2019 was an exciting year for Israeli superstar Chef Michael Solomonov. His restaurant Zahav, co-owned with Steve Cook, took home the 2019 James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant, the top prize awarded in the category. It’s the first time a Philadelphia restaurant has won this prestigious award.
This wasn't the first time they’ve won big, either: Back in 2016, Solomonov and Cook won the 2016 James Beard Award for the Cookbook of the Year for Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking.
We’re thrilled to share eight of Chef Solomonov’s personal recipes, which he’s kindly made available on ReformJudaism.org for your culinary enjoyment. Try them out and enjoy a little bit of Zahav right from the comfort of your own home!
- Hummus Techina: The secret to the smooth texture of Israeli hummus is a hearty helping of tahini. This simple recipe will knock it out of the park every time. Solomonov recommends garnishing with the herbs, spices, and oils of your choice.
- Poppy Seed Cake with Blueberries and Labneh: The combination of sweet and tart make this cake – based on a madeleine batter and topped with Israeli yogurt – incredibly tasty. Serve with fruit for a fresh finish.
- Chocolate Babka: Yeast cakes hail from Eastern Europe and are popular in Ashkenazi cuisine. This classic chocolate babka is difficult to resist, but if you have any leftovers, it also makes for a perfect French toast.
- Turkish Coffee Ice Cream: This version of coffee ice cream kicks it up a notch by using Turkish coffee and cardamom for a richer flavor. Pro-tip: Serve it with chocolate babka for an out-of-this-world dessert combo.
- Pink Lentil Soup with Lamb Kofte: This soup is a hearty meal all on its own. As Solomonov said when he created the recipe, “The soup tasted just like an Israeli kebab shop, or as restaurant critic Craig LaBan was to write a few weeks later, ‘Jerusalem in a bowl.’"
- Latkes with Gravlax: Making the perfect, crispy latke is easier than you think! Pair it with your own home-brined gravlax and this take on a classic recipe really shines.
- Mom’s Honey Cake with Apple Confit: Honey cake is a beloved staple around Rosh HaShanah, with the honey symbolizing wishes for a sweet near year – but it’s just as delicious year-round. This version pairs well with coffee, or even with savory spreads such as goat cheese.
- Jerusalem Hummus: The addition of hot, spiced ground beef with pine nuts turns this common condiment into a delightful dish perfect on cold winter nights. It pairs perfectly with oven-warm pita.