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Arabesque: Starters, Kemia, Meze, and Mezze

April 2007 Cookbook of the Month: Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon, by Claudia Roden.

Please post your full-length reviews of recipes from the sections on starters, kemia, meze, and mezze here. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.

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  1. I seem to recall that these are all starters, but I lent my book to a friend - got to get it back! They were all delicious and pretty straight forward.

    Cucumber and Yogurt Salad (Cacik) - I used a greek whole milk yogurt, shredded the cucumbers in the food processor, did salt and drain the cucumbers for a while, and used a combination of fresh dill and mint for the herbs, which I liked.

    Zucchini Fritters (Kabak Mucveri) - these were very tasty and were even good cold the next day. I think I shredded the zucchini in the food processor, then chopped them a bit so they were slightly finer.

    Bulgar and Chickpea Salad (Safsouf) - used canned/drained chickpeas. The recipe calls for fine or medium bulgar, but I was doing this at the last minute and all I had was "bulgar" - nothing about fine or medium on the package. Tried to make it "fine" in the food processor, to no avail. You are supposed to just soak in cold water, not boiling water - I tried it with mine, but it was still hard, so I just ended up doing a new batch in boiling water, then rinsed in cold water and drained. Seemed just fine to me. This was probably my least favorite of the four.

    Eggplant and Tomato Salad (Batinjan Raheb) - a beautiful salad, and I only wish that I'd had the pomegranate seeds to sprinkle on top. I halved the recipe and it seemed like not so much eggplant compared to the rest of the ingredients - but maybe it's supposed to be that way.

    Photo attachment didn't work - here's a link to the photos -


    19 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth

      It looks very delicious. Can you tell me why you are supposed to drain the labne and for how long. Do I add salt to labne before I drain??????

      1. re: yummi

        My mistake - I fixed the text - you drain salt and drain the cucumbers - to get some of the liquid out ... I wrung them out in a towel actually.

      2. re: MMRuth

        Trying photos again.

        1. re: MMRuth

          I made the zucchini fritters too, and they were excellent. I chopped the zucchini, and I was worried that it would be too chunky, but after cooking it, it was fine.

          1. re: JasmineG

            I was just lazy about chopping so though that since I had the FP out anyway, I'd shred and do a quick chop through the shredded stuff!

            1. re: MMRuth

              No, I'm glad that you reported that, because as I was doing all the chopping, I thought "Hmm, wouldn't it be easier to shred all of this with my food processor?" Next time I just might do that!

          2. re: MMRuth

            CACIK FYI - In Sofra Cookbook, Huseyin Ozer (Turkish restauranteur) advises against shredding the cucumber, since it makes the dish watery. He only recommends salting the cucumber if you are grating it or making cacik way in advance. I favor his approach -- finely chopping the cucumber -- because it seems to involve less hassle and fewer dirty dishes!

            1. re: jjones21

              Are you differentiating between shredding and grating?

              1. re: MMRuth

                No, sorry. I meant shredding/grading as opposed to chopping.

                1. re: jjones21

                  Just curious - always open to learning more ;-)

            2. re: MMRuth

              To everyone who has made the cacik, how thick was it? I expected it to be like a dip, but I just made it and it's more like a spread. I used Greek yogurt (Fage), and salted and drained the cukes for an hour. TIA!

              1. re: Rubee

                I used Fage as well - it was thickish - but not really like a spread.

                1. re: MMRuth

                  Thanks MMRuth! I added a little bit of the cucumber liquid that had drained, and it actually thinned out a little more the next day. Here's the results:

                  Cucumber and Yogurt Salad (Cacik - Turkey), p. 156

                  I used Fage Greek yogurt, and MMRuth's tip of using the food processor to shred one seeded cucumber. I salted and drained the cucumber for an hour, and then rinsed and squeezed out the moisture. Garlic and dill were the two final ingredients. As I mentioned above, it was a little too thick so I added some of the drained liquid. I served it the next day along with two types of pita chips - some sprinkled with zatar, some with sumac - and hummus (a non-Arabesque recipe - I add toasted and finely ground sesame, coriander, and cumin seeds - a tip from "A New Way to Cook" ; ) . The cacik was garlicky and good! I had a couple over for dinner last night and one had never had tzatziki or cacik before, and she loved it.

                  (BTW, for dinner I made Beef Wellington for the first time. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND the Cook's Illustrated recipe (November/December 2001) . I used a different sauce, but the Beef Wellington itself came out perfect. )

                  1. re: Rubee

                    The cacik I've had in Turkey has always been pretty thick.

                    1. re: Rubee

                      Cucumber and Yogurt Salad (Cacik - Turkey), p. 156

                      FYI, this recipe is identical to the one listed on pg. 70 of tNBoEF.

                      I made a cold dinner last night since it was 1000 degrees in NE and about 750 degrees inside my apt. Ok, that's a slight exaggeration but it was almost 85 degrees in the house and I was feeling melty and miserable. It's too bad bc I've been dying to roast eggplants and tomatoes but haven't had the will to turn the oven on.

                      So, I dug in the fridge and found cucumbers from the farm and decided that this would be a perfect accompaniment to the rest of my dinner (tomatoes and bufalo mozzarella, corn on the cob, framani salami).

                      I made a half portion but was only able to salt the cukes for about half an hour. Then I dried them with a paper towel. I also used fage, which drained for the same half hour. I only had fresh mint and garlic on hand but I think dill would have been an excellent addition as well.

                      Cool and refreshing and a delicious way to eat cucumbers.

                      1. re: beetlebug

                        i'm just reading this late summer post, and thinking of all the wonderful produce of summer. ah, to have good tomatoes, corn and cukes now at the end of january!

                2. re: MMRuth

                  I also made the eggplant and tomato salad-- I agree about the relative amounts. I had two moderate size eggplants (it calls for 2-3, about 2lb; sorry, I didn't weigh mine) and after roasting and peeling there was not a whole lot left; it called for a topping of 4 plum tomatoes; I only used two because that more or less covered the eggplant! It was ok; I probably won't make it again--

                  1. re: MMRuth

                    Made the zucchini fritters tonight as a side for meatloaf. Not crazy about the instructions, which kind of leave you hanging on the amount of heat and time for each batch. Stlll and all, a hit, probably more so with Lulu and me than with LulusDad (although he went back for seconds and took FOUR more, so ... who knows). Given that I'm not nuts about frying, and that I felt nervous not knowing how long these would take, I probably wouldn't make them again, but I really liked them a lot.

                    1. re: LulusMom

                      If, you want a good recipe for zucchini fritters, I really like Nigella's.

                  2. We tried two starters from the Lebanon section last night. They didn't turn out wonderfully, but I place responsibility for that on my grumpy mood and some cooking mistakes.

                    We had eggplant with pomegranate molasses. I'm actually a little scared of eggplant. One of the reasons I was excited about Arabesque is that I think it will help me get past that. Well, I think I might have overcooked the eggplant a bit. I KNOW I've had eggplant that was not so slimy. The pomegranate molasses dressing was absolutely wonderful. I just couldn't get past the eggplant texture, but my partner really enjoyed it.

                    We also had spinach and bean with carmelized onions. Two errors on this one: First, I forgot that black-eyed peas are among my least favorite beans. I should have used chick peas. Second, I didn't read the recipe to the end (duh) so did not notice that the dish is supposed to be served cold. It was right off the stove hot for us. It was actually good hot, but we both tried it later at room temperature and it was much, much better. One of us will have it cold for lunch today. We also thought the amount of spinach could be increased, possibly even doubled, but we're kind of spinach freaks.

                    Both of these dishes came together quite easily.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: debbiel

                      Made the Cacik last night. only drained the cucumbers since I had to gp out gpt more yogurt. Mint was freh from the garden and was yummy

                      1. re: debbiel

                        Where did you find pomegranate molasses?

                        1. re: Megiac

                          I ordered online through the Spice House as part of a larger order, but I think a few of the international/specialty food shops in my town sell it.


                          1. re: debbiel

                            I just finshed a batch of the Baba Ganoush. After roasting the eggplant on my grill until it was balckenedand soft, I brought it in to cool. While I was peeling it I noticed a lot of the juices had drained away. Not being a masochist, the idea of putting the pulp in a fine strainer and pushing it all through with a knife seemed nuts. i just threw everything iin the food processor and let it whip. It is cooling in my fridge but tastes ptretty darned good. May have to add a bit of salt. I was making a half recipe so some stuff i had to guess at. It was a snap to make with the FP

                            1. re: Candy

                              Hi! I just found this thread today. I often make Baba Ganoush in the summer, and would like to share a few hints.

                              After grilling (my DH puts soaked woodchips on the charcoal, and that adds a lot of smokey flavor), he places the eggplant in a bowl to catch the juices. After it cools, I slice the eggplant lengthwise and use a large spoon to scrape out all the flesh. I find this to be a lot easier than peeling. The flesh goes into the bowl with the leaked-out juices ( first, I remove the pieces of charred skin from the bowl!), and I just mash with a fork--a potato masher would work well, too. Then I add tahini, crushed garlic, lemon juice, s & p, a little olive oil, etc.
                              Easy, and only a fork, knife, spoon, and cutting board to wash.
                              FP is good too, but needs washing, and I am soo lazy. I also like the chunkier texture.
                              Take care, p.j.

                          2. re: Megiac

                            Trader Joe's has a house brand of pom molasses in the stores now . . .

                            1. re: snarlsdottir

                              the TJ's one is of the too sweet category that Rodin mentions -- and suggests doctoring with vinegar

                        2. Since I'm going to be out of town for a couple of weeks, I did a big bit of cooking from Arabesque last weekend for a dinner party.

                          I made all courses from the book:

                          Starters, kemia; meze; orange, olive and onion salad; mashed eggplant and tomato salad; cucumber and yoghurt salad with mint (I only had dried Egyptian mint which wasn't as pungent). I also made, Muhammara, a spread from Paual Wolfert's Mediterranean Cooking, and served it with crackers to start. It's a great spread, made of red peppers, ground walnuts, some crumbled crackers, lemon juice, cumin, salt and pomegranate molasses - all whirled in the food processor. If you serve this with dukkah with drinks or wine, it'll be a huge hit. The pomegranate molas. really adds to the dish.

                          ORANGE, OLIVE and ONION SALAD: I thought this salad from Morocco was one of the best things I ever tasted. I've made similar salads from other Wolfert and Roden before, but I'd forgotten how delicious it is. Onions and oranges are great together, and the added saltiness of the olives makes it perfect. The oranges all came from my CSA box in the past few weeks and so were probably more tasty and juicy than regular supermarket oranges. Still, this would be great with regular oranges, too.

                          MASHED EGGPLANT and TOMATO SALAD: (Morocco): I used Indian eggplants (they were on sale) and roasted them in the oven. Then you skin and chop/mash them and squeeze out extra juice. The recipe calls for the tomatoes to be sauteed with garlic. I didn't have time and so just chopped them and the garlic raw. I mixed all this together with some chopped olives, cilantro, parsley and salt and let sit for an hour or so. The recipe calls for the olives to be served alongside, but I chopped and folded them into the salad. Very, very, very good.

                          CUKE SALAD (Cacik - Turkey)- I used Fage Greek yoghurt mixed with a little Pavel's lowfat organic. The cukes were on special at Berkeley Bowl - a bag of Persian cukes for 99 cents a pound! I cut cukes into chunks and left the peel on. This was terrifically refreshing and the cukes were very crispy. Very good.

