Books ó The Olive And The Caper

Much more than filo

Discovering the rest of Greek cuisine

By Amy Diaz 

The Olive and the Caper, Adventures in Greek Cooking, by Susanna Hoffman, Workman Publishing, 2004.

I admit itóIím scared of filo dough.

I understand on an intellectual level that, even if it comes frozen, itís not all that tough to work with and usually less-than-careful handling of the dough can be conceal by the recipe.

But still, itís just soÖbreaky.

The Olive and the Caper wants me to get over my fear and it offers two solutionsórepetition (the book offers at least 20 filo-containing recipes) and motivation. The last is in the form of a luscious glossy photo of a triple-crusted filo pie with leeks, potatoes and olives. With results that promising, this filophobia is just something Iím going to have to overcome.

Of course, as delicious as spanakopeta and baklava are, these are far from the only examples of Greek cooking. This book contains a wealth of light, fresh, almost tropical dishes, steeped in the Mediterranean traditions of olives, figs, almonds, lemons and, as the title suggests, capers. The book offers an impressive variety of seafood recipes, ones that cook the whole fish in a way that brings out and shows off its flavors. Lemon, mint and garlic in these recipes promise a fresh clean taste.

Other favorite feature of The Olive and the Caper is the attention paid to small plates, called meze. A great way to test out new flavors, these dishes offer up an excellent way to introduce yourself and your family to real Greek cuisine.

One exampleóthe marinated shrimp Cretan-style

 1 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped or whole

3/4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 pound medium to large raw shrimp, shells on, deveined and rinsed

2 tomatoes, each cut into 6 wedges

18 Kalamata, Amfissa, cracked green or other good olices

1/3 cup salty lemon dip ( 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice; 1/4 cup olive oil; 1/2 teaspoon salt; 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano; 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper; 2 teaspoons chopped capers)

Place the wine, oil, garlic, parsley oregano and lemon juice in a nonreactive skillet or saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the shrimp, reduce the heat and simmer, stirring, until the shrimp begin to turn pink, 1 1/2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the shrimp and cooking liquid to a bowl and refridgerate, covered, until well chilled up to several hours.

When ready to serve, drain the shrimp. Dived them among individual plates, placing them tail up. Arrange the tomato wedges and olives around the shrimp. Drizzle the lemon dip over all and serve right away.

- Amy Diaz

2004 HippoPress LLC | Manchester, NH