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Welcome to the general discussion thread for the September 2010 Cookbook of the Month, featuring two books by Claudia Roden-

ARABESQUE: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon

We will use this thread for general commentary, recipe planning, links, and any other issues related to this COTM.

If you're new to Cookbook of the Month, the COTM archive thread explains how it all works:

A new group of threads have been created for The New Book of Middle Eastern Food, and since Arabseque is a revisit, we will add new reviews to the existing ones.

To post a full-length review of any recipe, please select the appropriate thread below.


First Courses Part 1: Appetizers, Salads and Cold Vegetables & Yogurt

First Courses Part 2: Savory Pies & Soups & Egg Dishes

Fish and Seafood & Meat Dishes:


Rice & Bulgur, Couscous, and Pasta:

Bread & Desserts, Pastries and Sweetmeats:

Pickles and Preserves & Jams and Preserves:

Drinks and Sherbets:

ARABESQUE: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon

For Starters, Kemia, Meze, and Mezze:

For Main Courses:

For Desserts:

You will find active discussions of both of these books in the nomination and announcement threads:

Nomination: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7264...
Announcement: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7298...

Finally, the Chowhound Team has asked me to remind you that verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

Happy cooking!

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  1. Woohoo! Thank you, smtucker. I secured copies of both books today. I may not have time for much cooking in the first half of the month, but at least I can start planning!


    1. For recipes:

      ** THE NEW BOOK OF MIDDLE EASTERN FOOD ** on Google Books:

      Sweet-and-Sour Eggplant Salad

      Zucchini Fritters

      Meat and Okra Stew - Egyptian Bamia Matbookha

      Slatit Batata Marfusa (Mashed Potates with Capers

      Melon Granita

      Brochettes de Kefta/ Ground Meat Kebabs

      Ful Medames (Egyptian Brown Fava Beans


      Macerated Fruit and Nut Salad

      Sephardic orange-and-almond cake

      1 Reply
      1. re: Rubee

        (May make this Sunday, so putting recipe link here):

        Djaj fil Forn or Roast Chicken with Lemon and Garlic:

      2. ** ARABESQUE ** on Google Books:

        Baba Ghanouj

        Sweet Potatoes with Onions and Tomatoes

        Turkish Grape Leaves Stuffed with Rice, Raisins, and Pine Nuts

        Kofte Kebab with Tomato Sauce and Yogurt / Yogurtlu Kofte Kebabi

        Lebanese Meatballs with Pine Nuts in Tomato Sauce

        Tomatoes Stuffed with Roast Peppers, Tuna, Capers & Olives

        Tagine of Chicken with Artichoke, Preserved Lemons and Olives

        Chicken with Tomato Pilaf

        Stuffed Eggplants with Meat / Karniyarik

        Sabanekh Bi Loubia/ Spinach and Beans with Caramelized Onions

        Safsouf / Lebanese Bulgur and Chickpea Salad


        Baked Lamb Kibbeh with Onion and Pine Nut Topping

        Peppery bulgur salad
        Courgette fritters
        Deep-fried red mullet with garlic & parsley
        Tagine of lamb with dates & almonds

        Roast Cod with Potatoes and Tomatoes /Hout Bi Batata Wa Tamatem

        Orange Pudding

        Almond Pastries in Honey Syrup

        Yogurt Cake

        2 Replies
        1. re: Rubee

          Rubee, What a great collection of links. Thank you so much for compiling this.

          1. re: smtucker

            You're welcome! I'm hoping to try a few recipes on-line from The New Book, so I'll post more as I find them.

        2. I have a small confession to make. The shear number of pages in the two combined COTM books is overwhelming me just a bit. [This was true last month as well.] Perhaps the method that I have created to review the books and choose recipes/menus to cook is flawed but I fear by the time I have read through both books, the month will already be gone.

          I would be really interested to hear the approaches others are taking to choose individual recipes from these tomes. Are you starting with an ingredient? Something you have eaten before and want to replicate in your own kitchen? Throwing darts at the book and seeing what page they hit? How can I overcome my multiple-page-anxiety?

          3 Replies
          1. re: smtucker

            I get the same anxiety of being overwhelmed. I was a bit overwhelmed with last month's book, CAC, which is why I mostly followed other people's recommendations. For this month, I'm being hampered by our heat wave which has diminished my cooking desires.

            But, usually I am ingredient driven. Last night, I decided I had to have cucumbers for dinner. So, I just looked in the index of both and found that they had nearly identical recipes. When I finally chose a prep, I just looked in the other book to do a quick comparison and they were the same. I wonder if Arabesque is a shorter version of tNBoMEF.

            I also know that I have an overabundance of eggplants, tomatoes and peppers and those will drive my recipe selections in the next few weeks. Now, I just have to get some pomegranite molasses and orange water and then these will become pantry recipes.

