Thump, thump, thump. My feet hit against the hard concrete floor, towing my body forward to the rhythm of a jog. Mechanical, timely moves: feet pull forward and slam to the ground like building bricks thrown to the floor. Arms move forward, slicing the untouched air with force and precision like the swing of a marching officer. My body slots into place, back aligned with my feet and arms. Unison in one moment and then lost with the next step.

My thoughts enter and leave my body with the motions of each step. They flow in and out of my mind, along with the rolling luscious navy waves, crashing against the beige shoreline and then, in the same moment, retreat back to the ocean mass, leaving behind a trickle, a trace of its souls, on the sheen plane of wet sand.

Jogging is my drug, a prescription for this narrow-wasted, wide-hipped girl. Ying and Yang in a physical form. Curvaceous some would say. Apple-shaped others. My ailment is my love of food. I am an eater, not one that eats to survive, but one that survives to eat. My existence is defined by a passion, a strong burning light enflamed by a yearning for sensation and tantalisation. I jog to balance my mind, body frame and soul. I stick to this, not like my irregular attempt to floss before bed or my half-heartened effort to avoid eating carbs late at night. More so, jogging is my relief, an outer body exertion aiding an inner spiritual release.

I take advantage of Tel Aviv’s shoreline to host my evening runs. Sunset over the Mediterranean coast to the right, fringing of palm trees and green stretches to the left, a picture perfect setting tainted at the edges with gravel and uncertainty.

Tonight the sun is sliced in half and balances on the edge of the sea, like a blood-orange segment smiling in my direction. Its red crimson stain filters through the clouds, diluting into an orange haze. The glare of the calming sun illuminates the caramel complexion of two two brown-skinned boys, who are sat upon a mound of sand, enveloped into the grains of nature. Innocence in both, gentle and playful.

I contemplate the day I’ve had, my daily battle for definition: a woman, a wife, a writer or an ambitious cook? Possibly a serious graduate of government, security and blah blah blah? A business woman, an independent, self-defining something? Or a sad non-payrolled, non-corporate, non-organised being lost in a universe of other unemployed (no)bodies? As my existentialist crisis reaches the brim of my conscience, weighing on my mind like a heavy pillow, my feet begin to slow their pace. And then, crack. A sharp defining pain spurts up my leg, intoxicating my calf muscles, shutting down my thoughts in a moment, and waking my body to the rhythm of a jog. This pain is what reminds me of my existence, as life returns to these lazy pair of pins, ones that succumb to the numbness of long spans spent slumped on a café chair. A chair and the accompaniment of my dear Mac. A place where I order my Americano, with milk on the side. The strain of running reminds me: I am alive. I then return to a speedier pace.

Laughter fills the air. A family and extended relations, congregated on the space of man-made lawn, sit plastered on white plastic chairs, swaying to and fro with a sense of ease. Blue straw-woven mats and dusty fabric cushions. Grown men, fully armoured for the ‘aish’, or barbeque, stand tall, peering over their dining space like conquerors of undiscovered land. Skewered chicken rotating on a grill. A sweet smell of caramelised poultry flesh wafts through the air and swiftly filters up my nose. My tummy rumbles, an ache that vanishes in the instance of the next thump to the ground.

I approach the edge of the small local airport runway. Guard dogs, tied to a metal rope, patrol the division between concrete, hard solid automobiles and nature. A sudden growl rages on the runway and my head turns to the sight of a bulky plane, an army plane. It flies across the sky, up and away, as if being brushed along by the hand of God, slicing through the air, cutting its way through the serenity of sunset. The plane is dressed in war, heavy, chunky. An oversized toy plane that my brothers would have played with as kids: a metal beast camouflaged in Khaki and green splodges.

Is Iran on our doorstep yet? The overblown sense of paranoia, ignited by my skimming of the Jerusalem Post, tip-toes in my mind and then runs away with the trickle of sweat down my back.

My shoulders clamp up and my arms begin to flap recklessly in an untimely manner. I become the little girl who clumsily ran through the leafy green path in the back of London’s suburban farmland of Totteridge. My father waves far ahead and bellows, “come on Nat!” I try to pull my little body forward, exert strength and force, as I strive to prove I have the strength to do a full Sunday morning jog. A body still yet to succumb to the redefinition of puberty, skinny arms and knobbly knees, waggled along, pass the tree-lined duck pond and overpowering oak trees like a jingling puppet on strings. Now, as I tire under the strain of distance, my body moves more like a van operating on an empty tank. Body fat and skin vibrate as the force of each thump reverberates up my body.

