Over at Cool Mom Picks, we make sure to cover award-winning children’s books each year, so we decided that it was only right for us here at Cool Mom Eats to cover the big award in cookbooks each year, too: the James Beard award. But how often are the James Beard award winning cookbooks really family-friendly? I mean, my kids weren’t exactly jumping up and down when they saw an Israeli cooking book on my kitchen counter.
So, as a real mom with real (i.e., picky) kids, I took a look at this year’s winner, Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook’s Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking to see which recipes, if any, would actually work for families.
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First, some background: This is way more than a cookbook. It’s Michael’s memoir about growing up with Israeli food and the tragic loss of his brother, to whom the cookbook is dedicated. It’s also inspired by his restaurant of the same name. So even without the recipes, this is worth a read.
But, the recipes!
I love mediterranean flavors and can’t wait to cook myself straight through this book. That said, my kids probably won’t eat any Chraime (whole white fish braised in tomato sauce, yum!) and may turn up their noses at Seared Chicken Livers. But there’s no reason why they wouldn’t like Chicken Schnitzel with Passion Fruit Tehina (which is basically fried chicken with dipping sauce), Date Molasses with Peanut Butter on Toast, or Pomegranate-Glazed Salmon (pictured), which is a simply grilled fish kabob brushed with a quick, sticky glaze.
Not to mention the hummus: This book offers about 10 different ways to make it and, according to the New York Times (photo above), all of them are world-class.
And the bread! Challah, pita, laffa. Yum.
You can tell that I’m sold, right? Even if you are, too—in theory—I get that some of you may be scared by the mention of whole fish, braising, date molasses, and pomegranate glaze. Many of the recipes in this book are more involved and call on more advanced cooking techniques than the books you probably pull out for quick weeknight inspiration. If you never desire to get more complicated than those easy 30-minute meals or hate the idea of looking for unfamiliar ingredients like Aleppo pepper and pomegranate molasses, this book is probably not for you. But if you’re willing to try a handful of new weeknight dinners with Middle Eastern flair and like the idea of having new recipes to experiment with on the weekends, you may get as excited about this book as I am.
And who knows, maybe if the kids fall in love with the flavors in a few of these gateway recipes, they’ll be willing to try some more adventuresome ones, too. Raising kids who are willing to try new things is a huge win in my book, which is a big reason why I’m loving this one.
You can find Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking by Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook at our affiliate Amazon or your local bookstore.