Since buying, collecting, reading, using and dreaming about cookbooks is such a big part of my life and this blog, I have decided to dedicate some space to them here. Every now and then instead of sharing a recipe, I will share a cookbook profile from one of the books on my shelves. What books other people have, how they use them and what they cook from them (if at all) is endlessly fascinating to me so I hope you will enjoy taking a cookbook off one of my shelves and see how it has influenced me and my cooking.
The first book I wanted to take off my shelf for you is ‘Jerusalem’ by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi. With all the (much deserved) hype around Yotam Ottolenghi’s latest release ‘Simple’, it seemed only fitting to dive back into some of his earlier co-authored works. I also am unable to buy the new book as with it being so close to the end of the year, and having both my birthday and Christmas in December, I am always told by my family not to buy any new books so they can potentially give me them as a gift. So I am feeling an extreme case of FOMO at the moment, as everyday on Instagram I see another post about the book or about someone cooking from the book - and it all looks so good.
Not to mention Yotam’s new podcast ‘Simple Pleasures’, where he invites someone round to his place and they chat and enjoy dishes from his new book. I am already seriously craving the gnocchi he made for Nadiya Hussain on the first episode.
But until I get my hands on a copy, I still have the vast array of recipes from ‘Jerusalem’ to keep me occupied. See below for a little profile of the cookbook, and what I have made from it. It is definitely one I would recommend!
Bought at: gifted (I have also gifted this book to someone else as well I liked it so much!)
Recipes made: Shakshuka (p.66) & Clear Chicken Soup with Knaidlach (pp.144-5)
I really like making and eating shakshuka, however this was the first actual recipe for one I have followed. Most of the time I just make it all up using a can of diced tomatoes, whatever else we have that will go with it, plus the egg. It can be quite a simple dish, and after I saw Molly Yeh demonstrate it at a Local is Lovely workshop a couple of years ago I knew I could replicate it at home. I imagine Yotam and Sami’s version is more traditional than what I often make, and includes harissa and ground cumin. It was really nice making a shakshuka without a can of tomatoes and having a slightly spicy chunky sauce to cook the eggs in (I actually found it easier to cook the eggs this way).
Adaptations: I reduced the amount of harissa to about a teaspoon as I’m not into really spicy foods, and reduced the amount of eggs as I was only serving one. I also used yellow capsicums as thats what we already had!
This chicken soup was my first ever attempt at making a matzo ball soup over Passover. It is an involved affair, but worth it. My soup was not as flavourful as I had hoped, so I’m not sure if I should have cooked it longer or maybe it was the cuts of chicken I used (I didn’t 100% stick to the recipe on that one). I also used freshly ground matzo rather than pre-prepared matzo meal for the knaidlach so I think they would have been a bit lighter and smoother with the shop bought matzo meal. Definitely a recipe to go back to!
Favourite things about the book: This book is beautifully photographed and I really love the lifestyle photography from around Jerusalem. It really brings the essence of the city into the book and the recipes, rather than just showing photos of the completed dishes in isolation.
I also really like the fact that this is more than a cookbook. Whilst reading you take in recipes you want to try and discover dishes you might never have heard of, but you also get a history lesson through food. The introductions for each chapter and recipes are well worth reading as much of the cultural and religious or historical significance of a dish or ingredient are explained. And sometimes personal notes from both the authors are shared around specific recipes too.
Bookmarked recipes (to make later!): Swiss Chard Fritters (p.54) & Latkes (p.92).