I was once talking to a senior group at a Jewish community centre and mentioned shmaltz. It was as if I had used a swear word. An audible gasp ran round the room, followed by a mass sigh and, I swear, not a few tears springing to the eyes of those old enough to recall the joys and oys of shmaltz on black bread, shmaltz with chopped liver, shmaltz with gribenes. It made our collective arteries swell with pride and longing.
My latest project is an iPhone app - The Essential Guide to Feeding Babies and Toddlers. It is a whole new world out there. There seem to be apps for everything from the sleep machine that soothes you on your pillow with a variety of sounds and chilled-out tunes, to Pie in the Face, an app which enables you to throw a virtual pie at someone you dislike.
● This well-known dish comes without a precise recipe but will fail more often than it succeeds unless the following recommendations are heeded.
● First, get the bread right. It cannot be a sliced loaf. It cannot be wholewheat, wholemeal, wholegerm, or any of the heavy, overseeded loaves of the sort you find in health food stores. You don’t want seeds or herbs distracting your attention from the cheese.
With winter approaching it is time for comfort food and polenta is the perfect solution - warm, nutritious and filling. In Italy, polenta is mostly eaten in the north. It used to be considered peasant food but in the last 10-15 years has found new popularity in the gourmet market. This maize meal is used both in savoury dishes and desserts. Here I propose a delicious savoury pasticcio, a bake of polenta with four cheeses, fresh sage and nutmeg. Without the cheese, it can be eaten as an accompaniment to main courses in the same way as rice or couscous.
I love fish - it is quick to cook, low in fat , high in protein and it makes us super brainy. So why do so many children grow up disliking it? My theory is that somewhere along the way it has been served up over-cooked, dry and tasteless. It is not difficult to make fish appeal to children by making delicious Mini Fish Pies in ramekins, coating goujons of fish in seasoned flour, egg and crushed Cornflakes or serving up Salmon Teriyaki on skewers.
From the 1800s onwards, my family was among the "hidden Jews of Islam" in the medieval city of Meshed, Persia - strictly observant Jews at home, but Muslims to the outside world. Wine for kiddush was made in their cellars, they ground their own wheat for bread and matzah. Synagogue prayers and Hebrew lessons were conducted in secret. Shops were open on Shabbat but no sales were made.
This Israeli-inspired lamb recipe is ideal for Succot. It has the colours and flavours of the harvest season, a hint of ancient Temple pilgrimages, and a taste of pomegranates to wish you well and plenty in the year to come.
Make this stew a day ahead in order to let the flavours mellow, and serve with rice or couscous.
● 125ml olive oil
● 1 kg shoulder lamb, cubed
● 200g each carrots, celery and leeks, sliced
● 240g (drained weight) tinned chickpeas or white beans
● 3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
● 400ml red wine
Last year I went on holiday to a Greek island. I love fresh fish, simply grilled over charcoal, and salads, so the food there was a delight. However it was a shame that there were no kosher restaurants on the harbour-side because the smell of the lamb cooking in the many side-street tavernas was truly mouth-watering.
While the most popular dish with the tourists seemed to be the souvlakia - skewered and barbecued lamb served with salad and rice - the dish that appealed to me the most was kleftiko; pieces of lamb slow baked with lemon until they are practically falling off the bone.
Rosh Hashanah is around the corner and it is time for apples and honey again. The baked apples I suggest this year are a simple, healthy and delicious dessert. They can be easily prepared in advance and baked while you are eating dinner, so a comforting scent of the cooking fruit will slowly spread among the diners.