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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 July 2008
Vefa Alexiadou is without a doubt the Martha Stewart of Greece. Her 40 year long experience in professional cuisine has nevertheless none of the snobbery of hard-to-achieve-perfection of chefs with similar resumé. Hers is a guidance, unintimidating, clear, mainly due to her choice of fresh, non-fabricated ingredients. I own 8 cookbooks written by her. Every receipe I used, be that an appetizer, a main dish or a pastry, all came out perfect, nothing burned, nothing was wasted and there were no complicated ingredients that would've usualy make you rune from supermarkets to overpriced "gourmand boutiques".

Her "Festive Cuisine" offers menues fit for every taste/preference. You'll find variations of light/heavy in every menu. Traditionally Greek at roots, the recipes are complete with practical advice on presentation; from mini foil-made Christmas trees covered with appetizers, suitable for a hearthy family meal and sweet and salty appetizers, lined like soldiers, served in classic cocktail trays.

My all-time favourites from this book are the oven-baked pork (my apologies to vegetarians) and her signature Vasilopita (the New Year's Eve cake, the one where you hide the lucky coin). Just to give you some hints, the former is marinated with spices two days ahead of cooking, the placed in a tray and covered in pinapple and grapefruit juices, the surface is cut in diamond shapes, each decorated with a garifalo (for the heavenly aroma), then it's baked for four hours, starting from 180 degrees, eventually increased to 250 degrees. It's the ultimate centerpiece that won't make you cover your culinary inhibitions with a floral bouquet that prevents your guests from eye-to-eye (and thus heart-to-heart) communication.

Her vasilopita?...Mmm...let's just say, there's Greek yogurt (for this you may run to a "gourmand boutique", depending what country you're living in), cognac, egg whites, self-raising flour. For the past two years, I've been adding a little (well, 100gr) of grinded wallnuts to it and it's truely heavenly. Tried and tested, this book will never grow dust, awaiting spring cleaning in your kitchen. Read, cook, eat, enjoy and never feel bad for indulging. For those of you who happen to be travelling to Greece, ask for signature Vefa Alexiadou store in downtown Athens and browse through the culinary items she has authored; from measuring cups to patisserie forms suitable for baking wedding cakes.
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