This simple and versatile recipe is one of my favourites. It can be eaten either warm or cold, and, depending how it is served, is like two different dishes. It works well warm with roast beef or grilled fish, such as sea bass or sea bream. When cold, the onions with their sweet and sour caramelised sauce become like a relish which can be eaten with cheese or on bread.
Pesto is a generic term for anything which is made by pounding. Historically, pesto is prepared in a marble mortar with a wooden pestle. Nothing tastes as good as home-made pesto, and my version takes just minutes to prepare in a food processor. Adding parsley to the mixture helps to give a good green colour. If you like you could add a few chopped, sun-blush tomatoes to the spaghetti, too, or sprinkle with some pine nuts and shaved Parmesan.
"What's a 'shmear'?" asked my non-Jewish editor when I was writing The Jewish Kitchen. It was a good question. It is more than a spread because there is a element of enthusiastic greed in its application. It is less than a topping and it is surely not a puree - far too elegant, and French. Smear comes closest, but even that implies a parsimonious approach. I explained how "shmearers" had once referred to textile workers who glued pieces of fabric, how the word has come to mean extra-curricular payments to dodgy politicos, how every bagel needs a shmear.
I am constantly looking for filling and uncomplicated recipes to make for my two small children. It is a tough assignment to find meals which are compatible with their delicate little taste buds, which are not wildly unhealthy and which adults are happy to eat too.
I love the aromatic flavours of a tagine and it is a great way to hide fruit and vegetables for fussy children. It is a Moroccan dish, a mixture of vegetables, chicken or lamb and dried fruit which would be cooked slowly in a tagine - a glazed earthenware pot with a conical lid with a knob on the top which was traditionally used by nomads as a portable oven over a charcoal brazier. My version is simple and quick to prepare and I love the rich flavours that come from the combination of butternut squash, korma curry paste and dried apricots.
Once, when my late mother was rushed to hospital, I knew she was on her way to recovery when she opened her eyes and said, "I never told you where I hid the diamond earrings." Then she murmured, "I think I could just about manage a little smoked salmon sandwich." It was less a mutter, more a commandment - the 11th, I guess: thou shalt mark all occasions great and small with the serving of a portion of best smoked salmon.
It is spring. That means lamb season again. This year I propose another recipe using delicious abbacchio, which is the Roman term for spring lamb. Almost any restaurant in Rome, refined or rustic, offers wonderful abbacchio dishes this time of the year when the meat is at its most tender and full of flavour.
My mother, Jessie, used to make large batches of strudel and would often give one or two of these sweet, fragrant pastries as a gift to family and friends. When I decided to attempt strudel making myself, I opted for my mother's choice of puff pastry rolled extremely thin as the casing. I looked through cookery books to guide the composition of the filling and chose that prescribed by Claudia Roden in The Book of Jewish Food and, while I have now modified the components of that filling, the proportions remain the same.
Passover brings back memories of holidaying in France and coming down to a buffet breakfast laden with croissants and pastries while clutching my box of matzah. However, if you are staying at home, you can turn breakfast into a treat by making Matzah Brei.