            ETA: also, I'm mostly focusing on tNBoMEF since I cooked from Arabesque the first time around. But, OCD me has to look in Arabesque to see if the recipe is similar.

            1. re: smtucker

              Hi smtucker, I completely understand what you mean. There is a lot of material in those two books. Similar to beetlebug, I am pretty ingredient (ie., CSA produce+ freezer full of bison meat) driven. But, I also have a particular interest in Turkish cuisine, so, I'm sort of focusing on that.

              I'm disappointed that tNBoMEF doesn't have a more extensive "by cuisine" section in the index in the back. If you looked at the index, you'd be under the mistaken impression that there are only about a dozen Turkish recipes in the book. But, as you start to flip through the recipes, you'll notice that she frequently mentions in the head notes that this is a Turkish recipe, or she offers a Turkish variation, etc. So, that's a bit of a pain. I had hoped EYB would have picked up on the info in the head notes when they indexed the book, but, alas, it appears they did not.

              P.S. rubee! thank you for all of those fantastic links!

              1. re: smtucker

                Since I have only The New Book that's what I'm cooking from so I'm not overwhelmed by the volume of recipes. My modus operandi for any COTM is to go through the chapters (the intro pages are read later); scan the recipes; list, with pg. number, those that seem doable for us; then refer to the list when planning a menu. Meals are planned according to the recipes I've planned on making and shopped for each week. I keep the list in the book for the month then insert it into a 3-ring binder for later reference when the month is finished. But remember, I'm retired. I have all the time in the world.

                When I began cooking along with COTM I only read through the meat, seafood and veggie chapters at the start, because I no longer bake as I used to, and we don't usually have dessert. So I just eliminated unnecessary reading. The chapters I set aside could easily be referred to later.

              2. I was going to give this month a pass, so I was completely surprised to come home from vacation to find that I own The New Book of Middle Eastern Cooking! I have no memory of buying it, but I was glad to find it. My Egyptian guests return tomorrow, so maybe I will cook them a taste of home.

                7 Replies
                1. re: roxlet

                  I hope you don't mind if I giggle for just a minute. Love the idea of re-finding a cookbook; like a long lost friend on facebook.

                  1. re: smtucker

                    Oh, go ahead a laugh! This is direct result of having too many cookbooks! For all I know, I have Arabesque lurking somewhere!

                    1. re: roxlet

                      I know the feeling - when I moved I found a Chinese cookbook I had had for ages but was just on the verge of rebuying...

                      1. re: buttertart

                        I recently bought two of the same book -- at the same time -- on ABE. Fortunately, they were both incredibly cheap, but I want to kick myself when I do something like that!

                        1. re: roxlet

                          We are just kinda scary alike...I hope it was a good one, anyway!

                          1. re: buttertart

                            It was good -- but not good enough to need two!

                            1. re: roxlet

                              Roxlet, I can't for the life of me find where you posted the recipe for Sticky Toffee Pudding, or I'd be responding there (and luckily I went ahead and cut and pasted it onto a Word file), but I just had to tell you that Lulu and I made it this morning and we've just had a slice (as has my husband) and we ALL LOVED it. Pure heaven. Thank you so much.

                2. Even though I haven't made that many dishes yet, I think these cookbooks were great choices for the end of the summer. So many uses for the bounty of eggplants and tomatoes that are scattered throughout my kitchen.

                  Also, while I enjoyed cooking from Arabesque when it was last COTM, for some reason, I'm enjoying tNBoMEF more. Maybe I like the format of the book better because it has so many variations and seems to be more comprehensive. I can't put my finger on it.

                  Needless to say, I hope my schedule clears up more so I can delve into the book more thoroughly.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: beetlebug

                    Oh now beetlebug, don't make me go buy another daggone book. I trust your taste a lot; I took this one out of the library probably about 6 years ago (is it that old??) when my cooking skills were still in their infancy (not that they're not now) and didn't like it as much then as I love Arabesque now. Conundrum.

                    1. re: LulusMom

                      I hate to say it, but I kinda prefer tnbmef to Arabesque, too. It just seems to have more of those classic Turkish dishes I was looking for. Arabesque is wonderful, for sure, but I almost wish I had tnbmef instead of Arabesque. Of course, now that I have Arabesque, I don't think I can part with it,b ut I'm feeling a little guilty about wanting both.

                      Now, keep in mind that i have not cooked from either...


                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        Well I have to say... I Love TNBoMEF. Although I don't have Arabesque, I've read enough here and in reviews to get a feel for what that book is about. The New Book seems to offer so much more. More information, more leeway vis a vis ingredients and variations and more in terms of satisfaction. Just my NSHO.

