few surprises like Nobu Matsushisa, who genuinely love Greece. You can feel their love through their words, as they each answer the questions: ‘What is your favorite Greek food?’; ‘In a few words, what does Greece mean to you?’; and ‘What is your fondest memory of Greece?’
Diane Von Furstenberg wrote:
“Greece to me is the crib of civilization. The most extraordinary place on earth.”
From family recipes passed down, to twists on classics, and other Greek-inspired dishes, A Taste of Greece is essentially 206 pages of love letters to Greece.
The cover boasts the ubiquitous blue and white, in simple paint strokes. It’s not the flag, but upon seeing it, you instantly think of it. It’s filled with delicious recipes, and beautiful photographs of Greece, as well as some of the dishes included. Find everything from Scrambled Eggs with Tomatoes, to soup, to fish and chicken, there’s something for everyone. Don’t miss Greek-inspired creations like Baklava Blitzer, and the Greek Salad Gazpacho.
We tried the Mushroom Stifado from Laurie Constantino, a food writer who also teaches cooking and foraging. She and her Greek-American husband split time between Alaska and Limnos. This was a delicious, hearty stew bursting with flavor. Laurie offered some great tips on how to cook the mushrooms so they brown and not steam. Make sure you leave plenty of time to clean and chop the mushrooms. Do it in advance if you can, to save active time. Here’s the recipe.
Mushroom Stifado – Μανιτάρια στιφάδο - Manitaria stifado
By: Laurie Constantino
Reprinted with permission – © A Taste of Greece – Recipes, Cuisine & Culture by HRH Princess Tatiana & Diana Farr Louis
Nature’s seasons and religious fasting periods profoundly influence what Greek island villagers eat. Many are farmers, relying for sustenance on the fruits—and vegetables—of their labors. Most supplement their diets with wild greens and snails, mushrooms and sea urchins, rabbits and octopus. One year, the confluence of perfect rains and warm temperatures brought forth an unexpected bounty of wild mushrooms, gathered from a Limnian mountain pasture, just in time for the first day of Great Lent. After vetting their edibility with a knowledgeable aunt (the primary rule of mushroom foraging is “when in doubt, throw it out”), I made vegan, Lenten-friendly mushroom stew, modeled after stifado, a classic Greek dish.
Mushroom stifado tastes best when made with wild mushrooms; my second choice is a mixture of cultivated cremini, oyster, and shiitake mushrooms. However, even when made with a single type of mushroom, this savory stew is a treat. Sautéing mushrooms in small batches is the key to releasing their full flavor; if you cook too many at one time, they’ll release all their liquid and steam rather than brown. Because each vegetable is salted separately (salt helps them cook more evenly), be careful about how much salt you add at any one time or the finished dish may be too salty. Serve as an appetizer, over pasta tossed with garlic and olive oil, or on its own with roasted potatoes and a crisp green salad. Leftovers, chopped and mixed with stock, make a flavorful soup.
(Serves 4 to 6)
2–8 tbsp/30–120 ml olive oil (may substitute any vegetable oil)
1 lb/455 g pearl onions, peeled, or 14 oz/400 g frozen pearl onions, thawed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1½ lb/680 g mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, and cut in 1-in/2.5-cm chunks
2 cups coarsely chopped onions
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp Aleppo pepper or ½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup/240 ml red wine
1 (15-oz/430-g) can chopped tomatoes or 2 cups fresh, with juices
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
2 tsp sugar
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet, add the pearl onions, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the onions are well browned on all sides and cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the browned onions to a small bowl and set aside.
- Add one-third of the mushrooms to the empty pan, season with salt and pepper, and cook over medium-high heat until they’re well browned on all sides. If the pan is too dry for the mushrooms to brown properly, add 1 to 2 tablespoons oil. Though you want the mushrooms to caramelize, be careful they don’t burn; turn down the heat if necessary.
- Transfer the mushrooms to a separate bowl and repeat with the remaining oil (as needed) and mushrooms, in two batches.
- Add the chopped onions to the pan, season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook until they soften and begin to turn golden, adding olive oil if necessary. As the onions cook, scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Stir in the garlic and Aleppo pepper (if using) and cook for 1 minute.
- Stir in the wine and cook until it’s reduced by half.
- Stir in the tomatoes, vinegar, rosemary, and sugar.
- Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Stir in the mushrooms and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Stir in the pearl onions and simmer for 5 minutes.
This one belongs in your collection. You get an excellent book, and help a good cause.
A Taste of Greece: Recipes, Cuisine & Culture will be available on July 15.