We Jews think we have the monopoly on chicken soup - that warming and reviving broth which is reputed to have medicinal properties. But other cultures do chicken soup too - some of them surprisingly similar to our own.
I am a great fan of the far eastern take on chicken noodle soup which can be found in varying forms in China, Vietnam and Thailand. The great thing about the soup at this time of year, when everybody is trying to lose a few extra pounds after the seasonal binge, is that it is comforting but also healthy and naturally low in calories.
Many dishes in Italian Jewish cooking have people's names associated with them. Usually these celebrate grandmothers or mothers who made a specific dish with great flair. But this one has a biblical name: the prophet Ezekiel. I doubt that he was the architect of the dish: its name, like Carciofi alla Giudia (Jewish artichokes) probably emphasises its Jewish origin. I first came across this dish in the cookbook La Cucina Nella Tradizione Ebraica, and this is my adaptation of it.
Breakfast is a meal without dessert, so I generally prefer to sleep through it. When there is time, I prefer brunch as it combines the best bit of breakfast and lunch. Brunch and holidays go together like al and dente. And this omelette wrap is easy to make, with or without a hangover. As are the muffins, which my cousin Lorraine says you should dust with icing sugar for seasonal effect. Looking at the frost outside, I'm not so sure.
With this cold weather it is important to have some warming food to come home to. I love the mix of flavours in this tagine and it is very simple to make. The meatballs are a combination of chicken and beef which gives them a lovely light texture. I do not fry them; I just pop them into the sauce to cook. This is one of the recipes that are featured in my new app, The Essential Guide to Feeding Your Baby and Toddler, which comes out in two weeks.
This can be a very depressing time of year. The darkness and cold can be so enervating that after a long day at work the temptation is to stick a ready meal in the microwave when you get home as a prelude to collapsing on the sofa.
However, why do that when you can make this quick Thai stir-fry, which is full of zingy freshness? It takes only a couple of minutes to cook (plus a little extra time to chop things up) and can make the gloomiest winter evening into a festival for the taste buds.
This rice pudding is one of the first recipes I ever made as a child. It was one of my favourites as well as my sister's, and we prepared it whenever we had a chance. It is still one of my favourite desserts but I try not to indulge too much as it has quite a lot of double cream and butter. Still, I do get the craving sometimes and enjoy making it. For me this is the perfect rice pudding, made with risotto rice and the zest of a lemon, and the dark chocolate sauce on top adds a gorgeous depth of flavour.
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.