I really like finding interesting recipes that may not be holiday-specific, but fit in with the types of foods that are typically served for the holiday. And I like to mix cultures in a meal. I think it makes the meal more interesting. So, for this meal I decided to serve a Spanish potato fritter which is also made in Italy, and an Argentinian cut of meat with Indian spices. I just love global cooking!
Try it some time, instead of having a themed dinner party where the entire menu is from one country or region, try making the menu diverse by making a Swedish appetizer, Middle Eastern main dish, Thai side dish and a Brazilian dessert.
I decided to make another variation of the Ashkenazi potato latkes and make something a little more Sephardi, so I made potato and sage fritters. These are quite light and are perfect for a hot appetizer. They are very easy to make and can be made a few hours ahead of time and reheated in the oven. The recipe only called for one tablespoon of sage. I like a nice sage flavour, so I added two tablespoons. I probably could have added more. The lemon is rather pronounced, so if you don’t like a strong lemon flavour, you could put in only one teaspoon of lemon zest.
1/4 cup warm water
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 envelope (1-1/8 teaspoon) active dry yeast
450g (1lb) pound russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons sea salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves
2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
4 to 6 cups peanut oil, for deep-frying
In a small bowl, combine the water, flour and yeast. Mix well and set aside in a warm place until yeasty-smelling and covered in very small bubbles, about 45 minutes.
In a medium saucepan, cover the potatoes with cold water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, add 1 tablespoon of sea salt. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until the potatoes are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain and mash the potatoes with a fork. Allow them to cool.
In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and olive oil until thoroughly combined. In a bowl, combine cooled potatoes with the sponge, flour, sage, lemon zest, pepper, and 2 teaspoons of salt. Mix to evenly distribute the ingredients. Add the egg mixture to potato mixture, and stir until thoroughly combined. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. You should have a thick, sticky batter. Add a bit more flour, if needed. Cover the bowl with a towel and set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Heat the oil in a deep-fryer or heavy pot to 190C (375F).
Scoop 1 tablespoon of the risen batter at a time, and use another spoon to scrape it into the hot oil. Don't crowd the fryer. Fry fritters until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes, turning them over occasionally. Drain the fritters on paper towels to absorb any excess oil. Sprinkle with salt and serve warm.
We got a great deal on Argentinian asado, or short ribs as they are called in the States. The best part was that they had relatively little fat on them. Slow cooking is a must for this cut of meat, so when I saw this recipe and it didn’t call for slow roasting, I was a bit skeptical. I didn’t have time to marinate them for three days, so maybe that makes the difference. I marinated the ribs for a full 24 hours and then slow roasted (roasting pan, 2 cups of water, covered with foil) them in the oven at 150C (300F) for 1-1/2 hours and then grilled them. They were outstanding and I can only imagine what they would be like if I had marinated them for three days.
We actually had a problem with this recipe because the way the asado is cut here in Israel, the pieces of bone (rib) embedded in the meat are almost three inches long, which means that the thickness of the meat is considerably greater than in the States. This means that you can’t expect to cook it through with just a few minutes on the grill, however hot. In a typical South American grill in Israel (we have quite a few of them just up the road in Kfar Saba, where there is a big Argentinian immigrant community), the asado is often slow grilled for more than an hour on a vertical stand placed a few inches from the fire, which brings out the full flavour in this rather fatty cut of meat.
This marinade is also great on chicken. You can put it directly on the chicken and cook it straight away if you want.
Recipe from Chef Floyd Cardoz
6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
1/4 cup dry red wine
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup or honey or date honey
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
8 beef short ribs on the bone (about 450g (1lb) each), trimmed of excess fat
In a blender, combine the garlic, ginger and red wine and puree. Scrape the wine puree into a medium bowl and stir in all of the remaining ingredients except the short ribs. Pour the marinade into 2 resealable plastic bags and add the short ribs. Tightly seal the plastic bags and refrigerate the short ribs in the marinade for 3 days.
Light a grill. Remove the short ribs from the marinade, scraping off any excess. Grill the short ribs over moderately high heat until they are lightly charred and medium-rare, about 5 minutes per side.