Thursday, 30 April 2009


Sorry for the lack of recent posting. Last Thursday I had a massive exam, so lots of time was devoted to that. Luckily, I found out yesterday that I passed (the pass mark is 60%). We are still waiting to find out our actual marks, however. Once that was done, term kicked in almost straight away - my first class was Tuesday, and I had lots of Cold War history to learn very quickly!

Yesterday, just before finding out I'd passed that exam, I went to the market in the centre of Oxford and got lots of lovely English asparagus. I had some of it as a mid-afternoon snack yesterday:I just steamed it for a few minutes, then ate it with some garlic butter. Lovely.

Today's lunch was largely based on asparagus too:

I steamed the asparagus again, to dip into a soft-boiled egg. I had some avocado and tomato on the side.

Monday, 20 April 2009

After Pesach Eating

The end of last week was very busy. Wednesday was the last day of Pesach, and also my 24th birthday. We had a tea for about 12 people in my house, with smoked salmon on matza, a couple of Pesach cake mix cakes, some fruit, and bubbelahs, which are similar to donuts, only made of matza meal. They are very good! In the evening we went out for a non-Pesach dinner to a restaurant that used to be a very good Thai, which had just turned into a pan-Asian buffet. Still pretty good and there was the major bonus of sushi.

Thursday I went out with some friends for drinks to celebrate my birthday, so Friday was our first proper non-Pesach dinner. We also had some friends coming, and it was my last dinner at home before heading back to Oxford. Mum and I spent some time planning a good non-Pesach meal, with no potatoes!

Our starter was:

Little Moroccan flat breads, which are basically pitta cut into strips with a mixture of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, cumin seeds and olive oil, bashed in the pestle & mortar, then spread on top. They then get baked in the oven for about 5 minutes.

Homemade homous: a can of chick peas, drained, but liquid reserved, and a couple of tablespoons added to the food processor, combined with a couple of tablespoons of tahini, a few cloves of garlic, lots of lemon juice fresh corriander, garlic salt and paprika. Adjust to taste and add a splash of olive oil at the end.

Aubergine dip: I chopped a few cloves of garlic into spheres and stuck them into three aubergines, then roasted in the oven until fairly black. I put the garlic and the flesh of the aubergine in the food processor, and added a little lemon juice and corriander, and blended.

This was served with tabbouleh, which mum made, garlic mushrooms, and bought taramasalata.

The main course was Delia's Moroccan Chicken with Chick Peas and Rice. It was such a good recipe, and I got to bring the left overs back to Oxford with me.

Dessert was little chocolate souffles served with berries.

A very good meal, over all!

Monday, 13 April 2009

Eating during Pesach

Eating in my house usually involves a lot of veggie food (my sister used to be veggie, and kosher meat is expensive), a lot of pasta, and a lot of homous. Meals during Pesach need a lot of planning, and are quite different from what we normally eat. So I thought I'd note them here, following Ruth's example.

Lunch on the day of the Seder must have no chametz (bread) but no matza either. We had gefilte fish balls and salad.

Dinner for the first seder night, as I said before, was:
Eggs in salt water
Chicken soup with egg noodles and matza dumplings
Chicken in coca cola sauce, with roast sweet and normal potatoes, mashed roast squash, an aubergine and tomato dish, and cabbage
Apple and almond pudding, chocolate ice cream and fruit

Breakfast in our house is either matza with jam, homemade lemon curd, chocolate spread or cream cheese, or fruit and yoghurt. Or both.

Lunch on Thursday was salad with smoked salmon, herrings, gefilte fish and some cheese. Or, for my little sister, who doesn't like fish, matza-bri, which is essentially scrambled egg with added matza, which has been soaked in water and then squeezed dry. I don't like it!

Our second Seder dinner was:
Eggs in salt water,
Leek and potato soup
Chicken in a lemon and herb sauce, roast potatoes, squash and mixed veg
Ice cream, fruit and a chocolate mousse pie

Lunch was left over chicken or leek and potato soup.

Sabbath dinners are usually quite elaborate, but after all that eating, I limited mum to no starter, and just fruit for dessert. Main course was roast lamb, garlic mash, and roast veg.

