The Lebanese Kitchen

Salma Hage. Phaidon, $49.95 (512p) ISBN 978-0-7148-6480-8
Phaidon's cookbook division alternates between quirky, specialized works, such as its recent New Nordic release, Fäviken, and definitive, all-inclusive mega-volumes like the 816-page India Cookbook. This collection by Hage, a Lebanese housewife with half a century of home cooking under her belt, falls firmly into the latter camp, with 500 straightforward recipes covering every aspect of her native cuisine. That means a lot of lamb, be it a leg stuffed with apricots or ground into meatballs, placed on skewers or stuffed into cabbage or phyllo dough. Eggplant options abound as well, sometimes combined with pomegranate or made into a relish with garlic and ginger. Hage's directions are concise, with recipes usually appearing two to a page, and accompanied by an array of delicious, full-page, color photos. There are 11 chapters in all, including one on pickles and jams and another on drinks both tame (mint tea) and potent (rose water daiquiri). The final chapter allows seven guest chefs to weigh in with a favorite dish or two. For instance, Kamal Mouzawak, founder of Lebanon's first farmers' market, offers up squid stuffed with vegetables, rice, and cilantro. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/05/2012
Release date: 10/01/2012
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