                          LITTLE PUFF PASTRY PIES (Lebanon). One of our guests is a vegetarian and I made these for him. Pretty easy since I bought the puff pastry. Filling is mozzarella and feta mixed with egg to bind. I added a few chopped green onions to the mix, as well as some pepper. Baked in oven til browned. Served with a bowl of yoghurt for dipping. These were fabulous. How could they not be? Cheese in puff pastry?? I mean, sheesh!

                          Main Course was CHICKEN AND ONION PIE (Morocco). It's a real winner. Filo-topped chicken and onions baked until crisp and brown. I added some cumin to the spices and cut down on the butter (actually by mixing with olive oil for brushing the filo). I also added a small amount of homemade chicken stock to the chicken/onion mixture because it seemed a bit dry. You line the pan with filo, spoon the filling over and then fold the rest of the filo over the top of the filling, buttering between each layer. This was also delicious and not that big a deal to make, especially if you relax about the filo and don't worry about it ripping or cracking - doesn't matter. Recipe calls for sprinkling the top with cinnamon and powdered sugar, but I left off the sugar.

                          YOGURT CAKE - This cake is made with only 3 Tbsps flour. It's like a souffle but rises and falls while cooking. It's flavored with lemon and zest. Roden serves it with a lemon and orange syrup to pour over but says she likes it better without. I made the mistake of serving it with some thawed frozen raspberries/blackberries which overwhelmed it, completely knocking out the lemon flavor. We had a piece later w/out the berries, and it was great. It's almost spongelike, with a lovely tang of lemon zest. Next time I'll serve it plain.

                          All in all, this was a great success. I didn't forget to take pix, but was too shy and didn't want to field comments about how weird it is when the cook starts photographing her meal. Now, of course, I regret it.

                          A couple of days later, I made the ZUCCHINI FRITTERS from Turkey. I could tell they'd be great by just reading the recipe (since I'm something of a fritter maven). I had no fresh mint and again used dried Egyptian mint. I also added some crumbled feta to make the batter go farther since I didn't have enough zukes. Served with bbq lamb patties (flavored as in kofte) and yoghurt, garlic, green onion, cilantro dip. GREAT!

                          Okay, off to New York and Massachusetts for the next couple of weeks. Hope to eat great stuff in NY, espec. the Georgian bakery on Neptune Street (sorry - I know this isn't the correct board, but...)

                          I love this book. There are a bunch of other things I want to try. Maybe I'll have time before the end of the month.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: oakjoan

                            I just tried the orange, olive, and onion salad yesterday and it was great. I used less onion (a quarter of a large red onion, finely minced) than the recipe calls for, though. I had the salad today with some tabbouleh and some cold Moroccan spiced chicken for lunch and the salad was even better having spent time in the refrigerator, though the oranges had macerated overnight and given up quite a bit of juice so the salad looked kind of funky in the bowl (quite soupy). I was having a hard time imagining the ingredients together before I made it, but I'm really glad I tried it. Warm, summery, delicious.

                          2. Last week I decided to try the recipes for babaganoush, hummus, and tabbouleh. Predictable, I know, but I wanted to see her versions of the basic trio. The baba was a bit blah, and I felt the urge to give it a bit more character by adding considerably more lemon, a bit of cumin, and just a hint of liquid smoke (to compensate for my inability to grill this time of year). The addition of the yogurt was unusual, but I liked it. I used some realllly thick labny, which could be why I needed to crank up the flavors a bit.

                            The tabbouleh was just right. Nothing remarkable, but perfect in its own way.

                            The hummus was terrific. Very simple (and I used canned chickpeas, I'll admit) and very nice. It's easy to forget how good fresh, homemade hummus is compared to the dreck in the plastic tubs from the supermarket.

                            These all went nicely with her simplified kibbeh recipe (which isn't a very good recipe, but leads to good results if you can read between the lines) and her pilaf ("vermicelli rice"), which was the Platonic ideal of pilaf -- light yet rich, delicate yet satisfying.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Rick_V

                              We made the Orange, Olive and Onion Salad tonight. It was terrific. I julienned the red onions and soaked them in ice water for about 20 minutes, rather than dicing and adding them directly to the oranges. The dressing with cumin and paprika was very nice. I'd like to try it with argan oil next time. I used aleppo pepper instead of ground chili pepper. We could eat this salad with many different items, including BBQ! It was refreshing and earthy at the same time. We served it with Chicken with Caramelized Baby Onions and Honey, which I will post about on the entree thread.

                              1. re: zataar

                                I just added the onions to the oranges and let them take care of mellowing the onions. I agree that his salad is great.

                            2. I've made a number of the starters in the past few weeks:

                              Bell Pepper Puree (p. 40) (Slada Felfla): This was good, but a little thinner than I would have liked. I served it as a dip, but the notes say that it can be served to accompany fish, and I think that this would be a better use of it. My guests like it, though, and the flavors were good, I just wish it was a little thicker. Next time I'll use more bell peppers.

                              Little Pies with Fresh Goat Cheese and Olives (p. 63) (Briwat Bil Jban): I didn't love these, I think that they needed a little more seasoning, but more importantly, the mouthfeel was a little too chalky.

                              Meat Cigars (p. 64) (Briwat Bil Kefta): I loved these, and would definitely make them again. My only complaint, though (and I experienced this with a few other recipes, as have others that I know), is that the spicing was way too mild. I increased the spices anyway, and next time I make it, I'd double the spicing. But these were a very fun starter, and looked very impressive.

                              As I already noted, I made the zucchini fritters, and loved them. I'll definitely make those again.

                              1. First bbq yesterday (chicken-but not from the book!). Purchased Greek-style pita (thicker) went on the grill to warm up - delicious with the following:
                                Hummus made by my friend from her recipe, which is almost like the one in the book but made with canned chickpeas, drained & boiled with a bit of baking soda. Then proceed as in the recipe in the book.
                                I made the Cucumber and Yogurt Salad (Caciz) - I used organic 2.5% milk yogurt, drained in a colander (lined with paper towel) for 1/2 hr. I used half of a large English cucumber, grated on the widest grating side of 4-side grater, I drained cuke in paper-towel lined colander for 15 mins (forgot to salt). I used one clove of garlic (crushed, minced then sprinkled with salt & mashed again with side of knife). Forgot to buy fresh mint, so I used dried whole leaf mint from last year's crop, crushing it with my fingers as it went in. The result was totally delicious, clean & refreshing. It was all gone in one sitting.

                                11 Replies
                                1. re: morebubbles

                                  Your post reminded me that there was something odd about the instruction about what to do with the garlic - lent the book out so I can't check - but I ended up doing exactly what you did.

                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                    Skimming recipes from the book this weekend I noticed some of the instructions are not as clear as they could be, or confusing esp. if it's something you haven't worked with before. On the garlic I believe it says chopped or mashed and then optional. But I'm glad to have mashed/chopped/mashed 'cause I don't like finding (even small) raw garlic chunks.
                                    MMRuth: great minds think alike, right? : )
                                    I mentioned my yogurt salad success to my Lebanese friend this morning. She's been encouraging me to make my own yogurt, so I think I'll finally make it this week.

                                    1. re: morebubbles

                                      Yeah - I think it said crushed garlic - which to me is smashed clove, which didn't sound too appetizing.

                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                        In a lot of the recipes it says crushed garlic, and what she means by that confuses me: does she mean just smahsed on the side of a knife, but more or less whole? Does she mean crushed in a garlic press? I *think* she means more or less the latter, but it's a little vague. And I agree that some of the recipes aren't as clear as they could be.

                                        1. re: JasmineG

                                          I made the Orange, Black Olive and Red Onion salad last night- SOOOOO yummy! We loved the combination of flavors and spices! The colors were beautiful to look at! I will make again for sure!

                                          1. re: gastronomy

                                            Any chance you could give a brief description of this? I'd love to make it for Easter brunch. I haven't found a copy of the book at any nearby libraries. TIA!

                                            1. re: Pat Hammond

                                              Here's the recipe.


                                              The only difference is that Roden suggests using traditional argan oil instead of olive oil for its distinctive "nutty flavor".

                                                1. re: Pat Hammond

                                                  I am just getting your request- Thanks Rubee for getting it! It really is yummy and so beautiful!

                                          2. re: JasmineG

                                            She actually talks about what she means by crushed garlic in the intro text. Something like smashing it w/ the side of a knife and then essentially mincing. She says that a garlic press can be used but results can vary depending on the model. After making a few of her recipes that include raw garlic, I find that I like less cloves than she calls for. Usually one is sufficient.

                                            I'll report on all the little dishes I've made later, but I'll say that we really enjoyed the orange, olive and red onion salad that others have praised. Unfortunately, I had to use jarred nicoise olives instead of some meatier, more pungent ones, but it was still very nice and refreshing. I'm going to try modifying the technique by slicing the oranges into rounds (which I prefer to chunks) and slicing the onion instead of chopping. Same taste just different presentation.

                                            Photo of orange salad:

                                            1. re: JasmineG

                                              I interpreted her "crushed" to be garlic pressed or smashed and chopped...in other words, fine.

                                              I used all the garlic she indicated as I could eat the stuff raw for snack.

                                    2. Beet salad with yogurt

                                      I have both "Arabesque" and "Cookbook of Middle Eastern Food," and they both have this recipe, the main difference being in the presentation. In "Cookbook," Roden just tells you to mix all the ingredients together. In "Arabesque," she tells you to spread the yogurt mixture on a plate, then arrange the beet slices on top. Much prettier and more appetizing looking. A very simple, easy and tasty recipe, though you gotta like beets and yogurt :)

                                      I made this with the bulgur with tomatoes and beef/lamb, though I used leftover turkey thigh, from "Cookbook," which is not the Cookbook of the Month. Also very tasty, and much more than the sum of its parts, though it strangely didn't taste very good as leftovers, though that might have been more because I was sick of eating it.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: AppleSister

                                        Thanks for that report on the beets, sounds good! I just bought a bunch yesterday; I plan on making the beets with yogurt this week. I might do it with the baked kibbeh. I'm trying to think of what I can do with the beet greens. Maybe a variation of the spinach with onions and beans that debbiel made?

                                        1. re: Rubee

                                          Still cooking from Arabesque of course. We are doing a couple of the mezze tonight, the chicken wings with garlic and lemon, and the shrimp with garlic and cilantro. DH is putting his hand to more Pita made on the grill. i still have somee of the baba ganoush and a bit of caick. Tomorrow night for dinner we are making thw lamb stuffed quinces and a salad of feta, tomatoes, cucumber for our Easter dinner. Dessert is going to be that incredible rice pudding i keep raving bout with rhubarb compote. Cn't get enough of that stuff. Need to coome up with a new name for it. People hear "rice pudding" and think oh yeah boring stuff. This is so elegant and ethereal it is just not far to call it rice pudding.

                                        2. re: AppleSister

                                          I made these beets last night and I *loved* them. So simple in execution and so simple in flavors, but there was something so satisfying about them.

                                          I bought pretty yellow/golden beets v. red ones. Essentially, you roast the beets and slice them up. Add garlic to the drained yogurt and spread it onto a plate. Lay the beets down onto the yogurt spread in a pretty way. In a separate bowl, mix lemon juice, olive oil and parsley. Pour this onto the beet/yogurt plate.