Saturday I went out for lunch (to another kosher friend) and mum made more veggie soup. My sister's boyfriend attempted to make a curry with the leftover lamb for dinner, but it wasn't great. Next time, I'll do it :)

Sunday's lunch was a big salad with lettuce, cucumber, tomato, avocado, tuna and hard-boiled eggs. That was lovely. We also made some mini matza pizzas, mainly for my little sister who doesn't eat salad (!) but we all enjoyed them too.

Mum had 8 people for dinner, plus my sister, her boyfriend and I ate separately so we made:
Chopped liver, egg mayonaise and egg and onion, with gherkins and matza
Salt Beef (also known as corned beef in the US), viennas (little kosher sausages), latkes, red cabbage and coleslaw.
Orange cake, and flourless chocolate cake, both of which were great!

Monday's lunch was fish goujon, which are pieces of haddock fried in matza meal, with salad.
Dinner will be fish wrapped in newspaper, crushed new potatoes with spring onion, and purple sprouting broccoli.

Dinner tomorrow will be Shepherd's Pie.

Lunches on Tuesday and Wednesday will probably be anything we have left over.

I'm looking forward to it being over, to be honest, and to some veggie food!

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Pesach Chicken Recipe

This is a recipe that we started off using at Pesach, but is good all year round. It came from a friend of mums, and I don't know it's origins. We call it coca-cola chicken, and it sounds weird, but it tastes great!

Quantities given are for one to two chickens. I doubled the amount for 3 chickens, and that worked perfectly. It's the sort of thing that you want lots of extra yummy sauce to spoon over your chicken. I make the sauce in a pan, and then pour it over chickens that are cut into 8 by our butcher. You could of course pour it over a packet of chicken legs or thighs too.

5oz Apricot Jam
5floz Coca Cola or Diet Coke
1 Cup Ketchup
1 Packet dried onion soup
A few cloves chopped garlic.

Trust me, better than it sounds!

Wednesday, 8 April 2009


Our seder table, set for 15

I've been home (at my parents' house, in London) since Friday afternoon, to help with the preparations for Pesach, and to stay for the whole festival.

Pesach, the Hebrew word for what is often known as Passover, is the Jewish festival where we remember the story of the Jews being slaves in Egypt, their escape from Egypt, the 10 Plagues, and Moses parting the Red Sea.

Food-wise, it's one of the most demanding of all the Jewish festivals. The rules are based on the story that the Jews were in such a rush to leave Egypt that they did not have time for their bread to rise. To commemorate this, we do not eat bread, flour yeast, or anything that rises or swells in water. We also don't eat the five grains: wheat, rye, barley, oats and spelt. We also avoid a group of foods called kiniot, which are things we are less sure about. In practical terms, this means we dont eat: any kind of bread, crackers, rice, pasta, couscous, beans, pulses, chick peas, and corn.

However, in Judaism, we have a tradition of 'building walls' around our customs, to protect them, during the week of Passover, we only eat foods which are certified by a Rabbi as 'Kosher for Pesach'. In this day, sometimes it seems over-cautious, as health and hygiene laws these days tend to prevent people eating food over production lines, and risking contamination, but we do so nonetheless. This extends to drinks too - even our milk and diet coke is certified. Fruit, veg, and eggs are ok though.

We also have special sets of cutlery, plates, pans, utensils for this week. A kosher home has two sets of everything: we do not eat dairy and meat together, and thus we have one set of things for all meals involving dairy, and another for meals involving meat. A meal can't involve both: so no ice cream after chicken, no lasagne, no chicken in a cream sauce etc. We also have two further sets, that are used for Passover, and not the rest of the year. Because Passover involves lots of cooking, particularly as we wont eat out anywhere during the week, we have to have all sorts of things, like a food processor and a whisk.

Starting on Sunday, my family began the process of cleaning our kitchen, removing all traces of chametz (bread), and emptying cupboards so that we could bring in our Pesach things. We keep everything the garage for the rest of the year. We worked section by section so that on Monday and Tuesday we could cook for Passover during the day, and still have lunch and dinner as usual.

