This is a guest blog post by Kristy Still of Mommy Hates Cooking, who participated in a live chat in The Motherhood on Middle Eastern cooking, hosted by Faith Gorsky, blogger at An Edible Mosaic and author of a new cookbook called An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair. Faith was joined by panelists Alyssa of Everyday Maven, Evelyne of Cheap Ethnic Eatz, Heba of My Life in a Pyramid and MidEATS, and Victoria of Mission:Food.
Do you sometimes feel like you are in a cooking rut, creating the same meals over and over again? I know sometimes I fall into this category!
For inspiration on mixing it up in the kitchen, earlier this week we spoke with Faith Gorsky of An Edible Mosaic, who recently published the cookbook An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair. She showed us just how easy it is to cook new foods from various parts of the world.
Faith’s book embraces all aspects of Middle Eastern cuisine. She starts with the basics as far as the tools and cooking techniques used in preparing Middle Eastern food, and then she shares a variety of amazing recipes, including versatile creaming garlic sauces, breads, side dishes, desserts and of course, main dishes.
Faith started our chat by asking guests to name their favorite Middle Eastern foods. Responses ranged from stuffed grape leaves and Armenian ravioli to almond-based desserts and Manti. The favorites were hummus and falafel, and Faith’s favorite is chicken shawarma – all great entry-level dishes for novice cooks.
Several participants acknowledged that they were intimidated by the thought of cooking Middle Eastern fare as a new chef. Faith told us she could “completely relate. I didn’t grow up eating or cooking Middle Eastern food so it was completely new to me, learning it as an adult … But in my book I explain everything coming from the perspective of someone who needs to be taught from the basics up, since this is how I had to learn it.”
Talking with Faith about her cookbook brought up so many interesting facts. For me, one thing that particularly stood out was about Kibbeh, a mixture of lamb and bulgur wheat. Faith noted that it is extremely versatile and can be served in a variety of ways, including fried, baked, grilled or raw.
We also learned that in the Middle East, toasted nuts are considered a luxury and are very expensive. Toasted nuts tend to be found mostly on large dishes as a garnish, and using them is a way to honor your guests.
Of course, we all wanted to know Faith’s secrets for making delicious international cuisine! A few of the tips she shared:
1) Pomegranate molasses is the secret to making the best falafel sandwiches. It brings a new flavor and life to the dish.
2) Don’t skimp on the spices – favorites include 7 Spice Mix and Za’atar. You can find Middle Eastern spices at local specialty markets, or Faith buys hers online from Hashems.
3) Avoid fat-free yogurt when making yogurt soup, since it curdles more easily. Cook on medium heat and don’t let it come to a boil.
There is plenty more fantastic advice in the text of the live chat – you can click through to see it all!
Check out Faith’s book not only for the recipes, but for the cultural information – it allows you to explore a new world right from your kitchen. To read the reviews and buy An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair, click here.