November 8th, 2012

An Edible Mosaic: Faith’s Middle Eastern Flair


Faith Gorsky, author of the widely-read blog, An Edible Mosaic, is celebrating the release of her first cookbook, with a virtual launch party.

It is a wonderful moment, when a food writer makes the leap from blog to book. As a follower and supporter, I applaud her achievement. I am also pleased to take part in the launch.


Her book, An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair, compiles over 100 recipes that come from the region known as The Levant, (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine,) where Faith has both traveled and lived.

Not only does Faith have a love for the cuisine, she also has an inside track to its traditions. Her Syrian mother-in-law, Sahar, has guided her on authentic recipes and techniques. Faith has put this knowledge into practice, and created recipes that are enticing but not overwhelming to the novice cook.

Her book is an excellent introduction to this healthful, flavorful cooking. And, her photographs are beautiful.


The recipe that she asked me to share is a fragrant rice dish, flecked with onion, sultanas, and pine nuts. It is uncomplicated to prepare, yet possesses complex tastes. Basmati rice alone has a wonderful nutlike flavor; the other ingredients bring toasted notes, sweetness, and a hint of pungent spice.

The original recipe calls for saffron, those delicate, heady, and costly stigmas collected from a type of crocus. If you don’t have saffron in your pantry, Faith writes that turmeric is an acceptable (and widely used) substitute. The result will be less sophisticated, but delicious, nonetheless.

Either way, the rice has versatile applications, and, by virtue of being vegan and gluten-free friendly, universal appeal.


The trick to making the grains light and separate is by rinsing them in warm water. (This could be a wide-spread regional technique-my friend Muna from Iraq insists that the rice be rinsed 3 times–until the water is clear!)

This releases the starches that can cause clumpy-sticky rice. This also serves to soften the grains, thereby lessening the amount of water needed in the actual cooking.


Another trick is sauteing the rice before adding the liquid. First, Faith pan-toasts the pine nuts in oil. After removing the golden bits, she stirs the onions and ultimately the rice in the now-toasty oil. When you add the water, you’ll notice that it is at a much smaller ratio than, say, conventional recipes that call for 2:1. This is almost 1:1.

Covered, the rice absorbs all the flavor, and steams into a savory dish, ready for any accompaniment. Faith recommends a shrimp-tomato dish, also featured in her book.

For my meal, I marinated and pan-grilled thick lamb chops in a piquant blend of coriander, cumin, and cayenne. The marinade quickly infuses that lamb with flavor, and grills to a nice charry crust. You can use this for cubes of kebab meat, too, with great success. It’s a recipe that we teach our young chefs in Teen Cooking Camp.

Be sure to visit Faith’s website for special book-launch giveaways–and convey her your best wishes. An Edible Mosaic can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your local bookstore.



Recipe courtesy of An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair by Faith Gorsky (Tuttle Publishing; Nov. 2012); reprinted with permission.

Serves 4 to 6
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes, plus 15 minutes to let the rice sit after cooking

1½ cups (325 g) basmati rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 onion, finely diced
4 tablespoons sultanas (golden raisins)
1¾ cups (425 ml) boiling water
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon saffron threads (or ½ teaspoon turmeric)

1. Soak the rice in tepid water for 10 minutes; drain. While the rice is soaking, put half a kettle of water on to boil.
2. Add the oil to a medium, thick-bottomed lidded saucepan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and cook until golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Transfer the pine nuts to a small bowl and set aside.
3. Add the onion to the saucepan in which you cooked the pine nuts. Cook until softened and just starting to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rice and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the sultanas, boiling water, salt, and saffron (or turmeric), turn the heat up to high, and bring it to a rolling boil.
4. Give the rice a stir, then cover the saucepan, turn the heat down to very low, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes (do not open the lid during this time). Turn the heat off and let the rice sit (covered) 15 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
5. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle the toasted pine nuts on top; serve.

OPTIONAL Add two pods of cardamom, two whole cloves, and one 2-inch (5 cm) piece of cinnamon stick at the same time that you add the rice.


