Archive for ‘COOKBOOK SHELF’

January 30, 2013

Jerusalem, A Cookbook


I’ve been meaning to feature this new cookbook since before the holidays. Time has gotten away from me. Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi may be the best book of 2012. As with most of my cookbook purchases, I spent the first couple of days reading Jerusalem like a novel. Filled with the culinary history of the city, this book illustrates the melting pot of cuisines that make up the food of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem turkey burgers

My appetite for eggplant and za’atar is more than satisfied with this collection of recipes. I made the Turkey & Zucchini burgers with green onion & cumin. Served with a sour cream sumac sauce and warm pita, these seemed more like kofta than burgers to me. A little grilled eggplant on the side, a few pomegranate seeds, and a refreshing Israeli chopped salad made for a delicious dinner.

The basmati & wild rice with chickpeas, currants and herbs was another perfect side dish I loved from the book. The cumin seeds, curry power, sweet currants and fresh herbs are super flavorful. If you love hummus, falafel, lamb shawarma, challah, chocolate babbka… get this book! There are so many recipes using beans, grains and vegetables, I think this book will work well for vegetarians.

This simple chopped salad is a cinch to prepare and truly represents the tapestry of cuisines found throughout Jerusalem. “Everybody, absolutely everybody uses chopped cucumber and tomatoes to create an Arab or an Israeli salad, depending on point of view.”

Jerusalem chopped salad

All recipes adapted from Jerusalem


  • 2 good-sized ripe tomatoes, diced (or use cherry/grape tomatoes if you can’t find good quality large tomatoes)
  • 1 medium cucumber, partially peeled and diced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil

Simply place all the ingredients in a bowl and toss together. I don’t know that you even need specific quantities of each ingredient to make this. You certainly can’t mess this one up.

Jersusalem turkey burgers 2

These little meatball-like, burger scrumptious kofta type treats are fantastic. I’ve made them a few times and always serve them with warm whole wheat pita and simple grilled eggplant slices. The combination of the spiced turkey meat with creamy sauce, smushed in a pita with the eggplant and chopped salad, is over-the-moon good. You’re probably not supposed to eat it all smashed together, but that’s how we do it here and it’s awesome.


  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 large zucchini, coarsely grated
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Grapeseed oil or other neutral frying oil

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl (except the oil). I use my hands because it’s the best way to make sure it’s properly combined. Make small patties. You should get about 15-18 mini burgers out of the recipe.

Preheat a large frypan over medium-high heat. Add a little oil to the pan and sear the burgers in batches until they are golden and crispy on the outside, about 4-5 minutes total. Remove and place on a sheet pan. Repeat with the remaining batches of burgers, add additional oil as needed. When you’ve seared all the burgers, place the sheet pan in the oven for an additional few minutes, until they are perfectly cooked through. Serve warm with the sour cream sauce below.

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2/3 cup plain greek yogurt (I use non-fat)
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced finely
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sumac
  • Kosher salt & pepper

Mix everything together in a small bowl and serve with the turkey and zucchini burgers. This is also a perfect sauce to serve on grilled vegetables or other grilled meats.

January 1, 2013

Lidia’s Puttanesca


Happy New Year! I’m feeling quite positive about 2013. I think it’s going to be a good year for all. I’ve decided to take the “glass half-full” approach. No real resolutions. Do we ever keep them? I’m just going to try to be more positive and block out the negativity. Our holidays had their ups and downs, but just spending time with family and friends, enjoying a delicious meal is what I always look forward to the most.

After too much cooking over the holidays I was trying to think of some easy recipes to make the family as school and work soon kick back into gear. Yes, the holidays are over and it’s time to get back into the old routine… but with that renewed “glass half-full” optimistic approach to things. Make life a little easier. To start, you could make this simple Puttanesca I’ve adapted from the wonderful Lidia. Super quick and perfect for a weeknight dinner.


Did you know Puttanesca translates to “whore’s style spaghetti?” I’ve also seen it referred to as “in the style of a prostitute” and “made by ladies of the evening.” I recall the history as follows…  since the “ladies” worked late nights and weren’t able to get to the markets for fresh ingredients, they created Puttanesca by using common ingredients they already had available in their pantry. They certainly were on to something. How could the combination of anchovies, olives and capers ever be bad? Brilliant! It’s one of those dishes you find on the menu at most Italian restaurants, but personally I’d never think to order it. It couldn’t be simpler to make at home, includes all the staples you probably already have, and it whips up fast for a perfect dinner.


I picked up Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen about a year ago. I think I bought it because a friend mentioned it had the best lasagna recipe. Lasagna is such a project, I still haven’t made it. But I have made Lidia’s sausage and peppers, spaghetti with mushrooms, garlic & parsley and this awesome dish of Puttanesca. I need to find time to make more from this book.


Adapted from Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen


  • 35 oz can of plum tomatoes (I use Cento brand)
  • 1 1/2 cups mixed firm green olives & kalamata olives (pitted and cut in half)
  • 1 pound thick spaghetti (or other shape of choice)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 large cloves garlic, peeled & smashed
  • 6 anchovy fillets
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup tiny capers, drained
  • Big handful chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for your pasta. Cook pasta according to package directions. Remove it about 1 minute early as it will cook for a minute in the pan with the sauce.

Meanwhile, as you wait for the water to boil, pour the canned tomatoes in a large bowl and crush them with your hands. Set aside.

Heat 3 tbsp of olive oil on medium-high heat in a large (6qt) sauté pan. You want the pan to be big enough to hold the sauce and the pasta.  Add the garlic to the olive oil and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the anchovies and break-up with the back of a wooden spoon. Add the olives to the pan and stir for 2 minutes. Pour in the bowl of canned tomatoes, sprinkle with red pepper flakes and toss in the capers. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes.

Drain the pasta when ready and add it to the pan with the sauce. Toss the sauce and pasta together and remove the pan from the heat. Sprinkle the Pecorino cheese and combine again.

Serve immediately with a nice glass of Italian red wine and a hunk of crusty bread. YUM!

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