• Naama Shefi's pantry •
Naama Shefi’s #pineforpantry is a love letter to the sea. Whether it’s a simple tin of anchovies (her “favorite gift to give, and receive.”) or this go-to spicy Moroccan fish crudo from the Jewish Food Society’s recipe archives, Naama’s pantry is a pescatarian’s dream. In this week’s #pineforpantry installment, Jewish Food Society founder Naama Shefi tells us about her “herring obsession”, a beloved pantry pasta that leans heavily on anchovy, and one of her ultimate #pinefor (s)heroes: Liz Alpern of Gefilteria. Read on for more of her (less fishy) essentials, from the latke keychain she never leaves home without to the classic cocktail that accompanies her during all after school playdates.
Shop Naama’s Pantry
My husband designed our kitchen and I just showed up! My only two contributions were a mint colored shelf and insisting on a bar area. Besides that, I always try to have fresh produce and flowers on my counter -- the colors and scents always bring good energy and vibes to the kitchen. I love to pair them with vintage finds I collect Upstate and in the North Fork. I have a soft spot for old things and wish I had another kitchen to properly store them!
I’m inspired by my travels (mainly Israel, Mexico, Paris and Istanbul), from the seasons (I’m at the Union Square Greenmarket weekly and even if it’s not on my way I find myself there). But more than anything, I'm inspired by the recipes and stories that we share on the Jewish Food Society’s digital archive. Two recipes that I cook all the time and are still exciting to me are my friend Rinat’s Moroccan crudo and Bracha Luft’s Bulgarian spinach cakes that everyone loves.
Markets & shopping
I host friends a lot for casual gatherings -- it can be for a happy hour of Negronis & snacks during playdates or for more elaborate shabbat dinners -- so I’m constantly shopping for food!
I'm a very nostalgic person and I really make it a point to support the city’s old food institutions and smaller scale speciality shops. We must show up for the places that give this city its character, otherwise they will disappear. I live in the Lower East Side, so I’m lucky that a few of my very favorite shops are in the hood and cater to my snack-tray obsession: Di Palo’s, Russ and Daughters, The Pickle Guys and Formaggio Essex.
Ronny Brook’s yogurt and milk - the sour taste of the plain yogurt reminds me of home and I use it for everything including granola, tzatziki and dressing for salad or roasted vegetables.
Castelvetrano Olives - a dear member of the snack tray!
Smoked fish from Russ and Daughters or Acme
Herring - I have a herring obsession and have been known to carry it in my bag (!) all the way from a vendor I love in Tel Aviv to NYC -- an act that almost led to a divorce. I recently started to source herring from the greenmarket and thanks to a winning tip from the fishmonger, landed on a perfect recipe. No more fish smuggling!
Kishk - dry goat yogurt with a sharp taste that my good friend Ronit Vered always carefully sources and brings when she comes to visit. I think about it as a Palestinian version of Parmesan -- great to sprinkle on pastas and salads.
Feta - my daughter’s favorite dish is an Israeli version of mac and cheese with crumbled feta and grated fresh tomatoes.
Anchovies - love them on toast with butter, in my go-to “pantry pasta” (with garlic, parsley and Parmesan) and in salad dressing. I think that an anchovy tin is my favorite gift to give, and receive.
We have a vintage bread box that is often stocked with breads from She Wolf Bakery, mainly the “Miche”.
Olive Oil - honestly, what first drew me to Alziari oil from Provence was the colorful tin but then I discovered its amazing quality and delicious fruitiness. I use it often but have a few others for more common uses including this sharp Sicilian oil from Trader Joe’s.
NY Shuk Harissa - my official Shakshuka starter! This product has so much soul and it tastes accordingly.
Maldon salt - salt makes everything taste better, especially this salt. I buy it in bulk on Amazon.
Lemon squeezer - I use lemon on *everything* so it’s pretty essential.
Bialetti stovetop coffee maker - there is no other smell like it and I love the little ceremony around this method.
Mortar and Pestle - use it for everything including grinding spices, nuts and herbs.
Jewish Food Society ‘Latke’ keychain - I never leave home without it…
Claudia Roden’s The Book of Jewish Food is my bible. I adore her approach and research, and her writing is full of compassion. The entire JFS team constantly goes back to this book time and time again.
Dinner at the Long Table - my go-to for dinner party inspiration.
Breaking Breads - best challah recipe out there, plus bonus recipes beyond breads and pastries for hummus, schug and “Rinat’s salad.”
To Sum it Up:
Pantry item she can't live without: salt
One or two items that are always in her fridge: Ronny Brook yogurt and dry Riesling
Her go-to inspiration cookbook: The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden
Her most trusted kitchen tool: Mortar and pestle
5 adjectives that describe your pantry style: flavorful, Israeli, bold, luxurious and obsessive.
Women she pines for: The incredibly smart Israeli writer Ronit Vered, photographer/storyteller Penny De Los Santos, chef Sara Jenkins for being so thoughtful and talented, Jewish Food Society board member and Carmel Market champion Adeena Sussman (can’t wait for her new book!), the badass Liz Alpern of Gefilteria and Queer Soup Night, and my sister Halit.
Her favorite music to jam out to in the kitchen: old school hip hop