                                          The lemon juice and olive oil added this extra dimension to the sweetness of the beets and the tanginess of the yogurt. It was positively addicting. I regretted only making half a portion because I bet this would have tasted fabulous the next day.

                                          1. re: beetlebug

                                            ditto on the beets - I made them as a side for ginger spicy chicken thighs http://wednesdaychef.typepad.com/the_... (not from Arabesque
                                            )simple, tasty, lovely hit of mint
                                            I also did it with garlic in the yogurt, optional in the recipe, but I can't see why you'd leave it out

                                            1. re: beetlebug

                                              I made the beets last night, adding both the garlic and the tahini variation - absolutely beautiful and delicious. Neither the tahini nor the garlic taste came through strongly, but added lovely flavor to the yogurt and so the beets. Made the full recipe and am really looking forward to lunch.

                                          2. I am the lone dissenter here, but the Zucchini Fritters were a watery, sticking mess in my non-non-stick pan. It was my worst bungle in a couple of years. So, my advice is to go with non-stick on this one.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: gridder

                                              I made them, too, but I used a non-stick pan. The fritters were delicious, but I agree that they didn't hold together very well and were certainly not as compact and perfect as those in the photo. They were ugly but deelish.

                                              1. re: oakjoan

                                                I made these zucchini fritters as specified and thought they were quite successful (nonstick pan) They should not be watery, especially after the zucchini and onion are sauteed. They could certainly be salted, and squeezed before frying to remove even more moisture. I chopped the zucc as per instructions. fried with the onion, then blended with the herbs, cheese eggs and flour. the pan should be hot when you spoon the batter in, and oil is definitely needed to get the right kind of fried surface. these where surprisingly good and easy and we will make this sort of item again.

                                            2. Spinach and Beans with Caramelized Onions (Sabanekh Bi Loubia - Lebanon), p. 268 - I used chickpeas as suggested by DebbieL and beet greens instead of spinach.

                                              Carrots with Garlic and Mint (Jazar Bil Na'na - Morocco), p. 47

                                              Last night, I served both dishes as sides to whole pork tenderloins I wanted to cook (adapted from a recipe for roast leg of lamb with dates and almonds from "Modern Moroccan" by Ghillie Basan - very good, with a paste made with butter, cumin, ground coriander, cayenne, garlic, paprika, s&p, roasted with a handful of blanched almonds and dates).

                                              I really liked the chickpeas with beet greens (which I subbed for the spinach since I had bought a bunch of beets for another dish) and caramelized onions. I made this earlier in the day and kept snacking on it. I especially liked the combination of ingredients with the sweetness of the onion, tang of the lemon juice, and finished with some nice extra-virgin olive oil from Lebanon. I used greens from one bunch (3) beets and a 19 oz can of chickpeas.

                                              The carrots were very simple - cooked and tossed with garlic, EVOO, and dried mint. I halved the portion, and probably should have added more mint than the amount I eyeballed as it was either not enough, or my dried mint had lost some of its flavor. Still a good simple side dish.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: Rubee

                                                Spinach and Beans with Caramelized Onions (Sabanekh Bi Loubia - Lebanon), p. 268
                                                Carrots with Garlic and Mint (Jazar Bil Na'na - Morocco), p. 47

                                                (Reposting missing pics):

                                                1. re: Rubee

                                                  I'm really hungry right now, and that Spinach with beans and onions dish is making me crazy. Looks incredible.

                                              2. Mashed Eggplant and Tomato Salad - Morocco (pg. 42)

                                                This was delicious. Not at all what I expected. To me, it's not really a salad, but more like a spread. Essentially, roast and mash eggplants. Simmer tomatoes and garlic. Combine the two and add paprika, cayenne pepper, cumin, parsley and cilantro. I also threw in whole olives. It's a very pretty dish too.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: beetlebug

                                                  Mashed Eggplant and Tomato Salad (zaalouk) - Morocco, p. 42

                                                  I made this salad this week and also really liked it. I had it for an afternoon snack today with hummus (Sally Schneider's "New Way to Cook") which froze and defrosted surprisingly well, and flatbread ("Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes") with za'atar.

                                                  1. re: Rubee

                                                    That salad is one of my favorite things in the book. Glad you liked it.

                                                  2. re: beetlebug

                                                    I'm making this at the moment - one of my aubergines just exploded despite pricking it! Oops. It made a surprisingly large bang as well.

                                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                                      Well despite the explosing aubergine disaster, I made this yesterday and it turned out very well. I served it for lunch for four with the feta and yoghurt dip and grilled courgettes from the Lebanese chapter and every scrap got eaten with some Iranian flatbread. I was very pleased as I already have a fridge full of leftovers!

                                                  3. Eggplant Puree with Yogurt - Turkey (pg. 155)

                                                    This was ok. Very subtle and it accented my lamb quite nicely. Very easy. Roast and mash eggplant then whisk in yogurt, garlic, salt and olive oil.

                                                    No picture because it was a white dish in a white bowl. It would have looked like a polar bear in a winter storm.

                                                    1. I made the orange, onion and olive salad last night and served it as an antipasto in an otherwise not-so-Moroccan menu.This salad has already proven a popular choice here - I'll pile on the praise, this is a very nice result especially given the minimal effort involved. Guests seemed surprised that orange and olive work so well together - it's definitely an excellent combination.

                                                      I used extra-virgin olive oil (not the optional argan oil), a Spanish smoked paprika, and some chubby purplish olives, which I pitted. Will definitely make this again.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Pincho

                                                        I, too, loved the orange salad (used blood oranges and slices of Meyer lemons). It was much better than the sum of its parts! After a tasting of the Argan oil, we all agreed that the only appropriate place for it was down the drain -- must be an acquired taste.

                                                        Also made the potatoes mashed with olive oil -- very bland. It was much better after the addition of a clove of garlic, minced, and some lemon juice.

                                                      2. roast potatoes w/ lemon and coriander (p. 266) -- Lebanon -- thumbs up
                                                        spinach and beans w/ caramalized onions (p. 268) -- Lebanon -- big thumbs up

                                                        I like the technique for the potatoes in which you boil for 10 minutes and then roast. I used "creamers" but did not peel (why would you peel lovely new potatoes??), and cut up after boiling. It's a good technique but I found the lemon juice added at end, well, kinda annoying -- especially since I served w/ chicken w/ preserved lemons so it was kinda overload on the lemon theme. I already made it a second time though w/o the lemon and preferred that.

                                                        (Previously I made roasted potatoes kinda a la Alice Waters by covering roasting pan w/ aluminum foil filled with cut up potatoes, whole garlic and thyme sprigs for 1/2 time and then uncovered.

                                                        Spinach is a very good dish, particularly for one such as myself that actually likes black-eyed peas. I too neglected to read through to end that it's to be served cold, but I had time to set aside and served at room temp. It's very good, and will go on my rotation for spinach (which I love and pre-Arabesque prepared Italian-style w/ garlic & olive oil. I made a second night by throwing in more spinach and heating up w/ leftovers.

                                                        Solid techniques that give me confidence to wade deeper into this cookbook, which I have already purchased.

                                                        1. Eggplant Slices with Pomegranate, Yogurt and Tahini (Batinjan Bil Rumman Wal Laban - Lebanon), p. 261

                                                          This was a nice side dish to the Prawns in Spicy Tomato Sauce (p. 84). Eggplant slices are brushed with oil and baked until browned and soft. Brush with a dressing of pomegranate molasses, vinegar (I used red wine) and olive oil. Finish with a yogurt/tahini/garlic sauce and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts. The pomegranate 'dressing' was my favorite part, I even ended up drizzling more over the yogurt sauce. I think I'm now addicted to pomegranate molasses - I love its sweet-sour flavor.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Rubee

                                                            I agree, the dressing was the best part of this. Based on your post, I saved a bit of the extra I had left over so that I could drizzle it over (if I so desired!).

                                                          2. Red Lentil & Rice soup
                                                            My book JUST arrived, so whipped this up yesterday...
                                                            It was pretty unremarkable.
                                                            I used good homemade veg broth (instead of recommended chicken boullion), and was bored with the spice (dried coriander, cumin, black pepper, and lemon. yes everything I used was very fresh)
                                                            so I went back and doctored it with smoked hot paprika and fresh ginger. Then, it was nice.

                                                            1. Gosh, I've fallen behind on reporting even though I've been cooking from the book the past few weeks! I've made the below in this category (not all for the same meal):

                                                              Orange, onion, olive salad (Morocco, p.48): We really enjoyed the combo of orange w/ red onion. I couldn't find olive oil so stuck w/ a fruity EVOO. All I had were black nicoise olives and next time would use more pungent, olive cured ones. Only thing I would do differently from the recipe instructions is to cut oranges into nice rounds and onion into thin slices...I wasn't crazy about the chunky texture of Roden's method.
                                                              Photo: http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y45/...

                                                              Grated Cucumber & Mint Salad (Morocco, p. 44): Ridiculously easy w/ very few ingredients. I didn't have any orange blossom water yet so had to omit. This made for a refreshing condiment w/ homemade wheat flour "chips." Would also go well w/ pita chips.
                                                              Photo: http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y45/...
                                                              On plate w/ other nibbles I had laying around: http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y45/...

                                                              Roasted Eggplants & Bell Peppers w/ yogurt & pine nuts (Turkey, p.161): Another easy recipe as part of a meal of other nibbles. It was fine but not particularly memorable or something I'm dying to make again.
                                                              Photo w/ a chickpea-roasted pepper puree I threw together:

                                                              Bulgur & Chickpea Salad (Lebanon, p. 254): One of my favorite things from the book thus far. Nutty, zesty, herbacious, wholesome. Tasted better the second day.
                                                              Photo: http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y45/...
                                                              Recipe link: http://www.chicagotribune.com/feature...

                                                              That's all I remember in this food category. Thank goodness I have photo documentary to jog my memory!!

                                                              5 Replies
                                                              1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                Re: the orange, onion, olive salad. Is it possible to prep any of this in advance. I've made the dressing, but we're having people over for dinner, and was wondering if I could cut the oranges ahead of time?

                                                                1. re: Rubee

                                                                  I see no reason why you couldn't do this a few hours ahead of time -- nothing's going to wilt. I think I actually plated mine an hour or so before serving.

                                                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                                                    Thanks so much! I was worried the oranges would release their juice too much. Great, one less last-minute dish when the guests arrive.

                                                                  2. re: Rubee

                                                                    Orange, Olive, and Onion Salad - Morocco (p. 48).

                                                                    Add me to the list of fans. As Pikawicca mentions, I had no problem prepping this ahead of time and it was an excellent side dish (along with the beets and yogurt) to rice pilaf and kofte that a friend made. My guests also mentioned how unexpectedly delicious the combination was. I used half a thinly sliced red onion, and made the dressing with olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, paprika, and aleppo pepper. I also pitted and halved the olives.

                                                                    1. re: Rubee

                                                                      Very late in posting, I realize. I lurked all of April ... it was too busy a month to get much "fun"cooking done (travel, visitors, etc.). But last night I was finally able to make a meal from the book. Started with the Orange, Olive and Onion salad. LOVED it. But ... is it just me or did this give very tiny portions? We had leftovers of the main course, so I'll be making the salad again to go with that. Anyway, I loved reading the comments all month - my mouth watered and I got a lot of great tips. Thanks to everyone.