Another drop of sweat trickles down my body, along my bare chest, into the darkness of a sweaty green Nike top, until it reaches my belly. I realise my hunger again. Dinner, what will be for dinner?

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I am currently working on a new ‘food’ project. I have been zipped up tight and cannot reveal a thing. This is a tough situation for a girl like me. However, I can say the entire process is tugging at every cord of the Dining Minx. I am confronting my inner battles, as I struggle to develop a solid representation of who I am and everything my culinary world stands for.

To settle the mind of the Minx, and as a way to deal with the stresses of life, I sort comfort in cooking good, full-flavoured food, in an complicated fashion. I conquer the kitchen, rather than allowing a 10-part recipe conquer me. I dance around the space, as Michael Buble serenades me to a sense of ease, and my appetite for life returns through my eyes, nose and belly.

This approach involves choosing one protein, a sweet lamb chop, a thick marbled slab of beef or a piece of chicken; grilling the fleshy slab  on a high heat, with a touch of olive oil and S&P; and then serving it with the helping of a complimentary sauce. The sauce shouldn’t require hours of cutting, boiling, straining and reducing, but rather should entail the combination of a few ingredients, which stand against the robust flavours of meat. Each component stands for itself, whilst complimenting the other.

As part of my project, and part desire for a simple kitchen life, I decided to sear a duck breast and serve it with a raspberry reduction.

Duck is extremely hard to find in this country. In my search, I was stunned to find many Israeli butchers did not know the difference between duck (“Bar’vaz”) and goose (“Ar’vas”). Even though goose is readily available in the freezer section of supermarkets, duck, on the other hand, is hard to track down. This is largely due to regulations on duck farming, which have curbed local farmers from rearing the bird. It is a shame for us foodies, as this poultry is a great alternative to chicken, whilst offering a more ‘meaty’ flavour and texture.

Given the shortage in duck, I searched high and low in every supermarket and butcher in the North Tel Aviv. Finally, in the last port of call, I found a lonely quack shivering in the back of a freezer compartment in a fancy butcher on Ben Yehuda street. It must have been the last duck to walk the streets of Tel Aviv. I had no choice but to buy the entire duck for those two simple breasts.

After defrosting the poor bird in my fridge overnight, I dismantled the bird, carefully slicing away the breasts from the inner cavity. I placed the remaining pieces, including bones, in the fridge and was left with my two plump purple-red hued morsels.

After patting down the breasts with kitchen roll, I seasoned them with salt and pepper and placed them in a hot pan, skin side down. After five minutes, once the skin was nice and crispy, I turned the breast round, flesh side down, and placed them in a pre-heated oven, 200°c, for another 8-10 minutes. I removed the duck breasts from the oven and left them to stand for another five minutes, so the juices could distribute evenly.

Cooking the duck couldn’t have been simpler. All I needed was a fruity sauce, with acidity to cut through the fattiness and sweetness to compliment the flavours of the meat. After some online research, a berry-based sauce seemed the way to go. I came across a raspberry sauce on Epicurious by Melissa Roberts. Any berry sauce will do. Recipe follows the blog.

The remaining duck bones and legs were roasted in the oven for an hour. Ten minutes before the end, I drenched the legs with some of the left over raspberry sauce, which turned them it glossy, sticky and sweet duck legs. Perfect for another dinner. And the roasted bones are awaiting their final demise for the boiler, when they will be turned into a flavoursome duck stock with ginger, garlic, carrots and onions. Remember, the Dining Minx hates to waste stuff!

Framboises Sauce

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup raspberry vinegar (this can be found in specialty food stores, such as Teva)
  • 1 cup demi-glace (6 1/2 ounces; preferably D’Artagnan duck and veal demi-glace)  In place, I used a good quality beef stock.
  • 2 cups raspberries(12 ounces), divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits
  • Add shallots and garlic t0 a tablespoon of the duck far and sauté over medium-high heat until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and cook, stirring, until dissolved. Stir in vinegar, scraping up brown bits. Add demi-glace and bring to a simmer. Stir in half of raspberries.

    Force sauce through a fine-mesh sieve into a small saucepan, discarding solids. Skim off excess fat. Over low heat, swirl in butter. Remove from heat and add remaining raspberries.

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    It is too hot in Tel Aviv right now. Its hard enough walking down the street in the daytime, let alone being behind a hot stove and cooking dinner at night. Times like this, I try and keep my meals simple, light and involving as little heat as possible.

