Saturday, 20 November 2010

A year later...

It is the 1-year anniversary since I graduated and returned home from Italy. I did a bit of soul searching this week (though I do that pretty much on a regular basis), looking back for a recount of the past year, my actions, my gains and the future. Could it be a coincidence that on this same week I found myself, on 2 separate occasions, standing in front of students, giving back and sharing my knowledge, sowing seeds of change, opening a door, shaking foundations?

I see the rocks obstructing my path, as stepping-stones and higher jumping boards that will take me leaps forward.

At the end of an exciting, nerve wrecking, stressful, angst-ridden week along came Friday and made it all better and the rest of the weekdays seem worth the pain, or rather growing pains.

Turns out that fear and anxiety are to be met with a force and not cowardness. luckily I did and it was and I’m better for it and thus, so is the universe.

Nothing like a group of eager students, curious to taste new flavours, hear things they never knew existed to fill one with a dose of always needed optimism.

I could hear the sound of communication; information passing from my inner world and landing on absorbent ears, and it felt like giving. This must have been the sound of me following my vocation and doing the one thing I can: communicating through food.

Everything happens for a reason. At what point is it too coincidental to be a coincidence?

Sunday, 7 November 2010

pomegranate Cranachan

I was recently introduced to the Scottish Cranachan. I stumbled upon it right around the same time I spent a family vacation at the Scott’s hotel in Tiberias. I felt I could not and should not ignore the evidently recurring theme.

Tiberias is a small city overlooking the sea of Galilee, and really that is its main feature. That and the Scott’s Hotel, perfectly designed so that there is no need to venture outside to the dreary surrounding, while enjoying a panoramic view, though in the case you do, you can get it in small doses, in the form of a tour and a guide.

Between the pool, the spa and the dining room, a room with a view and a whiskey bar, it was the closet to a vacation in Scotland without the need for a passport.

Cranachan, as I found out, is a Scottish dessert served during the harvest season, mainly summer and fall. It consists of the best in Scottish produce: dairy, oats, berries, honey and single malt whiskey. Scotland is still on my ‘go to’ places, but I have never been drawn to the cuisine with stories on deep fried everything and stuffed innards. I was more then pleasantly surprises to discover cranachan and how it spoke in a dialect I could relate to and understand.

This is no Scotland and so I took the original recipe and modified it using local and seasonal ingredients to a cranachan with a Hebrew accent. Similar to the Japanese version of tahini, it is always a pleasant surprise to find that some words mean the same thing no matter the language. This is one of those dishes.

pomegranate Cranachan

(serves 6)

Recipe heavily adapted from here


170g coarsely grated dark chocolate (min 70% cocoa solids)

1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, husked, coarsely chopped

1tsp cinnamon

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not the instant kind)

1 3/4 cups chilled heavy whipping cream

1/3 cup sour cream

1/3 cup Arrack (or single malt whiskey)

3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

1 pomegranate, seeded.

Preheat oven to 175°C.

Mix chocolate, hazelnuts, cinnamon and brown sugar in medium bowl.

Spread oats out on rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 7 minutes, until toasted and golden brown, stirring occasionally.

Stir hot oats into chocolate mixture. The hot oats will partially melt chocolate.

Set-aside until chocolate firms, at least 2 hours. This can be made 1 day ahead, covered and chilled.

Beat whipping cream until it reaches the stiff peaks stage.

Gently fold the sour cream, and Arrack into the whipped cream.

Fold the pomegranate molasses and gently fold to create red swirls in the whiteness of the cream.

Either in individual bowls or one large communal bowl layer 3/4 cup cream mixture and 3/4 cup oat mixture and repeat layering.

Top with the cream mixture and sprinkle with oat mixture and pomegranate seeds.

Can be served at once or prepared in advance and chilled for a few hours.

If you cant get hold of pomegranates or pomegranate molasses, you can substitute it with any honey and seasonal or preserved fruit you have.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Autumn day out

Last week, on a spur of the moment I joined Anna, an Italian journalist in her research for material on a story for Italian TV about the local farmers market.

With Terra Madre taking place in Turin these days the story of various local farmers market, nurturing a complicated land with love and respect, we had less then a day and an impossible schedule.

From Tel Aviv in central Israel Anna, the photographer and myself headed south to a local olive oil producer. We had a chat, took a walk and snacked on an impromptu picnic on the back of his pick up truck, essentially bread, olive oil and tapanade.

By the time we left for the dairy farm, in the North of Israel, the sun had begun to set and the highways clogged with the end-of-week traffic. We arrived at the farm hungry, tired and agitated and it was already dark. The dairy was ready to close for the day, the cattle was back in the farm after a day's grazing, the herd dogs were smeared on the floor following a long day of herding and the last cheese was placed in the cold room, to begin its aging process.

Barkanit is a small family run dairy farm founded over 30 years ago. They have local varieties of goats and sheep that roam the local landscape during the day, feeding only on grass with no other additives, antibiotics or the likes.

The cheeses are all produced by hand using traditional methods, and according to Avinoam it is only women that make the cheese, as they have the right 'touch'. The range of cheese produced ranges from soft, semi soft, camembert style and blue cheese as well as hard aged cheese, all made naturally, by hand and with much love and care.

We roamed the land, met new people and generally had a welcome change of scenery, as from the back seat of the car endless fields replaced the grey urban landscape.
I met the salt of the earth.