Q&A with Amelia Saltsman, author of The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen!
We caught up with Amelia Saltsman, author of The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen, to talk about inspirational cooking, her latest dishes, and reviving traditional recipes!
Q 1. Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in food?
A love of food, family, and passionate farmers who grow for flavour first. These three have always been deeply interconnected for me, and I believe can offer inspiration and simple solutions to others as well. We want to feed our families well and healthfully; we want to enjoy friends and family (parties! family gatherings!); we worry about the environment, food safety, and fair practices; we may be searching for richer meaning; and let’s be honest, we want it all to be easy. Putting food, family, and good farming together offers staggeringly simple solutions to what sometimes seems like an impossible task list!
Q 2. How has your heritage influenced your cooking?
This taps right into the family and richer meaning of things I mentioned above. All my past and present food experiences find their way into my cooking: the zesty, bright, and diverse flavours of California and Israel; the Ottoman-inspired cooking of Romania; and the earthiness of Iraqi cuisine. I often look to the past to inspire something new and fresh.
Q 3. Tell us about your book, The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen…
The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen offers a whole new way to think about Jewish food and connect it to today’s interest in seasonal, sustainable, lighter, brighter cookery. Guided by the Jewish lunar calendar, I divide the book into six micro-seasons that highlight the deep connection of Jewish traditions to the year’s natural cycles. I offer simple, soul-satisfying spins on beloved classics—think Golden Borscht with Buttermilk and Ginger---and bold new dishes, such as Roast Chicken with Tangerines, Green Olives, and Date Syrup. The recipes are simple enough for family suppers and gorgeous enough for entertaining. While I cover the holidays, I really want to move away from the idea that food with Jewish roots is only for the holidays. Jewish or not, if you like vibrant food that follows the seasons, you’ll love The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen.
Q 4. If you could choose your perfect meal what would it be?
My perfect meal showcases the tastiest ingredients of the moment. As we head into early summer, I’d begin with a lettuce and herbs salad (right now is their perfect moment) and conclude with fresh local berries and a side of your famous Devon cream (everything has a season, including milk, which is most plentiful after spring calving and tastes of spring grasses). For the main, perhaps a simple roast chicken with two roasted or grilled vegetable sides because that is the most stellar example of how easy it is to get a comforting meal on the table. Since it’s summer, I’d focus on tomatoes, courgettes, and aubergines. (As a bonus, the tomatoes add a sauce-like element for an instant finishing touch.)
Q 5. What do you have planned for your trip to London and what are you most looking forward to about visiting the city?
Food, food, and food. Everyone’s told me I must visit Borough Market. I would love to meet some local growers and taste what’s best right now. Perhaps down to Greenwich so that I can stand in two hemispheres at once. Mostly, I love to walk, looking up to appreciate fullest sense of the architecture and to spot any historic markers, and looking down at the pavement—there’s something grand about seeing worn stones and steps that remind me how many generations have walked this way before me. I’d be very happy indeed to bump into one of my literary heroes—Trollope, Dickens, or Shakespeare. And Jane Austen, but perhaps she’ll be in Bath, taking the waters…
Q 6. What are your top tips for incorporating fresh, seasonal produce into everyday cooking?
Use the tastiest ingredients you can find to make your meal preparations much, much easier, something we all want and need in our busy lives. Seek out what is at peak of season; these items will be at their most delicious. It’s simple to discern which fruits and vegetables those are—they are most likely to be locally grown, most plentiful in the market, and therefore the best bargains. And do ask a grower what he or she is proudest of at the moment. That’s the thing to get.
Then, let those natural flavours to shine through. Dress salads with a just bit of delicious olive or nut oil and sea salt. Don’t overdress your salad; you’ll mask its flavours (and add extra prep and unwanted calories!). Roast or grill a vegetable—or a medley—by using that same olive oil and salt you had on hand for the salad; you’ll be able to produce an infinite variety of colours, flavours, and textures every day of the week.
Q 7. And finally if you could take only three things to a desert island what would they be?
Great olive oil, a sheet pan or heavy skillet, and a box of proper English Maldon Sea Salt. With those I could prepare everything I scavenged with infinite variety. On second thought, since I’d be surrounded by salt water that I could use to season my food, perhaps I’d exchange my Malden for a good piece of cheddar, so that I wouldn’t end up like poor Ben Gunn in Treasure Island.
You can buy Amelia's fantastic recipe book, The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen, here.
Amelia is visiting the UK next week and you can catch her here:
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
See http://www.divertimenti.co.uk/cookery-school for tickets
BBC Radio London 94.9 FM, Robert Elms Show
Saturday, June 25, 2016
JW3, 341 -351 Finchley Road, NW3 6ET, London
Sunday, June 26, 2016
10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Visit www.gelfitefest.org for tickets
Soho Radio, London
Interview with Aldo Zilli
Monday, June 27, 2016
, 13 June 2016