    This cold soup recipe, by Marcia Kiesel on Food and Wine, is simple, elegant, full-flavoured, and most importantly, requires NO cooking! It incorporates my English-cucumber side and an asian twist with coconut flakes and thai green curry paste.

    Its funny, I have never seen cold soups feature on menus in this country. I think it is time to bring more european-culinary approaches to dealing with heat here. Bring on the Pimms!

    Ingredients

    Two 12-ounce cucumbers—peeled, seeded and chopped
    2 Hass avocados, coarsely chopped
    2 teaspoons Thai green curry paste
    2 teaspoons sugar
    2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
    1 serrano chile, seeded and chopped   (I omitted this, as the heat from the paste seemed enough)
    One 13-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
    3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (use lemon if you cannot find limes)
    Salt
    1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, for garnish
    10 cilantro sprigs, for garnish

    Directions

    In a food processor, puree the cucumbers until smooth. Add the avocados, curry paste, sugar, lime zest and chile. Process until blended. Add 3 1/2 cups of water, the coconut milk and lime juice and process until smooth. Transfer the soup to a large bowl and season with salt. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, 15 minutes.

    Meanwhile, in a skillet, toast the coconut over low heat, stirring a few times, until lightly browned and crisp, 3 minutes. Let cool.

    Ladle the soup into small bowls or cups, garnish with the toasted coconut flakes and cilantro sprigs and serve.

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    For approximately one week in the entire year, we have a supply of limes in the market. More preciously, they are called lemon-limes, some being more similar to lemons, others closer to limes.

    As a lover of both thai and mexican food, cuisines which have an integral use for limes, a limited supply is pretty heart-wrenching. Concentrated lime acid in a plastic bottle simply isn’t the same.

    Last week, to my surprise, lime week was on, and in a frantic scurry, I filled several plastic bags with limes, or lemon-limes. Once I got home, I needed to find a solution for my sudden surge in lime supply. In an attempt to preserve the fresh juice for future use, I squeezed the juice of the limes, over a strainer, into a jug.

    Once completed, I filled an ice-cube tray with all the lime juice. Half of Israel’s lime supply is now sitting in my freezer. Once frozen, I will place the cubes in a plastic bag and return to the freezer. Whenever in need of lime juice, I will grab a cube and defrost in a cup. Yey cerviche! Yey thai green curry! Yey margaritas!

    I may complain about this country’s limited supply of limes. But at least I know that the produce I eat is largely grown in the country I live in, and with that, my dinner has taken far less carbon foot prints compared to the meals I had in the UK, with its foreign limes and exotic produce.

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    Every trip I have taken back home to London over the last year, family and friends have incessantly raved about Ottolenghi. The restaurant is meant to be incredible, and the recipes, largely vegetarian, are said to be seamless and full-flavoured. I had to see what all the fuss was about.

    Although a trip to the Islington-based restaurant was out of my budget, I have been able to get a taste of Yotam Ottolenghi’s culinary creations thanks to the Guardian newspaper’s feature on the chef’s recipes. The Israeli-born chef, who trained at Cordon Bleu, has made a name for himself in the UK. And what they all seem to rave about is, largely, the flavours of Israel. Seasonal vegetables, simply prepared, and showcasing the beauty and flavours of  nature’s creations.

    England was paying a high-price to eat the relatively cheap, ‘street’ food of Israel. Versions of this dish, along with many other vegetarian small plates, which are served in humus and shwarma (kebab) bars, are getting the royal treatment in England, featuring on the menu of London’s hip restaurant chain.

    My mother sent me over several of Ottolenghi’s recipes, including the one in this post, Fried Cauliflower with Tahini. As Ottolenghi describes in the Guardian article, tahini is a sesame paste used in various dishes across the Middle East. In Israel, this creamy paste is drizzled over various vegetables, including cauliflower, roasted aubergine, falafel, and meats. It is also blended with humus, roasted aubergine pulp, red peppers or courgettes, as a dip to serve with hot pita bread. In its simplest form, whisk the tahini paste with water, olive oil, garlic, s&P and lemon juice to turn the paste into a creamy, Middle Eastern condiment.

    This recipe was fabulous, largely because it centres on the seasonal ingredients currently found in the shuk. We ate this on a hot saturday afternoon with various other vegetable dishes, a loaf of bread and a cold bottle of chardonnay.

