In "Jerusalem: A Cookbook," Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi write: "Consider this: there are Greek Orthodox monks in this city; Russian Orthodox priests; Hasidic Jews originating from Poland; non-Orthodox Jews from Tunisia, from Libya, from France, or from Britain; there are Sephardic Jews that have been here for generations; there are Palestinian Muslims from the West Bank..." and so on. And yet, for a city of such complex culture, the cooking is remarkably uncomplicated and unassuming.
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For Ottolenghi, who grew up in the Jewish west side of the city, and Tamimi, who was raised in the Muslim east side, and who now have restaurants around London, "Jerusalem" follows their bestselling first book, "Ottolenghi." This is their food of Jerusalem, what they like to cook, the dishes that remained with them after moving away -- coarse chopped salads, stuffed peppers, meatballs with favas, and fenugreek cake. You don't know if you're cooking from the east or west, Muslim or Jewish -- rather, it's the food of the city, and you can love all of Jerusalem.
Don't bother dog-earing pages, or you'll destroy the book. Better to just slowly work your way through it. I began with this warm and mellow yogurt soup. Scallions and herbs are tempered by the yogurt, the ingredient that moderates and unites so much of the cooking of this city.
First you cook the barley and onions and then use its cooking broth to heat and thicken a base of yogurt and eggs. It's a bit unnerving, like cooking custard is, as you daringly heat the mixture and will it not to curdle. But then it all comes together, somewhere between porridge and soup, each spoonful threaded with herbs.
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).
Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.