September 9, 2020

Levana Cooks: Cookbook Review

Love Peas Carrots Cookbook. My Book Review

Love Peas Carrots Cookbook

Love peas and carrots cookbook

Order your copy soon before they all fly off the shelves!

I confess I chuckled to myself when I received the book and slightly flinched at its weight: somebody beside me actually had the temerity of writing a comparably massive book, which never fails to trigger joking comments laced with undisguised praise. (Something like, whoa, do we use it for cooking AND for weight lifting?). Being thrown back a whole decade in time felt so good! Yes, you gotta be a shtickle crazy to hunker down to a piece of work this size and caliber. But wait till you see it: it is nothing short of magnificent, worth all the time the author spent sequestered for the writing of her Magnum Opus.

I Am Breathless, But Hardly Surprised

With her book, Author Danielle Renov lives up to the promise of the wildly popular Blog she founded, with the deceptively naive name, Peas, Love Carrots, which earns her tens of thousands of adoring fans and counting. She may even inadvertently have created her own impossible act to follow: Orson Welles’s manager famously warned him, after the publishing of his monumental debut film Citizen Kane at age twenty five, to be prepared: he may well never be able to top himself. Hmmm, good problem so far. It doesn’t hurt one bit that Artscroll Publishers outdid themselves with this splendid production. And special thank you to Danielle’s talented Publicist Carrie Bachman for everything!

Peas Love Carrots Cookbook Makes No Apologies

It is a decidedly meat-centered book. It doesn’t pretend to be a cookbook that gives equal time to soups, salads, sides, fish, poultry, beef etc. No, it is not that kind of a well-behaved book. Rather, it conveys unabashedly that author Danielle Renov winks at a specific group: she knows what your inner bon vivant loves and doesn’t dare fully confess to loving (We’re officially cowering in fear of the Instafam Eat the Rainbow Plant Food Brigade, right?). The emphasis is overwhelmingly placed on the Fleishik part of our mostly secret  dining fantasies: yes yes yes, salads and soups and fish are mighty good for you and all that jazz, we know, and including them guarantees you lifelong good health and fitness. And yes they are all included. But this point is not the primary concern of the book. The book is in fact brimming with those roasts and ribs and chops and stews and cutlets whose recipes so often elude you and come out less than perfect. This is likely the only book you will need to use to make all these dishes foolproof: You’ll look like a pro. Needless to add, vegan diners need not apply: sorry, darling vegan friends, not this time!

The Author is Determined to Introduce Herself First

And this is what makes the author every bit as interesting as her work. She is a brand. All the more remarkable than Peas Love Carrots Cookbook is Danielle’s first foray into formal writing and publishing. She comes down like a gentle ton of bricks:

  • First and foremost, there is her extensive description of what food and cooking represents for her: much more than recipes well composed and well executed. A whole philosophy of life, a holistic way of life where food, hosting and thanking The Supreme Divine Source daily for all we own and all we are and all we do are inextricably intertwined. Nothing but blessings will follow for living our life in this supremely meaningful way. This fact alone presents a humble author who considers herself – and by extension urges us to consider ourselves – as but a small albeit vital part of the Grand Cosmic Equation.
  • She coaches the reader thoroughly, and whispers in her ear that if she follows her simple wisdom and her numerous tips, she practically can’t miss. 86 things, no less, she wants you to know about food and cooking. And she’s just getting warmed up! The initial pantry and condiment chapter is gorgeous; each item in a subgroup gathered in a collective picture that makes it as effective as if you took a mini crash course on familiar and essential staple topics: stocks; dressings; marinades; salatim; condiments; mayos.
  • She evidently has a plan and a method, but she never gets didactic: she is always in full charge, but is always guided by an infectious sense of humor that makes her and her recipes totally approachable and streamlined. Challah recipe: All you knead is love, haha, brilliant. None of her recipes uses any tricks or hacks. Nothing but the real thing. As significantly, she never caves in to social media’s tiresome fads and rules and tyrannies dictating what you should eat, how you should live, what you should deem important.
  • Each side of her bicultural Moroccan-Ashkenazi heritage is fully and authentically represented, each getting its full turn in the same sandbox. Nonono, don’t try any wisecracks about Ashkenazi food being insipid to the Sephardis, or about fiery Sephardi seasonings ripping those poor uninitiated Ashkenazi palates apart. All is equally good and delicious and vibrant and proudly representative of the respective culture it hails from. Go Morocco! Go Poland!
  • Her stunning photography. Like her philosophy of food, it borders on the mystical. It remains at all times narrowly focused on the philosophy of life and cooking she is determined to convey. The serene and spartan silver-bronze-steal minimalist color palette is as fascinating as it is rustic and timeless. Still life with dinner. And it is true of each single dish. The glowing chapter Fleishigs Magazine recently devoted to the book’s food stylist Frances Boswell and photographer Moshe Wulliger at the studio caused as much anticipation and excitement as sneaking backstage and visiting a theater set.