Tonight there will be 15 of us for dinner. We follow a service called the Seder, which means order, and we retell the story of the Exodus. We eat Matza, unleavened bread, and we have a special plate containing 6 symbolic foods:

Salt water, to represent our tears in Egypt
Horseradish, a bitter herb, to remember the bitterness of slavery
An burnt egg, to remember the sacrifice in the temple
A bone, to remember the sacrifice of the pascal lamb
Charoseth, a mix of apples and cinammon, which looks like cement to remind us of slavery
Parsley, a herb to remind us that we are now free

Our Seder Plate, you can see the egg, the bone and the horseradish root. We eat grated horseradish.

We start our meal with hard boiled eggs, which symbolise new life, in salt water

Tonight our meal will be:
Chicken soup, with matza meal dumplings and egg noodles
Chicken in a sweet and sour type sauce that I made earlier, with roast normal and sweet potatoes, mashed squash, and cabbage
Fresh fruit, almond and apple pudding, and homemade, dairy-free ice cream

Our matza cloth

Monday, 6 April 2009

End of term pasta

Thursday was my last night in Oxford for a couple of weeks, and I was cooking for two again. I felt that I'd had a lot of meet in the last week, and was in need of a veggie meal.

To start with, I roasted all the veg left in my fridge, red onions, brocolli, mushrooms and leeks:

Then I made a puttanesca-type sauce.

I fried an onion and some garlic:

I added some olives and anchovies to the pan:

I then added tinned tomatoes, and some seasonings, and cooked the sauce for 10-15 minutes.

I then added the final ingredients: chopped anchovies, green and black olives, and capers:

All that was left was to cook the pasta, and combine:

I think I might have almost convinced him that veggie food is ok!

I'm going to send this to Presto Pasta Nights, which is hosted this week by Marye at Baking Delights.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

One of my favourite lunches

This has to be one of my favourite things to have for lunch. It's simple, and cheap, and tastes really good!

Spinach and egg tortillas:

Start by defrosting a balll of frozen spinach. Of course you could use fresh instead, but I think you'd need to wilt it down in that case.

Crack in an egg, and season:

I always use my George Foreman grill for this.

Place tortilla on (preheated) George Foreman:

Then pour mixture into the centre, trying not to lose any of it out the edges! Fold in half, and close the grill.

Leave for about five minutes, maybe more. You can tell it's done, because the centre puffs up.

I always serve this with a salad. You can add other things into the mix, such as chopped tomatoes, mustard, cheese, or anything else you fancy.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Cooking at home again, and a couple of fish dinners

I spent the weekend at home again, and did a lot of cooking.

On Thursday, mum was late home, so I was in charge of marinading salmon. Unfortunately, mum had run out of the usual bought marinade, so I had to throw together a terriyaki marinade of my own. I combined soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce, crushed garlic, 5-spice, rice wine vinegar and sherry and poured lots of it over a whole side of salmon. It turned out really well. To go with it, we served egg noodles, which we stir-fried in some chilli oil for a kick, and some green veg stir-fried in garlic and a little soy. Lovely.

Friday night there were 8 of us for dinner, and I made meat fondue. It's a very simple meal - cubed raw steak and chicken that each person cooks themself, with what we call saute potatoes: peeled, diced potatoes roasted for about an hour and a half so they go nice and crispy. To go with it, lots of raw veg to cook in the oil, and salad, as well as a selection of sauces, garlic mayo, mustard mayo and thousand island dressing that we make, and hoisin and plum sauce.

There was left over cubed steak, so on Saturday for dinner I cooked that with sweet potato aubergine in a great thai red curry. There was enough of it to bring back to Oxford and eat with the new boy in my life one night. He enjoyed it too.

One night in Oxford, after a long day of revision, I ate left-overs from home, mum's Spanish fish with green veg and garlic spinach.

The fish itself is white fish, cooked in a tomato sauce, with two types of beans, and sliced potato on the top. This is only a small portion of the fish! The garlic spinach was frozen spinach defrosted then added to a pan of garlic fried in a little olive oil. It was lovely!

Last night I again had fish left overs from home, grilled trout with almonds this time, and creamed leeks and spring veg.
The creamed leeks (on the left of the fish) are one of my favourite veg. Slice leeks and put in a pan of melted butter (just a little, maybe a teaspoon, depending on the amount of leeks). Cook slowly until the leeks are soft, then season and add a couple of tablespoons of mayo. Much better than it sounds, I promise!