New Cookbook Celebrates Friday Night Dinners with Delicious Recipes from Around the World
Come sundown on Friday nights, Jews and their families and friends come together to celebrate with food, wine, bread, and community. It’s the start of Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, the ritual that occurs once a week.
For some, this dinner is just a festive meal. For others, it is part of their religious observance. For most, Shabbat is a time to celebrate, recharge, and share with those you care for.
Food writer and recipe developer Faith Kramer
shares recipes and flavors from around the world in her new cookbook, 52 SHABBATS: FRIDAY NIGHT DINNERS INSPIRED BY A GLOBAL JEWISH KITCHEN. Whether you are a longtime host of weekly Shabbat dinners or just looking for new meal ideas, the recipes in this cookbook will spice up your Friday night meal.
52 Shabbats let’s home cooks create global-flavored meals for Friday night and other dinners using seasonings from Libya and Ethiopia; sauces from Morocco, Lebanon, and Yemen; and herbs, spices, and more from the Middle and Near East.
Faith transforms traditional favorites.
Pomegranate molasses brings a sweet-tart taste to brisket; falafel makes a crispy crust for a pizza; baked potatoes are stuffed with ground turkey, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, and other spices; roasted chicken is enhanced by fresh herbs or shawarma seasoning, and a spicy beef stew with dried fruit becomes the filling for tamales, to name just a few.
“No matter what your Friday night custom is (or even if you don’t really have one), embracing this weekly Shabbat ritual brings an element of understanding as the activities and food can connect us, through history, geography, and tradition, to Jewish communities and ways other than our own,” Faith says.
Recipes are divided into chapters based on the seasons along with chapters on side dishes and accompaniments, desserts, and fundamentals.
Faith outlines recipe pairing in a mix-and-match friendly format, incorporating easy substitutions throughout the bookmaking Shabbat meals accessible for any lifestyle. Some of the recipes in 52 Shabbats include:
– Sweet and Tart Silan Roasted Carrots with Lentils
– Iraqi-Israeli Vegetable Pickles
– Tamarind Okra or Zucchini
– Matzo Ball and Pozole Chicken Soup
– Mushroom and Cheese Strudel
– Pomegranate Molasses Brisket
– Ethiopian Spiced Pot Roast
– Winter Borscht with Lamb
– Falafel Pizza with Feta and Herbs
– South Indian-Inspired Fish Cakes with Coconut-Cilantro Chutney
– Fruit and Vegetable Rice Paper Salad Rolls
– Lemongrass and Ginger Barbecued Flanken
– Chocolate and Cookie Truffles
– Mango and Cardamom Mini Cheesecakes
52 Shabbats also details global foodways
and provides interesting histories, along with an explanation of the Shabbat ritual and a pantry list of ingredients.
“The Friday night Shabbat dinner is the Jewish way of saying welcome to the weekend. I invite you to celebrate with family and friends whenever you can. It’s your Friday night. Celebrate.”
About the Author
Faith Kramer is a food writer and recipe developer concentrating on the foodways, history, and customs of the Jewish diaspora. She has written hundreds of posts about Jewish customs and food, travel, and global ingredients with accompanying recipes. As a columnist for the j., the Jewish News of Northern California, she writes articles twice a month on food and cooking along with original recipes. Faith has taught numerous cooking classes, presented programs on Jewish customs, celebrations, and holidays, and led food-related walking tours that explore the economic, geographic, and political underpinnings of the food as well as how to use international ingredients in other contexts.
A frequent contributor to other Jewish food-related projects, her work can be found in Laura Silver’s Knish: In Search of the Jewish Soul Food (Brandeis University Press) and Molly O’Neill’s One Big Table cookbook (Simon and Schuster), plus many others. Faith lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit FaithKramer.com for links to more of her writing about Jewish customs and food, travel, and global ingredients and recipes.
Try these two delicious recipes perfect for Passover too.
GEFILTE FISH WITH SMASHED TOMATO TOPPING
(Makes 12 first-course portions)
I grew up with bland gefilte fish out of jars, which I mostly appreciated as a vehicle for horseradish. This baked version is packed with flavors I associate with North African and Sephardic food and comes with a colorful garnish of cooked tomatoes and peppers, but you can just top it with horseradish (or do as I do and use both).
I usually serve it as a starter or first course, but you can double the portion size for the main dish. For the best taste, use the freshest fish you can find. For a more Eastern European version, leave out the jalapeño, cumin, and turmeric. If you don’t have a food processor, finely grate the onions and carrots and mince the vegetables and fish.
This makes a great starter for Passover and other Jewish holidays. For some Jews, certain foods, including cumin, are considered kitniyot, foods that are not prohibited by the Torah but are not allowed at Passover. If that’s the case for you, simply omit the cumin in this recipe during the holiday.
