In this season of giving, gifts that give back are always appreciated. For foodies, cookbooks are a great gift option and many communities across the country have published their own Greek cookbooks to help raise funds while also passing down traditional recipes to subsequent generations.
The Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox Church community in Durham, NC, first published its award-winning cookbook, The Grecian Plate in 1984. It is the second cookbook published by the community following the success of their first cookbook, Fasting and Feasting with the Greeks (1972).
The Grecian Plate presents the basics of traditional Greek cuisine with nearly 300 recipes lovingly collected and passed down through the generations, compiled by the Hellenic Ladies Society of the Saint Barbara community. The cookbook, co-edited by Joan Marinos, Lena Mousmoules, and Helen Paliouras, is in its 11th printing with over 40,000 copies sold. It sports a new, more durable cover with a drawing of a deer on it, symbolic of the island of Rhodes. As noted in the book, according to legend, deer were imported to stampede and eradicate the large number of poisonous snakes on the island. The cover artwork and sketch designs are by Mousmoules, while the chapter divider art is by Dina Lias.
The best-selling cookbook won the prestigious R.T. French Tastemaster Award as the best community cookbook in the nation in the soft-cover category in its first edition and was Good Housekeeping magazine’s Cookbook of the Month in March 1988.
Featuring a wide range of recipes from appetizers to entrees to desserts, The Grecian Plate includes fascinating notes on the history and culture of Greece as it relates to food. Among the easy-to-read Greek recipes are classics like avgolemono soup and various lamb dishes, as well as an entire section on Greek vegetables. Non-Greek recipes are also included such as turkey and rice salad, pecan tarts, chocolate oatmeal cookies, and peach cobbler. Recipes that are fasting-friendly for Orthodox Christians are marked with a cross.
The appendix offers additional information about typical Greek spices, herbs, flavorings, wines and liqueurs, cheeses, and olives, as well as substitutions for some basic ingredients, and equivalent weights and measures.
The menu planning section is another helpful section of the book offering suggestions for cocktail parties, formal dinners, name day or special events in a buffet style, Easter dinner, Christmas dinner, summer parties, family dinners, Lenten dinners, and afternoon tea or coffee.
A Greek-English glossary is also among the helpful sections included in the appendix along with two indexes, one with all the recipes organized by their Greek names, and the other with the recipes organized by the food categories, too.
A great gift idea, the book is also a proven fundraiser for church communities throughout the United States, in Australia, and Nova Scotia, Canada where bulk quantities of the book are consistently ordered to be sold in their own bookstores or at their church festivals.
The book is available at the Saint Barbara Church Bookstore and on the community’s website: https://www.stbarbarachurchnc.org/grecianplate.