Category Archives: Cookbooks

Chicken in Pomegranate Sauce with Walnuts & Figs – from Matthew Goodman’s “Jewish Food”

Matthew Goodman’s “Jewish Food: The World at Table” is a great book. He’s got a great range of recipes from all over the world, as the title indicates, and they are unfussy, and delicious. Below is a favorite, from p. 162.


“Culinarily, the best way of using pomegranates may be with pomegranate molasses, a fixture in the cookery of Jews from Syria, Iran and Iraq. A thick, brown, syrup, pomegranate molasses has a tangily sour taste with a slight undertone of sweetness. It’s used to flavor the sweet-and-sour dishes prominent in the cuisine of the region, in much the same way as tamarind concentrate;to my taste though, pomegranate molasses is more pleasing, fruitier and less powerfully acerbic.

Above – Grilled Quail in Pomegranate Molasses; click here.

Perhaps the most well known of the dishes using pomegranate molasses is in the Iranian pomegranate and walnut sauce called fesenjan. It is most commonly made with duck, though it can also be made with chicken, quail or even meatballs. In my adaptation of fesenjan, I’ve added fresh figs, whose lush sweetness helps to balance the astringency of the pomegranate molasses (which can be purchased at most Middle Eastern groceries).”


Click here for a recipe to make your own Pomegranate Molasses at home.

Serves 4.


  • 1 chicken, 3-4 lbs.; cut into 8 pieces or 4 split breasts
  • salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 cut finely chopped walnuts
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 12 fresh figs, quartered
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate molasses
  • 2 tbsp. honey



  1. Rinse chicken and pat dry; Season well with salt and pepper
  2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until browned on all sides. Remove and drain on paper towels
  3. Lower heat to medium, then add onion to pan and cook, stirring often until soft and transluscent; Lower heat to medium-low and add walnuts; Cook stirring regularly, until they begin to change colors. About 3 minutes
  4. Add chicken stock, figs, pomegranate molasses, and honey and mix well. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
  5. Return the chicken to the pan and simmer, uncovered, until cooked through, about 35 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a large serving platter and pour the sauce over it. Serve hot.


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Zalabia: Middle-Eastern Chanukah Fritters in Syrup

As the Jewish holiday of Chanukah fast approaches (this year, it begins on the evening of Tuesday December 4th), recipes for latkes and other deep-fried delicacies will abound. Here is a recipe from our favorite – Claudia Roden – for “Zalabia” – deep-fried yummies, which she writes are from Egypt.

To purchase this book, click here.

I’ve copied and pasted the Q & A below, but you should check out the whole article here. Of course, recipes embody cross-cultural influences and often you’ll find many recipes for the same dish, each region claming it as their own and/or emphasizing the traditional tastes of their own locale.

The politics of the Palate.

If you click here, you’ll find the “Horesh Family Recipe index” (Horesh is a common last name of Iraqi Jews – and there are lots of good recipes here) . They list the Zalabia as being Iraqi Chanukah Fritters.

So whether these are Egyptian, Greek or Iraqi in origin – who cares? Enjoy!

There are many different recipes for Loukoumades, called Zalabia in Egypt. They are served soaked in sugar syrup or dusted with icing sugar. I use a recipe that is delicious although the fritters do not come out quite round. It is not an easy recipe but I hope you enjoy making it.

Serves 6
For the sugar syrup
1kg sugar
500 ml water
The juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tablespoon rose or orange-blossom water

For the batter
500g flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 packet fast action dry yeast
750 ml warm water (1 part boiling to two parts cold)

Light vegetable oil for deep-frying.


For the syrup, put the sugar, water and lemon juice in a pan and simmer for 15 minutes or until it is thick enough to coat a spoon. Add the rose or orange-blossom water and simmer a few seconds longer, then chill, covered.

For the batter, put the flour in a large bowl, mix in the salt and yeast, then stir in the water gradually, beating vigorously for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Cover with a damp cloth and leave to rise in a warm place for at least 1 hour, then beat the batter once more and let it rise again.

