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The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen

Amelia Saltsman's book on Jewish cuisine.

Cooking with flavors.

By Evan Berkowitz photography by Staci Valentine

Born in Los Angeles to a Romanian mother and Iraqi father, Amelia Saltsman reveals her eclectic background in her cooking full of flavors and cultural touchstones that made her first book, The Santa Monica Farmers' Market Cookbook, a beloved classic.

Amelia’s name is synonymous with intuitive, seasonal cooking, and small family farms. Now she’s back with her book, The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen.

Amelia Saltsman traces the delicious thread of Jewish cuisine from its ancient roots to today’s focus on seasonality and sustainability. Her rich food background brings a warmly personal cookbook filled with soul-satisfying spins on beloved classics and bold new dishes.

From her Iraqi grandmother’s kitchen —"red lentils melted into rice with garlic"— to "four-ingredient golden borscht with buttermilk and fresh ginger"; and the vibrant blood orange and olive oil polenta upside-down cake, Amelia’s melting-pot approach will win over a new generation of cooks.

“This book encompasses my family's food story, the Romanian Haimers, and the Iraqi Ben-Aziz clan (Abdulaziz in Iraq), who relocated to Israel's land. But our tale is emblematic of those of countless other families: Gordian knots of migrations, unions, and regional influences that create myriad unique personal culinary histories."

The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen reflects these stories through the diverse flavors of cuisine from the Middle East, North Africa, Italy, Spain, Eastern Europe, California, and more, but with today’s twist.

Traditional Jewish foods and ingredients such as buckwheat, pickled herring, organ meats, and rendered fats, are enjoying a renaissance in mainstream cooking.

“These days, when we talk about the importance of knowing where our food comes from, we’re usually referring to matters of food safety and justice, sustainability, and support for small local farms. But the concept can take us farther back, putting food’s ancient past into modern context. The twists and turns of my own food history have driven my search for deeper connections in food that give substance to a melting-pot life.”



Roasted Carrot and Sweet Potato Tzimmes

Tzimmes (in Yiddish "a big fuss") is a traditional eastern European stew of carrots and/or sweet potatoes and prunes traditionally cooked with beef flanken is perfect for for early fall, with no added sugar, relys only on the natural sweetness of the fruits and vegetables.

It is a great companion to brisket or chicken and is also a good accompaniment to farro or quinoa for a vegan main course.


Makes 8-10 servings

• 6 to 8 oranges • 1 lemon • 2 pounds (900 g) carrots • 3 pounds (1.4 kg) sweet potatoes • 1 pound (450 g) shallots (about 8 large) • ½ to ¾ pound (225 to 340 g) dried plums or pitted prunes (vary the amount depending on how sweet and fruity you want the dish) • 3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

• Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground white or black pepper


Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Using a swivel-blade vegetable peeler, remove the zest in large strips from 2 of the oranges and the lemon. Be sure to press down only hard enough to capture the colored part of the skin, not the bitter white pith. Juice enough oranges to yield 2½ cups (600 ml) juice. Reserve the lemon for another use.

Peel the carrots and cut them crosswise into 2-inch (5-cm) chunks or lengthwise into 2-inch (5-cm) chunks (if carrots are very fat, first halve them lengthwise). Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into large bite-size pieces. Peel and quarter the shallots lengthwise. Use kitchen scissors to snip the dried fruits in half.

Use a roasting pan large enough to hold all the vegetables in more or less a single layer. Place the carrots, sweet potatoes, shallots, dried fruit, and lemon and orange zests in the pan. Toss with enough olive oil to coat evenly, season with salt and pepper, and pour the juice over all.

Roast the vegetables, turning them once or twice during cooking, until they are tender and are browned in places and most of the juice is absorbed about 1¼ hours. If you want a saucier finished dish, add another ½ to 1 cup (120 to 240 ml) juice during the last 20 minutes of cooking. The liquid should thicken slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Recipes reprinted with permission from The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen by Amelia Saltsman, Sterling Epicure, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.

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