Yesterday I completed cooking my second cookbook, Jerusalem. I have previously cooked through Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty, which was a delicious experience. So, thanks to a friend who works at a bookstore, I received another one of his cookbooks as a gift. You might remember that I had some misgivings about cooking from this cookbook, but I eventually decided that if making more hummus is going to create more strife in the world, then the world is so messed up already it’s not even worth trying. As I cooked through the cookbook, I began to realize that although it has a stance that is not my stance, it very deliberately demonstrates the similarities between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims (but where are the Christians. I know them. They are there).
I have so many happy memories attached to this cookbook, because I wrote down who I had over when I tried new things, so that also affects which recipes I liked best. Some of the recipes in this cookbook ended up a bit odd, because I don’t eat dairy and I try not to eat gluten, because when I don’t do either, I feel so much better. I might feel the most best if I didn’t drink coffee, but that’s just not inside of the realm of possibility.
The recipes I would make over and over again are Spices, chickpeas and fresh vegetable salad, the butternut squash and tahini spread I made first for my old roommate’s birthday, the burnt eggplant with garlic (for my goodbye party in Toronto), the hummus kawarma that I made the first time I had people over in Bluffton, the list could really go on. All of the kinds of chicken are amazing – and since I made the braised quail with chicken, that is part of the list. The chicken with clementines was good, although when I made it for guests the ouzo and sugar created a more smoky-disco feel than I normally go for. The chicken with Jerusalem artichoke was better (I used potatoes and artichokes because some things cannot be found in NW Ohio). The rice that accompanied the chicken with caramelized onion was one of the best things I have ever eaten. The chicken sofrito has happy memories of a dinner party with friends, and a hilarious small child, and the saffron chicken and herb salad is from one of the first weeks I lived in Ohio. So much deliciousness. I could probably write a book.
I will leave you with words of encouragement: buy this book, and cook anything from it. You can go wrong, but only very rarely.