Israeli Soul: Easy, Essential, Delicious

I had never heard of hummusiyas before reading Israeli Soul: Easy, Essential, Delicious by Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook (Rue Martin Books 2018; $35). It turns out word refers to the numerous restaurants in Israel specializing in hummus (who knew, right?).  The two authors, who own several award winning restaurants include Zahav (they won a James Beard Award for their cookbook of the same name), methodically researched traditional Israeli recipes for their book–the kind passed down through generations. Describing them as the “soul”of Israel, Solomonov then adapted these traditional recipes so they could easily be prepared in American kitchens. Their 5-Minute Hummus With Quick Tehina Sauce exemplifies that concept as do the 24 toppings for hummus also included in the book.

Michael Solomonov Making 5-Minute Hummus

                  Solomonov and Cook timed the release of their beautifully photographed book to coincide with the anniversary of the founding of Israel 70 years ago. But I thought it would also be nice to talk about Israeli Soul and share recipes in conjunction with Hanukkah, which this year runs from Sunday,December 2 to Monday, December 10.  Sometimes also called the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah is an eight-day celebration of the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian Greek army. Dishes traditionally served during the holiday include potato-leek latkes and fried challah sufganiyot, a type of jelly donut.                  

                  In their take on sufganiyot,  Solomonov and Cook use eggs to make a challah dough instead of the typical egg-less yeast dough most donut recipes call for. They then roll the sufganiyot after it comes out of the oven in a mixture of finely ground pistachios and sugar. Though if you want to be really traditional, according to Solomonov, you can substitute dried rose petals for the pistachios—if you can find them.

Potato-Leek Latke

Makes 1 large latke

2 medium russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and grated

3 leeks, whites only, thinly sliced and rinsed

¼ cup all-purpose flour

1½ teaspoons kosher salt

Canola oil, for frying

Mix together the potatoes, leeks, flour, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside for 10 minutes to allow the potatoes to release some starch, which will help hold the latke together.

Pour about ¼ inch of canola oil into a medium skillet and place over medium- low heat. Make one big pancake by spooning the batter into the skillet and pressing it down evenly in the pan. Fry for 10 to 15 minutes per side, or until cooked through and crispy on the outside. Let cool slightly, then cut into wedges.

Turkish Salad

Core, seed,and chop 3 red bell peppers. Chop 2 onions. Thinly slice 4 garlic cloves. Slice a bunch of scallions on the bias. Sauté the peppers with 1 tablespoon kosher salt and ¼ cup canola oil in a large skillet until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the onions and garlic. Cook until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.

Fold in 1 pint halved cherry tomatoes. Add 2 teaspoons smoked paprika and 2 teaspoons ground coriander and toast the spices for about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl,add the sliced scallions, taste, and add a pinch of salt, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a drizzle of olive oil.

5-Minute Hummus With Quick Tehina Sauce

Makes about 4 cups (4 servings)

Quick Tehina Sauce

1 garlic clove

 Juice of 1 lemon

1 (16-ounce) jar tehina

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 to 1½ cups ice water

Hummus

2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Make the Tehina Sauce:

Nick off a piece of the garlic (about a quarter of the clove) and drop it into a food processor.

Squeeze the lemon juice into the food processor. Pour the tehina on top, making sure to scrape it all out of the container, and add the salt and cumin.

Process until the mixture looks peanut-buttery, about 1 minute.

Stream inthe ice water, a little at a time, with the motor running. Process just until the mixture is smooth and creamy and lightens to the color of dry sand.

Make the 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 blended and the hummus is smooth and uniform in color.

Fried Challah Sufganiyot

Makes about 24.

For doughnuts:

½ cup granulated sugar

1 cup warm water

1 packet active dry yeast

3¾ cups all-purpose flour, spooned into cups and leveled  off

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil

3 tablespoons canola oil, plus about 1 quart for frying, divided

½ cup egg yolks (about 6 large yolks)

⅔ cup butter, softened

About 2 cups seedless raspberry jam

For pistachio sugar:

1 cup granulated sugar

½ cups shelled pistachios

For the doughnuts: Mix sugar and water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Stir in yeast. Let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes. Add flour,salt, olive oil, 3 tablespoons canola oil and egg yolks. Mix on low speed until dough comes together and begins to pull away from sides of bowl, scraping sides and mixing with a spatula.

Gradually mix in butter, mixing for another minute until blended. Scrape down bowl and continue mixing about 2 more minutes until very smooth. Remove dough hook. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; let dough rise at room temperature until quadrupled in volume, about 4 hours.

For pistachio sugar: Whirl sugar and pistachios in food processor until nuts are finely ground. Transfer to shallow bowl; set aside.

Fill large, deep, heavy saucepan with generous 2 inches of canola oil. Heat over medium heat until oil registers 350 degrees on candy thermometer. Line baking sheet with paper towels.

Use small ice cream scoop to scoop up heaping balls of dough, dropping them into hot oil,adjusting heat as necessary to maintain oil temperature. Fry doughnuts in batches, turning, until golden, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon to lined baking sheet. Cool slightly.

Poke a hole in each doughnut with tip of paring knife. Spoon jam into large zip-top plastic bag, press out air, and twist the top until bag feels tight. Snip off a corner of the bag and squeeze jam into each doughnut until a bit oozes out. Roll filled doughnuts in pistachio sugar. Serve warm.

The above recipes are excerpted from ISRAELI SOUL © 2018 by Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook. Photography © 2018 by Michael Persico. Reproduced by permission of Rux Martin Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

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