42 posts categorized "Recipes"

04 November 2013

Roast brisket

For some reason brisket isn't something we eat much of in the UK, we might cure it and make salt beef, but we rarely roast it. Whereas in America, brisket is basically the (historic) staple of any Jewish celebration.  

Slow roasting it ensures the fat and collagen melt slowly and baste the meat as it cooks.  I'd also suggest asking your butcher to hang your brisket as you might rib before you roast it.  It adds significant depth of flavour to the final dish.

This is the recipe I used at my recent demonstration at JW3.

Serves: 10/12 

Timing: 4.5 hours (4 hours + 0.5 hour resting) 


  • 2.5 / 3kg brisket
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 2 fresh bay leaves or 1 dried
  • 2 carrots - peeled & cut into large dice
  • 2 onions - peeled & cut into large dice
  • 1 stick of celery - peeled & cut into large dice

Heat the oven to 165ºC.

Place the carrots, onions and celery into a roasting tray.  It will need to be relatively large to fit the beef, but you want it to fit snugly.

Place the beef on top of the vegetables.

Liberally rub into the beef salt and pepper.  Add more than you think you need.

Make sure the beef is fat-side up i.e. you can see the fat.  When it cooks this allows the beef to be self-basted.

Sprinkle the cloves and the bay on to the beef.

Add a dash of liquid to the dish. This could be water, wine, cider or stock.

Cover tightly in silver foil.

Place in the middle shelf of the oven.

After 4 hours remove from the oven, leave the foil on and allow it to rest for 30 mins.

Once rested, slice against the grain and serve.

31 October 2013

Salt beef, a 7.5% cure

This is not the first time I've written about salt beef but it's only now that I feel I've got a recipe I'm really happy with.  It is a bit more straightforward than my previous attempts so do give it a go.

One word on temperature, I'm cooking at 90ºC because it is between the heat required to melt the collagen (about 80ºC) and where it dries out (over 100ºC).

Serves: 10/12 

Timing: 10 days brine & 4 hours cooking

NB: 7.5% cure refers to the amount of salt, expressed as a percentage of the weight of the water.

1 ml of water weighs 1 gram, 1 litre weighs 1 kg etc.  Therefore 4l (the amount of water required for the brine) weighs 4 kg or 4,000 grams.  7.5% of that is 300g - which is the amount of salt added to the brine. 


  • 2.5 / 3kg of fresh brisket
  • One large non-reactive, food safe container
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 300g sea salt
  • 12 juniper berries
  • 12 cloves
  • 12 black peppercorns
  • 2 fresh bay leaves or 1 dried
  • 4l water 

Salt beef

  • 2 carrots - peeled & cut into large dice
  • 2 onions - peeled & cut into large dice
  • 1 stick of celery - peeled & cut into large dice
  • 2 fresh bay leaves or 1 dried
  • 1 bunch of thyme
  • 3 cloves of garlic - peeled
  • 12 peppercorns



Place all the brine ingredients in a pot and bring to the boil.

Allow to cool thoroughly - ideally overnight in the fridge.

Place beef in container and weigh down with plate or similar and ensure it is fully submerged.

Add brine - ensure the beef is thoroughly covered.

Leave in cool dark place. i.e. fridge, out house etc for 10 days. 



Place all the cooking vegetables and herbs into a pot.  Do not use the herbs in the brine.

Take the beef out of the brine and rinse well under running water.  Rub it as you are rinsing to ensure you remove as much brine as possible.  You can discard the brine and all the aromatics.

Add beef to the pot.

Add cold water to cover the beef and place lid on at an angle.

Bring the water up to 90ºC.

Skim regularly to remove scum.

Leave to cook for 4 hours.

Remove from the pot and slice and serve.  If you aren’t carving all the beef at once, return the meat to the water, but remove the pot from the heat.

16 September 2013

I'm cooking brisket & salmon at JW3

I'm doing two cookery demonstrations at JW3, the soon-to-be-opened Jewish community centre in London.

The first event is on 24 October at 8pm, when I'll be showing you a couple of the ways I cook brisket. I'll demonstrate how to turn brisket into salt beef,3 how to brine it, how best to prevent poisoning your family and friends and then cooking the meat itself.  Then, I'll show you that salting and boiling isn't the only thing that can be done with brisket and will demonstrate the wonders of low and slow cooking.  

The second event is on 5 December at 8pm. I'll demonstrate how to cure your own salmon, with two recipes: one in using the middle Eastern spice-mix bharat, the other using a dram or three of Laphroaig. Please don't be put off if you don't like whiskey, Silverbrowess is no fan of drink of kings but is rather keen on this smoky, peaty and sweet cured salmon. 

