Fish has always been one of my favourite foods. I am always surprised how little some people cook fish at home because it is actually one of the easiest foods to cook and one of the quickest. My favourite meal out would be sushi but I do not make it at home because I think that is best left to the Japanese who prepare it so beautifully that it is almost a work of art. However when it comes to tuna, I like mine quite rare. Over- cooked tuna is dry and tasteless, whereas if you cook tuna for just a few minutes it can taste sublime.
The World Cup is a serious business requiring preparation, planning, co-ordination and split second timing - and that's just the mealtimes. The idea is to have the food on your lap in time for the 7.30pm kick-off. But what to eat?
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.