Time to fress on cress

By Ruth Joseph, July 28, 2010

For years spinach, for its weight, was believed to be the most nutritious green vegetable. Popeye grew muscles eating cans of the stuff. But our knowledge has increased over time and we now know that although spinach contains numerous vital nutrients, and is particularly helpful with problems involving damaged eyesight, within those wonderful glossy leaves lies a chemical called oxalic acid which blocks iron's natural absorption.


Jews and booze: the truth

By Bernard Josephs, July 15, 2010

An old proverb sums up what many people still believe is the Jewish attitude towards alcohol. An inn keeper, it says, "loves the drunkard, but not as a son in law".

In 19th-century Poland, Jewish- owned inns served vodka to non-Jewish locals, whose idea of a great night out was to down as much as they could until they became violent or unconscious, or both.

On the other hand, Jews, it was believed, did not drink.

History, however, has revealed that this rose-tinted view of the mild-mannered, teetotal Jew does not tally with reality.


Making kosher green

July 8, 2010

Two weeks ago, Sholom Rubashkin, the former CEO of America's largest kosher slaughterhouse, was jailed for 27 years.

Rubashkin's business, Agriprocessors, was raided in May 2008. Almost 400 illegal immigrants were discovered and a massive fraud operation was uncovered. Last November he was found guilty of 86 fraud charges and he now faces 83 charges for alleged child labour violations.


Cream of the crop

By Denise Phillips, July 1, 2010

The Wimbledon finals take place this weekend which means, as always, that strawberries will be on the menu, both at the All England Club (at an extortionate price) and just about everywhere else. English strawberries are as much a part of British summer as the tournament itself - and the rain that normally accompanies it.

However, the passion for eating strawberries is neither new nor particularly British. Strawberries have quite a history attached to them dating back more than 2,000 years.


How to gauge greens

By Denise Phillips, June 24, 2010

We are fast approaching The Three Weeks - the time between Tammuz 17 and Av 9 during which Jews mourn the destruction of the First and Second Temples.

The final nine days of the Three Weeks, starting on the Av 1, are an intensified period of mourning when we refrain from eating meat or drinking wine, although the eating of meat is allowed on Shabbat.


Now feed your brain

By Tracey Fine and Georgie Tarn, June 17, 2010

At this time of year, your children are locked away with their books (hopefully not on their Facebook), studiously revising for their exams. The pressure is also on parents to make sure that they are fed and fuelled, eating the right foods to help them produce 'A' star results.


Why eating cold is the cool thing to do

By Bernard Josephs, June 10, 2010

If ice cold beer and Coke had been available during Medieval days there is a strong possibility that Maimonides would have advised his followers to indulge themselves.

Centuries before the appearance of freezers and at a time when ice was available only in the depths of winter, the eminent Torah scholar offered some sage advice about eating healthily and staying cool during the summer.

The Rambam, as he is known, suggested in his writings what appears to be obvious; consumption of plenty of "cold" food without excessive amounts of spices will prevent overheating.


Intoxicating praise for Israeli vintages

By Anthea Gerrie, June 3, 2010

After more than 20 years of striving for a quality reputation, Israeli wines have come of age with a ringing endorsement from one of Britain's best-known experts.

"These are arguably the finest wines in the Eastern Mediterranean," Times columnist and Master of Wine Tim Atkin told restaurateurs, sommeliers and wine writers who had gathered for the most ambitious tasting Israel's winemakers have ever staged in the UK.


Become a stalker

By Ruth Joseph, May 27, 2010

Rhubarb might lack something in glamour but it is a fantastic seasonal food which is produced in two different ways. The stems of the rhubarb in the shops now have been forced in the dark, hence their wonderful vivid pink colour. Its flavour is more delicate than the thicker stems of outdoor-grown rhubarb that arrives later in the year. It is a fascinating plant, technically a vegetable and a closer relative to sorrel than to fruits. It is low in calories so can easily be included as part of a low-fat, healthy diet, but cooking it without too much sugar does present a challenge.


Why everyone should be armed with spears

By Ruth Joseph, May 21, 2010

It is that time of year when the first bunches of tender, green asparagus stems arrive in our shops. How delicious to enjoy them simply steamed, griddled with a sprinkling of salt or with a soft poached egg nestling on top.

We have been relishing asparagus for centuries. In fact the oldest surviving cookery book, Apicius's third century ACE, De re Coquinaria, gives a recipe. The Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans all cultivated this member of the lily family, while the Romans dried them for use in the winter.