Repost – Rabbi Lionel Blue’s “The most honest recipe I know”

Republishing this blog post from 2013 in memory of rabbi, broadcaster and writer Lionel Blue who passed away today (19th December 2016).  Lionel Blue was also a keen cook and published several cookbooks including “Kitchen Blues: Recipes for Body and Soul” (1985) and Simply Divine: Recipes from the Cooking Canon and Rabbi Blue” (1986) which he co-authored with Reverend John Eley (Pebble Mill at One imprint).

Rabbi Lionel Blue, regular contributor to Radio 4’s Thought for the Day, author of many books, including several cookery books, has kindly sent us two brilliant recipes: “Hummus for Kings and Paupers” followed by “The most honest recipe I know”. Thank you, Rabbi Blue, for supporting Wimshul Cooks with such generous and honest recipe writing.

Rabbi Lionel Blue speaking to a packed house at Wimbledon Synagogue, with Rabbi Sybil Sheridan (c) Caroline Silver Lewis 2012

Rabbi Lionel Blue speaking to a packed house at Wimbledon Synagogue, with Rabbi Sybil Sheridan (c) Caroline Silver Lewis 2012

Hummus Fit for Kings and Paupers

How to make hummus not just out of a pot, but a dish fit for kings. It’s very good at festival time.

  • Liquidize a tin or two of cooked chickpeas, (I have never had time to do all the soaking and you can’t taste the difference). Cream them carefully in a blender, with some of the liquid from the tin, which can help to make the hummus softer if it comes out too hard.
  • In the blender, add half a cup of tahini and three cloves of garlic (I like garlic), the juice of two lemons, salt and pepper, paprika and chilli powder to taste.
  • Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil and mix in the blender (good quality olive oil). You get a rather unattractive brown paste, which may not seem festival-like, but honestly, it can become a regal dish. If your hummus appears to be too thick, then add some of the liquid from the tin.
  • Spread the brown paste over a platter and make furrows in it with a fork. Pour good olive oil on top so it glistens in the furrows and dot the hummus with sliced black olives and green olives, thin slices of sweet onion or chopped spring onions, or sliced leek and red peppers in oil cut up into little bits. You can also add anchovies or indeed anything which makes your hummus look like jewels. Shower the edges of the platter with chopped parsley either flat of curly (that is more authentic).

This makes a truly wonderful dish as it is brought in.

By the way, it looks even nicer if you save some of the chickpeas and scatter them over. It brings an interesting change of texture.

The best recipe for hummus I know comes from a book by a Palestinian refugee, Salab Jamala*. He gave me a great insight into Palestinian Arab life. Eating with them is mannered and elaborate and it is time we learnt about it.

The Most Honest Recipe I Know

Here is the most honest recipe I know.

I have used it on students, I made it for Lord Marks and above all it was wonderful for sailing, because it had little fat, you could spoon it out into mugs and it never made anybody seasick in force nine gales.

It is an arctic chowder from north east Canada.

You need the following:

  • 1 lb white fish: cod or halibut fillets more or less (the fish can be smoked – a mixture is rather nice.)
  • 1 litre skimmed milk
  • 3 medium to large peeled potatoes cut in chunks
  • 3 onions peeled and cut in chunks
  • a mug of frozen peas
  • a medium tin of sweet corn well drained (Mexicorn is even better). But again, make sure it is drained.

Cooking is very simple.

  • Skin the fillets and cut them into mouth-sized pieces.
  • Heat the milk, throw in the onion and potato chunks, add salt and pepper but go easy.
  • When the potatoes and the onions are almost done, throw in the fish chunks, the drained peas and cook till the fish is done. Lastly add the corn and reheat.

Now, this sounds very ordinary but it is very, very, more-ish and if you are giving a dinner party it is a dish that is very comfortable for the cook. You can really enjoy your own party while doing the cooking.  Do not try to make something elegant and smart out of it. Smart friends of mine who liked it, tried to improve it with sweet potato, sherry and other exotics. The results were awful! It is made from ingredients that marry each other, but the taste is delicious. The quantities don’t matter – adjust them according to what you have got or haven’t. It is a very good main course in wintery weather – and as I have said, honest cooking at its best.

*Arabian Flavours: Recipes and Tales of Arab life by Salah Jamal. Read it together with Claudia Roden’s cookery books. Together they are an education.

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One thought on “Repost – Rabbi Lionel Blue’s “The most honest recipe I know”

  1. Pingback: In Memory of Lionel Blue- Philosophy of Honest Cooking | Wimshul Cooks

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