Thursday, September 26, 2013
Pomegranates & Pine Nuts by Bethany Kehdy (Cookbook Review)
Successful food blogger Bethany Kehdy’s debut book offers up the enticing world of Middle Eastern and North African cooking in a stunning collection of over 100 delicious and evocative recipes.
Bethany Kehdy is renowned for the contemporary Middle Eastern and North African recipes that she publishes on her blog (dirtykitchensecrets.com). Born and brought up in Lebanon, she spent countless hours learning to cook with her perfectionist teta (grandmother), her vivacious dad and her spirited aunts. Her recipes are a harmonious balance of classic and contemporary, as she draws upon her childhood roots whilst adding her own personal twist.
The cuisines from the Middle East and North Africa share many diverse influences and gorgeous key ingredients and spices, such as pomegranates, figs, pine nuts, saffron and sumac. Passionate about food and her heritage, this former Miss Lebanon showcases the sheer brilliance of the dishes that these regions have to offer. With chapters divided into mezze, poultry, meat, seafood and vegetarian and dessert dishes, there is a wide variety of delicious recipes to suit every occasion. Some of these beautiful dishes can be thrown together from scratch in a matter of minutes, while more ambitious dishes are made easy with clear instructions and clever cooking techniques. From Whipped Hummus with Lamb to fragrant Slow-braised Spiced Squid and Chicken with Preserved Lemon Tagine to Vine Leaves with Bulgur, Figs and Nuts, there really is something for everyone. All the cuisines of the regions are covered, including Egyptian, Palestinian, Syrian, Turkish, Iraqi and Jordanian, and all the recipes are easy to make. You’ll find yourself drawn into a whole new world and a whole new way of cooking.
Bethany Kehdy is an unrivalled chef of today’s new Middle Eastern generation. Born in Houston and brought up in Lebanon, she is currently taking the internet by storm with her notable food blog, www.dirtykitchensecrets.com, which receives over 100,000 unique visitors a year, plus a growing following on Twitter and Facebook, Bethany works as a recipe developer, freelance food and travel writer and food photographer. She also leads culinary tours across Lebanon and organizes Food Blogger Connect, a conference for food bloggers.
My husband's parents are from Iran and my step-dad is from Pakistan, so it's a good thing I like Middle Eastern food. The interesting thing about cuisine from the Middle East is that each region's food is completely different, although some dishes have a few similarities. When I saw the cover to Pomegranates & Pine Nuts, it immediately made me think of my husband's Persian culture and then I read the small print and saw that it not only featured Iranian dishes, but recipes from Lebanon and Morocco as well. The colorful book cover drew me in, but what was inside impressed me more. As I have already eluded to, I am pretty familiar with Persian recipes, although it never hurts to have some sitting at home waiting to be cooked. I found that the Iranian recipes included in the book were definitely recipes my in-laws would approve of and that I can't wait to test out in my kitchen. As far as Lebanon and Morocco, these are not cultures or cuisine that I have been around. I definitely see some similarities in the recipes as compared to some Middle Eastern foods I have eaten or cooked, but they definitely each have their own flair that make them all their own. This book is packed full of recipes galore. In keeping with Middle Eastern tradition there are tons of recipes for meat dishes, breads and rice dishes. There is also an entire vegetarian section, which as someone who prefers not to meat often, I can certainly appreciate. I thought it was interesting that Morocco has similar dishes to Middle Eastern countries like Iran and Lebanon, but it didn't shock me since there is a somewhat large Muslim presence in parts of Africa that would bring that influence to the area with them. Some stand out recipes of the book include:
Ground lamb and onion crescents
Spinach and sumac turnovers
Lamb & herb stew
Fava beans with yogurt tahdeeg
Chickpea flour quiche
Sumac chicken casserole
Egyptian spice bread pudding
Cardamom scented profiteroles
This is but a short list of many wonderful recipes that are included in this wonderful offering from Kehdy, who does a great job describing each dish, where it is popular or originated from and many times including the proper name of the dish from the country it hails from. I really enjoyed this cookbook and I think anyone who likes cooking outside of their comfort zone, enjoys learning about other cultures and cuisines or just really loves Middle Eastern food, would love having this cookbook in their kitchen.
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Bethany Kehdy's Blog- Dirty Kitchen Secrets
Pomegranates & Pine Nuts is available on Amazon.com