Lavender has many uses in soaps, sachets, and colognes. It also lends itself to superstitions; for example, it is said that a sprig in a woman’s pocket will protect her from a scheming husband. Another one, this one from the Crusaders, smell from Lavender keeps the evil away. Lavender grows wild in the hilly areas of Israel, in the Judean desert around the Dead Sea, as well as on the coastal plains, and its flowers have become part of local desserts. This recipe is a parfait with a unique flavor, perhaps the taste of the desert.
For the parfait:
¾ c up (150 g) sugar
½ cup fresh dried lavender Bowers
6 egg yolks
1 cup (250 ml) whipping cream
For the passionfruit sauce:
1 l b (500 g) passionfruit
2 ¾ cup s (500 g) sugar
To make the parfar:
Cook the sugar and lavender flowers in ½ cup (125 ml) water in a small pan over a low heat until the mixture becomes a clear syrup, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Strain and allow the syrup to cool for about 5 minutes.
Place the egg yolks in the top of a double boiler or a bain marie and add the syrup.
Whisk the mixture over boiling water until the egg yolks lighten in color and increase in volume.
Whisk the cream separately and fold into the egg yolk mixture.
Pour into individual parfait cups, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze before serving.
To make the sauce:
Cut the passionfruit in half and use a teaspoon to scoop the flesh into a saucepan.
Add ½ cup (125 ml) water and bring to a boil.
Boil for 5 minutes and add the sugar.
Lower the heat and simmer until the sugar is totally dissolved.
Increase the heat and continue to cook until the sauce becomes transparent, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Transfer to a clean, dry jar; cover; and store until ready to use.
My mother tried to prepare the pickled cucumbers all her life and I, the simpleton, got it right the first time I tried. I never figured it out why until my 50th birthday. Well, better late then never. Cucumbers for pickling should be small, young, fresh, firm, and crisp. Pickle them soon after buying (inspect them carefully at the stall or shop), and never pickle cucumbers that have been refrigerated. Pickles are ready to taste four days after being packed into a transparent jar and left under the sun.
6-10 cloves garlic, peeled and halved lengthwise
1 green chile pepper, halved
4 ½ lb (2.25 kg) small young cucumbers
4 dill stalks
2-3 tablespoons white vinegar
2 bay leaves (optional)
½ teaspoon whole peppercorns (optional, but tasty)
Wash and sterilize a large pickling jar and lid.
Wash the cucumbers well.
Place the garlic and green chili pepper at the bottom of the jar.
Add the cucumbers and the dill.
Measure enough water to cover the cucumbers and transfer the water to a saucepan (without the cucumbers), then add 1 teaspoon salt for each 1 cup (250 ml) water.
Add the vinegar, bay leaves, and peppercorns and bring to a boil over a high heat.
When the water boils and the salt has dissolved, tum off the heat and allow the liquid to stand for 2- 3 minutes before pouring it over the cucumbers.
Seal the jar and place under the sun.
Leave for 4 days.
The cucumbers will have changed color, the bubbling fermentation will have subsided, and the cucumbers will be ready for tasting.
Refrigerate immediately. This is important, because in Israel I didn’t, and the sauce was spoiled.
Originally, this recipe was being used widely at the time of the Greek/Roman Empires going back more then 5,000 years. And why do I call this is a sauce and not – let’s say by-dish? Because originally it meant to be a sauce (mixed with other sauces, with yogurt and cheese, etc.). The ancient didn’t mean to eat the pickled cucumbers as they came out of the pot, it was meant to be processed further.
Alternatively, you can place the cucumbers in soja source. I personally prefer the sweet soja sauce and the taste is heavenly.
Labaneh is a yogurt-based sour cheese found in Arab markets throughout Israel. It has become so popular that it can also be found in any Israeli supermarket, but it can easily be made from any good (organic) yogurt. At first I thought it was a type of yogurt when I tasted it. I learned later it was more of a cheese and a bit of yogurt. And this sauce/cheese/yogurt can be used for virtually anything, even on bread or plainly spooning it up (like me).
This sauce is easy to make, uses not much ingredients, but it takes a while before it’s finished. Some Dutch people tried keep the Labaneh in the cheesecloth for 30 hours. Well, you try it and tell everyone what it tastes then (the same).
8 cups (2 liters) yogurt
1 teaspoon salt
Cheesecloth or paper towel
Line a large colander with the cheesecloth or paper towel, making sure it overlaps the colander by a good amount. Mix the yogurt with the salt and pour the mixture into the lined colander. Tie the cheesecloth (or close the paper towel), place the colander over an even bigger bowl into which the mixture can drain.
The Labaneh will be ready in 10 to 12 hours. Transfer it to a dish and cover with olive oil. Place in the refrigerator.
Customizations with the Labaneh are of course possible, but you need to be careful not to overdo it (like I did). You could mix the yogurt with some fruit juice (but not too much). I used to mix it with strawberry juice and the color changed of course (like pink-ish), but it was an instant hit. The Arabs were looking wide eyed and flabbergasted at my sauce, smiled politely, but didn’t touch it. The kids loved it.
Chopped mint leaves
Another good customization of this recipe is mixing chopped mint leaves in the yogurt.
This fragrant hot pepper sauce was brought to Israel by immigrants from Yemen, who add it to all their dishes. It has become one of Israel’s most popular condiments. Zhoug adds heat and spice to Falafel and to Hummus. Zhoug is also spread over fish before cooking and added sparingly to sandwiches made with white cheese, eggs, salami, and/ or avocado.
The combinations with Zhoug varies, but for those who love spicy and piquant food, Zhoug is the answer for all their worries. They can use Zhoug for virtually anything to eat (some of them do).
1 large sprig cilantro (coriander) leaves
3-4 fresh green chili peppers with seeds, coarsely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
Salt to taste
Wash the cilantro leaves, and dry them well. Put the cilantro, chopped peppers, and garlic into a food processor and blend. Add the spices and continue to grind to a paste.
There are of course many variants. One of them is the Red Zhoug.
12 dried red chiles
3 -7 peeled cloves garlic, according to taste
Salt to taste
Soak the chiles in water for 2 hours. Drain, then grind with the garlic by hand or in a food processor. Season to taste.