79 of 80 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2009
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.
88 of 92 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2009
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.
112 of 121 people found the following review helpful
on August 16, 2009
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.
41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2009
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.
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2011
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.
41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on May 23, 2009
This cookbook is always at the top of my cookbook stack-- a rather large feat! I especially like the fish recipes because they are easy, different, healthy and make fish taste way better than, well, fish. I really recommend this book. I'm not top chef either but while some of the recipes are more complicated, plenty are simple too. Enjoy!
56 of 64 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 2010
I purchased this new edition based upon my experience with the previous edition, which I borrowed from the library. It came today and I dove into it, looking to see where it had been revised, and much to my dismay (and surprise) there have been several tweaks to make things a bit more esoteric. The most disappointing part of this is the change to the babaghanouj, which is the primary reason I bought the book! Now it is called "tart and spicy roasted eggplant salad" and now has spicy green chilies and plain yogurt in it. And the basic hummus recipe? Gone! In sum, the simple, delectable, fresh recipes that attracted me to this book in the first place are gone. Sad...luckily the older edition is still available from used booksellers!
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2009
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. ;)
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2009
Revised and updated to reflect new insights on the Mediterranean Diet, this updated edition of a classic guide provides close to a hundred new dishes paired with the latest facts about the nutritional benefits of the Mediterranean Diet, a plan easy to produce and sure to be popular with a wide audience. From Lamb Meatballs with Pine Nuts in Lemony Tomato Sauce to Middle Eastern Pizza, there's an outstanding range of healthy choices and dishes reflecting increased attention to their health values. General-interest libraries won't be able to keep this on the shelf!
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2011
I absolutely LOVE this cookbook!
Unlike many of the other Mediterranean Diet books out there, this book is less oriented toward the reasons why the diet works and more toward the recipes.
Almost every recipe includes some notes from the author - ranging from where she first ate the meal to the history of the meal itself. I found the book as interesting to read as the foods were interesting to eat.
A couple of notes: many of the recipes are lengthy and have lots of ingredients - so if you are not an adventurous cook (adding some broccoli to boxed mac and cheese is your idea of adventure), then maybe this book is NOT for you. Some of the ingredients can be difficult to find (preserved lemons?) and I have given up looking and purchased them through mail order. I have tried about 20 recipes from the book and all have been wonderful (the Olive Oil & Blood Orange cake is cooling on the counter right now - smells wonderful).
I do wish she had more vegetable side dish recipes and I thought she spent too much time on "small dishes" and self-made condiments.
If she writes another book, I would definitely purchase it. I would suggest it to anyone who likes to cook and eat.