Jul 252011
 

There are about one and a quarter million Muslims in Israel, and most of them will observe the holy month of Ramadan, which this year begins on the evening of the 29th of July (Islam follows a lunar calendar, in which the months gradually move around the months of the Gregorian calendar). The fasting begins at sun up and lasts until sundown, when the evening’s feast begins. Israeli and Palestinian Muslim cuisine are similar to the cuisines of neighboring Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and to a lesser extent, Egypt, although it has its own distinctive dishes and variations on regional delicacies. For example, the hummous tends to have a stronger lemon flavor instead of the heavy tehina flavor that you find in Egyptian hummous.

Traditionally, the fast is broken by eating a couple of dates, for a quick burst of energy, followed by a cold drink, such as tamarind, which is soaked in water the night before, then strained, sweetened and mixed with rose water and some lemon juice; or Qamar El-Deen, which is made by soaking apricot leather in hot water, mixing it in a food processor or blender, and chilling it before serving.

Soups are served after the long day of fasting, and these help provide the necessary liquids to rehydrate the body. The most popular soups are those made with lentils, vegetables, or freekeh, which is cracked green wheat. Various salads, such as baba ganoush, Arab salad, and hummous are also served at the beginning of the meal.

During Ramadan, unlike the other months of the year, meat is consumed in relatively large quantities. Festive Palestinian chicken dishes such as Musakhan and Makloubeh are served as a main course. Date, walnut and pistachio-filled biscuits, such as Makroud and Mamoul, are served to close the meal and washed down with sweet mint tea.

Partly because I live next to three of the largest Arab towns in Israel, and partly because I lived and studied with Arabs from various countries and like their cuisine, I decided to borrow some of the culinary experience of Ramadan and make a couple of typical dishes at home.

For a starter, I made an Iraqi lentil and meatball soup, which is almost a meal in itself, especially when Ramadan falls in midsummer.

Iraqi Lentil and Meatball Soup

Iraqi Lentil Soup With Meatballs

Serving Size: 6 to 8

2 medium onions, minced

500g (1 pound) ground beef or lamb or both

1/2 cup finely chopped parsley

1 cup soft bread crumbs

1 teaspoon salt plus salt to taste

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon allspice

2 tablespoons olive oil

10 cups homemade chicken broth

1 pound brown or yellow lentils

55g (about 2 ounces) angel hair pasta

2 carrots, finely diced

Juice of half a lemon

Preheat an oven to 200C (400F), and line a baking pan with parchment paper. Place half of the onions and the ground meat, parsley, bread crumbs, salt, pepper and allspice in a medium-sized bowl. Mix the meat mixture thoroughly, and form into balls the size of walnuts. Place on the baking pan and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the meatballs from the pan and drain on a paper towel. Set aside.

Meanwhile, pick any stones from the lentils, place in bowl, cover with cold water, and drain.

In a large pot, sauté the remaining onions in olive oil over medium heat until golden. Add the chicken broth and bring to boil. Add the lentils and the carrots to the soup and simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are almost tender.

Break the angel hair pasta into the soup and add the meatballs. Simmer slowly for another 5-10 minutes or until the lentils and noodles are cooked, adding more chicken broth or water as needed. Just before serving, squeeze some lemon juice into soup.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2011/07/25/israel-celebrates-ramadan-too/

Mr BT and I wish all of our Muslim friends: Ramadan Kareem!

For more Ramadan recipe ideas, see:

Makloubeh

Musakhan

Makroud (Date and Sesame Biscuits)

Ma’amouls

Klejah

Ba’abe

Jul 202011
 

Green_Pancakes

The second feature of our brunch on Saturday was delicious savoury pancakes made with spinach, green onions and chillies. The accompanying lime-garlic butter was a perfect addition to the pancakes, but you could also serve it with a dollop of yogurt or labane. This is perfect for an elegant brunch for family and friends or a romantic breakfast for two.