FOR THE TOMATO TOPPING
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced onions, cut in half
2 to 3 tablespoons thinly sliced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 to 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper or paprika
2 cups (1/2-by 1-inch) yellow and/or red bell pepper pieces
2 cups small cherry or grape tomatoes
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sugar, optional
FOR THE GEFILTE FISH
Vegetable oil for the baking pan
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
3 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 large carrot, roughly chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, quartered
1 small jalapeño or serrano chile, optional
1 large celery stalk, roughly chopped
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
Zest and juice of 1 medium lemon
2 pounds boneless skinless mild white fish fillets
1 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 large eggs, beaten
2 to 3 cups arugula, watercress, or other greens
12 olives, for garnish
12 lemon wedges
TO MAKE THE TOMATO TOPPING
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the salt, black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne (use up to 1 teaspoon if you like it spicier), and the bell peppers and sauté until softened, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the tomatoes and sauté for a few minutes. Using a spatula, crush the tomatoes until they break apart. Continue to sauté until they are very soft, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and sauté until the liquid has mostly evaporated. Taste and add more salt, cayenne, lemon juice, and sugar, if desired. Set aside.
TO MAKE THE GEFILTE FISH
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-by-12-inch baking pan with vegetable oil. Combine the onion, garlic, carrot, bell pepper, jalapeño (if using), celery, parsley, lemon zest, and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor and process, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until finely chopped. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
Pat dry the fish and cut it into chunks. Place it in the food processor and process until it forms a coarse paste. You may need to work in batches. Transfer the fish to the bowl with the vegetables.
Add the salt, 1 teaspoon of sugar (use 2 teaspoons of sugar if you prefer it sweeter), cumin, paprika, oregano, turmeric, and black pepper and stir until well mixed. Add the eggs and stir until completely combined. Add the fish mixture to the prepared baking pan, spreading it out and smoothing the top. Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until the fish is firm to the touch and beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan.
Let cool to slightly warm or room temperature (liquid on top will be reabsorbed), 30 to 45 minutes. Cut with a knife into 12 ovals or squares, or use a 2- to 3-inch cookie cutter to cut into rounds.
Place the greens on a large serving platter. Arrange the gefilte fish over the greens and garnish each piece with a spoonful of tomato topping and an olive with lemon wedges on the side.
MAKE IT IN ADVANCE: The gefilte fish and sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored separately. Let the fish cool in the baking pan, cover with aluminum foil, and refrigerate.
GRILLED LAMB CHOPS WITH BITTER HERBS SALAD
This recipe is inspired by the Passover customs of the Karaite Jews, a branch of Judaism founded in the eighth century that traditionally follows the Torah and not the rabbinic interpretations. Many of the Karaites lived in Egypt for centuries but were forced to leave after the wars with Israel and most now live in the United States.
The Karaites regard Shabbat as a day of joy and start Friday night prayers earlier to extend the day. In Egypt they would enjoy a glass of anise-flavored liquor with their Shabbat lunch. As the day ended, they would say blessings over wine and branches of myrtle or rue and greet each other in Arabic (“May your week be green”) or in Hebrew (“May you have a good week”). Another Karaite Seder custom is to eat a “salad” of bitter herbs, which refers to the different greens used in the Seder service to symbolically represent the harshness of slavery under the Egyptians.
FOR THE LAMB
3 pounds bone-in lamb rib or shoulder chops
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ cup minced fresh mint
2 teaspoons minced garlic
FOR THE BITTER HERBS SALAD
¾ cup (1-inch pieces) chopped fennel
2 tablespoons minced fennel fronds
1 cup (1-inch pieces) endive
2 cups (1-inch pieces) romaine lettuce
2 cups (1-inch pieces) chopped red leaf lettuce
1 cup (1-inch pieces) frisée or arugula
½ cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
½ cup minced fresh dill
About 1/2 cup Whole Lemon Dressing, plus more if desired
3 sheets matzo broken into 1-inch pieces
¼ cup garlic sauce or pomegranate molasses, optional
¼ cup chopped fresh mint or flat-leaf parsley
TO MAKE THE LAMB
Trim any excess fat from the lamb chops. In a small bowl, mix together the lemon juice, olive oil, cinnamon, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, mint, and garlic. Rub the mixture all over the lamb, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 1 day. Bring the lamb to room temperature before grilling.
Prepare a grill for medium-high to high heat. Grill the lamb chops, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes per side, or until cooked to the desired doneness. Lamb will keep cooking for several minutes after being pulled from the grill, so it’s best
to slightly undercook. Transfer the lamb to a plate and cover with aluminum foil.
TO MAKE THE BITTER HERBS SALAD
In a large bowl, mix together the fennel, fennel fronds, endive, romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce, frisée, parsley, and dill. Just before serving, shake up the dressing, pour it over the salad, and toss until evenly coated. Add more dressing if desired. Add the matzo pieces and toss again.
Transfer the lamb to individual plates and drizzle with Garlic Sauce (if using). Garnish with fresh mint. Serve with the bitter herbs salad on the side.
Garlic Sauce-Makes about 1 Cup
This lemony garlic sauce is inspired by toum, a creamy Lebanese staple. It’s definitely for garlic lovers. It makes a
nice non-dairy alternative for a creamy garnish or even an aioli-style dip for crudites.
1/4 cup peeled garlic cloves
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
In a blender, combine the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and purée on high speed until smooth. The sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Bring to room temperature before using.
Recipes reprinted with permission and photo courtesy from
52 Shabbats: FRIDAY NIGHT DINNERS INSPIRED BY A GLOBAL JEWISH KITCHEN By Faith Kramer The Collective Book Studio/December 2021