Helen Sarakinos is the daughter of Greek-born parents, and she cooks to celebrate her heritage. With her husband, Jake Vander Zanden, Sarakinos has two children, Kerkyra, 9, and Milo, 12.
Last month, on the Friday before Greek Orthodox Easter, writer Kathy Brozyna went to their home on Madison’s east side to share in a traditional Lenten supper. This is the second installment of The Family Table, a new series of food essays about home cooking in Madison.
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Art work in Helen Sarakinos' kitchen shows breakfast items: toast, pancakes, waffles, oatmeal and coffee.
Helen Sarakinos makes a list of the dishes she needs to prep for a Friday dinner during Greek Orthodox Lent.
Helen Sarakinos with her daughter Kerkyra Vander Zanden, 9, prepares traditional Greek Lenten dishes with her family.
Mung dahl simmers on the stove at Helen Sarakinos' home.
Helen Sarakinos of Madison grew up the daughter of a trained professional chef. Her parents were both born in Greece.
Helen Sarakinos poses for a portrait in her kitchen before preparing traditional Greek Lenten dishes with her family.
Olive oil is an important staple in Helen’s house and a significant part of her culture.
Helen Sarakinos enjoyed preparing her cuisine for a visitor, but she said she might not have made this particular Lenten meal without the excuse to “pull out the old recipes and ingredients.”
Helen Sarakinos and writer Kathy Brozyna, right, prepare Greek dishes with octopus, beets, garlic and bread.
Olive oil, at front, is a staple of Greek cuisine.
Helen Sarakinos squeezes a lemon, a necessarily ingredient for taramosalata, a cod fish roe spread.
Helen Sarakinos and Kathy Brozyna make taramosalata, blending cooked potatoes, cubes of crusty ciabatta bread, shallot, olive oil and fresh-squeezed lemon juice.
Helen Sarakinos recruits her son Milo Vander Zanden, 12, to help in the kitchen.
Food writer Kathy Brozyna observes Greek American family meal prep in Helen Sarakinos and Jake Vander Zanden's kitchen in Madison.
Kerkyra Vander Zanden and Milo Vander Zanden help in the kitchen.
Cubes of crusty ciabatta bread, shallot, olive oil and fresh-squeezed lemon juice go into a cod roe spread.
Milo watches his mom, Helen Sarakinos, prepare a Greek cod roe spread called taramosalata.
Taramosalata (left) and chtapodi xidato, octopus stewed in vinegar, wine and its own juices, then cooled with fresh-squeezed lemon juice, more vinegar, salt and garlic.
Jake Vander Zanden brings a dish to the table for a Greek American supper.
Helen Sarakinos and Jake Vander Zanden make a Greek American dinner.
Jake Vander Zanden chops fresh herbs for dinner.
Beets, olives, octopus, herbs and bread go into a Greek American dinner at the Sarakinos/Vander Zanden home.
Boiled beets with their green tops are kept warm in the oven.
Taramosalata was smooth and thick, bright pink, and somewhat salty, but not at all fishy-tasting.
Helen Sarakinos made fava, a spread typically made with split peas and onion. Having just run out of peas, Helen used mung dahl instead, simmering it on the stove.