Honey & Co., the London-based, Middle-Eastern café, beloved for producing the kind of honest, homey food you crave, has blessed home cooks everywhere with a cookbook of the same name. True to form, it is filled with recipes that you’ll no doubt want to cook as much for your family on a Tuesday night as you will for company come Saturday.
It also tells the heartwarming story of its creators—Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich, a food-obsessed couple from Israel who immigrated to London on Christmas Day in 2004 because of an infatuation with their favorite cookbook, Nico. Now, with a place of their own, their dream of creating “a noisy, crazy, sexy, smoky, messy, food-/love-/people-celebration of a place” has come true.
From dips to pickles, shawarma to savory cheesecake, they’re now bringing the joy of the Middle-Eastern kitchen into your home. Here are 5 of our favorite takeaways from Honey & Co.:
1. Maximum Value, Minimum Effort
The recipes in this cookbook aren’t meant to impress merely by the size of their ingredient lists or the complexity of their methods. Instead, the dishes are made to highlight the beauty of the ingredients and yield the best results without overwhelming the cook with technique. In essence, these recipes are successful because they are made with heart rather than requisite skill.
2. Fresh Ingredients Make a Dish
With the exception of preserves, the fresher the ingredient, the better the taste. That’s why it’s better not to buy pre-minced garlic or bottled lemon juice. The flavor of these ingredients changes and dulls over time.
3. Building a Foundation of Base Recipes
The cookbook operates around a few base recipes that are used regularly throughout; they form the foundation of a variety of dishes. These recipes are outlined in the beginning of the cookbook and include spice mixes and pastes, homemade tahini, and preserved lemons.
This concept is a great strategy to adopt into your home kitchen, as well. A few reliable homemade pantry staples guarantee a flavor boost in any dish you make, and act as secret weapons in everyday cooking.
4. A Pantry Full of Cola Bottles?
In the same vain, canned and pickled foods are the little warriors of better home cooking. They are shelf-stable and concentrated in flavor and aroma that complements and perfumes almost any food you cook.
Sarit and Itamar have begun pickling cucumbers in cola bottles at home, as the narrow tops mimic the shapes of clay pots that were used for pickling in the old days.
The bottles are filled with cucumbers, covered in brine, dill, and garlic, and left in the sun to cure, and the result can only be extracted by cutting open the tops of the bottles two or three days later, when the pickles are “still alive with flavor and color and just starting to turn.”
5. It’s All in the Details
Throughout the cookbook, Sarit and Itamar give advice for substitutions, what to serve their dishes with, how to serve them, and on what. These little tidbits may seem inconsequential, but in fact, they educate the home cook to be adaptable and detail-oriented. After all, food tastes bests when all elements are considered, from the taste to the presentation, and when the cook feels at ease preparing it.
Their self-deprecating humor and casual tone makes them feel more like a friend giving you their two-cents on what to cook for dinner tonight than a chef unloading his doctrine on you. This is why the book is so easy to consume; it’s the kind of food you actually want to eat, presented by the type of people you want to eat it with.
Want more Honey & Co.? Check out Honey & Co: The Baking Book!
Published on March 19, 2017