Lemon and Goat’s Cheese Ravioli

Lemon Goat Cheese Ravioli

Italians are passionate about just about everything, but when it comes to food, they have a passion for the ingredients that make up a dish as much as for the final result. I was recently speaking to a friend of mine from Firenze about garlic while he was making spaghetti con aglio, olio e peperoncino (spaghetti with garlic, olive oil and chili peppers). Although he was chopping up the Chinese garlic that is the most commonly available kind in Israel, he told me, “I only cook with Italian garlic or red garlic from France!” I explained to him that I only cook with local Israeli garlic that I buy fresh in season at the shuk. At that moment it hit me that I too am passionate about my ingredients.

If I am making homemade pasta, I will only make it with ’00’ flour, which is finally readily available here. And the reason for that is not because I am a flour snob, but that the all-purpose flour here in Israel behaves differently from flour in the US or the UK. I remember going to a cooking shop in Tel Aviv about 10 years ago that carries special ingredients for cooks and asking them if they had ’00’ flour. They had no idea what I was talking about, so I explained that doppio zero is a high protein flour that is the most highly refined and is talcum-powder soft. A few months later they ordered some and it has been available ever since. Even Stybel, a local flour mill, is offering it (Stybel 9 pasta flour).

My pasta maker was out of commission for several years because the handle was misplaced in one of our moves. I finally ordered the handle in the States and a friend’s parents were kind enough to bring it with them when they flew to Israel. What better way to try out the handle than whipping up a batch of pasta dough. The pasta dough recipe comes from a wonderful Italian cookbook called Two Greedy Italians: Carluccio and Contaldo’s Return to Italy by Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo, which Mr BT brought back from London as a “just because” surprise. This is Gennaro Contaldo’s recipe with the exception of the turmeric and the lemon zest.

I changed Yotam’s recipe a little by serving the pasta with a drizzle of  homemade basil oil. It was a nice addition and didn’t overpower the lemon in the ravioli.

Lemon Goat Cheese Ravioli

Lemon and Goat's Cheese Ravioli

Serving Size: 4 as a starter

Pasta dough

300g (3 cups) Italian '00' flour

100g (1 cup) semolina

1/4 tsp turmeric

Grated zest of 3 lemons

4 eggs


300g (11 oz) soft goat's cheese

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Pinch of chilli flakes

Black pepper

1 egg white, beaten

To Serve

2 teaspoons pink peppercorns, finely crushed

1 teaspoon chopped tarragon

Grated zest of 1 lemon

Rapeseed, olive oil or basil oil (see recipe below)

Lemon juice (optional)

Mix the flour, semolina, tumeric and lemon zest together on a clean work surface or in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add the eggs. With a fork, gradually mix the flour into the eggs until combined and then knead with your hands until the dough is smooth and pliable, but not sticky. Shape into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and let it rest for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days.

Divide the dough into four pieces. Flatten the dough and dust each side with flour before placing it in your pasta machine. Set your machine to the widest setting and roll the pasta dough through. Turn up the setting on the machine by one and repeat the process until you get to number 10 (or follow your manufacturer's instructions) and your dough is almost wafer-thin. When the pasta sheet is rolled out, keep it under a moist towel so it does not dry out.

Use a 7cm (3 inch) round ravioli stamp or the rim of a glass to stamp out discs from the sheets of pasta. Brush a disc with a little egg white and place a heaping teaspoon of the filling in the center. Place another disc on top and gently press any air as you seal the edges of the raviolo. Place the ravioli on a tea towel or tray, sprinkled with semolina, and leave to dry for 10-15 minutes or cover with clingfilm and place in the refrigerator for one day.

When ready to cook, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Cook the pasta for 2-3 minutes, or until al dente. Sprinkle with pink peppercorns, tarragon, and lemon zest. Drizzle with rapeseed, olive oil or basil oil, sprinkle with salt and a squirt of lemon juice.


Basil Oil

Yield: About 1 cup

1 1/2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves

3/4 cup olive oil

Add the basil and oil to a blender; puree until smooth. Transfer to small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before using.