At both sessions I'll do my best to ensure there is lots of food to taste and recipe hand outs for everyone who attends.

If you want to come to the brisket session book here.  And you can book for the salmon session here.

If you have any queries about either session please feel free to leave a comment below, or on Twitter @silverbrow.

03 January 2013

Doughnuts (or sufganiyot)

I'm not sure if they're donuts or doughnuts.  'Ugh' sounds ugly but with or without it, do(ugh)nuts and sufganiyot, the Israeli doughnut, are delicious. 

They are however are an extravagence.  It is very rare that you can justify getting some bread, add sugar, deep fry it, squirt in some jam and add more sugar.  So if I'm going to eat them, I want to be sure that they are the very best.  I think I've found the very best but they're a bit of a shlep, the Doughnut Plant is in New York and Roladin, has various outlets around Israel. 

With my favourite doughnuts many miles from London, I was left with little choice this past Chanucah but to bake my own. In an attempt to limit the risk of being disappointed I went straight to Dan Lepard's recipe in Short and Sweet. These are excellent, truly delicious.  Even my duff first batch tasted outstanding.

A couple of words on process.  I deep fried in a saucepan using sunflower oil.  I imagine that a deep fat fryer is ideal, but my method worked fine, once I had a sugar thermometer.  My first go round I started making them before remembering I'd chucked out my old sugar thermometer.  They were burned as a conseuqence.  I then bought a decent thermometer and it made a massive difference. 

Dan advises very long resting periods throughout.  I generally didn't rest it quite as long as he suggested and I'm not sure my specimens were any worse off.  

As ever, make sure to read the recipe fully before you start baking.  This one requires a bit of planning.

Makes 6 doughnuts (I'd seriously recommend simply accepting that 6 is not enough and double up).

  • 100ml warm milk
  • 1tsp fast acting yeast
  • 250g strong white flour
  • 1 medium egg
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 25g melted unsalted butter
  • 3tsp vanilla extract
  • 2tsp glycerine (Dan says its optional, I disagree, I think it's necessary. Gives the doughnuts a beautiful, soft, smooth finish.)
  • 1/2tsp fine salt
  • sunflower oil for kneading and frying
  • warm jam for filling
  • icing sugar and ground cinammon (make sure it's fresh) for dusting

Mix the milk, yeast and 100g of flour and leave covered in a warm place/somewhere without a draft for 1.5hrs.

Whisk the egg and sugar until thick and pale with an electric mixer.  Then beat with the yeast mixture, melted butter, vanilla and glycerine until smooth.  Add the remaining flour and salt and knead it into a sticky dough.

Briefly knead the dough on an oiled work surface.  Return it to the bowl and leave for 1hr.  Knead a couple of times during that period.

Divide the dough into 6 pieces.  Shape into balls and place on an oiled tray, cover and leave for 1hr.

Quarter fill a deep sided saucepan with oil, or your deep fat fryer, and heat to between 180°C/350°F and 190°C/375°F.  This is when that thermometer becomes essential.

Fry the donuts in small batches.  Keep a close eye on them as they brown.  At this temperature, should take 1/1.5mins each side.

Remove from oil and drain on paper.

Make sure the jam is warm.  Using the long nozzle on an icing bag, make a hole in the doughnut and squirt in the jam.  I found I used a lot more jam than I'd originally thought.

Dip in the sugar and cinammon and eat.

In Dan's recipe he says that if you don't dip in the sugar then they can be reheated at a later date and are as though they are fresh out of the oven.  I have to say, I didn't think they were quite that good and had gone a bit soggy.

Anyway, all you want to do is eat them fresh.  The problems of reheating are academic.

30 July 2012

Smoked salmon gratin dauphinoise

I don’t think I’m being immodest by saying that generally I’m an upstanding kind of guy.  But every so often I like to go off the rails, I like to do something bad, wrong and downright dirty.  Usually that involves food.

Gratin dauphoinise is one of those dishes I love to eat but can never justify ordering, let alone making it because of the stodge.  That is until someone leads me astray and tells me I can make it. Well if I’m told I can do something then that’s fine isn’t it?  According to Supper Club, Kerstin Rodgers' (aka Ms Marmitelover) book and host of The Underground Restaurant, her salmon dauphoinise is a perfect summer dish.  Well that’s perfect because it’s summer - if served with a salad - it’s healthy - and a glass of crisp white wine - for essential lubrication, obviously.  So I am easily led astray. 

I served this as a main course on just such a wet, summer’s evening, with a salad of baby spinach leaves and a walnut oil dressing (walnut oil, white wine vinegar, diced garlic, salt and pepper).  I fear though that following it with Eton Mess might have been a bit too much cream for one night.

