A Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World
From the James Beard Award-winning, much-loved cookbook author and authority: an around-the-world collection of recipes from the global Jewish diaspora—an essential book of cooking and culture. We feature two favorites from this beautiful book: Double-Lemon Roast Chicken and Flourless Chocolate Cake. They make a meal fit for queens and kings.
Driven by a passion for discovery, King Solomon is said to have sent ships to all corners of the ancient world, initiating a mass cross-pollination of culinary cultures that continues to bear fruit today. With King Solomon’s appetites and explorations in mind, here celebrated author Joan Nathan gathers more than 170 recipes that span the millennia: from classics like Yemenite Chicken Soup with Dill, Cilantro, and Parsley; Spinach and Feta Bourekas; Hummus with Preserved Lemon and Cumin; and Hamantaschen with Poppy Seed or Chocolate Filling…to contemporary riffs on traditional dishes such as Smokey Shakshuka with Tomatoes, Peppers, and Eggplant; Homemade Herbed Labneh with Beets and Puy Lentils; Baghdadi Chicken with Rice, Coconut, and Cilantro; and Roman Ricotta Cheese Torte. We travel with Joan from India to France, from Italy to Mexico, from El Salvador to Israel and, of course, all across North America, in a gorgeously illustrated culinary exploration that is filled with fascinating historical details, personal histories, and fantastic recipes that showcase the diversity of Jewish cuisine. It is the most ambitious and satisfying book of Joan Nathan’s stellar, four decades-long career.
Double-Lemon Roast Chicken
Wherever I am, comfort food is roast chicken. Like many people, I learned from Julia Child. As I travel the world I have added to and subtracted from the dish. Now I pop one of my preserved lemons into the belly of the chicken, season it with fresh herbs, za’atar, and sumac, and scatter carrots, celery, zucchini, black olives, and sun-dried or fresh tomatoes around for an easy, beautiful, and— most important—delicious and colorful one-pot meal. I used to serve the chicken whole, but now I cut it up and surround it with the vegetables and sprinkle every- thing with the preserved lemon from the cavity. For Passover, I use artichokes with the chicken as one of my main courses at the Seder.
1 whole 4-pound (1 4/5 – kilo) chicken
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons za’atar (optional)
1 teaspoon sumac
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 preserved lemon, divided
5 cloves garlic, peeled
Handful of fresh thyme sprigs, divided
Handful of rosemary sprigs, divided
Handful of sage leaves, divided 1 onion, cut into roughly 8 pieces
2 lemons, cut widthwise in thin circles
¾ cup (175 ml) white wine
1 celery stalk, 1 carrot, peeled, 1 fennel bulb, and/or 1 zucchini, all chopped into 2-inch pieces, or a handful of Brussels sprouts, black olives, and sun-dried tomatoes or a fresh tomato, cut up.
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper, za’atar if you like, ands sumac. Then rub the outside with the olive oil.
- Put the chicken in a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Fill the cavity with half the preserved lemon, 2 garlic cloves, and a sprig each of the thyme, rosemary, and sage. Cut up the remaining preserved lemon and scatter it with the remaining cloves of garlic, the onion, and the rest of the thyme, rosemary, and sage, as well as the regular lemon slices, around the chicken. Add enough wine just to let the chicken sit in the liquid. You can do this the night before and cover with tin foil in your refrigerator.
- When ready to cook, remove the chicken from the refrigerator for about a half hour to return to room temperature. Here is where you can be creative. Add cut-up celery, carrots, zucchini, and/or fennel, Brussels sprouts, black olives, and sun-dried or fresh tomatoes, or leave as is.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, then roast the chicken until it is golden brown and crispy, about an hour and 15 minutes, or until the internal temperature says 160.
- Cut the chicken into roughly 8 pieces, place them on a platter, spoon the vegetables and juices with the preserved lemon and lemon slices over and around the chicken, and serve.
Flourless Chocolate Cake
I know many good cooks but none who entertains as joyously and effortlessly as Injy Farat-Lew. More often than not, when Injy and her husband, Jason, invite friends for lunch or dinner at their sprawling home on Martha’s Vineyard, she will serve this elegant flourless chocolate cake for dessert.
Injy was born into an Egyptian-Jewish family. Her grandfather Emmanuel Mizrahy Pasha was one of the few Jews to serve as Pasha, or financial counselor, to King Fuad I, the father of King Farouk. In 1961, when Injy was twelve and five years after Gamal Abdel Nasser’s 1956 revolution, the family fled to Paris from Cairo, leaving this regal life forever.
After studying medicine in Paris, Injy met Jason, also a doctor, on a trip cruising down the Nile. Cairo and Paris are far cries from Martha’s Vineyard where Jason is an obstetrician, but Injy has made this island her home and uses nearby farms as sources for ingredients. Because she likes to make food that is easy and delicious for her ever-appearing guests, this flourless chocolate cake—a cake that has been around since Europeans started using chocolate and has wandered as much as Injy’s family—is a favorite dessert. It was a big hit the year that Injy brought the cake to our Passover Seder. I like to serve it covered with colorful berries.
yield: 8 to 10 servings
8 ounces (226 grams) good bittersweet chocolate such as Caillebaut or Guittard
8 tablespoons (1 stick/ 113 grams) unsalted butter or coconut oil
6 large eggs, separated
¾ cup (150 grams) sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
Unsweetened cocoa for dusting
Raspberries and blueberries for topping
Whipped cream or ice cream (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9- or 10-inch spring-form pan with spray or a little of the butter or coconut oil.
- Melt the chocolate and the butter or coconut oil in a double boiler or in a bowl in the microwave for a little more than a minute. Let cool.
- In the bowl of an electric stand mixer using the whip attachment, beat the egg whites with 1⁄2 cup (100 grams) of the sugar and the salt until soft peaks form. In a separate bowl, whip the yolks with the remaining 1⁄4 cup (50 grams) sugar and vanilla. Using a spatula, slowly stir the chocolate in with the egg yolk mixture. Then carefully fold in the egg whites. Don’t over-mix or it will deflate.
- Bake for 28 to 35 minutes, or until the cake is fully set around the edges. You want it to be slightly gooey in the center.
- Let cool in the pan for a few minutes, then remove from pan to cool completely, and dust with cocoa.
- Serve topped with berries and, if you like, with whipped cream or ice cream.
Excerpted from KING SOLOMON’S TABLE by Joan Nathan. Copyright © 2017 by Random House. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Joan was born in Providence, Rhode Island. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a master’s degree in French literature and earned a master’s in public administration from Harvard University. For three years she lived in Jerusalem, where she worked for Mayor Teddy Kollek. In 1974, while working for New York City Mayor Abraham Beame, she co-founded the Ninth Avenue Food Festival. The mother of three grown children, Ms. Nathan lives with her husband, attorney Allan Gerson, in Washington, D.C., and in Martha’s Vineyard.