Review of Soframiz by Ana Sortun and Maura Kilpatrick
Four and a half out of Five stars.
This cookbook focuses on Middle Eastern recipes from Sofra Bakery and Café.
The term Middle Eastern is fairly broad and this set of recipes is also quite broad. Some of recipes take some time, which shouldn’t be surprising as there is a focus on baking and some baking takes a day or two.
Recipes are for the most part not copyright protected, but the literary aspect of a recipe is. This is why so many cookbooks have extremely similar recipes. This one as a collection of recipes does not resemble other cookbooks that I have gone through, which is by itself noteworthy.
The recipes are simple (even the ones taking time). Some are really just reminding the reader that experimenting a bit with a classic idea is all that is needed. For instance the Turkish Style breakfast is a fun set of ingredients that includes cucumber, olives, tomatoes with eggs.
All modern cookbooks, if you are not a nationally known chef, include colorful photographs. This one delivers well. Additionally, some of the photos include not just the finished product, but intermediary steps, which some will appreciate when the concept is new (for example the Flower Pogaca Rolls, where the technique is easier to show than to write up).
My personal preference on a cookbook is for recipes to have a bit of a dialogue, or backstory. Again, this cookbook delivers. The paragraph introduction for each recipe is nice, along with the longer section introductions.
I like that most of the recipes are blends of ideas, even if they are Middle Eastern inspired.
So, why ding it one star and not give it 5 stars? One thing is I RARELY give 5 stars. It needs to be nearly perfect to do so. So, my 4 star is probably 5 for most. But, the areas that might be worthy of improvement:
Some of these recipes refer to a number (usually some sort of bread) of precursor ingredients that are in the book. This is great in one way, but I would love to see a warning of time. For instance, if a simple looking recipe needs a bread/flatbread/other that might take a day to make, I’d love to know this right at the beginning. Something like “to make this, including the flatbread, takes two days.”
The good news is that most of the sections have the dough, for instance Yufka Dough, at the beginning of the section.
My other minor nit (and all of my nits are minor) is that somethings, like a minor, easy, beverage don’t need two full pages for what is fundamentally a paragraph. My bet is the editor/publisher pushed this.
Finally, I felt the cover did not do the book justice and was not the best photo to use. The back cover copy was simply to endorsements, I would have liked more.
Over all this is worth it because it is different. I like that I had to think about how the flavors would blend and that I didn’t just wave my mental hand saying that is easy and intuitive.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review