I recently spent the weekend in one of my favourite cities: Montreal. As always, the trip was full of new epicurean discoveries. As I was killing time before a lunch reservation at Park, I came across the bookstore of my dreams.
Appetite for Books is a bookstore that deals exclusively in cookbooks and food-related literature. They also offer cooking classes. Each class, led by Chef Jonathan, takes a deep dive into one of the cookbooks sold in store and invites participants of all skill levels to join in the fun of making and discovering new cuisines.
Sadly, I was only in town for the weekend and didn’t have a chance to participate in one of the classes. I did, however, have a great chat with the salesperson in store. I’m interested in exploring more Middle Eastern food and asked for her recommendation on a cookbook to help get me started. She recommended Persiana: Recipes from the Middle East and Beyond by Sabrina Ghayour.
Whenever I have friends over for dinner, I like the meal to have a cohesive theme. So, when I hosted a couple of my girlfriends last week, I prepared a three-course Middle Eastern meal with complementary cocktail. The main course and dessert were both sourced from Persiana.
Ghayour’s reimagining of this classic dessert, brings a little Middle Eastern flare to England. A subtle touch of rosewater and satisfying crunch of pistachios add another dimension to this confection.
A Middle Eastern take on the classic Eton Mess
- 2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 3 tbsp confectioners' sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or the seeds scraped from 1 vanilla pod
- 2 tbsp rosewater
- 6 ready-made meringue cookies, broken into bite-sized pieces
- 1/4 cup torn basil leaves
- 2 3/4 oz chopped pistachios
- 1/2 lb raspberries
- 1 tbsp confectioners' sugar
- 1 tbsp rosewater
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
Using an electric hand mixer, whip the cream, confectioners' sugar, vanilla paste or seeds and rosewater together in a mixing bowl until soft peaks form. With the mixer set on high, it should take about 3 minutes or so.
To make the sauce, mash the raspberries to a purée with the confectioners' sugar, rosewater and lemon juice in a bowl until the mixture is completely smooth. Pass the mixture through a sieve to remove the raspberry seeds.
In individual serving dishes, layer the cream, meringues and raspberries, drizzling on the sauce and scattering over the basil leaves and pistachios as you go. Decorate the top layer with a little drizzle of sauce and a final scattering of basil leaves and pistachios. Serve immediately.
Recipe from Ghayour, Sabrina. Persiana: Recipes from the Middle East and Beyond. Interlink Books, 2014.