Amelia Saltsman’s background makes for an interesting source for her new cookbook, The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen. Her mother is Romanian, and her father is Iraqi. They met in the Israeli army and immigrated to Los Angeles where Amelia was born and grew up.
She is a regular contributor on food in the media. She and her family live in Santa Monica, Calif.
One day while cooking and sharing her ideas on the social media and her blog, the responses were so overwhelming, she realized “that a new generation of cooks was looking for a fresh approach to Jewish food.” Thinking about her own family heritage then led her to explore her family’s culinary roots more deeply.
The result is 146 recipes plus 135 colour photographs. Each two-month section contains information about the holidays of that period. Recipes go from starters, salads and soups to side dishes, main courses and desserts.
Saltsman says the recipes are labelled as meat, dairy, pareve and fish, as well as vegan or gluten free. “The food philosophy is that you should use well-raised, whole, real foods. There are no artificial ingredients used in any recipes.”
Recipes are included from Tunisia, Morocco, Germany, Syria, Yemen, Persia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Eastern Europe and, of course, Romania and Israel.
For Chanukah, here are two of her recipes.
Best potato latkes
o 2 lb. peeled starchy potatoes
o 1 small onion
o 2 heaping tbsp. unbleached all purpose flour or potato starch
o 1 tsp. kosher salt
o ½ tsp. baking powder
o freshly ground black pepper
o 2 lightly beaten eggs
o mild oil (grapeseed, sunflower or avocado)
o sea salt
Using the large holes of a box grater or a food processor fitted with the grating disk, grate the potatoes (about 5 cups).
Grate the onion on the large holes of the box grater or fit the processor with the metal S blade and grate.
In a large bowl, stir together potatoes, onion, flour salt, baking powder and a few grinds of pepper. Stir in eggs.
Line 2 or 3 sheet pans with paper towels. Place the prepared pans, the latke batter, a large spoon and a spatula near the stove.
Heat 1 or 2 large skillets over medium heat. Pour into skillets not more than ¼-in. oil. When the oil is shimmering and a tiny bit of batter sizzles on contact, start spooning in the latke batter, making sure to add both solids and liquids. Using the back of the spoon, flatten each spoonful into a circle 3 to 4 in. in diameter. Do not crowd the latkes in the pan. You will get 4 or 5 latkes in a 12-in. skillet.
Cook the latkes, flipping them once until golden on both sides, 5 to 6 minutes total.
Transfer the latkes to the prepared baking sheet. Cook the remaining batter in the same way, stirring the batter before adding more to the pan and adding oil as needed at the edge of the pan. Arrange the latkes on a warmed platter, sprinkle with sea salt, and serve with applesauce or sour cream. Yield: 24 latkes
Roasted smashed apples and pears
o 3 lb. medium-size apples and pears
o a few sprigs thyme (optional)
o 2 to 3 tbsp. water, fresh lemon juice,
Calvados, pear brandy or eau-de-vie, hard cider or dessert wine
o ground cinnamon or nutmeg (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375. Halve the pears and apples through the stem end, then core them, and place the halves, cut side down, on one or more sheet pans, spacing them 1 to 2 in. apart. If using the thyme, scatter it among the pears and apples. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil. Bake the apples and pears until tender when pierced with a knife tip (30 to 40 minutes).
When they are cool enough to handle, slip the fruits from the skins and back into the pan, scraping any pulp from the skins. Discard skins and thyme stems.
Mash the apples and pears with a fork, stirring in enough water or other liquid to help scrape up any brown bits from the pan bottom and lighten the texture of the fruit.
Scrape the mixture into a bowl and serve warm at room temperature or cover and refrigerate up to a day ahead and serve cold. This can also be made with all pears or all apples. Yield: 3 cups.