This was last weeks big dinner party menu – inspired by my new favorite cookbook Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamini, which is where I got the recipe for the Krantz aka Bubka I featured here last week, and yes I promise this week I will publish that recipe! Lots of things have been getting in the way of my blogging – cooking, lots of cooking….which is great except that you realize after a certain point that in an ideal world you either would live with a photographer or you would just make food to do photo shoots of – because when you have been preparing for 2 days to feed 12 friends the last thing you want to do is stop everything when the food is finally prepared and turn up the lights and artfully arrange and photograph everything.
Jerusalem is a great cookbook which is introducing me to Middle Eastern cuisine in a very exciting and tasty way. For some reason I never was draw to this part of the world or its food and when I was visiting Jerusalem many years back I didn’t like the food, I thought it wasn’t very good. Obviously I either ate at the wrong places or my palate has evolved or some combination of the two. The Cod Cakes for this dinner were odd. Which is to say that you make them, you fry them, you put them on a bed of tomato sauce and then you add water to the entire dish and basically steam them for 20 minutes? I don’t know why, but this seemed a very strange thing to do and I’m not sure how important it is in the end product. I did it – and found even using a very scant amount of water it took way longer to steam off then the recipe suggested. In the end they turned out nicely and people liked them. They are surprisingly rich and filling, so 1 or 2 per person as part of a bigger meal is more than enough.
I will tell you one thing which is if you do end up making this dish do no, under any circumstance, make the fish cake mixture and then refrigerate it over night before you cook up the cakes. I did this and managed to avert catastrophe, but just barely – if you make the mixture you have to cook it. It’s actually recommended – like soup and stews – these cakes taste better the day after.
Finally instead of the cous cous this menu board says I made in the end whole grain bulgar was made – it was easy enough to cook (same as rice 2 cups water to 1 cup grain) but I thought (wrongly) that it would be more like cous cous to which I often add butter and a little bit of cinnamon. Well what this did was make it taste like breakfast cereal – you sort of expected it to be in a milky broth served with brown sugar, dried fruit and nuts. Which would be delicious it just wasn’t what I was expecting as a savory grain accompaniment for this meal. Thankfully my friends are very forgiving.
One last thing, desserts in this cookbook will make you rethink everything might of thought about Middle Eastern sweets (dates and baklava anyone?) the Almond Clementine Syrup cake was a revelation to me.