Adeena Sussman grew up in California and built a career in food writing and recipe development in New York City. She’s helped turn celebrities like supermodel/TV personality Chrissy Teigen into best-selling cookbook authors. But Israel is where her heart lies.
Numerous extended visits there instilled in Sussman an insatiable appetite for Israel’s vibrant culture and cuisine. Then, she fell in love with an American expat who convinced her to join him in Tel Aviv in 2015. They’re married now, living in an apartment within footsteps of the beachfront city’s bustling historic Carmel Market, known as Shuk HaCarmel (“the shuk” for short). From the time she arrived, daily trips to the shuk have become “the organizing principle of my days, a comforting routine that has evolved into a way of life,” Sussman writes.
She captures this routine in vivid detail in her gorgeous first solo cookbook, whose fitting title — “Sababa” — means “everything is awesome.”
The book revolves around how Sussman cooks at home with the kaleidoscopic bounty procured from these short excursions, beginning with a collection of homemade spice blends and condiments that serve as flavor-packed building blocks for much of her cooking.
I have a bottle of pomegranate molasses I tracked down at Your Dekalb Farmers Market, but am glad to know I can make it by simply reducing pure pomegranate juice and honey according to her instructions. Many of her recipes call for it (including Arugula Salad with Dates, Feta and Pistachios as well as Pecan-Lime Muhamarrah Dip made with roasted sweet peppers — both delicious), and I have a feeling I’ll run out soon.
Even an ocean away, Sussman easily relates to the American home cook with practical and accessible tools and techniques. She shows us how to bake pita in a cast-iron skillet, make a classic Jewish egg-bound casserole called pashtida fortified with asparagus and cheese in a sheet pan, and coat fig and yogurt popsicles in a Tahini Magic Shell of tahini paste and coconut oil.
That all sounds pretty awesome to me — or should I say, sababa!
Susan Puckett is a cookbook author and former food editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow her at susanpuckett.com.