Food Celebrities Showcase Delis, Israeli Fare at Jewish Food Fest

By BARBARA SILVERSTEIN

The Great Big Jewish Food Fest, a 10-day virtual lineup of free programming celebrating Jewish cuisine, ran May 19-May 28. Jewish chefs and food personalities led a variety of cooking classes and hosted discussions on Jewish food and culinary traditions.

Two of the events featured Canadian food personalities: Toronto-based writer David Sax, author of Save-the-Deli, and television cooking show host Gail Simmons.

Sax’s event kicked off the festival. He interviewed delicatessen owners from New York City, Chicago, Houston, San Francisco and Portland, Ore. about the impact of COVID on their restaurants.

The owners were all candid. Business is definitely down, but take-out orders and catering, they said, are sustaining them.

Toronto-born Simmons, a trained culinary expert, is best known for her role as a judge on Bravo’s Emmy-winning series, Top Chef. In addition, she was the host of Iron Chef Canada this year. She lives in New York City, where she is also a food columnist and cookbook author.

For the food fest, she hosted a Shabbat dinner event with cookbook author Adeena Sussman, and chefs and restaurateurs Michael Solomonov and Einat Admony. The presenters prepared different courses for a Shabbat dinner.

Within the last year or two, Solomonov, Admony, and Sussman, have all released cookbooks featuring Israeli cuisine.

Simmons introduced Solomonov, a James Beard Award-winning chef, author and restaurateur, as the “Hummus King.” His recipe for 5-Minute Hummus comes from his latest cookbook, Israeli Soul.

The recipe for hummus pitryot, a hummus and mushroom dish, is from his award-winning cookbook Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking.

Admony, the owner of several New York City restaurants, prepared Braised Chicken with Olives and Citrus. This recipe can be found in Shuk: From Market to Table, The Heart of Israeli Home Cooking.

The recipes for Sussman’s side dishes, Jeweled Rice and Tahini-Glazed Carrots, are from Sababa: Fresh Sunny Flavors from My Israeli Kitchen.

The festival uploaded the recipes of many of the presenters on the event page at https://www.jewishfoodfest.org/recipes so that participants could buy the ingredients in advance, and cook along at the various events.

CJR readers can directly download Solomonov’s, Admony’s and Sussman’s recipes at http://canadianjewishrecord.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/90997-friday_1pm_great_shabbat_cook_along.pdf

Copyright restrictions prevent Sussman’s and Admony’s recipes from being reproduced here. However, the publisher of Shuk sent me another one of Admony’s chicken recipes, Dorot Wot: Ethiopian Chicken, which we are authorized to publish.

Shuk Doro Wot
Shuk Doro Wot (Photo: Quentin Bacon)

Solomonov has garnered six James Beard Awards, the most prestigious culinary honour in the United States.

Last year, his Israeli-style restaurant Zahav, in Philadelphia, was named best American restaurant.

Solomonov was in Toronto about a year ago to do a culinary event for the Jerusalem Foundation of Canada. At the time he generously gave me permission to reprint any of his recipes.

With COVID, however, Zahav and the other 15 restaurants he co-owns with Cook have all been operating at a limited capacity.

5-MINUTE HUMMUS WITH QUICK TEHINA SAUCE (Israeli Soul)

Tehina Sauce

1 garlic clove 
1-16-ounce (500 g) jar tahini
Juice of 1 lemon 
1 tsp (5 ml) ground cumin
1 tbsp (15 ml) kosher salt
1–1½ cups (250 – 375 ml) ice water

Hummus 

2 19-ounce (540 ml) cans chickpeas

Basic Tehina Sauce: Nick off a piece of the garlic (about a quarter of the clove) and drop it into the bowl of a food processor. Squeeze the lemon juice into the bowl. Pour the tehina on top, making sure to scrape it all out of the container, and add the cumin and salt.

Process until the mixture looks peanut buttery, about one minute, then stream in the ice water a little at a time with the motor running. Process until the mixture is smooth and creamy and lightens to the colour of dry sand. 

Hummus: Add the chickpeas to the tehina sauce and process for about 3 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as you go, until the chickpeas are completely processed and the hummus is smooth and uniform in colour.

HUMMUS PITRYOT (Zahav) 

1½ cups (375 ml) Hen-of-the-Woods mushrooms
2 slivered garlic cloves
2 tbsp (30 ml) canola oil
1 tbsp (15 ml) fresh dill 
Olive oil for serving
Chopped parsley for garnish

Break up the mushrooms into 1– 2-inch pieces. Place the oil on the bottom of a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms along with the garlic. 

Cook, stirring until the mushrooms are brown and crisp, about 8 minutes. Add the dill and toss. 

Serve over Hummus-Tehina and top with chopped fresh parsley, paprika and olive oil.

DOROT WOT: ETHIOPIAN CHICKEN (Shuk)

2 tbsp (30 ml) kosher salt, divided
6 bone-in, skin-on chicken legs, separated into thighs and drumsticks 
1 tbsp (15 ml) lemon juice
¼ cup (60 ml) canola oil 
2 large onions, finely diced or chopped
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tsp (5ml) ground cumin
1 tsp (5ml) ground ginger
1 tsp (5ml) ground cardamom
1 tsp (5ml) ground turmeric
1 tsp (5ml) paprika
1 tsp (5ml) ground fenugreek seed or leaf
1 tsp (5ml) freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
2¼ cups (560 ml) homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock or water
Additional salt to taste for seasoning
Pepper to taste for seasoning

Rub the chicken with the lemon juice and 1 tbsp salt and let it sit for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil over medium heat in a heavy-based wide skillet or Dutch oven (large enough to hold the chicken in one snug layer). Add the onions and the remaining tbsp of salt, and sauté gently until fragrant, golden brown, and sweet, about 20 minutes. Do not let the onions brown. 

Add the garlic, cumin, ginger, cardamom, turmeric, paprika, fenugreek, and pepper and stir for a minute so the spices bloom in the oil. Nestle the chicken pieces and the eggs into the pan and pour in the broth. 

Cover the pan and adjust the heat to a solid simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes. Then remove the lid so the sauce will reduce and thicken a bit and continue to simmer another 45 – 60 minutes, until the chicken is very tender when poked with a knife and the juices run clear, or until the thickest part of the thigh or drumstick reaches 165°F (74°C) on an instant-read thermometer. 

Taste and adjust with more salt or pepper. Serve with flat bread or rice to mop up the sauce. Makes 6–8 servings.