If you've been following this blog for awhile, then you know that one of the places I like to play is at the I Heart Cooking Clubs group. This group chooses a different chef and cookbook author every six months, and during that time we explore the recipes of that chef according to a variety of themes. We've just finished cooking for the last six months with renowned British chef, Jamie Oliver, and you can check out all the contributions over that period here. Now it's time to welcome in a new chef, and this week we begin cooking with the very talented Tessa Kiros. Tessa was born in London to a Finnish mother and Greek-Cypriot father. When she was four years old the family moved to South Africa, and when she turned 18 Tessa decided to spread her wings and travel. During her travels Tessa has explored many different cultures and traditions, and worked in restaurants in Sydney, Athens, Mexico and London. On a trip to Italy she met her husband, Giovani, and now lives in Tuscany with their two daughters. Tess has written a number of cookbooks, and I have to say that if you don't have at least one Tessa Kiros cookbook in your collection you are truly missing something. I picked up a copy of Falling Cloudberries (A World of Family Recipes) about 18 months ago (thanks to some Christmas gift vouchers). In her introduction to the book, Tessa says: "These are the recipes I grew up with: the recipes that have woven their way through the neighbourhoods of my mind, past indifference and into love. Those that have stayed while others might have fluttered away with a gentle spring breeze. These are the ones I choose to share; the ones that special people have taught me and that I have recorded, sometimes over a pot of coffee at my own kitchen table, and sometimes struggling to understand through the barriers of language on a journey somewhere." There are recipes from Finland, Greece, Cyprus, South Africa, Italy, and many of the other places that have influenced Tessa's cooking style. The book is beautifully photographed; the recipes are simple and accessible; and all the recipes are interwoven with wonderful stories about Tessa's childhood and travels. Our theme this week, unsurprisingly, is "Welcome Tessa", and I chose to make her Chickpea, Feta & Coriander Salad from the Falling Cloudberries book. This was incredibly quick and easy to make and, left to marinate for about three hours for all the flavours to infuse, made a great accompaniment to some chicken kebabs and rice. I did make a couple of minor changes, leaving out red onion and spring onion (since, as you most likely know by now, we don't do onion in our house), but if you feel inclined to include them, then saute one red onion in the oil until cooked through before adding the garlic and chilli, and mix some spring onions in when adding the herbs. Chickpea, Feta & Coriander Salad Adapted from recipe by Tessa Kiros in Falling Cloudberries Serves 6 as a side dish Vegetarian Click here for a printable copy of this recipe 400g tin of chickpeas 3 tablespoons olive oil 5 garlic cloves, chopped very finely 1 or 2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped 200g feta, cut into small cubes or crumbled 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) 1 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil juice and zest of 1 lemon Drain and rinse the chickpeas, put into a bowl and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a small pan, add the chillies and the garlic and cook briefly - really just until the chilli has softened and the garlic is fragrant. Take care not to brown the garlic. Set aside and allow to cool completely. Add the feta, coriander, parsley, lemon juice and zest to the chickpeas. Add the cooled garlic and chilli oil, and then extra virgin olive oil. Mix everything until well combined, taste and season with flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper as desired. Set aside to marinate for 2 to 3 hours to allow the flavours to develop fully. Serve at room temperature. As mentioned, I served this with chicken, but it would also make a great partner for fish or lamb, or even on its own with some grilled pita bread for a light lunch. Oh, and by the way, if you are lucky enough to have leftovers, this tastes even better the next day. If you would like to get to know Tessa a little better, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and see what they've all cooked up ... ... or check out Falling Cloudberries and many of Tessa's other great titles available from Amazon or Fishpond NZ. I am also sharing this post at Cookbook Sundays, hosted by Melynda at Mom's Sunday Cafe, and Meatless Mondays, hosted by Chaya at My Sweet and Savory.