I have a new favourite recipe book! Honey & Co – Food from the Middle East.
What I like most: it is honest and transparent. Pictures, recipes, stories, all – and that makes it inspiring!
The other week I went to an evening of talks on food and business. Interesting stuff about sustainability, awareness etc. But then one of the guests was a food stylist working with one of the major popular food magazines. Quite inadvertently she ended up sharing that more often than not dishes “need a little help” to be photogenic. In the background there was this perfect photograph of a fish en papilotte … which turned out to be pretty only because it was still half raw.
She had to admit that anyone how would cook this dish would be disappointed because the end result could never look anything like the promise of her picture.
I am not sure which was worse, her obvious discomfort when she shared this or the defeatist shoulder shrug that followed: there she was telling us that she had turned her passion for food into a job, but in the same breath she revealed that she was compromising on her dream to scrape together a living.
It was only a small moment, but it seemed like this insincerity sucked up the positive energy in the room and left us all a little deflated.
Insincerity is apparently common enough for me to forget all about it until I read the introduction to this recipe book: every word radiates the authors’ passion for food and their desire to spread this joy. I would have appreciated this book regardless, but at that moment I realized that what can be seen as “just” another recipe book, is at the same time an expression of possibility: the passion to dream, the dedication to create and the strength to live whole-heartedly.
I will not share many recipes from this book as ….. well, you should buy the book J
But to spark your curiosity here is one recipe that should tickle your taste buds. This dish is like nothing I have eaten before: fish, grapes, cucumber, yoghurt and herbs – just imagine that mix of fresh flavours and contrasting textures – and it takes no time at all to put together. I served it with a quick side of couscous, chickpea and harissa (another recipe from this beautiful book).
What a beautiful gift of inspiration (foodie and otherwise)!
(Hardly altered from ‘Honey & Co. Food from the Middle East’ by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich)
2 small Lebanese cucumbers (or 1/2-1 regular) about 300g
125g good quality(!) red grapes
about 6 mint leaves
about10g fresh dill
1/2 tbsp lemon juice and a little more to drizzle the fish before serving
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil, plus 1 tbsp for frying
100g yoghurt (the authors advise goat. I used ‘Total 0% fat’ Greek yoghurt)
2 filets of sea bream (NL:zeebrasem, DE: Graubarsch?)
- Shave off thin slivers of the cucumber skin lengthwise to give it a stripe pattern.
- Cut the cucumber into half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Cut the cucumber into 2cm slices and place in a large bowl.
- Cut the grapes in half. Add to the cucumber
- Chop the mint and dill and toss with the cucumber and grapes.
- Season the salad with lemon juice, salt, pepper, a little olive oil and mix well
- Place a dollop of yoghurt on each plate. Place some of the cucumber salad on/next to the yoghurt.
- Heat the remaining olive oil in a thick based pan. Place the fish in the pan, skin side down.
- If you like crispy skin: cook about 4 min on the skin. Alternatively cook 2 min, flip and cook another 1-2 min.
- Place the fish on top of the salad on your plates.
- Drizzle with lemon juice.*
Tips & Variations
* the original recipe has you put the juice of 1/4 of a lemon in the pan with the fish and let it sizzle before plating. Personally I found the lemon flavour too strong.
- Couscous with chickpeas and harissa (same recipe book)