Shakshuka: Israel’s hottest breakfast dish

By Bernard Josephs, October 8, 2009

What is the best way to prepare shakshuka, the spicy, warming, vegetable and egg dish that is a regular part of the Israeli diet and is usually served as a cooked breakfast or a light lunch?

The answer to this vexing question is a huge bone of contention around many kitchen tables in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Israelis of course love to argue, particularly about food, and the debate about what constitutes a “genuine” shakshuka is at the centre of many a furious debate.


What to do with your second-hand citron

By Ruth Joseph, October 1, 2009

It’s a fascinating fact that in the Middle Ages, the humble etrog became part of a peace treaty. After fighting and losing yet another war, the Republic of Pisa was banned from trading in etrogim in 1329 by the Guelph League of Tuscany, headed by Florence. Etrogim or citrons had always been valuable, in fact, the Spanier merchants, from Frankfurt, became famous for trading in them. And this is strange when one considers the etrog’s sourness and thick skin, in comparison with other citrus fruits. They also need more water than other fruit trees, so their value lies purely in prayer.


Why ambiguity is key to kosher cooking

By Denise Phillips, September 24, 2009

Cooking and good food are central to Jewish life. Our calendar is studded with a glorious variety of festivals and holidays. Some of them are serious occasions; others are more fun. But they all have one thing in common — a celebratory shared meal with a signature dish chosen for its religious connections. And behind each one is a Jewish mother, a matriarch capable of creating classic, delicious meals at a moment’s notice on a regular, almost daily basis.


Rosh Hashanah: it’s crunch time for apples

By Ruth Joseph, September 17, 2009

The song of Songs says “comfort me with apples”, and surely has resonance for all of us. There is nothing like walking through an orchard when ripe fruit hangs heavy off the tree. The thing to do is to cook some of the apples straight away, simply stewing them, maybe with fresh blackberries. Or choose the largest, fattest Bramleys and hollow out their cores, cutting their skins and stuffing them with mixed spice, dried fruit and marmalade. Then bake them in a little water until the tops are golden and the centres puffy and fragrant — that is certainly comforting.


Why children should play with their food

By Judy Jackson, September 9, 2009

Can you imagine a seven-year-old asking you to buy beetroot or red cabbage? Or a 12-year-old offering you a soothing cup of fresh ginger tea while he makes dinner?

When you think of children’s cookbooks the images that come to mind are of cakes studded with Smarties or chocolate Rice Krispies. The writers seem to think children can only be enticed into the kitchen with a promise of sugar-laden treats.


The legal grass that is actually good for you

By Ruth Joseph, September 2, 2009

Buckwheat, part of our Eastern European food heritage, is a living anomaly. For it bears no relation to wheat and although it’s considered a grain, it isn’t really — rather, it is a type of grass-seed called an achene.

It began its history in South East Asia around 6000 BCE, quickly spreading to Central Asia, Tibet and finally to Europe in about 4000 BCE.


Why it’s time to get the Israeli nut habit

By Bernard Josephs, August 27, 2009

The taste of freshly baked sunflower seeds and roasted nuts, typically bought in 100g brown paper bags from kiosks, provides one of the greatest pleasures of Israeli street cuisine.

It is Jerusalem’s version of the hot chestnut men who used to ply their wares in the streets of London. Such is the demand among Israeli ex-pats in the UK that kosher stores and some supermarkets are now stocking seeds, known in Hebrew as garinim.


Football chef with a recipe for cup glory

By Anthea Gerrie, August 20, 2009

He is a Tel Aviv hotel chef not a striker, but two Israeli football clubs regard Golan Israeli as their secret weapon.

The 35-year-old’s hummus and kosher steaks are regarded as indispensable by two of Israel’s top teams — Maccabi Haifa and Maccabi Netanya — and he even travels abroad with them to Europe.


Is fish really brain food?

By Ruth Joseph, August 13, 2009

When I was a small child, I was always told by my grandmother to “Eat your fish — it gives brains”. My imagination would run riot as I visualised small pieces of fish somehow forcing themselves into my head. As I grew older, I still tried to heed her advice, but with an air of teenage scepticism. Now with grandchildren of my own and a nutrition qualification under my belt, I am able re-examine that old wives’ tale.


Great white hopes

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 6, 2009

The height of summer has to be the time for drinking the best white wines you can get you hands on.

Trying to find a fine white wine — one that would fit a formal and elegant setting — is much more difficult than finding a comparable red.

In the kosher market, where inferior whites abound, the search can be wearying. Part of the reason is that many of the better whites made in Israel are produced in relatively small quantities and are rarely exported to the UK.