Israeli Cous Cous with Apples, Cranberries and Herbs

Here is an unusual fusion of Middle East meets Mid West. If you're looking for something a little different, but not too different, to bring to the Thanksgiving table, try this lighter competitor to stuffing by Giada De Laurentiis. It also works as a seasonal side, with the flavors of Thanksgiving lasting through to Hanukkah. 

By Giada De Laurentiis, courtesy of The Food Network.

Serves 4 to 6. 


2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups Israeli couscous 
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 medium green apple, diced
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted, see Cook's Note*


1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

For the couscous: In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat. Add the couscous and cook, stirring occasionally until slightly browned and aromatic, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 to12 minutes or until the liquid has evaporated. Transfer the cooked couscous to a large bowl and set aside to cool. Add the parsley, rosemary, thyme, apple, dried cranberries, and almonds.

For the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, maple syrup, salt, and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil until smooth. Pour the vinaigrette over the couscous and toss to coat evenly.

*Cook's Note: To toast the almonds, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange the almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely before using.

* * *

A Boozy Wild Mushroom Soup

 By Danielle Frum

The arrival of fresh wild mushrooms in the farmer's market always transports me back to Poland, and the cookbook I co-wrote with historian Anne Applebaum, From a Polish Country House Kitchen (Chronicle Books, 2012).  Above are a sampling of mushrooms our photographers Bogdan and Dorota Bialy collected one day when we were photographing the book at Anne's Polish summer house. 

The inspiration for our cookbook was the new and emerging Polish cuisine (once an oxymoron) that had developed post-Communism. For me it was a way to explore the Askenazy culinary roots that are at the heart of North American Jewish food traditions. In our book we offer two types of mushroom soup, one traditional and the other a "boozier" version of zupa gryzbowa. The kick comes from a big splash of Madeira or port. It is my go-to soup for fall get-togethers. Easy to make -- earthy, rich and delicious. 

Serves 6 as an appetizer, or 4 as a main course.

1/2 cup Madeira (we have also used port successfully)
3 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you keep Kosher) 
1 oz dried wild mushrooms (porcini, morels, cepes and boletes)
4 tbs unsalted butter
3 leeks (white and light green parts), trimmed, rinsed, and diced
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
1 cup fresh cultivated mushrooms, cleaned, halved lengthwise, and stems trimmed
3 tbs all-purpose flour
2 cups mushroom stock (you can use the dried cube kind here, dissolved in boiling water)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup creme fraiche
Handful of chopped fresh dill

In a small saucepan, combine the Madeira (or port), 1/2 cup of the chicken (or vegetable) stock, and the dried mushroooms. Bring to a boil and then immediately remove from the heat. Let sit for at least 30 minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer lined with a paper towel or cheesecloth set over a bowl to remove any grit from the stock. Press any extra liquid from the mushrooms, then rinse the mushrooms well. Return to the bowl with the strained stock, and set aside.

In the meantime, melt the butter in a soup pot and cook the leeks and onion over medium heat until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms and continue to cook until the mushrooms glisten and sweat a little, another few minutes or so. Sprinkle with the flour and stir until mixed well. Pour in the Madeira and dried mushroom mixture, stirring constantly so the broth thickens without curdling. Gradually pour in the remaining 2 1/2 cups of chicken (vegetable) stock and the mushroom stock, continuing to stir. Season with salt and pepper. Raise the heat, bring to a boil, and then immediately lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, until the mushrooms are cooked, about 30 minutes.

Use an immersion blender to puree the soup in the pot, but only partially; leave some of the mushroom chunks intact. This should not be a perfect puree. Serve, adding a dollop of creme fraiche and a sprinkle of fresh dill to each bowl.

* * * 

Roasted Cauliflower, Hazelnut and Pomegranate Seed Salad

Photo by Jonathan Lovekin from the cookbook, Jerusalem.


By Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

Cauliflower, raw or lightly cooked, is a useful salad ingredient, above all in winter when there isn't a great variety of fresh vegetables available. It soaks up flavours particularly effectively and benefits from anything sweet and sharp.

Serves 2-4.

1 head of cauliflower, broken into small florets (660g in total)
5 tbsp olive oil
1 large stick of celery, cut on an angle into 0.5cm slices (70g in total)
30g hazelnuts, with skins
10g small flat-leaf parsley leaves, picked
50g pomegranate seeds (from about 1/2 a medium pomegranate)
1/3 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 tsp ground allspice
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 1/2 tsp maple syrup
salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Roast the cauliflower by placing it on a parchment lined backing sheet, drizzle with 1-3 tablespoons of olive oil and toss it together with some salt and pepper.

