Green Pancakes with Lime Butter


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.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Sweet Spices, Lime and Green Chilli

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.

Borough Market Part 1- A Feast for the Eyes and the Mouth

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.


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.


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


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”.


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.


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


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


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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.


For Shavuot: Goat Cheese Quick Bread with Apricot and Mint

Goat Cheese, Mint and Apricot Quick Bread

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.

Quick Goat Cheese Bread with Mint and Apricots

Yield: 1 Loaf

Serving Size: 8 to 10

1/3 cup olive oil

3 large eggs

1/3 cup milk

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2oz grated Gruyère, aged Cheddar, or Gruyere de Comte cheese

4oz fresh goat cheese

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.

Can’t Stand the Heat?

Here is a guest post from my friend, Emily Segal, who is a certified holistic nutrition counselor and writes a blog on her website, Triumph Wellness. Be sure to sign up for one of her classes, such as Sugar Detox. You won’t be disappointed. I learned a lot and came home with recipes that helped relieve my sugar cravings.

Photo by Emily Segal

There’s no need to stay out of the kitchen just because it’s hot!  Here in Israel we have a long, hot, dry summer season.  From our last rain in April to our first rain in November, we have about 6 months of tediously bright sunny skies and brain-shriveling high heat.  If you’re anything like me, summer makes you feel like a dried out raisin in serious need of re-hydration.

The long days and bright sunshine of summer generally lift our spirits and moods.  But we should also understand that the heat of the summer can be a negative source of stimulation as well.  Due to longer, lighter days we are generally more active and all this activity produces heat within our bodies.  What’s more, larger crowds of tourists, and the general race to get as much done before going away on holiday can easily result in hot tempers, impatience, anger, and road rage, all outward expressions of too much inner heat.

How can we combat the effects of our seemingly endless summer?  Well, Mother Nature outfits us with the perfect harvest for each season and summer is no exception. Here are some seasonal nutritional tips to keep both body and mind refreshed and alert this summer and help you cope with the summer heat.

Cucumbers to stay cool

1.  Water-filled fruits and vegetables such as cucumbers and watermelons are cooling and refreshing.  The sweet stone fruits, nectarines, plums, peaches and even mangoes, all provide the high-sugar content we are going to need to meet our high-energy demands.

2.  Cooling spices and plenty of fresh green herbs, for example, fennel and cilantro, mint, and basil.  Here in Israel it is popular to make amazingly refreshing herbal iced teas from garden fresh herbs such as mint, fennel (shumar), lemon verbena (Louisa) and lemon balm (Melissa).  No need to add sugar!

Lemon Verbena

3.  Green or white fresh vegetables such as cabbage, artichoke, asparagus, lettuces, celery, purslane (regilat) and fennel, lightly steamed or served raw with a simple sprinkle of lemon and olive oil.

4.  Cooling cereals and grains like rice, barley or millet are preferred over potatoes and the other starchy root vegetables which should be harvested and eaten in colder seasons.

What about spicy food?  Have you ever heard that people who live in hot climates traditionally eat spicy food to cause sweating and cool themselves down?  While it is true that spicy food will cause sweating, and that the air moving across your sweaty brow will feel cooling, your body temperature actually rises when eating spicy foods and you are indeed hotter.  The probable reason for spicy food consumption in hot climates is that the hot spices worked as anti-bacterial, anti-fungal agents and helped people survive eating food that had perhaps spoiled in the heat.  So save your hot peppers for winter unless you question the freshness of what you are eating!

Here is a favorite recipe of mine, one I teach in my Detox Workshops, which is perfect for staying cool and hydrated in the summer heat:

Cucumber-Mint Refresher

Serving Size: 1

Fresh lemon and cucumber blend into pure hydration for beautiful cells and skin. Lemon is juicy with electrolytes to re-hydrate the body. Just a pinch of sea salt lifts the flavor and actually allows your cells to drink deeply. Mint is cooling and refreshing, but any of the herbs mentioned above can be substituted. A date is used as a natural sweetener and for energy needs.

1 cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped

1 handful fresh mint leaves

½ lemon, peeled and seeded

1 date, pitted and soaked 10 minutes

Dash sea salt

1½ cups water

Process all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour through a strainer or sieve for extra smoothness. Serve chilled.

