Author: Ruth Collis

The Galilean Kitchen Launch & Signing

On Saturday 10th March 2018, Ruth Nieman author of recently published The Galilean Kitchen, will be in Waterstones, Enfield promoting and signing first edition copies of her beautiful cookbook. Full of cultural flavours from the Arabic communities of Northern Israel, together with personal stories from the local women whose recipes have been handed down through the generations, these recipes from an untapped Middle Eastern region are now available, for you to cook in your kitchens. Mouth-watering treats from The Galilean Kitchen, including spiced biscuits known as Malateet, will be available to taste on the day, before trying to cook these delicious morsels for yourself. With stunning photographs on each page and Mother’s Day fast approaching, this is an original and interesting present for any mum who not only loves to cook but also read about the culinary cultures of Druze, Muslims, Christians and Bedouins in this bountiful region. Visit Waterstones, Enfield on Saturday 10th March & take a look inside The Galilean Kitchen …            

Anything but A-Sham….

During the middle week of December, Haifa opens it’s door to one and all for  the Festivals of Festivals, where cultural activities show no boundaries in embracing the festivals of Eid, Christmas and Chanuka in a celebration of co-existence. Amongst all the doughnuts and latkes on offer this year, the delights of Arab food is taking centre stage in the form of A-Sham, it’s meaning referring to the geographic area famous for the cuisine, the Levant area. Food on offer is being cooked by famous chefs including Atamna-Ismaeel, winner of the lasts year’s season of Master Chef, very popular now in Israel too. Dishes include Sfiha and Manakish, Levantine pizza-type dishes with dough bases as well as the more well known dishes of Kibbeh, Fattoush and Baklava. The Festival of Festivals is simply about bringing cultures together, and to my mind there is no better way than with the sharing of foods….  

sufganyiot….sweet, sugary doughnuts!!

It’s that time of year; winter is upon us, darkness has fallen by late afternoon and we are looking to light the first candle in the menorah, for tonight we bring in the joyous festival of Chanukah. Chanukah is where we celebrate the miracle of light, when the Israelites found only enough oil  to last for one night in the Holy Temple of Jerusalem, but through a miracle this last drop kept burning for eight nights. Therefore, every night for eight nights, we light a new candle in the menorah in celebration. Like most of the Jewish festivals, Chanukah is heavily associated with food and so to keep with tradition, we typically eat fried foods, such as sufganyiot otherwise known as doughnuts and potato latkes or pancakes, symbolising the miracle of the burning lamps. In Israel today, sufganyiot or deep fried doughnuts are a delicacy that are enjoyed by making yeasted dough, rolled into balls which ere then plumped up by inserting fruit jam into the middle and once deep fried, granulated sugar is sprinkled on top, giving rise to a sweet, sugary bun…..

Crembo….Israel’s National Winter Dessert

Last night I was introduced to the ‘Crembo’….Israel’s winter ice cream substitute and considered to be ‘the best thing ever’ by all sweet toothed Israelis. The Crembo is a thin biscuit base, with a dome of unctuous, sweet, vanilla flavoured cream, with an almost Italian meringue consistency, smothered in rich dairy free milk chocolate and wrapped in foil. It is dairy free and therefore can be eaten after a meat meal. They are exported to the United States to mostly Kosher shops. Being a nation of coffee lovers, the Crembo can too be found in a coffee flavoured cream middle, but it is the vanilla flavoured confection that is still the favourite. Crembo is only found in the shops after the heat of the summer and as autumn begins. It is eaten only in the winter months, usually from October to February when is disappears from the shelves, to make way for ‘real’ ice cream. Once tasted, there is no going back from the national winter dessert….’The Crembo’

still hot for ice- cream….

With temperatures still lingering on in the 80’s, ice cream remains a hot topic with new parlours opening throughout Israel, with flavours to excite everyone’s taste buds. Ice cream, sorbets and frozen yoghurts with a taste of Sicily or Tuscany thrown in to the mix are delighting all of the country, with creative combinations of flavours to cater for all tastes. These new boutique parlours are missing no-one out, with sorbets and granitas for vegans, ice cream that is gluten free using rice flour as their substitute for wheat flour and all are being made with out additives or preservatives and using natural and local produce. Innovative infusions have caused a stir on the palate with the addition of warm spices or nut pastes added to the all the old favourites of chocolate, coffee and vanilla to name but a few…..pure decadence!!

