Thursday, 15 September 2016

The Palomar Cookbook

Living outside of London, I only know a snapshot of the fabulous and trendy restaurants that are in the capital. One of the most talked about restaurants of the last year or so is The Palomar. Any food blogger based in London worth their salt would have paid a visit to this restaurant. I, for one have read many reviews and seen many tantalising photos. In case you are wondering, what is The Palomar, it is a restaurant inspired by recipes from the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Levant (Middle East) but make these recipes very modern and accessible. They have a new cookbook out and it is fantastic.

There are a ton of recipes which feature ingredients that I love but not always featured in Middle Eastern cookbooks such as pork and shellfish. I like the feel of this cookbook, although it's a restaurant cookbook, it's one that's accessible to the home cook. Flicking through the pages, I get the sense that to work at The Palomar is like a big family with a wide variety of chefs to contribute a melting pot.
There aren't many chapters but the chapters that follow cover a comprehensive range of easy to follow, accessible recipes. The book is split into the following:

  • An introduction
  • What's in the cupboard - a comprehensive chapter with all the recommended ingredients which can transport you to the Mediterranean and the Levant in no time. The list of ingredients include: Dry Stores, Spices, Spice Mixes and Nuts.
  • The meal before the meal -One of my favourite things about recipes from this part of the world: Mezze. There are recipes which I would automatically buy instead of making my own such as Cured Lemons, Harissa and Tahini sauce. Some recipes to try include hand chopped chicken liver, Matlucha, Carrot & Fennel with Harrissa & Cured Lemon and Chickpeas with Spinach & Yogurt. 
  • Raw beginnings - a wonderful collection of fresh and healthy delicious. Recipes to try include: Morroccan oysters, Scallop Tartare with Middle Eastern gazpacho, kulenia (Lebanese take on steak tartare).
  • The main act- the very best of the Palomar. This is my favourite chapter of this book. Recipes to try include: Shakshuka two ways (fast traditional and new-style Shakshuka), polenta Jerusalem style, Cod Chaymeh, Shakshukit (deconstructed kebab), Pork Belly with Ras el Hanout, Dried Fruits & Israeli Couscous and Hake with Deep-Fried Cauliflower.
  • The pastry room. A sweet lovers paradise. Standout recipes include Orange Blossom ice-cream in katafi nests, Vanilla & Caramelized Pine Nut Ice Cream, Date Roulade, Kulaneh Bread and Honey Cake. 
So far, I've made Grazia's Tomato Salad and Shakshuit.

Recipe from Shakshuit 
For the meat
50ml olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
50g pistachio nuts
50g pine nuts
4 garlic cloves, chopped
500g minced beef
250g minced lamb
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp toasted and ground cumin seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp Harissa
1 tbsp cured lemon paste

For the tahigurt
200g Greek yogurt
5tbsp tahini
salt, to taste
squeeze of lemon juice

For the toppings
4 tsp Harissa
4 tsp cured lemon

For the meat, place a large, shallow pan over a medium heat, add the oil and then the onion and sweat for 5 minutes. Add the pistachios and pine nuts and sauté for another 5 minutes, then add the garlic and sauté for a further 3 minutes.
Add the minced meat in 3-4 batches, breaking up the each batch with a wooden spoon and allowing it to cook for 3-4 minutes, before you add the next bath so that you don't get lumps. You can increase the heat to high now, but just make sure you continue to stir.
After 10 to 15 minutes, add the rest of the ingredients and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook over a medium heat for another 5 minutes so that all the flavours combine well.
Meanwhile, make the tahigurt. Mix all the tahigurt ingredients together in a bowl and divide between 4 soup plates (or funky pans , if you have some)
Divide the meat between the 4 plates and layer with all the toppings. 


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