This post is the first in what will be an ongoing series called Bookshelf of Cookbooks. My goal for these posts is to actually cook recipes, as written, from the books that I own and continue to buy and not just use them as inspiration or a jumping place (all though there is nothing wrong with that either). Just as in art or photography or whatever else following what someone else did to make your own study helps you learn about the process and techniques involved to make that specific painting or in this case dish of food. While creating our own recipes are fun and exciting there is no point if one does not have a base of knowledge learned from other books and if you do want to write your own recipes it helps to cook from others because you then learn which recipe style works best for you. So please join me on this first adventure into my books featuring 2 recipes from from Jerusalem A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.
First let me say that this book is beautiful, when I first opened it I was struck by all the lovely photos of Jerusalem and all the great pictures of the food. While I have a lot of books I have had longer I think this one got me to cook from it so quickly after purchasing was for 2 reasons. One of those reasons was I had some friends who were recently in Jerusalem and all their photos I kept seeing made me want to go there and eat some amazing food, which leads me to point #2 which is I love middle eastern food. Going to Istanbul last summer was great, I got to eat a lot of fantastic food and I just made me want to try even more things from the region. When I was looking through the book there was a number of things that I wanted to make right away but I settled on the Latkes and couscous thing because the ingredients were easy to get and the recipes were not too involved.
Unlike all my usual cooking forays I did not change anything about these recipes other than eyeballing most of the measurements to my taste/ the recipe. In doing this I realized a big reason why I never really cook the full recipe from my cookbooks is because I hate having to keep looking at the book to follow it correctly. I usually take the idea, what ingredients I actually have, and my intuition and make the recipe in whatever respect I remember/ want to do.
The first thing I made was the Couscous with tomato and onion (pg 129). This recipe was easy to make and delicious to eat, the only change I made was to use canned plum tomatoes instead of very ripe fresh tomatoes since it is off season and there was no good ones at my grocery store. While I am not going to post the recipe, since I did not really change anything you can just reference the book, for your reference the ingredient list is as follows:
3 tbsp Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion chopped (1 cup)
1 Tbsp Tomato Paste
1/2 Tsp Sugar
2 Very Ripe Tomatoes ( I used canned)
1 Scant Cup Couscous
220ML Boiling Stock ( I used homemade Vegetable)
21/2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
The second thing I made were the Latkes (pg92) which of course were pretty basic and came out great. For this recipe I really did not measure the potato, parsnip and chive, I eyeballed it based on what I know it should look like and how much I wanted to make. To make the Latkes you need:
5 1/2 Cups Grated Wax Potato
2 3/4 Cups Grated Parsnips
2/3 Cup Chopped Chives
4 Egg Whites
2 Tbsp Cornstarch
5 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
6 1/2 Tbsp Sunflower Oil (I used Peanut because it was what I had)
Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
Sour Cream for serving