Make the fritters in batches. Pour little balls of batter by the teaspoon or tablespoon (they can be small or large) into sizzling but not too hot oil and fry until puffed up, crisp and golden, turning them to brown them all over. You may find it easier if you dip the spoon in oil so that the batter rolls off easily. Lower the heat a little so that the fritters have time to get done inside before they are too brown. The batter is light and produces irregular, rather than perfectly round, shapes. If the oil is not hot enough to begin with the batter tends to flatten out.

Lift the fritters out with a slotted spoon, drain on kitchen paper and dip them in the cold syrup for a few seconds, or let them soak up the syrup for longer. They are at their best hot, but are also good cold.

For variation, you can pour over the fritters honey heated up with about half the quantity water. You can also sprinkle instead with icing (confectioner’s) sugar and cinnamon.


Filed under Cookbooks, desserts, Holidays, Iraqi, Middle-Eastern

Beet Salad with Feta, Orange and Mint

This is a recipe from Alfred Portale’s Simple Pleasures. It’s a perfect autumnal salad that brings in some packed, fresh and almost summery flavor to it. Delicious.

You can also find the recipe online here.

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Building Your Culinary Library: James Beard Foundation’s Top 20

Celebrating 20 years of the James Beard Foundation, the Book Awards committee has just released a Top 20 list for must-have cookbooks. There’s a range from Julia Child to Mark Bittman, from Chinese and Mexican to Italian.

This is a good list to keep on hand, when you’re looking to get some inspiration…. Here’s the top 10 (they’re listed alphabetically – not by any other hierarchy). To see the rest of the list, click below:

The James Beard Book Awards Committee’s 20 Essential Books to Build Your Culinary Library:

  1. American Cookery (BBS Publishing Corporation, 1996), James Beard


 2. Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico (William Morrow Cookbooks, 2007), Rick Bayless


3. Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook (Better Homes and Gardens, 2004)



4. Classic Indian Cooking (William Morrow Cookbooks, 1980),Julie Sahni


5. Complete Techniques (Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 2001), Jacques Pépinand Léon Pererr


6. Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (Macmillan, 1995), Marcella Hazan



7. How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food (Wiley, 2006), Mark Bittman


8. The Joy of Cooking (Scribner, 2006), Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker


9. The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion: The All-Purpose Baking Cookbook (Countryman Press, 2003)




10. Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 1999), Maida Heatter

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Butternut Squash Bruschetta – From Jason Denton, of ‘ino in NYC

My friend Adena introduced me to a great spot last night, a stone’s throw away from NYU. Tucked away on Bedford and Downing, ‘ino cafe and wine bar is from the same owners of the great ‘inoteca in the Lower East Side.

‘ino – 21 Bedford Street, NYC

Small, cozy, with great atmosphere, ‘ino’s paninis gave me new appreciation for the simplicity of a gourmet sandwich. I ordered the ‘quatro’ – so I could taste ‘four’ mini paninis. Highly recommended. Turns out, Jeniffer and Jason Denton, the owners, also have a recipe book,

“Simple Italian Sandwiches: Recipes from America’s Favorite Panini Bar.”

Notice that the Foreword is written by Mario Batali

Below Jason Denton shares his recipe for Butternut Squash Bruschetta, which I found on New York Magazine’s website. They’ve got a whole gallery of recipes from NYC Chefs. Check it out here.


’ino’s Butternut-Squash Bruschetta

2 cups squash, peeled and seeded
2 tablespoons honey
1⁄2 teaspoon chili flakes
10 caperberries, roughly chopped
10 walnuts, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch of pepper
1 baguette, cut on a bias into 12 11⁄2-inch-thick slices
6 teaspoons walnut oil
4 teaspoons asiago cheese, grated


(1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash into 1-inch cubes.
(2) Gently fold the first 8 ingredients together in a medium bowl. Spread mixture evenly on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes, then gently stir ingredients, and continue to cook for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, toast the baguette slices in the oven or press on a panini press until slightly crisp.
(3) Scoop a generous tablespoon of the squash mixture onto each piece of baguette. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, and garnish with a drizzle of walnut oil and grated asiago.

Serves 6.


