Sunday, August 7, 2022

EAT, HABIBI, EAT by Shahir Massoud


The Vancouver Public Library's Summer Reading Club for Adults encourages us to try a new genre, learn something new and share in a variety of ways. What I call Cook Book Lit is not new to me but Egyptian recipes are. When I saw this book: EAT, HABIBI, EAT, I had to investigate further. I have seen Egyptian Canadian Chef Shahir Massoud cook (CBC) and like his sense of humor and how he makes his recipes accessible for those who want to expand their usual menus. His food passion started in his family kitchen and deepened with his training in French and Italian cuisines, and,  this is someone who loves color, texture, flavor and creative combinations that definitely are: "Fresh Recipes For Modern Egyptian Cooking". I looked for recipes close to the Greek foods we love. I also looked for dishes that would be enjoyable and possible for me to make. Stocking the pantry is a must if the dishes are to turn out and most ingredients are available at Mediterranean or specialty stores, here in Vancouver/Metro Vancouver. New to me are: Aleppo Pepper, Black Sea Salt, Cardamom, Mastic, and Sumac. Mint is one I know well but seldom cook with. Nuts, seeds, and dried fruits are highly recommended additions for a healthy diet. There is a whole range of vinegars to try, too. I have had Hibiscus in tea and drinks but never in meat dishes. Look forward to trying Mulberry Molasses and Ashta (Arabic double cream). Not only is the pantry list extensive but also the reasons for using are noted. Good to know that I have all the tools of the trade, except for a microplane, for a finer grate for cheese, chocolate and fresh Nutmeg. And yes, spices should be fresh. (Okay turf those old packages at the back of the cupboard.) Key kitchen tips are helpful and new to me was seasoning with fingertips rather than from a measuring spoon or box. (Nothing about salt over the shoulder for luck, though) 

So much to take in for when I try some of these fabulous tastes for a certain Toronto BBQ, coming up this August. One of our favorite appies is a bowl of varieties of Greek olives. Chef Massoud's has a mango-glaze and sun-dried tomatoes. Moroccan and Lebanese olives and chili flakes make this a more colorful, spicy and uniquely flavored olive bowl. We call them Greek green beans, but Summer Green Bean Fasolia is an Egyptian dish that contains almonds, butter, red onion, butter, beef stock and 1 and  1/2 tsp of of Ras El Hanout, a multi spice blend, in addition to the garlic, tomato paste, tomatoes and green beans and oregano that we use. The intent with these additional ingredients is to keep the colors bright - vibrant greens and reds. Grilled Calamari with Tomato Jam is a new and delicious presentation of deeply spiced and simmered sauce/dip to accompany calamari that has been coated with Garlic, Ginger, tomatoes, sugar, Molasses, white vinegar and Chili flakes and then grilled and drizzled with lemon juice. These are the first 3 of 100 recipes, all of which I intend to sample, hopefully over many family get togethers.

I loved Shahir Massoud's story of changing from a career he hated to one he loved and how his family supported his dreams, even though they cried, at first. I love the recipes and the encouragement and support to try them. I love the book cover and design by Emma Dolan. (Yes, you can tell a good book by its cover) The photography by Kyla Zanandi is exceptional. I love the couple to whom I am gifting this book, for their first anniversary. EAT, HABIBI, EAT!

Thanks to Chef Shahir Massoud for the fabulous food and the stories behind it. 


Chef Massoud's has a mango-glaze and sun-dried tomatoes. Moroccan and Lebanese olives and chili flakes make this a more colorful, spicy and uniquely flavored olive bowl

Grilled Calamari with Tomato Jam

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