Some names are unmistakably Hebrew and Hebrew being my first language, when I see a name that is Hebrew I get excited. I guess I like hearing my own language and I associate Hebrew with Israel and Israel with home. So when I saw Oded’s Kitchen at Taste of Cape town I was bouncing up and down and when I saw what he had to offer I was even happier. Not only were they middle eastern delicacies that I love but, unlike all the other companies that make similar products, they had their Middle Eastern/Hebrew/Jewish names too.

Babaganush, Harif, Chraime. I was in little-jewish-foodie-girl heaven. I promptly told everyone about them, researched where to find them and was delighted to discover them on twitter. When I saw them at shows I was smiling ear to ear.

Last week I was given the pleasure and honour of being invited to one of their courses. Oded Shwartz himself presents 2 different courses at his shop. A pickling course and a Jewish cooking course. The course material is not set in stone and each class is decided depending on the participants (which makes me exceptionally happy as it means I can keep going back and learning new things).

The classes are kept small and everyone gets hands on and into the action while Oded gives a short history and explains things along the way. In a way the whole experience was a little nostalgic. Having been in a very small Home Economics class in matric, we not only did the work but chatted about everything around what we were doing too. You get to interact with your fellow class mates and Oded and ask as many questions as pop into your head.

We were treated to a great lunch spread filled with Oded’s delicious spreads, pates and pickles as well as some divine ginger lemonade. Back to work we went, tummies full and ready to learn some more as the finishing touches were put on out creations.

Id you ask me, this is the best way to fill your Sunday

Toby’s pickled cucumbers

1kg large cucumbers
750g onions
750g carrots
8 cloves of garlic
Bay leaves

For the pickling juice
1.5 liters water
700ml white wine or distilled malt vinegar
100g sugar
30g salt
12 dried red chillies

Wash the cucumbers well and slice into 1cm discs. Place the sliced cucumbers in a colander and sprinkle with some salt (about 15g). Mix well and allow to drain for about 20 minutes. Wash and drain well.
Peel the onions and slice into thin rings. Peel the carrots and either slice into fine julienne and grate coarsely. Mix the onion and carrots and pour boiling water over them. Drain well.
Peel and slice the garlic.
Arrange everything in your jar. The jar should be almost full but loosely packed.
Place the water, vinegar and chilli in a heavy bottomed enamel or stainless steel pan. Bring to the boil and boil steadily for a few minutes. Skim well, remove the chillies and pour over the pickle, filling the jar to overflow. Poke the content with a wooden skewer to remove any air pockets and screw the lid on tightly. Wash the jars and cool rapidly. Store in a cool dark place. Refrigerate after opening

Simple marmalade

2kg oranges, washed
250ml water
2 lemons, juiced and zested
1.25kg sugar
15g dry roasted coriander seeds

Cut the oranges into halves and then across to thin slices. The thinness of the slices will dictate the texture of the marmalade.
Transfer to a preserving pan and add the water, lemon juice and zest and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to simmer for 20-25 minutes or until orange ring is soft.
Add the sugar stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat and boil for about 20-25 minutes or until set has been achieved (to test this, place a plate in the freezer and when you are ready to check, put a drop of jam on the plate, give it a second and then run your finger through it, it should corrugate).

Remove from heat and stir in the coriander seeds and leave for a few minutes to allow the jam to settle. Skim if necessary. Bottle and seal hot.

When cold, the jam is ready for immediate consumption but improves with a few weeks of mellowing.

Three tomato salsa

3kg Roma/jam/plum tomatoes, blanched, peeled and de-seeded
500g cherry tomatoes
300g sun dried tomatoes, soaked in cold water and cut into bite size
500g onions, peeled and chopped
2 heads of garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
75g fresh thyme, chopped
30g crushed dried chillies
250ml olive oil
300ml white wine or cider vinegar
100g dark sugar
15g salt

Place all the ingredients in a deep roasting pan and roast in the oven on 250°C for about 45-60 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Pack into sterile jars and seal immediately. For extra safety pasteurise in hot water.


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