The Greek Slow Cooker: Easy, Delicious Recipes from the Heart of the Mediterranean, written by Eleni Vonissakou, features a versatile collection of Greek recipes adapted for the slow cooker such as Fish in Spicy Pepper Sauce (Bourdeto), Fragrant Orange Phyllo Pie (Portokalopita), Beef in Garlicky Parsley and Wine Sauce (Sofrito), Greek Summer Ratatouille (Briam), Spaghetti and Greek Meat Sauce (Makaronia me Kima), and more! I will also be sharing her recipe for Giouvarlakia Soupa (Beef and Rice Meatballs in Egg-Lemon Soup) following the review.
Disclosure: I received this book from Page Street Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All opinions and statements are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Eleni Vonissakou is a food blogger, recipe developer, stylist, and photographer. She became enamored with the slow cooker after her brother in England bought one and prepared a slow-cooked stew. In 2013, she created The Foodie Corner, a food blog featuring recipes in Greek and English, and even has a special section devoted to the appliance. Eleni is currently based in Athens, Greece.
The Greek Slow Cooker
Chapters are divided based on course: No-Fuss, Succulent Poultry and Game; Delicious, Fall-Apart Tender Meat; Easy, Juicy Fish and Seafood; Effortless, Flavorful Veggies; Perfectly Slow Cooked, Rustic Legumes; Wholesome Eggs and Creamy Dairy; Bread, Never Missing from a Greek Table; and “Piece of Cake” Sweets. The contents include a list of all the recipes with page numbers for easy reference.
Before getting to the dishes, Eleni gives a short introduction and shares some helpful tips on how to use the slow cooker. She focuses on the different types of slow cookers, capacity and cooking time, serving size, and even how to layer ingredients.
Eleni is also the photographer. Every single recipe is accompanied by a full-page photo of the finished dish. You will even find a couple of step-by-step photos to demonstrate how to fill and roll Dolmadakia (Stuffed Vine Leaves with Rice) and how to make a sling for easy removal of cakes and pies. Measurements are listed in US Customary and Metric. Titles are written in English with the Greek name directly underneath (Romanization). Each recipe has a headnote with background information, serving size, notes, and special ingredients.
This book is a great pick whether you love Greek cuisine or are just looking for new slow cooker recipes. There is a nice assortment of meat, seafood, vegetables, breads, legumes, and desserts. Preparation time varies from simply combining everything in the slow cooker and turning it on to a bit more involvement such as forming meatballs, browning meat and other ingredients first, or stuffing vegetables.
Most of the ingredients are readily available in the average American grocery store. A few items that may require a trip to a Greek/Mediterranean market include kefalotyri and other specialty cheese, saffron, petimezi, bucatini, Greek sausages, sweet paprika, bulgur wheat, grape vine leaves, sour trahanas, paximadia (barley rusks), dried spearmint, emmer flour, and sultanas.
Giouvarlakia Soupa (Beef and Rice Meatballs in Egg-Lemon Soup)
Eleni’s Giouvarlakia Soupa (Beef and Rice Meatballs in Egg-Lemon Soup) is a comforting dish that comes together in about 5-6 hours in the slow cooker. She mentions that there are two main versions of Giouvarlakia- this one where the meatballs are served in a soup and a second variation where they are covered in a thick egg-lemon sauce with less liquid.
There is a little prep involved, but overall the recipe isn’t too complicated and perfect for the rainy days we have had lately. Ground beef (or a mixture of beef and pork) is combined with rice, minced onion, parsley, tarragon (a rarer addition), olive oil, salt, and pepper. The mixture is formed into large 3 tablespoon-sized balls and gently added to the slow cooker filled with vegetable stock, water, and butter.
The meatballs are cooked over low heat for 5-6 hours, then the slow cooker is turned off for the final step. In a medium bowl, eggs and lemon juice are whisked together while slowly pouring in the hot liquid a little at a time. Once 2-3 cups of the soup have been incorporated, the egg-lemon mixture is poured back into the slow cooker while stirring gently. The meatballs and soup are served immediately with freshly ground black pepper, fresh crusty bread, and feta cheese.