1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon cayenne
¼ teaspoon salt

2- 1″ thick lamb chops
Whisk the ingredients together in a medium bowl.
Add the lamb. Toss to evenly coat. Marinate 10-15 minutes.
Skillet-sear on medium heat, 4-5 minutes per side, until the meat is crusty brown but still pink inside.



Posted in Gluten Free, Recipes, Rice/Other Grains/Legumes, Vegan

23 Responses to “An Edible Mosaic: Faith’s Middle Eastern Flair”
  1. Barbara Says:

    This was fun, wasn’t it Nancy? Love that Faith had us all make the same dish….so many variations. Yours looks fabulous!

  2. goodfoodmatters Says:

    It was fun! I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s interpretations. And, I’m looking forward to owning her book.

  3. Michele | Cooking At Home Says:

    I agree that this was fun. The lamb chops sound like the perfect accompaniment.

  4. rhonda Says:

    Beautiful and tasty looking dish. I especially appreciated the tips on cooking the rice. Have always wondered how to get the separate grains without clumping!!!

  5. Sue/the view from great island Says:

    It’s a lot of fun to see how everyone is presenting this rice. I’m drooling over those pork chops!

  6. Julia {The Roasted Root} Says:

    So glad you enjoyed Faith’s rice as much as me! Your lamb chops that your served it with look great! It’s making me want to make another batch of the rice and cook dinner right now!! Hope you had a great day and happy to see the support you’ve given Faith in her cookbook launch! :)

  7. mark Says:

    great looking rice dish. best of luck to Faith with her book.
    I can attest to the marinade for the lamb
    our students really like it too

  8. FOODESSA Says:

    Although, I’ve maintained a mostly vegetarian menu… meat is still a treat at my table. I make sure to have lamb a few times a year. Ohhh…and your recipe has certainly been bookmarked. The blend of spices is the perfect pairing.

    Nancy, glad to read how you’ve also supported Faith…she is very deserved of our fanship ;o)

    Have a great week and flavourful wishes,

  9. Tammy Says:

    I love the concept of a virtual launch party for her book. Can we do one for yours when it is time? This rice looks delicious. While I don’t enjoy sweets, I’ve always loved the way dried fruit can perk up a dish.

  10. Amy (Savory Moments) Says:

    I love that you made this rice and I’m glad to have found your blog through Faith’s book launch!

  11. Jayne Says:

    Lamb chops look divine

  12. Amedar Consulting Says:

    Merely a smiling visitor here to share the love (:, btw great design and style .

  13. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Tammy–I do hope that we can do something similar for my book, when the time comes! It would be great!

  14. Faith Says:

    Thank you so much for participating in my event, Nancy! I am honored, my friend.

    Your rice is beautiful, and I love what you served it with! This would be a huge hit with my hubby (who is a serious lamb-lover!).

  15. Nancy/SpicieFoodie Says:

    Your rice turned out beautiful! Faith’s books is gorgeous and the recipes all look so delicious. So happy for her.

  16. cquek Says:

    looks a-ma-zing!!

  17. Beth Says:

    What a delicious meal! Congratulations to Faith.

  18. Tony Says:

    It looks like tasty.

  19. Kitchen Belleicious Says:

    the color of the rice alone is enough to make my mouth water let alone the middle eastern spices! WoW! I need that cookbook. the lamb chops look incredibly moist and delicious

  20. Kitchen Belleicious Says:

    oh and i have a fun giveaway going on- A Cookie tower by tate’s bake shop! Come check it out if you get a chance! Much love

  21. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Cool! Thanks, Jessica. Headed over now to check it out–

  22. Juliana Says:

    Nancy, your rice turned out awesome…like that you paired with lamb…looks delicious…great pictures as well! It was sure fun being part of Faith virtual book launch party!
    Have a great week :)

  23. Teresa, Says:

    This is a beautiful recipe with or without lamb chops. Perfect for when I need to feel healthy is these Holiday times that are upon us. I just found this lovely blog post buried in my emails that seem to have piled-up while I was away playing and working. I am not familiar with Faith, but thanks for the introduction!

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