Hi, my name is Jennifer Abadi and I specialize in preserving Sephardic and Judeo-Arabic recipes, food memories, and traditions. My area of expertise covers a range of Jewish cuisines (from Syria, Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Italy, Georgia, Afghanistan, Bukharia, Iran, Iraq, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Ethiopia, and India), and for more than twelve years I have been a culinary instructor teaching my personally developed recipes from these communities in the following professional cooking schools: the Jewish Community Center (JCC Manhattan), the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE), and the Natural Gourmet Institute, as well as in private homes. I give Jewish food tours on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, and work for a variety of clients in the New York City area as a personal chef. I am an active member of the New York Women’s Culinary Alliance (NYWCA) as well as Cookstr.com. I’ve done multiple food demonstrations on NBC, ABC, and Fox 5 News, and have been interviewed by such radio shows as “Awake, Alive, and Jewish,” “Radio Sefarad: The English Corner” (in Spain), and “Secret Cuisines & Sacred Rituals.” I was featured on an episode of LunchNYC (on NYC life, Channel 25 Time Warner) focusing on healthy ethnic cooking and culture in New York City. I wrote and illustrated my first cookbook-memoir, A Fistful of Lentils: Syrian-Jewish Recipes from Grandma’s Fritzie’s Kitchen based upon recipes and stories from my family, and I am currently completing my second cookbook that focuses on Sephardic and Middle Eastern recipes, traditions, and memories for Passover.
Every month I write for my blog TooGoodToPassover about my discoveries for my cookbook.
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A Fistful of Lentils: Syrian-Jewish Recipes From Grandma Fritzie’s Kitchen
I embarked upon this cookbook project to record all of the delicious Syrian dishes that I had grown up with and was afraid would be lost over time. In the 1970s, my mother Annette and my Aunt Essie first decided to collect my great-grandmother Esther’s recipes. Carefully observing her in the kitchen and eking out as many Old World secrets as they could, they gathered a substantial number of recipes, resulting in a three-ring binder that provided us with many successful Syrian dinner parties. Thirty years later I picked up from where they left off, cooking alongside my own grandmother Fritzie, translating her “handfuls of this” and “pinchfuls of that” into standard measurements for others to follow. The stories that my grandmother Fritzie shared with me while cooking became as much a part of the experience as the cooking itself, culminating in my cookbook-memoire, A Fistful of Lentils. A labor of love from beginning to end, I hope that this cookbook serves as a torch holder of a remarkable culture that has clung to its origins with pride and tenacity over thousands of miles and many years, and that its recipes will continue to be preserved and appreciated by both present and future generations.