Mollie Katzen's Sukkot Menu
Secret Tables of Gotham
Bourdain Invades Israel
Tamar Adler's Fried Jewish Artichokes
Save the Bubbes!
The Curious History of Kosher Salt
Shiva for Stage Deli
Berlin's Jewish Foodie Comeback
The Great Deli Rescue
Romping Through the Jewish Pumpkin Patch
Haimish to Haute, NYC Transforms Jewish Food
Bay Area's DIY Jewish Food Movement
Yid.Dish Recipe Box
'Inside the Jewish Bakery’
The Bacon Problem
Manischewitz Goes Sephardic
Jews and the Booze
Jews and Beer
Taking the Food Tour That Keeps on Feeding
At Kosher Feast, Fried Locusts for Dessert
Live Long and Super: Supermarket History
A Slice of Hebrew Pizza
Grow and Behold: A New Line of Kosher Chicken Launches A Conversation Around Jewish Food Ethics
When In Rome… Eat Like the Jews Do
A Letter to Our Readers
JCarrot Archives: 2006-August 2010
Shabbat Dinner, With Panache
Next Generation Challah
I don’t often get the opportunity to read books about people I know in real life. Something about the written word is a distant and surreal fantasy world sandwiched between two hard covers. Even if I was reading about real characters, they were never real to me.
However, in reading Fred Bahnson’s newest book Soil and Sacrament: A Spiritual Memoir of Food and Faith, I had the thrilling opportunity to read about people I really know and work with regularly (yes, Fred Bahnson, hirsute is exactly the right word to describe that man, and yes, he is like a benevolent king). Knowing that the people that Bahnson describes in his spiritually uplifting memoir really exist, made the book all the more incredible. It reminded me of my favorite Margaret Meade line “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world – indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”.
In this memoir, Bahnson recounts four life changing experiences that led him to become the founding director at Anathoth community garden, and current director of the Food, Faith & Religious Leadership Initiative at Wake Forest University School of Divinity. His stories are rich, passionate, and honest. They are chronicles of thoughtful, committed individuals working to change the world. Here are just some of passages that made me wonder how I can change the world too:
Based on Smitten Kitchen’s lentil soup with sausage, chard, and garlic
1/4 c olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
A pinch of chili pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
4 turkey or chicken Italian sausages (not pre-cooked), with the casings removed
1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes
6 c chicken or vegetable broth
1 c dried lentils
2 heaping handfuls of Kale, chopped into 1-2 inch pieces
In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft, 5-7 minutes. Add garlic, chili flakes, salt and pepper, and cook for 2 more minutes.
Add the sausage and break up into small pieces with a spoon. Heat until cooked through.
Open the can of tomatoes and chop them into roughly 1/2-inch chunks. An easy way to do this is by cutting them with a pair of kitchen scissors while they’re still in the can. Add the tomatoes (with their juices) and the broth to the pot.
When the soup boils, rinse and add the lentils. Simmer for about 30 minutes, until the lentils are cooked. Add the kale and simmer for 5 more minutes.
Keren Shahar-Karbe’s Israeli Shakshuka with Feta Cheese:
Ingredients (Serves 2):
6 tablespoons vegetable oil (not olive oil)
1 diced red paprika
4 grounded garlic cloves
5 very ripe diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
120 ml water
1 teaspoon of sweet paprika
1-2 chopped hot dry chili sea salt
¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder
80 gram crumbled soft feta cheese
Fry the diced paprika until tender, then add the garlic. When the garlic gets golden – careful, it happens quickly! – add the diced tomatoes, the tomato paste and the water. Cook on low fire until the tomatoes get tender.
When the tomatoes are ready, add the spices and the cheese and stir carefully.
Open an egg in a small bowl. Carefully scoop a ‘hole’ in the tomato sauce and slide the egg in. Repeat with all the eggs. Cover the pan and cook on low fire.
When the eggs are cooked but not too hard yet, sprinkle the fresh chopped parsley and serve fresh with warm challah.
It could be just another store renovation in Berlin’s thriving Mitte-district. But Keren Shahar-Karbe is beaming as she walks through the empty rooms of a former art gallery. Some walls have holes and cables stick out of them. “So much has already changed,” Shahar-Karbe said, visibly excited.
