It was such a joy to spend the evening with Sarit and Itamar of London restaurant Honey & Co. fame! Lydia and I attended their demo at Toppings Bookshop earlier this year for the release of their baking book. It was such a fun evening with delicious nibbles too. Lydia had the brilliant idea of asking them to do a demo at the cookery school. I did and they said YES! We decided on a mezze evening with recipes from their wonderful cookbook Food from the Middle East.
They arrived at 4pm and got everything prepped with great efficiency, with time to look around Bath's festive Christmas market before the demo started. It's wonderful to watch this married couple in action! They are a double act, each taking responsibility for different dishes. Sarit is a master baker and Itamar is super fast with the chefs knife! We all learned so much about ingredients, textures, and methods - but also how a fun-loving attitude makes cooking so enjoyable! They laid the food out on big platters and we all relished the variety of colours and tastes on each plate.
For the fatoush, Itamar sliced pitta bread lengthways, opened them up and baked them until they were crisp. He then mixed them with chopped tomatoes, gem lettuce , feta and oregano with a olive oil and red wine vinegar dressing with pomegranate seeds for a garnish.
Carrot and Harissa Pickles
Pickles are very much on trend at the moment and Itamar delicately made the carrots into flowers! He then spiced them up with white mustard seeds and harissa for a perfect balance of sour, sweet and salty.
Apricot and Pistachio Tabule with Orange Blossom
This tabule is more salad than bulgar with copious amounts of parsley and mint, dried apricots, pistachios and flavoured with orange blossom water.
Muhamra comes from the Arabic word for ‘clay’ or ‘red,' and theirs was bright red with roasted red peppers, red chilies, plum tomatoes and red onions with a head of garlic sliced in half. These are all roasted in a very hot oven to blacken in parts. They added walnuts, pomegranate molasses and smoky paprika and whizzed it up. Best eaten with griddle breads.
Itamar made up a quick dough with a very little yeast, as these are flat breads with a bit of a bounce. The dough isn’t left for long to prove. Sarit heated the griddle and then oiled her hands to flatten and stretch the flat breads. The well-oiled breads are placed straight onto the griddle, to colour and then flip over. Much quicker than turning on the oven, a must for a quick supper with griddled vegetables.
Yemeni Falafel and Tahini
This was the one recipe that I was very keen to learn how to make correctly. There are so many variations and both Itamar and Sarit have their own versions, but the one they chose has Yemeni roots from Itamar’s grandfather. It's essential to use dried chickpeas and soak them overnight, season them well with green chilies, parsley, coriander, cumin and cardamon with baking powder to lighten them and gram flour to bind them. They whizzed up the mix in a food processor, but kept it quite rough and loose. Lydia fried them and they were perfect. Served hot with tahini, they were my favourite.
Sarit whizzed up fresh marzipan for these cookies which we all nibbled on. The rest was broken up into the cookie mix of almonds, sugar, sweet spice, orange zest and egg whites. She then put the mix into a piping bag and squeezed the mix into rounds onto a bed of flaked almonds, then gently coated them in flaked almonds and baked them. A great use of spare egg whites!
Plum Pistachio Cake
Sarit made this recipe look so simple! It’s a lovely moist cake with lots of ground almonds, pistachios and coconut and the butter is melted so that it folds in easily. Topped with halved plums and pistachios it looked beautiful and tasted spicy with mahleb, an aromatic spice with an almond taste that comes from the seeds of a species of cherry.
Many, many thanks to Sarit and Itamar for the inspirational demo! We hope to see you at the cookery school again soon!