WHAT IF GOLIATH had a wife? What if she too were an imposing giant chosen by the priests to bear Goliath warrior sons? And what if she crossed paths with David, the future king of Israel who was destined to slay her husband? These are the imaginative wonderings of award-winning Los Angeles-based documentary filmmaker and screenwriter Paul Boorstin in his intriguing new page-turner, David and the Philistine Woman (Top Hat, $19.95).
“Starting with one of the world’s most beloved stories—only a few paragraphs in the Bible—I felt I had to reach beyond it,” Boorstin explained. “I felt compelled to reimagine the panorama of conflict that raged during this crucial turning point in ancient history. Beginning with the ancient text, I set out to write a novel based on the narrative I envisioned between the lines while remaining faithful to the spirit of the original.”
The keen eye of a filmmaker only enhances the novel. “A novel can do things that a documentary cannot: evoke the softness of a lamb’s fleece, the delicate aromas of spices in a Jerusalem market, or the stench of rotting corpses on a battlefield. Even more important, a novel can reveal a character’s most private thoughts and feelings too intimate to ever confess on camera,” Boorstin reflected. “Unlike Moses or Abraham, David, as depicted in my novel, never hears the voice of G-d. He must seek out that voice in his own heart. Perhaps that is the spark that kindled my passion to tell this story in the first place.”
Book clubs rejoice! At last here is the historical novel we’ve been yearning for since Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent. Happily, the book’s website, www.paulboorstin.com, provides insights and questions as springboards to discussion… and the recipes to go along with them!
Inspired by the feast served to David in the novel, I am already planning the meal we will enjoy when we meet this month to discuss the book.
“…platters with delicacies unknown to David, luxuries too costly to be sold to common people in the market in Gibeah: roasted quail and venison; walnuts glazed with date honey; bowls of quince and carob with sweetened fig cakes. For him, tasting this food was like hearing bold new harmonies played on his lyre for the first time. The flavors were sharper, sweeter, spicier than any he knew. They vary as sunsets vary, he thought, no two alike, each leaving its own afterglow.”
Fortunately, Boorstin’s wife Sharon, food and travel writer and author of Let Us Eat Cake and Cooking for Love, has developed some easy, approachable recipes for the website to get us in the mood.
Begin the feast with Hummus with Toasted Pita Triangles, Sharon advises. “The Middle Eastern chickpea dip, hummus, is so popular, that you can buy it in flavors ranging from plain and roasted garlic to Sriracha, Serve a selection along with a basket of crisp packaged pita chips, or fresh pita bread that has been cut into triangles and toasted on a baking sheet for five to six minutes in a 350°F oven.”
The meal continues with Baby Greens with Apples, Toasted Walnuts, and Pomegranate Vinaigrette. “In Jewish tradition, the pomegranate is a symbol of righteousness, because it is said to have 613 seeds, which corresponds with the 613 mitzvot, or commandments, of the Torah,” she noted. Thankfully fresh pomegranate juice and seeds (arils) are widely available.
“Roasted Chicken Thighs with Dates, Olives, and Capers and Couscous Pilaf evokes the flavors of ancient times with ingredients like olives, dates, and date syrup or honey,” she said. “Date syrup is available online or at some Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods stores. Vegetarians can substitute half an acorn squash, skin on, per person for the chicken. This dish is an homage to the Silver Palate Cookbook ‘80s classic, Chicken Marbella.”
End the meal with this moist Almond Cake, made with olive oil and honey, two of the Seven Species of the bible. “The olive oil and honey lend a special fragrance,” she said. “Cover and refrigerate the leftover cake for tomorrow’s breakfast.”
(Find the salad and couscous recipes on the book’s website, www.paulboorstin.com.)
Roasted Chicken Thighs with Dates, Olives, and Capers with Couscous Pilaf
About 4 pounds chicken thighs,
bone in and skin on
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/3 cup capers
½ cup pitted green olives
½ cup roughly chopped pitted dates
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ cup dry white wine
1/3 cup date syrup or honey
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
Couscous: Go to www.paulboorstin.com
1 Place chicken in large bowl or large Ziplok bag.
2 Marinade: In small bowl, combine all other ingredients except white wine, date syrup or honey and chopped parsley, and mix well. Add chicken thighs to marinade, and, using your hands, toss until all the thighs are well covered. Cover bowl (or seal bag) and marinate in refrigerator 2 hours to 1 day, turning chicken pieces once or twice in marinade.
3 Preheat oven to 350°F.
4 Place chicken thighs, skin-side down, in large roasting pan and cover with marinade.
5 In small bowl, whisk together wine and date syrup or honey. Pour evenly over the chicken.
6 Roast chicken 30 minutes, basting once; turn skin-side up, baste again, and raise oven temperature to 375°. Roast chicken until skin is crisp, 20 to 30 minutes more, basting with marinade 2 or 3 times.
On round serving platter, spoon couscous onto outer edges and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Transfer chicken to middle of platter. Spoon the solids from marinade over chicken. Sprinkle with parsley. Pour marinade liquid into gravy boat, and serve on the side.
Almond Honey Olive Oil Cake
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup almond flour or finely ground sliced almonds
2 tsp. baking powder
¾ teaspoon fine kosher salt or fine sea salt
3 large eggs
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Grated rind of 1 orange
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup sliced almonds,
toasted (see note)
½ cup sweet orange marmalade
2 tablespoons orange liqueur, orange juice, or water
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted (see note)
1 Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease bottom and sides of 9-inch springform pan. Drop 1 tablespoon all- purpose flour into greased pan, and shake pan until all sides are covered with flour. Turn pan upside down; discard extra flour.
2 In medium-size bowl, sift both flours, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3 With electric mixer at medium speed, blend together eggs, honey, vanilla, and orange rind. Reduce speed to low; add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with olive oil in two additions, beginning and ending with flour, scraping bowl with rubber spatula as necessary. Add toasted sliced almonds; mix well.
4 Pour batter into prepared pan. Set it on middle rack of oven, and bake until cake springs back when lightly touched and edges start to brown and pull away from pan, about 45 minutes. If top browns too quickly, cover lightly with foil.
5 Remove cake from oven; let cool 15 minutes.
6 Meanwhile, heat marmalade in small saucepan or microwave until bubbly. Remove from heat and add liqueur.
7 To serve, carefully open springform pan, loosening cake with knife at edges if necessary, and remove sides. Place plate over cake, and flip cake over. Then place serving plate over cake, and flip again. Prick top all over with toothpick, and drizzle on marmalade mixture. Sprinkle with sliced almonds, and allow cake to cool completely before serving.
Source: Cooking Jewish
(Workman) by Judy Bart Kancigor
Note: Toast sliced almonds in preheated 350°F oven in single layer on ungreased baking pan until they begin to brown and smell aromatic, about 5 minutes. Check frequently as they burn easily.
Jlife Food Editor Judy Bart Kancigor is the author of Cooking Jewish (Workman) and The Perfect Passover Cookbook (an e-book short from Workman), a columnist and feature writer for the Orange County Register and other publications and can be found on the web at www.cookingjewish.com. found on the web at www.cookingjewish.com.