In September, the 34-year-old Israeli started renovating the retail space with the two large windows and a door that opens to tree-lined Torstrasse, a street filled with cafés and shops. A few weeks from now, Shahar-Karbe, who currently runs the kosher catering service Keren’s Jewish Kitchen together with her husband, will be opening her own kosher Israeli café and bistro in this space. It aims to be a place for Berlin’s growing Israeli community as well as lovers of Israeli food and culture to connect and hang out.
The house belonged to a Jewish family until they were dispossessed by the Nazis. In the early ’90s, it was used as a squatter camp for anarchists. Now it is back in the possession of the original owners, who live in Israel. Shahar-Karbe plans to put up a plaque commemorating its history — right next to the library of Hebrew books and gallery of Jewish art for which she has dedicated the backroom.
Shahar-Karbe, a Jerusalem native, is a gastronomy veteran. “I did the whole circle around the kitchen work,” she says. She started working next to her studies during high school, and has since worked as a dishwasher, waitress, cook and baker. From early on, she would help her grandmothers in the kitchen, where she learnt to prepare typical dishes of the Mizrahi cuisine — some of which are still her favorites today: kibbeh (stuffed croquette), jachnun (rolled pastry) and bourekas (filled pastry).
It wasn’t until she moved to Berlin five years ago — “for pragmatic reasons”, she points out — that she turned her passion into full-time profession. “I tried all sorts of directions in my life,” said Shahar-Karbe, who also worked with children, as a mortgage consultant and in a bike shop, just to name a few. “But always the kitchen somehow came back,” she added. “And finally I had to say, well, that’s where I am.”
Read Shahar-Kerbe’s recipe for Shakshuka With Feta Cheese
In August, I left Brooklyn and moved to the North Dakota-Minnesota border where my boyfriend, Nick, is a fifth-generation farmer. I arrived just in time for harvest, so with Nick’s 14-hour tractor shifts, our Shabbat meals have been improvised, eaten out of Thermoses, and rustic. (“Rustic” is just my glorified way of saying that bits of soil from the field may or may not have made their way onto our utensils by the time we ate.)
What the locals don’t specify when you’re warned about the brutal winters here is that soup weather arrives much earlier than it does in Brooklyn. Which is something to celebrate; you take what you can when the tales of -40 degree temperatures start circulating. And so my favorite Shabbat meal thus far was a few weeks ago during navy bean harvest. It consisted of a simple but filling soup, shared with Nick during a very bumpy chisel-plowing ride.
The soup is a lentil soup, and it’s one that I made nearly every week during soup weather when I lived in Brooklyn. I’d add kale from the Grand Army Plaza greenmarket and sausage from Fleischer’s; this time I added kale from the farmstead garden and sausage from a local turkey farm. Both renditions were amazing.
Perched up on our little tractor seats, two spoons and one Thermos, our first bites instantly brought us back to Brooklyn in the fall. It was the kind of nostalgia that you really only get from a warm comforting dish, and it came on like a strong drink on an empty stomach. As the sun went down, we gobbled up that soup, and I peered out the tractor window where the crops stretched into the horizon. It wasn’t a traditional Shabbat, and admittedly it wasn’t totally restful either, but it was indeed memorable, beautiful, and delicious.
Click here for Molly Yeh’s recipe for lentil, sausage and kale soup to warm those cold Shabbat nights.
October has come, and the warmth of the summer has fled those parts of these United States that only carry it seasonally. While Florida and California continue to sip their sparkling white wines, other regions are looking forward to that most enticing of prophylactic belly-glows: whisky.
For those few chilly areas of the Holy Land, or perhaps in case the Middle East suffers a spot of global cooling, Simon Fried and his partners at the Milk and Honey Distillery are making whisky.
The Forward’s Dan Friedman emailed with Fried about the challenges of single malt whisky production in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s backyard.
Dan Friedman: There are three things you need to make whisky: water, barley and time. Israel doesn’t obviously have any of those, so why do you want to set up a distillery in Israel?
Simon Fried: We want to set up a whisky distillery in Israel for several reasons. On a personal level, as individuals, the distillery’s founders are all whisky buffs. Some have craft and home-brewing experience from Israel. I have worked as a business consultant to Macallan. We want to and believe we can make a good whisky. Secondly, there is a growing movement of world whiskies. As we see it each whisky serves as an ambassador for its country of origin. We wanted to create such an ambassador. We want to make a kosher whisky that Jewish people and friends of Israel can be proud of.