                                                                2. Spinach Salad with Preserved Lemon and Olives (Morocco, pg. 56)

                                                                  This was also very good. I had decided to only make half a batch but spaced when I was prepping the dish. While only using one pound of spinach (half) I made the full serving of the flavor enhancer (lemon, olives and garlic) so I have a bit of this leftover.

                                                                  This was also an easy recipe to prepare. Put the spinach leaves into a large pot and steam until the leaves are a soft mess. The water on the leaves is supposed to be enough to steam the leaves. Drain the leaves.

                                                                  *I don't know what world Roden lives in, but her recipe states that the leaves will steam in 1-2 minutes on low heat. I used a large skillet that was filled with half the amount of spinach. It took a bit less than 10 minutes for the leaves to soften up. I did open the lid and used my hands to stir the leaves, but there is no way that 1-2 minutes would have done the trick.

                                                                  Heat up olive oil and add a bit of garlic. Then dump the spinach, preserved lemon peels and chopped up olives. Briefly stir fry and then serve. I didn't add any salt or pepper because my olives provided just enough of brininess.

                                                                  The recipe states that the dish should be served cold so I did make this a few hours ahead. However, I tasted the spinach warm and it was delicious as is. It also tasted great cold though so I think it can be served either way.

                                                                  As stated earlier, I have leftover olive/lemon spread. I'm going to serve this with my leftover beet tops. I'll be interested to see how this will work with other greens.

                                                                  1. SWEET POTATO SALAD - I've made this twice, once with very sweet sweet potatoes and once with only moderately sweet sweet potatoes. Both turned out wonderful, unique and tasty. The preserved lemon and lemon juice added just before eating add a wonderful acidity and new flavor dimension.

                                                                    CHICKEN WITH TOMATO PILAF - Simple, straightforward, easy and delicious. Not necessarily super different but a lovey, easy standby that doesn't require any special ingredients.

                                                                    BULGUR & CHICKPEA SALAD - Hearty, easy, flavorful & delicious. Herbs are key and really make the salad taste fresh.

                                                                    CHICKEN AND ONION PIE - LOVED THIS! What a wonderful contrast in flavors and textures. It is not something that looking at the recipe I would have expected. I loved the powdered sugar on top.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: huruta

                                                                      "Day late, dollar short" should be my motto, but after reading everyone's reports of what they made I had my library get the book from another library...I made the sweet potato salad (Morroco) tonight and loved it. I also had bought some labne yesterday and made a mini serving of the labne, feta and EVOO dip last night, easy and very good but if you ask me, the labne (which was homemade) could be eaten by the spoonfuls as is.
                                                                      Definitely want to try other dishes...AND, do preserved lemons always taste like furniture polish? I have never had them before and bought them, these were very tiny lemons and I put them under the skin of a chicken which I roasted with a aioli and also added them to the sweet potato salad. If they are made homemade do they taste like this??? (alas, chowpups didn't like the chicken!!)

                                                                    2. Bread Salad with Sumac

                                                                      This was very good; you toast pita bread till crisp then toss with romaine and assorted other salad ingredients. I'm always drawn to recipes using Sumac, as I have it, and love the taste. I used *far* more pita than called for (it called for 1.5 pita breads for a salad for 6 to 8); I probably used 4 pitas for a salad for the four of us.

                                                                      Spinach Pies-
                                                                      These were fantastic; it is puff pastry rounds filled with an onion, spinach, and (again) sumac mixture. Quibble about the recipe; it says to "roll the puff pastry out into "a thin sheet" with no indication of how thick, or how big. I did some eye estimation given how many rounds I was supposed to get out of it, and probably rolled it out to about 50% larger. If you do this, she says to save the scraps and roll the pastry out again to make more rounds; I recommend that you try and fit as many rounds into the first rolling as you can, as the puff pastry does *not* like to be rolled out again- it's tough going. I brought these to an evening party and then ate the leftovers for breakfast! My husband never tried them at the party as he thought they were cherry pastries (the sumac stains the pastry a little red, which can make them perhaps "unidentifable"). But good.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: DGresh

                                                                        Both of those sound great! I'm going to have to try at least one of them this week.

                                                                        1. re: Rubee

                                                                          Ditto on these. I made them for a dinner party with one vegetarian guest and he could hardly get any!

                                                                      2. Lemons Boiled in Brine and Preserved in Oil, p. 37

                                                                        Beets with Yogurt (Pancar Salatasi) - Turkey, p. 167

                                                                        I made preserved lemons using her short-cut method - simpling boiling them in salted water for about a half an hour, scooping out the flesh, and storing the peel in vegetable oil. Used them in some marinated olives last night as one of the starters for a meal - lemon and orange zest, fresh thyme, zatar, and the peel of half of a preserved lemon, chopped. Other apps were two non-Arasbesque recipes, hummus and muhammara, with pita chips brushed with olive oil and zatar. I used a muhammara recipe from Wolfert (I'm going to post on the Leite's thread) since Roden's version doesn't include roasted red peppers.

                                                                        For dinner a friend made a specialty of his - kofte with rice pilaf. I made two side dishes, the wonderful orange and olive salad (posted above), and the beets with yogurt. All the flavors were just perfect together - what a great meal. Like everyone else, I really liked the beets. I bought the beets weeks ago, roasted them last weekend, and then didn't get around to making the dish until this weekend, so good to know that the beets kept fine (I peeled them and kept them in a Ziploc). I used the Lebanese version of the recipe and added tahini to the yogurt and garlic. Prepped everything ahead of time and made the three components - the lemon juice, olive oil, and parsley dressing, the yogurt mixture, and sliced the beets. At dinner, just spread the yogurt out on a plate, added the beets, and then shook the dressing (in a glass jar) and drizzled it over everything. Delicious! The leftover yogurt mixture was also tasty drizzled on the kofte kebabs.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Rubee

                                                                          Muhammara, orange and olive salad, Brian's kofte and rice pilaf.

                                                                          1. re: Rubee

                                                                            I used Wolfert's recipe for muhammara, too when preparing the Arabeseque dinner. I just love it - the peppers and the pom. molass are wonderful in it.

                                                                            Nice pix, too. Gotta try that beet recipe.

                                                                        2. Eggplant Puree (Patlican Salatasi - Turkey), p. 154

                                                                          I made the Lebanese version, adding pomegranate molasses, garlic, and chopped parsley (and cilantro) to the eggplant/olive oil/lemon juice puree. I liked this variation a lot - probably because it had pomegranate molasses in it. In fact, I ate all of it myself with some pita chips. Would definitely make this again as something different from a typical eggplant spread.

                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Rubee

                                                                            That looks outrageously good, Rubee!! I've never had pomegranate molasses til this month's cookbook project, and I'm really glad I have it in my pantry now. Such a nice complement to eggplant and yogurt.

                                                                            Did you make your own pita chips or buy them? I want to make some tomorrow night and assume that it has to be easy, but any guidance is appreciated.

                                                                            1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                              So easy, but ironically, guests are so impressed - "these are homemade?!". : )

                                                                              Split the pitas - I use kitchen shears - so each pita is two pieces. Stack them and cut into wedges. I melt a little butter and add extra virgin olive oil. Lately I've been adding zatar, sometimes I add garlic or use garlic olive oil. I've also used just sumac, or dried herbs, toasted sesame seeds, etc, but everyone seems to like the zatar best. Spread out on an ungreased cookie sheet, brush with olive oil mixture, and toast in a 350 degree oven for about 6-8 minutes. I make them 1-2 days ahead and they stay crispy in a Ziploc bag.

                                                                              The ones are on the left are with sumac, zatar on the right:

                                                                              1. re: Rubee

                                                                                Yes, homemade pita chips are the best and really simple to make. One tip -- definitely keep your eye on these when they are in the oven, as they burn easily (I even once set them on fire when making them in a toaster oven -- oops!)

                                                                                I just got my copy of Arabesque from the library yesterday (there was a loooonggg hold list), and so will finally be able to join you all in cooking out of what looks to be a fabulous book!

                                                                                1. re: DanaB

                                                                                  I agree - if I don't put the timer on, I always burn them! I start checking at 5 minutes.

                                                                                  Looking forward to your first dish!

                                                                                2. re: Rubee

                                                                                  Omigosh, those look wonderful and highly addictive!! I'm so glad I asked for your recipe. I was planning on using zaatar and/or sumac and will likely do half/half for comparison's sake. Thanks for the make-ahead tip; I may just make them tonight and will make sure to prepare extra so they don't all disappear by tomorrow!

                                                                                  1. re: Rubee

                                                                                    Thanks again for posting this, Rubee. I made these pita chips a few weeks back as an opening nibbler to go w/ hummus and baba ganoush and everyone loved it! I'm also in the camp of preferring the zatar over the sumac, but it's nice to have both, really.

                                                                              2. Artichokes Stewed in Oil with Peas and Carrots - Turkey, p. 174

                                                                                I needed a side dish to go with the poussins with sumac (p. 295) I made last night and wanted to use up some asparagus, so I made a variation of this.

                                                                                Diced carrots are simmered in olive oil, water, and garlic. Instead of artichokes, I added cut pencil-thin asparagus. When tender, I added frozen petite peas, lemon juice, sugar, and fresh dill and cooked for about 5 minutes more. Served cold, drizzled with EVOO. Nice, simple side dish with lots of dill that would have been even better with fresh spring vegetables.

                                                                                1. I have only now been able to cook from this book (life with a newborn is not conducive to a lot of cooking!). I made the Eggplants with tomatoes and chickpeas (Moussaka'a Menazzaleh, p. 262, Lebanon). It was really good; one of those recipes were the whole was far greater than the sum of the parts. I halved the recipe, used Muir Glen diced, fire roasted tomatoes instead of fresh (they're no good at this time of year, anyway) and chickpeas I had cooked myself and frozen away. Oh, and I skipped the parsley (don't like it much). It was really great.

                                                                                  I noticed that nobody else has made this yet; I encourage others to give it a try!

                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Smokey

                                                                                    Thanks for your first report, Smokey. I'll have to give that recipe a try. Congrats on your newborn!

                                                                                    1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                                      I just came back from the grocery store with the makings for the onion/orange/olive salad--I'm so excited to try it tonight! This is the kind of recipe I normally gloss over, because the +1 doesn't much care for raw onion. However, it's the kind of recipe I love, and all of these positive reviews have made me decide I must try it.

                                                                                      1. re: Smokey

                                                                                        Congratulations on your little one!

                                                                                        Like Zataar above, I soaked the chopped (I sliced them thinly ) red onions in cold water for about 5 minutes. I had some new friends over for the first time and did this in case someone didn't like raw onion. Tossed together with the dressing and other ingredients, they were nice and sweet.

                                                                                        I would have skipped this orange salad recipe too if everyone hadn't raved about it. Thanks Chowhounds! I'll be making this a lot this summer.

                                                                                    2. re: Smokey

                                                                                      I also made Lebanese Eggplants with Tomatoes and Chickpeas. I enjoyed it too. It was a nice simple dish that I had as a vegetarian entree, rather than a mezze or side. The pomegranate molasses add that tartness but I found this dish more of the sweet side. Not overtly complex but delicious.