Safer and Healthier Grilling

Here is a guest post from my friend, Emily Segal, who is a certified holistic nutrition counselor and writes a blog on her website, Triumph Wellness. Be sure to sign up for one of her classes, such as Sugar Detox. You won’t be disappointed. I learned a lot and came home with recipes that helped relieve my sugar cravings.

Photo by Emily Segal

Barbequing or Al HaEsh, in Hebrew, is a national pastime in Israel. Wherever you go in this country, you will see groups of families and friends huddled around the grill, enjoying the outdoors and food cooked fresh over a fire.

It is then, with a heavy heart, that I am here to deliver the bad news: Grill too often and you are exposing yourself and your family to an enormous cancer risk. But before you send the lynch mob to my house, let me explain the problems and offer some solutions!

When animal meats are cooked over a grill, or any high heat source, for that matter, a very dangerous compound is formed. Heterocyclic amines, or HCAs, have been identified by the FDA as known carcinogens. Meat need not be charred or well done to contain these chemicals. Testing has found HCAs in grilled chicken patties cooked for just three minutes on each side.

Even chicken breasts grilled for just six minutes can contain dangerous levels of HCA, which puts barbecue chicken at the top of a new list of the five worst foods to grill. High HCA levels were also found in grilled steak, pork, salmon, and hamburger.

Photo by Emily Segal

The Five Worst Foods to Grill:

  • Chicken breast, skinless, boneless, grilled, well done contain14,000 nanograms of HCA per 100 grams
  • Steak, grilled, well done contains 810 nanograms per 100 grams
  • Pork, barbecued 470 nanograms per 100 grams
  • Salmon, grilled with skin contains 166 nanograms per 100 grams
  • Hamburger, grilled, well done contains 130 nanograms per100 grams

There are two more issues that make barbecued meat unsafe for consumption:

1. Another cancer-causing compound – polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) – also forms on barbecued meat when fat from the meat, drips off into the fire and causes a flare up of flames and smoke. PAHs have been classified as cancer causing agents by various organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. According to the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, GA, we are exposed to PAHs through breathing air contaminated by wild fire or coal OR eating meat or foods that have been grilled.

2. Hot dogs. Wow, do I even need to tell you how unhealthy hot dogs are? Research has shown that processed meat, such as that found in hot dogs or other smoked meats, increases one’s risk of colorectal cancer, on average, by 21 percent for every 50 grams consumed daily! (A 50-gram serving is approximately the size of a typical hot dog.) A 2002 international study spear-headed by the American Cancer Society showed an alarming increase in colorectal cancer rates worldwide, but ESPECIALLY here in Israel! The landmark report clearly states that no amount of processed meat is considered safe to eat.

So, what can we do? Do we need to stop barbecuing entirely? Thankfully, there are ways to protect yourself and your family while you still enjoy the grill:

1. If you are going to grill meats, be sure to serve fresh, raw fruits and vegetables as side dishes. Most Israelis already seem to instinctively do this. Raw fruits and veggies are loaded with carotenoids and other phytochemicals that are noted for their anti-cancer properties. Use organic fruits and vegetables or course, as conventionally-grown are covered in the very substances we are trying to avoid!

2. Try grilling other items, not just meat. Vegetables don’t produce HCA’s or PAH’s and neither does tofu or veggie burgers. Try making veggie kabobs with your favorite veggies and tofu cubes. You can also make skewers that alternate bites of meat with vegetables or fruit. That way you’ll eat smaller portions of the meat.

Some other things that taste great on the grill are: Portabello mushroom “steaks”, potatoes or sweet potatoes, corn, pineapple, papaya and mango!

3. Cook meats at lower temperature for shorter times. One way is to pre-cook meats in the oven and then finish them quickly on the grill. Or buy smaller cuts of meat that take less time to cook through.

4. Select lean cuts of meat and trim the fat to reduce PAH’s. Or cook on top of a hot plate to reduce fat flare-ups.

5. Don’t eat blacked or burned meat or chicken. They have the highest levels of HCA.

6. Marinate meats before grilling. Some studies have show that marinades containing vinegar, red wine or lemon can reduce the formation of HCA’s.

