Travels with Tessa Kiros

If like me you’ve coveted Tessa Kiros’ cookbooks for some time but have never bought one, for whatever reason – a moratorium on new cookbooks compounded by lack of shelf space, in my case – then this talented lady is one step ahead of you.

Kiros’ latest work, The Recipe Collection, is a celebration of her published works to date, including the poetically titled Falling Cloudberries, Apples for Jam, and Piri Piri Starfish.

This pretty, pink, floral hardback dips into myriad cuisines, including Italian, Greek, Portuguese and South African, from countries in which Kiros, of Finnish and Greek Cypriot heritage, has either traveled or lived.

It’s a lovely journey to be swept along on: so far i’ve traveled to Venice (spaghetti with tomato and scampi), South Africa (prawns with lemon, piri piri, garlic and feta), Portugal (roasted octopus in red wine with potatoes) and Finland (fish pie) – pretty much losing myself in the seafood chapter, as you can see.

It’s a chapter worth getting lost in. Anchovies, sardines, herrings, red mullet, clams and squid are all on the menu – chargrilled, cerviched, deep fried, pan fried, dusted in polenta, served escabeche, and cooked in beer – I kid you not.

Prawns in Beer are left in their shells, butterflied, lightly fried, doused with butter, garlic, paprika, piri piri, black pepper and, finally, beer which bubbles and thickens and is mopped up with torn crusty bread as you suck prawn meat from shells.

The book is heavily weighted towards seafood and vegetables, with chapters such as ‘Pasta, Gnocci and Rice’, ‘Soups’ and ‘Salads’ rarely straying into meat territory. In late summer these light, healthy meals were more appealing. But now, as Sydney dabbles in winter, I’ll take a kitchen-Kiros sojourn to Greece with her a leg of lamb that is rubbed with lemon juice, seasoned, dotted with butter, sprinkled with oregano, drizzled with olive oil, surrounded by potatoes and baked for 2½ hours.

“My mother says you could cook it overnight: I never have, but I believe her,” Kiros says.

I’ll serve it with her side dish of roasted zucchini and tomatoes with thyme and a bowl of her garlicy tzatziki.

I’ve yet to stray into Kiros’ dessert territory fearing i’ll get lost there, too.

There’s honey cake daubed in lemon icing and scattered with tiny purple flowers from a lavender bush, carrot cake with a shock of cream cheese frosting, and translucent-pink squares of rose loukoumia – or Turkish delight.

But it’s good to get lost occasionally, right?

Post Author: Enoch T. Semon

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