Cooking With The Power of Positivity
One thing I’ve learned is that positivity counts for a lot. In the new cookbook Israeli Soul, the authors’ passion for the country and the food comes through loud and clear and it makes the book enjoyable to read. Owners of multiple restaurants and authors of the award winning cookbook Zahav, Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook know what they’re doing. Recipes, text and pictures paint a vivid picture of Israeli life today and restaurant and product recommendations are included.
Israel is the repository for many different traditions, including recipes passed along “l’dor va dor” – from generation to generation. All the classic dishes are covered, from schnitzel to shwarma to kebabs to smoked fish. Lots of salads and vegetarian options. Everything I made was very good but recipes required some tweaking. I can hear an Israeli voice saying – “what, you couldn’t figure it out for yourself?” Yes, I could but I wouldn’t mind not having to do so.
Not being one to avoid a challenge, I made the Goldie Falafel. If you choose to do this, know that your kitchen will be messy and smell like falafel long after dinner is finished. They were good but it’s a toss-up whether it’s worth it. With my falafel I made 5 Minute Hummus with Quick Tahini sauce, which worked well but required far more seasoning than the recipe called for. On the side I made shredded Radish and Zucchini Salad with Mint and Nigella Seeds, a light salad that was easy to execute.
One of my favourite parts of the cookbook was the 25 toppings for the hummus, ranging from traditional Matbucha (tomato and pepper sauce) with Egg to less traditional Broccoli and Pine Nut Pesto. I topped my leftover hummus with Charred Zucchini with Mint, which was easy and fresh.
I also made Freekah Mujadara, a dish usually made of caramelized onions, lentils and rice. This recipe calls for black lentils and freekah instead of rice. Freekah is a type of cracked wheat that is healthy and delicious, with a slightly smoky flavour. I topped my Mujadara with a garlicky yogurt sauce. I would make this dish again.
I couldn’t resist the Yeasted Rugelach (little pastries). Rugelach with a yeasted dough are traditional and more common in Israel than the cream cheese dough used by North Americans. These had a yummy filling of almond butter, labneh (thick yogurt) and chocolate, and were soaked with a sugar syrup right after baking, a Middle Eastern tradition. The recipe didn’t explain how large the rectangle of dough should be, so I guessed and my rugelach were kind of ugly. They tasted more like chocolate buffalo buns than rugelach you might find in Toronto, but they were delicious.
What’s the verdict? The recipes aren’t perfect but I liked the book so much that I bought it. Check it out.