7. Skip the hot dogs and other processed meats. They are just not worth it.

The bottom line is that from our earliest days on this planet, we humans have enjoyed gathering around a campfire, cooking food in the outdoors and sharing the experience with loved ones. There is something very profoundly healthy and probably cancer-preventing in doing that! But as our food supply becomes increasingly chemicalized and even the charcoal and lighter fluid we cook with would be unknown to our ancestors, we must practice caution and moderation. If we want a long-life of barbecuing ahead of us, we need to adapt some of the above steps to safe-guard our health.

Photo by Emily Segal

Here is a delicious, healthy marinade and/or sauce with an Asian twist to spread on those veggie-tofu kabobs:

Miso-Tahina Barbeque Sauce

1 T miso

2 T tahina paste

2 T olive oil

3 T rice vinegar

½ cup water

2 T brown rice syrup, maple syrup or honey

Just stir all of the ingredients together and brush on the kabobs before putting them on the barbeque and again before or during grilling. And unlike meat marinades, you can continue brushing this sauce on the cooked kabob without danger of food poisoning.

Yay veggies!

Red and White Sangria – The Perfect Yom Ha’Atzmaut Refreshment

Sangria Fruit

Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, is on Monday. The whole country will be turning on their grills and the flavors of grilled lamb, beef short ribs, kebabs,  steaks, chicken, and fish will fill the air. I like to start the celebration with a big pitcher of sangria.

For some, Sangria is typically a Mediterranean drink served at Spanish restaurants in beautiful pottery jugs, made from red wine and fruit. However, sangria doesn’t originate from Spain. Legend has it that the British East India Company travelled to India and tried a drink known as Pac that contained five ingredients referred to in its name- eau de vie, sugar, lemon, water and tea.

The British took this recipe back from the East Indies and the name of the drink evolved into punch. The word punch became ponche in Spanish, used to describe sangria which is, in essence, a fruit punch. Even the French claim to have created this drink that they call sang-gris. Truth be told, the Greeks, Romans, and Ancient Israelites all had various drinks that they made from a base of red wine, fruit juices, and honey because the water was not fit to drink since it was used to bathe in and also used for various other unclean reasons.

No matter where it originates, it is a refreshing spring and summer drink that is perfect as a cocktail served by the pool or  with a light summer meal on the terrace. If you search, you will find hundreds of variations of sangria, some even adding ginger ale or Sprite! I prefer to make mine with the minimum of ingredients: wine, fruit, a cinnamon stick or ginger syrup, and a splash of Cointreau or brandy.

Red and White Sangria

Red Sangria

Serving Size: 4 to 6

2 orange, sliced thinly

1/2 apple, cut into cubes

2 small red plums, nectarines or other stone fruit, cut into cubes

2 cinnamon sticks

1 bottle red wine, such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, or other dry red

2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice

3 tablespoons Cointreau or brandy

Put all of the fruit and cinnamon stick in a large pitcher. Add the red wine, orange juice and Cointreau. Stir well and chill for 3-4 hours or overnight to allow the flavors to meld together. Serve over ice.


White Sangria

Serving Size: 4 to 6

For the sangria:

1 orange, sliced thinly

1 lemon, sliced thinly

1/2 apple, cut into cubes

1 bottle white wine, such as Emerald Riesling or Chardonnay

1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

3 tablespoon ginger syrup

3 tablespoons Cointreau or brandy

For the Ginger Syrup:

1 cup of water

1 cup of sugar

1/2 cup fresh ginger, peeled and sliced thinly

For the ginger syrup:

Place the water and sugar in a small pan, and bring to a boil. Add the ginger slices and simmer for 15 minutes. Cool and place in a glass jar. Keep refrigerated.

For the sangria:

Put all of the fruit in a large pitcher. Add the white wine, orange juice, ginger syrup and Cointreau. Stir well and chill for 3-4 hours or overnight to allow the flavors to meld together. Serve over ice.


