Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Weekend with Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking

Hummus, Twice cooked Eggplant and Harissa Pargiyot

A few weeks back the long awaited Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking finally arrived! Mike Solomonov and Steve Cook have delivered an absolutely wonderful book of (mostly) easy to reproduce recipes that any reasonably well equipped home cook can make. So when the weekend arrived I was geared up to try as many as possible (with more to come!).

Recipe 1: Basic Tehina Sauce

This is the foundation of a number of recipes including the famous Zahav Hummus so it's the obvious place to start.

Lemon juice and garlic get chopped together, rest for a few minutes to take the harsh edge off the raw garlic.

The mixture is strained and the garlicky lemon juice added to a whole jar (16 oz) of Tehina, water, and a little cumin.

The Thermomix makes quick work of this phase but a high power blender or food processor will work too.

You end up with an almost pure white sauce, most of which will go into:

Recipe 2: Hummus Tehina

The full recipes for these two and a length interview with Solomonov can be found here: For Israeli-Born Chef, Hummus And 'Tehina' Are A Bridge To Home. 

I just cooked up the chickpeas in my Thermomix and saved the cooking water.

And dumped in the tehina. And the processed the heck out of it. I probably had about 20 cl. of the saved water to make the hummus smooth and creamy.

Recipe 3: Crispy Halloumi

Dates and walnuts go into the Thermomix with a little Sherry Vinegar.

Halloumi (no substitues) fries quickly and holds it's shape.

Onto the puddle of date sauce with a few slices of apple and you're ready to go!

Recipe 4: Hummus Pitryot

This is just mildly spiced mushrooms (any kind will work, though Zahav uses Hen of the Woods) fried in a very hot pan so they crisp up and served on top of Hummus Tehina. Super easy and delicious.

Recipe 5: Twice Cooked Eggplant

Slice, salt and drain the eggplant.

Fry the crap out of it

Red Bell Pepper and Onions are diced and fried in the pan. Then toss in the eggplant and some Sherry Vinegar and break up the eggplant and cook until the vinegar evaporates.

Recipe 6: Harissa Pargiyot

First we make Harissa (or buy it) and marinate a couple pounds of cut up chicken thighs, thread 'em on skewers and grill.

Hummus, Twice cooked Eggplant and Harissa Pargiyot. Yum!

What's it all mean?

Honestly, if I hadn't had a bunch of football to watch I could easily have done all these recipes in one day. Almost anyone could easily assemble a very impressive dinner party without amazingly little planning. Just remember to make pickles 2 days ahead, soak your chickpeas and marinate meat (if any) the night before and you're good to go.

Zahav will probably gather quite a few comparisons to Yotam Ottolenghi's Jerusalem. We've cooked quite a bit from Jerusalem and while there are similarities, I'm finding Zahav more practical as a "home cooking" source.

Not ready to buy the book? There are the recipes for Yemenite Beef Soup and Lachuch here.

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