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Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in Franceby Joan Nathan
Synopses & Reviews
Salade de Blettes
(MOROCCAN BEET LEAF OR SWISS CHARD SALAD)
Moroccan cooks usually make this tasty salad with Swiss chard, but I have seen it also with beet leaves. Eaten all year round, it is prepared by Moroccans on Rosh Hashanah for their Sephardic Seder, when they say a series of blessings over squash, leeks, dates, pomegranates, black- eyed peas, apples, the head of a fish or a lamb, and Swiss chard and beet greens.
⅓ cup peanut, grapeseed, or vegetable oil
2 bunches of Swiss chard or beet leaves with stems, coarsely chopped (about 1 pound)
4 cloves garlic, minced
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon harissa, or to taste
¼ cup white vinegar or lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a medium skillet. Toss in the garlic, sautéing until just fragrant, then add the chard and cook for a few minutes. Sprinkle on a little salt, the paprika, cumin, and harissa, and cook for another minute, stirring. Pour the vinegar or lemon juice into the pan, and cook for another minute, or until it has begun to evaporate. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.
Yields 4-6 servings.
Preserved lemons are an indispensable item in my pantry cupboard. I use them all the time and believe they are best made at home. Although I have tasted lemons preserved in water or an equal mix of lemon juice and water, I much prefer them preserved in pure lemon juice. Many people scrape out and discard the pulp when using the lemons, but I often include the preserved pulp. I blend a preserved lemon in with my hummus, sprinkle the rind on grilled fish, and stuff my chicken with a whole lemon, and I dice preserved lemons and mix them into salads, rice dishes, and vegetables. In addition to regular lemons, you can also use Meyer lemons or, as Irene Weil does, even kumquats.
8 lemons (about 1½ pounds)
About ½ cup kosher salt
1 cup fresh lemon juice, plus more if necessary
2 tablespoons olive oil
Cut off the very ends of each lemon. Cut each one lengthwise into quarters, cutting to but not through the opposite end. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of salt into the cut sides of each lemon. Put the lemons in a large jar (it’s fine if you have to squeeze them in, because they will shrink), and cover completely with lemon juice. Let sit for a day. The next day, if they are not covered with lemon juice, pour a thin film of olive oil over the lemons. This will help keep them sealed while they preserve. Put the jar in the refrigerator and allow to cure for 2 to 3 weeks. Before using, scrape off the pulp if desired.
Yield: 8 Preserved Lemons
Moroccan Chicken with Olives and Preserved Lemons
When Celine Bénitah cooks this dish, she blanches the olives for a minute to get rid of the bitterness, a step that I never bother with. If you keep the pits in, just warn your guests in order to avoid any broken teeth Céline also uses the marvelous Moroccan spice mixture ras el hanout, which includes, among thirty other spices, cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, cloves, and paprika. You can find it at Middle Eastern markets or through the Internet
What is Jewish cooking in France? In a journey that was a labor of love, Joan Nathan traveled the country to discover the answer and, along the way, unearthed a treasure trove of recipes and the often moving stories behind them.
Nathan takes us into kitchens in Paris, Alsace, and the Loire Valley; she visits the bustling Belleville market in Little Tunis in Paris; she breaks bread with Jewish families around the observation of the Sabbath and the celebration of special holidays. All across France, she finds that Jewish cooking is more alive than ever: traditional dishes are honored, yet have acquired a certain French finesse. And completing the circle of influences: following Algerian independence, there has been a huge wave of Jewish immigrants from North Africa, whose stuffed brik and couscous, eggplant dishes and tagines—as well as their hot flavors and Sephardic elegance—have infiltrated contemporary French cooking.
All that Joan Nathan has tasted and absorbed is here in this extraordinary book, rich in a history that dates back 2,000 years and alive with the personal stories of Jewish people in France today.
About the Author
Joan Nathan 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 Israel, where she worked for Mayor Teddy Kollek of Jerusalem. In 1974, working for Mayor Abraham Beame in New York, she cofounded the Ninth Avenue Food Festival. Ms. Nathan is a frequent contributor to The New York Times and other publications. She is the author of numerous books including Jewish Cooking in America and The New American Cooking, both of which won the James Beard Award and the IACP Award. She was the host of the nationally syndicated PBS television series Jewish Cooking in America with Joan Nathan, based on the book. The mother of three grown children, Ms. Nathan lives in Washington, D.C., and on Martha’s Vineyard with her husband, Allan Gerson.
Table of Contents
Appetizers — Soups — Salads — Breads, both sacred and secular — Fish — Chicken, duck, and goose — Beef, veal, and lamb — Quiches, kugels, omelets, and savory souffl
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