Five years ago, my father had an emergency quadruple bypass and my physician did a full cardiac blood workup on me. I was 38, never overweight and an avid CrossFitter. The results showed that I had high inflammation and high cholesterol and my physician recommended baby aspirin and a statin – for the rest of my life. My desire not to be on a drug that could damage my liver led me to learn about how food could help.
Turns out that our U.S. beef supply is pretty bad for our health. Industrial farming ensures fewer people go hungry, which is good, but also has fundamentally changed the nutritional composition of foods – and this is bad. In current New York Times Bestseller, Grain Brain, Dr. David Perlmutter, aggregates extensive, peer reviewed research about how grains and gluten lead to inflammation that is correlated to heart disease, Alzheimer’s, MS, cancer, ADHD, ADD and more. He treats neurological illness and disorder with food. The winning combination is veggies, dietary fats (nuts, avocados, lean meats) and protein – and no grains. In the CrossFit community, it’s called Paleo.
After spending this past summer working on an organic farm I became enamored with composting. It is a way of giving old food new life and it’s the great equalizer of all food – whether delicious or not, healthful or not, expensive or not, or organic or not, it all decomposes and becomes part of the same soil.
This summer I also became, rather late into the movement, an advocate of buying organic. I came to see it as a way for individuals to take a step toward the goal of creating and living out a more sustainable food system where both people and resources are valued. As a result, I began to view conventional agriculture’s use of pesticides as a distinct inhibitor to achieving this kind of system.
The Chief Rabbinate has issued a warning that wine produced by the first Israeli winery to be supervised by the Masorti Movement, as the Conservative Movement is called in Israel, is not kosher.
“The Conservative Movement is forbidden by law to authorize kashrut,” the Rabbinate wrote on the page devoted to kashrut updates on its website. “[These] Products … should not be sold in stores under the supervision of the local rabbinates. Let the public know and be warned.”
A month ago, Haaretz published the story of Rujum, a tiny boutique winery in the southern town of Mitzpeh Ramon that had decided to challenge the Orthodox Rabbinate’s monopoly on kashrut supervision, and specifically, the very strict laws that pertain to winemaking.
Rujum does not claim that its wines are kosher by Orthodox standards; its wines do not bear the kashrut label of the Rabbinate, which is the sole authority recognized in Israel on the matter.
The Masorti Movement requires that all ingredients used in wine be kosher, and most of the commandments specific to produce grown in Israel are observed.
For more go to Haaretz
Some people will go to amazing lengths to enjoy Montreal smoke meat, a sort of cross between pastrami and corned beef.
Alexei (Lex) Gopnik-Lewinski used to smuggle vacuum-packed smoke meat (also known as smoked meat) across the border every time he would come home to Berkeley, California after visiting family in Montreal. Then, one time two years ago, he was busted by customs as he tried to cross the border with 15 pounds of the stuff.
“They confiscated $150 worth of smoke meat!” Gopnik-Lewisnki exclaimed. “That was it. It was at that moment that I decided I had to learn how to make it myself.”
A musician and broadcaster by profession, Gopnik-Lewinski, 35, faced a steep culinary learning curve. However, by the way his Augie’s Montreal Smoke Meat (named for his young son) has been tickling people’s taste buds, it would seem that he is a quick study.
Blake Joffe and Amy Remsen invited Gopnik-Lewinski to do seven smoke meat pop- ups in August and September at their Beauty’s Bagel Shop (they do Montreal-style bagels) in Oakland. Customers were lined up out the door and down the block, buying a total of 1,000 pounds of the newly-minted deli man’s smoke meat. Customers had the choice of enjoying it either in a sandwich on Wise Sons Deli rye bread, or crumbled over traditional poutine. Poutine, a favorite of Quebecers, is French fries topped with a special gravy and cheese curds (and in this case, also some smoke meat).
“Would You Make This?” is a sporadic new column where personal chef Alix Wall evaluates a new cookbook by making some of its recipes, sharing them with friends and asking what they think of the results.
The truth about deli food like pastrami, most of us tend not to eat it very often (and for that, our cardiologists thank us). When we do want a pastrami sandwich, it’s much easier to go out for one, rather than brine your own meat for five days, power up a smoker and wait for hours until you have a perfect piece of meat. Same goes for rolling and boiling bagels and baking rye bread or chocolate babka. But it’s nice to know that if we want to, the recipes for all these classics are in the new book “The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home” by Nick Zukin and Michael C. Zusman.
