an adventure into my cookbook collection: soul-searching, doing things differently & the truths I learn along the way...

deseeding pomegranates is feminine & erotic, unless you hit them with a wooden spoon...


Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Glorious melba toast

Crispy crackers made out of toast, super easy and just wonderful.

Each slice of bread will make 4 pieces of melba toast.

To make, preheat your oven to 180 degrees c.

Get some slices of brown bread, and toast them in a toaster.  Cut the crusts off, and then cut each slice in half horizontally through the middle, so that you have two thin squares of toast, crisp on one side, fluffy on the other. This sounds tricky, but it really isn’t, use a regular bread knife and it will be fine. 

Cut each slice in half diagonally to create two triangles, and arrange all the toasts, fluffy untoasted side up, on a baking tray. Bake for about 15 minutes until completely crisp and curling at the edges.

Leave them to go completely cold until you box them. Serve with smoked mackerel pâté, humous, this amazing pumpkin seed dip, some posh cheese, or whatever else you fancy.

Sorry about the light...

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Smoked mackerel pâté

One of the things I look forward to about becoming a famous food writer/humanitarian/film critic/wag, is being able to go on Strictly Come Dancing, Dessert Island Discs and Saturday Kitchen. Saturday Kitchen is a relatively innocuous food programme, but here is just something about James Martin’s sweet-natured demeanour and the haphazard live format that I just completely love. My food heaven would probably be globe artichokes or fresh tuna, and my food hell would be bananas, and any form of mashed up fish: fish mousse, fishballs and gefiltefish just completely make me gag. Call me a bad Jew, but Gefiltefish is just the most vile thing in existence.* All except for the surprising wonder that is smoked mackerel pâté.

As well as being absolutely delicious, smoked mackerel pâté is also incredibly easy to make, and a really excellent thing to make as a starter/nibble when you are hosting. A bit of smoked mackerel pâté, toast cut into triangles and wine will keep guests very happy while you faff about in the kitchen.  


4 peppered smoked mackerel fillets, peel the skin off the back (yuck)
100g cream cheese (I used a reduced fat one)
1-2 tbsp crème fraîche to keep it lovely and light (I used a reduced fat one)
Lemon juice to taste, no more than half a lemon’s worth


Put the smoked mackerel fillets in a large bowl and use a couple of forks to flake them up – under no circumstances use anything resembling a food processor. 

Add the cream cheese, stir in a bit, and then add one tablespoon of crème fraîche. Mix together well. Use your judgement to see how thick it is looking and decide if you want to use the second tablespoon of crème fraîche. 

Add the lemon juice and stir, taste and add more lemon juice if you think the pâté needs it.

Works very well with melba toast – recipe coming soon.

*Unlike Gefiltefest, the London Jewish Food Festival, which is completely wonderful. The fifth annual Gefiltefest is being held at the London Jewish Cultural centre on Sunday the 15th of June – save the date! 

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Aubergine, butternut squash and chestnut tagine

So you probably know by now that I have a pretty serious cookbook-buying habit. Three years on and it doesn’t seem to be abating. I have decided to embrace it, and call myself a collector.

I think I get the cookbook obsession from my Mum – there is an enormous bookcase devoted to cookbooks in her kitchen (you can see it in the background of my profile picture) and its contents have always fascinated me. One of the best things in the bookcase was a very tattered ring binder containing thirty-odd years of recipes torn out of magazines, or copied onto scraps of paper. It is completely full and scraps of paper, crunchy from old sellotape or pritt-stick, fall out whenever anyone opens it.

I started with my own recipe folder about five years ago, hoping that I could create something like it, but pretty much forgot about it when I started this blog. I picked up the recipe binder a few weeks ago, and flicking through it I found this recipe. I can’t remember the context of why I printed it in the first place, but it sounded so good I just had to try it out. Rich and warming, this is a perfect vegan stew for this time of year. It doesn’t taste quite as authentic as my previous tagine recipe, but it is much less work.


