The reigning queen of Jewish cookery, Joan Nathan, takes her readers on a culinary voyage thousands of years in the making in her new cookbook, “King Solomon’s Table, A Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking From Around the World” (Alfred A. Knopf, 383 pages, $35).
The book went on sale April 5, just in time for Passover.
Nathan’s book is brimming with the history of the Jewish people and their diaspora through Europe and eventually to America, and it provides recipes for the food traditions they developed along the way. She traces the history of some dishes back hundreds or even thousands of years.
Try out this recipe for scourtins: Small olive cookies named after the ancient press used to mash olives. The dish is popular in Nyons in the south of France, where Jews have lived since the 13th century. This makes about two dozen cookies. What you need:
▪ Eight tablespoons (one stick) unsalted butter, softened.
▪ Half a cup confectioners’ sugar.
▪ One tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil.
▪ 1.25 cups unbleached all-purpose flour.
▪ Half a cup cured black Picholine or Moroccan black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped, drained.
▪ Half a teaspoon fennel seed.
▪ One teaspoon sea salt for sprinkling.
In a large bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and the sugar until the butter is soft and pale yellow. Add the olive oil and mix well. Add the flour and mix gently but thoroughly until the dough is smooth, then add the olives and fennel seed and mix until they are incorporated into the dough.
Remove the dough to a lightly floured work surface and mold into a cylinder about one inch in diameter and about 11 inches long. Wrap with waxed or parchment paper and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
When ready to bake, heat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
With a very sharp knife, slice the dough into quarter-inch rounds and put them about half an inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with the sea salt.
Bake until golden, about 15 to 20 minutes, or until slightly brown around the edges. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
Per serving: 84 calories, 1 g protein, 8 g carbohydrates, 0 g fiber, 2 g sugars, 7 g fat (3 saturated), 10 mg cholesterol, 113 mg sodium.