Zukin is the “Zuke” behind Kenny & Zuke’s, a popular artisan Jewish deli in Portland, Oregon (though he’s since left) and Zusman, is a state court judge by day, food writer by night, and serious amateur baker in his spare time.
Before deli fans start screaming “What do Portlanders know from deli?” this book is not about the Jewish deli of yore. It’s about the new breed of delis that are popping up in places like Portland, Seattle, Brooklyn and San Francisco. The introduction talks about how these new delis, like Kenny and Zuke’s, Shopsky’s, Mile End and Wise Sons are making everything by hand, not serving meat portions the size of one’s head — and gasp — even serving more vegetables. Recipes from all of these places are included in the book, though not surprisingly, the majority are from Kenny and Zuke’s.
As someone who grew up on my grandmother’s kreplach and stuffed cabbage but never tried making them on my own, I was glad to see such classics included. But I was equally glad to see that a wild mushroom kreplach filling was given in addition to the meat.
Along with making my own pastrami, I was excited to test Cabbage Rolls in Tomato Sauce (though I know them as stuffed cabbage) from Nick Zukin and Michael C. Zusman’s “The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home”.
This is a dish I grew up on; my Russian-born grandma made it all the time. And when I thought about it, given that she died in 2002, and stopped cooking much before that, and my mom never made it, I realized I probably hadn’t eaten it in over 20 years.
Ground beef is mixed with onion, barely-cooked white rice, garlic, parsley, raisins and eggs, and rolled into blanched cabbage leaves, and then baked in a tomato sauce.
The amount of brown sugar in the tomato sauce had me guessing that I would find the dish too sweet, and I did. However, biting into it provided such a sense of nostalgia for my Babushka’s cooking that I could overlook it, especially since this is how the dish is traditionally made.
“I can see why my ancestors would have made this,” said Sam, one of our friends who tasted the dish at a Shabbat dinner at our house. Unlike the Reubens, she felt this was much healthier and more balanced. She felt it was solid, get-you-through-the-winter kind of food.
Our other guest Adam appreciated that for Jewish food, it was low on carbohydrates, and didn’t have to be smashed between two pieces of bread. Additionally, he happens to love cabbage. “I think cabbage gets a bad rap,” he said.
He too thought the sauce was too sweet, and would have preferred taking it into a more savory direction, perhaps with some Worcestershire sauce.
Montreal’s St-Viateur Bagel has come a long way since Buchenwald survivor Myer Lewkowicz opened his humble storefront bakery in a rundown immigrant neighborhood in 1957.
Under the Morena family, its owners since 1994, St-Viateur has ballooned to six retail outlets, a thriving wholesale operation, and a fast-growing delivery business to rabid bagel fans in the United States.
Now, St-Viateur’s taking its wares on the road – literally. The iconic bakery has launched its first food truck, and the only rolling kitchen in Montreal’s nascent food-truck scene dedicated to bagels. The sleek yellow van, emblazoned with the bakery’s familiar dancing-bagel logo, made its debut this summer, and this week unveiled a full schedule for Montreal’s downtown business district.
On the menu: A simple bagel & butter ($2.25CDN); classic bagel and cream cheese ($3.75); “The Traditional”, a bagel with smoked salmon, cream cheese, onion, tomatoes, capers, and lemon ($9) ; and perhaps the ultimate Montreal mash-up, a bagel with smoked meat and mustard ($9). An egg-bagel sandwich with bacon and cheddar cheese – definitely not an item from Myer Lewkowicz’s day – comes with filtered coffee for $7. Smoothies, coffee drinks, and fresh-squeezed orange juice round out the menu.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of St-Viateur in Montreal’s culinary and cultural landscape. Hand-rolled, boiled in honey-flavored water, and wood-fired, St-Viateur’s chewy old-fashioned bagels have become a staple for locals, and a huge draw for tourists; a rivalry between St-Viateur and neighbor Fairmount Bagel even got play on the BBC as “Montreal’s bagel war”. When Brooklyn uber-deli Mile End began importing Montreal bagels, owner Noah Bernamoff – a former Montrealer- chose St-Viateur, as the Forward has reported.
It took a decade and at least one petition circulated by fans, but celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain finally shot a show in Israel. “Jerusalem,” the first episode of “Parts Unknown, Season 2,” aired on CNN , giving viewers a chance to judge whether it was worth the wait.