An Ottolenghi Dinner

Baked Lamb Kubbeh

Ever since Mr. BT gave me the Plenty cookbook I have been wanting to make everything in the book. Most of the recipes are perfect for the scorching summer when no one feels like cooking. The Friday before last it was blazing hot, and the thought of spending all morning in the kitchen did not appeal to me. I made two quick and easy Ottolenghi dishes: one was a baked lamb pie that I found on his Guardian weekly column and the other came from the cookbook.

Kibbeh, kibbe, kubbeh or koubeiba, which means dome or ball in Arabic, can be found in Iraq, Kurdistan, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Israel. Kibbeh Nabelsieh is the better recognized torpedo-shaped kubbeh with a shell of bulgur  and lamb that is ground to a paste and filled with ground lamb, spices and pine nuts. There is also Kubbat Haleb which is made with a rice crust and named after Aleppo. This version is served anytime, but especially made during Pesach in a Jewish home.

Kubbeh soup dumplings are made with a semolina shell and filled with ground lamb or preserved lamb. Kibbeh Nayyeh is finely chopped raw lamb or beef mixed with fine bulgur and spices, such as Baharat. There is also Kibbeh bel-saniyeh which is made with a decorative top or covered with a tehina sauce like I made.

The perfect match to the baked lamb pie was a refreshing and light salad with green beans, peas and mangetout, which are called snow peas in the United States.

Baked Lamb Kubbeh

Baked Lamb Pie - Kibbeh bel-saniyeh

Serving Size: 6 serving as a light main course and 8 as a first

125 grams (1/2 cup) fine bulgar wheat

5 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 medium onions, finely chopped

1 green chilli, finely chopped

350 grams (3/4 lb) minced lamb

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground coriander

2 tablespoons roughly chopped coriander

60 grams (2 ounces) pine nuts

3 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley

2 tablespoons self-raising flour

Salt and black pepper

50 grams (3-1/2 tablespoons) tahini paste

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon sumac

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F).

Line a 20cm (8-inch) spring-form pan with parchment paper. Put the bulgur in a bowl, add 200 milliliters (1 cup) of tap water and set aside for 30 minutes.

Place four tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan and saute the garlic, onion and chilli on medium-high heat until soft. Place in a bowl and set aside. Cook the lamb on high heat and cook until brown. Add the onion mixture back to the pan and add the spices, coriander, salt, pepper, and most the pine nuts and parsley. Cook for a couple of minutes and remove from the heat. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary. You want the spiciness to come through the lamb.

Check if the water has been absorbed by the bulgar, if not, then strain it through a fine sieve and place back in the bowl. Add the flour, a tablespoon of oil, a quarter-teaspoon of salt, and a pinch of black pepper. Work into a pliable mixture, with your hands, until it just holds together. Push the bulgar mixture firmly into the base of the spring-form pan until it is compacted and level. Spread the lamb mixture evenly on the top and press down. Bake for 20 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, 50ml (3 tablespoons) of water and a pinch of salt. The sauce should be thick, yet pourable. Spread the sauce on top of the kubbeh, sprinkle on the remaining parsley and pine nuts and bake for 10 minutes until the tahini is set and the pine nuts are golden.

Before serving, sprinkle the sumac and drizzle a little olive oil on top. Cut into wedges.


Green Beans Salad with Mustard Seeds and Tarragon

Green Bean Salad with Mustard Seeds and Tarragon

Serving Size: 4

250 grams (1/2 lb) French green beans, trimmed and blanched

250 grams (1/2 lb) mangetout (snow peas), trimmed and blanched

250 grams (1/2 lb) green peas (fresh or frozen), blanched

2 teaspoons coriander seeds, roughly crushed with a mortar and pestle

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon nigella seeds

1/2 small red onion, finely chopped

1 mild fresh red chilli, seeded and finely diced

1 garlic clove, crushed

Zest of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

2 handfuls baby chard leaves or other mixed baby leaf lettuce (optional)

Coarse sea salt

Combine the blanched green beans, mangetout and green peas in a large bowl.

Place the oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds and mustard seeds. When the seeds begin to pop, pour the contents over the bean mixture. Toss together and add the nigella seeds, red onion, chilli, garlic, lemon zest and tarragon. Mix well and season with salt to taste.

Just before serving, gently fold the chard leaves and serve.


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.


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