    Recipe

    500ml sunflower oil
    2 medium cauliflower heads, split into small florets, weighing 1kg in all
    8 spring onions, each cut into three long segments
    180g tahini paste
    2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
    15g chopped parsley
    15g chopped mint, plus more to finish
    150g Greek yoghurt  (in place, I added 3 tbs of olive oil to lighten the tahini)
    3 tbsp lemon juice
    1 tsp pomegranate molasses, plus more to finish
    Malden sea salt and black pepper
    Roughly 180ml water

    Directions

    Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Lay in a few cauliflower florets at a time and cook for two to three minutes, turning so they colour evenly. Once golden-brown, transfer to a colander with a slotted spoon, sprinkle with a little salt and leave to drain. Repeat with the rest of the cauliflower. Next, fry the spring onions, also in batches, for a minute. Add to the cauliflower and leave to cool down.

    Pour the tahini paste into a large mixing bowl and add the garlic, herbs, yoghurt, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses and seasoning. Stir with a wooden spoon as you add the water. The tahini sauce will first thicken and then loosen up as you add water. Don’t add too much, just enough to get a thick yet smooth pourable consistency, a bit like honey.

    Stir the cauliflower and onion into the tahini bowl, taste and adjust the seasoning. You may also want to add more lemon juice.

    To serve, spoon into a serving bowl and finish with a few drops of pomegranate molasses and some mint.

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    We took a trip to Nazareth, the largest city in the North district of Israel. This city, with a predominantly Arab population, is most famous for being the early home of Jesus and a destination for Christian pilgrimages. The must-see place was the Basilica of the Annunciation …

    The Dining Minx bit of the trip was our visit to El Babour, the country’s largest supplier of spices and herbs. The spice mill is located on the edge of the Old City, hidden amongst the crooked stone buildings, dusty streets and cobble-stone walkways. The manager boasts that El Babour was built by Templars for farmers’ storage. Given its historical presence in the ancient spice route, the mill is the largest in the country. Heaps of spices, herbs and flower bugs are pilled high in sacks under high arched ceilings. The young shop assistance spins around the sacks, pointing out the medicinal benefits of each spice to my husband, the hypochondriac, who begins to feel his pulse rise and back pains worsen.

    After half an hour of investigation, we leave with amba (mango powder), lavender, rose buds, saffron, tamarind, rosewater, black cardamon pods, Persian pistachios and bags of unidentifiable spices that supposedly will cure my husband’s high blood pressure and bloated belly. I think her recommended visit to the city’s famous restaurant, Diane, which supposedly does the best lamb in the country, negated any air of medical wisdom.

    With bags of El Babour’s herbs and spices left untouched at the top of my shelf, along with the unidentifiable herbal remedies, I decided to put some of the Middle Eastern ingredients to good use. My focus was to use the Persian pistachios, given their shorter life span. A recipe for Persian pistachio, rosewater and saffron ice-cream was the perfect fit, given the ingredients a unified purpose. For decoration, my rose buds were put to good use.

    If you don’t have these ingredients readily at hand, I understand the reluctance to make it. However, the recipe was simple and the outcome was elegant and complex in flavour and texture.

    The recipe is simple. Simply, make a regular custard, mix in these special ingredients, and freeze (for the first four hours, make sure to stir it every half hour, to avoid crystallisation). The only thing, the recipe I used is American. I have come to realise that American recipes need to be adjusted in terms of sugar amounts. Us English don’t need as much sugar to sweeten our sweets.

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    Dinner round the table with dear friends is a favourite pastime. For successful dinner party execution, its best to make dishes that can be prepared in advance. Last Friday evening, I made an array of Indian dishes and Persian pistachio and saffron ice-cream. Given that most could be made in advance, I had ample to time to make na’an bread, fresh for the table.  Both curry dishes, Chicken Tikka Masala and Lamb Korma, were prepped earlier (curry sauce made in the week and frozen) and the aubergine pickle and mango chutney were brought over from England. On the night, all I had left to prepare was the vegetable biryani and na’an, which in fact was a diddle.

    A previous posting on Chicken Tikka Masala discusses my love for this dish and this recipe. It only gets better with time. I created the Masala sauce ahead of the dinner party and froze it. On the day, I marinated chicken pieces in tandoori spices, grilled thepieces and added them to the reheated sauce. The outcome is a spicy, fruity and rich sauce, softened with coconut milk. This is my all time favourite dish and I highly recommend everyone to have a go at this. Remember, curries are about laying flavour upon flavour. So, each stage needs to be treated with care and attention. Use only the freshest spices. Brown the onions till they are brown. Heat the oil till its actually hot. Every bit of the recipe needs to be respected.