I should say, I’ve tweaked the recipe a bit.  She recommends it being no more than three layers deep, I did about five in my favourite dish.  I also used a bit more smoked salmon than she recommends.  In her recipe she says 250g, I ended up using 300g.

Serves 4 as a main-course (you could however serve it as a side)

  • 4 large baking potatoes (e.g. Maris Pipers or King Edwards)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Butter
  • 300g smoked salmon
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 600ml double cream

Preheat the oven to 180C.  I’d recommend sitting the dish you are using for this recipe in a roasting tray or similar.  If it spills in the oven, it can get messy.

Peel the potatoes, then slice them very thinly - I use a mandoline.  Alternatively, if you’ve got a food processor there’s a good chance it comes with a slicing blade.

Slice the garlic and rub your baking dish with it.  Throw away the clove.

Grease the dish with the butter.

Arrange a layer of potatoes on the bottom.  Kerstin recommends a fish scale pattern - basically, overlap them around the dish.

Salt and pepper the layer.  Not too much salt as you’re about to add smoked salmon.

Add a layer of smoked salmon.  My layers of smoked salmon did not cover the potato entirely, rather about 75% of it.

Then add another layer of potato, salt and pepper, smoked-salmon and so on.  Topping out with potato.

Don’t fill it right to the top with potato as you need space for the cream.

Salt and pepper the top layer of potato and lay the bay leaves on top.

Pour over the cream - you will end up with a generous amount of cream covering your dish.  

Cover with silverfoil and place in the oven for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil.  I found it needed a further 25 minutes but note that Kerstin recommends only 15 minutes.

Skewer the potatoes to check there is some give, assuming there is serve.  If there's not, put it back in the oven for a bit.

07 June 2012

Not just a chicken bagel recipe

I was asked to write a piece for The Forward's Jew & The Carrot blog on my favourite Shabbat meal.  As I say in my piece, they tend to be fairly uninventive.  I wanted to write about chopped liver, but turns out they already had that covered.  So instead, I turned to an old standby that is a pre-dinner snack, rather than dinner itself, heaven forfend.  Perhaps it is somewhat denigrating to refer to it as a snack.  


This was originally posted on The Jew & The Carrot.

Being from solid Ashkenazi stock, Friday night dinners invariably meant several ways with chicken: chopped, boiled and roasted. Although it was the least glamorous — the boiled chicken — that most excited me.

Chicken soup is a much loved dish and I’m always partial to a bowl or two, especially with my mother’s kneidlach. But it was the by-product that got my taste buds going.

I shouldn’t call it the by-product because the chicken is the main event, everyone just forgets about it and goes straight to the diluted version — what is soup if not a watery take on a solid? Chicken soup is genius in so many ways, but particularly because you can remove the primary ingredient and the soup is in no way diminished and the chicken tastes delicious.

I realized this curious fact early on in life and it led to a pleasurable pre-Shabbat ritual. Returning home from school I would sneak into the kitchen and sidle over to the large glass rectangular dish that contained the chicken. It would sit there looking somewhat wan. The skin had probably fallen off in the pot and other than boiling water and some aromatics, there was nothing to give it a hint of color. But I could readily overlook the aesthetic shortcomings. I was focused on a sandwich and no good sandwich will ever get mistaken for an oil painting.

Ideally the chicken would be warm but not hot and sitting in some broth that is mostly liquid, but at points is quivering into jelly. I would take aim at the breast, barely having to exert any pressure as the meat gladly parted company with the carcass.

Once enough chicken had been liberated I’d root around the bread bin to find a fresh sesame-seed bagel. Still with the merest hint of warmth from the bakers oven, they were nutty from the sesame, had a hint of sweet and salt and the all important features of a bagel, a chewy crust, but a forgiving center.

Split in two I would now be at a crossroads. The only one in this process. Either I would go down the purist route or I’d pimp my sandwich a bit. The purist route would be to pile the chicken onto the bagel, add a little squeeze of ketchup and generous dousing of chicken soup to ensure continued moistness, taking full advantage of a bagel’s rigidity.

The more outre version was to add half of a thinly sliced avocado, a dab of mayo and a couple of spritzes of Tabasco to the purist.

I like to think of this wonder as the kosher lobster roll. (I say that never having eaten a lobster roll.)

At this stage I was ready to retire to a quiet corner of the kitchen to contemplate the Shabbat meal that was just around the corner and ponder a question that had been vexing me for years: why was I never as hungry as everyone else when the chicken soup, chopped liver, roast chicken, roast potatoes and crumble made their post-Kiddush procession onto the table? I’m still wondering.

