I am in love with this book beyond words. I love anything that has to do with Yotam Ottolenghi. A year ago, I wrote a review of Plenty, the vegetable cookbook by the same chef.
Plenty is my favorite cookbook. Everyone knows that bloggers should never say they have a favorite anything. I mean, we are supposed to not be able to choose, just like we can’t choose a favorite restaurant because it really depends on the mood but I can clearly say and yell to the top of my lungs. I love “Plenty” so friggin much.
I was incredibly excited when Yotam Ottolenghi came out with his second cookbook ” Jerusalem”. This time, in collaboration with Sami Tamimi. The story is sweet: an Israeli chef opens a restaurant in London with a Palestinian Chef. Together they collaborate, work beautifully together, feed hungry hearts and souls- a symbiose that can only be found over food. They end up opening more restaurants together and coming out with a cookbook that presents recipes from both backgrounds, colliding, high fiving each other with Mediterranean elements and every vegetable you can think of.
I have been to Jerusalem quite a few times but have never connected with the place. Mind you, I haven’t explored Jerusalem food in the last decade, my only memories of the place is that The Wailing Wall is beautiful and that it gets really really cold. I know I am totally wrong and I will take the time to explore soon but to me Telaviv is the place to go in Israel. Give me action. I like busy life, gay friendly, lots of colors, bicycles, markets and I am a happy camper. I could eat somewhere different every night in Tel Aviv and never get bored (post on Tel Aviv is coming soon).
The book, though called Jerusalem shows foods that will you find all over Tel aviv and all over Israel.
What to expect:
-In true Ottolenghi style, the recipes have a long list of ingredients. If you want your food to have all the flavor profiles of an Ottolenghi dish then you probably need to get most of them, if not all. His stuff is always worth it, every time.
-Lots of vegetables. He uses eggplants, tomatoes, fennel and lots of fresh herbs.
-Home Cooking. Culturally, home cooking is everywhere in Israel. Kids finish school early every day. They eat lunch at home. You walk into a house and you will always find pots on the stove. Lunch is usually some kind of meat dish and evenings are salad, eggs and cottage cheese or creamy cheese and bread. Even with people working many hours and having very busy lives, home cooking is everywhere. Grandparents are always bringing boxes of food over for their kids. Even if you go to the park in the afternoon, you will see parents with containers full of food, feeding their kids.
- Stories of what every food means to the authors and cultural backgrounds. This is the best part for me, learning about the foods and their stories. That is what cookbooks are for.
Some of my favorite recipes are the Marinated Sweet and Sour Fish, Mejadra (lentils with rice), the Musabaha (warm chickpeas with hummus) and the roasted butternut squash with red onion, tahini and za’atar.
If you like your recipes exotic with interesting herbs and spices, then you will love this book.