Saturday, April 25, 2015

Review: Rose Water and Orange Blossoms by Maureen Abood

Title: Rose Water and Orange Blossoms: Fresh & Classic Recipes from my Lebanese Kitchen
Author: Maureen Abood
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: April 28th 2015
Source: Running Press


Publishers Weekly’s Top 10 Cookbooks for Spring 2015

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'm always looking to add new cultures to my culinary repertoire. I don't know much about Lebanese cooking, so I was excited when I found Rose Water and Orange Blossoms. I think this is a great book for a bit more experienced home cook who is interested in adding some more flavor to their meals.

This book is sorted by course, which makes it easy to pick what you want to make. There's even chapters on things such as preserving and drinks. I love tea, so this made me happy. There's a really nice guide at the beginning that introduces the "new" ingredients and includes sources for where you can get a hold of them. I really liked this addition, because I've been irritated with cookbooks in the past when they just expect you to have a million new ingredients.

The cookbook is written in a more conversational style, which makes it seem that the author is talking you through each recipe, which is nice. The recipes' steps are in longer paragraphs, which makes it appear a bit more complex. There's lots of family stories within the book, and it is clear that this book is filled with love and passion for her cooking, heritage, and family. Nice tips are sprinkled throughout the book, like how to work with grape leaves and how to seed a pomegranate (something I definitely need instructions for- I'm awful at it). If a dish's name isn't in English, then it is translated directly underneath so you know exactly what you're preparing, and I like that. I wish there were more photographs included, but the ones that are included are lovely and vibrant.

The author had an upbringing in Michigan, and I practically lived there growing up, because we used to spend weeks and weekends up there all year long. I loved that I could see the Michigan influence in this Lebanese-American style cookbook. Whenever I saw a recipe showcasing ingredients such as whitefish or cherries, I got really happy. I love this appreciation and reflection.

In my personal opinion, the dessert chapter is the best part of the book, and is likely the recipes that I'll make the most in my own kitchen. There are helpful menus provided in this book to help you plan for special meals or events, which is a pretty cool touch.

There are a lot dishes in this book that I can't wait to try, but the ones I want to try the most include Stone Fruit with Flower Waters and Shaved Coconut, Roasted Leg of Lamb with Black Cherry Pomegranate Salsa, Pistachio Crusted Whitefish with Parsley Lemon Butter, and Sticky Date Cake with Warm Orange Blossom Caramel Sauce.

Overall, this book is a really approachable way to learn about Lebanese cooking. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it for beginners, but I don't think it's overly complex. I'd also recommend it to those who love Michigan-centric ingredients, like myself.

I was provided a copy in exchange for my honest review.


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