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Cookery: Food for Gentiles

17 January 2012

by Terence Handley MacMath

SOMEHOW, we found ourselves sing­ing Hannukah songs in Seph­ardic dialect by way of grace this Christmas, and trying out recipes from Florence Greenberg’s Jewish Cookery. This was first published in 1947, and the edition I have is dated 1980, but it still bears the formidable photograph of Florence on the back flyleaf.

Her reflections on British Jewish cookery are probably the most interesting element of the book to Gentile readers, because by now we have caught up with the recipes, and foods such as hummus and auber­gines are standard British fare.

Lokshen and cheese kugel with Chinese instant noodles is an exotic take on macaroni cheese (for four).

60g (2 oz) butter
240g (8 oz) broad noodles
3 eggs, well beaten
240g (8 oz) curd cheese
150ml (5 fl. oz) soured cream
120g (4 oz) brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Grease a casserole dish thoroughly. Soften the butter by leaving it at room temperature, but don’t allow it to turn to oil. Boil the noodles in salted water until cooked but still firm. Drain, and, while they are still hot, mix all the ingredients together. Pour the mixture into a casserole dish, and bake in a mod­erately hot oven (400°F/200°C/Gas 6) for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to moderate (180°C/350°F/Gas 4) for a further hour. Serve hot. You may, like me, prefer to go easy on the sugar.

We liked Baked courgettes very much as a supper dish for six:

900g (2lb) courgettes
90g (3 oz) butter
150ml (5fl. oz) single cream
2 tablespoons grated cheese
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
1 egg, beaten
salt and black pepper

Peel and chop the courgettes. Cook in slightly salted boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain well then return to the saucepan with the cream, the parsley, the beaten egg, half the grated cheese, and 60g of the butter. Stir gently, taking care not to break up the courgettes. Pour into a greased casserole dish, season, and sprinkle on the remaining cheese. Dot with remaining butter. Bake in moderately hot oven (200°C/400°F/Gas 6) for 5 minutes. Serve at once.

The following dish reminds me of an unusual recipe given to me by a friend who grew up in Radlett, and whose mother enjoyed learning from her Jewish neighbours. It went something like this:

1 onion, skinned and chopped
30g (1 oz) butter
2-3 cups fresh or frozen peas
1 egg
a small pot of cream
a handful of parsley, finely chopped

Fry the onion gently in the butter. Beat together the eggs and cream. Butter a shallow gratin dish, and pour in the peas and parsley, seasoning well. Bake this for about 30 minutes, or until it has just set.

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