Makes 1 sandwich

  • 1 breast chicken, taken from a bird recently used to make chicken soup
  • 1 sesame bagel
  • Tomato ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon of broth from the chicken soup

If you’re going for the pimped version

  • Half an avocado sliced
  • Tabasco to taste
  • Mayonnaise

Take a fresh bagel slice it. Ideally it is still a bit warm from the baker. If you don’t have anything that fresh, then put it in the oven to warm it. Don’t toast it. This is not a sandwich that requires crunch or crumbs.

Peel the breast away from the carcass. You can use knife and fork if you insist, but I prefer pulling it away with my fingers as it comes away in nice clumps. Remove any skin that is lingering on he chicken.

Take one bagel half and compose as you see fit. I tend to put ketchup first, then chicken, then avocado, mayo and Tabasco.

Pour the broth over the other half of the bagel so that the bread soaks up the liquid and close the sandwich.

Eat in quiet contemplation awaiting the arrival of Shabbat and your dinner.

24 October 2011

Salt beef

UPDATE: At long last I've got a recipe I'm happy with. Please use the new recipe, rather than the method below.

Better salt beef should be more widely available.  It is a cheap cut of meat ooh how age of austerity, that doesn't take much hard work, ideal because I just don't have any time to cook and yet current offerings are pretty mediocre.

True, hope might be on the horizon, West One Deli for those that keep kosher (and assuming they get round to opening, there have been interminable delays) and Mishkin's from the irrepresable team behind Polpo et al for those that don't.  

So limited supply has left me trying to perfect my salt beef recipe for sometime and I think I've now done it.  Using the recipe below, I ended up with some of the most delicious salt beef I've ever had the privilege to taste.  It is a bit saltier than commercial salt beef but far from too salty - it gives a pleasant tang, helped no doubt by the aromatics.

I feel heretical saying it, but my efforts were no thanks to two of my heroes.  My first attempt was a salty disaster - the only time that the now veggie Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has let me down.  I then read Claudia Roden's seminal work on Jewish cookery, but was uninspired by her recipe, especially the rather amorphous 'pickling spices' she proposes. 

I moved on to Fergus Henderson at the suggestion of a commenter on the blog.  I blithely followed him, until I received another comment on the blog saying his brine was far too salty.  Pah, I thought, what does this naif though compared to Henderson.  

I then re-read Henderson and realised he was recommending the same concentration of cure for a chicken as for salt beef.  This seemed a bit wrong and perhaps Nick Loman was worth listening to.

So I pimped Henderson's recipe, or rather I wimped out and watered it down.  For 4 days I had a 15% cure and for 1 day I had a 7.5% cure.  I suppose you could make life easier by just going for a 13.5% cure or 540g of salt to 4l of water.  (These percentages refer to the quantity of salt to water in the cure, where water is 100%.)

I didn't use salt-petre and didn't think it was any the worse for it.  The reason for using salt-petre is to ensure the beef doesn't lose its pink colour as a result of the brining process.  I didn't find the colour a problem.  The inside was brown, a bit like the centre of smoked brisket - rather delicious actually.

So here's what I did.

Please note that in total this recipe takes 5 days to brine and is cooked on the 6th day - although most of that time a lump of meat is sitting in some salty water and does not require much work from you. Just don't try to make it a few hours before guests arrive.

You will need a large non-metallic container to cure the meat in.

3.5kg brisket - make sure your butcher leaves some of the fat on it.

4 day brine

  • 400g caster sugar
  • 600g sea salt
  • 12 juniper berries
  • 12 cloves
  • 12 black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4l water

5th day brine

  • 4l water

Cooking the beef

  • 2 bay leaves
  • Bunch of thyme
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 celery stick, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic

Bring all the ingredients for the brine to the boil.  Then allow to cool thoroughly.

Once cooled, pour the brine over the beef.  Make sure the beef is fully submerged, you may well need to weigh it down.

Leave it for 4 days.

On the 5th day, add a further 4l of water.

A note on curing & refrigeration: I don't refrigerate mine whilst it's curing because this is a preserving process afterall.  I leave it in a nice cool part of the house.  If you do refrigerate, bear in mind it will slow the curing process down, so for the same flavour you'll need to make it more concentrated or brine for longer.

On the 6th day - cooking day - remove the beef from the brine and rinse well under running water.

Put the beef in a pot with herbs and vegetables and cover with fresh water.  Cook it for about 3-3.5 hours.  You want it to be a rolling boil and by that I mean: the water's gently bubbling rather than furiously splashing for most of the cooking time.