62 posts categorized "Kosher"

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.

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.

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.

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.

06 December 2011

Kosher Roast

There are times when not knowing what you're doing is a very effective way of doing something well. Ignorance and naivety can be surprisingly powerful when combined with willfullness.  Proof of this was there to see on Sunday, with the launch of Kosher Roast.

I admire immensely what Amy Beilin, driving force behind Kosher Roast has achieved.  I have no doubt that setting up a pop-up is hellish: there is the sourcing; staffing; rent; cooking; health & safety; serving; washing up etc etc.  

The problems must be compounded if as in Amy's case you've never worked in a restaurant before.  But as problems go they are barely a flesh wound on the rampaging bull, on heat, in a farmyard of frigid cows, that are the requirements of being a kosher restaurant (even if it's not from one of the main kashrut authorities) and making the food taste great.

I should say at this stage that I was sitting down as more than just an intrigued but otherwise disinterested punter.  Over the last few months I've been giving Amy some thoughts.  I have no idea whether they were helpful or not, but in return for my bon mots, Amy said she wanted to buy me lunch. I decided it was a fair deal. (NB This is the first time I've ever accepted a complimentary meal whilst writing the blog. La Tasca, if you're reading, please don't let this give you false hope.)

As a reader with even the worst reading habits will know, I have a broad range of complaints on the rather niche subject of kosher food in London.  The quality is poor, the variety is limited, the costs are high, the staff are rude and passion is non-existent.

And then there is Kosher Roast.  

Starters were a tiny chicken and leek pie, accompanied by a scotch egg (turkey, not pork, natch) with a mustard mayo.  The farmyard conceit was carried through to the basket of hay that everything nestled in.  I've always wanted to make a scotch egg because deep fried sausage around a boiled egg sounds so very tasty.  I'm sure it's not the same as one made with a piggy sausage, but let's just accept the fact: this was a very tasty dish.  The coating had crunch, I'm pretty sure it was made from panko breadcrumbs, around a very moist and slightly spicy sausage mix.  Ideally, I'd have liked the egg to be a bit runny, like the ones I've spotted at The Bull & Last.  The chicken and leek pie was similarly good, although at little more than a mouthful, didn't leave much of a lasting impression.

The main course was roast beef, goose fat (imported from France because it's not sold here for some reason) roasted potatoes, mini-beets, kale and horseradish.  Again, it was very good.  The beef was nicely rare, wih great flavour, although I wouldn't have said no to a few crunchy bits.  I fear the gravy might have been thickened with corn-starch or something, but let's swiftly move on.  

The roast potatoes were almost as good as Silverbrowess's who is widely, and rightly, famed for her roasties.  The beets added a touch of sweetness, helped along by the impressively garlic-laden kale.  The yorkshire pudding was ok - it's always a bit tough making them without milk and I've never been the greatest fan anyway.  Overall, it was a lovely plate of food.

Dessert is rarely anything of note in kosher restaurants, because as with the yorkshire pud, there's the problem of dairy with meat. Amy came up with three little dark chocolate petit fours that were wrapped in cellophane and tied with a ribbon.  They were surprisingly tasty, in particular the gooey cookie and the cornflake crisp.

My gripes are minor and overall, we were served very good food.  I think it was up to the standards of many solid, local restaurants and reminded me of typical decent, pub/restaurant fare.  I have yet to have a meal that was of this high quality in any kosher restaurant in London.  

What I find almost more intriguing than the food, was the way she succeeded in getting the whole package right.  The venue was a little bit funky and edgy (interesting artwork in the men's loos for example).  There was a thoughtful drinks list, with good wines at reasonable prices and four house cocktails - unheard of in any other kosher restaurant.  

I'm well aware that catering a set menu for two days is very different to running a restaurant. The waitresses I'm sure were all friends.  Some suppliers would be difficult, but others would cut you some slack because they know this is a short-lived venture, more for fun than profit.  Despite those caveats Amy has set a new bar for kosher dining - which in some regards isn't all that difficult.  What Amy has achieved is doing something different with kosher food and has made a roaring success of it. For so long we've been limited to a cynical choice of poor quality, uninspiring food and iniquitous prices.

Kosher Roast has ably demonstrated that passion goes a long way.  I would hope that other restaurateurs who serve the kosher market will experience Kosher Roast.  They will notice the slightly alternative crowd, the brilliant branding and most importantly, the passion for what is on the plate and served to paying customers.  As that great arbiter of kashrut, Roy Castle liked to say, dedication's what you need.

