Feast in the Middle East: A Personal Journey of Family and Cuisine
Feast in the Middle East: A Personal Journey of Family and Cuisine, is the long-awaited cookbook of Blanche Shaheen, a broadcast journalist turned popular YouTuber. This comprehensive cookbook is a landmark culinary reference for Middle Eastern classics, many of which one cannot find in restaurants nor cooking schools.
Shaheen began a mission of cultural preservation, taking down the cooking methods and exact ingredients of these hundreds of year-old heirloom recipes. She launched the YouTube cooking show called Feast in the Middle East 10 years ago to not only share these recipes with her family but with the world. This book is a culmination of these recipes, a middle eastern guidebook for foodies to cherish and use for years to come.
Shaheen retested, re-tasted, and experimented with every recipe to ensure positive results for dishes that had normally been passed down through generations by word of mouth. While many of these dishes used to take hours to make, she modernized these recipes to adapt to today’s western palate and busy lifestyles.
Readers will be able to recreate street foods like Chicken Shawarma and crispy Felafel in their own kitchens using easy techniques and familiar ingredients. The extraordinary collection of recipes includes other classical favorites like smoky Syrian Muhammara dip with walnuts, pomegranate molasses and roasted peppers, “Warak Enab,” or rice and lamb rolled into tender grape leaves and cooked in a tomato broth, Lebanese style Cauliflower with a tahini citrus sauce, or Palestinian Kunefeh, a dessert of sweet cheese and shredded filo dough. Other dishes, like Musakhan, come from small and obscure villages like Ein Erik in the Palestinian West Bank. Musakhan is a sumac spiced chicken roasted on bread and smothered with caramelized onions and toasted pine nuts.
Ancient recipes like chewy semolina date ring cookies called Ma’moul commemorate both Easter and Ramadan, while a 2000-year-old cinnamon-spiced bulgur wheat porridge called Burbarrah celebrates the Feast of Santa Barbara in the Arab Levant, Malta, and even Eastern Europe. Fusion dishes like Baklava Granola with pistachios and cardamom, Middle Eastern Nachos or “Machos” with pita chips and cucumber yogurt sauce, and Lemon Cheesecake made with creamy labneh cheese adapts middle eastern spices and ingredients to western tastes.
In addition to offering the ultimate recipe selection for home cooks, Feast in the Middle East is filled with historical references to the cuisine, information on middle eastern ingredients like rose water and pomegranate molasses, as well as tips on everything from how to make the perfect pita bread, yogurt cheese, or za’atar as a base for other dishes.
This is a book that every middle eastern foodie cook will want–and want to give. Today the Feast in the Middle East YouTube series has brought together a global cooking community in an unexpected and beautiful way. This book is a cumulative and meticulously written extension of this internationally watched video program.
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Arab America contributing food writer Blanche Shaheen is a journalist, host of the YouTube cooking show called Feast in the Middle East, and cookbook author of the “Feast in the Middle East” cookbook. She specializes in Arab cuisine of the Levant and beyond.
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