Balaboosta translates literally from Yiddish to "perfect housewife." For Einat Admony, restaurant-owner and survivor of Food Network's Chopped, this idea has nothing to do with keeping an immaculate house or having dinner ready by 5:00. To her, a balaboosta nourishes with laughter as well as with food, cares for family and friends not out of expectation but out of deep love, and perhaps most of all, cooks from the gut. This cookbook is both her ode to the modern balaboosta and her handbook for how to be one.
• Who wrote it: Einat Admony
• Who published it: Artisan
• Number of recipes: Around 150
• Recipes for right now: Zucchini Patties, Turkey Balls with Okra, Lamb Chops with Persian Lime Sauce, Harissa and Honey Hot Wings, Turkish Coffee Brownies, Kibbeh Soup, Mom's Chicken with Pomegranate and Walnuts,
• Other highlights: There is much to savor with this book. One pass through, and I've flagged a dozen or so recipes that look especially tempting. Another pass, and I find myself peering more closely at photos and getting drawn into stories of Admony's childhood and early years in the restaurant industry. Yet another pass, and I find myself turning the pages more slowly, really reading the recipes, and discovering dishes that I missed before.
Our introduction to the balaboosta lifestyle starts with the table of contents: this book is organized the way Admony (our balaboosta emissary) approaches food and cooking. The first chapter dives right into dinner party recipes — nothing super fancy here; just meals that are meant to be shared with friends. From there, she takes us into recipes to tempt kids to the table, wholesome weeknight recipes to make in a hurry and comfort foods, romantic dishes for two, and then back into recipes for entertaining.
At times, the variety of recipes can feel a little all over the place, with kid-friendly chicken fingers on one page and an elaborate traditional Israeli dish on the next — but I have decided that I really liked this approach. It feels very real and very personal. This is how most of us cook — something fancy one day, something uber-simple the next, and always a little messier than we intend — and it's refreshing to see this reflected in a beautiful, glossy cookbook!
Balaboosta is about cooking from the gut and cooking from the heart. Most of us probably want to cook this way, but don't always know how. Spend some time with this book. Peer at the snapshots of Admony's family life. Really read through the recipes. By your third or fourth pass, I think you'll start to get the idea.
• Who would enjoy this book? If you're looking for the Jewish-American dishes you grew up with or favorite Mediterranean dishes, you'll find many of them here. If you want something easy to put on the tonight's table or to serve at an upcoming dinner party, those kinds of recipes are here too. And if you've been to one of Einat Admony's restaurants and are hoping to see some favorites that you can make at home, yes, there's a whole chapter for you to plunder. There is something in Balaboosta for everyone
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: Balaboosta by Einat Admony
• Visit the author's website: Einat Admony
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.
(Images: Emma Christensen)