In Amelia Saltsman’s new cookbook, “The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen,” holidays are all part of a framework for eating that draws on the bounty of their seasons. Rather than trying to “update” the traditional foods so closely tied to these special days, Saltsman highlights all of the possibilities available to cooks.
There’s also much more variety to what’s on a Jewish table than many people think, if they stop to consider the diaspora who have been migrating all over the world for thousands of years: Eastern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and the Mediterranean.
Saltsman’s cooking is mainly inspired by the products of California’s farmers markets, where the climate and food trends closely resemble Israel’s. Yes, there's a requisite handful of latke recipes (try making them with parsnips sometime!), which add to Saltsman’s point that using local ingredients and modern cooking methods can reimagine any dish — and, incidentally, often make it healthier.
For a dish that showcases the best of early fall, try her recipe for tzimmes, a traditional sweet stew. Saltsman’s version doesn’t have any added sugar, relying only on the natural sweetness of the fruits and vegetables.