Mint, cinnamon & Blossom Water, by Ivy Liacopoulou

Reviewing a cookbook is one thing; reviewing a cookbook painstakingly and lovingly created by a fellow blogger whose site  I had been visiting  for over a year, is quite another!

I had been reading Ivy’s blog on a regular basis for a long while, with great interest; she is a serious and talented cook and her recipes  include historical lore on the rich  Greek and Cypriot customs and traditions. In Lebanon too we have had a Byzantine influence, a sizable number of Greek Orthodox churches and the presence of a  Greek Orthodox community in the country is still palpable in some areas. I always felt that we had definite common ground. After all, Cyprus is a 30 minute plane ride from Lebanon!

Here is what I liked about this cookbook:

  1. It is designed as a working manual. Each recipe is accompanied by a color photograph, precise directions, an introduction with additional information and valuables tips bestowed by Ivy. The font and the text are large and  clear. No eye strain here!
  2. The recipes are clearly from an author who knows her topic; Ivy gives the information required to make sure the recipes are successfully executed. A novice cook will have no trouble with her directions. Ivy explains in detail such sticky issues in the kitchen such as “How to know if the syrup is ready?” or “How to clean calamari”, or “How to sterilize jars for canning”and countless other essential tips.
  3. On a personal note, I was surprised to find that some of the recipes are almost identical to the ones I knew from my grandmother. Her recipe for lokmades, which uses potato and an orange blossom flavored syrup, for example; or shiamishi, a homemade phyllo filled with a semolina cream is identical to our tamrieh.
  4. This book is an excellent value, filled with valuable information for both novice and experienced cooks and the traditional Greek and Cypriot recipes are presented in a user-friendly fashion which makes them accessible to all. Excellent job Ivy!


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13 Comments

  1. Posted January 19, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for introducing me to a new blog and cookbook– looks fabulous!

  2. Posted January 19, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    And it looks pretty too! When I find a blog a really like, I always look at their blog roll for suggestions. I’m sure I’m going to love Ivy’s blog.Thanks.

  3. Posted January 19, 2011 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    I joke with my Greek friends that they stole everything from us. :-)

  4. Posted January 20, 2011 at 1:04 am | Permalink

    OMG Joumana, thank you so much for your kind words. I was away from the computer for a few days because of backache and today I was browsing through Facebook to catch-up and you post was the first I saw. You are right our cuisines are similar in so many ways and recipes like fakes moudjentra is similar to mujaddara, mahalepi is to muhallabieh, hummus, etc

  5. Posted January 20, 2011 at 2:29 am | Permalink

    A great book! It sounds so promising and knowing Ivy I bet it is a wonderful read.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  6. Posted January 20, 2011 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    I am expecting a copy of the book any time soon. I can’t wait!

  7. Posted January 20, 2011 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    I’m so glad you introduced my to this blog and cook book. My husband’s granmother was Greek and she documents many recipes that she passed on in a rather loose way! Lovely.

  8. Posted January 20, 2011 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    I will have to check out her blog (now I can read 1,001 … but I can’t keep up as t is, so why not?) It sounds like a lovely book – I prefer cookbooks like this with photos for each dish. I like to know what I am going to make!

  9. Posted January 20, 2011 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    I would love the cookbook!!!! I really enjoy Ivy’s blog and love all her recipes….Her book has to be amazing!

  10. Posted January 20, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Great review! I love supporting fellow bloggers and Ivy’s blog is one that I’ve adored for a while. I would expect nothing less than this excellent cookbook from her!

  11. SYLVIA
    Posted January 20, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    I love cookbooks, they are the backbone of any kitchen. Cooking well would be near impossible without them. Joumana, since I love and trust your judgment in the kitchen, this cookbook sparked my interest. It seems nicely organized with a great collection of recipes and colorful pictures. Great work Iva.
    Joumana, it takes a special person to appreciate the talents and qualities of others. You are a humble and kind person. Your gesture, thoughtful and uplifting remarks are admired by everyone you touch.

  12. Posted January 21, 2011 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    Looks like a winner. Thanks for the tip on both her blog, and her book.

  13. Posted January 23, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    I truly do find it fascinating how recipes are owned by one culture and found in another, too. So obvious in the Balkans as they are not at all happy about being under control of the Ottoman Empire for over 700 years, yet so many of their loved dishes are either clearly influence by the cuisine of Turkey, or turkish recipes. And, as people travelled, recipe sharing happened hundreds of years ago, as it does now. So interesting that some of your traditional recipes are the same as those in the book with different names.
    The photo on the front looks gorgeous. I love international flavours so will be looking up your friend.
    :)
    Valerie

2 Trackbacks

  1. [...] full of pleasant surprises.    The first thing I read was a wonderful review for my cookbook  by Joumana, then two more reviews on Amazon and one on my blog.  I take this opportunity to thank  Joumana [...]

  2. [...] 11)   Eftychia, of Dream of Cakes, Cyprus 12)   Ben, of What’s Cooking, Mexico 13)   Joumana, of Taste of Beirut, U.S.A. 14)   Nadji, of Saveurs et Gourmandises, [...]

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