Posts Tagged ‘Olive Trees and Honey’

I learned to cook from my mom as a kid, and by making dinner for my family starting when I was about 12 or so. I never used recipes. Then one day I realized that I was stuck in a rut, making the same foods over and over again, with the exact same spices. I decided to buy myself a few cookbooks and to teach myself new techniques and flavor combinations by systematically cooking my way through them. (Also, I was given a couple of great cookbooks by my mother and sister last year.) While I have other cookbooks, these are the ones that are on particularly heavy rotation right now. That might change, but I am trying to exercise restraint and not buy any new ones until I have cooked most of the recipes in these.


Veganomicon, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Romero.

Olive Trees and Honey

Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World, by Gil Marks.

Both of these are large encyclopedic cookbooks that are great for the kind of large batches of simple everyday foods I mostly eat when alone. I’m a soup fiend and they both have a large number of great soup recipes. (I’m almost at my goal of having cooked every soup in Olive Trees and Honey.


The Cranks Bible, by Nadine Abensur was my first cookbook. Cranks is a famous vegetarian restaurant in London where Abensur, who is a French-Moroccan Jew was food director for many years. The recipes are sort of a veggie fusion with a South-Mediterranean tilt. It’s peerless for spectacular dishes to impress guests and show them how great vegetarian cooking can be, but some are a bit too rich and involved for my daily needs. It is, however, my first love among cookbooks and a major influence on the way I cook.

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Weekly Soup

Turkish Mixed Legume and Bulgur Soup

I tend to be too busy to cook during the weeks. Instead I try to make a batch of soup on the weekend that I freeze into portions for future use as workday lunches. I’m about 10 months into doing this systematically so at this point I have a good variety of soups in my freezer. Some might say way too much soup for my tiny freezer to handle.

Lately I’ve had to slow down a little and not make soup for a week or two since I was running out of space. Instead I lived off UFOs (unidentifiable frozen objects) from when the grass was greener and the produce at the farmers’ market more exciting.

Unthawing a vegetable stew with summer squash, aubergines and fresh herbs was like having my own little piece of August right here in my dismal February kitchen (but without the mosquitoes and the oppressive heat).

Today the time had finally come to make soup again. I chose the Turkish Mixed Legume and Bulgur Soup from Olive Trees and Honey. I’d had my eye on this one for a while. Since it doesn’t have any fresh veggies in it, it didn’t make sense to make during the harvest season. I figured now was the perfect time since all there is at the farmers market is potatoes and roots.

I had lots of little amounts of stuff that I needed to get rid of, like 3/4 cup of bulgur. This recipe which mixes black eyed peas, chick peas, lentils and bulgur was perfect for that. I used homemade vegetable broth so that there would be at least some nutrients in there. Other than that the only freshness in here was chopped parsley and mint, which cut it suprisingly well, but I think next time I might add a few veggies to the mix. I think carrots and celery might work particularly well.

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