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April 12, 2017

Feasting at King Solomon's Table with Joan Nathan and Melissa's Produce

Joan Nathan demonstrating Preserved Lemons
A bountiful feast was held at Melissa's Produce to introduce the legendary Joan Nathan's new cookbook, King Solomon's Table.  It's a tome not only meant to be cooked from, but one meant to be read, with thoroughly researched history and anecdotes introducing each recipe.  The event to celebrate Joan was a wonderful opportunity to see my blogger friends.  

Photo courtesy Sara De Leeuw
This beautiful book will be referred to time and again for Jewish holidays and everyday cooking.  Melissa's sampled dishes from the book and introduced Joan Nathan herself to speak about it.  She graciously signed copies for the attendees. 

The menu from Melissa's event and bio of Joan Nathan
The Quinoa Salad served at the event is on pg 98 of the cookbook
My favorite dish served at the event was a Quinoa Salad with butternut squash, feta and pecans.  It was light and healthy.  The squash was a surprising, flavorful ingredient. 

Herbert Samuel's Tomato Salad on pg. 102
The other wonderful offering at Melissa's buffet was the tomato salad inspired by Herbert Samuel.  Of course the tomatos were in perfect season, but I loved the balance of greens and other ingredients.  It's so fun to think of summer's coming and salads coming back into season!  There's nothing prettier on a plate than fresh cut cherry or grape tomatoes.

Harira, Spiced Moroccan Vegetable Soup, pg 122
The spiced Moroccan Vegetable soup known as Harira was a little too hot for me, but that should not come as a surprise, since I like everything mild.  I'm sure it hits just the right note to others, and I like the idea of a chickpea-lemon based soup. 

Sapphire Grapes
Sapphire variety Grapes are sweet and delicious.  Their long fingers are delicate, juicy, and seedless.  I've never seen them anywhere else.  I will horde them when I do!

Pizza Ebraica, pg. 319
Pizza Ebraica, an elaborate dessert with a scone-like texture, was studded with pine nuts and dried fruit soaked in wine.  Its light sweetness goes well with coffee.  I can picture my mornings beginning with this treat.  

Shtritzlach, Toronto Blueberry Buns, pg. 35
Shtritzlach is a 1950's Canadian recipe for a dessert bun studded with blueberry pie filling.  Its sweetness contrasted with the savory flavor of the Pizza Ebraica. 

I couldn't wait to dig into the buffet at the event.  The textures of the dishes were even more inviting when they were next to each other on the plate.  The produce was perfectly ripened. 

The entrance to the warehouse/office where the demonstration kitchen is located

The demonstration kitchen at Melissa's is decorated with shadowboxes of memorabilia from Julia Child's kitchen, and photos of extraordinary chefs at events with Melissa's staff.  It's fun to imagine all the stars that have come through their kitchen. 

Utensils from Julia Child's Kitchen
Signing my copy!
In Joan's presentation, she demonstrated her technique for making preserved lemons (see the first photo).  I'll absolutely be testing her method this summer, so I'll leave the step-by-step directions for another post.  Having known little about Jewish cooking before this event, I was so absorbed with all of Joan's stories.  She impressed me with the way she put the history of Jewish food in context not only across time, but across the continents.  The recipes in this book come from France, Italy, El Salvador, Canada, and beyond. 

I came away from the event with a box packed full of wonderful Melissa's products.  I'll be cooking for the next month with the ingredients I brought home - ginger, dried cherries, pine nuts, chestnuts, fresh tomatoes, potatoes, lemons, butternut squash, lentils, all organic and all delicious.  I'll be sure to photograph my box after the next event.  For this first time, I was so excited I couldn't wait to use it all!  The first thing I made was an egg white quiche with Melissa's organic Butternut Squash, basil pesto, and Jarlsburg cheese.  It was the perfect touch of comfort for a Sunday at home, and the leftovers are tiding me through the week. 

My Butternut Squash, pesto and Jarlsburg Quiche

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