If you follow my blog, you probably already know about my passion for Israeli fare. From cumin to za’atar and roasted eggplant to chickpeas – you’ll find loads of Middle Eastern-inspired recipes here on BIB. I’ve been growing my collection of Middle Eastern cookbooks as well, with Balaboosta just recently added to books like Plenty, Jerusalem, Cook in Israel, The Book of New Israeli Food, and more.
In this delicious appetizer, I’ve created a chickpea cake, in a preparation similar to polenta, using garbanzo flour. Such cakes are popularly served in Northern Italy (where it’s called panisse) as well as the South of France (where it’s called panelle). They are often cut into sticks and fried to resemble french fries.
For the topping, I went with a delicious combination of za’atar roasted cauliflower with caramelized onions, prunes and toasted pine nuts. The result is a delicious combination of Middle Eastern flavors – the perfect recipe to guest post on Yosef Silver’s blog, This American Bite. You may remember it from The Great Blog Swap Link-Up where I created a recipe for grilled corn with za’atar garlic butter, inspired by his recipe for garlic, za’atar & olive oil stovetop popcorn.
Orly Ziv, a nutritionist and cooking instructor from Tel Aviv Israel, is a cook after my own heart. In her debut cookbook, Cook In Israel, Orly showcases recipes that draw on her Greek Jewish Heritage, with flavors of the Middle East and Mediterranean. Her entire first chapter is dedicated solely to eggplant and tomatoes, ingredients which are central to my kitchen. Page after page, Orly’s simple, healthy and flavorful recipes are ones you would find on my dining table any day of the week.
Cook In Israel bears the subtitle “Home Cooking Inspiration” and that is precisely what Orly’s book is all about. In a warm family-oriented way that is customary for Israelis, Ms. Ziv welcomes you into her kitchen with open arms. Her book is clear, simple and straight-forward, with many step by step photos to help guide you along the cooking process. Orly shares family favorites, holiday dishes and an expansive array of vegetarian recipes that are mainstays in Middle Eastern culture.
What is most impressive to me is that Orly self-published this beautiful collection of recipes with masterful results. The typography, layout and picture-perfect photography can only be matched by her clear and concise style of recipe writing – a welcome change from most cookbooks (which include too much commentary).
As someone who relishes Middle Eastern cuisine, this book lacks traditional Israeli fare like “al ha-esh” bbq , shishkebab and other chicken & meat recipes. It is somewhat confusing that Orly only makes slight mention of the fact that her book is almost entirely vegetarian, with only two meat recipes, which in my opinion, are better left out altogether. As someone who is not ready to give up her carnivorous ways, this cookbook still offers countless recipes that are filling and flavorful, such as breads, fish, grains and legumes.
Vegetarian or not, Cook In Israel is a keeper after all.
Busy In Brooklyn is thrilled to be able to give away a copy of Cook in Israel to one of my readers!
Winner will be chosen at random on Sunday, September 1st, 2013.
Apple Cake Reprinted with permission from Cook In Israel by Orly Ziv, Home Cooking Inspiration
2 green apples, unpeeled and diced
1½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup sweet red wine
½ cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1½ cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
Handful of raisins or walnuts (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/340°F.
2. Mix together all the ingredients in a large bowl by hand or in a mixer.
3. Pour the batter into a large, greased cake pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
4. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
Fish with Green Tahini Sauce Reprinted with permission from Cook In Israel by Orly Ziv, Home Cooking Inspiration
2 tomatoes, sliced
4 tilapia filets (or any white fish)
½ cup boiled or canned chickpeas (optional)
1/2 cup tahini
½ cup finely chopped parsley
½ cup finely chopped cilantro
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon, plus more to taste
1 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F.
2. Pour olive oil in a thin, even layer to coat the bottom of a baking dish.
3. Arrange slices of tomato along the bottom of the baking dish and top with the fish filets. Spread the chickpeas on top, if using.
4. Using a hand blender or food processor, mix the tahini, parsley, cilantro, garlic, lemon juice, water and salt until smooth and green diluted sauce.
5. Pour the tahini sauce over the fish and bake for about 20 minutes, until the sauce thickens.
6. Remove from the heat and serve.
VARIATION: To make fish with red tahini sauce, mix together 1 chopped tomato with the tahini, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, and salt as directed above (omit the cilantro). Leave out
the tomato slices and chickpeas from the recipe above, pour the red tahini sauce over the fish, and continue as directed.