Roasted Lamb Shoulder with Chickpea Puree and Hot Mint Sauce

Roasted Lamb with Pureed Chickpeas and Hot Mint Sauce

The most iconic food of Pesach, the Jewish festival celebrating the Children of Israel’s Exodus from Egypt, is usually thought of as matza, the flat crispy unleavened bread that Jews eat for the entire week of the festival instead of normal bread and which its consumers either love or hate. But in reality, the most important culinary icon of this festival is roast lamb, commemorating the lamb’s blood that the Children of Israel were ordered to paint on their doorposts in order to ensure that the Angel of Death ‘passed over’ their houses during the tenth and most dreadful plague, the slaying of all the first born sons of Egypt. And as soon as the newly liberated Jews had set up the Tabernacle, the mobile predecessor of the Temple in Jerusalem, they started sacrificing an unblemished lamb on the anniversary of the Exodus, a sacrifice that had to be eaten that very night together with the matzot that they had baked in a hurry when they fled from slavery.

Today, there is no Temple in Jerusalem and so Jews no longer sacrifice animals on festivals: the only people who continue to sacrifice lambs on Passover are the Samaritans, a small group who are probably descended from the biblical Jews taken into slavery by the Assyrian empire in 772 BCE and who practice a more ancient form of Judaism. But Jewish traditions die hard, and the ancient Temple services continue in modified form to this day, whether through prayer services or, in the case of Pesach, through the symbolic place given to a burnt lamb bone on the Seder table, where every Jewish family annually recreates both the Exodus and the Temple service that celebrates it.

The lamb bone, over-roasted in the oven to symbolise the lamb roasted on the altar, is usually replaced for reasons of convenience and price by a chicken or turkey bone. But it is still raised for all the participants in the meal to see, and referred to as the ‘Pesach,’ the sacrificial lamb; and it is common for Jews, especially those of Middle Eastern origin to actually have roast lamb as part of the feast. In fact, it is not unusual, especially in more religious families, to buy a baby lamb on the hoof a week or two before the festival and have it slaughtered specially for the occasion: I have even seen a lamb being led on a leash up one of the main roads in Jerusalem a few days before Pesach, unaware of its planned role in the annual Jewish psychodrama of national liberation. Modern consumer culture has, of course, taken over in Israel and so people usually buy their lamb shoulders or quarter lambs from the supermarket or butcher; and now that imported lamb has become common, it has become much more popular on the festival table.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have roast lamb on the Pesach table this year, as we were guests. So we made up for it by making our own to celebrate the last day of the seven-day festival, which commemorates the crossing of the Red Sea. We had two frozen quarter-lambs in the freezer, and one of them, which fit the roasting pan perfectly, turned into the following culinary wet dream (see below). The recipe was not authentically biblical, but taken from one of the books of the celebrated Spanish restaurant in London, Moro. However, since the Jewish influence in Spain was so strong for centuries, and still persists in all sorts of subtle ways, it is arguable that this is an original Jewish recipe, not least because the chickpeas on which the lamb was served are a staple part of the Middle East diet. The cavolo nero that was served on the side, however, wasn’t especially authentic: I needed to use some from the garden before it turns into a tall tree.

Roasted Quarter Lamb

Corderro con Garbanzos y Salsa de Hierbabuena

Serving Size: 4 to 6

(Lamb with Chickpea Puree and Hot Mint Sauce) From Casa Moro: The Second Cookbook by Sam and Sam Clark

1 shoulder of lamb, about 1.6 - 1.8 kg (3.5 - 4 lbs)

Sea salt and black pepper


4 garlic cloves, crushed to a paste with a pinch of salt

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

4 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

1/2 medium red onion, finely grated

2 teaspoons sweet paprika

1 tablespoon olive oil

To serve:

1 quantity Chickpea Puree (see below)

1 quantity Hot Mint Sauce (see below)

Place the lamb in a large roasting pan. If you are using a shoulder, score the surface very lightly 1-2mm deep in a 1 cm criss-cross pattern to help the marinade penetrate the meat.

Mix all the marinade ingredients together except the olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and rub all over the meat. Now add the olive oil (it can prevent the acidity of the lemon and vinegar from penetrating the meat), and leave to marinate for a minimum of 2 hours, turning occasionally, or in the fridge overnight.

Preheat the oven to 160C (325F). Cook the lamb for a minimum of 3 hours, adding a small glass of water (125ml or 1/2 cup) to the pan after the first 30 minutes and each subsequent hour. Baste the lamb every 45 minutes. To test if the lamb is ready, insert a wooden skewer in the centre: if the meat is soft and has a lot of give, then it is done. Let it rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Chickpea Puree

Serving Size: 4 to 6

450g dried large chickpeas

Pinch of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

Half a medium onion or 1 head of garlic

4 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 large onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1-1/2 rounded teaspoons cumin seeds, roughly ground

30 threads saffron, infused in 2 tablespoons boiling water

2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Place the dried chickpeas in a bowl, cover with cold water, add a pinch of bicarbonate of soda, and soak overnight.

