The Jerusalem Cookbook – Great Guide to Eating in Israel


I readily admit I’m a bit of a cookbook addict, but as I’m running out of space on my kitchen shelf, I’m having to be a bit more discerning!
Nevertheless, buying ‘Jerusalem’ is a MUST!
I literally devoured every page of Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s stunning cookbook, Jerusalem: A Cookbook , before I prepared my first dish.
Through stories,recipes and photos I was transported down the narrow alleyways of the old city of Jerusalem, one of the most colorful and aromatic sites in all of Israel. I could almost smell the spice stalls of the souk and each recipe is as diverse as the city itself.


Jerusalem: A Cookbook

The Jerusalem Cookbook
The Jerusalem Cookbook was named best cookbook of the year by the International Association of Culinary Professionals and rightfully so. The book focuses on the shared flavors and foods enjoyed by Ottolenghi, an Israeli, Tamimi, a Palestinian. I have tried several dishes, and because of Ottolenghi’s clear and precise instructions, they have turned out beautifully.
The swiss chard with buttered pine nuts and tahini sauce is my family’s favourite so far, followed closely by the butternut squash hummus. I give many classes to local Israelis seeking to learn new techniques in food preparation including healthy and local cuisine and this .
The photography is totally inspiring – the dishes are made in REAL pots with the odd crack and spill, somehow this makes the dish more approachable.
My only slight criticism would be the length of the ingredient list – but I’m learning to adapt.
Do I feel guilty about ANOTHER cook book ….
…. absolutely not. Because of its mix of part history, part anthropology, and part Geography, this book does not clutter up my bookshelf, but has pride of place on my coffee table.’Jerusalem’ is far too beautiful to be hidden away!

Swiss Chard with Tahini, Yogurt and Buttered Pine Nuts (page 88 from the Jerusalem Cookbook)

2 3/4 pounds Swiss chard
2 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
scant 5 tablespoons pine nuts
2 small cloves garlic, sliced very thin
1/4 cup dry white wine
sweet paprika, to garnish
salt and pepper


Tahini and Yogurt Sauce
3 1/2 tablespoons light tahini paste
4 1/2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons water


Begin with the sauce by placing all ingredients in a medium bowl, add a pinch of salt, and stir well with a small whisk until you get a smooth, semistiff paste. Set aside.


Use a sharp knife to separate the white chard stalks from the green leaves and cut both into sliced 3/4 inch wide, keeping them separate. Bring a large pan of salted water to boil and add the chard stalks. Simmer for 2 minutes, add the leaves and cook for another minute. Drain and rinse well under cold water. Allow the water to drain and then use your hands to squeeze the chard until it is completely dry.


Put half the butter and the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan and place over medium hear. Once hot, add the pine nuts and toss them in the pan until golden, about 2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove them from the pan, then throw in the garlic. Cook for about a minute, until it starts to become golden. Carefully pour in the wine. Leave fort a minute or less, until it reduces to about one-third. Add the chard and rest of the butter and cook for 2 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chard is completely warm. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and some black pepper.


Divide the chard among individual serving bowls, spoon some tahini sauce on top, and scatter with pine nuts. Finally, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with some paprika, if you like.

Janine Levy is a professional caterer, restaurant consultant and she teaches private cooking classes in Raanana, Israel.

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