Mod­ern Israeli Cook­ing: 100 New Recipes for Tra­di­tion­al Classics

Danielle Oron
  • Review
By – January 21, 2016

Danielle Oron, an Israeli-born chef and own­er of Moo Milk Bar in Toron­to, brings read­ers a col­lec­tion of recipes reflect­ing the diverse cul­tures of Israel. The 100 recipes are orga­nized in a unique man­ner. Rather than the tra­di­tion­al for­mat — soup, sal­ad, main dish, dessert — Oron ref­er­ences dif­fer­ent times and occa­sions: week­days, Fri­days, beach, slow-cook­ing, brunch, mid­night. She also has sec­tions for sal­ads and sides, sweets, and sta­ples, which can be pre­pared and con­sumed at any time. 

The mod­ern vari­a­tions Oren adds to clas­sic dish­es make these recipes stand out. Cab­bage rolls become unstuffed cab­bage rolls,” with the cab­bage chopped and added to the brown­ing meat along with rice. French fries are sea­soned with sumac and served with skhug mayo and haris­sa ketchup as a mul­ti­cul­tur­al side dish. Shak­shu­ka takes on a Mex­i­can flair when made with tomatil­los and poblano pep­pers, and lab­ne pan­na cot­ta makes an inter­est­ing and refresh­ing dessert. 

The sec­tion on sta­ples is par­tic­u­lar­ly valu­able because it pro­vides instruc­tions for mak­ing use­ful ingre­di­ents such as tahi­ni, haris­sa, and pre­served lemons from scratch. Once again, the author offers intrigu­ing vari­a­tions. She makes ancho chili and mild red pep­per haris­sa. She also makes a man­go chut­ney called amba and a crunchy top­ping called duk­ka, both of which are guar­an­teed to enhance sal­ads and sand­wich­es. Work­ing stiffs who want to come home to a nice meal will appre­ci­ate the slow-cook­ing recipes for chick­en and dumplings, pome­gran­ate short ribs, and real­ly authen­tic hum­mus. Oron sug­gests that lat­ter be paired with sautéed spinach and a radish sal­ad for a love­ly veg­e­tar­i­an feast. 

Kosher cooks will have to make some adjust­ments since the author tops her fleishig unstuffed cab­bage with lab­ne and pre­pares a Reuben hash skil­let with pas­tra­mi and Swiss cheese, but those who enjoy exper­i­ment­ing with inter­na­tion­al cuisines will savor these recipes.

Relat­ed Content:

Bar­bara M. Bibel is a librar­i­an at the Oak­land Pub­lic Library in Oak­land, CA; and at Con­gre­ga­tion Netiv­ot Shalom, Berke­ley, CA.

Discussion Questions