The Coffee Culture…..

The coffee culture is Israel is one to be taken very seriously….. In 2003, Starbucks closed it’s 6 branches, as Israeli’s voted with their feet deciding that the coffee was not to their liking and favoured their own chains of coffee shops, namely Aroma, ArCafee and CafeCafe, as well as supporting independent businesses producing quality coffee for the locals. Coffee names in Israel differ from the UK or America, so when ordering a ‘latte’, you will probably find you are handed a “café hafuch,”, literally meaning “an upside down coffee”, but put simply, it is a rich espresso with creamy hot milk. Try the dark, aromatic Turkish coffee known as “cafe Botz” or “mud coffee”, with a heady cardamom spice or even “nescafe” Israel’s instant coffee, that is enjoyed all over the country and replacing the cafetiere or percolated coffee. Today is the first International Coffee Day, an excuse to enjoy the drink as well as “support the millions of farmers whose livelihoods depend on the aromatic crop”, so whether your drink is a cappuccino, …

a sweet new year….

It is tradition on Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year to eat foods that symbolises the hope we have for sweetness in the coming year. Apples are used as a reminder from the times when the Israelites were in slavery, where the giving of a apple became the symbol of hope and from the land ‘flowing with milk and honey’ we take our sweetener. Slices of apples dipped into sweet honey has become customary as our way of wishing family and friends a happy and sweet new year…..Shana Tova V’Metuka. Other food customs to bring in the new year include making a round Challah loaf instead of the plaited bread traditional on Shabbat, symbolising the continuity of the creation in the circle of life and the pomegranate, a fruit full of seeds, is also considered to be very special to have on the table as the ‘new fruit’, full of optimism for the coming year.

not enough tomato to be called a ketchup…..

Israel’s health ministry has ruled that Heinz tomato ketchup should be re-labelled and sold in Israel as ‘tomato seasoning’ due to insufficient tomato concentrate. Israel’s top selling brand of ketchup Osem, tested Heinz ketchup and found it contained a mere 21% tomato concentrate which is not enough to call it ketchup by Israeli standards, who require almost double the amount at 41%. Heinz ketchup dates back to 1876, where it made it’s debut in America and has since been accepted as the number one brand for ketchup exporting over 12 million bottles a year, without ever questioning it’s name or tomato content. With the Israeli standard for ketchup yet to be brought in line with the accepted international standards, Israel’s distributer of the Heinz tomato ketchup is reputedly looking into changing these regulations, allowing it’s name to remain unscathed on Israel’s supermarket shelves…..

Parisian style patisserie in Tel Aviv…..

In the newly opened Sarona Market in Tel Aviv, a slice of Parisian patisserie is making an impact with the arrival of Fauchon, French gastronomy at its best!! Established in 1886 by Auguste Fauchon, the French culinary traditions of using only the finest raw ingredients still hold true in his brand of chocolates and patisserie, now selling in Tel Aviv’s Sarona market. Éclairs, millefeuilles, truffles and macarons are just some of the delicacies that are sure to excite the tastebuds of Sarona’s shoppers….

the food of love…..

Tu Ba’av, celebrated on 15th Av, is both a traditional and modern celebration of love. In the time of the second temple, this day was a day of ‘matchmaking’ for unmarried women and today in Israel is it the ‘day of love’ likening itself to Valentine’s Day in England. Foods that we most associate with love are rich and unctuous, namely chocolate, honey and figs and there are many ways of serving these aphrodisiac’s on a plate, to show that food can be attractive to the eye and to the palate. The red and pink hearts are out in force in Israel today and menus in restaurants will reflect the mood of love, so whether it is a romantic meal, coffee and chocolate cake or just flowers and delicious chocolates…tantalise the taste buds with the food of love….