Balaboosta, named after the Yiddish expression for “a perfect housewife”, is a compilation of recipes and personal memories from Einat Admony. The term Balaboosta started as a well-respected title reserved for women who took care of their families and homes. Einat has redefined the word to include anyone who celebrates life and brings joy to others with food and entertaining.
Quite the Balaboosta herself, Einat Admony is the chef/owner of three restaurants in New York City (Balaboosta, Taïm, and Bar Bolonat) and the mother of two young children. She has also been featured on Chopped and Throwdown with Bobby Flay. She grew up in Israel to Yemenite and Persian parents and the cookbook highlights her heritage. Recipes include a mixture of Israeli, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean dishes and ingredients.
Instead of the usual chapter layout based on course, the recipes have been arranged based on social situation. Included are the Introduction; The Grown-Up Table: Casual Dinner Party Dishes; Kidding Around: Recipes to Feed Your Kids; Hurry, Hurry, Hurry: Quick and Easy Meals; The First Cut is the Deepest: Foods that Comfort; Just the Two of Us: Romantic Dishes; The Backyard Barbecue: Recipes Best Enjoyed Outdoors; Fat Like Me: Healthier Options; When Dinner Can Wait: Slow-Cooked Recipes; Thinking About Home: Mostly Israeli Recipes; Fancy-Schmancy: Restaurant-Worthy Dishes; and Can’t Live Without: Basics for Everyday Use.
I was immediately drawn to the chapter focusing on children. I love how Einat doesn’t separate kid foods and grown-up foods. Her recipes include red velvet gnocchi (gnocchi with pureed beets), banana date lime smoothies, flavored popcorn, veggie chips, and more. She offers tips that helped feed her children, such as paying attention to textures and colors. She also talks about the importance of having your children help with the meal prep. This is one of my favorite activities with my son. He doesn’t always completely participate. Some days, he plays with cookie cutters and measuring cups while I chop vegetables, but we still have fun together. Claire is still a bit young, but I can’t wait until she is old enough to join us (other than being strapped to my chest in the carrier). Evan never had baby food. He started eating at just shy of 6 months old by sampling various fruits and vegetables from our plates. There are so many recipes from the first months of the blog with him trying everything from sweet potatoes to tomato salad. That all changed when he hit 2 1/2 years. He suddenly became picky. Peanut butter sandwiches, pasta, yogurt, bread, and smoothies became his main menu items. I have held strong by still offering a variety of foods and he is slowly coming back around. I searched through Einat’s recipes in this section to see if there was something he would try. With Evan’s love of pasta, I tried the Sneaky Noodles first. Finely grated zucchini, carrots, tomatoes, and onions are simmered with tomato juice and tossed with pasta. It was a hit and I felt accomplished feeding my child such an assortment of vegetables.
I had some extra tahini in the fridge and whipped up the Roasted Pepper Tahini. It came together easily. The longest part involved roasting and peeling the bell peppers. Everything else is tossed in the food processor. It was quite addictive and I found myself reaching for more bread to sop up the last remaining drops. There are so many other recipes I have bookmarked to try. I am particularly excited about the Homemade Kit Kats on the menu plan for next week.
There is a nice range of easy dishes to more complicated. Some take as little as 15 minutes while others, like the preserved lemons, take 90 days. Most of the recipes have part to full page photos. Some step-by-step and family photos are also scattered throughout. Not all the recipes are kosher.
I wanted to make an Israeli recipe to feature on the blog and was drawn to Einat’s Malabi with Orange Brandy Sauce. Malabi is an Israeli milk pudding flavored with rose water. It has it’s origins throughout the Middle East as Muhallabia. There are various ways to set the pudding (often rice flour or gelatin), but this particular recipe uses cornstarch to create a beautiful creaminess. The Orange Brandy Sauce, coconut flakes, and chopped pistachios (or peanuts) really give the pudding an extra something. Berry sauces/syrups are also popular toppings. Both the Malabi and the orange sauce take just a few minutes to prepare, but the pudding needs time to refrigerate until completely chilled (overnight is best).
Rose water is becoming more available in larger grocery stores. You can also try international markets featuring Middle Eastern or Mediterranean ingredients. If you don’t have these options, it is available on Amazon: Cortas Rose Water, 10-Ounce Bottles (Pack of 4).
Disclaimer: I received this book from Artisan for review. All opinions stated are my own. I am also a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program and earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
Malabi with Orange Brandy Sauce (Israeli Milk Custard)
Adapted from Balaboosta
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons rose water
Orange Brandy Sauce:
1 cup orange marmalade
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon brandy
Chopped pistachios or peanuts
In a large saucepan, combine milk, heavy cream, and sugar over medium heat.
In a small bowl, whisk cornstarch into water to dissolve.
Once the milk comes to a boil, whisk in the dissolved cornstarch and rose water. It will immediately thicken. Remove from heat.
Divide the pudding among 4 serving glasses. Cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours.
To prepare the orange marmalade: In a small saucepan, combine marmalade and water over medium heat. Once it comes to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer. Stir often and continue to cook until reduced by a little more than half, 20-25 minutes. Once the marmalade has thickened and become a syrupy consistency, whisk in the brandy. Continue to cook for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve. It will thicken further in the refrigerator. To thin when ready to use, place over low heat on the stove until warmed through.
Serve the pudding topped with orange brandy marmalade and sprinkled with nuts and coconut flakes.