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Backyard Kitchen: The Main Course (Sephardic Heritage Project, 2020) is a collection of entree recipes handed down from mother to daughter over several generations. It is the second in a series of kosher cookbooks, each with a different theme.

With over 90 recipes and magnificent images, Backyard Kitchen: The Main Course, offers entrée recipes, most of them traditional to Middle Eastern homes. Some recipes have been Americanized or are offered with healthier ingredients than what was available a century ago.

The genesis for Backyard Kitchen came from Esther Salem, Sarina’s Syrian grandmother, who came to America as an immigrant in 1921, and could not read or write. She met Selim, her future husband, at the Egyptian Rose restaurant, owned by her sister, on the Lower East Side. When they moved to Bensonhurst, Esther and Selim converted the garage of their home into a kosher kitchen – a backyard kitchen.

Backyard Kitchen Mediterranean Salads

The Backyard Kitchen cookbooks were inspired by my grandmother Esther Cohen Salem who built a kitchen in the backyard garage of their Bensonhurst home.  She and my grandfather, Selim, were the first to own a Syrian catering service in the Syrian Jewish Community in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. A natural cook, Esther never measured ingredients, but used touch, taste and feel as her guide. Over the years, my grandmother's recipes were measured and directions were carefully written down. The series starts with Mediterranean Salads and Pickles. The book is perfect for beginners, the diet conscious, vegetarians and kosher cooks.

I would like to thank design director Ruby Buckris, photographer Michelle Dayan and food stylist Elliot Chrem, for bringing this first cookbook to life.

Video Demonstrations

Backyard Kitchen: Mediterranean Salads

Israeli Salad

Mint Yogurt and Cucumber Salad

Moroccan Carrot Salad (Jazar Salata) Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 (dressing)

Sephardi Style Bean Salad

Seven Species Couscous