Green Pancakes with Lime Butter

Serving Size: 3 to 4

For pancakes:

250g spinach, washed

110g self-raising flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 egg

50g unsalted butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cumin

150ml milk

6 medium spring onions, finely sliced

2 fresh green chillies, thinly sliced

1 egg white

Olive oil for frying

For lime butter:

100g unsalted butter, at room temperature

Grated zest of 1 lime

1-1/2 tablespoons lime juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1 tablespoon chopped coriander

1/2 garlic clove, minced

1/4 teaspoon chilli flakes

For lime butter:

In a medium bowl, beat the butter with a wooden spoon until it is soft and creamy. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Place the butter mass onto a piece of parchment paper or cling film and shape into a log. Twist the ends and refrigerate until firm.

For pancakes:

Place the flour, baking powder, whole egg, butter, salt, cumin and milk in a large mixing bowl and mix until smooth. Add the spring onions, chillies and spinach and mix until well combined.

Whisk the egg white to soft peaks and gently fold into the batter.

Add a 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil to a heavy frying pan and place on medium-high heat. Ladle 2 tablespoons of batter for each pancake. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side, or until they are golden on each side. Keep the cooked pancakes in a warm oven until all the pancakes are cooked.

To serve, place three pancakes on a plate and place a slice of the lime butter on top.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2011/07/20/green-pancakes-with-lime-butter/

Jul 162011
 

When it is hot and steamy out, we don’t feel like having a big heavy meal. On Saturdays we usually have brunch consisting of bread, cheese, a frittata or omelet and a salad. This Saturday, I finally served two dishes I made from the Plenty cookbook, written by Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi, that Mr BT bought for me on our trip to the States and London last month.

One of the dishes I made was butternut squash that I roasted with freshly ground cardamom and allspice and served with wedges of fresh lemon (couldn’t find any limes in the market) and a lemon, yogurt and tehina dressing that was light and refreshing and had a completely unexpected mixture of tastes. You can serve this as a meze with other salads, a first course or a side dish.

I can’t wait to try more recipes from this cookbook.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Sweet Spices, Lime and Green Chilli

Roasted Butternut Squash with Sweet Spices, Lime and Green Chilli

Serving Size: 4 to 6

2 whole limes

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium butternut squash (about 900g or 2lbs)

2 tablespoons cardamom pods

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 cup (100g) Greek-style yogurt

2 tablespoons (30g) tahini

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 green chilli, thinly sliced

10g picked coriander leaves or chopped chives

Sea Salt

Preheat the oven to 210C (400F).

Trim off the limes' tops and tails using a small paring knife. Section the lime using the technique shown here. Cut each section into thirds. Place them in a small bowl, sprinkle with a little salt, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, stir and set aside.

Cut the butternut squash in half lengthways, scoop out the seeds and discard, Cut each half, top to bottom, into 1 cm thick slices and lay them out on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Place the cardamom pods in a mortar and use the pestle to get the seeds out of the pods. Discard the pods and pound the seeds into a rough powder. Transfer to a small bowl, add the allspice and the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil, mix and brush over the butternut slices. Sprinkle with sea salt and place in the oven for 15 minutes or until fork-tender. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Peel off the skin or leave it on if you prefer.

Whisk together the yogurt, tahini, lime juice, 2 tablespoons of water and a pinch of salt. The dressing should be thick but runny enough to pour; add more water if necessary.

To serve, arrange the cooled butternut slices on a serving platter and drizzle with the yogurt dressing. Spoon over the lime pieces and their juices and scatter the chilli slices on top. Garnish with the coriander or chives and serve.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2011/07/16/roasted-butternut-squash-with-sweet-spices-lime-and-green-chilli/

Jul 112011
 

Over the last few years, London has developed the reputation of being one of the best food cities in the world, with celebrity chefs such as Marco Pierre White, Gordon Ramsey and Marcus Wareing opening restaurants all over town. But another sign of how London has created a new food culture is the gourmet food markets that have sprung up to cater for the increasingly sophisticated palates of Londoners (who are, of course, a tremendous cultural mix in themselves).