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Claudia Roden’s Tagine of Chicken with Artichoke, Preserved Lemons and Olives

Who does not love Claudia Roden?

Claudia Roden was born to a cosmopolitan Jewish family in Cairo, where she grew up eating – and questioning the origin of – food from all over the Middle East. She began by collating recipes at a young age from everybody she met, from family members to virtual strangers. “Food was,” she explains, “a way of re-connecting with my culture – my lost heritage. And the discovery of a 13th century manuscript in the British Library eventually led to my interest in food sociology and anthropology.”

To read more on Claudia Roden, click here.

The recipe below, featured on the BBC’s website is from Roden’s most recent cookbook Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey and Lebanon

Prep Time: 3o min

Cooking time – 1-2 hours

You can buy frozen artichoke bottoms from Middle Eastern and Asian stores. Ingredients
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
½ tsp crushed saffron threads or saffron powder
¼-½ tsp ground ginger
1 chicken, jointed
salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ lemon, juice only
2 tbsp chopped coriander
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 small preserved lemons, peel only
12-16 green or violet olives, either stoned or left whole
9 artichoke bottoms, defrosted

1. In a wide casserole or heavy-bottomed pan that will fit the chicken pieces in one layer, heat the oil and add the onions. Sauté, stirring over a low heat, until softened, then stir in the garlic, saffron and ginger.
2. Add the chicken pieces, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and pour in about 300ml/10fl oz of water. Simmer, covered, turning the pieces over a few times and adding a little more water if it becomes too dry.
3. Lift out the breasts after 20 minutes and set aside. Continue to cook the remaining pieces for another 25 minutes, then return the breasts to the pan.
4. Stir in the lemon juice, coriander, parsley, preserved lemon peel and olives, then lift the chicken pieces and put the artichoke bottoms in the sauce beneath them. Add a little water if necessary and cook for about 10 minutes until the artichokes are tender. Serve with the olives and lemon peel on top of the meat


Filed under chicken, Cookbooks, Middle-Eastern

Chicken Marbella – Who Knew?!

So apparently we’ve been left out of the loop. I had dinner at my friend Shira’s the other night and she impressed us all with this excellent Chicken Marbella from an apparently famous and must have cookbook: The Silver Palate.

The printed out recipe came from  Leite’s Culinaria. What a site. Check it out.

Shira was kind enough to send me home with the recipe and olives out of her own refrigerator, and I made it last night for dinner and it was delish. I made it with boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cut down the proportions. I’m thinking Martha Shem-Tov would be able to avoid all the sugar in there by substituting orange juice in. It was the first time I made it – I think I will try that next time. In any case – it’s easy and full-flavored. Thanks Shira.
The recipe below is for 10-12 servings. I cut the recipe in half and did NOT put in as much sugar (poison!) as it calls for – but I don’t trust my mathematical skills to include my version here.

I threw the chicken into a ziploc bag with the marinade in the AM, and then just pulled it out around 7pm. I think this’d go nicely with quinoa on the side.


  • 6 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 head of garlic – finely pureed
  • 1/4 dried oregano
  • coarse salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar (I used white)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups pitted dried plums (aka: PRUNES)
  • 1 cup of a mix of pitted olives (preferably Moroccan or Greek)
  • 1/2 cup of capers with a tablespoon of their juice (Don’t leave these out!)
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1 cup (oy! cut this down!) brown sugar (I used 1/4 cup – but next time will do OJ)
  • 1 cup white wine


  1. Mix the garlic, oregano, salt & pepper, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers and juice, and bay leaves.
  2. Rub the chicken well in the marinade – put it all in a big ziploc bag and refrigerate – MINIMUM: 2 hours – but better overnight.
  3. An hour before serving, pre-heat oven to 350 F degrees
  4. Arrange the chicken in shallow baking/roasting pans – spoon the marinade over evenly.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes – basting every 10 minutes with the pan juices.
  6. Serve with the juices – you can garnish with parsley or cilantro.

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Delights from the Garden of Eden: Cookbook

Delights from the Garden of Eden is an Iraqi cookbook. The author shares a few select recipes on her site. Check it out: Delights from the Garden of Eden

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