Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Citrus and pistachio salad (#ReadCookEat new summer challenge)

Citrus and pistachio salad with rose petals

I'm a big fan of Michael Jecks' Knight Templar Mystery series, I have been reading all the books (I might have missed one, as I didn't read them in a chronological order) since The Last Templar made his glorious appearance in 1995. In these years I grew very fond of Sir Baldwin Furnshill, a former Templar, and his friend Simon Puttock, Bailiff of Lydford castle. These books have been my way of escaping from sometimes dark and stressful reality.

Templar's Acre, book no.32 in the series, is a prequel to The Last Templar. I had mixed feelings before I started reading it. I was looking forward to more adventures but at the same time a bit worried about what's it going to be (there are too many disappointing prequels around). I bought the book but kept postponing to open it. Yet once I did, I found it a very gripping story. We're introduced to Baldwin, who is not a Sir yet, young, green and scared out of his wits when we first meet him. The very first pages grab you by the neck and plunge you in the middle of the attack on the high seas. Baldwin is on the way to Acre, the last Christian stronghold in the Holy Land.
You know the story of the siege of Acre and how it all ended tragically, yet you are rooting for the main protagonists to survive. Unlike the other books in the series, it is not a mystery but a straightforward historical novel. Michael Jecks is a brilliant story-teller, and his version of the siege of Acre is completely convincing and believable. This breath-taking adventure could be read on its own.
I now want to go back to the first book in the series and re-read it.


I hardly expected any food references in this book, but there happened to be some good quotes like "There's nothing can beat good wine, good olives, and fresh bread. When you've been a warrior, you'll learn that"...
When Baldwin enters Acre for the first time, he is amazed: "A city of gold, with verdant land to feed it, Baldwin thought. Yes, this was how Heaven must look..."
The Leper Knight offers him an orange. "He cut the orange twice about the middle, so that the flesh came away like four petals of a flower...
Baldwin strolled in the direction Sir Jacques had indicated, eating the orange with delight. It was a rare treat for him at home, and oranges were never this sweet and juicy".
The recipe for Citrus and pistachio salad was inspired by the novel. I tried to imagine what exotic food the Templars might have had in the good days: oranges, pomegranates and pistachios, flavoured with rose water?

Citrus and pistachio salad
2 oranges, peeled and thinly sliced
1 grapefruit, peeled and thinly sliced
a handful of pistachios, chopped
a handful of rose petals
a handful of pomegranate seeds
2tbsp clear honey
1tbsp Essence of orange blossom water

The recipe itself is not much of a recipe, it's just the matter of slicing, chopping and arranging it all nicely.
Peel the citrus fruit and slice, chop the pistachios, scatter the rose petals and pomegranate seeds, drizzle honey over the top as well as the orange blossom water.

Have you read a book recently which inspired you to run to the kitchen and cook to your heart's content?

Chris from Cooking Round the World and I are inviting you to recreate a meal, inspired by books and join in our #ReadCookEat challenge.

The idea is to choose a book, either a world classic or modern fiction, or even memoirs and pick up a dish mentioned or described in that book and then recreate it in a recipe. Please say a few lines about your chosen book, and maybe even do a quote from the book.

If you decide to take part, please add the badge to your post and link up back to Chris and me, and either use a link-up tool or add the url of your post as a comment. Alternatively, email either of us with the link to your post (my email is sasha1703 at yahoo dot com).
The challenge will start on 1 July and will end on 30 August 2014. That gives you two months.
I promise to Pin all blogs posts taking part in this challenge, as well as RT and Google+.

Please note the linky is valid until 30 July only, and will be extended in August (it doesn't go beyond 33 days)


  1. Oh, well ... nicely arranged indeed this salad is. I'd say we are all looking forward to some calm reading and cooking the next few weeks to come ...

    1. I'm now reading a different period book, set during WWI. And another one set in Jersey, just after WWII, this has a lot of potential for our challenge.

  2. I'm not usually a big fan of this type of book but you make it sound really interesting. And as for the salad - wow ! It looks gorgeous :)

    1. I'm fascinated by the Templars' history, I wonder if I was a Crusader in my past life? ;)

  3. Very pretty salad, it looks gorgeous and so colourful

    1. Thank you Alison! I liked the crunch of pistachios in a plain citrus salad. And I'm always happy to munch roses.

  4. And we're off ! ... I haven't cooked yet because I still haven't decided which one of the Greek dishes to make, they all sound lovely !

    1. Oh my, that is a whole encyclopedia of recipes! Thank you very much for the excellent overview!

  5. That salad looks beautiful Galina! I have read a few of this series and quite enjoyed them. I had no idea how many there were. I'd best not tell my hubby as he gets a bit obsessed with collecting a series if he likes it & we have no more room for books! ;-)

    1. I love the series, and was sad to read that there are no more books planned. I really want to re-read the first book now. Need to dig it out, as our house is groaning with books, it's not easy to find what you want.