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For the first time in my life, I feel like Serena Williams!

Fine, maybe my backhand, forehand and serve all need work. As do my fingernails. And maybe I don't have a little baby with a big long name, like Williams' daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.

But we have one tiny thing in common.

We both got an advance copy of the charity cookbook Together: Our Community Cookbook with a foreword by "HRH The Duchess of Sussex," also known as Meghan Markle!

"Together celebrates the power of cooking to connect us to one another," says the back cover of the cookbook (Clarkson Potter, $16.99) released Tuesday. "These recipes tell the story of a group of women who gathered together in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire in London to cook fresh meals for their families and neighbors. Over the chatter and aromas of the kitchen, they began to heal and look forward."

Fine print: "A portion of the proceeds from the sales of this book will go to The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex ... for the benefit of the Hubb Community Kitchen in London, helping to widen its reach to others in the community, and enabling similar projects to continue transforming lives through the power of cooking."

I got mine from publicists. And, well, Serena -- Markle's BFF -- said via Snapchat she got hers "straight from Kensington Palace" and several days ahead of me.

I'm writing about it here. And, well, Serena not only posted about the cookbook on Instagram for her 9.8 million (!) followers, she Snapchatted a video about it.

"It has wonderful recipes of all women, from all backgrounds coming together and just doing something and cooking, oh and it's for a good cause," Williams says via Snapchat, pausing to tap on a page that got her taste buds' attention with a perfectly manicured nail. "Ooh, I think I'm going to make that."

"That" is the Green Rice on page 62. The bounty of basmati rice, meat, and fava beans with plenty of fresh dill and a cucumber, dill and yogurt sauce does indeed look tempting. And because Serena says she'll cook it, I'm going to prepare it too! Well, once I find a "lamb neck fillet"; I've never seen one at Kroger.

Expect this multicultural cookbook of exotic ingredients and dishes -- Spiced Potato Kibbeh (croquettes), Shakshouka (eggs poached in tomato sauce), Egyptian Lamb Fattah (lamb with bread) -- to challenge and broaden culinary horizons. More familiar dishes include Hummus, Coconut Chicken Curry, Toffee Apple Crumble and Lasagne (Lebanese vegetable).

About the community kitchen, Markle writes, "It is cozy and brightly lit, with scents of cardamom, curry and ginger dancing through the air ... You will find yourself in a melting pot of cultures and personalities who have roots in Uganda, Iraq, Morocco, India, Russia and at least 10 other countries. You should undoubtedly arrive on an empty stomach because upon departure you will have been stuffed to the gills with samosas flecked with cinnamon, chapatis flavored with carrots and onion, Russian semolina cake and my very favorite avocado dip that I now make at home."

Some definitions: Samosas are fried Indian pastry triangles, filled with vegetables and/or meat. Chaptis is an Indian unleavened bread. The semolina cake is a sweet dessert made of coarse semolina, kifir (fermented milk) and brown sugar.

As for Meghan's favorite dip, let's make it Together. Here's the recipe by Munira Mahmud:

Green Chile & Avocado Dip

2 green chiles, halved and seeded

11/4 cups cilantro leaves

3 tablespoons plain yogurt

Grated zest and juice of 2 lemons

4 garlic cloves, peeled

1 ripe avocado, peeled and pitted

4 tablespoons mayonnaise


salt and pepper

Put all ingredients except the mayonnaise into food processor and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Add the mayonnaise (if you wish) and stir to combine, then transfer to a serving bowl.

The recipe serves four, so there's plenty for me, for you, a prince husband and a tennis star friend.

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Spin Cycle is a weekly smirk at pop culture.

Together, Our Community Cookbook

Style on 09/30/2018

Print Headline: Cooking with our royal BFF

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