Roast in the oven for 25-35 minutes until parts of it are turning golden brown. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside to cool down.

Decrease the oven temperature to 325 F. Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (I used the same one as the cauliflower, just switched the paper) and roast for 17 minutes (although depending on your oven, I suggest watching these closely, mine were burnt at 17 minutes, and I took my second try out around 10 minutes).

In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons olive oil, sherry vinegar, maple syrup, cinnamon and allspice. Set aside.

Allow the nuts to cool a little, then coarsely chop them and add to the cauliflower, along with the pomegranate seeds, celery, parsley, and the dressing. Stir, taste, and season with salt and pepper accordingly.

Serve at room temperature.

* * *


Uri Buri's Rainbow Trout in a Cast Iron Pot

One of the oldest dishes served at Uri Buri's famous restaurant in Akko, Israel.
Photo by Danielle Frum.


By Uri Buri

This dish continues to star on the menu because our diners keep asking for it. It can easily be made at home, too. We serve this dish with turmeric rice, but it can be served with white rice or with any other side dish you prefer. It goes especially well with a side dish that absorbs the sauce -- like fettucini.

Serves 2.

For the fish:

4 fillets fresh rainbow trout, skin on
1.5 cups whipping cream
2 tsp freshly ground pepper, preferably a mixed blend
2 tsp fish sauce or crushed anchovy
2 scallions, finely chopped

For the rice:

1 cup rice
1.5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 scant tsp ground turmeric
1 sprig rosemary
1 tsp Kosher salt
2 tbs canola oil

First make the rice: Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Saute the rice lightly for a couple of minutes. Pour in the stock, turmeric, rosemary and salt, and turn up the heat to high. Bring the rice to a boil and then immediately lower the heat to a simmer and cover. It should take 20 minutes or so to cook, and then rest, still covered, for another 10-15 minutes.   

When the rice is resting, start the fish. Mix the whipping cream with the pepper blend and the fish sauce (or anchovy if using).

Meanwhile, place a large heavy cast iron skillet or pot with a fitted lid over high heat (the skillet or pot should be able to hold all the fillets without overlapping). When it is very hot, add the fillets skin-side down, making sure the entire fillets are touching the bottom of the skillet or pot.

Pour the seasoned whipping cream over the fillets and cover immediately. Lightly shake the fish to prevent from scorching.

Remove from the heat after exactly one and a half minutes. Garnish the fish with the scallion and cover again. Bring the fish to the table in the pan. 

To serve: Distribute the fish fillets between two plates with a little sauce. Add some of the rice to the pot, mixing it well with the remaining sauce, and add to the plate.

Recipe adapted from Fish and Seafood by Uri Buri. Copyright Uri Buri 2009.

* * *

Shwartz's Famous Montreal Smoked-Meat Sandwich

The famous deli sandwich composed of smoked fatty brisket, soft rye and big schmear of yellow mustard. Photo by Laura Togut.


By Danielle Crittenden Frum

No Montreal Jewish deli will reveal the secret -- and sacred -- mix of spices used to smoke their briskets. Schwartz's Deli is arguably the most famous and popular: Lines form outside at all hours to eat its version of a Jewish Big Mac (calorie-wise at least). The bread is soft so as to soak up all of the delicious fatty juices. There is nothing else added except mustard -- in Schwartz's case, the bright yellow kind. You can order a vinegary coleslaw, pickle, and bag of fries on the side (in case you don't feel like you're consuming enough calories). Amazingly, the Food Network was able to ply the cooking method out of Schwartz's -- but of course, not the spice mixture, which the deli deemed "top secret." But in a completely separate recipe --also on the Food Network (good job FN!) -- there were the ingredients for a more typical mixture of "Montreal spices." You can add to these what you like; I might be tempted to throw in a couple of cloves and some crumbled bay leaves. In any case, I've combined the two recipes. If you have a smoker and the patience to wait at least 11 days (including the marinating), this will be the closest thing to actually chowing down the sandwich in Schwartz's itself. Better yet: no line.

Serves many.

