Book Review: Falling Cloudberries: A World of Family Recipes

Before I cracked open this book, I could tell....Tessa and I were soul sisters.
But first, I had to reconcile a wee bit of inner turmoil....

American publisher, Andrews McMeel sent me a copy of Falling Cloudberries several months ago. I thumbed through the first few pages, and wave of emotion swept over me. Fast-as-you-can, I closed the book and stuck it in a corner. Cloudberries collected dust, while I waited to make peace with myself.

During my first encounter with this book, my whining inner child overcame my better judgment: I wanted to live in distant lands; I wanted to collect recipes from near & far; I wanted to link memories of time, place and food.

This was the book I wanted to write.

Chapters in Falling Cloudberries are divided like distinct patterns of memory, teamed with a corresponding recipe collection that marks years of living in Finland, Greece, Cyprus, South Africa, Italy. The final chapter...A Suitcase of Recipes reflects a composite collection from Tessa's world travels.

I am hopelessly biased towards books from Australia and Singapore. What migrates to America reflects a style that is quite different than ours--from the clean layout with judicious use of white space to their sumptuous and uncompromising photography. Art director Lisa Greenberg, photography by Manos Chatzikonstantis with food styling and illustrations by Michail Touros left me savoring every page...and begging for more!

At first glace, Falling Cloudberries felt instantly familiar.

It is not my life, but the one I ached for.

Honestly? I never wanted to live in Finland, but I'm happy Tessa did! Gravlox & Dill Cucumbers and Potato Pancakes were the first two recipes I tried...and quickly went into my permanent collection.

And last week, my cookbook club gathered for a potluck based on this book. Choosing recipes was tough, but in the end, we tried:

Chickpea, Feta, and Cilantro Salad
Another recipe that instantly went in my permanent collection. In fact, I made it twice before the week was over! Sautéed onions & garlic add a nice mellow contrast to the tart feta & wholesome chickpeas. Admittedly, I'm not a cilantro lover but it was in perfect balance here. Wouldn't change a thing.

Oven-Cooked Potatoes with Onions and Cream
How could 3 ingredients be so good? This was the last dish to leave the table before desserts and we found ourselves migrating back, snatching bite after bite. Think of this dish for an easy weeknight side or your holiday table. Trust me, you'll be fighting for leftovers!

Stuffed Eggplants
Good, but not exactly earth-shattering.

Zucchini Flowers, Filled with Mozzarella and Anchovies, Fried with Sage Leaves
I arrived long after these came out of the fryer so I didn't get a chance to taste them as the author intended. However, I love the flavor combination and will be making them soon. If I'm lucky, maybe I won't have to share!

Kolokassi (Cypriot chicken & taro stew)
Substitute potatoes for taro and this recipe is exactly like my mom's. I was instantly transported to snowy winter days in the Heartland with a crackling fire and comfort food-a-la-mom.

This is the Greek version of Mexican Wedding Cookies, minus the nuts. Kourapiedes melt in your mouth...and if you're not careful, leave a dusting of powdered sugar on your chest!

Deep-fried Honey and Cinnamon Syrup Puffs
An interesting twist with mashed potatoes and yeast. Dipped in a slurry of warm honey & cinnamon, let me sum it up: fried. dough. happiness. The question soon can I make these?

Overall, the recipes in this book mirror my own collection. the Green Olives with Coriander Seeds or the pasta dishes are ridiculously easy to pull together. Others, like Bobba's Babka are more time consuming. But on the whole, you'll find a good number of the recipes have few ingredients but are surprisingly flavorful.

Given the number of recipes I was instantly smitten with, luscious photography and intriguing travel tales, Falling Cloudberries is at the top of my list for gift giving.

Falling Cloudberries: A World of Family Recipes
Author: Tessa Kiros
Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2009

Interview with Tessa:

Read other Falling Cloudberry reviews:
Gourmet Magazine
Relish Magazine
Cooking with Ideas

Super Chef