    This dish, the Lamb Korma, proved problematic. Not the recipe as such, but the fact that I added a half a tablespoon of cinnamon instead of garam masala. Anyone familiar with cinnamon will know that the slightest touch of this spice is noticeable. The original dish called for chicken, so due the extra cinnamon addition, I decided to switch to lamb, as this strongly flavoured, robust meat can stand up to anything, including unwarranted amounts of cinnamon. With the touch of coconut milk and a longer and slow cooking process of 2 hours, the meat was tender, the sauce was delightfully complex and comforting, built upon an aromatic garlic, ginger and almond paste. The sauce is another Madhur Jaffrey creation. As a beginning point into making curries, I highly recommend everyone to watch the online video of Madhur teaching you how to make the Creamy Chicken Korma with Almonds. Here, she reiterates the importance of conducting each step of the cooking process with time and attention.

    This dinner was a few firsts for me. First time I made ice-cream and first time I made bread. Given that the first time I ever cooked, it was a curry, it only made sense that the first time I ever baked bread, it would be a na’an. This recipe from All Recipes was simple and easy. The ending touches of crushed garlic can be substituted for anything, included grated coconut, coriander and mustard seeds. The only substantial time needed is for allowing the dough to rise. Two minutes under a hot grill and the flattened, teardrop shaped dough balls become golden na’an. This is the ideal accompaniment for curry.

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    Sunday evening is often dedicated to the supermarket trip. We drive south of Tel Aviv to Holon, to embark on a shopping mission at one of Israel’s most well-stocked supermarkets, Hezi Chinam, half free. We make it a Sunday night (Israel’s first working day), given that it is one of their quieter days. Israeli food shoppers tend to lack a sense of supermarket etiquette, particularly when it comes to shopping trolley manoeuvring and queuing. My general approach to life here is to avoid large mounds of people when possible, in order to maintain some sanity. This approach is particularly useful when activities involving human-interaction also involve food.

    When considering subsequent meals following the supermarket shop, I gaze at the well-stocked cupboards and consider what to make. I’m often left dazed and confused at what possible creations can extend from the options ahead. I had spent 800 shekels the night before on tuna cans, tortilla chips, jasmine, basmati and persian rice, and various types of tea. Nothing substantial for a hearty dinner.

    I kick myself, as I recall the Dining Minx lesson over in my head: when heading to the supermarket, come prepared with a well devised, fully detailed shopping list, compiled from the recipes for the week ahead. My mission should be to buy ingredients for dinners, rather than to randomly collate various goodies that fulfil my cravings for blue cheese and meat slices.

    I tally up how much I spent and how much would it would be to order chinese right now, at a click of a button. Stop it.

    This Monday night, I caught a glimpse of the baby portobello mushrooms sitting at the bottom of the fridge. They had caught my eye in the supermarket, their large plump full fleshiness was ready to be acquainted with garlic. Yum. However, that night, my mind was blank. What for dinner?

    It came to me. Whenever I am unable to conjure up a recipe, I turn to my reliable friend, pasta. Pasta goes with everything. So, after a flash fry of sliced up mushrooms, garlic, thyme, s&p, rehydrated dried mushrooms, tablespoon of single cream and bish bash bosh, I have fungi pasta. I think everyone should have their fall back dish, and pasta is mine.

    So two Dining Minx tips:

    1. Go to the supermarket with a shopping list, one based on the recipes planned for the week ahead, not just the toilet roll and milk.
    2.  Always have a fall back dish. Mine is pasta. Others can be stir-frys, grills. Anything that combines the use of a variety of ingredients with an easy method of application.

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    I took a trip home to London, primarily to clear my head, more importantly to pursue future endeavours and most significantly, to fill my belly.

    One thing I make sure to do, every time I visit London, is to explore the city’s cultural diversity in food. The city is a melting pot, filled to the brim with recipes, tastes and smells, all presented by the multitude of immigrant groups that extend from every corner of the earth. I strive to have a taster of this pot, whether in China Town or Brick Lane. For this particular visit, I had 3 culinary destinations in mind: Taste London festival, West London’s Portobello Market and South London’s Borough Market.

