Thursday, August 2, 2012

Book Review: Classic Lebanese Cuisine

by: Kamal Al-Faqih

Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Savory, heart-healthy Lebanese recipes from a renowned chef

The cuisine of Lebanon epitomizes the best of the Mediterranean diet, which is highly regarded for its positive health benefits. Abounding in vegetables, grains, fresh herbs and spices, poultry, and lamb, it yields meals replete with robust, earthy flavors. In Classic Lebanese Cuisine, Chef Kamal Al-Faqih presents 170 dazzling recipes that reflect the full breadth of authentic Lebanese cuisine. Featuring favorites such as baba ghannouj, tabbouli, and kibbi, this book also presents Al-Faqih’s signature classics, like London broil layered with pita and garlic yogurt, and heart-healthy fire-roasted wheat with lamb.

With step-by-step instructions accompanied by full-color photographs throughout, this book makes Lebanese cuisine accessible to everyone who seeks to reproduce their favorite flavors and dishes—from the merely curious to more experienced cooks.

I fell in love with Lebanese cooking back when I was first dating Chris. The Andersons took us to Family Heritage Night at the Embers, and apparently they are from Lebanon. Oh the food was so good. Hummus, meat pies, lamb dishes, and a whole table full of different baklava. The best part of the night was the Turkish coffee they served at the end of your meal.

I've been making hummus and naan on my own for awhile now. But I wanted more. So I found this cookbook and tracked down the author. You wouldn't believe how gracious they were about it, Chef Kamal autographed it for me!!!

So here it is, does it live up to my expectations? Yes! It's not just a cookbook, it's an entertainment book. Chef Kamal gives ideas on meal plans for a party, and "helpful techniques." There is actually a lot of just straight reading in this book, and being that it's a culture that is different from my own, I ate it up. He even gives tips on preparing for a party so everything goes smoothly.

Then the recipes...oh dear they look delicious. Everything has a picture, and he includes a breakdown of special ingredients and equipment you might need. I don't think there's anything in here I don't want to make. My favorites in this book are the hummus - he tells how to do with with dry garbanzo beans, which is something I've been meaning to try. And I will once I get a food processor again. The other recipe I loved was the Tabbouli Bites. I've made Tabbouli, but his unique change-up has you skip adding tomatoes and put the salad into hallowed out cherry tomatoes. It's for a party, turns the salad into a finger food, isn't that brilliant?

I literally want to try every recipe in this book. The only thing that makes it hard is so many of the ingredients or equipment are unique so if you are broke, it's a little more challenging. Plus we live in the middle of no where, so even finding those ingredients is a challenge.

If you are vegetarian or even vegan, you can find recipes in this book. Granted there are a fair number of recipes that use lamb and other meats, but he breaks down a lot of them into vegetarian choices first.

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