Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Jerusalem a Cookbook

After hearing all the buzz about Jerusalem a Cookbook I finally received my coveted copy and I am madly in love. Its collection of 120 recipes explores the cross-cultural perspective of authors and friends Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi both born in the same year in Jerusalem, one from the Arab side and one from the Jewish West.  Unlike most cookbooks, it includes the rich history of the city and its recipes along with visuals of mouthwatering dishes and the people of Jerusalem. And most importantly, its recipes turn out and taste better than they look, which is a feat in itself. 

What a perfect gift for the holidays for any home cook. 

Most of the recipes aren't exactly weeknight dishes, since their ingredient list sometimes takes up the entire page, but for those of you who like a challenge, try this meal: 

Turkey and Zucchini Burgers with Green Onion and Cumin with Sour Cream and Sumac Sauce

Basmati & Wild Rice with Chickpeas, Currants, Herbs, and Fried Onions

Roasted Butternut Squash & Red Onion with Tahini and Za'atar

PC: Gardenista, and Yours Truly

Recipes after the jump:

Roasted Butternut Squash & Red Onion with Tahini and Za'atar

1 large butternut squash, cut into 3/4" x 2 1/2" wedges (I used two containers of the pre-cut cubes from whole foods in their produce section)
2 red onions, cut into 1 1/4" wedges
3 1/2 tbsp olive oil
3 1/2 tbsp light tahini paste
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp water
1 small clove garlic, crushed (I used jarred minced garlic)
3 1/2 tbsp pine nuts
1 tbsp za'atar
1 tbsp coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.  Put the squash and onion in a large mixing bowl, add 3 tbsp of the oil, 1 tsp salt, and some black pepper and toss well.  Spread on a baking sheet with skin facing down and roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until vegetables have taken on some color and are cooked through.  Keep an eye on the onions as they might cook faster than the squash and need to be removed earlier.  (I separated the squash and the onions on the baking sheet and found that they were done at the same time so I didn't have to worry about this). Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

To make the sauce, place the tahini in a small bowl along with the lemon juice, water, garlic, and 1/4 tsp salt. Whisk until the sauce is the consistency of honey, adding more water or tahini if necessary.

Pour the remaining 1 1/2 tbsp oil into a small frying pan and place over medium-high heat.  Add the pine nuts along with a 1/2 tsp salt and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often, until the nuts are golden brown.  Remove from heat and transfer the nuts and oil to a small bowl to stop the cooking.

To serve, spread the vegetables out on a large serving platter and drizzle over the tahini.  Sprinkle the pine nuts on top, followed by za'atar and parsley.

Prepare ahead: I made the sauce in advance and had to thin it out with water right before serving. I recommend roasting the vegetables right before serving.

Basmati & Wild Rice with Chickpeas, Currants, and Herbs

1/3 cup wild rice
2 1/2 tbsp olive oil
Rounded 1 cup basmati rice
2 tsp cumin seeds (I used 1 tsp ground cumin)
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1 1/2 cups cooked and drained chickpeas (I used canned)
3/4 cup sunflower oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsp all-purpose flour
2/3 cup currants
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tbsp chopped dill
salt and fresh ground black pepper

Start by putting the wild rice in a small saucepan, cover with plenty of water, bring to a boil, and leave to simmer for about 40 minutes, until the rice is cooked but still quite firm (Mine only took about 30 minutes). Drain and set aside.

To cook the basmati rice, pour 1 tbsp of the olive oil into a medium saucepan with a tighly fitting lid and place over high heat.  Add the rice and 1/4 tsp salt and stir as you warm up the rice.  Carefully add the boiling water, decrease the heat to very low, cover the pan with a lid, and leave to cook for 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat, cover with a clean tea towel and then the lid, and leave off the heat for 10 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, prepare the chickpeas.  Heat the remaining 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil in a small saucepan over high heat. Add the cumin and curry powder, wait for a couple seconds, and then add the chickpeas and 1/4 tsp salt; make sure you do this quickly or the spices may burn in the oil.  Stir over the heat for a minute or two, just to heat the chickpeas, then transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Wipe the saucepan clean, pour in the sunflower oil, and place over high heat.  Make sure the oil is hot by throwing a small piece of onion; it should sizzle vigorously.  Use your hands to mix the onion with the flour to coat it slightly.  Take some of the onion and carefully (it may spit!) place it in the oil. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown, then transfer to paper towels to drain and sprinkle with salt.  Repeat in batches until all the onion is fried.

Finally, add both types of rice to the chickpeas and then add the currants, herbs, and fried onion.  Stir, taste, and add salt/pepper as you like.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Turkey & Zucchini Burgers with Green Onion & Cumin:

1 lb ground turkey
1 large zucchini, coarsely grated (scant 2 cups)-I use the grating feature of my Cuisinart)
3 green onions, sliced thinly
1 large free-range egg
2 tbsp chopped mint
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
2 cloves garlic, crushed (I used jarred minced garlic)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
about 6 1/2 tbsp sunflower oil, for searing

Sour Cream & Sumac Sauce:

scant 1/2 cup sour cream (I used low fat)
scant 2/3 cup Greek Yogurt (I used 2%)
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 small cove garlic, crushed (I used jarred minced garlic)
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sumac
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper


First make the sour cream sauce by placing all the ingredients in a small bowl. Stir well and set aside or chill until needed.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  In a large bowl , combine all the ingredients for the meatballs except the sunflower oil.  Mix with your hands and then shape into about 18 burgers, each weighing about 1 1/2 ounces.

Pour enough sunflower oil into a large frying pan to form a layer about 1/16" on the pan bottom.  Heat over medium heat until hot, then sear the meatballs in batches on all sides.  Cook each batch for about 4 minutes, adding more oil as needed, until golden brown.

Carefully transfer the seared meatballs to a baking sheet lined with waxed paper and place in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes, or until just cooked through.   Serve warm or at room temperature, with the sauce spooned over or on the side.

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