The most famous of these gourmet markets is Borough Market, squeezed under the railway arches of London Bridge Station on the unfashionable south side of the Thames (which technically wasn’t London but the separate city of Southwark, whose medieval cathedral lies right next to the market). London Bridge attracted traders selling grain, fish, vegetables and livestock from as far back as the 11th century. In the 13th century traders relocated to what is now Borough High Street, and a market has existed there ever since.

It  is one of London’s oldest wholesale fruit and vegetable markets, established by Act of Parliament in 1756 and administered by 21 trustees who have to live in the local community. It covers an area of 4.5 acres. Borough Market, as we know it today, began over 10 years ago.

Borough Market Sign

Borough’s gourmet food market has about 70 stalls and stands. The traders come from all over the country bringing a range of fresh produce, fish, meats, vegetables, ciders, cheeses, breads, coffees, cakes and produce imported from abroad. It is open Thursday to Sunday.

This first post is dedicated to the British food stalls in the market.

Best_British_Cheese

Trethowan’s Gorwydd (pronounced Gor-with) Caerphilly is a mature Caerphilly made to a traditional recipe using raw (unpasteurised) milk. The Trethowen family — owners of Gorwydd Farm in the village of Llanddewi Brefi (say that 10 times fast) in Ceredigion, West Wales — is one of the only Caerphilly producers left in Wales.

Welsh Cheese

This semi-firm cheese is aged from nine to twenty weeks, during which time the cheese develops a thick, velvety, natural rind. It is a lovely sharp cheese that is a must for those who like a nice, crumbly yet creamy, tangy, slightly lemony cheese. A very versatile cheese to use either in cooking, crumbled over vegetables, or as part of a cheese board.

Gluten_Dairy_Free_Victorian_Sponge

Sugargrain makes beautiful gluten-free, dairy-free and wheat-free goodies that taste as good as they look.

Gluten_Free_Parsnip_Pear_Cake

Their parsnip, pear and sea-salted caramel cake is as moist as a carrot cake. The sign says “Just think white carrot cake”.

Hot Ginger Boys

I really like the clever remarks under each sign: their Hot Ginger Boy cookies say, “Girls go weak at the knees”.

Pietanic

Pieminister is a family owned business from Bristol that was started by brothers-in-law: one is a classically-trained chef and the other managed successful pubs in London. They now sell their savoury and sweet pies all over England. The Pietanic is a new arrival that is made with smoked haddock, salmon and pollock in a rich, creamy parsley sauce topped with a cheddar crumb pastry.

Irish_Soda_Bread

A Rick Stein Food Hero, Aston’s Organic Bakery of London has been baking  hand made breads, cakes and pastries since 1985.

Jumbo_English_Muffins

The Flour Station stall takes your breath away with its beautiful array of monster size English muffins, croissants…

Chelsea_Buns

and fragrant Chelsea buns. This bakery started in the kitchen of Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant.

Note: According to a recent article in the Guardian, Flour Station has been asked to leave the market because they are now too big. I think this is a real shame for the market.

Flower_Pot_Bread

The Honest Carrot stall sells vegetarian and vegan baked goods such as the flowerpot bread shown above.

Fish

Furness Fish and Game has beautiful fresh fish and game on offer. They also sell freshly made paella and Thai stir fry.  The Sussex Smoothhound in the photo above is a member of the shark family.

Whiting

They also sell plenty of other fresh fish as well as potted shrimps, smoked fish and much, much more.

Large_Scallops

Shellseekers Fish & Game is famous for their large selection of scallops, but food bloggers and photographers beware, they will chase you out of the shop if you try to take a photo.

My_Favorites_Rasp_Straw

Finally, there were a few stalls that were selling picture perfect British raspberries and strawberries. I couldn’t leave the market without buying a pint of beautifully, sweet raspberries. They were worth every penny.

Stay tuned for Part 2: The International Stalls.

 

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