File Size: 4990 KB
Print Length: 512 pages
Publisher: Bantam; 1 edition (March 27, 2012)
Publication Date: March 27, 2012
Sold by: Digital Services LLC
Word Wise: Enabled
Lending: Not Enabled
Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Best Sellers Rank: #238,108 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store) #47 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Cookbooks, Food & Wine > Regional & International > European > Italian #55 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Cookbooks, Food & Wine > Regional & International > European > Mediterranean #118 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Cookbooks, Food & Wine > Special Diet > Low Fat
This book is well written, and the recipes are solid. Some of the recipes are not for novice cooks and could be frustrating for them. But, the recipes are well worth the time (these are NOT 30 minute meals!) and effort. I really like the snippets of history woven through the book, making certain recipes feel like they are being handed down to you.
I checked this book out of the library yesterday to give it a test drive before buying it. Well, this is a pretty short test drive -- I'm here at the dealer's lot. I'm sold!The book has a lot of ideas that I've just not seen before. Last night I served the grilled asparagus with bitter orange and it was a refreshing change from the usual puddle of olive oil. Tonight I'm trying the fish and spinach au gratin. Tomorrow, the swordfish with almond sauce. These are three dishes I hadn't seen even though I have several cookbooks from the Mediterranean region. And the book is loaded with recipes for next week. What to try next? I'm a happy man and my family is going to be happier.One of the features that makes the book work for me is the stories that accompany each recipe. This is such a diverse region with differing food traditions and palates that the introductory paragraphs help set a context for each recipe.I agree with others that pictures would be nice. In 2009 there are a bunch of books on the market where the pictures are better than the recipes. But even if a picture is worth a thousand words, in the end I need the ingredients, steps, and times to put the dish together, so I can't take away a star for leaving the pictures out.
Reading through the introductory sections of this book leads you to believe the recipes are relatively easy. Wrong! You need a million items stocked in your pantry, you need to have a source for buying gourmet mushrooms and the like, and you need quite a bit of time to actually make the recipes. Definitely not for someone who actually works for a living! Even though the recipes are delicious, I can't see myself making them more than maybe once a week on the weekend.
This is my new favorite cookbook, and I'm excited about trying more of the recipes. I made the North African Spiced Fish twice already because it's so flavorful and easy. Many of the recipes are easy to prepare (30-45 minutes prep then pop into an oven), but, naturally, there are several recipes that are more challenging for an ordinary home cook like myself. But I still plan to give a couple of those a shot. Many of the dishes are based around tomatoes, herbs, olive oil, onions, garlic, and peppers (not necessarily hot); if you like those foods, which I do, then these recipes will suit you well. Also, one thing I really liked as a novice is the author's reassurance that it's okay to "make do" with what you have on hand and not fret over exact measurements/ingredients. If a particular ingredient or measurement is critical to the dish, she points that out.
My wife has a genetic tendency toward high cholesterol and heart disease, and we both have a taste for recipes from the cultures scattered around the Mediterranean, so this book was a natural for us. We've been delighted with the recipes in the book and find ourselves using them several times per week, and incorporating the ideas in the book into our other meals.And since we began our dietary changes, including the use of this book, my wife's cholesterol count has come down from 193 to 139, with a very healthy ratio.The book does require a basic familiarity with kitchen techniques, and a comfort with cooking from scratch with fresh ingredients -- there's no "semi-homemade" nonsense here. But if you have some basic skills, or a copy of "Joy of Cooking" to which to refer for guidance, nothing in here is too complicated.I see some complaints in other reviews about recipes requiring hard-to-find ingredients. Honestly, I find that surprising. I live in a rural area 100 miles from the nearest Whole Foods, and I can find most of the ingredients without difficulty, and easily substitute for those few that are out of my reach. And if you have to skip a recipe or two, so be it. Make the carrots in chermoula sauce instead of the Tuscan kale.If you have an interest in healthy eating, and a taste for Italian and/or Moroccan and/or Greek food, you just can't go wrong with this cookbook. It will help you improve your diet, and introduce you to more food that you'll enjoy.
I checked this book out at the library after my doc recommended looking into adopting a Mediterranean diet. I am now buying it. This book isn't a regimented meal plan like several diet books, and for good reason: the Mediterranean diet is not a strict formulated plan. Rather, it is a way of eating that has its roots firmly planted in the (healthier) past.There is a brief introduction and some general guidelines to get you started along with vivid, time-transporting descriptions and some recommended pantry items. True, the author gives you some preferred ingredients and supplies for making the different recipes, but she states several times to use what you've got. You don't have porcini mushrooms or Greek gigantes beans? Use something else. It may not taste EXACTLY the same, but it'll be in the spirit of the idea. Who knows, you might even find you like it better than that special- not always in the supermarket- ingredient. If you must use exactly what the recipe calls for and can't find it in your supermarket, Nancy Harmon Jenkins gives several suggestions on where to find it (back of the book) or what may substitute (in the recipe or the preface to the recipe.I loved the slow-cooked chickpeas with orange-zest and lemon juice. I didn't have white wine, so I just used extra stock and lemon juice. The green beans with olive oil and tomatoes were a nice change from plain old green beans. I can't wait to try out the rich beef stew or the Lebanese garlic-marinated chicken on the grill.I have found that the serving sizes are fairly large- when it says that it'll make 6-8 servings it is actually more like 10-12 (in my household), so I have started halving the recipes. And no, there aren't any pictures in this cookbook. However, I think my imagination produces better images than can be found in any book. ;)
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