To Paris and London, via Jerusalem

I am an inveterate collector of cookbooks, preferably those of the “food porn” variety. I consider it a triumph when my creations look half as good as the photos in the books. And here I, the owner of my seventh Kindle,and an old iPad in my kitchen with most of my recipes, admit that those paper creations still rule. Three recent acquisitions have me entranced: “Jerusalem” by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, “Plenty” by Ottolenghi and “My Paris Kitchen” by David Lebovitz. I follow Leibovitz’s blog, and his account there of what went into creating his latest book chased me out to actually buy it. In fact the book is written so well that I am reading it cover to cover, like a novel, and have now gone to Duolingo to refresh my French in addition to learning Spanish. Who has time to hold down a full time job? Lebovitz has lived in Paris for ten years, and his blogs and this cookbook are as much about the daily experience as about the recipes.Having lived in three other countries (Israel, Canada, and Australia), I appreciate the quirky details he shares, as well as the (mostly) good humor he shows in dealing with various inefficiencies and craziness he encounters-like the bank that refused to let him pay a bill for 34 Euros because they didn’t have change for his 35 Euros! Ottolenghi is an Israeli and Tamimi aPalestinian, and they have three restaurants in London. Their recent cookbook “Jerusalem” shares the recipes from their homeland, while “Plenty” also treats vegetables in wonderful new ways, based on their restaurant experiences. Both are readable as well as cookable, but don’t quite approach Leibovitz”s “joie de vivre.” Daughter Yael made the “Very Full Tart” from “Plenty” (p. 84), and her iPhone picture inspired me. But she used a prepared crust, and my resolution for this year is to finally learn to make pies and pie crusts (that’s in addition to the French and Spanish studies) and so I decided to start with Leibovitz. I made the quiche crust on page 155 and left it in the fridge too long, so it had to warm up again before I could roll it out, but finally coaxed it to 14 inches and into the spring form pan. crust   Meanwhile I turned to “Plenty” and that tart recipe on page 84. Red and yellow peppers were heated on a sheet for 36 minutes at 425 degrees, with zucchini chunks and peeled sweet potato added 12 and 24 minutes in. Meanwhile sliced onions were slowly cooked in olive oil till sweet and brown, 30 minutes in my cast iron frying pan. Then the layering into the crust-onions first, cut vegetables and torn pepper pieces, topped then with feta and ricotta cheeses and cut cherry tomatoes. veggies   cheeses Finally the cup of cream and two eggs, well mixed, over all. Bake at 375 degrees for twice as long as the recipe says (an hour, not 25 minutes), let stand ten minutes and enjoy and enjoy again tomorrow cold for lunch, and the next day too! yum As to “My Paris Kitchen”, I am wanting to make every recipe I read.And I haven’t even given a thought to French cuisine since Julia Child provided my very first cookbook! And salted butter caramel sauce awaits!

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