Google Maps

Kosher Roast
The Shop,
75 Chamberlayne Road, 
Kensal Rise, 
London, NW10 3ND

15 November 2011

The Deli West One

As AA Gill recently lamented (£) it is remarkably difficult to get a decent salt beef sandwich in London. As I regularly lament, it's remarkably difficult to get any decent kosher food in London, let alone a salt beef sandwich.  But a host of new openings suggest the worm might be about to turn.  Kosher Roast is a pop-up focused on great roast beef and Mishkins WC2 is the latest from the Polpo hothouse.

Whilst Kosher Roast brands itself as selling great food that is kosher, Mishkins is all about the Jewish/New York Deli experience.  The difference between kosher and Jewish is important. Kosher food basically means it’s got a religious stamp of authority, which for some is very important.  Jewish food is that which is culturally influenced by the fine canon of Jewish cuisine, whether Ashkenazi or Sephardi. It is complicated and if you want to really understand it and own one of the greatest cookbooks out there, then I strongly recommend Claudia Roden.

The others are yet to open but The Deli West One has now been open for a couple of weeks and it’s all about great kosher deli food.  Based on my visit, I think they’re getting into their stride.

Being a martyr to kosher food I tried a few things: the chopped liver; a salt beef sandwich and a pastrami sandwich. I also had some pickles. As I said after lunch, the meat was great, other elements less so.

Unlike some, I'm no maven of pastrami - it is a resolutely US dish - but I like to think that I know my salt beef. I also know what I like and both the pastrami and salt beef at West One were good.  The pastrami was moist, a bit spicy and a little bit sweet.  The salt beef was also moist - I think more so than the pastrami - but didn’t hide its salty light under a bushel.  They instinctively started to carve from a depressingly lean brisket, but a request for something with more flavour (read fat) resulted in a very good sandwich.

I was impressed with the chopped liver. Whilst I generally err towards slightly sweeter chopped liver - copious amounts of onions fried in schmaltz are the answer - theirs was much better than most commercial chopped liver.  That having been said, they garnish their liver with a red onion jam and crispy fried shallots which add texture and sweetness, so eaten together were very good.

The pickled cucumbers - half sours - were fine.  I think they’ll appeal to US diners but I’m less certain how the Brits will respond.  With our new greens and pickled dills, we’re used to vinegar based brines, rather than the salty ones our American cousins prefer.  It’ll be interesting to see how they go down over time.

Those were the good things.  On to the less so good.  Two items stuck out: the bread and the service. The bread was supplied by Grodzinski, a kosher baker that has been around for ever and frankly the bread tasted as if it was from their inaugural batch.  They call it rye, but actually it's caraway seed, rather than proper black rye bread.  It was horribly stale.  This is a fairly heinous crime given that much ink has been spilled as to whether what makes the sandwiches at places like Katz in New York so good is the quality of the meat or the quality of the bread.  I appreciate that at this stage it might be a tall order for West One to bake their own bread, but there are enough kosher bakers in London that they should be able to track down something much better than what they currently have - or get it made bespoke for them.

The service was also not the best.  I don't think this was an attempt to recreate the miserable sods who famously served at the now defunct Bloom's or the exceptionally rude staff at near-neighbour Reubens.  Rather, I got the impression they were very stressed.  Understandable as it's still early days and they seemed to be having problems with their till.  I got chatting to one of the owners who seemed a thoroughly nice chap, but it was the staff, the guys and girls on the floor who seemed a bit flummoxed.

They’re about to face stiff competition from Mishkins for attention of those who aren’t worried about whether they keep kosher or not but want deli.  Whilst I generally love their restaurants, the Polpo guys appear to be colonising London a bit (I'd love to know how they've managed to roll out so many successful restaurants so quickly) and I’m supporting the under dog in this fight.

I don't necessarily come to this review unbiased.  I want them to do well.  I want all restaurants to do well, more good food and more people employed are worthy goals. But I really want there to be a great kosher restaurant in London and at the moment West One is our best hope.

Google Maps

The Deli West One
51 Blandford Street,
London, W1U 7HJ,

What others think

Youngandfoodish - the salt beef sandwich...though nicely rimmed with fat, was a tad tough and dry and the rye was limp, with no oomph in the middle and little chew-and-tear in the crust.  The hot dog was plump and meaty, with the right quotient of garlic and what tasted like paprika.