Following are recipes for several dishes that handsomely represent the Israeli table. Unless otherwise noted, the recipes are designed to serve 4-6.
Meat Rolls with Pine Nuts
2 medium onions, peeled and grated
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 kilo lean lamb, minced very finely (can substitute beef)
salt and pepper to taste
4 Tbsp. pine nuts
1 1/2 Tbsp. each margarine and olive oil, melted together
chopped parsley and lemon slices for garnish
Preheat oven to 1800 Celsius.
In a mixing bowl combine the onions, egg and lamb. Season with salt and pepper to taste and mix well. Knead the mixture vigorously by hand or in a food processor, making sure that it is very soft and pasty.
Divide the mixture into six equal portions and flatten each on a board into a rectangular shape. About 1 cm. from the edges of the longer sides of each rectangle place a row of pine nuts and then roll each rectangle into a fat sausage shape, starting from the edge lined with pine nuts.
Arrange the six rolls in an ovenproof dish just large enough to hold all of them side by side. Brush the rolls with the melted margarine and oil mixture, sprinkle with about 3 Tbsp. of water and bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes or longer, depending on the thickness of the rolls. Transfer the meat rolls to a preheated serving dish, garnish with chopped parsley and lemon slices and serve hot, accompanied by rice or sauteed potatoes.
Lamb Stew with Dill and Olives
1/2 cup olive oil
about 1 1/2 kilos of lamb, cut as for stew
2 medium onions, chopped finely
1 tsp. turmeric
3/4 tsp. pepper
salt to taste
1 cup beef stock
3/4 cup lemon juice
675 gr. spinach, chopped
the leaves of 2 bunches of celery, chopped finely
the white parts of 8 spring onions, chopped finely
1/4 kilo green olives, pitted and halved
1/2 cup dried peas, soaked in water
2 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped finely
Heat 2 Tbsp. of the oil and in this brown the lamb and onions. Season with turmeric, pepper and salt to taste and then pour over the stock and lemon juice. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring several times.
In a heavy skillet cook the spinach, celery leaves, and spring onions over a very low flame, without adding water, just until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the remaining oil to the skillet and fry for 5 minutes. Add these ingredients to the meat and then add the olives, dried peas and dill. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the meat and beans are tender (about 45 minutes). Serve hot.
Fried Goats’ Gheese
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced
125 grams kasseri cheese or other hard, salty goats’ cheese
Heat the oil in a heavy skillet and in this saute the garlic until it is lightly browned. Remove the garlic with a slotted spoon and discard.
Cut the cheese into squares about 5 centimeters on each side and about 1 centimeter thick.
Place the slices in the hot oil and cook, turning once, until the exterior of the cheese is almost but not fully melted.
Remove with a slotted spoon and serve hot as an appetizer, garnished with lemon wedges.
St. Peter’s Fish with Parsley Sauce
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped coarsely
1 clove garlic, chopped
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
4 St. Peter’s fish, bass or trout, filleted
3 Tbsp. flour
1/2 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp. onion, chopped
In a food processor, combine the parsley and garlic with 2 Tbsp. of water and whir until the mixture is completely smooth. Thin the mixture with an additional 2 Tbsp. of water and mix well. Add the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside, covered.
On a flat plate combine the flour with about 1/2 tsp. each of salt and pepper and mix well. Into this dip the fillets, coating well and shaking off whatever excess adheres. In a large, heavy skillet heat the oil and in this fry the fish until well browned on both sides. Transfer the fish to a preheated serving platter and set aside to keep warm.
Discard about half of the oil and in the remaining oil saute the onions until golden brown. Add the remaining flour and over a low flame cook until the mixture is light brown, stirring constantly. Add the parsley mixture and cook, continuing to stir, for 2 – 3 minutes longer. Pour the sauce over the fish and serve immediately.
Roasted Garlic with Goats’ Cheese
3/4 cup creme fraiche (see note at end of recipe)
16-20 whole heads of garlic
1/2 cup butter
pepper to taste
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/2 kilo semi-hard goats’ cheese
6 spring onions, trimmed and chopped finely
16-20 slices country style bread
olive oil (optional)
With the point of a knife make an incision in each garlic bulb about 4 cm. from the top. Remove the first layer of skin from the tops so that the points of the cloves are showing.
Grease a baking dish and arrange the bulbs in the dish. Dot the bulbs with the butter, using 1/2 Tbsp. of butter for each bulb. Sprinkle with pepper. Pour the wine and stock into the baking dish, cover with aluminum foil and bake in an oven that has been preheated to 180 degrees Celsius for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 15 minutes longer. The cloves will be done when some of the garlic comes off on the tip of a sharp knife that is inserted into the cloves. Remove from the oven.
Place all but 3 Tbsp. of the creme fralche in a bowl and to this add the cheese, mashing together with a fork. Add the remaining creme fralche if necessary and continue beating with a fork until the mixture has the texture of a thick puree. Add the chopped spring onions and mix well.
To serve, place 1 slice of bread and 1 garlic bulb on each plate, and place the remaining garlic on a serving plate in the center of the table. Pass the cheese mixture separately. Guests should spread the cheese on the bread; then, using a fork, they should press the garlic flesh out of each clove and spread it on top. The garlic may then be sprinkled with olive oil if desired. Serve with dry red wine as an appetizer. (Serves 8 or more).
Note: Most dairies outside of France do not make creme fraiche, but it can be made easily at home. To make your own creme fraiche, simply mix 3/4 cup of sweet cream with 1 1/2 Tbsp. of buttermilk in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature overnight. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 4 hours to thicken the cream even more. The cream may then be used immediately or stored for several days. In addition to using it in this recipe, creme fraiche may be served with fresh fruit and used in sauces and salad dressings that call for sour cream.
Although many Middle Eastern and Mediterranean ingredients and dishes have become part of the repertoire of chefs throughout Europe and North America, the only dish invented in Israel to attain international acclaim has been this one. Originally devised by Tsachi and Linda Buchester, the dish was widely copied locally, and many Tel Aviv and Jerusalem chefs even began to believe that they and not the Buchesters had invented it. So it seems to be in America, France and Belgium today, where the dish now appears as the "unique invention" of the chefs in many highly prestigious restaurants.
1 cup (225 ml.) sweet cream
6 Tbsp. sugar
6 egg yolks
2 Tbsp. Amaretto liqueur
150 gr. halvah, broken into small pieces
In a bowl whip the sweet cream until it forms stiff peaks. In a small saucepan mix the sugar with 6 Tbsp. of water and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool.
In the top of a double boiler, over but not in boiling water, place the syrup and add the egg yolks and Amaretto. Mix with a hand mixer without stopping until the mixture is thick in texture and lighter in color and begins to form a foam on the surface. Remove from the heat, transfer to a mixing bowl and add the halvah. Mix at a high speed without stopping for 15 minutes and then fold in the whipped cream, mixing gently with a plastic spatula until the mixture is even throughout.
Transfer the mixture to a loaf pan, cover with plastic wrap or parchment paper and place in the freezer for a minimum of 6-8 hours. Serve in thick slices as a dessert.