Bought at: a bookshop in Woolhara, Sydney. I don’t remember the name of it, but I remember vividly that I had drove over to the Eastern Suburbs to meet a friend, at the old Jones the Grocer (I think it was about 2012). There was a bookshop nearby and I had it in my mind that I wanted to buy this book. I remember hearing about it on the old day time show called The Circle. And whether or not they were actually talking about this book, or I got my wires crossed and found this one anyway, it doesn’t matter now. The fact is that this book has been such a well used addition to my cookbook collection that, I am so glad I did find it.
Recipes Made: Custard Chiffon Cake p.35, Nice’s Date Slice p.55, Egg and Onion p.78, Talia’s Raspberry Tart p.93, Tomato Soup with Basil and Rocket Oil p.129, Hamantashen p.221, Couscous Roast Chicken p.233 and Challah from Heaven p.263.
If you make only one thing from this book, make sure it’s the Custard Chiffon Cake. This cake is the lightest and fluffiest cake you will ever make or eat. I absolutely adore this cake, and it is well worth the effort of finding an angel food cake tin (that isn’t non stick). I first tried this cake at a baking demonstration/workshop with the Monday Morning Cooking Club at BakeClub in 2014 (for more see this blog post). The workshop coincided with the release of the Monday Morning Cooking Club’s second book, The Feast Goes On (which I also highly recommend), however a few things from the first book were made that day too. We saw how the cake is made, and then got to try some and take a little home. For me, the Chiffon cake stood out from all the rest and has been my go to chiffon cake recipe ever since.
Nice’s Date Slice is also a recipe is has often been on high rotation in our house. A few years ago, when I was still at uni and worked in a cafe, I made it often as it is super quick and simple and was great to take with me as a little snack. It is also a massive crowd pleaser, I don’t recall anyone ever not liking this slice!
I was introduced to Egg and Onion at last years Cornersmith workshop with the Monday Morning Cooking Club ladies. Isn’t it funny, that you can have a recipe sitting right under your nose for years, but not take notice until someone else makes it for you? Well, that’s what happened for me with this recipe. I really needed to taste it to know how good it was, especially as this dip/great accompaniment to bread, was quite a foreign concept to me having only been introduced to Jewish cooking in the last few years. After this workshop I made it so many times, it is super simple, yet so satisfying to eat. It is particularly good with challah and bagels, and I have a smaller quantity of the recipe on this blog post, if you like me, never have that many people to serve (the original recipe serves 12!).
I think Talia’s Raspberry Tart was the first recipe I made from this book. I made it so many times in the first couple of years I had the book there is a labelled post it note for the recipe so it was very easy to find! It was also the first proper tart I ever made, and I always loved the story behind the recipe too. I think I was taken in by Talia’s desire to recreate the dishes she ate at restaurants at home, something that I often do too. The photo in the book of this tart is so inviting as well, with its perfect pastry and gorgeous raspberries. I have also made this tart with a combination of berries along with raspberries and it is just lovely.
Tomato Soup with Basil and Rocket Oil was made a couple of times by my Mum, who was looking for an alternative to our usual Tomato and Bacon Soup. This soup is made from fresh tomatoes rather than canned, and uses stale sourdough to thicken it. I absolutely loved it when Mum made it, and I think I will need to make it again very soon!
Earlier this year around the Jewish festival of Purim, I was doing research around Hamantashen recipes, and of course the Monday Morning Cooking Club was one of the first books I looked at. The image on the inside of the back cover of this book, is a striking picture of folded Hamantashen ready to go in the oven. This image always reminded me that this book had a recipe for Hamantashen, so I tried the dough recipe. I liked it except the recipe (in the edition I own at least), doesn’t say to the brush the cut dough with water or egg wash before folding the dough into the triangular Hamantashen. I found this meant the dough didn’t remain pinched together and didn’t keep that signature triangular shape during baking. I tried another recipe in the end (see blog post here), but I think if I used this recipe again in the future I would just brush the cut dough with an egg wash before shaping.
The Couscous Roast Chicken is a dish we have made countless times over the years. As a family we have 3 or 4 roast chicken recipes we frequent often and this one has been a high rotation (another is the Pistachio Roast Chicken from MMCC’s third book, but that’s a story for another Off the Shelf post!). We always use pearl or Israeli couscous for this dish, and always dates rather than dried apricots. The combination of the coucous, dates, herbs, spices and nuts make a delicious chicken stuffing and side all in one.
Simialar to the Egg and Onion I first tried the Challah from Heaven at the Cornersmith Workshop last year. I have certainly eaten challah before, but never a homemade one, and boy does it make a difference! The bread was soft and pillow like, and as I found when I made it at home, using the instructions given by the Monday Morning Cooking Club about how to do the six strand braid, isn’t too hard. I made many challah loaves in the months after that workshop, only stopping for a while as I was almost eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
Favourite Things About The Book: Everything! I love the recipes, some of which have become very firm family favourites (the Custard Chiffon Cake, Date Slice and Couscous Roast Chicken most notably). I also absolutely love reading the stories behind the recipes and the people who contributed to them. This was the first cookbook that really got me thinking about food history and heirloom recipes, and how important it is to write them down and continue making them. This was also the first cookbook that really introduced me to the varied world of Jewish cooking, and I have to say I haven’t looked back since! I have found it immensely interesting to learn about another culture through food, and I think it has enriched my life and my families dinner table so much for the better.
I also love the story behind how the Monday Morning Cooking Club came about, and how at it’s core it was about recording recipes and celebrating food. If you already have a copy of this book, or can get a hold of one, read the introduction, it explains the whole concept so well. Then grab a big cup of tea, as you will probably find yourself sat reading all the stories behind each recipe and contributors to the book for a good long while.
Bookmarked Recipes (to make later!): Buba’s Eggplant p.71, Ginger Snaps p.72, Ginger Cake p.75, Bienenstich p.94, Israeli Couscous Soup, Almond Kifli p.150 and Chicken Persian Pilau p.203.
*NB: I own the original 2011 edition of this book which was published by Hardie Grant. Page numbers for recipes may differ in newer editions of this title.