86 posts categorized "Diary"

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.

07 September 2012

Rosh Hashanah 2012

This is all feeling rather rushed.  

A week to go until Rosh Hashanah and I haven't really given what I'm going to make much thought.  I don't know which meals I'm making - lunch tends to be the biggie in our family - and there are two days of the Jewish New Year.  At the moment I may be doing just one, or both. Even if I only do one lunch, I still need to provide dinner for the family.  Light and simple will be the watchwords for dinner.

Chopped liver is certain to make an appearance - although I have to confess that last year it got binned just as people were loading it on to their forks.  It seemed I got a bit too eager, made it a day or so early and it had started to turn.  Not my kitchen memory.

The slow roast shoulder of lamb with honey and cider was popular last year.  I might reprise, but I was wondering if I can do something with pomegranates.  Figs crossed my mind as well, but perhaps they'd be just too sticky and sweet.

Rosh Hashanah this year runs from dusk on Sunday 17 September to dusk on Tuesday 19 September. That I have all day to prepare on Sunday makes me think I could use the opportunity and smoke a brisket. If I end up doing two days I could have smoked brisket on the first and use the left overs (assuming they exist) on the second for a West One Deli inspired chili.

Then again, bollito misto is easy and generous, salt beef is fun to make and I nailed the recipe last year. Oh, such decisions.  Ah, I've just remembered about Orbs of Joy.  They're a keeper.  Last year I talked about making baked beans.  I didn't.  Maybe this year.

I like to think I can be organised enough to make my apple, honey and crushed pepper sorbet again.  At the very least, I've sourced Indig's babka, the babka to end all babka's according to babka maven Dan 'Young & Foodish' Young.  

But I suppose I should bake my own.

On the baking theme, I've just started a sourdough starter and I was wondering about sourdough challa. We shall see.

I really should start planning and ordering and cooking.

Before I do, a happy and healthy new year to you all.

30 May 2012

Debating the future of kosher food in London

This was originally posted on The Jew & The Carrot.

Fressing and kibbitzing. Eating and talking. It’s what we Jews do so well, which is why on an unseasonably cold Sunday, the beautiful Ivy House, HQ of the London Jewish Cultural Centre, was heaving with over 500 people for this year’s Gefiltefest.

Setup in 2010, Gefiltefest — a British celebration of all things food and Jewish related — is now in its third year. Organized by the perennially cheerful Michael Leventhal, it is the ultimate Jewish food conference across the pond. Warmed by fragrant samosas topped with chili and yogurt made by a collective of North African women who call themselves Spice Caravan, people gathered for a mix of talks, panel debates and stalls more or less all focusing on the wonder that is food. Topics ranged from the silly — making edible portraits for kids — to the more serious like the panel debate I hosted on the future of kosher food.

The other panelists were all kosher restaurateurs, of one shade or another. Kenny Arfin runs Bevis Marks The Restaurant, one of London’s smarter kosher restaurants; Elliot Hornblass is one of the backers of The Deli West One, a New York deli style restaurant and Amy Beilin is the force of nature behind Kosher Roast, London’s first kosher pop-up (as far as I’m aware).

The first question I posed was whether it matters if there is a future for kosher food. With the Jewish population in the UK at under 300,000 realistically how many people are religious enough to care? And even if they do care, are there sufficient numbers to make it commercially viable.

The conclusion was that there is a future because even if the market is small, there are enough people who care passionately to keep it going. Where the panel had differing views was on the cause and cure of the current stasis in the market.

There was consensus that suppliers and religious kosher authorities don’t help the situation. One example given was chickens. There's only one major supplier in the UK for kosher chickens, meaning limited price competition. Similarly, there are only a handful of kosher certifying authorities and they err towards a conservative approach.

These are not uncommon complaints from kosher restaurateurs, but one area of difference among the panel was the role of the customer. Kenny felt that the customer invariably is conservative and expects traditional Ashkenazi fare when they eat out, reflecting views of what “Jewish” food is. At an event he recently catered, he tried to serve pareve cheese on top of hamburgers, but these were widely rejected.

Amy took a different line, she felt that her experience showed the kosher customer wants more innovation, that there is an expectation of good food, clever marketing and a decent drinks menu. Surly waiters and meat with the consistency of shoe leather — two features of sorely missed Blooms restaurant — are a thing of the past. If she’s right the kosher consumer is catching up with their secular cousins. At long bleeding last.

If questions from the floor are anything to go by, Amy’s view, supported by Elliot are a fair reflection the London Jewish community. Kosher keeping Jews are clamoring for their food to catch up with their values. It’s no longer good enough for food to be kosher — provenance, appearance and flavor have entered the kosher lexicon.

It will be interesting to see whether the market changes over the next year and by Gefiltefest 2013 we are talking about how the public has at long last got what it wants.

27 December 2011

The Cookery School hosts Valhrona classes

This is a short, intra-holiday note to ensure your larding is fully topped-up.

I always have a nightmare cooking with chocolate, so was intrigued to hear that the choc-snobs favourite Valhrona are holding classes with the Cookery School at Little Portland Street based around their reputedly very good book Cooking with Chocolate.  The class is being taught by Valhrona's UK executive chef Andrew Gravette.

The one class currently open to bookings is on 15 March. Places are limited to 14 people, but at the time of writing there is still availability.

