If you’ve ever found yourself wondering, “What is Israeli cuisine, really?” you’ve probably come to the conclusion that the answer is pretty complicated. Director Roger Sherman found himself wondering the same thing when he went to Israel for the first time in 2010. There, according to his film’s website, he found a cuisine that he calls “one of the most dynamic in the world,” full of “Moroccan, Persian, Lebanese, French, Italian, and Russian – Jewish, Arab, Palestinian, Christian, and Druze, kosher and non-kosher, secular and religious” influences that are all worth exploring.
March is such a tempting mistress. The sun is in the sky later and the flowers are beginning to pop up, but it’s still just a bit too early for an appreciable amount of spring produce to show up at farmers’ markets. I spend March wistfully looking out my window at my vegetable garden, waiting for something, anything to happen. One more month of root vegetables and then I’m moving to California (for real this time).
Are you starting to plan your Passover menus? I know I am, and I also know that every year I look to change up a few dishes. Sure, I like to keep our Seder menus classic with brisket, kugel and chicken soup. But sometimes you just need some inspiration. If you can also relate, then look no further, because we’ve got not one but two beautiful Passover cookbooks chock full of recipe ideas to make for the Seder and for all week.
Chopped liver is a staple on holiday tables during Passover and Rosh Hashanah, as well as served up deliciously at Jewish delis across the country. It is a beloved, old-world dish born out of the desire to use every part of the animal – even the livers. And so its origins are quite humble. Still, the result of the livers with fried onions, oil or schmaltz and either eggs or vegetables is a super rich spread fit for a king. (Also, it’s really quite easy to make!)
“Simple and elegant–my favorite combination,” wrote Ina Garten, author of The Barefoot Contessa, the other day on Instagram. She was describing her approach to table setting, but this combination resonates with me, too, both in terms of aesthetics (I’m not about to spend money on table settings!) and how I cook (well, most of the time). Try as I might, it’s hard to keep this vision in sight when the holidays roll around. As if large gatherings and special diets weren’t tricky enough, there’s kosher for passover rules to mitigate!
Ma’amoul is a traditional small pastry from the Levant (the area between Syria in the north and Egypt in the south including Lebanon, Israel and Palestine). Muslims, Christians and Jews lived in this area, alongside each other for over 1500 years. Among the many cultural and culinary traditions they share are the date and walnut-stuffed cookies called Ma’amoul.
Tiramisu translates to “pick me up.” And this popular Italian dessert sure lifts our mood! Here, we altered the classic by using matzah in place of traditional ladyfingers. The matzah soaks up the cream, chocolate, and rum with mouthwatering results.
When I think of knishes, like most people, I think of New York Jewish deli-style discs of creamy potato or savory meat, enveloped by a flaky crust. Potato knishes are my favorite, because they act as a vehicle for as much good, grainy mustard as I see fit.
Photo: Geoff Johnson/Netflix/Geoff Johnson/Netflix