First on “No Reservations” and now with “Parts Unknown,” Bourdain travels the world, looking to meet people and experience their food. In this episode Bourdain travels through Jerusalem, a few small Israeli towns, Jewish settlements and Palestinian parts of the West Bank as well as the Gaza Strip. He eats falafel just inside the Damascus Gate, in the Old City of Jerusalem, with the British-based Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi. He dines briefly at a home in the Jewish settlement of Ma’aleh Levona in the West Bank, hitches a ride with female Palestinian race car drivers, breezes through a cooking class in the Aida refugee camp, has a vegetarian meal at Jewish-Muslim couple Michal Baranes and Yakub Barhum’s restaurant Majda and spends time with “Gaza Kitchen” cookbook author Leila El-Haddad in Gaza.
Bourdain discusses his own Jewish identity (or lack thereof), asks his hosts direct questions about anti-Arab graffiti and street art glorifying terrorists and expresses hope for coexistence. He ends the episode in conversation with a restaurant owner in an Israeli town bordering the Gaza Strip who lost a daughter in a Hamas rocket attack.
“By the end of this hour I’ll be seen by many as a terrorist sympathizer, a Zionist tool, a self-hating Jew, an apologist for American imperialism, an Orientalist, a socialist, a fascist, a CIA agent and worse,” Bourdain says as the episode begins.
Read more and get Liz Steinberg’s recommendations at Haaretz.com.
If you don’t live in New York, pack your bags and get on a plane. The fall is shaping up to be a very tasty one for hungry kosher diners. In addition to the small plates “global street food,” we’re anticipating at Mason and Mug (check out yesterday’s post), the city will also be getting a new upscale kosher steakhouse in mid-October.
Albert Allaham, the owner of an upscale butcher shop in Brooklyn and the cousin of Joey Allaham who owns the The Prime Grill, will open Reserve Cut. The restaurant will take over the 300 seat restaurant space at the Setai Wall Street which most recently hosted the award winning SHO Shaun Hergatt.
The menu —which according to Allaham is still being finalized — will feature Asian-French fusion dishes (appetizers from $14-$28, entrees from $32 to $95). Among the specialties will be glazed veal sweetbreads with fava beans, chestnuts and turnips; salt-baked Mediterranean branzino, prime-aged cote de boeuf and prime rib with a marrow bone. The menu will also offer a number of other meats from his butcher shop The Prime Cut, including wagyu angus ribs, Colorado rack of lamb and a kosher version of filet mignon. “We take the center cut of the rib (like a prime rib), and make it into a filet mignon,” Allaham explains.
Cofix, a new cafe offering everything on its menu, from coffee to sandwiches, for a mere NIS 5 (about $1.25), generated some hysteria upon its opening in north Tel Aviv Monday, knocking the prime minister and Iran’s nuclear program off the patrons’ radar.
Only a few hours after it opened, dozens of people were lined up to get in, with the queue winding down Ibn Gvirol Street.
Most of the customers suspected they’d be getting poor-quality food, but when they discovered the fare was decent, they took it as a miracle.
While you’d think the concept would appeal primarily to the impoverished middle class, those in and waiting to get in Cofix seemed more of an established crowd. Take Saguy, a high-tech executive who lives in the area and was particularly excited by the bourekas and fresh-squeezed juice. Why would someone like him need cheap eats? “Nowadays no salary is enough, didn’t you know that?” he replied. “Wherever you can save, you save. I wouldn’t bring a date here, but I’d come here before the date.”
Just to put things into proportion, a cup of coffee at a cafe normally costs anywhere from NIS 10 to NIS 15.
There wasn’t enough space for everyone in the narrow cafe, so customers grabbed the tables at the adjacent shwarma joint and the nearby Ilan’s House of Coffee, which was practically empty.
Read more at Forward.com.
Let’s face it: If you’re a young, hip, kosher-keeping Jew living in New York City, there aren’t many places to get a really good bite of food and a drink — not to mention go on a date with that guy or gal you just met on JDate.
Itta Werdiger Roth and Sasha Chack are hoping to fill this culinary void with their new restaurant Mason & Mug in Prospect Heights, slated to open in late October or early November. The 30-seat space with an open kitchen and outdoor patio will serve small plates of vegetarian “global street food,” says Roth, who formerly ran the Hester, an uber popular kosher supper club. While the menu will change seasonally, Roth says diners can expect “bahn mi, fish tacos, soups in the winter, and things that pair well with beer like crostini… and maybe a cheese platter.” To wash down those tasty morsels, the restaurant will offer a selection of locally brewed beer and kosher wines. In many ways, Mason and Mug sounds like it will have much more in common with its Brooklyn neighbors than its kosher competitors.
