Made with Love by Maria Zoitas, photographs by Bill Milne, is a love letter to food and family from Maria Zoitas, the creative force behind New York City’s Westside Markets. Zoitas grew up on the Greek Island of Lefkada, where she learned to cook Greek food from her mother, gathering olives, herbs, and vegetables straight from the land.
Years spent cooking for friends, family, and Westside customers have given Zoitas a treasure trove of recipes ranging from classic Greek favorites like moussaka and spanakopita to twists on beloved American recipes like her famous New York-style cheesecake which convinced her husband to make her foods available to the public in stores and eventually led to the Maria’s Homemade prepared foods line. Full of family stories, beautiful images of Greece, and an intimate look at traditional Mediterranean cooking, Made With Love is an invitation to join the family- from Greece to New York and beyond- and enjoy Mediterranean flavors.
The hardcover Made With Love was published on October 16 and has been well-received with 100 percent five-star reviews on Amazon. The massive volume, over 400 pages, features nearly every Greek recipe you can think of, other well-known Mediterranean dishes, and American favorites updated and with Zoitas’ signature style. The photographs by Bill Milne are a highlight of the book, and show in detail the inviting foods included in the book, along with the family photos that give the volume a family-album-like quality.
The book is divided into 19 sections, beginning with the Introduction, History, and Basics and continuing with the recipes for Breakfast, Soups, Starters, Salads, Greek Pies, Vegetables, Pasta, Legumes, and Grains, Seafood, Fowl and Game, Meat, Sweets and Desserts, and Beverages and Juices. Sections on Lefkada, Olives and Olive Oil, and Family are also included.
Dedicated to Zoitas’ mother and grandmother, as well as her husband John, the book is a testament to Zoitas’ years of experience in cooking. The recipes may not be exactly how your mother and grandmother made them, but the essence of Greek cuisine, the traditional recipes passed down in the family through the generations, using fresh ingredients, are all there.
In the book’s introduction, Zoitas writes about her lifetime of cooking and how she went from cooking at home for the family to cooking for the public beginning with selling her cheesecakes. She writes, “When my kids went to school, I decided it was time to cook for the rest of the world. I knew Americans love cheesecake, so I decided to make cheesecake and sell it in the markets that my husband ran in Manhattan. ‘What do you want to do that for?’ my husband said and hid my cheesecake in the fridge. With the help of my brother and some friends we actually put my cheesecake out for sale, and sell it did… I became a full time cook at our stores, starting in the basement on a hot plate.
“That was 25 years ago and now I cook for all of Manhattan with our kitchens running 24 hours with 200 employees.”
Among the recipes included in the book are Avgolemono Chicken Soup, Magiritsa Easter Soup, Traditional Dolmades, Maria’s Spanakopita, Seafood Kebabs, Moussaka, and Baklava.
Made with Love by Maria Zoitas, photographs by Bill Milne, is available online.