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. 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. 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! 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!
My brief blogging hiatus (noted or not) was due to my recent duties as Mother of the Bride. Yael and Paul took their longstanding relationship to a new level when they married recently. The ceremony was at our apartment, and was truly a family affair. There were just thirty guests, and as the critical moments arrived, my sister-in-law Marilyn was getting the final wrinkles out of the wedding dress, while daughter-in-law Miriam put the final touches on the bouquets and boutonnieres. Noa, as bridesmaid, did just about everything . Phil played the processional, the Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind” which he had to transcribe, since he couldn’t find sheet music of the right version. Abby and Elena entered, as flower girls (very serious), then Yael came to the chuppah. The chuppah was held by Paul’s brother and two nieces, and by Kwame, Noa’s boyfriend. David, Yael’s brother, performed the ceremony. Paul’s mother, Maria, and I, lit candles. After the wineglass was definitively smashed, we all yelled “Mazal tov” and went up to the roof for pictures.
Then off to Beauty and Essex, on the Lower East Side, for a brunch with forty additional friends and family.
I find it interesting how wedding often seem to be all about the bride, in their current formulations. And Bridezilla reigns! But in the planning and execution of their wedding, intentionally or not, Yael and Paul affirmed my deep belief that the wedding is not about the couple, so much as it is about the larger society. We use weddings (and funerals as well), as times to be together, to affirm the importance of individuals, but also the relevance of the larger group. We were shocked that 11 friends and family in California (most of whom we did not expect could come), were able to join us. That said so much!
And everything went so well that there are no stories to tell, except the happy ones of being with the people we loved and being grateful for the efforts they made to be with us.
Mazal tov to all!