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Souvlaki from Debbie Matenopoulos' "It's All Greek to Me" {#sponsor Book Review & Giveaway}

When BenBella Books invited me to join the book tour for It's All Greek to Me -- Transform Your Health the Mediterranean Way with my Family's Century-Old Recipes from Debbie Matenopoulos, I was excited. First, I love Greek food. Second, though I have reviewed many cookbooks, a virtual book tour is new to me. Many thanks to Rook No. 17 for sending them my way. What fun this is!

photo courtesy BenBella Books

We all love Greek food. And when I write that, I mean that when our local Greek Festival runs for three days over Labor Day weekend each year, we typically find an excuse to eat there on all three days. All. Three. Days. Here are a few photos from previous years' events.

In Debbie's warm and authentic style, she weaves incredible family recipes, anecdotal storytelling, and stunning photography that will transport the reader to the Greek family table, and delight their taste buds with the flavorful, heart-healthy delicacies of the Mediterranean.  At the end of this post, you'll have the opportunity to enter to win a copy of It's All Greek to Me of your own.

Here are some of the recipes that I am most looking forward to trying...

Gigantes: Greek Giant White Beans (page 183)
Kalamarakia Tiganita: Lightly Fried Calamari (page 50)
Revani: Almond, Orange, and Semolina Cake (page 254)

An Interview
I was delighted to have the opportunity to ask Debbie a few about her Greek heritage and her new cookbook.

Culinary Adventures with Camilla: What are essential ingredients in a well-stocked Greek pantry? Maybe the top five.

Debbie: A Greek pantry is NOT a Greek pantry without some very key ingredients. I know you've asked for 5, but there are actually 7 that every Greek kitchen should be stocked with. They are Greek extra virgin olive oil, dried Greek oregano, fresh lemons, fresh flat leaf parsley, fresh tomatoes, and onions. Combined, those ingredients and you have the base of a lot of Greek dishes.

*   *   *
Culinary Adventures with Camilla: I think food memories of cooking with moms and grandmothers help shape who we become culinarily. Not sure if that's a real word. But what's your earliest memory of cooking or preparing Greek food?

Debbie: My earliest memories of cooking are from when I was about 4 years old and are of me being in the kitchen with my mom. I was helping her stir the bechamel for the pastichio or moussaka over the stovetop to make sure it didn’t get too thick.  She would pull up a stool for me to stand on and make sure to let me know that my job was very important. She would tell me that getting the pastichio or moussaka exactly right all depended on me making sure I didn't let the bechamel thicken too much.  That responsibility made me feel so important and made me so proud when we all sat down to dinner. It truly made me feel like I was an integral part in making this delicious meal. I think that's when I fell in love with cooking.

*   *   *
Culinary Adventures with Camilla: What message would you like to resonate with your readers?

Debbie: I would like the readers of my blog and home cooks to not only enjoy the amazing flavors of the Mediterranean cuisine of my ancestors, but also the immeasurable health benefits.  And, I’d like them to enjoy this food with their family and loved ones, because after all, food is more than just food to Greeks. To Greeks, food represents love and family.  So here’s to you enjoying the deliciousness of this cookbook with your family!!

Souvlaki Arni
Lamb Souvlaki from It's All Greek to Me by Debbie Matenopoulos
photo courtesy BenBella Books

I laughed when I realized that I had photos of souvlaki from multiple years of the Greek festival. I guess that's a true family favorite. It helped me decide which recipe I wanted to make for this book tour.

Souvlaki, pronouced soo-VLAH-kee ahr-NEE, is an all-time classic! It's the Greek equivalent of the a hamburger for Americans. I made a couple of minor changes - my changes in blue- swapping the dried oregano for fresh, adding crushed garlic, and letting the meat rest overnight instead of just a few minutes. Also, I grilled baby peppers to serve alongside the meat.

Ingredients serves 6-8
  • 1 leg of lamb (bone-in weight about 6 pounds), cubed with bone reserved for another use
  • 1 T sea salt
  • 2 t freshly ground pepper
  • skewers (I used Firewire Flexible Grilling Skewers, but use whatever you have)
  • 1/2 C extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 T freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 1 T dried oregano (I used 3 T fresh oregano. A good rule of thumb for converting dried to fresh herb amounts: one to three.)
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, crushed and minced
  • fresh rosemary for garnish
Thoroughly wash the lamb. Pat dry with paper towels and season with the salt and pepper. Let the seasoned lamb rest for at room temperature before rubbing with seasoning. Meanwhile, mix the olive oil, lemon juice, and oregano together in a mixing bowl. Rub the mixture all over the meat and let marinate overnight.

When you're ready to cook, let the meat come to room temperature. Then assemble the skewers.

Cook the lamb on the grill for 10 minutes total, turning every couple of minutes until browned on all sides. Remove from heat when done and serve.

Variations: this same recipe can be made with pork, chicken, or beef. Since my boys aren't huge lamb fans - they usually order the pork souvlaki - I went with that for them.

I thoroughly enjoyed cooking from It's All Greek to Me and am looking forward to trying my hand are more Greek recipes in the future. Now on to the part you've all be waiting for - the giveaway.


One of my lucky US readers - sorry, everyone else! - can enter to win a copy of It's All Greek to Me by Debbie Matenopoulos, courtesy of BenBella Books, Inc. Giveaway runs from today - November 18th - till December 1st at 5 o'clock PM, Pacific time. Please see terms and conditions in the rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Debbie Matenopoulos’s It’s All Greek To Me Cookbook to review plus the opportunity to give a copy away. Opinions are my own. I received no further compensation for my post or review.


  1. YUMM!! Great pick! I love Greek food, but definitely don't get to enjoy it often enough - how fun to have such a great recipe book to recreate your favorites at home!

  2. I won this book from Heather of Join Us, Pull up a Chair....I cannot wait for it to arrive.

  3. My favorite greek dish is a gyro with Taziki sauce and olives a great salad a little baklava and glass of wine.

  4. I love chicken with lemon and oregano

  5. I had the best octopus in Greece and LOVED it!!

  6. Calamari, souvlaki, semolina cake... who can choose a favorite. I'll have a nibble of Kourabiethes or Baklava while I consider my favorite bite.

  7. I really am not familiar with Greek food, so I don't have a favorite dish. That's why I need this cookbook - so I can try some!

  8. I don't know much about Greek food. But I do love gyros if that counts!

  9. I love chicken with lemon and oregano


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