                      2. re: LulusMom

                        I think tNBoMEF is definitely worth a check out from the library. I also think that she refined some of the recipes for Arabesque. Some recipes are identical, like the yogurt and cucumber recipe. While another, the beet and yogurt, I liked the Arabesque version better. Of course, I had to compare the two recipes.

                        It's just a gut feeling though on the books. I remember liking Arabesque but not loving it. I never did buy it but had xeroxed a few recipes but have only repeated the beet and yogurt dish. And tNBoMEF, the set up, is more like Marcella's Classics or Sahni's Indian cookbook (but with pictures) so it just feels more comprehensive. I really haven't cooked enough out of it to really make that statement.

                        To help you not purchase another book, I had done a general search for tNBoMEF to buy. I think the least expensive, including shipping, was about $30. The book must be out of print. And, the book is thick, so if you have any space issues, definitely go the library route first.

                        But, if I had superpowers, I'm not sure *making* anyone buy a cookbook would be my power of choice. ;-)

                        1. re: beetlebug

                          Darn it you guys. Now I have really have to reconsider whether to buy tNBoMEF too.

                          1. re: beetlebug

                            It's definitely still in print in the UK. Mr GG bought me a copy for my birthday. It's a paperback, and costs £18.99 new (but less on the web, obviously.

                          2. re: LulusMom

                            It's actually older than me! First published in 1968 and revised in the 80s.

                        2. I am becoming quite attached to The New Book of Middle Eastern Food, and not at all to ARabesque. I think I am being seduced by the page layout, and the friendly recipe descriptions.

                          Is anyone else having a totally illogical, visceral response to these two books from the same author?

                          25 Replies
                          1. re: smtucker

                            Of course you would pose this assertion just as I *decided* today that since it was already halfway through the month and I'm just back in town and already have Arabesque that I wouldn't order TNBOMEF -- tempted though I have been. I thoroughly enjoyed the one meal I made from Arabesque though and don't quite understand the different appeal of the two books. Interested to hear...and might succumb to the need to order!

                            1. re: mebby

                              Does your library have a company?

                              I took both this month's books out from the library. I can't really afford to buy every book we decide to cook from, both financially and in terms of book space! But "The New Book" is on my amazon wish list now. I just like it in a way I can't explain.

                              1. re: smtucker

                                My collection is so much newer and smaller than most of the rest of the COTMers and I'm so much more of a fledgling cook that I rationalize purchases I'm afraid. Plus I just love to read cookbooks like novels, even when I don't manage to cook from them as quickly as I've hoped, so I indulge myself a bit. My search in the L.A. library system only turned up copies in far-flung branches and most of them already checked out. And that Amazon Prime membership does make it so much easier to indulge for fairly immediate gratification.

                                  1. re: smtucker

                                    Exactly. But it feels so good to be bad!

                              2. re: mebby

                                If it makes you feel any better (and saves you money) I can tell you that I'm having the same sorts of feelings about Arabesque. I'm in LOVE with this book. And I'm sort of happily surprised that my family also seems to be in love with it. Pretty much every meal - no, not pretty much, definitely every meal we've had from it has been a hit. Two more next week. I love it, I love it. Beetlebug has been the evil temptress but so far I've been able to resist her, but now that smtucker has joined forces, I'm not sure how much longer I can resist. I will try though!

                              3. re: smtucker

                                I'm having the same response. I've looked in tNBoMEF much more than Arabesque but I can't quite put my finger as to why I like it better. Maybe it seems more efficient (layout) and comprehensive to me.

                                It's 40% off at Jessica's Biscuit.

                                1. re: beetlebug

                                  So dangerous. Chowhound is a very expensive place to hang out. Encouraging book purchases, fancy ingredients in the pantry, pointing naive cooks to a web site like Jessica's Biscuit. Yea, I bought TNBoMEF, plus two more.

                                  And why is their web site so absolutely awful? Not one search found anything before it timed out.

                                  1. re: smtucker

                                    But, if it makes you feel better, Jessica's Biscuit is an independent cookbook store, part of the New England Mobile Bookfair. (If you go to the bookfair and the price is different then the online price, just let them know and they'll honor it). But, it is an unuser friendly website.

                                    Sophia's Pantry is on my list for next week. Can't wait to try the taramasalata.

                                    1. re: beetlebug

                                      I remember when New England Mobile Bookfair opened. Put several smaller book stores, like the Wellesley Bookstore and another one in Natick, right out of business. People flocked to get books for a lower price in spite of the increased chaos and frenzy.

                                2. re: smtucker

                                  I don't have Arabesque so I can't compare it to TNBoMEF but I can tell you that The New Book seems more cook friendly than many other cookbooks I have. Her understanding that many home cooks may not have all the ingredients at hand for a particular recipe as written and thus gives recommended substitutions is so enabling. Many home cooks need that freedom for fear of not being "authentic." Other reasons I like THB are more esoteric but so far everything we've made has been more than satisfactory.

