Saturday, 10 September 2016

Tasting Jerusalem #39 – Walnuts

The August 2016 featured ingredient was Walnuts; a versatile ingredient which can appear comfortably in sweet or savoury recipes.  This was just as well as there are only a couple of recipes in the Jerusalem recipe book where they appear and we’d already made one of them.

We tend to make more savoury dishes than sweet ones, and when we use walnuts we either add them to bread doughs or toast them and use them as a salad garnishes.  They are also an essential ingredient in the delicious Muhamarra dip and we did consider showcasing that for this month’s recipe, but we decided instead to go with the dessert recipe on page 276.

Walnut & Fruit Crumble Cream
When we first saw this in the book, we wondered what a traditional English fruit crumble recipe was doing in a book about the cuisine of Jerusalem, but it turned out to be a very different proposition to what we know as a fruit crumble over here.
We’ve mentioned before about the book containing both elegant, ‘cheffy’ recipes alongside rustic, home cooked ones, and this recipe sits firmly in the former camp.  That’s not to say it is particularly complicated, just that it has several components which need to be assembled separately before being brought together before the final presentation.  It’s certainly not something to put in a pot and leave.

The walnuts are the stars of the crumble mix where they are combined with butter, flour, sugar and a pinch of salt.  There were also two fruit compotes to prepare and initially we were slightly worried when figs and guavas were listed among the ingredients.  Neither of these are readily available anywhere near us.  Dried figs are fairly easy to source, but they are not ideal for use in a compote.  Fortunately, the commentary accompanying the recipe said that local fruits can be used instead of fresh figs and guavas, so we made two different varieties of plum compote.  It was suggested that herbs could also be added but we didn’t fancy this, and decided to also leave out spices, citrus peel and syrup, as we wanted to see what flavours the different plum varieties produced.
The final part of the dish was a rich and luxurious cream, to which was added sugar, cream cheese and a small amount of spice.  As delicious as this sounded, we had to resist the temptation to make it as we are trying to keep the calorie count down, so we substituted this with a simple fat-free thick yoghurt.

Once everything was ready, it was time to arrange it all for serving.  Our small clear bowls were perfect for this as they were able to display the contrasting colours to great effect.  The dessert was prepared by layering the different  components.  As well as the colours, there was a contrast in flavour and taste textures, which made this a very enjoyable dessert.  The walnut crumble added a pleasant crunch to the soft compote and yoghurt and in terms of flavour there was a sweet nuttiness from the crumble, sharp fruitiness from the compote and smooth creaminess from the yoghurt.  Yes, it would have been fantastic to have been able to serve it with the enriched cream, but we were very happy with this as a reduced calorie substitute.

We’ve done well with all of the desserts from the book which we’ve made so far, and it’s almost time for our second anniversary of being involved with this food blogging project, so this dish could well be on the menu.

For anyone curious about the other recipe from the book which featured walnuts, it was the Chunky Courgette and Tomato Salad, which we wrote about in October last year, when Date Syrup was the featured ingredient:  click here for details

“Tasting Jerusalem is a virtual cooking community exploring the vibrant flavors and cuisine of the Middle East through the lens of Jerusalem by Ottolenghi and Tamimi published by Ebury Press. You can follow along and cook with us by subscribing to  following the hashtag #TastingJrslm on Twitter and Instagram, liking our Facebook Page or joining our Google+ Community and finally checking out all of our groups’ dishes on Pinterest

(Please note: I have listed the UK publisher and have linked to the UK Amazon site.  The US details are provided on the web site)