I guess I should have written about this before Chanukah/Christmas, but I didn't.  Surely you haven't had enough of giving gifts or eating very rich food and so the prospect of freebasing chocolate is still appealing. 

I've no idea about Mr Gravette's credentials, but I went to a sourdough course with Dan Lepard at Little Portland Street a couple of years ago that was excellent.  I'm confident this will be as well.

26 September 2011

Rosh Hashanah 2011

The cooking fest appears to have come out of nowhere this year.  Things are made a bit more complicated - or rather cooking intensive - because the two days of Rosh Hashanah are immediately followed by Shabbat.  This requires an awful lot of planning, preparation, cooking and refrigerating in the run-up to Wednesday night, when the festival starts.

I have decided to try my hand at salting beef again.  After my earlier over-salted flop, I've decided to go with the St John's recipe of 150g of salt per litre.  I'm going to be curing it for 5 days.  I'll report back.  

I've also got some new green cucumbers pickling in the fridge.  I've been playing with my recipe, if this one works I'll write it up.

With 15 people to feed for one of the meals I am going to go with bollito misto yet again.  I can't get enough of it, I hope they feel the same.

At some point I'm going to do some roast lamb.  I've been trying to figure out if it's possible to weave in two of the key foods of Rosh Hashanah, apple and honey - perhaps a cider and honey glaze?  It may end up all a bit too sickly. Or, perhaps, a sharp cider might just work with the sweet honey and slightly fatty lamb.

I've been trying to figure out what veg and salads to do.  I'm quite tempted by radish and schmaltz, which is a traditional ashkenazi recipe.  I've never eaten it and it sounds a bit horrific, so I'm gruesomely curious.

I've been delving back into some of the classics and have come out inspired.  So I'm planning on making Sally Clarke's baked beans (or lentils) and honey roasted endives and parsnips, Stephen Bull's red cabbage salad, the St John's Bread & Wine salad and Orbs of Joy (onions roasted in chicken stock). Although I know I want to make them, I don't yet know which meal they'll be deployed at.

If I can pull my finger out in time, I might try my hand at baking cholla.

You can be sure that my new favourite dessert will make an appearance, as will some apple and honey sorbet, fresh figs and pomegranate.  And some dates.  Oh and I'd better not forget the Bendicks, the ne pas ultra of after-dinner indulgence if you keep kosher and therefore don't eat dairy products immediately after eating meat.

13 May 2011

Gefiltefest 2011 programme is rather tasty

I know I said was excited before, but having just received the (draft) final programme (pdf) for Gefiltefest 2011 from Michael Leventhal, the organiser, now I'm really excited.

For far too long I have harped on about the parlous state of kosher food in the UK, feeling like I was screaming into a void.  It turns out there are others out there who actually care and Michael has corralled them for the day.

There are almost too many interesting things to contain in one measly post, but I'll have a go:

Adam Taub's talking on 'Have you eaten? 4 meals that transformed the Jewish People'.  You may not have heard of Adam but he's a great speaker, brilliantly engaging.

Rose Prince - yes as in that Rose Prince, and that one and that one, yes her - is doing a cookery demonstration on Jewish flatbreads.  I'm guessing there's more to this session than just pitta.

There are sessions on bee-keeping, the politics of food, the Torah's approach to farming and a demonstration of Tunisian cooking.

More esoterically there's an event on Japanese Jewish cooking.  Eh?  And a session called 'Reel Food and Sex: Food on Film'.  Ahem.

Back to the straight and narrow, there's the all important tasting session comparing staples like bagels, cheesecake and challah.

And finally, I may even be doing the odd session.  Oh ok then, I'll stop being bashful.  I am doing three sessions, one on the current state of kosher restaurants entitled a little bit provocatively 'Kosher restaurants are rubbish', I'm compering the tasting mentioned above and hosting a film screening of three shorts.

UPDATED: You can download the final programme here (pdf).

I will update this post, especially once the programme is finalised. 

Gefiltefest will be taking place at the LJCC on Sunday 22 May 2011.  Tickets and further info are available here.



14 April 2011

Gefiltefest, the London Jewish food festival

image from www.silverbrowonfood.com
image from www.silverbrowonfood.com

I've banged on about it before, but I'm rather excited to say that Gefiltefest is not far away at all.

It has taken on an impressive life of its own and I think organiser Michael Leventhal is going to need a large scotch on the evening of May 22nd.

The programme has not yet been finalised, but is nonetheless shaping up nicely.  The most encouraging element is that this isn't just a riff on salt beef and bagels and the limited extent that most people assume is 'Jewish food', rather it is set to be an intelligent mix of cultural and religious sessions, whilst addressing the glorious topic of food.  Agonising over what is Jewish food is quite normal in the US, it's nice to see it is now becoming more mainstream in the UK as well.

As a final hook with which to reel you in, Gefiltefest is being held at Ivy House, home of the London Jewish Cultural Centre.  It has got stunning gardens and assuming it's a lovely day, you'll be able to take advantage of some great open space.

Please also note that you can get a discount on tickets if you buy now.

The ticket prices are as follows.  You can purchase them on the LJCC site

£25 on the day.
£22 if you book before 20 May

12's & under:
£2/session (morning and afternoon)

£15 on the day
£12 before 20 May

Finally, if anyone is making a special trip up to North London and wants to take advantage of some of the local culinary kosher delights in addition to the delicious food you'll get at Gefiltefest, I'd be happy to point you in the right direction.  Let me know if a little guide would be of interest.