2015 Favorite Cookbooks
What a year for cookbooks! Seems like I feel that way most every year about cookbooks. Not so for fashion, or even food trends (cronut?), but the array of cookbook offerings just never disappoint.
In the world of publishing, there are two seasons: spring and fall. Rose Water & Orange Blossoms was a spring release along with so many other great books. The fall releases have been hugely exciting too, a year of beautiful books perfect for gift giving and growing your own shelf and table.
Here are some of my 2015 favorites, all with their own Middle Eastern spin and flair:
Near and Far: Recipes Inspired by Home and Travel, by Heidi Swanson. Everything Heidi touches is gold. Her blog, her shop, her books all carry her calming, beautiful style. This new book was much anticipated and describes her travels, in recipes and photos and words, to Morocco, Japan, Italy, France, and India. Heidi also includes her recipes from home (San Francisco!) and what she eats en route. The Moroccan chapter has our favorite flavors and ingredients, from flower waters to sesame to labneh, all artfully expressed.
Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking, by Michael Solomonov. When I ate at Chef Michael’s restaurant Zahav in Philly during the photo shoot for my book, I was captivated. His food is so incredibly good. His hummus is of the highest order (we talked about it for this), and the book dedicates pages to it. Recipes here will excite anyone who loves to cook our Middle Eastern way.
Simply Ancient Grains: Fresh and Flavorful Whole Grains for Living Well, by Maria Speck. Such a special book that teaches us the pleasures of cooking (and baking!) with the vast array of whole grains available to us—as Lebanese lovers of bulgur and rice, we’re right at home here. Maria, whose background is Greek, weaves wonderful Mediterranean cooking throughout the book. Such a thoughtful array of recipes for busy days, and others for when we have more time and for holidays.
Yogurt Culture: A Global Look at How to Make, Bake, Sip and Chill the World’s Creamiest, Healthiest Food, by Cheryl Sternman Rule. I love this book! So many fascinating ways to cook with the yogurts of the world, including our laban and labneh. Cheryl went after her subject with incredible breadth and depth, and gives us the riches from her exploration. She loves yogurt as much as we do, and it led her to bring us all together over at her Team Yogurt. Make yogurt, not war.
Nopi, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully. The creators of Jerusalem, Plenty, and Plenty More deliver another delight of Middle Eastern flavors from Ottolenghi’s London restaurant. The recipes are always unique, using ingredients like sumac and anise and pomegranate. Glorious, mouthwatering photography with pages gilded, and rightly so, with gold.
Seven Spoons: My Favorite Recipes for Any and Every Day, by Tara O’Brady. Based on her superb blog Seven Spoons, Tara’s book evolves from her delicious home kitchen with recipe after compelling recipe. I enjoyed being in same company with Tara in a couple of book reviews this year—we have similar approaches, and while her background is English and Indian, her creativity serve us labneh and rose water and za’atar in special ways, as well as curry and chutney and naan. Splendid.
Rose Water & Orange Blossoms: Fresh and Classic Recipes from My Lebanese Kitchen, by me. How can it not be one of my favorite cookbooks of 2015?! What a treasure to place my own book on the shelf this year (where it doesn’t stay long…I do cook from my own book often!). Please know that I am happy to send you a signed bookplate for your copy of the book, for yourself or for gift giving. Just message me your name and address. Thank you a million thanks for sharing in the Rose Water book joy!
Stay tuned over the next two weeks for special recipes for the holidays!
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I'm so glad you're here! You'll find among these pages the fresh and classic Lebanese recipes we can't get enough of! My mission is to share my tried + true recipes -- and to help our Lebanese food-loving community keep these culinary traditions alive and on the table. What recipes are you looking for? Let me know!
I love your recipes, Maureen. I can’t wait for the next recipes you’re gonna be posting.
Thank you Patty!
Just ordered two of your favorite Rosewater and Orange Blossoms cookbooks for my daughter-in-laws for Christmas. They love our Lebanese food and my grandsons love it just as much. Hoping they will put the book to good use!
Wonderful Janet, thank you!
Wonderfully eclectic list. Where does one find the bookend adjacent to your book.
Thanks for the recommendations! I’ve read your book (one of my favorites of this year too!) and am currently reading Yogurt Culture, but hadn’t seen the others. Happy Holidays and thanks for sharing your wonderful recipes and more.
I have enjoyed reading your blogs for the past year! Coming from a very similar Lebanese American background, it’s a joy to read your stories and share them with my daughters! I have ordered 3 of your cookbooks as Christmas presents for the girls! If you could, I’d love to have your signed bookplate in each! Have a blessed Christmas!
5319 Dora Street
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Thank you Marlene! The bookplates are in the mail to you!
Yours remains my most loved, not just for how you can take the inherent complexity of Lebanese cooking and make it very approachable, but for how each recipe contains a story from the heart. I read it nightly like I a child’s bedtime story. It was gifted to me by the mother of a close Lebanese male friend, so that says something!!
I was looking for a cookbook as a gift for my friend who has been raving about “Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking” and came across your list. Thanks for putting this together…now to decide which book to order 🙂
Glad to see at least one person still appreciates cookbooks like I do, despite being able to hit up the internet for any recipe you need. There’s just something about cookbooks that I love that the internet just can’t provide.
Maureen–I just purchased five of your cookbooks…one for each sister and for my mother. Within your recipes I connect with my own childhood memories with my Lebanese grandparents and mother. Not only do I savor the delicious foods, but I feel a tremendous need to preserve this story for my own children, nieces, and nephews. I hope that a couple of special will continue to trickle down to feed our legacy. Thank you for recording these foods and your memories. I love reading your work and I will continue to be an ardent fan and follower of your blog. Merry Christmas!
This is so special Linda…thank you for your kind encouragement, and for passing on our wonderful culinary traditions to your family!
Hey Maureen – I’ve been a fan of your food blog for a while. As a Palestinian-American it’s always nice to see fellow Middle Eastern-Americans find passion in the food of their ancestry. I know I do. I was so happy to buy your cookbook for my mom for Christmas this year, and I know she was really happy to get a lot of recipes that hadn’t been passed down from my Teta.
I wanted to say though that seeing Zahav on this list really saddened me. The appropriation of Middle Eastern, Arab, and Palestinian foods as Israeli cuisine is a large issue and is a tool, whether conscious or subconscious, that only continues to ensure the erasure of my heritage and the culture that I try to find passion in.
Rashad, thank you very much for your support and your fine comment.
Hi, I’m a Taiwanese living in Petoskey area and I was just at your book tour at Petoskey Library this evening. The two dishes you made today were delicious. Too bad I didn’t have your book with me for you to sign. I was happy to meet you in person and I surely will try more of your recipes in the future. Thanks again for your delicious cooking!
Thanks so much Joanne!