1 tbsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, diced not too fine
2 crumbled dried chillies
3 garlic cloves, crushed
About 4 dates, pitted and finely chopped
2-3cm lump fresh ginger, grated or finely diced
2 small-medium aubergines, diced relatively unevenly, between 2 and 4 cm
1 smallish butternut squash, deseeded and cut into similar pieces to the aubergine
200g pack cooked, peeled chestnuts (not the frozen kind)
2 cans chopped tomatoes
2 small preserved lemons, skin only, finely chopped (optional)
Handful each chopped fresh mint, parsley and coriander, plus extra to garnish
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper


Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and fry for about 5 minutes. Then add the spices, chillies, garlic, dates and ginger and fry for a further 5 minutes, until the onion is softened and everything is starting to break down and get really fragrant.

Add the aubergines, squash and chestnuts and stir to coat in the spices. Add 100ml water, the tomatoes, and preserved lemon if using, put a lid on the pan and bring to the boil. Once boiling turn the heat down and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes, until the veggies are soft.
Taste and season with salt and pepper, and stir in the fresh lemon juice and herbs when ready to serve.

Would go very well with this couscous dish, and Moroccan carrot salad.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Tilapia ceviche with lime, coconut and chilli

Adapted from Thomasina Miers’ Mexican Food Made Simple

Happy New Year!

I can’t quite believe that I have been consistently blogging for three years. It really is the longest that I have ever stuck with any kind of extra-curricular activity, and I am so proud of myself. I love reading old posts and seeing how much I have learnt and grown over the past three years. It is good to see that my photography has become a little better, although I am still rubbish at remembering to take photos (as you will see here).

I made this recipe for friends after Limmud conference, where we were all feeling a little fragile (the Limmud-hangover lasts for days), and in desperate need of fresh, healthy and light food. I have never cooked with tilapia before – Thomasina Miers’ recipe called for sea bass, but when I was at the shop the tilapia fillets were much cheaper, and I thought that I would give it a chance.

According to the Good Fish Guide, tilapia are rated ‘1’, meaning that they are the most sustainably produced seafood. They are also omnivores, and “have a low requirement for fishmeal and fish-oil in their diets, making them net producers of fish protein and therefore a valuable aquaculture species.” They also don’t have such an amazing flavour, which means that they are excellent for dishes that have a lot of marinade or strong flavours, such as this recipe. 

Because I am a bit of a smug show-off at times, and a bit lazy, whenever I entertain I always take into account the ease:impressive-ness  scale – how easy something is to make, versus how delicious and impressive it is. Hands-down, this recipe wins on all counts. It is super easy to make, very impressive, and absolutely heavenly to eat.

Serve this to guests and they will go absolutely bananas.

Serves 5-6 as a starter


5 tilapia fillets (no skin), diced into 2cm (ish) chunks (or use sea bass)
Juice of 4 limes (you could, if you like, zest them before squeezing and dust the ceviche with a little zest just before serving)
½ can coconut milk
½ tbsp olive oil
Pinch sea salt
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 red chilli, finely diced (seeds in or out depending on your preference – to be more authentic you could use half a habanero chilli, but they are too spicy for me)
Handful roughly chopped coriander leaves
½ avocado, diced (squeeze some lemon or lime juice over the avocado to stop it discolouring)

Serve with tortilla chips (or lettuce cups for healthy people) and lime wedges


About an hour (max. two hours) before you want to eat the ceviche, combine the fish, lime juice, coconut milk, olive oil, salt, red onion and chilli in a glass bowl, and stir well (careful not to mush the fish). The coconut milk might look like it is splitting a bit in the lime juice, but don’t worry about it. Cover the bowl with cling film and stick it in the fridge.

When ready to serve, drain the ceviche of some of its liquid (you don’t want it too dry though), and mix with some of the coriander. Scatter the rest of the coriander and avocado on top.

And that’s it! “oooo” “aaahhh”

(sorry about the lack of photo)