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.
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.
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.
Cheesecake and blintzes are probably the two most popular dishes that are served on the Shavuot table, but being me, I like to find at least one new dish to put on my table. One of the first recipes that caught my eye in Joan Nathan‘s new cookbook, Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France, was a quick bread that had goat cheese, dried apricot and mint. The combination of the creamy goat cheese and apricots really appealed to me, and it was a simple recipe that could be made without much effort. I used sour apricots because I think that they give a stronger apricot flavor than the Mediterranean ones. This quick bread is delicious and is perfect for a elegant brunch, afternoon tea, or served as an appetizer, sliced thinly and cut in quarters, for a dairy dinner.
1 cup chopped dried apricots (prefer sour or California apricots)
2 tablespoons roughly minced mint leaves or 2 teaspoons of dried mint
Preheat oven to 180C (350F) and grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan and line it with baking paper.
Add the eggs to a large bowl, and beat well. Add the milk and oil and whisk until smooth.
Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper in a separate bowl, and then add to the egg mixture. Stir until it is incorporated and the dough is smooth. Spread the batter into the prepared baking pan and sprinkle the Gruyère, Cheddar, or Comté, crumble the goat cheese on top, and then scatter the apricots and the mint. Pull a knife gently through the batter to blend the ingredients slightly.
Bake for 40 minutes. Cool briefly, and remove the bread from the pan, peeling off the baking paper. Slice and serve warm. You can also make it in advance and freeze it.
The tradition of an Israeli breakfast, which is similar to the Arab breakfast, began in the early days of the 20th century on the kibbutz. Kibbutzniks would go out to the fields at the crack of dawn to work before the heat of the day, and they’d return home at 9AM to eat a giant breakfast consisting of fluffy omelettes, fresh salads made with cucumbers and sweet tomatoes, hummus, eggplant salad, pita and other breads, and homemade jams. This hearty breakfast spilled over into hotels starting in the 1930s, and now you can have an Israeli breakfast at most cafes and restaurants.
This Israeli tradition has become a weekend ritual in my home, sometimes an elaborate affair for guests, but always made with local ingredients from trips to dairy farms or the shuk. The Israeli breakfast is ideally a leisurely breakfast eaten with family and friends talking about current events, recent travels, or just catching up. In our house, we play early or classical music in the background, talk a little, read the newspaper, and read that book that we have been trying to finish for weeks.
I always make either a fresh herb omelette or frittata, with a selection of cheeses such as labne, Bulgarian feta, and cottage cheese, bread, olives, and jams. This weekend I made a Persian frittata called Kuku (pronounced KooKoo), which is a herb frittata that varies from region to region: some kukus are made with a Persian spice mixture called adviehis, which is a blend of cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, and dried rose petals. It is typically served in the Spring during the Persian New Year, Nowruz.
The kuku I made only called for allspice and saffron, but it was just enough spice to go with the herbs and vegetables in this recipe. This frittata is simply delicious and will definitely be served again on our table.
A good pinch of saffron (about 40 strands), soaked in 1 tablespoon boiling water
250g (1/2lb) fresh spinach, wilted in a hot frying pan with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt, then drained and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
Preheat a 25 cm (9 inch) round baking dish or ovenproof frying pan in the oven at 220C (425F).
Sprinkle the aubergine with a good pinch of salt and let stand for about 5 minutes. Pat the moisture off of the aubergine and set aside.
Heat the butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and add the green onion and allspice. Saute for about a couple of minutes and then add the aubergine, stirring often until tender and making sure the onion does not burn. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Whisk the eggs in a medium-sized bowl and add the barberries, pine nuts, saffron (including the liquid), spinach, parsley, mint, and salt and pepper. Add the aubergine mixture. Remove the baking dish from the oven and pour in the egg mixture. Place in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until the egg has set and the top is slightly brown and puffy. Let the kuku rest for 5 minutes before serving.