Category Middle Eastern Cuisine

Rose Water & Orange Blossoms

Product Details

Rose Water & Orange Blossoms
By Maureen Abood
Running Press
Retail Price $30.00
Amazon Price: $20.26

Book Description:

Pomegranates and pistachios. Floral waters and cinnamon. Bulgur wheat, lentils, and succulent lamb. These lush flavors of Maureen Abood’s childhood, growing up as a Lebanese-American in Michigan, inspired Maureen to launch her award-winning blog, Rose Water & Orange Blossoms. Here she revisits the recipes she was reared on, exploring her heritage through its most-beloved foods and chronicling her riffs on traditional cuisine. Her colorful culinary guides, from grandparents to parents, cousins, and aunts, come alive in her stories like the heady aromas of the dishes passed from their hands to hers.

Taking an ingredient-focused approach that makes the most of every season’s bounty, Maureen presents more than 100 irresistible recipes that will delight readers with their evocative flavors: Spiced Lamb Kofta Burgers, Avocado Tabbouleh in Little Gems, and Pomegranate Rose Sorbet. Weaved throughout are the stories of Maureen’s Lebanese-American upbringing, the path that led her to culinary school and to launch her blog, and life in Harbor Springs, her lakeside Michigan town.


I am familiar with food from this region and was really excited about trying out some of the recipes in this cookbook and was very satisfied with the outcome.  The cookbook itself is  beautiful, filled with wonderful recipes that cover a large range of middle eastern cooking  along with mouth watering photographs of the finished dishes.  While some of the ingredients used have to be purchased in a specialty shop or online,  they are worth the effort.   An added perk to this cookbook is the family stories that are included, giving you the back story on many of the recipes.  This is a gem that you will want to have in your collection.

~Reviewed by Gina A.

Olives, Lemons & Za’atar

Olives, Lemons & Za'atar: The Best Middle Eastern Home Cooking

Olives, Lemons & Za’atar
By Rawia Bishara
Kyle Books
Retail Price $29.95
Amazon Price: $18.94

Book Description: 

Rawia, in Arabic, means storyteller. And that is what I am. I tell the stories of my life’s journey, culture, and family through my cooking. A delicious meal is the greatest companion to the memories we cherish most. I was born into a food-loving Palestinian-Arab family in Nazareth, a beautiful town in the southern Galilee. Though the words “organic,” “locavore,” and “sustainable” were unknown then, my parents’ approach qualified on all counts. My respect for the sources of food, how it is grown and prepared, originates in my early years at home.My grandmother had ceramic urns filled with fruity olive oil, pressed from the trees on her family’s land picked by my aunts and uncles. My mother, too, made her own olive oil, and used the remaining “crude” oil to make soap; she also distilled her own vinegar, sun-dried her own herbs and fruits, made fresh batches of goat cheese, as well as sweet wine from our vineyards, and jarred jewel-colored jams from the bounty of the local orchards.

After moving to New York, I opened my restaurant Tanoreen to honor my mother and her imaginative cooking as well as the rich Middle Eastern gastronomic culture that is rarely experienced outside the region. Tanoreen is unique because it showcases Middle Eastern home cooking as I experienced it growing up. The 135 recipes in this book celebrate tradition and embrace change. I cook without rigidly following recipes, though I do respect tradition. My dishes are based on our culture’s recipes that are flexible enough to accommodate both adventurous and conservative contemporary palates.

Organized by Breakfasts, Mezze, Salads, Soups and Stews, Main Courses (including vegetarian, fish, chicken, lamb and beef), Sides, Pickles and Sauces, and Desserts, in each chapter I maintain the authenticity of a dish, re-creating it as it has been made for generations; but sometimes I might opt to experiment a bit, to make the recipe more contemporary, perhaps adding a spice or offering a few shortcuts. My favorite examples of these are my preparation of Brussels Sprouts with Panko (and tahini), Spice Rubbed Braised Lamb Shank (marinated in ginger and rose buds), Tanoreen Kafta Roll, (a reconstructed classic) or Eggplant Napoleon (baba ghanouge layered between crisp eggplant and topped with basil and tomatoes). A dish like Egyptian Rice with Lamb and Pine Nuts shows this cookbook goes beyond Nazareth, and is more of a bible of Middle Eastern food, sharing my culinary journey from Nazareth to New York, with many stops in between.


There are so many wonderful recipes in this book, but I love learning about the history and culture behind them.  I remember making much of the food with my Lebanese grandmother, so it is a treasure to have some recipes she never wrote down and the cultural context behind them. The author has clearly put much time into research and recipe testing; being truly an expert  in middle eastern cuisine. I think that the section of breakfast recipes is especially diverse and well done. Each dish I have tried has come out so well. The instructions are easy to follow. The ingredients are simple and mostly not difficult to find in an average supermarket, but some things may require mail order if you don’t have a specialty store near you. There are so many recipes in this book that you’d be hard pressed to get through them all, but it is a wonderful resource to have in your kitchen.

~Reviewed by Stephanie S.