Drain the chickpeas, rinse well, and place in a large saucepan with the half of an onion or 1 head of garlic. Cover with 2 liters (2 quarts) of cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, skimming off any scum, and cook for 1-2 hours or until soft and tender. Drain the chickpeas, saving about 1 cup of cooking liquor. You do not have to remove the skins on the chickpeas.

Place the chickpeas in a food processor and puree the chickpeas until quite smooth. Add enough cooking liquor or water so they are similar to wet mashed potato. Set aside.

Just before serving the lamb, in a medium saucepan, heat up the olive oil over a medium to high heat and add the onion, garlic and cumin. Fry, stirring until the onion and the garlic are evenly golden brown. When ready, add the chickpea puree and the saffron infusion. Simmer for 5 minutes and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm, sprinkled with the chopped parsley.

Hot Mint Sauce

Serving Size: 4 to 6

Do not worry if the mint becomes discoloured; it is just the action of the vinegar.

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

8 tablespoons finely chopped mint

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Sea salt and black pepper

Place a small saucepan over a medium heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the garlic and fry for a couple of minutes until golden brown. Add half of the mint and all of the cumin. Fry for another minute and then add the vinegar. Simmer for 30 seconds more and remove from the heat. Stir in the remaining mint and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot over the lamb.

Algerian-Style Slow-Cooked Lamb Neck

Passover is the time where you can find better deals on lamb here in Israel. Lamb is very expensive here, but for me Passover just isn’t Passover without at least one lamb dish. I found a good deal on lamb neck at a local supermarket and had the butcher cut it into slices. The neck is one of the fattier parts of the lamb, but it is a cheaper cut and perfect for slow cooking. Get the butcher to trim as much fat off as he can. Luckily, the neck I picked out had already been trimmed.

I found an interesting recipe using the Algerian spice palate: cinnamon, chili flakes, cardamom, ginger, clove, fennel, caraway and curry. I am not sure curry is part of the Algerian spice palate, but the dish was fragrant, slightly spicy, melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Traditionally, this is served over couscous, but for Passover I served it over rice. It would also be good over polenta in the fall or winter.

Here are a couple of other recipes for lamb neck:

Lamb and Turkish Spinach Stew

Slow-Cooked Lamb Neck with Pomegranate, Garlic and Ginger

Algerian Lamb Neck

Algerian-Style Slow-Cooked Lamb Neck

Serving Size: 4

Adapted recipe from Williams-Sonoma

8 slices of lamb neck

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

500g (1 lb.) yellow onions, diced

6 whole garlic cloves, peeled

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced

4 cardamom pods, skins removed

Pinch of saffron

1 teaspoon chili flakes

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon caraway seeds

2 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 cinnamon stick

2 tablespoon mild curry powder

1 tablespoon salt

1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds

1/2 cup golden raisins

1 (800g or 28oz) can crushed tomatoes

1 bottle dry white wine

Zest and juice of 1 orange

1 lb. carrots, peeled and coarsely diced

1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and coarsely diced

Preheat an oven to 180C (350°F).

Generously season the lamb neck with pepper. In an ovenproof deep sauté pan or Dutch oven over high heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the olive oil until nearly smoking. Working in batches, browning the neck slices, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter.

Add the remaining olive oil, onions and garlic to the pan and sauté, stirring, until the onions are tender and translucent. Add the ginger, cardamom, saffron, chili flakes, cloves, caraway, fennel seeds, cinnamon, curry, salt, almonds and raisins. Sauté, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes more. Add the tomatoes, wine, orange zest and orange juice, and stir to mix well. Add the lamb neck and bring to a simmer. Cover and transfer the pan to the oven and about 2-3 hours or until the lamb neck is almost falling off the bone.

Add the carrots and fennel bulb after the stew has cooked for an hour. Serve over rice (for Passover), couscous or polenta.


