Sephardic Syrian Menu

IMG_1761This 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.

About urbanfoodguy

I'm a self taught cook with a dedication to buying and eating food that is as humanely and sustainably raised as possible. Which is why in addition to recipes you will see a lot of environmental/political reporting here. I started cooking when I was about 6, it's something I always loved to do. Watching Graham Kerr - aka "The Galloping Gourmet" - was what got me started and I have never really looked back. Over the years I've been a private chef, a caterer, and a food stylist for magazines such as Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Real Simple, Oprah, Martha Stewart's Everyday Food and many more. I've also worked in the prep kitchen for the Food Network on the Bobby Flay and Paula Deen shows. Now I work at home in my kitchen sharing with you here recipes that I create or that other people have created that inspire me and I think you will like. I love my neighborhood (the Lower East Side of Manhattan) and I love to travel. Because NYC is such a big place I tend to focus mostly on my 'hood and the ones that are close by: The East Village, Bowery, Chinatown and Williamsburg. My love of travel has no limits really, I'm always ready to get on a plane. I was lucky enough to have a business for many years that allowed me to spend a lot of time in South East Asia. These days I've been spending time in Mexico, Germany, Canada and the West Coast of the U.S., but check back you never know where I might end up. I do consulting, cooking classes, and freelance lifestyle writing so if you are interested please send me a note: urbanfoodguy@gmail.com
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2 Responses to Sephardic Syrian Menu

  1. Carlos says:

    Your comment about the book was so enticing, I just ordered it on Amazon. Just the thought of Almond Clementine Syrup cake made me do it.

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