New Feast: Modern Middle Eastern Vegetarian
A vegetarian Middle Eastern cookbook is almost a tautology as so much of the region’s classic fare is vegetarian (think hummus, falafil, etc.). Few but the Maloufs, however, could add “modern” twists to traditional cuisine with such flair. Diced into somewhat finer sections than most cookbooks (“Butters and Preserves,” “Fritters” and “Ices,” for instance), this upscale tour through the humble Middle Eastern diet takes the pursuit to new levels with such offerings as preserved lemon guacamole, za‘atar biscuits and chocolate muhallabeya (boiled milk thickened with corn starch, traditionally made without chocolate) with Turkish coffee granita. There is even a veggie (eggplant) version of bisteeya, a North African savory pie usually made with chicken. While this is not a book for novice cooks, it still features a good number of recipes—flavored butters, dips and various soups—for the uninitiated to try before they dare attempt bouquets of fruity, flower-shaped meringues or tightly-rolled baklava cigars in orange syrup.