A few weeks ago, I received my review copy of An Edible Mosaic in the mail, and was so excited to dig in. You see, I’ve known Faith online for over a year now (we even interviewed her on MidEATS!) – and I really love her cooking style, food photography, and most of all her love and appreciation for Middle Eastern food, which as you all know is near and dear to my heart. While leafing through the copy of An Edible Mosaic, I felt both excited and a little nostalgic because the recipes reminded me of my motherland and of my grandparents, who are incredible cooks and over the years have mastered many of the recipes that Faith writes about.
The book is very easily to follow and organized for the beginner cook of Middle Eastern foods. For example, Faith starts the book with a sweet personal page titled “My Passion for Middle Eastern cooking”. She shares that she didn’t grow up cooking Middle Eastern meals, and only started a about six years ago, when she married into a Middle Eastern family (she fell in love not only with a Middle Eastern man but also with Middle Eastern food!). Her close study of authentic Middle Eastern cuisine is evident in the book, which teaches me as a Middle Easterner even more than I learned watching my mom and grandparents in the kitchen … tells you a lot about how well the book is structured!
In the intro, Faith shares cooking tips and techniques related to preparing Middle Eastern recipes – for example, did you know that chiffonading herbs — “a technique to shred herbs into thin, confetti-like strips” — is an important step to make authentic dishes that involve delicate herbs, like tabbouleh? I’ve always taken the easy way out and made it in the food processor, but it’s also almost always turned out quite mushy when I’ve made it. Then, Faith goes on to describe many of the popular cooking tools needed for cooking Middle Eastern recipes, such as cookie molds, mudukka (mortar & pestle), and hafara (vegetable corer), among several others. One of my favorite sections is on page 18-23 titled “Buying the Right Middle Eastern Ingredients”, and she describes many of the popular ingredients like samna baladi (ghee or clarified butter), bulgur wheat, apricot leather, grape leaves, shredded phyllo dough, saffron, freekeh, and many others. It’s a perfect intro for anyone who is unfamiliar with Middle Eastern ingredients!
The rest of the book — 115 pages — is full of Middle Eastern recipes, including well-known favorites like hummus, grape leaves, tabbouleh and falafel, as well as authentic gems that aren’t yet very well known in the West, like saffron rice with golden raisins and pine nuts (pg. 61), farmer’s cheese spiced cheese balls (pg. 69 – sneak peak in pic below!), creamy chickpea and yogurt casserole (pg. 80), fish pilaf with caramelized onion (pg. 86), pistachio-sesame cookies (pg. 128), tamarind juice drink (pg. 137), and many many others. Wow, I better stop since my mouth is starting to water!
One of my favorite things about cookbooks is the visual element – good food photography is almost like tasting a bite of the dish (not quite though, sadly, hah!). Faith is an incredible food photographer, and the images of food are vibrant and appealing. Because I know pictures are worth a thousand words, here are a few shots of pages within the book to give you an idea of what to expect:
If I didn’t absolutely love Faith’s book, I wouldn’t be promoting it here, and I wouldn’t be doing a giveaway … but since I think it’s an awesome addition to any cosmopolitan cookbook collection, I have asked Faith to sponsor a giveaway (MidEATS’ first!) for TWO COPIES OF AN EDIBLE MOSAIC! Until Dec. 24th, you can enter the giveaway through the Rafflecopter widget below, and make sure you share via social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) for more points and a bigger chance to win. If you’re out of the U.S., no problem – you can still enter.
In addition to entering the giveaway, I highly recommend purchasing a copy of the book as a Christmas or holiday present for anyone in your life who is into food and especially anyone who likes to cook! Buy the hardcopy from Amazon for a little over $16, a fantastic deal for a book that is beautiful enough to place on your coffee table or display in your kitchen.
Many of the recipes in An Edible Mosaic involve Middle Eastern spice mixes. I personally love authentic spices and making spice mixes is totally up Brenda’s alley (co-author of MidEATS). So, Faith kindly gave us permission to share with our readers the recipes for some of the most important spice mixes used in Middle Eastern cooking. They’re on page 29 in her book, An Edible Mosaic, but here are the glorious spice mix recipes below. Feel free to pin the image below as a link to the spice mixes, or share with your friends via social media:
Basic Spice Mixes - BAHARAT
Recipes courtesy of An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair by Faith Gorsky (Tuttle Publishing; Nov. 2012); reprinted with permission.
Mendy Spice Mix
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 dried limes (loomi)
- One 3 in(7.5 cm) cinnamon stick, broken in half
- 1½ tablespoons whole green cardamom pods
- 1 tablespoon whole cloves
- ½ tablespoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 whole nutmeg
- One 1 in (25 mm) piece dried galangal (blue ginger) or ginger
Syrian Spice Mix
- ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1¼ teaspoons ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
Kebseh Spice Mix
- ½ tablespoon ground cumin
- ½ tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
- 1 pinch saffron threads or ¹/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 batch Mendy Spice Mix
Meat Spice Mix
- 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- 1 batch Nine Spice Mix
Chicken Spice Mix
Thyme Spice Mix
- 1½ tablespoons ground sumac
- 1½ tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
- 1½ tablespoons dried thyme leaves
- ½ tablespoon ground thyme
- 2 teaspoons dried crushed oregano
- 2 teaspoons dried crushed savory (optional)
- 1 teaspoon ground marjoram
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
Cake Spice Mix
- ½ teaspoon ground mahlab (Sour Black Cherry Pits)
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground fennel
- ¼ teaspoon ground anise
- 1 batch Syrian Spice Mix
Four Spice Mix
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Seven Spice Mix
- 2 teaspoons ground sweet paprika
- 1½ teaspoons ground coriander
- 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 batch Four Spice Mix
Nine Spice Mix
- For each mix, combine all spices in a small bowl.
- If the mix has whole spices (such as the Mendy Spice Mix and Kebseh Spice Mix), grind them in a spice grinder and strain through a fine mesh sieve, if desired.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Enter for the giveaway here:
Don’t forget that to be entered, you have to leave a comment on this post (in the comments of the blog post). Good luck!