F or Jewish people, life and food are inseparable and the cliche of the Jewish mother keen to feed her guests abounds.
"Food has always played a vital role in Jewish lives," says Ruth Joseph, co-author of a new cookbook, Warm Bagels & Apple Strudel.
"It possesses a certain magic that brings different classes together to celebrate or commiserate.
"My mother was the virtuoso of her kitchen, but in every Jewish memory there's a grandmother, aunt or mother who cooked the recipes of the past."
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Here are some traditional Jewish recipes for you to try at home...
1 large aubergine or 8 baby aubergines (about 300g)
Olive oil, for drizzling
Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
2 large onions, cut into quarters
2 garlic cloves, skins left on
25g fresh coriander, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon tahini paste
A pinch of paprika, to garnish
Toasted pitta bread, to serve
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Smear the aubergine(s) with a little olive oil and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. If you have a gas hob, place the aubergine(s) directly over the flame and chargrill the skins to blacken them. Pop the aubergines in a roasting tin, spear a few times to prevent explosion, then add the onions and garlic, and drizzle over a little olive oil. Roast in the oven for 1 hour until soft and tender. If you wish, you can peel the aubergine at this stage, although I prefer to leave the skins on to maximise the roasted flavour. Discard the stalk(s) and place the aubergine flesh in the bowl of a food processor. Add the skinned roasted onion, squeeze in the juicy nuggets of garlic and add the fresh coriander, ground cumin and tahini paste. Blitz to a smooth (or coarse, if you prefer) paste, taste for seasoning and then spoon into a serving dish. Garnish with a little drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of paprika. Serve with toasted pitta bread.
6 large beetroot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled, green centre removed and finely chopped
3 celery stalks, trimmed and roughly chopped
1kg beef brisket, whole
1kg beef bones
2 tablespoons raisins
25g fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
25g fresh dill, finely chopped
1 teaspoon caraway seeds, toasted in a dry frying pan to release their aroma
2 organic free-range eggs
Place the beetroot in a large pan with the onion, garlic, celery, beef and beef bones. Pour over 3.6 litres water and bring to the boil. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface. Turn down the heat and simmer gently for about 2 hours.
Take out the beef brisket with a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate. Peel the lemon with a vegetable peeler and squeeze the juice. Add the lemon peel to the pan with the lemon juice, raisins, herbs and caraway seeds. Bring back to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring. Turn off the heat and discard the lemon peel and bones.
Break the eggs into a small bowl, whisk in a ladleful of the soup and then tip the mixture back into the pan, whisking all the time.
Cut the cooked brisket into bite-sized pieces and place some in the base of each soup bowl. Ladle the soup over the meat and accompany with dark rye bread and pickled cucumbers.
110g margarine (I use cholesterol-lowering spread) or butter
20g caster sugar
20g vanilla sugar
60g icing sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
120g plain flour
70g ground almonds
Icing sugar, to dust
Preheat the oven to 150°C/gas mark 2 and line two baking sheets with baking parchment. Cream the margarine with the sugars until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract, flour and almonds and combine to a soft dough. Wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Roll the dough into walnut-sized balls, and then roll each ball out to form a sausage shape 5cm long. Curve the ends to make a horseshoe shape and arrange on your prepared baking sheets.
Bake in the oven for 40-60 minutes, or until firm but not coloured. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, and then dust with icing sugar.
Variation: Flavour the biscuit dough with a few drops of almond extract or some grated lemon or orange zest. For a completely different flavour, substitute the ground almonds for ground hazelnuts or walnuts.
Warm Bagels & Apple Strudel by Ruth Joseph and Simon Round is published by Kyle Books, priced £25.