Peas Love Carrots Cookbook Desserts

Several recipes in this chapter look too much like my little Fanny’s Arts and Crafts projects. It is short and predictable. But it is the only weak link in this gigantic essential book, so I gladly give her a dessert pass. PS don’t worry, Sfenj and Biscotti are there!

Hatzlacha!

Dear Danielle, take your beautiful book everywhere, make it part of every kitchen, print and reprint! Oh yeah, next edition, please include number of servings in each recipe.

Peas Love Carrots Cookbook: Two Fav Recipes!

Brisket pomegranate sauce. Peas Love Carrots Cookbook

Brisket Pomegranate Braised Brisket

1 (3-3.5 lb/11⁄2 kg) 2nd cut brisket

RUB

  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp sumac
  • 1 Tbsp ground mustard powder
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper

MEAT

  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 3 medium onions, halved and sliced
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 (11 oz/330 ml) bottle
  • hard apple cider 1⁄2 cup tomato sauce (not marinara)
  • 1⁄2 cup pomegranate molasses (syrup)
  • 2 cups beef stock (or 1 beef bouillon cube dissolved in 2 cups hot water)
  • to garnish (optional)
  • 1⁄4 cup pomegranate seeds

In a bowl, combine all rub ingredients.

Rinse brisket and pat dry very well.
Rub the spice mixture all over both sides of the brisket.
(The spice rub makes more than you will probably need. Freeze the rest for another brisket.)
Place spiced brisket into a ziptop bag; refrigerate overnight.
(If you’re short on time, just let spiced meat come to room temp for 1 hour. Then continue with the recipe.)

Remove from the fridge; allow brisket to come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C.

Heat a large Dutch oven or ovenproof pan over high heat.
Add oil and brisket.
Sear both sides of the meat for 4-5 minutes per side until nicely browned. Remove from Dutch oven; set aside.

To the same pot, add onions, salt, and pepper.
Cook for 4 minutes until onions are soft and translucent. Add garlic; cook for 1 minute.

Add hard cider, using a wooden spoon to stir it in and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add remaining ingredients.
Bring mixture to a boil; return brisket to the Dutch oven.
If you used a pan, pour the sauce and onions over the brisket.

Cover the pot tightly. Bake for about 11⁄2 hours.

Remove from oven; turn brisket over. Return to oven.
At this point, cooking time will vary based on the size of your meat. I suggest giving it another 45 minutes, no matter the size, and after that checking it every 30 minutes until it is soft and tender.
Mine took 3 hours total for a 4 pound brisket.

Remove from the oven and allow brisket to cool completely in the sauce. (Taking the brisket out of the sauce while it is hot will result in a dry brisket.)

If you want to shred the brisket, wait 45 minutes after you take it out of the oven and, while it is still warm, use 2 forks to shred it in the pot, where it can stay in the liquid.

To slice brisket, allow it to cool completely, then remove from sauce and slice against the grain. Garnish with pomegranate seeds, optional.

Savory Stovetop Turkey

  • 1 large whole deboned turkey breast
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp neutral oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 1⁄2 cups dry white wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1⁄4 cup duck sauce

In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper, garlic, and paprika. Season turkey breast with mixture on all sides.

Heat a pot over medium heat. Add oil; place turkey top side down and sear for 4 minutes on each side.
Remove turkey from pot; set aside.

Add onion; cook for 12 minutes.�Add garlic and tomato paste to the pot. Cook for 2 minutes until fragrant.�Add wine, bay leaves, and vinegar, stirring to scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pan.
Cook for 2 minutes; add chicken broth and duck sauce.�Return turkey to the pot, spooning some of the mixture over the top.
Bring mixture to a boil, cover pot, and reduce heat to low. Cook for 11⁄2 hours, basting every 20 minutes or so.
Serve hot and enjoy.

Tip: If making in advance, slice turkey when it’s cold, return to sauce, and reheat gently.

Hatzlacha!

Dear Danielle, take your beautiful book everywhere, make it part of every kitchen, print and reprint! Oh yeah, next edition, please include number of servings in each recipe.

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