From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Roden, a leading authority on Middle Eastern and North African food and the James Beard Award–winning author of The Book of Jewish Food, provides a thoroughly enjoyable and fascinating look at the cuisines of Morocco, Turkey and Lebanon. Including bits of history, stories and more that 150 recipes, Roden reworks the classics, making them easier and more flavorful for today’s home cook. By organizing the book by country, she makes it easy to plan meals from the same country or combine various recipes from each. In each recipe, flavors are exquisitely balanced, as in Moroccan Chickpea and Lentil Soup; Tagine of Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Olives; Turkish Lamb Stew with Eggplant Sauce and Roasted Quinces; or Squabs Stuffed with Date and Almond Paste. She gives proper homage to the Lebanese tradition of serving mezze—little appetizers served with drinks—such as Eggplant and Tahini Dip (Baba Ghanouj) and Spinach Pies. The simple desserts bring out some of the same ingredients from savory dishes such as nuts (in Pistachio Cake; Milk and Almond Pudding) as well as flowers, like Tiny Open Pancakes with Cream and Rose Petal Jam, or orange blossom water in Kataifi with Cream Filling. 93 color photos. (Nov.)
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Roden triumphs again, this time with a closer look at three different traditions within Arab cuisine: Moroccan, Turkish, and Lebanese. Although these cooking styles share many common traits, each is unique, distinctive, and worth exploring in an American kitchen. Moroccan food features fragrant braised stews called tagines that Roden shows how to re-create without elaborate equipment. She also contributes a useful method for making preserved lemons that reduces their preparation from a month to four days. Vegetarians can profit from exploring the many Turkish dishes based on eggplant, beans, and other vegetables. Little Lebanon has much to recommend beyond its fragrantly spiced, savory national dish of lamb and cracked wheat called kibbee. All three cuisines call for special attention to fine pastry in creating appetizers, entrees, and desserts. In addition to her recipes, Roden offers intriguing descriptions of regional specialties and street food that expand readers’ understanding of these national traditions while enticing them into the kitchen. Mark Knoblauch
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