I remember the first time when I met Bethany (the girl behind Dirty Kitchen Secrets). I arrived to London on a greyish August day in 2011 and I was going to meet Sarka and Giulia for the first time at Sydenham station. The girls were waiting for me and after giving big hugs to each other for the first time, we walked back to Sarka’s place. There she was Beth with her sister, Joslin. Beth was smiling, talking a lot and I found her funny and crazy at the same time. Her liveliness and personality is what makes an impression in you. During the next couple of days at Food Blogger Connect I got to know her a bit better. She was friendly, caring and helpful (and she still is! :)) and we had so many memorable moments along with the other food bloggers that weekend.
She told me then that she was going to write a cookbook about Middle Eastern cuisine. She put so much work and effort in it and finally her book, The Jewelled Kitchen was out in bookstores in Europe and Australia on 4th July (Middle East 11 July, USA 1 October). I was so happy and honoured to be asked by Beth to take part in her virtual cookbook launch. The book is published by Duncan Baird Publishers, photographed by another dear friend, Sarka Babicka. Food styling was done by Emily Jonzen, prop styling by Lucy Harvey. All in all The Jewelled Kitchen is a wonderful, beautiful and great book. “It takes you on an unforgettable adventure of Middle Eastern and North African cuisines. We are all familiar with a few mezze favourites – hummus, falafel, tabbouleh and stuffed vine leaves – but Bethany offers up a whole host of other treasures.”
As a vegetarian I found the book very useful to get to know the vegetarian Middle Eastern cuisine more. There is a whole chapter for vegetarian meals and we shouldn’t forget the delicious mezzes and desserts. There are many recipes in the cookbook I would like to try in the next few months.
I picked this chargrilled sweet pepper and walnut dip recipe from Beth’s book. As Beth says: “…This recipe is traditionally made using sun-dried Aleppo peppers, finely chopped to a coarse paste. These peppers, which hail from Syria and neighbouring Turkey, have a high oil content and a hind of earthy smokiness in their flavour. … It’s lovely as a dip, spread on flatbreads, mixed into hearty stews, or tossed with pasta or potatoes.” I used red kapia peppers to make it.
Chargrilled Sweet Pepper And Walnut Dip
Ingredients (serves 4)
– 500 g roasted sweet pointed peppers
– 75 g walnut halves, roughly chopped
– 55 g fine breadcrumbs
– 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
– 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
– 1/2 teaspoon paprika
– 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
– 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes (optional)
– 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
– finely chopped mint leaves, to sprinkle
– sea salt
– warm Arabic bread, to serve
Slice off the tops of the roasted peppers, discarding any seeds. Chope the flesh finely and put it in a mixing bowl.
Add the walnuts, breadcrumbs, pomegranate molasses, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, Aleppo pepper flakes (if using) and oil. Season to taste with salt. Mix well, then set aside for about one hour to allow the flavours to develop.
Put ingredients in a serving dish, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with mint. Serve at room temperature with warm Arabic bread.
More recipes from Bethany’s cookbook from fellow food bloggers:
Chickpea flour quiche from Giulia
Slow-braised stuffed squid from Emiko
Eggs poached in tomato and pepper stew from Sarka
Moroccan carrot salad from Karin
Stuffed caramelized onions with tamarind and allspice from Sarah
Lamb rice with cripsy potato base from Sally
Date fudge from Regula