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.