Often the best and most memorable part of a Mediterranean meal are the starters. One might remember, or imagine, sitting on a sun-dappled terrace, or in a cool, vaulted room, as plate after plate of highly-flavoured, characterful little dishes are brought out. Elisabeth Luard has devoted Saffron & Sunshine
to these magical morsels: to tapas, mezze and antipasti, between surely them the epitome of civilised, sociable, leisurely eating. The result is captivating, a sequence of over 300 jewel-like recipes evoking all the most vivid flavours of Spain, France, Italy, Greece, the Middle East and North Africa. Here are meatballs, omelettes, unctuous vegetable stews, fritters, grilled meat or seafood on skewers, stewed game. Here are chick peas, lamb, squid, bitter greens, chicken, goat or sheep cheeses, rice, bulghur or couscous, courgettes and aubergines, anchovies and garlic. Elisabeth Luard has collected recipes from Valencia to Iraq, from the Balkans and northern Italy to the Atlas mountains. Recognising that no mezze dish is properly ever served on its own, she has applied a system of numbering, to indicate their relative substance and pre-eminence (the fabulous Sardinian Barbecued Lamb is a 1; Provencal Artichoke Hearts with Peas is a 2; Gozleme--Turkish Flatbreads Stuffed with Greens--is a 3). By the same token, each dish comes with a suggested list of companions. This is a wonderful book, full of sun and flavour, and a tonic to the pallid, etiolated Northern soul, and is very highly recommended. --Robin Davidson
From the Back Cover
Holidays in the sun and visits to Spanish tapas bars and Greek and Turkish restaurants have made us familiar with a way of eating that is remote from the formalities of the three- or four-course lunch or dinner. Those appetizing displays of little dishes, hot and cold, laid out all at once on the table to be dipped into at will - tapas, mezze, antipasti - under whatever name, are less a cuisine and more a way of life. They are food for sharing, offering endless possibilities of cooking single dishes or combining many, some familiar, some new and enticing. Either way, they present a leisurely choice of plenty without excess, of simple perfection without a trace of pretentiousness.
The dishes that comprise these sociable little feasts from the countries along the shores of the Mediterranean have slight variations from place to place and appear under many different names, but they are linked by common traditions and techniques - not least the use of saffron, the edible sunshine that gives many of them their flavour and colour. With the combination of richly evocative description and practical guidance that has made her earlier books modern cookery classics, Elisabeth Luard presents mouthwatering recipes for over 300 of them. They are grouped in chapters according to the principal ingredient, but in every case she recommends complementary dishes for balance and variety.
Saffron & Sunshine contains all the hallmarks of Elisabeth Luard's cookery writing, with delicious, authentic recipes based on the very best simple ingredients. It also offers great flexibility for cooks to serve up excellent food in today's more relaxed, informal style of entertaining at home. Food for vegetarians, slimmers, supper dishes or multiple feasts - all is here in a magnificent collection of recipes to be savoured by both armchair cooks and real cooks.