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Jewish Recipes --> Recipes --> Jewish Cooking --> Gil Marks

Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World Book Review by Norene Gilletz

Vegetarian Dishes from Prize-winning Cookbook are Right on the Mark!

The "mark" of a good chef is one who leaves his culinary options open and Gil Marks lives up to his name once again. His latest book, Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World, won the prestigious 2005 James Beard Award in the vegetarian category!

Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World by Gil Marks

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This outstanding collection of 300 vegetarian dishes has been woven together with cultural and historical details that will intrigue armchair travellers, history buffs and cooks alike. Olive Trees and Honey will take you on an exciting global journey, allowing you to experience the way Jews have been eating meatless meals for centuries. Unique seasonings and condiments add regional flavor to simple recipes, letting you experience how Jewish communities around the world prepared their food.

Gil Marks is a rabbi, historian, chef, cookbook author, teacher and expert on Jewish cooking. He has no professional training, but his mother encouraged him and his siblings to cook and experiment, even if they made a mess. He told me that his paternal grandfather once set the house on fire while trying to make coffee in an electric coffee pot - on the stove!

When I recently interviewed him by telephone, Marks declared "Cooking is an art, but baking is a science." He loves to prepare fancy meals for friends in his small, cramped upper West Side kitchen in New York.

Olive Trees and Honey includes an exciting array of vegetarian dishes for any occasion on the Jewish calendar, from festivals to everyday meals. For Passover, dishes include Ukrainian Beet Soup (Borscht), Turkish Sweet-and-Sour Artichokes (Anjinaras), Turkish Leek Patties (Keftes de Prassa), Moroccan Mashed Potato Casserole (Batata bil Firan) and Calcutta Curried Vegetables (Subzi). These are also suitable for year-round enjoyment.

Marks writes about the versatility of matzo, which is "ground to make matzo meal or finely ground to make matzo cake meal. Crumbled and ground matzo is used to create an imaginative array of Passover dishes, including stuffings, puddings, casseroles, pancakes, fritters, dumplings, pastries and cakes. Since matzo meal has an intriguing nutty flavour, it is often used for binding and breading throughout the year as well as on Passover.

"The Bible forbids the consumption of chametz (leavened grain) during Passover. Among Ashkenazim, an interdiction emerged against eating legumes (kitniyot) on Passover as well as rice, millet and some seeds: poppy, sesame, caraway, coriander and mustard. On the other hand, Sephardim, prolific rice and legume consumers, not only rejected these prohibitions, but frequently featured these foods at the Passover Seder. The restriction of kitniyot on Passover remains one of the major differences between Ashkenazim and other Jewish communities."

World of Jewish Desserts

Sept 2005 - 2014 - Kosher Recipes - Kosher Cooking - Jewish Cooking - Jewish Recipes - Jewish Foods