At the latest Brewster Ladies’ Library book sale, I scored a wonderful cookbook–The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden. For $1! It has a large format, 500+ pages, hundreds of recipes, explanations of indigenous foods, and charming tales. The first night I made tiropita (phyllo cheese pie), sweet and sour eggplant, mashed zucchini with onions, garlic and mint, and this simple, refreshing, and absolutely delicious recipe.

Orange Slices in Orange Syrup
from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food
serves 2

4 large navel oranges
1 T sugar
1 t orange blossom water
zest of 1 orange

Reserve 1 orange for juice and zest. If you use commercial oranges, as I did, skip the zest. Cut off the stem and blossom ends of the other 3 oranges, and cut off the peel, top to bottom, leaving no pith. I squeezed the juice out of these pieces of peel into a small saucepan. Cut the now juicy bare orange into slices, and put them into a large flat dish, like a soup plate.

Zest the peel of the remaining orange into the saucepan, cut it in half and squeeze it into the pan as well. Add the tablespoon of sugar, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce it by half, remove from heat. Add the teaspoon of orange blossom water. (Many health food stores and gourmet shops carry this divine extract, it makes a great bath splash too.) Pour over the oranges, chill, and serve.

I used navels from California, but the second time I made this recipe, I unwittingly bought one from South Africa. It was pale orange inside and not very sweet. I juiced it, but obviously, this recipe depends on great oranges. Try one before you buy many.

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