                                  1. re: Gio

                                    Hi Gio, do you (or anyone else here) have the original? If so how do they compare?

                                    1. re: buttertart

                                      Hi BT... I have the 2000 edition but I think there's an earlier one. Greedygirl has the earlier version, I think. At least there's a recipe I have in my book that she doesn't.

                                      1. re: Gio

                                        I see - I have the original BOMF in a 1976 paperback I remember buying at the bookstore at the Coop on Shattuck Ave in Berkeley in the olden days...anyone have that version?

                                        1. re: buttertart

                                          My mom has that version (but, er, we no longer live together...)
                                          I think I'll get the new one from her public library the next time I visit, and do the compare/contrast.

                                            1. re: buttertart

                                              As it turns out, Roden herself details the differences in the intro to The New Book. It is treated as a new edition, not a new work. She dropped some historical recipes (better read from direct sources in the index) and modernized and added others, reflecting better ingredient availability and the widespread use of food processors etc that weren't around for the first pass. She says she kept much of the flowery language from the first book that now embarasses her, since it reflects the enthusiasm of a young woman. She addresses her audience that might feel the original recipes are perfect as they are...

                                              It's a nice, readable intro. (I often skip intros and leap in to recipes...)

                                          1. re: buttertart


                                            I don't remember where I bought my book, but it was probably at Cody's or Moe's. Every time I drive by the Shattuck Ave Andronico's, I shed a tear for the old Co-op. Not quite as sad a tear as the one shed when I drive by the Telegraph Ave. Whole Paycheck, though.

                                            I have had the 1974 paperback edition (which says the book is "copyright 1968, 1972 by Claudia Roden") forever. It has splotches and stains and the pages have darkened around the edges, but it's still in pretty good shape. I bought it new in '74. The price of $10.95 is printed on the front cover.

                                            1. re: oakjoan

                                              You're taking me back here, oakjoan -- I grew up right by Shattuck and Ashby and haven't thought of the Co-op in years -- that was where we got everything when I was a kid (until the Berkeley Bowl opened and our produce allegiances went there).

                                              1. re: oakjoan

                                                Tele WF (WP) is where Park and Shop was I presume? I cherish my macramé and granola days Berkeley Way apartment memories as you know...it's a shock to go back.

                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                  No, Whole Foods is at Telegraph and Ashby, where Co-op was (this is where my family shopped when I was a child - sounds as if Mebby and I were neighbors!). Park and Shop became the first store in the Andronico's empire (four stores in Berkeley, two in former Co-op spaces), and the Telegraph store's signage says Andronico's Park and Shop.

                                                  P.S. Mebby, I'd love if you'd shoot me an email at the address in my profile, as I have a question for you that's OT here.

                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                    We used to shop at the Telegraph Avenue Co-Op when we lived on Forest Street. During that period, we moved back and forth from L.A. to Berkeley. We also shopped at the one on Shattuck. When I moved back up for good, I lived on 10th Street and shopped at the University Ave. Co-op...Now we live in Oakland and shop at BBowl.

                                                    I tell ya, kids, I shopped at the Bowl when it was in the actual bowling alley on Shattuck.

                                                    To the rest of the Hounds in this thread -- FASCINATING, eh?

                                                    1. re: oakjoan

                                                      Fascinating YES. It wouldn't be the COTM without you, OJ. Believe me.

                                        2. re: smtucker

                                          I haven't cooked from either (yet), but I really like tnbomef a lot. I took it out of the library. I own Arabesque. I'm not sure what my next move is, but I think I might like to own TNBOMEF if I can find one at a good price.


                                        3. Hey all, I'm back, so I might finally have a chance to join in this month. But I now realize that I only have a copy of the original BoMEF on my shelf, not the "New" one. Do you think it would still make sense for me to make posts based on this old version? Or would that be too confusing?

                                          Do you, for instance, have "Stuffed Zucchini with Apricots" in TNBoMEF? (That being one which caught my eye, although my zucchini plants are in a lull at the moment.)

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                            Welcome back Karen! I don't have TNBoMEF, but I say post away! Just make it clear that you're posting from the older book.

                                          2. There is no appropriate place to put this, so I shot an arrow, and this thread won! Today I had to return the two Roden books to the library. My library is just a quick 6 block walk, and so off I went. The two books were heavy, and I switched them from arm to arm as I walked. How many pages are in those two books combined? A lot is a pretty close answer.

                                            And so the librarian took my two large books, and exchanged them for the incredibly skinny Barefoot Contessa. No switching of arms needed on the way home. The juxtaposition was rather startling and very obvious.