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Book review – Orient Express

04 August 2011 by
Book review – Orient Express

Orient Express By Silvena Rowe
Random House Group, £20
ISBN 978-0-09-193095-2

Silvena Rowe has just launched her new restaurant, Quince at London's May Fair hotel, where many of the dishes on the menu come from her latest cookery book, Orient Express.

Born and raised in Bulgaria by a Bulgarian mother and Turkish father, Rowe's culinary ethos is inspired by her father's cultural heritage of the Ottoman Empire. She describes her cooking as a "love affair with the Eastern Mediterranean" that started at an early age.

Orient Express, which is all about simple, light food designed for celebrating and sharing, lists 100 recipes across five different chapters which are divided by spice.

The first chapter, Emerald Spice & Gold Dust, is dedicated to Za'atar - a blend of herbs and spices that is generally made up of sumac, sesame seeds and dried green herbs, which is tangy, zesty or nutty in flavour - and that most expensive spice of all, saffron. Recipes range from luxurious spiced quail and foie gras filo parcels, to more simple dishes such as a watermelon and cherry tomato salad with feta, almond and Za'atar crumble or chilled carrot and saffron soup.

Next up is Fire & Noble Velvet, which is all about chilli and cumin. Here, dishes range from dips and simple salads to soups such as cumin-scented Jerusalem artichoke soup with fresh crab; or spiced duck rillette with courgette and chilli pesto. Purple Citrus & Summer Breeze is dedicated to recipes spiced with sumac, made from the clusters of small crimson or purple sumac berries and popular in Turkish and Lebanese cuisine, and fresh herbs from parsley to mint, dill and coriander.

Subsequent chapters are all about sweet flavours ranging from desserts such as lemon vanilla custard baklava with orange blossom syrup; and lavender chocolate and pistachio mousse; to savoury dishes such as rose water infused saffron and cardamom spiced lamb wraps with tahini sumac mayonnaise.

Like the dishes at her restaurant, Quince, Rowe's food in this book is beautifully presented, with gorgeous flowers and sprinkled spice mixes lending her dishes a colourful, feminine touch. Orient Express gives a great overview, not only of the flavours of the Eastern Mediterranean, but also of Rowe's modern take on her heritage.

If you liked this, you'll love these:
Purple Citrus & Sweet Perfume
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Plenty Yotam Ottolenghi
The Moro Cookbook Samuel and Samantha Clark

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