Balaboosta: Bold Mediterranean Recipes to Feed the People You Love, written by Einat Admony, features a collection of nearly 140 recipes for every occasion. A few highlights include Kibbeh Soup, Spicy Grilled Salsa, Challah, Arugula Lover’s Salad, Cream-Bo, and Sufganiyot. I will also be sharing her recipe for Malabi with Orange Brandy Sauce following the review.
Disclosure: I received this book from Artisan in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Consume alcoholic beverages at your own risk and liability. This recipe is intended only for those over the age of 21 (in the United States). Please drink/eat responsibly.
Einat Admony is the chef/owner of Balaboosta, Taïm, and Kish Kash in New York City. She grew up in Tel Aviv to Yemenite and Persian parents and has now lived in New York for over twenty years. She has been featured in The New York Yorker, The New York Times, and on Chopped and Throwdown with Bobby Flay. Einat is also the author of Shuk: From Market to Table, the Heart of Israeli Home Cooking.
Named after the Yiddish expression for “a perfect housewife”, Balaboosta is a compilation of recipes paired with personal memories. 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.
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.
The photography is provided by Quentin Bacon. Many of the recipes are accompanied by a full page photo of the finished dish. Some step-by-step and family photos are also scattered throughout. Titles are written in English. Measurements are listed in US Customary. Each recipe has a headnote with serving size, tips, and a short intro.
This book is a great pick for those looking for Israeli and Mediterranean-inspired recipes with a twist. There is a nice range of dishes from quick and easy to more complicated. Some take as little as 15 minutes while others, like the preserved lemons, require 90 days. Most of the ingredients are readily available in the average American grocery store, but having a Middle Eastern market nearby will be helpful in locating items such as tahini, saffron, dried chickpeas, sumac, kataif, rose water, nigella seeds, and pearl couscous.
Malabi with Orange Brandy Sauce
I wanted to make an Israeli recipe to feature on the blog and was drawn immediately 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 version uses cornstarch to create a beautiful and rich creaminess. The Orange Brandy Sauce, coconut flakes, and chopped pistachios (or peanuts) really give the pudding an extra burst of flavor and texture. 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). I used this recipe for Orange Marmalade as the base for the Orange Brandy Sauce and simply omitted the thyme leaves.
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.
I especially to the chapter focusing on children. I love how Einat doesn’t differentiate between 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. 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. 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.
Malabi with Orange Brandy Sauce Recipe
Excerpt from Balaboosta
Malabi with Orange Brandy Sauce
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/3 cup 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
- Peanuts or pistachios optional
- Sweetened coconut flakes optional
For the Malabi:
- Combine the milk, cream, and sugar in a large pot over medium heat. While you're watching for your milk not to boil over, dissolve the cornstarch in the water. Once the milk comes to a boil, quickly whisk in the cornstarch along with the rose water and immediately remove from the heat.
- Pour the malabi into four individual serving cups or ramekins and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
For the sauce:
- Mix together the marmalade and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer and reduce to a little more than half, 20 to 25 minutes, stirring often to prevent the bottom from burning and the mixture from boiling over. If the foam looks like it's about to flow over, simply remove the saucepan from the heat for a few seconds and give it a quick stir before placing it back over the heat.
- When the mixture has a thick, syruplike consistency, stir in the brandy and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Remove the sauce from the heat and let cool in the refrigerator until ready to use. Just put it back on the stove over low heat and your sauce will melt right back to an ooey-gooey consistency.
- Serve the malabi straight from the cups with a generous drizzle of the orange marmalade sauce and throw in a handful of chopped peanuts or pistachios and coconut flakes if you wish.