Jewish fans of the PBS show “The Great American Recipe” were delighted by Monday’s season finale, in which New Yorker Brad Mahlof was dubbed winner of the show’s eight-episode season.
The show is devoted to “America’s wonderful melting pot of cuisine,” so it’s fitting that Mahlof himself represents a Jewish melting pot. His recipes draw from his father’s Libyan Sephardi heritage and his mother’s New York Ashkenazi roots.
The series’ companion book, “Great American Recipe Cookbook Season 2,” features Mahlof’s recipe for Mafrum and Salatim on the cover. The crown jewel of Libyan Jewish cuisine, the dish consists of meat-stuffed vegetables with salads and sides. Mafrum is traditionally made with potatoes, but Mahlof gives the dish his own unique twist by using eggplant.
His profile on the show’s website describes him as a “home chef” who hosts “epic Shabbat dinners every Friday night for his friends and family that showcase his Libyan, Israeli and Ashkenazi roots as well as other global culinary influences inspired by his love of travel.”
Among the 11 recipes the website features are the Mafrum, “Knafeh Muffins,” “Schnitzel Sandwich with Fried Eggplant & Matbucha in a Brioche Bun,” “Cod Cake with Amba Sauce and Israeli Salad,” and “Fig Upside-Down Cake with Whipped Cream.”
And of course, that perennial Jewish classic, “Matzah Ball Soup.” Reassuringly for those of us with fewer cooking skills, Mahlof’s soup recipes relies on Streit’s Matzo Ball Mix for the kneidlach. The secret Sephardic spice: saffron and turmeric.