Palestinian and Jewish Recipes for Peace

98 Pages; Color and Black & White, Photographs and Sketches. Spiral Bound Paperback
Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group, San Mateo, California, Winter 2004
Reviewed by Chef John J. Vyhnanek

"An enemy is one whose story we have not heard" (Introduction)

The review---

share vb. shar-ing: to use, enjoy with others

peace n. a state of concord (as between persons or governments); also: an agreement to end hostilities

food n. something that nourishes, sustains, or supplies

recipe n. a set of instructions for making something (as a food dish)

Nothing brings people together more than food. Through thick and thin a piece of bread and drink of water has made many a friend from strangers and enemies. Not a stranger or enemy didn t come around to this type of peace offering. This was exactly what I felt when I reviewed Palestinian and Jewish Recipes for Peace. This is more than a cookbook! It is a commitment by Palestinians and Jews living in San Mateo County, California. For 12 years they have sustained a relationship amongst the membership of their living room dialogue group. They have dedicated this book to their "two peoples and to all humankind as one and as neighbors forever".

Should I try the Knishes (a flaky dough stuffed with a beef, potato and onion filling) or the Bamia maa Ruz (A lamb chop, okra, tomato and rice dish)? Maybe the Ghreyba (a cookie served at every Palestinian engagement party) or perhaps the the Noodle Kugel (a casserole made with cottage cheese, eggs, butter, sugar and egg noodles)?

HumThe Kebbeh sounds just right for my test. I m very familiar with this dish as I have made it before, but not in a baking pan. I prepared the filling, first saute ing the onions, then ground lamb. The spices went in at the end, just before the cooking process was finished. While it cooled I made the case the filling would go into. It was made with bulgur, lean ground sirloin and spices. Half of this mixture lined a baking pan, the filling went on top and the remaining mixture covered the filling. It was brushed with olive oil, scored with a knife into 2 inch squares (for easy cutting after baking); pinenuts decorated each square. It baked for 1 hour at 375 degrees F. What an aroma perfumed my test kitchen, yum! I had prepared the Salad Fattoush (Toasted Pita Bread Salad) on page 30 to accompany the Kebbeh, along with my own recipe for Tahini Sauce (a ground sesame, lemon juice and garlic sauce). Everything is ready, so it is testing and tasting time. This is one of the best Kebbehs I ve ever had, absolutely delicious and moist too! It must be the ground cardamom that makes It'so exotic, it made a big difference in aroma and flavor. The salad Fattoush was fresh tasting (although the Chickweed/Purslane was impossible to find) and a perfect accompaniment along with my Tahini sauce and additional pieces of warm Pita bread. I also tried the suggested plain yogurt with the dish and it was an excellent accompaniment.

I selected one dessert to test, the Honey Cake on page 77. The simple recipe of eggs, honey, safflower oil and coffee is mixed with flour, chopped walnuts and baking powder. In a Pyrex dish, it was baked at 325 degrees F. for about 50 minutes. When it was cool and easier to cut, I dusted a piece with powdered sugar and enjoyed it with a cup of fresh brewed coffee. Don't be fooled by the simplicity of the recipe--the complex flavors of honey, coffee and walnuts danced on my tongue. It is a very good recipe and you can eat it in any manner you like. The cake is very popular at Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. I must confess that fresh strawberries and a dollop a whipped cream make for a tasty variation.

Good Cooking recommends this book both for its message of peace and understanding and its multi-cultural recipes . Some of them are as simple as can be and others require some cooking skills. It is worth opening your senses and mind to the new and the traditional from the Jewish and Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group of San Mateo County, California.

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3 cups fine cracked wheat 3 cups cold water
1 lb. ground sirloin
1 onion chopped
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cardamom Stuffing
3 1b. leg of lamb, ground (chili style) 3 yellow onions, chopped fine
1 cup pine nuts ( sauteed in olive oil until golden brown) (save a handful for decoration)
4 Tbsp. butter 3 Tbsp. oil
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cardamom

Soak cracked wheat in water for 15 minutes.

Prepare the stuffing: Over medium heat, in a 12-oz. pot, melt oil and butter. Add chopped onions for 5 minutes. Add lamb meat and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Add all the stuffing spices and mix thoroughly and let It'sit.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix the ground sirloin with soaked cracked wheat and the spices together. Add onions. Then mix ingredients in a bowl by hand, gently kneading it.

Place half of mixture in a 13 x 9 tray and spread evenly. Then add the stuffing. Place the rest of the dough on top. Brush Tbsp. of olive oil on the surface and cut into rectangles. Decorate with a few pine nuts. Bake for 1 hour.

Yogurt is an excellent compliment to this dish.
Fattoush (Toasted Bread Salad)

1 khoubiz or flat bread
6 leaves romaine lettuce or 4 leaves of another lettuce, crisped 1 slender green cucumber
2 medium tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped spring onion
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1 cup chopped sweet green pepper
1 cup chickweed or purslane, optional (select leaves near the top of stalks and the young leafy ends)

Toast khoubiz until golden brown. Break into small pieces or cut into small squares using kitchen scissors. Set aside.
Shred lettuce into small pieces. Peel cucumber, quarter lengthwise and cut into chunks. Cut tomatoes into small cubes.
Prepare other salad ingredients.Crush garlic in a bowl with the salt and mix to a paste. Stir in remaining dressing ingredients, then beat thoroughly with a fork.
Combine bread and prepared vegetable ingredients and herbs in a salad bowl, pour on dressing, toss and serve.

1 clove garlic 1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup lemon juice 1/2 cup olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
Honey Cake

Add and mix well with a spoon
1 cup peanut oil or safflower oil 1 cup sugar
1 lb. honey 4 eggs
1 cup strong coffee

Mix together
1 tsp. baking soda (add to coffee)
2 1/2 cups sifted flour
add 2 tsp. baking powder
2 cups walnuts chopped into large pieces, about 1/2 1b.

Alternate honey and egg mixture with flour and nuts in a large glass Pyrex dish 13 1/2 x 9 x 2. Bake at 325 degrees for about 1 hour. (If the pan is metal, bake at 350 degrees.) Test for doneness at 50 minutes.