Posted July 9, 2013 01:34 pm - Updated July 10, 2013 10:51 am
It’s easy to attach yourself to any one of Tessa Kiros’ cookbooks. They are created from Kiros’ heart and life experiences as the daughter of a Finnish mother and a Greek-Cypriot father and as a woman who grew up in South Africa and cooked in London, Australia, Greece and Mexico. Kiros’ bio will tell you that she met her husband, Giovanni, on a trip to Italy to study language and food and that she and Giovanni live in Tuscany with their two daughters. However, what you will glean from her cookbooks is that Kiros is a romantic, witty and deeply passionate person who is in love with her family, her craft and the places she has lived – both past and present. Kiros’ newest cookbook, “Recipes and Dreams from an Italian Life” is focused on the cuisine of old Italy and dedicated “to all of the wonderful matriarchs I have been lucky to meet.” The book’s introduction, in fact, lavishly heaps praise upon Kiros’ mother-in-law, Wilma, whom Kiros credits, along with many other women who “roam freely about,” for the inspiration behind her book’s brilliant collage of recipes, stories and photographs by Manos Chatzikonstantis. You will particularly enjoy the way Kiros provides directions for her recipes. “When they’re cool enough to handle, slip off the skins—they should come away like silk dresses,” is the way Kiros describes the removal of peach skins for her “Lemon Verbena Peaches & Cream” recipe. And, for Kiros’ recipe for Fish with Escarole, Olives & Capers,” Kiros writes, “Try to get a compact escarole that looks like it has been to a neat hairdresser, rather than a wild one.” Kiros’ cookbooks are like poetry to me – an art form lush with intensity, emotion and dreams. For purchase information, visit the Andrews McMeel Publishers website at www.andrewsmmeel.com, retailers where books are sold, or on-line sources such as amazon.com.
Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at email@example.com.
Lemon Verbena Peaches & Cream
Recipe courtesy "Recipes and Dreams from an Italian Life, by Tessa Kiros, Andrews McMeal Publishing LLC (www.andrewsmcmeel.com); photography by Manos Chatzikonstantis, styling by Michail Touros, art direction by Lisa Greenberg.
Here, I have poached peaches in a lemon verbena infusion. The peaches I love are white with tinges of red in their skin and through their flesh. This gives a beautiful color to the syrup. If you can’t get these peaches, add a couple of raspberries to the poaching liquid.
¼ cup sugar
1 generous tablespoon honey
4 white peaches (with red streaks, about 1¼ pounds total)
5 generous sprigs (4 inches or so each) fresh lemon verbena, plus extra, to serve, if you like
¾ cup heavy whipping cream
5½ ounces mascarpone
2 teaspoons confectioners’ sugar
A few drops of vanilla extract
Put the sugar, 2 cups of water and the honey in a pot just big enough to take the peaches side by side. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and add the whole peaches. If necessary, top up the water level to just cover the peaches (but not so much that the syrup will be diluted). Tuck in the lemon verbena. Tear off a square of waxed paper larger than the diameter of your pot and press it down onto the tops of the peaches. Simmer gently (rapid boiling may cause the fruit to break up) until poached but still firm and holding their shape well, about 8 minutes. Transfer the peaches to a flat bowl to cool for a bit. When they’re cool enough to handle, slip off the skins—they should come away like silk dresses. If not, return them to their bath to simmer a while longer. Leave the syrup in the pot to cool.
Fish with Escarole, Olives & Capers
Recipe courtesy "Recipes and Dreams from an Italian Life," by Tessa Kiros, Andrews McMeel Publishing LLC (www.andrewsmcmeel.com); photography by Manos Chatzikonistantis, styling by Michail Touros, art direction by Lisa Greenberg.
1 whole escarole (curly endive, about 1¼ pounds)
6 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra, for serving
2 medium cloves garlic, peeled and squashed with the flat of a knife
3 anchovy fillets, drained
2 tablespoons small capers in vinegar, drained
About 12 black olives (taggiasche are good)
About 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 firm white fish fillets (about 6 ounces each)
4 sage leaves
About 1½ tablespoon chopped parsley
¼ cup white wine
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Rinse the escarole and trim away the bottom. Divide in half lengthwise and then in half crosswise, so you have nice thick chunks. Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet with one clove of garlic and the anchovies, mashing these in with a wooden spoon until they break up and melt into the oil. Add the escarole and cook until wilted, turning it with a pair of tongs so it picks up the flavors in the pan. Add the capers and olives, and season with pepper and a little salt (remember you have anchovies in the sauce). Cook, stirring, on a good heat until much of the water from the escarole has evaporated and you have a thick, chunky heap in the pan, not soggy. Taste for seasoning, transfer to a dish, and keep warm. Wipe out the pan with paper towels, then heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Pat a little flour over both sides of the fish, shaking off the excess. Panfry the fish until golden underneath. Turn them over using tongs, add the sage and remaining garlic and panfry until the fish is golden underneath once more. Season with salt and pepper and add the wine to the pan. Cook until the wine has mostly evaporated, then scatter the parsley on top. Serve on a heap of escarole, drizzled with a little extra olive oil and seasoned with lots of black pepper.