My favorite kinds of cookbooks are ones that have been inspired by family recipes. I enjoy reading the stories about the family member who prepared the dishes in the cookbook and trying the recipes that have been passed down from one generation to the next. “Nahima’s Hands: Unique Mediterranean Cuisine” by Andrea Cassell is a loving tribute to her grandmother (Nahima) and her flavorful, Mediterranean recipes.
What started out as a granddaughter’s love for her grandmother and a desire for her four children, and subsequent generations, to carry on these cooking traditions is now a moving tribute to family and Mediterranean cuisine.
Andrea says that she wants people to read her cookbook and say “this looks easy and I can create this without a lot of work.” She also wants to encourage families to come back to the table. She says that the cookbook is not just about food, but about “our heritage, friends and families coming together through the food we eat.”
Andrea’s Syrian grandmother, Nahima (Abouid) Albert, immigrated to the United States shortly after marrying her husband, Antonio in 1926. They owned and operated a corner grocery store in Miami. This is where young Andrea spent her childhood days while her mother and father went to work. It was there at Nahima’s knee that Andrea says she learned about hospitality and cooking. Her grandmother worked all day in the grocery store, and still found the time to cook dinner for her parents to take home. Andrea witnessed her grandmother’s selfless love and compassion daily. She was always in the kitchen helping her grandmother prepare food. Nahima passed away in 2009. She lived to be 101.
Her grandmother’s love and talents with food inspired Andrea to create “Nahima’s Hands: Unique Mediterranean Cuisine.” While she includes many of the Mediterranean dishes that she learned from her grandmother in the cookbook, it also contains some of her original recipes that are easy to prepare.
The cookbook contains a variety of Mediterranean appetizers, soups and salads, rice and legumes, vegetarian, beef, pork and chicken, slow-cooker recipes, desserts and breads, and many more. Wine pairings are offered for several recipes, making this cookbook a unique family entertainment guide.
“Sharing the love of cooking with your hands,” is Andrea’s motto. “I hold my grandmother in my hands everyday with my cookbook, so I can never forget her.”
You can order Andrea’s cookbook “Nahima’s Hands: Unique Mediterranean Cuisine” for $19.95, plus shipping and handling, at www.nahimashands.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is Nahima’s recipe for Tabbouleh, a traditional Middle Eastern salad with fresh herbs and tomatoes.
Nahima’s Wheat and Parsley Salad
3/4 cup (No. 1 fine) bulgur wheat
3/4 cup green onions, root ends removed, white and green parts finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
2 cups fresh, curly parsley, finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. In a medium bowl, place the bulgur wheat and cover it with cold water.
Let it soak for 20 minutes. Drain excess water, as needed.
2. In another small bowl, mix together onion, mint, parsley, tomatoes, lemon juice, oil, and the salt and pepper. Pour lemon mixture over bulgur wheat. Stir gently to combine. Cover and refrigerate. Serve cold. Serves 6. ••
Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian and author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is “The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook.” Her Web site is www.divapro.com