Israel Eats

Israel Eats is a delicious compilation of stories, recipes, and stunning photographs of Israel’s food culture. It’s a gorgeous coffee table book and one of my new favorite cookbooks.

Steven Rothfeld, a world-class photographer, spent several months traveling through Israel to explore the vibrant food scene. The locals guided him from one great restaurant to another and to growers and producers of fine foods as well. Rothfeld’s friend, award-winning chef, baker, and author Nancy Silverton contributes ten dishes inspired by the delicious fusion styles that are taking the Israeli culinary community and the world by storm.

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From north to south, Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, chefs and food growers have branched out from a vast array of cultural influences and traditions in Israel’s history to create fresh, contemporary flavors. Rothfeld writes, “I did not begin with a list of what I expected to find. I let it find me. I began my research on the ground, sniffing around, talking to people who told me about other people, who called their friends to tell them about what I was doing. I zigzagged north and south and east and west and appeared at the door and asked the chef or cook or baker or cheese maker what he or she wanted to prepare for me. This cuisine is a vivid reflection of the kaleidoscope culture of this country. It is unique and could only be here, now.”

Nancy's Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Za'atar and Mint Yogurt Sauce from Israel Eats. Photographs and text by Steven Rothfeld, reprinted by permission of Gibbs Smith.

Nancy’s Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Za’atar and Mint Yogurt Sauce from Israel Eats. Photographs and text by Steven Rothfeld, reprinted by permission of Gibbs Smith.

Charred Eggplant with Spicy Tomato Sauce from Israel Eats. Photographs and text by Steven Rothfeld, reprinted by permission of Gibbs Smith.

Charred Eggplant with Spicy Tomato Sauce from Israel Eats. Photographs and text by Steven Rothfeld, reprinted by permission of Gibbs Smith.

Uri Jeremias, Chef and Owner of Uri Buri in Akko from Israel Eats. Photographs and text by Steven Rothfeld, reprinted by permission of Gibbs Smith.

Uri Jeremias, Chef and Owner of Uri Buri in Akko from Israel Eats. Photographs and text by Steven Rothfeld, reprinted by permission of Gibbs Smith.

Nancy's Cauliflower Focaccia from Israel Eats. Photographs and text by Steven Rothfeld, reprinted by permission of Gibbs Smith.

Nancy’s Cauliflower Focaccia from Israel Eats. Photographs and text by Steven Rothfeld, reprinted by permission of Gibbs Smith.

Muntaha Naam, Forager in Akko from Israel Eats. Photographs and text by Steven Rothfeld, reprinted by permission of Gibbs Smith.

Muntaha Naam, Forager in Akko from Israel Eats. Photographs and text by Steven Rothfeld, reprinted by permission of Gibbs Smith.

Sweet Potatoes with Creme Fraiche, Feta and Dill from Israel Eats. Photographs and text by Steven Rothfeld, reprinted by permission of Gibbs Smith.

Sweet Potatoes with Creme Fraiche, Feta and Dill from Israel Eats. Photographs and text by Steven Rothfeld, reprinted by permission of Gibbs Smith.

Iris Arazuni, the daughters of farmers Avi and Tamat Arazuni, at her home in Ezuz from Israel Eats. Photographs and text by Steven Rothfeld, reprinted by permission of Gibbs Smith.

Iris Arazuni, the daughters of farmers Avi and Tamat Arazuni, at her home in Ezuz from Israel Eats. Photographs and text by Steven Rothfeld, reprinted by permission of Gibbs Smith.

 

Charred Eggplant with Spicy Tomato Sauce
Recipe from Israel Eats by Steven Rothfeld, reprinted by permission of Gibbs Smith.

From Steven: “Spicy is happy and sweet is comfort,” Harel Zakaim told me as I put a forkful of this peppery eggplant into my mouth at his vegan restaurant, Zakaim. His decision to be vegan is grounded less in the desire be healthy than it is in the desire to be happy. “Being vegan is something to talk about with friends who refuse to talk about politics,” he says, and “cooking is the best way I know of to communicate.” Don’t forget to serve challah with this life-affirming dish.

Ingredients
1 small globe eggplant
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large green chili, sliced
4 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1⁄2 pound (230 g) tomatoes, coarsely chopped
Salt
Tahini
Green chilies, minced

Directions
Cook the eggplant on all sides over a high open flame until the skin is charred and the flesh is cooked but still firm (use tongs or place eggplant on a metal skewer). Let cool to the touch, then peel off skin from eggplant.

Slice eggplant into a fan, leaving stem intact.

Preheat the broiler.

Heat the oil in a heavy medium skillet over medium heat.

Add the sliced chili and saut é until golden around the edges, about 1 minute; stand back, as oil may splatter on initial contact with chili. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, season with salt, and let stand 1 minute without stirring, then cook until a thick sauce forms, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.

Dip both sides of eggplant into sauce. Transfer sauce to an ovenproof baking dish. Arrange eggplant atop sauce.

Broil until eggplant is scorched, 10 to 15 minutes. Garnish with tahini and minced chilies and serve immediately. Serves 2

 

Sweet Potatoes with Crème Fraîche, Feta, and Dill
Recipe from Israel Eats by Steven Rothfeld, reprinted by permission of Gibbs Smith.

From Steven: This is quite simply one of the best ways to eat a yam. Benny Ben Israel is a gifted innovator who can feed the soul with the simplest, freshest ingredients. I enjoy eating these sweet potatoes without accompaniment because I don’t want anything to distract from the perfect harmony of the exquisite flavors. Make sure each and every ingredient is of the highest quality.

Ingredients
4 pounds (1.8 kg) salt
10 small sweet potatoes, washed but not peeled
1 cup (8 ounces; 240 ml)
crème fraîche 8 ounces (150 g)
feta cheese, crumbled 1⁄3 cup (13 g)
chopped fresh dill

Directions
Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).

Place the salt on a baking sheet. Nestle the sweet potatoes in the salt so they are covered up halfway. Bake until potatoes are completely cooked through, about 40 minutes.

Arrange the sweet potatoes on a serving platter. Cut open each potato halfway. Spoon some cr ème fraîche into each potato. Sprinkle with feta and garnish with dill.

Serve immediately. Serves 4-6

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5 Comments on Israel Eats

  1. Marci
    May 22, 2016 at 10:20 pm (2 years ago)

    Yum!!

    Reply
  2. Lillie
    May 23, 2016 at 1:43 am (2 years ago)

    Beautiful post. I think I’ll make the sweet potatoes.

    Reply
  3. Samuel
    May 23, 2016 at 2:01 am (2 years ago)

    Looks good!!(Especially the eggplant:))

    Reply
  4. Fran
    May 23, 2016 at 1:32 pm (2 years ago)

    Looks great! Pretty and delishous.

    Reply
  5. Rhoda
    May 27, 2016 at 4:19 am (2 years ago)

    Best yet! Going to try some of these recipes within the week.. Absolutely yummy.

    Reply

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