                                                                                      For the recipe and photos:

                                                                                    3. Prawns with Garlic and Coriander (Kreidess Bi Cosbara - Lebanon), p. 275

                                                                                      Another easy, quick dish. Simply saute prawns (I used shrimp) in olive oil for one minute, flip, add chopped garlic and cilantro, and finish cooking. Serve with lemon. As a side dish, I combined leftover rice pilaf with the vegetables stewed in olive oil (p.174).

                                                                                      1. I finally got this book from the library this past weekend, and made a couple of mezze. All three of them came out great!

                                                                                        From the "Starters and Kemia" section of the book (the Morocco section), I took advantage of the fresh favas and english peas at the farmer's market this weekend and made the "Peas and Fava Beans with Mint and Garlic" (p. 61). Aside from the shelling of the favas and peas, this dish couldn't have been easier -- you saute some minced garlic in olive oil, throw in the favas with a little water and cook for about 10 minutes, then add the peas, some lemon juice, chopped mint, a teaspoon of sugar and salt and pepper to taste. The simple seasonings allowed the sweetness of the peas and the earthiness of the favas to really shine!

                                                                                        I also made the "Baba Ghanouj" from the Lebanon "Starters and Mezze" section (p. 248). This was a twist on a standard baba ghanouj recipe, in that it had some greek yogurt added to smooth out the harshness of the garlic. I stuck to recipe except for one change -- I ended up pureeing the dip, because after roasting and mashing, my eggplant was a little bit stringy. It also came out great!

                                                                                        The surprise recipe was the "Cheese and Yogurt Dip" (Jibne Wa Labneh) from the Lebanon Mezze section (p. 250). This recipe was crazy-easy and sooo good. It literally had only two ingredients (well, four if you count the optional sprinkle of herbs and drizzle of olive oil) -- 1/2 lb feta and 1 c. labneh or strained greek yogurt. You mash the feta and mix with the yogurt and viola! It's done! I sprinkled it with freshly snipped chives and a little evoo . . . the people I served it to ate it up first before the other two dishes (and nobody would believe me when I told them how simple the recipe was :-)

                                                                                        Here are some photos (from left to right, the fava/pea dish, the baba ghanouj and the feta/yogurt dip).

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: DanaB

                                                                                          Wow, those look terrific! I think I'll make the feta yogurt tonight, now that you mention it's so easy.

                                                                                          1. re: DanaB

                                                                                            Wow. Those look great. Now I want to make them all!

                                                                                          2. Well, I remain slow on the uptake here, but wanted to post a few more thoughts on things I recently cooked.

                                                                                            Orange, Onion, Olive salad--I didn't love this as much as everybody else. however, Ithink my expectations may have been unreasonably high because of all of the praise. Additionally, I made a few modifications to the recipe that may have detracted from it, all in an effort to make it more palatable to my +1. I used a vidalia onion (trying for more sweetness, wish I had just used a red). I made thin slivers to try to provide more contrast to the salad in terms of shape of ingredients. I soaked the onions for a LONG time to reduce their pungency. Somehow, I think these aspects detracted from it and I wish I had just chopped it a bit. Also, I didn't have any paprika and just used aleppo pepper, which gave it quite a bit of bite (more than I intended, and I love spice, buy maybe not in salads!). Finally, I served it over a green leaf salad (again, in an effort to make it more palatable to +1). Somehow, it didn't come together for me. Sadly, I don't think I'll be revisiting it because of resistance from the dining partner!

                                                                                            Eggplant Slices with Pomegranate, Yogurt and Tahini (Batinjan Bil Rumman Wal Laban), p. 261, Lebanon--I really loved this. I was sort of worried about yogurt with Eggplant (sounded kind of weird) as well as the sweet/sour dressing with yogurt (again, sounded a bit weird). But, I had all the ingredients, and that will trump anything somedays! Although weird sounding, I thought all of the pieces came together very well and it had a great flavor. I used whole fat yogurt, and I think it would (probably) do ok with 2% fat if you were trying to lower the fat content of this recipe. Bottom line, very mild tasting, but appealing, and I would prepare it again.

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Smokey

                                                                                              The red onion is a must in the orange salad, IMO. The second time I made it, I made thin slices as opposed to chunks. I also cut the oranges into rounds as opposed to chunks. Used smoked paprika instead of sweet, although I think I prefer the sweet here. It tasted very good. I'd present it this way for a dinner party (I made it for guests), but for a casual picnic or potluck, I would chunk it as the recipe dictates.

                                                                                              Eggplant goes so well w/ pomegranate and yogurt, and I'm grateful that this book led me to realize that! Your dining partner is lucky to have a hound of a mom!

                                                                                              1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                                                I did that orange/olive/onion salad with smoked sweet paprika too, and I liked it okaaaay. I think regular sweet paprika would be better.

                                                                                            2. First off, I have to say… you all are a bunch of Enablers. I am… a spice addict. I don’t have a spice rack… I have a spice CABINET. And it’s a MESS! It’s got a bunch of spices, all of which I am happy to say, I USE, but still…the last thing I need a new spice… especially one I have been lusting after… like Pomegrante Molasses! And because I wanted to be a good hound and take part of this Cookbook of the month, I bought some! Ha-hah!!!!

                                                                                              And so, I decided to make the most of my new purchase and do two recipes that used Pomegrante Molasses… one side and one entrée… The problem was… I couldn’t find a side I wanted to make in the book! Meep!

                                                                                              That is when the internets came to the rescue! I found this recipe for Claudia Roden's Bulgur Salad With Pomegranate Dressing and Toasted Nuts:


                                                                                              PERFECT!! And so I began my soak as I made my salad dressing featuring Pomegrante Mollasses!!


                                                                                              And then easy as pie, after the soak and a good drain, I combined the two and some walnuts and pine nuts and PERFECTION!!


                                                                                              Yum! I almost want to eat it off the screen! All in all, it was a GREAT salad. The Pomegrante Molasses worked just enough sweet into the tang that came with the lemon juice, so this was a bit less harsh than a standard Tabouli Salad. The tomato paste was also an interesting addition, it helped kinda bind everything together in the dressing and added just enough tomato flavor. Although I suppose that you could also add chopped tomatoes. The best part was the nuts however, it helped tone down the woodiness of the Bulgur (I used a course version) and add more toastiness to it.

                                                                                              I cut the recipe in half… because the one linked above would feed an army! But this would be an interesting picnic dish, especially if your group is already familiar with Tabouli. I will for sure maket his again and again… I have to finish up the rest of that bottle afterall! 


                                                                                              1. Zucchini with Vinegar, Mint and Garlic (Koussa Bil Khal), p. 265

                                                                                                Made this last night as a side to the Baked Kibbeh on p. 311 - since it was in the oven, I couldn't broil the zucchini, so sauteed them (weighed down by my kettle!) on the stove. I really enjoyed the contrast of the vinegar and dried mint - I had some Egyptian mint that I used.

                                                                                                Eggplant Slices with Walnuts and Garlic (Cevizli Patlican) - p. 157

                                                                                                Made this as a mezze, but we had so much other food, that we barely touched it. However, it was delicious rolled up in this soft flat bread that I buy sometimes (with flax seed) for lunch, along with some hummus spread inside, and dipped in the yogurt/cucumber salad.

                                                                                                Cucumber and Yogurt Salad (Cacik) - p. 156

                                                                                                I've made this before, but this time I had some of the small Persian cucumbers, and so instead of grating, as I did last time, I did the half moon slices. I think I prefer it with these cucumbers - I liked the flavor better.

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                  i made the zucchini dish as well yesterday and everyone loved it. One of my friends kept raving about it and has requested the recipe - "one of the nicest things I've tasted for ages". Simple and delicious.

                                                                                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                    I've just discovered this wonderful book and made the eggplant slices with walnuts and garlic. The eggplant is roasted in thin slices and then topped with vinegar and a mix of finely chopped walnuts, lightly cooked garlic, and parsley. This is really delicious! Roden says it should be served cold, but we ate it warm and loved it.

                                                                                                  2. This will be a relatively brief report because I no longer have the book and made this dish weeks ago. I made the stuffed grape leaves, and they turned out pretty good. I used jarred leaves and followed Roden's method for prepping them. I used arborio rice and currants as suggested. I remember them taking considerably longer to get done than the recipe states, but I may have overstuffed them a tad. The filling had a wonderful flavor; the rice was tender and creamy while the currants gave a bit of sweetness finished by the tang of lemon juice from the cooking liquid. Freshly cooked ones (even when bad) far outshine the jarred variety.

                                                                                                    The main problem is that I removed the stuffed leaves from the pan about an hour before serving, which caused the outside to dry and toughen up in spots. These are very sensitive to air and next time I'll be sure to keep them in the liquid until service as I noticed a bit too late that Roden suggests at the end of the recipe.

                                                                                                    These tasted best after a few hours, when the flavors had a chance to marry. I will def. use this recipe again but I'm going to need to be watchful about the leaves drying out. Did anyone else try this recipe perchance?

                                                                                                    1. Bulgur and Chickpea Salad (Lebanon pg. 254)

                                                                                                      I loved this. My proportions were a bit off so it was less bulgur and more chick peas and parsley. It was still delicious. Bright flavors of lemon juice and mint with the chewiness of the chickpeas. The parsley was especially refreshing in this dish. The next day, I added more bulgur to it and the flavors of the salad was even better.

                                                                                                      Prawns with Garlic and Coriander (Lebanon, pg. 274)

                                                                                                      Easy in preparation but very bland. I probably used more garlic and coriander than called for but it was quite boring.

                                                                                                      Grilled Chicken Wings with Lemon and Garlic (Lebanon, pg. 276)

                                                                                                      This was ok. Again, easy to put together and it had more flavor than the shrimp. The cooking time is off though. The book states to broil for 7 minutes total (with one turn) but I found it took twice the amount of time.

                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                        Bulgur and Chickpea Salad (Lebanon pg. 254)

                                                                                                        I still love this dish and have made it a number of times. It's less bulgery and more salady. And, you really do have to use the fine bulger. I tried it with medium bulger and it just wasn't the same.

                                                                                                        But, recently, I've been adding radishes and roasted beets to this salad. They were both welcome additions, not only for the flavor contrast but for the textural difference. I also started using less lemon juice and olive oil then called for because the salad does get a bit watery.

                                                                                                        To me, this is also a great summer dish. Now that it's cooler, it holds no appeal for me.

                                                                                                        1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                          radishes are so often overlooked when i'm thinking of mezze or salads, and they are a great addition.

                                                                                                      2. Late again, I realize. Sorry! I made three different things from the Moroccan starters section of the book.

                                                                                                        chicken and onion b'stilla: I didn't think the instructions for actually putting this together were totally clear, but I think I got it right (she doesn't actually tell you to have the heat off when you put the thing in the bottom of the oven, but I think she means that). Still, the bottom was soggy. Probably my fault ... I think my chicken was still a tiny bit watery. Still and all, this being one of the first times I have worked with phyllo it was surprisingly easy, and fairly tasty. I think if it had been crispier at the bottom it would have been a complete success; as it was we still enjoyed it very much.

                                                                                                        Smashed eggplant and tomato spread: this was a huge hit. Really very easy to make (I made it the day before), and absolutely delicious, and beautiful too. Even my 14 month old daughter couldn't get enough. I cheated (sorry) and used a can of diced chopped tomatoes, and it was *still* absolutely fantastic. I'm going to add this into heavy rotation.

