Every Friday, we at Casemate IPM bring you a delicious recipe hand-selected from one of the many cookery books we distribute. You should definitely try this at home!
This week, we’re sharing something sweet! Sweets & Desserts from the Middle East is a Grub Street Publishing reprint of a much-loved and renowned classic cookbook.
All Arto der Haroutunian‘s twelve cookbooks written in the 1980s became classics; it was his belief that the rich culinary tradition of the Middle East is the main source of many of our Western cuisines and his books were intended as an introduction to that tradition. His Sweets & Desserts of the Middle East is regarded as the seminal work on the subject but it had been out of print for almost thirty years. At last here in a new edition is the Middle Eastern cookbook that everyone wants. In this book he takes us on a sumptuous and erudite tour of one of the delights of Middle Eastern cuisine. Sweets and desserts occupy a special place in those lands where natural food resources can sometimes be limited. The people have made supreme the art of creating delights from very little and in doing do have enriched their world with wafer-thin pastries, luscious halvas, crunchy biscuits, exotic fruits and cool refreshing sorbets. Many Middle Eastern desserts are very sweet (literally soaked in honey or syrup) and yet their variety is infinite. It reflects the multifarious origins and races of the people of the region and combines ancient traditions and modern influences. One basic sweet may have been adapted in a dozen different ways. Tantalizingly fragrant, sweet and succulent or dry and spiced with the aroma of the East they transport us as if by magic carpet to the exotic lands of the orient. There are recipes for sesame and date baklavas, almond and pistachio coated biscuits, tempting stuffed fruits, rich mousses, delicate sorbets and syrups, jams and preserves, all of which may tempt you to conjure up these Middle Eastern delicacies in your own home.
This is one delicacy you’ll definitely want to try at home. This recipe would be a fantastic addition to any holiday brunch. Try this Ekmek Kadayifi (Bread Pudding), and let us know what your guests think! Keep reading for the full recipe.
6 thick slices bread, crusts removed
110 g (4 oz) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 tablespoons brandy
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
600 ml (1 pint) milk, scalded
50 g (2 oz) raisins
50 g (2 oz) cherries, stones and quartered
Cut the bread into cubes, place on a baking tray and put into an oven preheated to 180C (350F) gas 4 until toasted and golden. Place the eggs in a bowl, add the sugar and beat until frothy. Stir in the vanilla essence, brandy, lemon rind, hot milk, raisins and cherries. Finally stir in the toasted bread cubes.
Generously butter a 1.8 litre (3 pint) ovenproof dish and pour in the bread mixture. Stand the dish in a pan of cold water and place in an oven preheated to 190C (375F) gas 5 and bake for about 1 hour or until set. To serve first cool, decorate with fresh cream and then dribble lightly with pomegranate syrup.
For more delicious recipes that originated in the Middle East, order your copy of Sweets & Desserts from the Middle East here.
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