Describe your culinary style.
Forgiving, appreciative and curious. I believe food can be totally relaxed and imperfect but still show stopping, and think that mistakes are easily fixed with a laugh. This is one reason I favor rustic dishes that anybody can make and enjoy without stressing that it’s just right, and instead, be happy that it’s just like them. I say I’m appreciative because I value the simplicity of fresh produce, and feel fortunate to be learning to grow it myself on my husband’s family’s farm in rural Victoria, Australia. And curious? Well, my mind never stops wandering around the regions of the world that I love, and the ones I ache to explore. So much to be eaten, and so many cultural connections to make! I love bridging those gaps and bringing them back into my kitchen.
For someone new to your blog, which recipe do you recommend they try first?
Middle Eastern dining is all about small plates and lots of variety. So, why not do as we do, and create a spread of little dishes to share? Here are a few ideas:
- Start with classic Minty Labneh (yogurt cheese), served with plenty of extra virgin olive oil and fresh bread, for scooping.
- Next, some finger foods. Mini Zaatar Pastries and Lamb + Pine Nut Pies are two of my favorites.
- Finish it off with my grandmother’s absolutely gorgeous, bursting-with-citrus Orange Cake. It’s a staple in our home, and always reminds me of her.
What is the main source of inspiration for your recipes?
The flavors of Middle East, starting with my family’s Levantine table and extending across the region, from Turkey to Saudi Arabia, Iran to North Africa. I’m first generation Palestinian-American, so my love for this region and its rich culinary history runs deep. I’ve met so many people in my journey from my native Washington, D.C, through to Amsterdam and now living in Melbourne, Australia, that have asked questions about Middle Eastern food, or shared how much they love it. By sharing my favorite Arabic recipes on Wandering Spice, I hope to show people how easily they can create this beautiful food at home, and teach them a bit more about our culture. It also gives me a chance to experiment with fusion food, bringing together the Eastern and American flavors representing both sides of my heritage.
If you could have one food while stranded on a desert island, what would it be?
I’ve thought long and hard about this one, but keep coming back to the same, simple dish: Spinach and Feta Bourek. They’re little triangles of juicy fresh spinach, tangy feta and fresh herbs, baked in crunchy, flaky filo pastry. They are completely irresistible to me and I can never stop at one! Plus, they seem to be universally liked, so at least whoever is stranded with me would enjoy the delicious distraction, too.
What is your ultimate guilty food pleasure?
Truthfully, I don’t have any. I’m not big on fast food, so I can’t claim that one. Otherwise — steamed, baked, grilled, stir fried or deep fried, I love it all. I eat a bit of everything in moderation, no guilt in sight (not even for all those ramen noodles in college). That said, there’s definitely a food group that I love to overindulge in when the opportunity knocks: baked goods. Topped with cheese? Great. Filled with sweet almonds? Even better. Freshly made Arabic sweets doused on orange blossom syrup? I don’t even try to say no.
Yummly is food that not only tastes good, but makes you feel good. Whether it’s a sinful indulgence, a family tradition, or a dish that reminds you of your special someone, Yummly is that combination of taste and atmosphere that creates happy memories around the table.