But this man made this job as enjoyable as it could possibly be. I was very lucky to get a job working with Mike Roussos. Mike had lived in Chicago for 20 years and had just relocated his family back to Greece. He was finding it a little difficult to adjust, being on the one hand used to the amenities of the US and on the other finding the Greece of his youth had disappeared.
Mike is a wonderful guy and he taught me everything he did in the kitchen. He was very generous with his time and knowledge and we worked well together, as it was just the two of us in the large kitchen of probably the most popular tourist restaurant on the island at that time.
|Me and Mike on a rare break|
|Mike Roussos in the kitchen|
I kept an exercise book of recipes Mike taught me, and as I was trying to learn Greek some are in bits of earnest, erroneous Greek or use Greek words or brand names for ingredients I wasn't sure of. It's not only a great souvenir but a truly useful cookbook - I use these recipes often.
|My cookbook with Mike's recipes|
My favourite of all is avgolemono - Egg and Lemon Soup.
It is absolutely delicious - imagine chicken soup with a zesty tang and that's what it is.
I don't believe Mike would mind me sharing this recipe.
Mike Roussos' Egg and Lemon Soup
Boil a chicken in water until very well done. Remove meat, discard bones and waste.
To the water add salt, pepper and white arborio rice (about a cup), and simmer to cook the rice; once rice has cooked turn off heat and let the stock cool a bit as you do the next part.
Squeeze juice from some lemons - at least 4.
In a bowl whisk 7 egg whites until frothy, gradually adding half the lemon juice.
Add the yolks, whisk well and add more lemon juice to taste. Test it by dipping in a finger - it should taste quite lemony, so quite a bit of juice is needed.
Here is the tricky bit. While whisking, spoon 4 or 5 ladles of broth (without any rice) and pour slowly into the egg and lemon mixture. Take your time doing this, as this will prevent the soup curdling. It is easier with two people. When the broth and egg and lemon are mixed, slowly pour the whole of the egg and lemon mix into the pot of broth.
Test again and add lemon to taste. If the soup is too eggy or thick, thin with water.
Add the meat before serving.
Mike, wherever you are - and I hope you're well - thank you.
Kali orexi (bon appetit)!
|Egg and Lemon Soup|