The pair will focus on evening service (which will be ordered at the bar) and a Sunday brunch. But plans are in the works to eventually open a small food provisions shop in the space, where items from their menu like fresh baked breads and house-made jams could be purchased on the go. Roth describes the idea as a “Place to get supplies for a Sunday picnic in the park.”
Whether the combo of kosher and Brooklyn will be a hit, we will have to wait (hungrily) and see.
Where can you get the best hummus in Jerusalem? The Wall Street Journal has a hummus bowl for every type of hummus lover. [Wall Street Journal]
A Jewish love of coffee goes back centuries — read about it during your morning Cup o’ Joe. [Moment magazine]
After trailing behind Toronto and D.C., New York City can finally claim a food truck on wheels. [Midtown Lunch]
We’re not so sure this hard squash hummus recipe with Serrano peppers, yogurt and cilantro is actually hummus, but it looks delicious. [Food52]
Americans waste nearly 40% of our food a year. The former president of Trader Joe’s is planning a restaurant and food store with healthy cooked just barely after its sell by date. [NPR]
Tama Matsuoka Wong shares with us how to forage sumac and make your own spice blend. [Serious Eats]
After 17-years of contracting out their beer brewing, Shmaltz Brewing Company, known for its award-winning HE’BREW craft beers, has finally moved in to its own brewery in Upstate New York. With the new space, there’s a lot of new developments on tap.
In honor of the new facility’s opening this summer, Shmaltz’s sole proprietor Jeremy Cowan and consulting brewmaster Paul McErlean came up with the company’s first-ever Black India Pale Ale. “Huge, rich, roast-y…a lot of chocolate. We wanted to make the malt profile extremely forward…an incredibly complex black malty beer that was hopped as much as we could possibly get in there,” is how Cowan described the brew’s flavor in a video shot at the brewery’s grand opening celebration.
Fittingly, the brew was called “Death of a Contract Brewer,” and it holds to a shiva (the seven-day Jewish mourning ritual) theme, with seven malts, seven hops, and seven percent alcohol by volume.
So bold are the flavors in “Ottolenghi: The Cookbook” that author Yotam Ottolenghi said he and his partner considered beginning it with a warning: if you don’t like lemon or garlic, skip to the last page.
Chef and restaurateur Ottolenghi and his co-author and co-chef Sami Tamimi have several eateries in London, including Nopi, their high-end location.
“There’s no understatement in our food. It clearly states what it does. In that respect, it’s deeply rooted in the culture and temperament of the Middle East and the Mediterranean,” said Ottolenghi about the 140 recipes in the book.
“Ottolenghi,” published this month in North America, predates the London-based team’s runaway bestseller “Jerusalem,” which was named Cookbook of the Year by the International Association of Culinary Professionals in April.
The 44-year-old spoke to Reuters from London about cooking food that shouts, the joys of eating out in present-day London, and the magical properties of the pomegranate.
How does your partnership work?
We’re both from Jerusalem. One is Jewish, the other Arab. I come from a European background, while Sami had typical Arab fare but our sensitivities are similar in terms of food. We cooperate very well together in (a) blend of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern.
What are the features of this blend?
Basically we’re quite out there in terms of flavors and colors. We use a lot of spices and herbs. We also tend to cook quite rustically, more like in the Middle East - simple … It’s definitely not Scandinavian food. There are no subtle flavors … It shouts quite loudly.
Did you always want to be a chef?
I was drawn to it after a career in academia, working in a university and at newspapers. Food was always important in my family, but I didn’t think of it as a vocation until a later point in life.
What is your training?
I took a few courses at the Cordon Bleu (in London) but acquired most of my practical knowledge working in various establishments here in London.
Has London finally shed its reputation for bad food?
From where I’m standing, that’s just a distant memory, some kind of folk story people tell but nobody believes anymore. There are tons of wonderful places to eat in London. It’s quite amazing to think that it was such a desert only 15 or 20 years ago.
What’s always in the pantry?
Spices like cardamom, cumin, turmeric and coriander seeds; herbs like tarragon, cilantro and chives. Condiments or infusions like rosewater or orange blossoms. And pomegranate is very popular in the Middle East. We had it growing in our garden. There’s tons to do with it, it’s healthy and very beautiful to look at. In many ways it’s a magical ingredient.
Read more for a recipe from the book!
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