Saturday, November 21, 2009




A rising star in the food world, Michael Psilakis is co-owner of a growing empire of modern Mediterranean restaurants, and one of the most exciting young chefs in America today. In How to Roast a Lamb, the self-taught chef offers recipes from his restaurants and his home in this, his much-anticipated first cookbook.

Ten chapters provide colorful and heartfelt personal essays that lead into thematically related recipes. Gorgeous color photography accompanies many of the recipes throughout.

Psilakis's cooking utilizes the fresh, naturally healthful ingredients of the Mediterranean augmented by techniques that define New American cuisine. Home cooks who have gravitated
toward Italian cookbooks for the simple, user-friendly dishes, satisfying flavors, and comfortable, family-oriented meals, will welcome Psilakis's approach to Greek food, which is similarly healthful, affordable, and satisfying to share any night of the week.


Chef Michael Psilakis has been lauded for both his traditional and reinterpreted Greek menus and is responsible for putting Modern Greek cuisine on the culinary map. During the short time he has been part of the culinary world, he has accrued many of the food world's highest honors and opened two successful restaurants in New York City: Anthos and Gus and Gabriel Gastropub. Last year, he was awarded Food & Wine's Best New Chef distinction; was named "Chef of the Year" by Bon Appetit; was nominated for A-List Chef by Bravo TV; and had his upscale Greek restaurant, Anthos , nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award in the category of Best New Restaurant. He frequently appears on The Food Network and last year he was deemed "Chef of the Year" by Esquire Magazine and Anthos was awarded a Michelin star and named the third of ten best new restaurants by The New York Times restaurant reviewer, Frank Bruni. Michael's first cookbook, How to Roast a Lamb (Little, Brown) is filled with heartfelt stories from his childhood and of his growth as a chef. This personal introduction to this vibrant way of cooking is now available in book stores.


As a woman of Greek heritage this book was like going home. I could smell my mother's leg of lamb cooking with just the right amount of lemon and oregano on Easter morning, surrounded with potatoes that would get that great crisp topping to them as they lay in the lamb juices. We have dyed our eggs red and been to midnight mass and woke late after coming home and cutting the traditional Easter bread that is more like cake to me than any bread you eat.

This is how I felt reading this marvelous cookbook but you don't need to be Greek to love this. The book tells a story through food and words and pictures. It tells of what it was like for Michael to live in Greece and experience his father's garden. How they ate their meals, sumptuous meals, family style. Psilakis takes us through his first recipes all the way up to his journey to the new land, and his home in America. He writes of stocking his pantry with everything a good chef, a good Greek chef, or a Greek mother would have. The recipes are wonderful and true to my memories and my cooking. I still make my mother's and grandmother's (Yiayia's) recipes. And they do indeed have directions and measurements such as a "teacup" of butter, or a "saucer" of sugar, or "stir until the flour smell leaves". Oh, you don't have those measurements and directions in your cookbook? Ah, have you missed out. But I also knew enough to write what my mother did and measure things before they left the saucer or teacup so I too could pass down the recipes to my son, and soon to my grandson! This cookbook will show you some simple ways to cook some marvelous ethnic food although I am not sure you will always feel it is ethnic.
And, no, it is not just about lamb...but if you have never made a leg of lamb, I will at least tell you my mother's secret. So many people would say, "I don't like lamb, it has that smell". I remember growing up and meeting people who had never eaten lamb?!?! All you do is ask the butcher to remove the tiny gland sack (hey, don't get technical, that's what my mom called it!) from the leg as that is what gives it the smell...and don't forget the slits for cloves of garlic. But I digress as this is not MY cookbook and recipes but rather HOW TO ROAST A LAMB by Michael Psilakis and the foreword by Barbara Kafka. Trust me...even if you don't cook one thing, like many cookbooks we see now on shelves, this could be on your coffee table and you can spend hours reading the story that Michael tells as food is not just to eat but to experience..hey, I'm Greek, what can I say?!

Oh, that I had several or
EVEN one of these to give away!
However, if you have read and enjoyed this,
at least you will find a bonus coming up for you,
my faithful followers.
A chance at another kind of cookbook and one
I know you will enjoy...OK, it won't tell you how
to cook lamb, but if you want to do that,
go buy this book here...

...meanwhile, wait for the COOKBOOK Treat
Giveaway coming up next!



rhapsodyinbooks said...

Wow, never knew that about the gland sack! Interesting!

bermudaonion said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it - the title just intimidates a "plain ol' cook" like me.

g.g. said...

Yum! And what a nice review. I enjoyed reading it.

anjamie4 AT gmail dot com

Charleydog said...

"I remember growing up and meeting people who had never eaten lamb?!?!"
That's me! I detest lamb because it is a baby animal.

pboylecharley AT hotmail DOT com

Bingo said...

Charleydog, I'm surprised to hear your reaction. I understand some people don't eat meat or certain kinds of meat. However, my review included that comment of "I remember growing up and meeting people who had never eaten lamb?!?!" came from a childhood memory. Since lamb and lamb chops were not expensive back then, and we were just thankful my parents could have food on the table during some really hard times. My response that you quoted was of an innocent child who couldn't imagine there were people who didn't eat lamb when it was such a staple in our diet. They didn't eat it because they didn't like the smell or had nothing to do with the "baby lamb" comment you made. My point, which you missed, was people didn't eat it because they didn't know how to prepare it properly. This is a cookbook review, not a politically correct statement on meat eaters vs. vegetarians...or whatever. If it were, I could understand your comment which you will note I put up when I could have left it out when I moderated but I happen to think that people have a right to their opinion and certainly to a review on their own blog.