                                                                                                        Sweet potato and green olive salad: This was fine, but really nothing special. Easy to put together, but probably wouldn't bother making it again. Just not interesting enough.

                                                                                                        1. Little Meat Pizzas, Lebanon - Lahma Bi Ajeen (p. 282).

                                                                                                          I made the meat and yogurt variation with ground lamb, a finely minced onion drained of its juices, Fage Greek yogurt, allspice, s&p, pine nuts, and pomegranate molasses subsituted for the lemon juice. I also can't call it a pizza as I made little pies instead, using the puff pastry technique in the preceding recipe (p. 280) - cutting circles of puff pastry and then stuffing the filling into a triangle shape. She says not to worry if the pies open up, though next time I'll use an egg wash to pinch the edges since none of mine stayed sealed. Still tasted good though!


                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                            Little Meat Pizzas, Lebanon - Lahma Bi Ajeen (p. 282).

                                                                                                            (Reposting pic):

                                                                                                            1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                              my lebanese law partner used to make these all the time. her shortcut i'll reveal here: she used pillsbury biscuits! ;-)). http://www.recipesource.com/main-dish...

                                                                                                              just sayin'!

                                                                                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                I'd like one or two of those right now, please!

                                                                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                  they hardly took any time at all! after leaving the office, we'd often go to her home with her husband and young daughter, and she'd whip those little pies up fast -- along with a quick but delicious parsley-heavy tabbouleh. she also was into fat-free cooking, and made very nice egg white omelets with zucchini. she was the one to introduce me to zaatar, making little pillsbury and olive oil zaatar pies. she also taught mr. alka the beauty of delicious tender chicken livers made with the spice sumac.

                                                                                                          2. Potato and Tomato Cake (Almkhtalitat Bil Tomatem Wal Batima, Morocco), p. 68

                                                                                                            This is essentially a frittata with mashed potatoes and onions, garlic, and tomatoes, with a high vegetable-to-egg ratio, and pretty straightforward. A pound of baking potatoes are boiled in salted water until tender (she doesn't say to cut them up, but I did, in the interest of time), then drained and mashed; I used a potato masher. Chopped onion and garlic are sauteed in EVOO, then peeled, chopped tomatoes (I used canned) are added with a tsp. of sugar and an optional chopped half fresh chile, which I didn't have but wish I did (I should have added a big pinch of Aleppo pepper to replace it), and the whole is cooked down until thick and jammy. Then 3 eggs are beaten into the potatoes, and the tomato mixture and chopped flat-leaf parsley are added and the seasoning adjusted. This is poured into a skillet and cooked in butter (I used more olive oil) until the bottom is set, when it's put into the oven until it's firm and lightly browned. She wants you to broil it, but I used the recommended non-stick skillet, and min isn't broiler-safe, so I did it at about 400F. I think I let it go a little too long (or at too high a heat) on the stove, because the bottom was a bit too brown. She says to serve it hot or cold, turned out and cut in wedges. I served it straight from the pan in wedges.

                                                                                                            This wasn't exciting, really (and I do wish I'd had the chile, or remembered to use some other hot pepper), but it made a fine enough weeknight dinner, along with sauteed chard with golden raisins and wine vinegar.

                                                                                                            1. Eggplant slices with Pomegranate, Yogurt, and Tahini

                                                                                                              This is my favorite eggplant recipe. I love the pomegranate molasses/vinegar wash, and now use it on a host of different roasted veggies. (Make sure to use an excellent vinegar - I use Forum chardonnay - as the flavor really comes through.) I've also adapted the yogurt/tahini mixture (I add a bit of lemon juice) to use as a sauce on fish.

                                                                                                              If you can find a pomegranate, use the seeds, along with the pine nuts, as garnish. They are very pretty, and add a nice "pop" of flavor.

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                Great tip for a good dish.

                                                                                                                I also made an eggplant with pomegranate molasses meze:
                                                                                                                Lebanese Eggplant with Pomegranate Molasses (Batinjan Bil Rumman)

                                                                                                                Eggplants are baked until soft, then coated with a pomegranate vinaigrette and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds and chopped parsley. It is a very simple recipe for a simple dish. In fact, the tastes are rather subtle which is why I enjoyed it. This is meant to be a dish as part of a meze spread and can be served hot or cold. I preferred to use it as a sandwich topper. It was delicious cold, heaping over a toasted bagel for breakfast. The recipe says the pomegranate seeds are optional but I think they really made the dish stand-out. They explode with little bursts of flavours when you bite through them.

                                                                                                                For photos and a longer review, see: http://tastespace.wordpress.com/2010/...

                                                                                                              2. Cheese and yoghurt dip, p256

                                                                                                                Loved this - it's just feta cheese mashed up and combined with an equal quantity of Greek yoghurt or labneh and drizzled with olive oil. Yummy.

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                  Oh that does sound good and I have everything for it in the fridge. Think that could be lunch tomorrow.

                                                                                                                  Cacik - Cucumber and Yogurt Salad p.156
                                                                                                                  Made this tonight to go with kefte kebabs (p.99) and pita bread. I love this, it's one of my favorite Middle Eastern dishes, Even though I was serving the cacik immediately I drained the cucumber as it gave off a lot of water when I grated it. Looking at comments from '07, it was suggested that finely chopping gives off less water than grating but I was short of time. I used fresh mint rather than dill as mint feels more authentic to me. The garlic I grated on the microplane as I wanted it evenly distributed rather than in pieces.

                                                                                                                2. Made the ROASTED TOMATOES last night. Simple and elegant, and a very good side for grilled lamb chops, especially at this time of year when the tomatoes are at their prime.

                                                                                                                  1. Hello friends,
                                                                                                                    I see many of you have made the orange, olive and onion salad and I am wondering what type of ground chilli powder you used?

                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                      I like Aleppo Pepper, but have also used a pinch of cayenne.

                                                                                                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                          Thanks very much. I picked up quite a few different chile powders the last time I was in Chicago and have been having fun testing out the varying impact they have on dishes.

                                                                                                                      1. Another question for those of you who have been cooking from this book. Has anyone made the preserved lemons? I notice Rubee did so in 2007 and was wondering whether you felt it was worth the effort...do they add a unique flavour profile? Happy to give it a shot if its worth the effort.

                                                                                                                        9 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                          If you want to cook the Moroccan recipes that call for them, I don't think there is an appropriate replacement for preserved lemons. I wouldn't choose to make those recipes and leave them out, I'd choose to make other recipes if I didn't have them. Yes, they add a unique (and very nice, IMO) flavor, different from using fresh lemon juice/zest. Making them isn't a lot of effort in my experience, and is well worth it (I have not used the recipes for them in Arabesque, but those seem fairly typical).

                                                                                                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                            I'm looking forward to making them, but with Lulu not yet in school (yay Monday!), I went with a bottle I found in the local gourmet store.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                              Much agree with Caitlin's summary. FWIW, when I've made preserved lemons (using Wolfert's recipe from "Couscous", although I have used the lemons themselves in various Roden recipes) have used Meyer lemons, which should be coming into season fairly soon, with great success.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                Thanks so much. I'll definitely go ahead and make them. I just picked up some fresh lamb so I'm looking fwd to giving some of the recipes in this book a try tomorrow. Thanks again.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                  I have a preserved lemons question. I made the quick version from Arabesque (using some tonight in the chicken tagine) but she doesn't say that they need to be refrigerated so I have left them out (my frdge is always too full). A small piece of peel that was sticking above the oil surface went mouldy but I cut it off and made sure everything is now under the oil. So should I refrigerate if I want to keep them long term (she says they keep up to a year)?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: JaneEYB

                                                                                                                                    Yes, I kept them refrigerated.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                      I've always refrigerated preserved lemons, too.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                        I've always kept the home made ones in the fridge. The purchased ones sit on a shelf in my pantry until/unless opened, then into the fridge.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: JaneEYB

                                                                                                                                      I've never kept mine in the fridge. As long as they're fully submerged in the liquid, they should be fine. (Mine aren't homemade though.)

                                                                                                                                2. We had two starters from the Lebanese chapter last night.

                                                                                                                                  Zucchini with Vinegar, Mint and Garlic (p. 265). This was *amazing*. My husband could take or leave zucchini, but he raved about it. I loved it too. And so simple! Slice zucchini and roast with olive oil and salt (actually she calls for broiling) until lightly browned, then put a bit of the vinegar, mint (dried!) and garlic on it. It really sparks in the mouth. This is going to be a go-to recipe for zucchini around here. It was absolutely wonderful. We had it as a side dish instead of a starter.

                                                                                                                                  For a starter we had Little Puff Pastry Cheese Pies (p. 278). Whats not to like? Puff pastry around a feta/mozzarella mix? I made half the recipe since it was just the 3 of us, and still we managed to polish them off (16 of them). We all loved them. Thinking of making them again for company on Tuesday. They're easy (as long as you're comfortable working with frozen puff pastry) and delicious.

                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                    Little Puff Pastry Cheese Pies such a hit that Lulu requested them again, and since we had company coming over and I was making something from the book, I figured why not? And they were a huge hit again.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                      OK, so they aren't as pretty as they look in the book (and, I promise, before baking them they were), but they were still delicious.

                                                                                                                                  2. Last night we took a culinary journey to Lebanon. Our menu consisted of the two dishes below and, the Roast Lamb with Rice, Minced Meat and Nuts – also from Arabesque. I’ll post the review of that dish under mains.

                                                                                                                                    Aubergine and Tahini Dip (Baba Ghanouj)

                                                                                                                                    P 256 – First use of this recipe and I’d say results were good, no better or worse than Baba Ghanouj I’ve tasted in the past. I’ve liked but never loved this dish so I thought I’d try it for myself and see what we thought. For the effort, I likely would not make this recipe again. We grilled the eggplants to ensure a smoky flavor was imparted. I found the cookbook method cumbersome in terms of dealing w the eggplants (cutting then mashing). After pressing juices through a strainer, I soon tired of cutting the vegetable and dumped the whole lot into the food processer. A few pulses and the job was done. The recipe calls for the juice of 2 lemons. This is a pet peeve of mine…to vague, I’d prefer a liquid measure. My lemons were especially juicy and if I’d used all the juice, it would have rendered the dish inedible. I likely used about 1/3 cup for 700g of eggplant and that was plenty. I allowed dish to sit for a couple of hours to allow the flavors to mingle. Dish was authentic but in my view, not remarkable.

                                                                                                                                    Aubergine and Tomato Salad (Batinjan Raheb)

                                                                                                                                    p. 266 – First use of this recipe and, first experience with this dish so we didn’t have any preconceived notions of what to expect. This dish was a pleasant surprise, I’d definitely make it again. Thanks to previous reviews on Chowhound, I knew not to expect a traditional North American “salad” so I prepared this dish as a dip/spread, to be served on grilled pita. Like other recipes in this book, this recipe lacked a specific quantity of lemon juice. I used 2 tbsp, which was perfect for our tastes. The eggplant base mixture was earthy, sweet, smoky and delicious. Topping it w the pomegranate, green onions and plum tomatoes (I used golden plum tomatoes fresh from the garden and, super-sweet) balanced the flavors perfectly and the combined result was a fresh-tasting, delicious topping for our pita toasts. I was skeptical that no salt was called for in the eggplant base but it definitely wasn’t necessary. With its lovely jewel-like colors, this dish would make a great addition to a holiday buffet.

