Having once represented Lebanon in the Miss World pageant, Bethany Kehdy is now seeking to win fans over to the cuisine of Lebanon and the Middle East. Her new book, Pomegranates & Pine Nuts (Duncan Baird, October 2013) is designed to bridge the gulf between the traditions of ancient and modern culture and features Lebanese, Moroccan and Persian recipes. Kehdy herself is half-American, half-Lebanese. She blogs about Middle Eastern food at www.dirtykitchensecrets.com, organizes Food Blogger Connect (the London food blogging conference I had the pleasure of attending this past summer), and runs “Taste Lebanon” food tours in conjunction with the Lebanese Ministry of Tourism.
With gorgeous photography by Sarka Babicka, this book is a veritable journey to the Middle East and Northern Africa through over 100 original recipes that make what many consider “exotic” very approachable and do-able. It includes a section on the “Middle Eastern and North African Pantry” where some common ingredients are explained and which gives you a good idea of the types of ingredients you’ll need on hand as “staples” for many of these recipes. There’s also a “Basic Recipes and Methods” section which gives you the base ingredients/ components of many of the dishes and it a great place to start and in case you’re missing some of the specific ingredients required in some of the dishes, there’s a handy “Suppliers” section too where you can find a list of stores stocking them.
Having travelled in Morocco but not the Middle East, some but not many of these dishes were familiar to me so I have a lot of them bookmarked “to try” We had friends over the other weekend who are always up for trying something new so I decided to make a couple of Bethany’s recipes for them starting with the Chicken Basteeya – traditionally a sweet and savoury dish made with pigeon meat (!) inside phyllo pastry and layered with eggs and crushed almonds. This version calls for chicken, not pigeon, and whilst it has quite a few steps, it’s pretty straightforward to make – and I made it in advance, simply reheating it when we were ready to eat. It’s best eaten the day it’s made but it didn’t fare too badly as leftovers the following day…
Next up, I couldn’t go past the cover recipe for Moroccan Citrus Salad. I had actually watched this be prepared back in London in July by a professional food stylist and had fallen in love with the look of it. I hadn’t tried it until I made it a couple of weeks ago and I can definitely say that I will be practising my citrus cutting techniques for next summer when I am sure this dish will grace many of my tables. So simple, so pretty but so tasty.
Here are three of the many (many) shots I took that day of the salad. You can see I was a little bit in love with it!
Looks complicated, huh? Well not really. And that’s what I love about many of the dishes in this book – yes there are a few steps to follow but nothing particularly challenging or difficult in terms of cooking skills. It’s the flavours and the colours and the suggested presentation that makes this food spectacularly beautiful and “bookmark worthy”. If you love Middle Eastern/ North African food, you’ll definitely want a copy of this book. Now, here’s the good news!
Win one of two copies of Bethany Kehdy’s Pomegranates and Pine Nuts (US/ Canada)!
That’s right – thanks to the kind folks at Random House Canada, I have two copies of Pomegranates and Pine Nuts up for grabs for readers in the US and Canada!
1. Leave a comment below telling me why you’d like to win P&P.
2. For a bonus entry, tweet the following message:
I entered to win Pomegranates & Pine Nuts by @Bethanykd from @eatlivtravwrite + @RandomHouseCA http://bit.ly/1bWpWlp
Then come back to leave me a comment telling me you did.
Contest closes on Tuesday, October 15th 2013 at 6pm EST. Winner will be chosen by random.org and will be notified by email on October 16th 2013.
Disclosure: Random House Canada provided me with a review copy of Pomegranates and Pine Nuts. I was not required to post about this, nor am I being compensated for doing so. All opinions are my own.
Congratulations to Jess, JJT and Catrina – the winners of my Mastering the Art of French Cooking giveaway. I’ll be in touch with you to get your mailing details!