Inspiration and motivation

Inspiration and motivation In honor of Hebrew Book Week, a look at some new and exciting cookbooks.

Avigail Maizlik's fun and friendly Cake Pops (photo credit: Courtesy)
Avigail Maizlik's fun and friendly Cake Pops
(photo credit: Courtesy)
I just love books – especially cookbooks. I must have more than 1,000 books in Hebrew, English and French at home that deal with cooking and baking from just about every angle possible.
And yet each time I open a new cookbook I get so excited. I feel as if a whole new world is opening up to me – the new subject matter, the color photographs, the smell of the printed paper and the incredible recipes.
The feeling is almost as exhilarating as preparing a steaming casserole or a sophisticated baked dish that I’ve concocted.
When I come upon a unique cookbook, it motivates me to action and sends me immediately back to the kitchen to cut, mix, fold, stir and bake.
Over the past month, I’ve been lucky enough to receive a few interesting new cookbooks, each of which describes how to make dishes in different and intelligent ways.
Hagit Bilia writes on the blog Saloona and is the author of The Kitchen Book. Bilia’s blog describes a woman who is constantly juggling her kids, husband, house and after-school activities, but somehow manages to cook dinner.
Every once in a while, she tries to take 15 minutes for herself to shop at Zara.
The stories in the cookbook are hilarious yet honest, and I bet just about every woman who reads it will recognize herself at some point. Bilia’s easy-to-prepare recipes have earned her quite a reputation and hundreds of thousands of people follow her blog. Her cookbook includes some recipes that have already been published on her blog, as well as new ones.
Rottem Lieberson’s blog, Tipul Bebishul (Cooking Therapy), has amassed tens of thousands of followers who are hungry and thirsty for each and every recipe she posts. Her blog has become one of the most popular and respected in the cooking trade, and I totally understand why, since it exudes an incredible happiness, love and desire to explore food.
Lieberson began her career in the culinary world of New York City. After completing a degree in business administration, she decided to fulfill her dream and went on to study at FCI (known today as the International Culinary Center), one of the best cooking schools in the world.
Lieberson fell in love with the kitchen and worked for a few years in prestigious restaurants in New York.
In chef and food critic Avigail Maizlik’s fifth cookbook, Pashut Ta’im L’yeladim, she presents recipes that are fun to prepare, with children front and center. The recipes involve lots of creativity, and many of them require materials that kids love, such as chocolate, candy and marshmallow. Others involve the creation of alligators or cute baby penguins, pandas or even a monkey.
In honor of Hebrew Book Week, which runs until June 25 and celebrates all manner of Hebrew literature, I’ve highlighted three recipes from each of these chefs and authors.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.
From ‘The Kitchen Book’ by Hagit Bilia, 200 pages, NIS 88, Modan Publishers.
Makes 6 servings
■ 350 gr. fresh peas (or defrosted frozen) or organic
■ 1 potato, grated
■ 1 zucchini, grated
■ 1 onion, grated
■ 2 Tbsp. olive oil, or 2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated (if desired)
■ 3 Tbsp Quaker oats, or spelt flour, or chickpea flour
■ Roasted chickpeas
■ 2 eggs
■ 1 cup of mixed herbs (parsley, dill, mint, basil, thyme, coriander), chopped
■ Salt and pepper, to taste
■ Cumin, turmeric or paprika (if desired)
■ Oil for frying
■ 1 cup bread crumbs
■ 2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
■ Salt and pepper, to taste
Cook the peas in a pot with ¼ cup boiling water for 10 minutes until they become soft and have absorbed all the water. Using a hand blender, blend the peas until smooth. Add the grated vegetables, olive oil or Parmesan cheese, oats, eggs, herbs and spices. Coat your hands with either water or oil and prepare balls with a 5-6 cm. diameter. On a plate, mix the bread crumbs with the sesame seeds and season with salt and pepper.
Heat a skillet with oil for frying. Roll the balls in the spiced bread crumbs and then fry for 2-3 minutes on both sides until they are nicely browned. Serve with yogurt, sour cream or tehina and salad.
Alternative: If you prefer to bake the pea balls, fry the grated vegetables before mixing them with the other ingredients. Cook the balls in the oven for 15 minutes until they become firm.
From ‘Mitbah Ishi’ (Hebrew) by Rottem Lieberson, 220 pages, NIS 179, self-published
Makes 6 servings
■ 500 gr. lima beans, soaked in water overnight
■ 1 Tbsp olive oil
■ 2 onions, quartered
■ 4 garlic cloves, whole
■ 1 sprig of sage
For dipping:
■ Salt
■ 1-2 green or red chili peppers, chopped
■ 3 Tbsp. olive oil
■ 1 red onion, chopped
■ Contents from 1 squeezed tomato
Place lima beans in a pot with lots of water, a tablespoon of oil (which will prevent the water from flowing over when it boils), onion, garlic, sage and bring to a boil. Remove any foam that accumulates on the surface.
Turn the flame down and simmer while partially covered for four hours until the beans are completely soft. By now, it should be a thick paste. If all the water evaporates before it’s fully cooked, just add a little boiling water. Transfer the paste to a bowl and season with salt. Add the chopped chili peppers, olive oil, chopped red onion, and the contents of the squeezed tomato.
Serve with a serving spoon, or as a dip with bread or crackers. If you put a cheesecloth bag full of lima beans in your cholent, you’ll get an amazing surprise.
From ‘Pashut Ta’im L’yeladim’ by Avigail Maizlik, 137 pages, NIS 78, Dani Sfarim
Makes 20 cake pops
■2-3 store-bought cakes in a variety of colors: light, chocolate, marble. Or leftover cake
■ 100 ml. whipping cream, parve or dairy
■ 200 gr. bittersweet chocolate, broken into squares
■ 1 tsp. oil
■ 200-300 gr. white chocolate, milk chocolate or bittersweet chocolate, broken into squares
■ 1 Tbsp. oil, cocoa butter, or butter
■ Lollipop sticks
■ Colored sprinkles
■ Styrofoam block to hold cake pop sticks
Crumble the cakes into a bowl.
To prepare the ganache, melt the chocolate with a teaspoon of oil in a microwaveable bowl or in a bain-marie (double boiler). When the chocolate is melted, add the cream in a thin stream while stirring with a whisk until mixed well. Pour the cream over the cake pieces and stir.
To prepare the cake pops, form balls with a 3-4-cm. diameter that are as uniform in size as possible. Alternatively, instead of making balls, you can form hearts, squares, triangles or any shape you like.
Place on a tray and put in the fridge for 30 minutes. Remove the balls and poke a lollipop stick in each one, but no more than ¹⁄3 of the way through the ball! To prepare the icing, melt the chocolate with a tablespoon of oil, butter or cocoa butter in a bain-marie.
Mix until smooth and remove from flame.
Dip each cake pop in the melted chocolate. Make sure it gets completely covered all around and then place stick in the Styrofoam holder to dry. Put a few sprinkles on each one before they harden. Put in freezer for two hours.