                                                                                                                                    1. Ijjit al Jibne (Cheese Omelette), Lebanon - p. 275

                                                                                                                                      This is basically a frittata with lots of fresh parsley, scallions, and mint, with feta. It made a delicious lunch for us today served with a salad. I had five eggs so made about half the recipe.

                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                        Rubee what lovely photos, your frittata looks wonderful! I love frittatas and have now added this recipe to my "must try" list!

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                          I thought this was delicious, too. Lots of flavor from the feta and herbs. I used 6 eggs (instead of 8), and about 4 oz. of feta (instead of 6), and 4 scallions (mine were large). I cooked it in a 10-inch pan. It took a while to fully set up, but I didn't use the broiler because my nonstick pans aren't broiler-safe. I didn't drizzle more oil on top before it went into the oven.

                                                                                                                                          ETA: This recipe is also in The New Book of Middle Eastern Food as Eggah bi Gebna, P.170

                                                                                                                                        2. Back from vacation, ran around to a few places yesterday to get ready to go on the Mideast theme and I'm ready to be in after lurking the first half of the month (admittedly from a beach in Hawaii, weep for me);.

                                                                                                                                          Last night was Meat Cigars (Lebanon, p. 64), Orange, Olive and Onion Salad (Morocco, p. 48) and Cacik (Turkey, p. 156). My husband and I enjoyed it very much -- he definitely voted the whole meal in as a keeper. I was reminded of what I think was Breadcrumb's concern upthread about lemon juice measurements -- I ended up overdressing my salad a bit based on my very juicy backyard lemons.

                                                                                                                                          Other adjustments -- I halved the Meat Cigar recipe, used buffalo instead of lamb or beef (couldn't find ground lamb anywhere here yesterday), but kept the spices as is (actually plussed it on the chile side with a big pinch each of Marash pepper and Aleppo pepper). Cicak, I had a mental disconnect and forgot I was halving the recipe when grating cucumber, so did the full amount -- I loved it actually with more cucumber.

                                                                                                                                          Best of all, super-picky kids LOVED the meat cigars and asked to have it again. I feel I'm turning a corner -- and I'm so glad to be rounding it!

                                                                                                                                          Bad pic FWIW:

                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: mebby

                                                                                                                                            Nice! I have the meat cigars on my list. Your report made me hungry. I'll be over for dinner tomorrow ; )

                                                                                                                                            1. re: mebby

                                                                                                                                              Mmm, mebby your Meat Cigars have made me hungry! Dinner looks de-lish! Thanks for "taking one for the team" w that Hawaii trip btw!!

                                                                                                                                            2. We continued our culinary journey this evening with our first stop being Turkey for our Meze of Cacik and the Courgette Fritters. We had to resist the temptation to stuff our bellies with these tasty treats and save room for our next stop in Morocco for our main course of Prawns in Spicy Tomato Sauce which I served with a variation of Couscous with Spring Vegetables - (review posted under Arabesque - Mains)

                                                                                                                                              Cucumber and Yoghurt Salad – (Cacik)

                                                                                                                                              p. 161 – First use of this recipe and we were delighted with the results. I was overjoyed to find pressed Greek yogurt in my newly discovered Persian market and it really elevated this dish into something special. Surprisingly, I made this dish without any modifications!! I found mini cucumbers at the farmers market and invested the time draining them. That step was well worth the effort (really not work, just patience!!). I stirred the cucumber in just prior to serving. The Cacik was creamy, tangy and a delicious accompaniment to the Courgette Fritters (below). This recipe is a keeper.

                                                                                                                                              Courgette Fritters – (Kabak Mucveri)

                                                                                                                                              p. 162 – I have to say that prior to making this dish, I was skeptical about cooking the zucchini in advance. I’ve made a few versions of zucchini fritters in the past and I’ve always used grated, fresh product. In the end, I needn’t have worried as these fritters were delicious and, very different than any I’ve made or tasted in the past. Here’s how this played out: The only modification I made to this recipe was to add 2 tsp of freshly chopped garlic (to feed our addiction!). Oh, and for the record, I used extra-large eggs as they were all I had on hand. Note the Roden doesn’t specify egg size in her recipes (there’s been some discussion of the board about this of late). I’m happy to report my eggs didn’t have any detrimental impact on the dish!! I will say that I’m happy to have used a non-stick pan as, despite the fact that my oil was good and hot, the batter immediately settled to the bottom of the pan and I’m confident it would have been tough to extricate from a stainless steel skillet. The batter is quite moist but the veggies seem to prevent it from spreading. Using approx 2tbsp of mixture per fritter, I’d say I ended up w about 18 fritters. The finished product was delicious! I think the “secret ingredient” in this dish is the feta cheese. Certainly this isn’t something I’ve added to fritters in the past but it really added a lovely taste and texture to the dish. Left to his own devices, hubby would have gobbled up the entire plate! I served them with a sprinkle of sea salt and with the Cacik on the side. I think a spritz of lemon juice would have been lovely on the salted fritters and I’ll make sure to do this next time. A lovely dish that I’d make again. I believe these could be made ahead and will re-heat nicely so they’d make a good company dish.

                                                                                                                                              1. Meat Cigars (Briwat Bel Kefta) p.64

                                                                                                                                                I thought this was rather underspiced but my super-picky kids also loved it - thanks for the recommendation mebby as I've been trying to find Middle Eastern dishes they will tolerate. If I make it again I will definitely up the spicing.

                                                                                                                                                Sweet Potato Salad (Slada Batata Halwa)

                                                                                                                                                I liked this a lot but they didn't. By the time my potato cubes were cooked through there was still a lot of water in the pan so I ended up draining them. Claudia made it sound like all the liquid would be absorbed. I used some more of my preserved lemons in this and I loved the combination of the sweet potatoes, salty olives and sharp lemon.

                                                                                                                                                Zucchini with Vinegar, Mint and Garlic (Koussa Bil Khal)

                                                                                                                                                Very quick and easy to do and very tasty. Nice clean, simple tastes. Again not loved by the kids.

                                                                                                                                                I've come up with a solution to my issue with them not enjoying this month - I got my 15 yo daughter to go through Arabesque marking up all the recipes she liked the look of. So my planned chicken with fresh figs and walnuts for the weekend is now going to be chicken with tomato pilaf but if it stops the moaning, I can live with that.

                                                                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: JaneEYB

                                                                                                                                                  The marking of recipes is one of the fastest ways to get the pickier eaters amongst us to eat the darn stuff! Sometimes i only offer a choice of three recipes for an ingredient I want to use up. Always seems to increase the level of enthusiasm.

                                                                                                                                                  The funny thing will be watching your kid as she feels superior to her peers in college. "You have never eaten dumplings? My mother made them for me."

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                                                    Getting the kid involved in the choice make a world of difference. Lulu loves looking through cookbooks with me, and if she picks out something and we make it, she feels ownership over it and is so proud. She's getting to the age when she's really kind of upset that she isn't doing more of the actual cooking (she's a 4 year old ... can barely reach the counters) so I need to find ways to make her feel she's helping - usually things like asking her to carry the spices over to me or something.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                      We did that during Gourmet Today month, but my kids aren't necessarily good at envisioning what things will taste like, whereas I suspected that the cinnamon and filo would sell them on the meat cigars.

                                                                                                                                                      Jane -- Did you follow the amount of spices in the recipe? I halved my recipe but didn't halve the amount of spices and even threw in a little extra Aleppo and Marash and I thought it was good -- flavorful without being spicy. If it was just me and my husband I would probably add even more chile, but I like a lot of flavor and heat. BTW, your sweet potato salad sounds amazing!

                                                                                                                                                      LLM -- Love the new avatar! Sums up the Lulu spirit that comes through in your posts. Sometimes my kids like to measure things out for marinades and other away-from-the-stove activities like that. My son also got really into bread baking at preschool (with a bread machine) where they made fresh bread every day for snack. Now that he graduated, he's advocating for a bread machine at home.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mebby

                                                                                                                                                        Thanks mebby - she's a real talker, and always using her hands to make her point (the half italian side of me must have come out in her this way!). I got her some colorful plastic measuring spoons at the store last week, and she's so excited by them. I'll have to start letting her use them to add stuff - thanks for the great idea!

                                                                                                                                                        Apropos of another conversation on another thread, in that photo Lulu is happily eating lamb sausage over lentils - she has absolutely no problem with the taste of it.

                                                                                                                                                2. Pumpkin soup, p 194

                                                                                                                                                  I'd originally discarded this recipe, because it sounded just too simple, with the only ingredients being pumpkin, chicken stock, seasoning and a little sugar. But after having a similar pumpkin soup in a local café I changed my mind.

                                                                                                                                                  This was absolutely delicious, with a pure taste of pumpkin, as Roden says in her introduction. I made one change to the recipe, following a tip from the chef at my local café, which was to roast half the pumpkin in the oven, with a little oil and S&P. The rest I simmered as instructed in a little chicken stock until tender. Then I added the roast pumpkin and puréed the whole lot in a blender - I found I needed to add the rest of the stock at this point in order to blend it smoothly. Then I reheated it, added salt and pepper and a little sugar (the pumpkin was already sweet enough) and thinned it with a little water. Serve with greek yoghurt.

                                                                                                                                                  Just gorgeous. So simple, and a beautiful autumnal orange colour. Everyone raved about how delicious this was.

                                                                                                                                                  1. Moroccan Roast Pepper, Tomato & Apple Salad (Slada Felfa Bil Tamatem Wal Tofah), p. 50

                                                                                                                                                    I really wanted to like this but the flavours just didn't work well once combined. A tart apple may have been better to balance the flavours.

                                                                                                                                                    For photos, instructions and more commentary:

                                                                                                                                                    1. Tomatoes stuffed with red pepper, tuna and olives

                                                                                                                                                      Don't have the book to hand but this is from the Moroccan section. I always enjoy stuffed tomatoes and these were a great light dinner with salad. To make the stuffing, mix roast red peppers, tuna, capers, olives, preserved lemon peel (optional), EVOO and parsley. Scoop out the tomato flesh and add the stuffing, then bake for around 20 minutes in a medium oven. We really enjoyed these warm from the oven, but I think they'd be even better at room temperature as an easy, do-ahead starter. Recommended.

                                                                                                                                                      1. Peas and fava beans with mint and garlic (Jekban Wal Ful Bil Na'na) p.61

                                                                                                                                                        Really delicious and easy recipe which I served as a side dish for Roast Chicken with pine nut and raisin pilaf on p.196. I didn't have fresh peas or fava beans to hand so used frozen for both which Claudia in fact recommends unless your fava beans and peas are really young and fresh.

                                                                                                                                                        Fava beans are added to pan in which minced garlic has been briefly fried in oil. The beans are then cooked with a little water before peas, mint, lemon juice and seasonings are added. This would also be good as an appetizer or part of a meze.

