While I was away enjoying Food Blogger Connect, the fabulous London weather and gracious airbnb hosts this past weekend, my husband Ludger, had a BBQ with some business buddies. When they asked what to bring along my husband said “a big bag of carrots”. Horrored expressions crossed their faces since these three men had hated carrots as children much to the despair of their health-concious mothers. But they delivered. Having received Bethany Kehdy’s cookbook in advance from the publisher for review I had recently made the Carrot Salad with Cumin & Preserved Lemon (page 46) and my guys had adored it! So Ludger got the book from next to my bed, set the men (read boys) to peeling and made this simple and delicious carrot salad following Bethany’s recipe with ease. And they loved it! They even called their Mom’s the next day to tell them they had eaten carrots and they were in turn speechless – maybe I should send them the link so they can buy the book?
The Jewelled Kitchen is a special book in many ways.
It tells a story – the story of the Kehdy family from Bethany’s perspective but also a story about the Middle East, its influences and tragedies, the heartbreaking separation of families through wars and political unrest, the joyous reunions and the struggles of children to deal with things they cannot begin to comprehend.
The recipe collection – the recipes have been adapted for modern times and palates from traditional Lebanese, Moroccan and Persian recipes. Not an easy task as such since people from these countries are very protective of the way these recipes should be made and rarely accept modern interpretations. But we are a busy society nowadays where women and men are multitasking at an intense speed and the ones who still do cook real food do it for and with a passion and the belief in healthy food made from scratch. With this thought in mind Bethany has created delectable and stunning recipes.
They are easy to follow, the ingredients and alternatives are clearly stated, the steps are well broken done and not very complicated. Thanks also to the wonderful recipe editing done by Alison Bolus, who gave many helpful hints on exactly that at her Food Blogger Connect talk.
The photographs and food styling are stunning – Sarka Babicka who as Bethany’s best friend and collaborator knows exactly the type of mood Bethany is looking for to recreate her passion for a dish. Emily Jonzen and Lucy Harvey have then complimented this mood with beautiful props and envious food styling.
The cookbook itself – I adore the cover, the colors so soothing and enticing but best of all is the tactile pleasure I get from running my fingers over the title relief. Each little bump a jewel of my pleasure with this book. I particularly like that it is not on glossy paper and that simple but pretty Arabic art motives have been used throughout the book.
The cookbook set-up – one introduction chapter sets the stage for what is to follow, the ensuing six chapters are divided into clear categories: Mezze, Poultry, Meat, Seafood, Vegetarian, Desserts. There are two helpful pages on the Middle Eastern and North African Pantry, followed by basic methods for anything from how to open a pomegranate to making the unbeatably simple but mouthwatering Burnt Tomato & Chili Jam, which I popped into the oven last night where it filled our apartment with smells of Arabian nights – I think my husband was waiting for Scheherazade to float by but it was only me in my apron.
Et voila! A delightful cookbook, easy to use, pretty to look at, with a warming story behind it and recipes that will impress.
But before I leave you to order your book – here is the now infamous recipe for former carrot haters:
Carrot Salad with Cumin & Preserved Lemon
Serves 4, Preparation time: 5 minutes if you have made the preserved lemons already, Cooking time: 15 minutes
- 350 gram /12 oz. of carrots quartered lengthways
- ¼ tsp cumin seeds
- ¼ tsp coriander seeds
- 40 grams / 1 ½ oz salted butter
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 5 cm / 2 in piece of ginger root, peeled and grated
- 1 wedge of preserved lemon (recipe in the book or store bought),
rind rinsed and thinly sliced
- 1 tsp chopped mint and/or coriander leaves
- ¼ tsp orange blossom water (optional)
- sea salt
Putting it all togther:
- Cook the carrots in a saucepan of salted water over a medium heat for 4-5 minutes or until they are tender but still have a slight bite to them. Drain and set aside.
- Place a heavy-based frying pan over medium heat, add the cumin and coriander seeds and cook 1-2 minutes until aromatic, stirring often. Remove from the heat, transfer the seeds to a spice grinder and grind roughly.
- Return the pan to the stove, melt the butter and add the ground spices, followed by the garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute until aromatic. Add the parboiled carrots and toss to cover, then cook for a further 2-3 minutes until a nice sheen has developed. Add the preserved lemon, mint/coriander leaves and orange blossom water, if using.
- Serve immediately or leave to cool at room temperature.
My recipe review: I adore raw carrot salad but had never eaten carrot salad with cooked carrots. It was a revelation, The spice mixture perfectly harmonizes with the sweetness of the carrots. If you have no preserved lemons and don’t have time to make the ones in the book, then simply used the zest of an organic lemon, well washed of course, as we did.
In The Jewelled Kitchen this salad is a mezze, I served it as a side dish along with yummy couscous with lots of jewels and pork filet in a herbed bread crust – it all went very well together. This recipe will definitely become a regular in our house especially since my husband can make it – and as I wrote above it is already a conversation piece.
Kele w nsee hameek – eat and you shall forget your worries!
P.S. Thank you for the fabulous cookbook launch at Food Blogger Connect with food prepared by the Kehdy siblings and organized and assisted by the wonderfully supportive Mr. Chris Bourne and his family – it was a pleasure to meet you all and you are the force behind the lovely and talented Bethany Kehdy!