Orly Ziv is a well-known Tel Aviv–area cooking teacher who leads culinary tours in Israel. Her cookbook “Cook in Israel: Home Cooking Inspi-ration” builds on this expertise to give American cooks a taste of what she’s cooking for her students, family and friends. She draws on her Jewish Greek heritage, the influences of the Israeli experience, local ingredients and her background as a nutritionist.
Ziv relies on her years of teaching to make sure the recipes are uncomplicated, but the 100 recipes (mostly vegetarian or fish) are not just for family dinners. Those I tried were worthy of a dinner party — elegant and full of unexpected tastes.
Each dish is accompanied by a photograph (by Kate Martinelli), and some of the trickier recipes have step-by-step photos, but Ziv’s intent is not only to teach the recipe, but to have us use it as a starting point for our own variations and tastes.
The cookbook is self-published and available for purchase as a hardcover or as a series of Kindle ebooks online. (See www.cookinisrael.com.)
Most ingredients are available at large supermarkets, but a few might mean a trip to a Middle Eastern or specialty food store. The recipes below are adapted to reflect my experiences in preparing them. See my notes at the end of the recipes for more information. Both of these recipes feature tehina, toasted sesame seed paste — one of my favorite ingredients. Before measuring, stir the tehina until smooth.
Roasted Cauliflower with Tehina and Silan
(Adapted from “Cook in Israel”)
2 lbs. cauliflower
1⁄4 cup olive oil
2-3 Tbs. tehina
2-3 tsp. silan (date honey)
pomegranate seeds or dried cranberries
toasted pine nuts
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Trim cauliflower into florets, reserving stems for another use. Toss florets with oil and salt. Roast on a baking sheet until tender and edges have browned, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Taste, adding salt if needed. Arrange in serving dish and drizzle with lemon juice, tehina and silan, in that order. Garnish with chopped parsley, pomegranate seeds and pine nuts.
Note: Date honey is a thick syrup made from dates. Substitute pomegranate molasses for the silan and use toasted, sliced, blanched almonds in place of pine nuts if desired. Thin tehina with a little water if necessary before drizzling.
Fish with Green Tehina Sauce
(Adapted from “Cook in Israel”)
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
4 tilapia filets (or any white fish)
1⁄2 cup cooked chickpeas (optional)
1⁄2 cup tehina
1⁄2 cup finely chopped parsley
1⁄2 cup finely chopped cilantro
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
juice of 1 lemon, plus more to taste
1 cup water
1⁄2 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pour oil in a thin, even layer to coat the bottom of a baking dish. Cover bottom with tomato slices. Top with fish. Scatter chickpeas on top.
Process tehina, parsley, cilantro, garlic, lemon juice, water and salt with a hand blender or in a food processor until smooth. Taste and add more lemon juice if needed. Pour sauce over fish and bake for about 20 minutes, until sauce thickens and fish is cooked through.
Note: I used about 11⁄2 lbs. of cod and added an extra cup of chickpeas, which worked well. I also reserved a few of the tomato slices to put on top of the sauce before the dish went into the oven for a baked in garnish.
Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. Her columns alternate with those of Josie A.G. Shapiro. She blogs at www.clickblogappetit.com. Contact her at email@example.com.