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157 of 165 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than just another Mediterranean cook-book...., 20 Aug 2007
This review is from: Rick Stein's Mediterranean Escapes (Hardcover)
...this is a Mediterranean JOURNEY.......with over 100 NEW recipes inspired by the flavours of this region.

'A fascinating journey into a rich and varied culinary heritage. Approach the Mediterranean Sea from any direction and you know you've entered a different world. Rick Stein's newest culinary odyssey takes in both the islands and coast of this remarkable region.

Published to accompany Rick's new five-part television series for BBC2, this new book starts where 'French Odyssey' left off - at the mouth of the Rhone in the port of Marseilles......'

Durable hardboard covers open to 216 high quality, shiny pages, split over main chapters:

1. Mezze, Kemia, Tapas and Antipasta
2. Herbs, Salad Leaves, Weeds and Other Greens
3. Aubergines, Artichokes, and the Mediterranean Garden
4. Pecorino, Feta, Ricotta and Mozzarella
5. Sardines, Red Mullet, Swordfish, Calamari and Tuna
6. Free-Range Chicken and Eggs
7. Lamb, Veal, Beef and the Whole Pig
8. Rabbit, Partridge, Quail and Wild Boar
9. Dried Beans, Grains, Rice and Pasta
10. Sweet Things, Fruits, Ices, Cakes and Sticky Pastries
11. The Mediterranean Larder:- Ingredients, Sauces, Relishes and Basics

plus sections entitled:

* Escape Routes
* Where to get Ingredients
* Notes on the Recipes

and conversion charts, plus a full recipe index, indicating illustrated dishes.

Written in the typical Rick Stein style, this book is arguably his best to date combining great cooking, culinary knowledge and breath-taking photography:

food shots, from Earl Carter
landscape shots, from Craig Easton.

Each chapter opens with an apt paragraph, e.g.:

'What we love most about Mediterranean Cooking are those small, informal dishes that seem to be served everywhere in generous quantities to accompany a glass of something in the early evening.'

Each recipe has a general opening paragraph, title/s (both foreign and English, where applicable), region, full list of ingredients and a clear method, followed by suggested variations if applicable.
One of Rick's main qualities is acknowledging other cooks and their recipes/publications, and these interesting paragraphs have numerous such references.
Followers of the TV series will hear Rick's voice as he describes one of his encounters ahead of a marvellous recipe for 'Lamb Tagine with Prunes and Almonds':

'This recipe was given to me by Lahcen Bequi who runs a cookery school in Fes. He started cooking when he was just 10, when his parents sent him away to school in a town a fair distance away from the Berber village in the High Atlas mountains in which he grew up. It was amazing for me to talk to this intelligent and gifted cook, knowing that he'd spent his childhood out in the high pastures shepherding sheep and goats.
A tagine is historically a Berber dish and it seemed to me, tasting this one with lamb and prunes, that I was eating the real thing.
The meat was meltingly soft, and this, above all dishes, convinced me of the sophistication of the Moroccan use of fruit and nuts with meat. It had a beguiling smokiness about it. He took an immense time to cook it, and explained in detail that the importance of the shape of the tagine is that the steam inside rises to the top of the still cold conical lid, where it condenses and drips back down, bathing the meat in fragrant juices.......'

Other recipes in this delightful book include:

* Tabbouleh
* Focaccia
* Spiced Octopus Salad
* Baked Greek Omelette
* Caponata
* Imam Bayildi
* Braised Artichokes
* Easter Lamb
* Seared Swordfish Steaks
* Chicken and Prawn Paella
* Moroccan Chicken
* Kleftiko
* Stifado
* Seafood Couscous
* Spaghettini
* Bulgar Wheat Pilaf
* Crema Catalana
* Baklava
* Moroccan Orange Salad
* Almond Cake with Almond Ice Cream
* Zabaglione
* Sicilian Orange Cake

'Key Mediterranean Ingredients:

Among the most exciting things I found travelling the Mediterranean over the last couple of years have been the local ingredients that give the food its characteristic flavour. The lardy, pimento-flavoured sobrasada in Majorca, strattu, the sun-dried tomato paste of Sicily; aci biber salcasi, the hot red-pepper paste from the markets of Gaziantep and Adana in eastern Turkey; figatellu, the smoked pig's liver and clove sausage from Corsica; ras el hanout, the Moroccan spice mix - all these and more are a source of delight to the travelling cook.'

A different language, perhaps, but...typically...made simple by Mr Rick Stein.
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4.6 out of 5 stars (49 customer reviews)
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