Initially, I had planned to have an Israeli food feast for Matt’s family as a celebration for his dad’s birthday, but with an unexpected family emergency, a large family meal was scrapped. But I had all the ingredients at the ready so I made these dishes over the course of two days and the two of us enjoyed the dishes all week.
Before I dive in to what I made, I’d like to make two plus for cookbooks that I absolutely love and were featured in this country’s efforts. The first, is “Eating Out Loud” by Eden Grinsphan. I picked this up at a neighborhood cookbook store in Mt. Pleasant. I have a number of cookbooks, and when I went in, I told the salesperson that I was looking for something “like this” but different. The “like this” was referring to my Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook “Simple” which I also adore and regularly turn to that cookbook when trying to do something slightly Mediterranean or Middle Eastern. Both of these books are fantastic adds to my cookbook collection and if you’re looking for a new cookbook, I highly recommend them both.
The first “plate” in this post includes baked falafel and a sweet potato with sunflower gremolata, the latter is courtesy of the the Eden Grinsphan book. In addition to great recipes from that region of the world (from Israel to Tunisia to Turkey) she has great little anecdotes about some of these dishes. This sweet potato dish was inspired by what she described as “the best sweet potato I’ve ever eaten” from a cafe in Israel. With the addition of lemony sour cream and the crunch of sunflower gremolata with fresh basil, this was incredible. I elected to make a baked falafel for a slightly lighter dish and while these were good paired on a salad for a day or two, I wasn’t blown away. For your reference, here’s the recipe I used: https://cookieandkate.com/crispy-falafel-recipe/
I also made beef meatballs from Eden’s book and what made these special (almost like a Mediterranean “Sloppy Joe” when leftovers were made into a sandwich by Matt) was the sauce which included chickpeas, red peppers, tomatoes and some spiciness. And the binder for the meatballs? A little egg but also pita bread! This was a noted surprise in the cookbook as the author had said this was her husband’s recipe for this dish and she also hadn’t thought to put pita bread in them It made the meatballs a bit lighter and far less dense. A winning combo in my book.
Last but not least…dessert! These chocolate chip cookies felt so familiar but with the addition of tahini in the batter and chunks of halva to the bake (that is what looks like marshmallow) these were such a surprise. I recommend putting a bit of vanilla bean ice cream in a bowl and then creating makeshift ice cream sandwiches with the cookies. Incredible and should come as no surprise that this dish ALSO was courtesy of the “Living Out Loud” cookbook.
Overall Level of Effort: 3 (there was a lot of things going on with this meal)
Skill Level: Beginner/Intermediate
Would Make it Again? I’d make each of these dishes over again with the exception of the falafel.
Additional Notes: As individual dishes, I didn’t find any of these to be overly difficult to make, but if you’re trying to make many things at once (like myself) this meal would rank around a 3. It requires some planning and reading ahead (noting to make the dough in advance and then refrigerate for many hours or overnight, and to soak the chickpeas in water for a similar amount of time). But definitely well worth it.