The Jerusalem Cookbook


We are late to the Jerusalem party–it came out in 2012 to much acclaim. But maybe you are perpetually out of the loop, like we are. If so please know that we are in mad, passionate love with this cookbook. The authors are Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamim, London restauranteurs and the authors of Plenty and Plenty More. In Jerusalem, they explore the dynamic flavors and cross-cultural influences of their home city. Despite our de-cluttering efforts, this one is a keeper. I’m going to buy a copy when the library pries this copy out of my hands.

Our friend, Kazi, introduced us to Jerusalem. She hosted a wonderful dinner party last week and cooked all of the courses from this book. Now, Kazi is an expert cook, so I’m sure she doesn’t really need a book to put on an good spread, but she assured us that she was experimenting on us: she’d never tried any of the recipes before, and was cooking them straight out of the book as written. The meal was astounding. Of course, her beautiful presentation and the excellent company had much to do with it, but the recipes were consistently fresh and bright and complex without being fussy.

I find that I need a good cookbook every once in a while to inspire me in the kitchen–otherwise I fall into a morass of laziness and we end up eating burritos and “stuff on toast” night after night.  This one is doing the trick. I’m currently fantasizing about what I’ll cook next.

My highest compliment to this book is that I can honestly say I trust it 100%. I fiddle around with most recipes, doubling the spice, halving the sugar, questioning the baking time, etc. These I don’t. This book is well thought out and  tested. The recipes work. I’d highly recommend following them exactly as written.

Jerusalem covers all the bases, from appetizers to dessert. It has lots of meat and fish recipes, but it also has plenty of salad, vegetable, bean and grain recipes, so it’s friendly to both vegetarians and meat eaters. We’re mostly vegetarian, and we feel like we’ve only scratched the surface of the meatless offerings so far. Though there are a lot of veg recipes which use eggs, yogurt and cheese, there are also good vegan-friendly offerings.

To give you a feel for the book, these are the recipes we’ve enjoyed so far. All are excellent:

  • Swiss chard fritters (with feta and nutmeg)
  • Roasted cauliflower and hazelnut salad
  • Roasted butternut squash and red onion with tahini and za’atar
  • Acharuli khachapuri (pastry boats filled with soft cheese, topped with a baked egg)
  • Baby spinach salad with dates and almonds (…and fried pita! Erik declares this his new favorite salad ever)
  • Couscous with tomato and onion (cooked to have a crispy bottom)
  • Semolina, coconut and marmalade cake


Leave a comment


  1. I’ll admit that we don’t reach for _Jerusalem_ that often, but when we do it’s always a winner. The sweet potatoes with figs and balsamic syrup is a perpetual favorite (and makes slightly modified appearances alongside all sorts of other cuisines — Mexican, Chinese, etc.), and the chicken with arak and clementines is *amazing*.

  2. Jerusalem has rocked our taste buds! The butternut squash/red onion dish… that simple but deeelish tahini dressing… and the kofta! Ohmygod, the kofta!! Try the fragrant rice with crispy fried onions. It will change your life. Best wishes!

  3. Curious if you bought the book or just borrowed it from the library after the recent tidying exercise. I just went through all my cookbooks and got rid of so many that looked good at the time I bought them, but I never cook from. Hopefully I’ve learned my lesson and before dropping the money on it, I’ll borrow a cookbook from the library and make sure I love it.

    • We borrowed the book from the library as a digital file–very minimal! But we’re considering buying it as a hardback. We’ve winnowed our cookbooks down to only the few we use consistently, but I think this might turn out to be one of those.

  4. Yes!! I love how they have you make sauces from yogurt-lemon-oil. I got this for my husband for his birthday and he uses it all. the. time. Everyone’s a winner!

  5. Better late than never! Ottolenghi’s recipes are great. His mix of recipes with lots of vegetables seems like it would be a perfect fit for you guys.

  6. Yes, this is a winner of a cookbook along with “Plenty”. I make the swiss chard fritters very often, and they are a hit with the kids, although I modify it to contain whatever is going crazy in the garden at the moment and whatever old bits of cheese I have rolling around in the fridge. I’ve made quite a few from Plenty, and found them all good although some are underseasoned, as if the original restaurant recipe was scaled down to home proportions without being properly tested.

    ddu’s right – that butternut squash w/ the red onions. Yesssss!

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