Mother's recipes give cookery book a unique flavour

PUBLISHED: 08:35 23 January 2008 | UPDATED: 14:42 07 September 2010

The author at home

The author at home

ARLETTE Haddad-Boutros has a proud reputation for nourishing friends and family with her hearty home cooking. Since moving to Belsize Park from her native Lebanon more than 30 years ago, she has absorbed culinary traditions from Europe, the Mediterranean,

ARLETTE Haddad-Boutros has a proud reputation for nourishing friends and family with her hearty home cooking.

Since moving to Belsize Park from her native Lebanon more than 30 years ago, she has absorbed culinary traditions from Europe, the Mediterranean, India and the Far East to swell her repertoire of Middle Eastern dishes.

The interior architect, artist and graphic designer has now bowed to her friends' urgings to write down the recipes she learned at her mother's knee - and throughout a lifetime of cooking.

The mum-of-two of Strathray Gardens has published her own cookery book. Enjoy, which is available from Daunt Books, Books for Cooks, and Amazon.

"I have enjoyed cooking ever since I was young. Like many Lebanese women my mother was a very good cook and from the age of 12 I would make stews and soups and salads like tabbouleh. All my friends love my food and they encouraged me to do a book of my recipes."

Arlette, who moved to London during the Lebanese civil war and met her calligrapher husband while working in an advertising agency, has a mission to urge other families to cook healthy, unpretentious dishes, rather than resorting to junk food.

Enjoy includes tasty Middle Eastern staples such as hummus, falafel and vine leaves stuffed with rice and herbs. There is also a section on soups, pulse-based salads, hearty beef and lamb stews and kebabs as well as Indian and Chinese dishes such as curries and spring rolls.

"Since coming to England I have learned to cook Chinese, French, Italian. If I like something I find out straight away what is in the dish and work out how to prepare it," she says.

"The recipes are all very healthy - cooked with olive oil - I wanted the book to be easy to follow so that families with children feel they can use it for quick and tasty meals on a daily basis. I want people to realise it doesn't take that long to cook their families light, tasty, healthy food."

Despite being a working mother to two sons, Arlette would cook a family meal every day and prepare food for her children to take to school.

She says food for her is about pleasure, family and creativity.

"Food is art in that you don't have to follow a recipe. You can add more of the things that you like -I have never followed a recipe in my life."

o Enjoy is by Arlette Haddad-Boutros, by Boutros International Publishing. £25.

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