Sunday, August 3, 2008

ZOV - Recipes and Memories from the Heart

Zov Karamardian is the owner of ZOV's Bistro in Tustin, (Orange County) California. I've never been, but if I ever do get to California, you can be sure the bistro is the first place I'll go. Why? You ask...well, her new cookbook says it all. It's filled with delightful recipes that reflect her Armenian heritage, her love of cooking and warm and tender stories that give lovely glimpses into why the recipes are so special to her and to every one of her guests.

The photos by Pornchai Mittongtare are stunning. I drooled over the cover photo of Grilled Shrimp with Mint & Cilantro Pesto and didn't stop until I hit the last page!

And the little notes at the top and bottom of each recipe will help even the newest of cooks look great and feel comfortable in the kitchen.

My biggest challenge was in figuring out where to start...and since I'm more into savory than sweet, I naturally looked to all the Mezza dishes or small bites (I could make an entire meal of appetizers and snacks). I loved the story of her falling in love with hummus after tasting it for the first time on a stop-over in Beirut, 1959 on her way to settle in the US with her family and how it inspired her own version. Then there's the crab & shrimp phyllo triangles with step-by-step photos...and the pickled vegetables, savory beef briouats (North African pastry stuffed with beef, herbs, rice, raisins an nuts...definitely a dish I'll be making with my daughter Joanna on a Sunday afternoon sometime in the Fall.

Every one of the salads looks awesome, and it was a hard choice, but I went her fantastic Balsamic Pomegranate Vinaigrette over mixed greens, berries, pecans and mint.

Manti, spicy ground beef dumplings originating for central Asia and served in a mint and garlicky chicken broth will have to wait for the weather to cool down, as will the rest of the awesome soups.


So many options of fish, meat and chicken that your head will spin...but I did make, what will become a frequent star at our table...Sumac Coated Chicken. She made them as kebabs, I did mine as chicken fingers, but which ever way you choose, you'll be grinning for weeks just remembering them.

And the Grilled Shrimp with Mint and Cilantro Pesto may look much better on the cover than mine do... (Pornchai Mittongtare doesn't have a thing to worry about there)...but the taste is absolutely spectacular!

As for all those tasty looking desserts and breads...Rosemary-Parmesan Scones will be the first I try once the weather's cool enough to use my oven. Not to mention the Kataifi with ricotta custard and orange blossom syrup, or the creme caramel, or the bread pudding with chocolate chunks and bananas...

I guess I'll just have to go through the book, page by gorgeous page.

Oh...and since I did serve the shrimp over Spinach Fettuccine tossed with even more of the phenomenal pesto...I guess I'll submit it to Presto Pasta Nights this week. The fabulous Michelle of Greedy Gourmet has graciously agreed to host, I'm very pleased to say. You can send your entries to her directly...michelle AT greedygourmet DOT com

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