                                                                                                                                                        1. Tonight we returned to our journey through Arabesque with a dinner from Morocco and Turkey. Two dishes start the evening, both from Morocco, the Mashed Aubergine and Tomato Salad and, the Orange, Olive and Onion Salad served with some flatbread on the side. (reviews below) For our main course, we were off to Turkey with the Lamb Shanks with Egg and Lemon Sauce. (reviewed under Arabesque – Main dishes)

                                                                                                                                                          Mashed Aubergine and Tomato Salad – Zaalouk

                                                                                                                                                          Though described as a “salad” this is really more of a spread. The salad is greenish-brown in color, consequently, this in not an appetizing dish in terms of visual appearance. It was interesting to me that the book instructs you to spread the salad on a plate to serve however; it is served in a small bowl in the book’s photograph. As with past recipes in this book, I found the recommended method of chopping the cooked eggplant to be too laborious and instead, used the food processor to do so. I made this dish as set out in the cookbook using only the ingredients specified. I thought the cumin overshadowed the flavor of the lovely fresh tomatoes. We all agreed, this salad was good but nothing special. I would not make this again.

                                                                                                                                                          Orange, Olive and Onion Salad – Slada Bortokal Bil Zaytoun

                                                                                                                                                          This is a delicious, refreshing salad that is very common in Morocco. The dish is dressed with a lemon vinaigrette that’s seasoned with cumin, paprika and chili powder. This is the first example I found of a well-seasoned dish in Arabesque –typically I’ve felt the recipes have been under-seasoned for our tastes. I used only the ingredients required in the recipe however I did make one modification to the preparation in that I sliced the oranges since this is how it was served to me in Morocco. Roden calls for the juice of ½ to 1 whole lemon for the dressing, yet only 3 tbsp of argan or evoo. Needless to say this ratio is way off. I used the standard 3:1 ratio given that my oranges were more on the acidic side. Everyone enjoyed the salad and I’d make this dish again.

                                                                                                                                                          15 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                            I actually love that zaalouk. The method in the book leaves it chunkier (pic below); I wonder it you would have liked it more?

                                                                                                                                                            I do agree with you on the orange salad though : ) I don't think I would have ever picked it out of the book if others hadn't raved about it; glad they did. Tonight I'm also making Moroccan - Roast Chicken with Couscous, Raisin, and Almond Stuffing (p. 92). Hope it comes out good!

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                                              Hi Rubee,

                                                                                                                                                              You'll have to post your results on the chicken, I have that flagged as a "to-do" for next week so I'll be keen to find out what you think. I hope its wonderful.

                                                                                                                                                              I actually looked at your comments and photos before making this dish and thought yours looked lovely. In fact, far better than the photo in the book! I know you're right, I would definitely have preferred it chunkier and, I tend to enjoy things more if they entice me visually.

                                                                                                                                                              My husband picked this recipe from the picture in the book (he loves dips) so I aimed to get it as close as possible to what he picked, especially since he doesn't love eggplant. In the end, I don't think it made any difference, his first question was "is there eggplant in this?"!!! I reminded him that he flagged the recipe!! So much for disguising it!

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                Ha. That's funny. I wish my husband would flag eggplant dishes! I love it, he hates it.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                                                  Same with us Rubee I love it, he hates it! Thing is, he doesn't look at the recipes or ingredients, he just flags pictures of things he likes the look of. He likely thought it was a meat dip based on the photo in Arabesque!! LOL

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                    Huh. I'm having a hard time with the Turkish chapter of Arabesque--he hates eggplant, I hate raisins, and lamb isn't great this time of year. I swear 90% of the recipes seem to call for one of these things, at least. I might set this chapter aside until spring when my lamb problem is solved, at least.


                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                      I hear you DQ, my biggest struggle w the book is my husband isn't a fan of cumin or cinnamon and he hates eggplant. I'm trying to win him over though! So far, the only one he hasn't figured out is the cinnamon.

                                                                                                                                                                      From Turkey, I'd highly recommend the Cacik and the Courgette Fritters. I have a post further up in this thread. Neither have raisins or eggplant so maybe they would work for you? I've made the Cacik w regular and pressed yogurt now and I definitely prefer it w the latter...nowhere near as tangy.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                        They would definitely work--good suggestions-- but (not trying to be a downer here) we are out of zucchini and cucumber season here now. So, I will save those for next summer. But, I've picked out a couple of other recipes (there's a celeriac one I am looking forward to) and a couple of others (a leek one I think) that I intend to employ as soon as that fall batch of leeks comes in... I feel weirdly stuck between the seasons and our (few) food aversions at the moment...

                                                                                                                                                                        I might try to sub dried cranberries or (what is that Persian berry? avignon?) for raisins in some of the recipes, maybe, but I need to get to a specialty market before I can do that. I was absolutely overwhelmed the first half of the month and seemed to have planned poorly for at least this week.

                                                                                                                                                                        Raisins are the one food I cannot abide. I might switch to TNBMEF for now.


                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                          TDQ, I think you are thinking of barberries. I think dried cranberries or cherries would work well in recipes where just leaving out the raisins would be a deficit, because they would provide the appropriate sweetness and texture.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                                            Yes, barberries, thank you! I could not for the life of me think of what those were called. I might try those.


                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                        We just came back from two weeks in Turkey, and I think we ate aubergine and/or lamb every single day! And lots and lots of tomatoes.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                                                                          Yep, I remember all of that, and yogurt, from my time in Turkey, too. But I don't remember a lot of raisins, those shriveled little abominations.


                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                            lol. I didn't have any raisins either in the past two weeks.

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                These are two of my favorite starters from the book. And I have to say, I really really love the eggplant dish. Wonder (like Rubee) if the consistency was the issue? Maybe the food processor made it too runny?

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                  I was thinking about this last night. I'll pick up more eggplant at the market on Friday and take another shot at this even if Mr bc won't go near it...he can have more Cacik!!

                                                                                                                                                              3. Peppery Bulgur Salad (Turkey, p. 159)

                                                                                                                                                                Loved, loved, loved this. If you like fattoush, you'll like this. It's basically the same thing (although no cucs) with a different carb. Bulgur is mixed with lemon juice, a tablespoon of tom. paste, olive oil, hot pepper, scallions, chopped tomatoes, parsley and mint and (if you want - I think you'd have no problem leaving this out) served in baby romaine leaves. We have a Turkish restaurant in town and I used to order this all the time and just loved it. They changed management, and you know how that goes, but I have missed this so much, and it really hit the spot. Served with Pan Fried Fish with Tahini Sauce from the Lebanese chapter. The meal was a huge hit all around.

                                                                                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                  There is a recipe for kisir in TNBoMEF, too. I haven't compared them, but I know that one also calls for a fresh chile and chile flakes. I'm planning to make this later this week, from one book or the other. It's interesting to compare recipes that are in both; some are essentially unchanged, but some are slightly different.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                                    Interesting. She doesn't call for the chile flakes in the Arabesque recipe. I wonder why she doubled up on them, especially the ones that remained unchanged.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                      I assume she replicated the recipes in Arabesque because they are Turkish, Lebanese, or Morroccan, and are important parts of the cuisine (after all, how could she not include cacik and kisir in the Turkey section, or fattoush in the Lebanese section?). It is interesting that she edited some recipes. I was looking at the two fattoush recipes, as I will be making that later today, and see that the one in Arabesque has slightly different amounts of some ingredients, and that she has removed a couple of ingredients (arugula and garlic, IIRC).

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                                        Definitely see your point - kind of useless to have a book that is supposed to cover the whole Med. and not have those things!

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                                      I have to amend what I said about the kisir recipe in TNB. I had read over the ingredients, which list both the fresh chile and chile flakes, but the headnote and text of the recipe say to use either/or (that there's no "or" in the ingredients listing is apparently an omission). Otherwise, the proportions, serving size, and method for hydrating the bulgur vary a bit between the the two recipes.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. Back to Arabesque yesterday evening for a dinner from Lebanon. By far, this was the best-received meal that I’ve cooked from this book with a unanimous request to have all dishes again some time!!

                                                                                                                                                                    We started with a wonderful Bread Salad with Sumac and for our main course I did a variation on the Grilled Poussins with Sumac (reviewed under “Mains”) by using chicken breasts vs the Cornish Game Hens and I served this with the Lentils with Pasta and Caramelized Onions on the side.

                                                                                                                                                                    Bread Salad with Sumac – Fattoush

                                                                                                                                                                    I absolutely adore Fattoush so I had high expectations for this recipe and I’m delighted to report that it didn’t disappoint. I made the recipe as instructed with the exception of the amount of lemon juice called for. I know I’m sounding like a broken record but, Roden doesn’t specify a quantity of lemon juice, rather she specifies “juice of one lemon” In this case that juice is intended for the salad dressing which calls for 100ml of olive oil. For a standard 3:1 ratio, I added 2tbsp of evoo. Now I’ve gotten that off my chest, the good news was that the salad was wonderful. We grilled the pita and the smoky flavor worked beautifully with the sumac. We used the thin Lebanese pita that were approx. 12" across so I found that 2 were adequate for this dish (I believe someone above needed more) The salad was tart, crunchy, fresh and flavorful. There was absolutely nothing left of it at the end of the meal.

                                                                                                                                                                    Lentils with Pasta and Caramelized Onions – Rishta Bi Addas

                                                                                                                                                                    The photo of this dish in the book is very appealing and I actually planned the meal around this pasta. Though there are very few ingredients in the recipe, the final result was flavorful and delicious. Onions are caramelized while lentils and pasta cook and the dish comes together very quickly. The technique of cooking the pasta in the lentil water was something I’d repeat. We really enjoyed the extra layer of flavor in the pasta. The dish was great as is and I’ll definitely make it again. I think it would be wonderful with some chili flakes tossed in!

                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                      I've had my eye on that lentil and onion dish - you sold me. Thanks for the report, and the gorgeous picture.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks LM, I hope you love the pasta. Its one of those dishes where a few simple ingredients come together to produce something really delicious and satisfying. Let us know how you like it.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. Sorry to be so behind the times. So many of her ingredients are still in season now, I couldn't resist trying a few new recipes.

                                                                                                                                                                      ORANGE, OLIVE and ONION SALAD (p.48) won't repeat what everyone else has said-- great addition to this meal.

                                                                                                                                                                      STUFFED QUINCES (p.215) I saw quinces at our local farmer's market and bought two. They were much smaller than the ones she had-- about half a pound each-- so they only needed to bake 40 minutes before they softened. When I bought them, I asked the folks at the stand what to look for, and they couldn't help me, because they'd never cooked with them! This recipe was good-- the tart quince balanced against the savory meat stuffing. We liked the pine nuts especially. I did think the stuffing was a little dry (beef not lamb) and might try to add something to keep it moister if I made this again.

                                                                                                                                                                      EGGPLANT SLICES WITH POMEGRANATE, YOGURT and TAHINI (p. 261) This was a definite keeper. I saw a bottle of pomegranate molasses in Target, of all places, so I knew I had to try this dish. I'd bought baby eggplant which cooked very quickly. Really liked the sweet/sour balance in this dish and the mellowness of the eggplant vs the crunchiness of the pomegranate seeds/ pine nuts.

                                                                                                                                                                      RED LENTIL and RICE SOUP (p. 284) So easy! and tasty. Kids really liked this one, always a plus. I did not do the fried onions for garnish, but we did add lemon to it.

                                                                                                                                                                      I have to add that one thing which impressed me was the simplicity of the preparation of these dishes. Rarely do I attempt five new dishes at one meal (I also made the lamb tagine with pears and onions, which I'll add to the Main Dishes thread); these all came out well. The consensus around the table was that every single dish was good.