The Gift of Shabbat

Adeena Sussman’s latest New York Times bestselling cookbook “Shabbat” is an intensely personal love letter.

Adeena Sussman’s latest New York Times bestselling cookbook “Shabbat” is an intensely personal love letter. An ode to her grandmother Mildred, her mother Steffi and her older sister Sharon, as well as the “sacred bubble” that her parents created every Shabbat when she was growing up in Palo Alto. It is also a warm invitation into her bright, beautiful, modern kitchen in Tel Aviv. And it is a vivid personal journal of the foods that Jewish people prepare to celebrate the holy day of rest.

Adeena lovingly records the cultural kaleidoscope of the Jewish immigrant kitchen in Israel.

Adeena lovingly records the cultural kaleidoscope of the Jewish immigrant kitchen in Israel. The descriptions that accompany each recipe are enticing tales of personal and culinary history and the list of recipes illustrate the varied multitude of Jewish culture. The bright, sun-dappled photography and the beautiful food styling reflect the relentless optimism of the Jewish story. 

Her bread chapter features variations on classic challah as well as Yemenite Jachnun and Ethiopian dabo. Her appetizers include the uber Ashkenazi Gribenes and Schmaltz, as well as the Syrian meat-topped flatbreads lachmagine and an array of the salatim (dips) that are so popular in Israel. Her soups include Jewish penicillin, aka matzah ball soup, a lentil, white bean and cauliflower soup, our favorite Iraqi beet kubbeh soup and an Uzbeki Jewish dumpling soup. 

Her mains include Steffi’s Brisket, Algerian meatballs and the stunning chicken thighs with roasted figs and grapes recipe that is featured on the cover of the book. Desserts include the exotic sounding pistachio frangipane and blood orange galette and the throwback vibes of her Grandma Mildred’s Fruit Compote. 

The book is filled with wonderful hints for easy prep and time-saving hacks and myriad ways to incorporate fresh and healthful produce into your repertoire. It’s an invitation into a vision for relaxed meals and forging connections around the table. 

We have been fans of Adeena for a long while. We love how she takes her Instagram followers to the Shuk Ha’Carmel in Tel Aviv every week. Showing us her favorite produce stands and her favorite vendors and introducing us to her friends in the Shuk and the interesting stories that come along the way. So we were excited to be invited to her book launch event at OBKLA (Our Big Kitchen LA). 

Although she had been on the road, all over the United States promoting her book, she greeted us with a big smile. It was like being with an old friend. She was so friendly and gracious to all who attended the event (produced by the gift shop Gifted LA).

We loved listening to her in conversation with her old camp friend Julie Gruenbaum Fax, reminiscing about her childhood Shabbats. We loved her descriptions of her Shabbats in Israel where everything is casual, with last minute invitations to friends she runs into on the street or in the Shuk. She told the audience that she loves to bake homemade challah on a Friday and to whip up a fun cocktail to make her guests feel extra special. That she prefers to serve only one main dish and lots of salatim and side dishes and one special dessert. She left us with the happy feeling that it’s all about the warmth and the spirituality of the gift of Shabbat.


Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Desserts like this typically indicate a summery climate, but a dish brimming with sweet, ripe fruit might be even more important in the winter, when unearthing a frozen stash of juicy berries, then baking them underneath a shattering, melt-in-your-mouth shell, can truly feel like a ray of sunshine.
Pouring the butter over the top of the sandy crisp mixture may be a new technique to you, but have faith – justice will prevail, and the topping will transform into a layer begging to be cracked open.
It’s heaven warm out of the oven, and possibly even better the next day, eaten with a spoon right out of the dish.

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks/6 ounces/170 grams) unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted, or neutral oil, plus more for greasing the pan
1 pound (450 grams) fresh cherries, preferably sour, stemmed and pitted (about 3 cups), or frozen (not thawed)
1 pound (450 grams) assorted fresh berries, such as blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries (about 3 cups), or frozen (not thawed)
1 cup (130 grams) plus 2 tablespoons (16 grams) all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp (2 grams) finely grated lemon zest
1 Tbsp (15 grams/ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp (7.5 grams) ground cardamom
1/2 tsp (3 grams) fine sea salt
1 cup (200 grams) sugar
1 1/4 tsp (5 grams) baking powder
1 large egg white, beaten
1/2 cup (45 grams) sliced almonds
Vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch round baking dish generously with butter. In a large bowl, toss the cherries and berries with 2 tablespoons of the flour, the lemon zest and juice, ½ teaspoon of the cardamom, and ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Transfer to the prepared dish.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 cup (130 g) flour with the sugar, the remaining 1 teaspoon cardamom and ¼ teaspoon salt, the baking powder, and the egg white until a sandy mixture forms, then stir in the almonds. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit, then drizzle the melted butter evenly all over the surface.
3. Bake until golden and bubbling around the edges, 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving. Serve with ice cream, if desired.

From SHABBAT by Adeena Sussman, published by Avery, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, adivision of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright @ 2023 by Adeena Sussman

Rachel Sheff and Sharon Gomperts have been friends since high school. They love cooking and sharing recipes. They have collaborated on Sephardic Educational Center projects and community cooking classes. Follow them on Instagram @sephardicspicegirls and on Facebook at Sephardic Spice SEC Food.

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