Evvia in Palo Alto and its sister restaurant Kokkari in San Francisco serve delicious Greek food in a warm, upscale setting. Chef Eric Cosselmon and co-author Janet Fletcher have written a cookbook of dishes from the restaurants entitled Kokkari: Contemporary Greek Flavors.
Calamari stuffed with feta, orange, and bread crumbs is a good recipe for meze, or appetizers. It’s a bit tricky to stuff the calamari tubes (the feta crumbles are often only just a little bit smaller than the opening diameter of the tube). These are threaded onto bamboo skewers and either grilled or broiled. The tentacles can be cooked quickly in a saute pan since they are difficult to skewer. Serve with a squeeze of lemon. Swordfish skewers are simple and delicious, with a little thyme, lemon zest and juice, and salt, quickly broiled.
Evvia is famous for its grilled meats and seafood. Home grilling is a little difficult in the winter or without a grill, but many of the recipes can be adapted for the broiler or using a grill pan on the stove. Chicken Souvlaki is marinated in yogurt and spices that tenderize the meat and add lots of flavor. Lamb chops (Frenched lamb rack from Trader Joe’s) are simple to make, seasoned with garlic powder, salt, oregano and then grilled on the grill pan. Serve with Kokkari potatoes, which are roasted in the oven with lemon and oregano. Broiled whole branzini (available at Whole Foods) is really good, fresh and healthy, and it’s enhanced by the Kokkari dressing or Tzatziki sauce.
Kokkari dressing is made with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, shallots, capers, parsley, and oregano and helps to punch up several of the grilled fish and meat recipes. The Tzatziki sauce is made with shredded cucumber that is salted to draw out its water, Greek yogurt, lemon juice, dill, scallions, mint, and garlic, and its cool creaminess works well with almost every recipe. I like how the sauces and recipes feature a lot of herbs like dill, mint, and parsley that add a lot of freshness and flavor.
Most of the ingredients are widely available, and most of the techniques are doable for the home chef, allowing one to re-create restaurant-worthy Greek dishes at home. The text is well laid out and roughly a third of the recipes have photographs of the finished dish. I definitely recommend both the book and the restaurants.
Link to Kokkari cookbook here.