    After stepping off the plane, I grabbed a taxi and headed straight to Regents Park for London’s annual restaurant festival. As considered the ‘world’s greatest’ of its kind, this festival hosts restaurants, cooks, food producers and importers, to exhibit their gastronomic creations in the lush green setting of London’s Central Park equivalent. I mingled with England’s celebrity chefs, Ainsley Harriott and Anthony Worrall Thompson (seriously), nibbled on crackers dipped in Indian, Jamaican and Malaysian curry sauces, and devoured small plate creations, as delivered by some of the city’s most distinguished restaurants, including Asia de Cuba and the London Dorchester’s The Grill. I had only ever dreamed of dining at these restaurants. Yet here, below the large oak trees and hazy blue sky, dining tables were set for everyone, any tom, dick or harry, anyone who would and could simply appreciate good food. Apologise, but the camera was left in the suitcase.

    The following day, I visited Portobello Road, location to the world’s largest antique market in the trendy area, Notting Hill. This market is quintessentially ‘London’. History extends from the ornaments and silverware along the stalls and kiosks, to across the red brick buildings and majestic shop fronts. Humble fruit and veggie stands, decked out with cardboard containers and furry green drapery, stand proud alongside lavish food stands, selling plum tarts and chorizo sausage. The atmosphere is brought to life with the beckoning of traders declaring they have the juiciest strawberries and melons in all the city. And when you think that is it, the market continues down the windy road to the neighbourhood’s dynamic fashion market, little pockets of trendiness presented by cool chicks dressed in plastic rimmed glasses, black tights and baggy shirts.

    As I made my way down Portobello Road, I took diversions to the Spice Shop and the “Books for Cooks” shop. I was in culinary heaven. Behind the lunar presentations of paella along the market, I popped into the Spanish food speciality store for a stock up of smoked pimento.




    The final culinary trip was to London’s Borough Market, the city’s epicentre for fine and fresh produce and one of the largest food markets in the world. Borough market, which has been in operation since the 1700’s, is an accurate representation of England’s culinary scene, hearty produce and modern age twists. Market stalls stand beneath extravagant arched roofing in the South London location, an area decorated around the edges with hip bars and pubs filled with city workers.  I dined on freshly fried cod and chips. Again, left my camera at home, so apologies.

    You can never go hungry in London, despite what the neighbours might think.

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    I paced up and down the 3 meter length of my kitchen, contemplating the meaning of my jobless day and what I should do with the remaining precious hours of the Thursday afternoon. A bowl of softened peaches caught my eye. I thought I would be totally productive and make a much-needed peach crumble for the weekend. I convinced myself and crumble it was.

    This dessert conjures up childhood memories of Friday night dinners, with the demolition of the crumble, whether apple, peach or rhubard, being a cherished moment of silence,  as my family would use every ounce of concentration to carefully spoon a calculated portion of equal parts fleshy fruit-crumble-ice-cream into our mouths.

    The night before, the kitchen would be the hectic playground for my mother’s cooking empire. I would watch in amazement, as she performed her culinary circus tricks, executing all the acts of Friday night dinner preperation, together, at once, in perfect unison. She juggled between preparing a plump raw chicken for roasting, stewing apples in brandy and cinnamon, peeling the potatoes, trimming the vegetables, whilst jabbing the Magimix button every 2 second intervals, as she pulversied the oats for the crumble. My eyes would be hypnotized by the whirlwind of crumble, which spun around the cavity of the machine.

    When my mother ran off out the kitchen to juggle a few more errands round the house, like clockwork, I used the moment to conquer the crumble, which sat patiently, ready for the spiced apple slices. In a moment, I’d tip-toe over to the kitchen counter, almost hopping as if I was jumping on hot coal, lean over the Magimix bowl, and in one single hand motion, scoop up a clump of raw crumble mixture into the palm of my hand and knock it back like a shot, ensuring no traces of stolen crumble mix would be ever be evident. The taste of cold oats, demerera sugar and swirls of cold margarine stays in my mind as the tastiest concoction known to man.

    My response to raw crumble mixture during adult life hasn’t changed. On this sunny afternoon, in my Israel-based kitchen, I went forth with the peach crumble. Given my new adult comprehensive of  hydrogenated fats in margerine, I decided to try out crumble for the first time with the proper stuff, butter. And the difference was astounding. So astounding in fact, that I had to make a second batch for the abandoned peache segments.

    I found a simple and delicious recipe online, Cafe Fernando’s Peach Crumble. The combination of star-anise and vanilla pods is the star of the show, minus the crumble.

    Dining minx tips: Save the peach juices, leftover from the stewing liquid. Add two table spoons of the chilled fruity juice to sparkling white wine, and you have a Bellini. Or, reduce the juices further, and use them as syrup for ice-cream or cake. One other tip, something from my mother, add a dash of brandy or peach liquir to the stewing liquid. This gives a nice kick to the dessert.

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