Ear­li­er this week, Efrat Libfroind wrote about cook­ing and self-improve­ment and being a moth­er, a full-time pas­try chef, and the only kosher cook­ing stu­dent in class. Her new cook­book, Kosher Ele­gance, is now available.

At times, Israel can feel like a very divid­ed coun­try. It is as if we Israelis all belong to our spe­cif­ic tribe and nev­er come into con­tact with the oth­ers tribes unless forced to. 

Pub­lish­ing my cook­book has been a won­der­ful expe­ri­ence because I have come into con­tact with many Israelis who on the face of things, belong to a dif­fer­ent tribe than me. I have enjoyed work­ing with all sorts of peo­ple in the pro­duc­tion of my book (pho­tog­ra­phers, food styl­ists, jour­nal­ists etc). What I find real­ly eye-open­ing is when the reac­tions these peo­ple have when they meet me. I have loved every minute of it.

I am what the news refers to as an ultra-Ortho­dox” Jew. I do fit the bill, there is no deny­ing it. I cov­er my hair, my hus­band learns Torah, I have 6 chil­dren – all the stereo­types are there.

At the same time, I speak flu­ent Eng­lish, I run a busi­ness and have trav­eled. I keep up with trends in the world of food and cook­ing acces­sories. So, I do live with­in my tribe but I am quite aware of what is hap­pen­ing with oth­er tribes. So while I don’t live or work all that much with mem­bers of oth­er Israeli tribes…..I have a pret­ty good under­stand­ing of what is hap­pen­ing in the wider Israeli reality.

How­ev­er, I think for many peo­ple I have been meet­ing due to my book….I am the first. The first ultra-Ortho­dox Jew that they are deal­ing with in an up close & per­son­al” way.

An exam­ple was when recent­ly a reporter from a pres­ti­gious Israeli (sec­u­lar) news­pa­per spent 6 hours with me at my home in order to dis­cuss my new book and to watch me in action (in the kitchen). I loved spend­ing so much time with her – she was won­der­ful, a real plea­sure to talk to. For her, I think it was an anthro­po­log­i­cal expe­ri­ence. She couldn’t get over how I have 6 kids, run a suc­cess­ful busi­ness, pub­lished a cook­book in 2 lan­guages and my hus­band learns Torah. It is true she did find me in the kitchen but….I think our time togeth­er broke down a lot of stereo­types for her. For, me it has been heart­warm­ing to feel the open­ness and inter­est of so many of my fel­low Israelis for mem­bers of oth­er” tribes (like me! ). I mean, the news seems to say we don’t get along! But I have been find­ing oth­er­wise. Time and time again. Seems kosher gourmet food is a great connector.

Sweet and Sour Avo­ca­do Salad

Avo­ca­do is one of my favorite fruits. Its neu­tral taste goes well with a vari­ety of unusu­al fla­vors. In this sal­ad I cre­at­ed a sweet and sour com­bi­na­tion. It’s quick and easy to pre­pare – just make sure you have all the ingre­di­ents on hand.

Serves approx­i­mate­ly 6

2 firm, ripe avo­ca­dos
5 dates
1 red or orange pep­per
1/4 red onion, diced
2 scal­lions, cut into thin strips
2 table­spoons dried cran­ber­ries
1/2 cup salt­ed roast­ed almonds, coarse­ly chopped

2 table­spoons olive oil
2 table­spoons orange juice
1/2 tea­spoon salt
1 pinch black pep­per
1 table­spoon date syrup or honey

Peel avo­ca­do and cut into small chunks. Pit dates and cut into cubes. Dice the pep­pers and red onion, and cut scal­lions into thin strips. Trans­fer fruit and­veg­eta­bles to a deep bowl. Add the dried cran­ber­riesand almonds. In a small bowl, mix the dress­ing, pourover the sal­ad, and toss.

Tip: For an orig­i­nal pre­sen­ta­tion, pur­chasedec­o­ra­tive serv­ing spoons at a paper goods store and serve indi­vid­ual por­tions of sal­ad in them.

Efrat Libfroind is the author of Kosher Ele­gance. She will be post­ing all week for the Jew­ish Book Coun­cil and MyJew­ish­Learn­ing.