Cookbook Review: Feasting

Many Jewish families continue the tradition of gathering to share a meal on Friday nights and holidays, but a new generation is changing the approach to traditional food. At the same time, the rest of the world is discovering the joys of Jewish cooking.

In Feasting, Amanda Ruben brings together her fresh takes on classic recipes, along with popular favourites from her contemporary café and deli, and her own busy family home.

Carrot salad with miso-tahini, Middle Eastern fruit salad with cashew cream and the best pastrami you may ever taste—these are simple, delicious and (surprisingly) healthy dishes for any lunch, dinner party or holiday celebration. When Jewish heritage meets global culinary influences, every meal is sure to be a true feast.

Feasting: A New Take on Jewish Cooking, is available at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.


Fig Crostata with Rosemary Custard

Figs are believed to have originated in the Middle East and have a strong presence in the Bible, beginning in the Garden of Eden. Take advantage of their sweet flavour and luxurious texture by showcasing them in this rustic crostata. It’s best served warm, straight from the oven.

Serves 6-8

240 g (8½ oz) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
80 g (2¾ oz/¹⁄³ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
pinch of salt
120 g (4½ oz) cold butter, cubed
2 egg yolks
90 g (3 oz/¾ cup) semolina
8 fresh figs, sliced in half lengthways
1 egg, beaten, for glazing
icing (confectioners’) sugar, for dusting (optional)

Rosemary custard
750 ml (25½ fl oz/3 cups) milk
2 rosemary sprigs
3 egg yolks
70 g (2½ oz) caster (superfine) sugar
2 tablespoons cornflour (cornstarch)

Place the flour, sugar, salt, and butter in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the egg yolks and 2 tablespoons cold water, and blitz again until the dough comes together.

Tip the dough out onto a floured surface and shape into a ball then flatten slightly. Wrap in plastic wrap and rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).

Roll out the dough into a large circle with a diameter of 30 cm (12 in). Line a baking tray with baking paper and sprinkle one-third of the semolina on top. Place the dough on top of the semolina and sprinkle the remaining semolina on top of the dough.

Arrange the figs on top of the pastry in an inner circle with a diameter of about 20 cm (8 in). You should be left with a 10 cm (4 in) ring of pastry around the fruit. Fold up the edges of the pastry over the fruit. Glaze the pastry flap with the beaten egg and place in the oven to bake for 50 minutes.

While the crostata is baking, make the rosemary custard. Pour the milk into a large saucepan over medium-low heat, add the rosemary sprigs and warm through to infuse for 5–10 minutes.

In a bowl, vigorously whisk the egg yolks with the sugar and cornflour to form a paste.

When the milk is warm, remove the rosemary and pour 250 ml (8 ½ fl oz/1 cup) of the warm milk into the egg mixture. Gently combine, then pour the mixture back into the saucepan with remaining milk. Stir continuously over low heat until the custard thickens.

Remove the crostata from the oven. Dust with icing sugar, if using, and serve with the rosemary custard on the side.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Hardie Grant Books.

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