Cookies Perfect for Passover

I remember Passovers past at my grandparents’ and parents’ houses were always large and boisterous with at least 25-30 people attending, spread over two or three tables. We always invited friends who didn’t have anywhere else to go, and also the stray Jewish soldiers who were “stuck” at Fort McClellan during their basic training. Occasionally, we had a visiting Israeli soldier or two share the seder with us. I really miss these seders, my grandparents, my great-aunts and uncles, the wonderful food, the family tunes, waiting for Uncle Alfred or Papa to proudly read the last stanza of “Had Gadya” in one breath, ribbing my uncle Don about watering my wine, misbehaving at the “children’s” table (some of who were over 30), and the seder discussions. I must admit that I am more than teary-eyed as I am writing this post.

The seder was always a grand affair: the unveiling of the grand china, crystal, and silver, the beautiful way Alberta plated the individual servings of the haroset, hard-boiled egg and karpas. The lamb that my father carefully slathered with mustard and basted every 30 minutes, the minted peas in lettuce cups, the wild rice mixture or boiled new potatoes, and the pièce de résistance, the matza balls swimming in golden chicken soup. For dessert, Mama’s lovingly-made matza schalet with its beautiful crunchy crust and creamy lemon custard with just the right sourness.

Since moving to Israel, we attend the seder at my cousin’s or their in-laws where we share their seder traditions and variety of food from Poland, Bulgaria and  Russia: gefilte fish, fritas de prasa, and matza blini. The younger generations add their own traditions like rocket and endive salad with walnuts and pears. And, Mr BT and I are bringing new traditions to their seder: Italian haroset and whatever flourless dessert tickles my fancy.

This year I decided to bring a tray of cookies and found two easy and delicious recipes for fudgy chocolate-walnut cookies and a variation of Sicilian pistachio cookies which Mr BT and I enjoyed eating at a bakery in Venice. Both of these cookies were a huge hit. I really liked the salty-sweetness of the pistachio cookies, and the other cookies were a chocolate lover’s delight. I couldn’t find any orange blossom water for the pistachio cookies as I had wanted, but it will add a slight orangey floral note.

Don’t be afraid to add new traditions to your seder table. There is always room for the old and new traditions.

Flourless Chocolate Walnut Cookies

Fudgy Chocolate-Walnut Cookies

Yield: 1-1/2 dozen

320g (9oz or 2-3/4 cups) walnut halves

3 cups icing (confectioners') sugar

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 large egg whites, at room temperature, not beaten

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with a silpat liner or parchment paper.

Spread the walnut halves on a large rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 9 minutes, until they are golden and fragrant. Let cool slightly, then transfer the walnut halves to a work surface and finely chop them.

In a large bowl, whisk the icing sugar with the cocoa powder and salt to combine. Whisk in the chopped walnuts. Add the egg whites and vanilla extract and beat just until the batter is moistened (do not over beat the mixture or it will stiffen). Spoon a tablespoon of the batter for each cookie onto the baking sheets.

Bake the cookies for 16- 20 minutes, depending on your oven, until the tops of the cookies are glossy and lightly cracked and feel firm to the touch; shift the pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through.

Slide the parchment paper (with the cookies) onto 2 wire racks to cool completely before serving. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Flourless Pistachio Cookies

Pastine di Pistacchio

Yield: 1 dozen

(Flourless Pistachio Cookies)

190g (7oz) pistachios (roasted and salted)

100g (3.5 oz) almond meal

120 grams (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) caster (granulated) sugar

2 egg whites, room temperature, not beaten

1 teaspoon orange blossom water (optional)

A few drops of green food colouring (optional)

Icing (confectioners') sugar for dusting (optional)

Preheat the oven to 170C (325F). Line a baking sheet with a silpat liner or parchment paper.

Grind 90 grams of the pistachios finely and set aside. Chop the remaining 100 grams roughly and place in a plate or flat bowl for rolling.

Put the finely ground pistachios, almond meal, sugar, egg whites, optional orange blossom water and optional food colouring in a large bowl. Mix just until the batter is moistened, do not over beat. If the batter is too moist, add a little more almond meal.

Form one tablespoon of the batter into balls and roll in the chopped pistachios. Place the cookies about 2 centimeters (3/4 inch) apart and bake for approximately 13 minutes. Let cook for 10 minutes before moving to a baking rack. Dust with icing sugar, when cooled.

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