The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen: A Fresh Take on Traditionby Amelia Saltsman
Here, at last, is a fresh, new way to think about Jewish food. In The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen, Amelia Saltsman takes us far beyond deli meats and kugel to a world of diverse flavors ideal for modern meals. Inspired by the farm-to-table movement, her 150 recipes offer a refreshingly different take on traditional and contemporary Jewish cooking. Amelia traces the delicious thread of Jewish cuisine from its ancient roots to today’s focus on seasonality and sustainability. Guided by the Jewish lunar calendar, she divides the book into six micro-seasons that highlight the deep connection of Jewish traditions to the year’s natural cycles. Amelia draws on her own rich food history to bring you a warmly personal cookbook filled with soul-satisfying spins on beloved classics and bold new dishes. From her Iraqi grandmother’s kitchri—red lentils melted into rice with garlic slow-cooked to sweetness—to four-ingredient Golden Borscht with Buttermilk and Fresh Ginger and vibrant Blood Orange and Olive Oil Polenta Upside-Down Cake, Amelia’s game-changing approach is sure to win over a new generation of cooks. You’ll find naturally vegan dishes, Middle Eastern fare, and new ways to use Old-World ingredients—buckwheat, home-cured herring, and gribenes—in fresh, modern meals. Whether you’re Jewish or not, observant or not, Ashkenazic or Sephardic, this yearlong culinary journey through the Diaspora will have you saying, “This is Jewish food? Who knew?”
Saltsman (The Santa Monica Farmers' Market Cookbook) organizes her latest collection of seasonal, produce-driven recipes according to the Jewish calendar. Though she defines and suggests menus for holidays such as Rosh Hashanah, Tu b'Shvat, and Purim, this isn't strictly a holiday cookbook. Vibrant recipes with Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and eastern European influences—including lamb, butternut squash, and quince tagine; Bulgarian cheese puffs; and blood orange and olive oil polenta upside-down cake—are appropriate for a wide range of everyday and special occasions. They're all identified as meat, dairy, or Pareve/vegan, making it easy to plan meals for guests observing Jewish dietary laws or other special diets. VERDICT Filled with stunning photographs and thoughtful historical research, this contemporary Jewish cookbook will tempt many home cooks.
- Sterling Epicure
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Meet the Author
Amelia Saltsman is the daughter of a Romanian mother and an Iraqi father who met in the Israeli army and immigrated to Los Angeles, where she was born and raised. Her cooking reflects her eclectic background, with the diverse flavors and cultural touchstones that have made her first book, The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook, a beloved classic. Amelia’s name is synonymous with intuitive, seasonal cooking, and she is regularly sought out for her expertise by publications such as Bon Appétit, Cooking Light, and Vegetarian Times. She is a frequent guest on KCRW’s Good Food with Evan Kleiman and a longtime advocate for small family farms.
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What a gorgeous cookbook! Beautiful inside and out and filled with heavenly dishes just waiting to fill you house with luscious smells calling even the most reluctant eater to the table. Many are very simple such as Apple, Fennel and Watermelon Radish Salad, Oven Braised Romanian Chicken (yum!), Israeli Salad or the super delicious Late Spring Chicken-in-a-Pot, but utterly delectable. Try the Baked Pasta with Spinach, Ricotta and Brown Butter or surprise your family with amazing Chocolate Pavolovas with Tangelo Sorbet and Seville Orange Sauce. There are so many to choose from, and you're sure to find a delightful array of new dishes to love. There is a section on what exactly Jewish food is and instructions on how to use the book. For instance, this is not necessarily a kosher book, but many recipes are easily adaptable to kosher guidelines just as vegetarians and vegans can easily find much to love here. There is the classic section on essential ingredients (something I personally appreciate in cookbooks highlighting other cultures), kitchen fundamentals and so forth. There is also a section of Seven Basic Recipes that are the foundation of Jewish cooking. From there it moves to the recipes which are divided into six chapters arranged two month micro-seasons beginning with September & October. This book goes the extra mile with three indexes: Recipes by Course, Recipes by Kosher Category and your classic Index. Major Jewish Holidays are listed with the Hebrew date and the Gregorian Timeframe listed and there is a nice resource guide as well. I love the thought and care that went into this book. The author's love for the Jewish food and tradition shines through. I highly recommend you give it a try. I received a copy of this book from Sterling Epicure through the Lisa Ekus Group for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
I grew up hearing my mom say, "Jewish food is heavy and stodgy; we don't really eat that way anymore." I wish she were around to enjoy all the light, fresh, global flavors in "The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen." I love it and know she would have too. Oh, and the Matboucha (tomato jam) is like crack. I've made it twice already ...