I also tried the White Wine Chicken with Orzo (Kotopoulo Yiouvetsi Lefko), Country-Style Sausage Pasta Sauce (Saltsa Me Loukaniko), Retro Greek Macaroni and Cheese with Cream (Makaronia Soufle), and Easy Milky Greek Rice Pudding (Ryzogalo).
The White Wine Chicken with Orzo (Kotopoulo Yiouvetsi Lefko) pairs chicken with a flavorful mixture of onion, white wine, lemon, olive oil, parsley, and thyme. The ingredients are cooked in the slow cooker for about 6 hours or until the chicken is tender and falling apart, then the orzo is folded in to finish cooking until al dente.
The Country-Style Sausage Pasta Sauce (Saltsa Me Loukaniko) was an easy and delicious weeknight meal. Greek sausages (or substitute with raw Italian-style with fennel) are simmered for a few hours in a mixture of diced tomatoes, onions, and spices. It is a wonderful pairing for pasta and crumbled feta (or Greek Gruyère). I also like how this recipe is more on the adjustable side and could cook a little longer than 5-6 hours if needed to work around a busy schedule.
This Retro Greek Macaroni and Cheese with Cream (Makaronia Soufle) was a huge hit with the family. Eleni recreated this dish based on a favorite (pasta soufflé) from her childhood years. Uncooked penne pasta is layered in a slow cooker with cubed ham, gouda, and Kasseri cheese. Milk is combined with cream and spices, then poured over the top to cover. She recommends serving this as a main course with green salad or as a side to grilled meat.
There are a handful of dessert options in The Greek Slow Cooker and Chad was immediately drawn to the Easy, Milky Greek Rice Pudding (Ryzogalo). As the name suggests, it was the easiest of all to make! Rice is combined with sugar, milk, and orange zest, then cooked on low for 2-3 hours. The mixture is divided into ramekins and chilled to thicken slightly and served with a sprinkling of cinnamon.
Giouvarlakia Soupa (Beef and Rice Meatballs in Egg-Lemon Soup) Recipe
Excerpt from The Greek Slow Cooker
Giouvarlakia Soupa (Beef and Rice Meatballs in Egg-Lemon Soup)
- 4 cups (960 ml) hot vegetable stock
- 4 cups (960 ml) cold tap water
- 1 tablespoon (15 g) butter
- 1 3/4 teaspoons (11 g) salt divided
- 2 pounds (900 g) ground beef or a mix of ground beef and pork
- 1/2 cup (85 g) arborio rice
- 3/4 cup (140 g) minced onion lightly packed
- 1/4 cup (15 g) finely chopped parsley leaves tightly packed
- 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 eggs
- 5 tablespoons (75 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Freshly ground black pepper to serve
- Fresh crusty bread to serve
- Feta cheese to serve
- Pour the hot vegetable stock and the water into the slow cooker, and add the butter and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the beef, rice, onion, parsley, tarragon, oil, the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons (9 g) of salt and the pepper. Mix well with your hands, kneading lightly for a couple of minutes.
- Take three level tablespoons of the mixture and shape it into a large meatball. Set aside on a plate. Continue with the rest of the mixture and then gently drop all the meatballs into the slow cooker. There should be about 22 balls.
- Cook on low for 5 to 6 hours, or until the meatballs are cooked through. Turn the slow cooker off.
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat the eggs and lemon juice until well combined. Place the bowl next to the slow cooker, and use a ladle or measuring cup to slowly add small amounts of hot soup into the egg mixture, beating continuously. Start with about 1 tablespoon (15 ml) at a time, and gradually increase the amount of soup added to the bowl. When at least 2 to 3 cups (480 to 720 ml) of soup have been transferred to the egg mixture, and the bowl feels hot to the touch, pour the mixture back into the insert while stirring gently.
- Serve the soup with freshly ground black pepper, fresh crusty bread and feta cheese.