What is Jewish cooking? Most of us would cite matzo balls, gefilte fish, and other Eastern European-born fare. But there's a second Jewish food tradition--the cuisine of the Mediterranean Sephardim. Author Joyce Goldstein first encountered it in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Turkey. Dishes such as Poached Fish with Walnut Sauce, Roast Chicken with Apples and Pomegranate, and Saffron Rice Pudding exemplify this delectable legacy. Part investigation of Sephardic cooking--of the migrations and religious directives that gave it life--and part paean to its bright, tantalizing flavors, Goldstein's cookbook should prove a revelation to all cooks, Jewish or not.
Starting with a history of the Spanish and Portuguese (Sephardic) diasporas that brought Jews to the Mediterranean, Goldstein then provides information on kosher law and a discussion of American Sephardim, among other relevant topics. Standouts among the recipes that follow include Fish with Rhubarb Sauce, Lamb with Green Garlic, and Meat Loaf with Sweet and Sour Tomato Sauce. The book's chapters on savory pastries and vegetables and grains are particularly noteworthy, and include such tantalizing recipes as Cheese-Stuffed Peppers and Pumpkin-Filled Filo Roses. With photographs of many of the dishes, suggestions for Sephardic holiday meals, and a wealth of anecdotes and lore throughout, the book uncovers an unexplored Jewish cuisine now available to all. --Arthur Boehm