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Cooking From Jerusalem Cookbook: Pureed Beets with Yogurt & Za'atar

I made the Pureed Beets with Yogurt & Za'atar for the third Cookbook Dinner Club with my friends Cecilia and Julia. Our first cookbook dinner club was based on Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty Cookbook. Our second cookbook dinner club was based on Barefoot Contessa's Foolproof.

For the third get together, we went back to Yotam Ottolenghi and cooked from Jerusalem

I've been to Israel twice and absolutely loved the people, the culture and of course the FOOD of the country. I could not wait to try to make some of the dishes that came from that region of the world.

Surprisingly, or not, I chose a dish that reminded me of a Russian beet salad my family has made as far back as I can remember. I might blog about it one day.

But for now, let's chat about Pureed Beets with Yogurt & Za'atar.

This recipe is really pretty and packs a lot of various flavors and textures, but once again I found Ottolenghi's directions not extremely user friendly.

Just being honest.

First, I'm not sure why I was instructed to roast the beets without wrapping them in aluminum foil. I should have listened to my inner voice and done what I always do when I roast beets (wrapping them up in aluminum foil after drizzling them with olive oil and seasoning them with a bit of salt).

Second, the beets took much longer to roast than the recipe specified, and came out of the oven shriveled and difficult to peel.

But I persevered.

To make this dish, I had to puree the beets in a food processor with garlic, chile, yogurt, olive oil, za'atar and date syrup.


I did not want to buy an entire bottle (or a jar?) of date syrup, so I used a bit of pomegranate molasses instead.

I then transferred the puree into a shallow plate and topped it with goat cheese, scallions, and toasted chopped hazelnuts.

It did look pretty. And it tasted pretty good, but I would have loved it more with the mayonnaise instead of the yogurt.

Although I wasn't thrilled with this dish, I loved hanging out with Cecilia and Julia and trying out a new cookbook. My favorite dish on the table by far was Braised eggs with lamb, tahini and sumac.

Have you cooked from Jerusalem before? Which dishes would you recommend?


Matt said...

I have both Jerusalem and Plenty and I love them both. I agree that some of the ingredient lists can get to be a bit much, but I have loved the recipes so far. One of my absolute favorites is the kofta b'siniyah, although I usually substitute the ground veal for ground beef.

Megan said...

I've found that you really need to know how to cook to use his cookbooks. said...

Kudos for being so honest about this book :)

Sarene (@fringefood) said...

Great post! Thank you for clarifying the directions and for providing your insights. More than sharing recipes, sharing tips and information is what strenghtens the food community. I invite you to join Tasting Jerusalem, a virtial cooking group that's exploring Middle East cookery through the lense of the Jerusalem cookbook. We're on Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ and on Twitter at @tastingjrslm.

fujimama said...

I just ordered this book and even more excited to dove into it

magneticdynamo said...

I used rehydrated (soaked), pureed dates when I made this. Also, the recipe calls for way too much garlic. Made it inedible to me -- I don't like so much garlic that my mouth burns. But he over-garlics all his recipes, I've found.