Rose Water and Orange Blossoms by Maureen Abood
|Rose Water and Orange Blossoms by Maureen Abood|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A delightful mix of mouth-watering recipes and the background to Maureen Abood's family. It's a pleasure to read - and to eat the food. Highly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 272||Date: April 2015|
|Publisher: Running Press|
|External links: Author's website|
Rose Water and Orange Blossoms began life as a blog. Maureen Abood grew up with flavours of the Lebanon around her - the scent of floral waters and cinnamon, lentils, bulgur wheat and yoghurt, but most of all, the succulence of lamb. She revisits the recipes which nourished her childhood, sometimes remaining faithful to the original, but occasionally giving them her personal twist. The whole family has contributed (even if not directly) to the food which she produces and sometimes the recipes have been handed down for generations, but it's not just the food which sings in her hands, but the people who come alive as you read.
Increasingly these days cookery books seem to be bulked out with glossy pictures and when you actually look, what you get is very slim indeed. There are pictures in Rose Water and Orange Blossoms, but there's an entirely different bonus here: we hear about Maureen Abood's family, her background and her life as a Lebanese-American living in Michigan. It's a cuisine based on making the most of local, seasonal produce, so we have the added bonus of the Lebanese foods being inspired by foods from the Great Lakes area - the freshwater fish and the cherries, particularly.
But it's the food you want to know about, isn't it? Well, it's gorgeous. Think the sort of food which ordinary families eat, rather than anything fancy or needing strange equipment or techniques. (There are simple instructions on how to do anything remotely complicated such as rolling grape leaves or making ultra-smooth hummus. You're even taught how to open a pomegranate.) Think taste - the sort of food which sings in the mouth. Think visual treats: platters of glorious colours, of fresh seasonal food at its best. Think the sort of food which you gladly share with family, friends and neighbours, because this is generous food. Favourites? I loved the Phyllo Galette of Labneh (I substituted Greek yoghurt), Caramelised Cherry Tomatoes and Kalamata Olives. It wasn't difficult to make, looked stunning and tasted wonderful.
Mahogany Eggplant (or aubergine in the UK) with Labneh and Pomegranate was succulent - and it's a useful recipe for when the aubergines in the shops are rock solid. A Warm Potato Salad with Lemon and Mint made a lovely accompaniment to some cold salmon and it was a healthy, tasty lunch dish. Tabbouleh served in Little Gem lettuce will have to wait for the summer crop to start, but will be excellent for that time in the summer when fingers are more useful than cutlery when you're eating outside. It's a book where you'll find lots of recipes which you'll want to try and which won't take a lot of effort.
I did wonder if I might struggle with a language barrier here but you will learn to pronounce the names of the dishes properly: this is an author who understands that it's important to feel involved, to be a part of what is happening. I struggled more, as someone living in the UK, with some of the American words which are not in common use in English, but even that wasn't an insurmountable problem. I'd like to thank the publishers for letting me have a review copy.
For similarly fresh-tasting food we can recommend River Cottage Veg Every Day! by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
You can read more book reviews or buy Rose Water and Orange Blossoms by Maureen Abood at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Rose Water and Orange Blossoms by Maureen Abood at Amazon.com.
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