Cookbook review: Melting-pot meals from an Israeli kitchen

"Peas Love and Carrots: The Cookbook" by Danielle Renov (ArtScroll Mesorah Publications, $39.99)

Review: “Peas, Love, and Carrots: The Cookbook” by Danielle Renov (ArtScroll Mesorah Publications, $39.99)

For those who’ve never visited Danielle Renov’s popular blog, Peas, Love and Carrots, or are not yet one of her 60,000-plus Instagram followers, the first recipe in her new cookbook speaks volumes. It’s for challah, a recipe she started working with when she was 18, and has been tweaking ever since to make the dough as versatile and approachable as possible. She supplies tips for achieving maximum fluffiness, topping ideas both savory and sweet, and instructions for freezing and thawing.

Just as importantly, she explains, is its significance to her as one of the three mitzvos (blessings) granted specifically to women. She understands why making challah can feel daunting to a novice baker, “and so I created this recipe to overcome that.”

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Half Moroccan and half Ashkenaz, Renov grew up on Long Island and moved to Israel with her husband soon after they married. She started her blog to share her values of health, family and friends, and faith by way of her kitchen.

“Peas, Love, & Carrots: The Cookbook” (ArtScroll Mesorah Publications, $39.99) is a weighty and gorgeously designed testament to her heritage and “what brings my children to the table today.” Besides challah, she offers many other recipes suitable for Rosh Hashanah (Sept. 18-20) and other Jewish occasions. But mostly, she focuses on modern, everyday family fare with global flavors accessible to all. Asian Chicken Crumble Salad — seasoned ground chicken quickly stir-fried and served atop a soy sauce-seasoned salad of bok choy and other vegetables — made a delicious low-carb meal in record time.

From the 16-quart pot of chicken soup she makes every week to the popcorn granola loaded with broken up candy bars and honey-roasted peanuts tossed together on a moment’s notice, Renov’s recipes are designed to “make the diners feel like they have been given a warm hug.” Who couldn’t use more of that?

EVENT PREVIEW

Danielle Renov at MJCCA Virtual Book Festival. 1 p.m. Sept. 9. Renov will demonstrate how to make Moroccan Matzah Ball Soup and do a Q&A with host Holly Firfir in a Zoom webinar as part of the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta’s virtual book festival. Tickets are $6. Register at atlantajcc.org/bookfestival.

Susan Puckett is a cookbook author and former food editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow her at susanpuckett.com.

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