1 whole brisket

For the Montreal Spice Mix:

2 tsp peppercorns (10 ml)
1 ½ tsp coriander seeds (7 ml)
1 ½ tsp cumin seeds (7 ml)
2 tsp fennel seeds (10 ml)
1 tsp mustard seeds (5 ml)
1 tsp dry mustard powder (5 ml)
1 tbsp celery seeds (15 ml)
2 allspice berries
1 tbsp smoked paprika (15 ml)
2 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp brown sugar (30 ml)
1 ½ tbsp kosher salt (22 ml)

Marinate meat in blend of spices and refrigerate for 10 days. 

Smoke brisket for 8 hours.

After smoking is finished, steam the meat for 3 hours to restore moisture.

Once moistened, thinly slice the smoked meat.

Pile high on your favourite Rye bread.

Top with choice of mustard. Enjoy!

* * *


By Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully

We love these sorts of dishes, which are somewhere between a hearty fish soup and a fish dish with sauce. Whichever way you look at them, they're a meal in themselves, to be served with little more than some crusty white bread to mop up the juices. 

The vichyssoise can be a stand-alone soup here, if you like. (We pass all soups that we want completely smooth through a fine-mesh seive at NOPI, but if you're not too fussed by a little bit of texture, you can let the restaurant standards slip with this detail. Scully also plunges his container of vichyssoise straight into a big bowl of ice-cold water. Halting the cooking in this way helps preserve the vibrant green color. Your guests will probably forgive you if you bypass this stage.)

The soup and nut crust can be made up to a day ahead of time if you like, and left in the fridge. 

Serves 6.

6 halibut fillets, skinless and boneless  (1 lb 14 oz/950g)
tbsp olive oil
tbsp lemon juice
12 breakfast radishes, green
leaves, and roots left on and sliced in half lengthwise (or 8 round red radishes)
Coarse sea salt and black pepper

For the wild arugula and parsley vichyssoise:

1/2 oz/100g parsley stems and leaves
1/4 oz/150g wild arugula
tbsp olive oil
tbsp/40g unsalted  butter
2 medium shallots, coarsely chopped (31/2 oz/100g)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
medium leek, green and whitparts finely sliced (7 oz/200g)
2 large all-purpose potatoespeeled and cut into roughly 3/4-inch/2-cm pieces (13 oz/370 g)
1/2 cups/1 liter chicken stock
oz/25g spinach leaves

For the pistachio and pine nut crust:

10 tbsp/150g unsalted  butter,cut into 1/3-inch/1-cm dice
2 oz/60g shelled pistachioslightly toasted and coarsely chopped
2 oz/60g pine nuts, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
1/4 tsp superfine sugar
tbsp lemon juice

Place the butter for the nut crust in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook for 4 minutes, until the butter is nutty smelling and golden brown. Remove from the heat, and strain the butter through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any black bits. Add the pistachios, pine nuts, sugar, lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Mix well, then spread out in a small parchment-lined bakin sheet, about 6 inches/16 cm wide and 8 inches/21 cm long. Chill in the fridge for 2-3 hours, until the butter has set firmly, then cut the mixture into six equal rectangles. Return the rectangles to the fridge until ready to use.

To make the vichyssoise, bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil and add the parsley and arugula leaves. Blanch for 30 seconds, then refresh under cold water. Strain, squeeze out the excess water, set aside to dry, then coarsely chop.

Place the oil and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring once or twice, until soft but not colored. Add the garlic and leek and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring frequently until shiny and glossy. Pour over the chicken stock and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, until cooked but still retaining a bite. 

Add the blanched parsley and arugula and cook for a final minute, then remove from the heat and add spinach, along with  1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Transfer to a blender, blitz well until completely smooth, and set aside until ready to use. 

Preheat the broiler to 400-degrees/200-degrees Celsius, or its highest setting. Spread the halibut fillets out on a large parchment-lined baking pan and brush them with the 2 tablespoons of oil. Season with 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt in total and a good grind of black pepper and grill for 6 to 7 minutes, until the halibut is almost cooked. 

Remove the baking pan from under the broiler and lay a rectangle of but butter on top of each fillet. Return to the broiler and cook for a final 2 to 3 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and squeeze over the lemon juice. 

Warm the vichyssoise and spoon it into shallow wide bowls. Lay a hallibut fillet on top, place the radish pieces alongside, and serve at once. 

Reprinted with permission from NOPIThe Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully, copyright © 2015. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint ofPenguin Random House LLC.”Food Photography credit: Jonathan Lovekin © 2015Location Photography credit: Adam Hinton © 2015


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