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Recipe Development: Shakshuka & Fennel Bishbash
Overview

Zoe takes you through how she went about coming up with her dish, inspired by memories of the spice markets and the aromas of orchids that wafts through Tel Aviv. She explains how to introduce different spices, think about how to compose a spread of several small dishes which balance each other nicely in flavour, colour and texture.

Development Stages

Key Components:

Citrus - orchids have a powerful citrus smell and they can be found lining the streets of Tel Aviv. Zoe pays homage to this scent by bringing a strong flavour of citrus to her fennel bishbash salad. She chooses grapefruit as an alternative citrus fruit to the more widely used lemon or orange, which balances the rest of the dish with some acidity.

Feasting - for centuries, cooks in the region have created lavish spreads composed of as many as a dozen dishes including hummus, salads, fresh bread, an array of condiments and an abundance of produce from the region such as olives, lemons, oranges, grapes, dates and mint. This tradition can be seen throughout the region, for example in Arabic the name for this style of dining is 'meza'. Zoe takes you through how you can balance the flavours when bringing together multiple dishes on the feasting table.

Fullness - the idea is to think about the fullness of each bite, how the Shakshuka with its spices is balanced with the acidic fennel salad and rounded out with the creamy tahini - combining hot with cold, salty and sour to create a balanced dish.

Slow cooking - the method of slow cooking softens the peppers and brings out the flavour of the ingredients. It's a great technique for showing off the vegetables of the Israeli climate which due to the dry, hot air, good soil and their unique drip-irrigation technology produces some quality fresh, vegetables.

Teachings:

  1. Slow Cooking - Learn how to make this thick and spiced brunch dish, controlling your pan and poaching the eggs on a low and slow heat to open up the flavours.
  2. Pickling - Learn about pickling in this recipe, using this quick technique to balance the flavours of this rich dish.
  3. White Tahini - A staple of Israeli cuisine, master this sauce which will feature across the whole course.

Make It Your Own:

  1. Green Shakshuka - this is a popular version of this dish in Israel. Instead of red peppers and tomatoes, you can use spinach, fresh green herbs and a baharat spice mix instead of paprika and cumin. You can also try a version with swiss chard, a load of parsley, dill and coriander.
  2. Fillings - other than the green Shakshuka version you can play around with different fillings including sausage, halloumi cheese (you can try it fried), chillis and pickled jalapeños.
  3. Spice mixes - you can play into the Shakshuka's North African routes with spices like saffron, caraway, cinnamon, harissa chilli paste or Middle Eastern spice mixes like baharat or sumac but feel free to play around with the spices you like to use in the kitchen.
  4. Colour - the Shakshuka isn't the other way to introduce different colours, the tahini sauce is also a great way to bring in some contrast. You can make a green version using a load of parsley, or red by adding tomatoes to your sauce or even a pink version using beetroots.
  5. Fruit - for the fennel salad, feel free to use orange, dried cranberries, raisins or anything that will give some sweetness and contrast to the pickling and strong flavours of the fennel.
  6. Texture - having some fun with texture is a great way to change a dish by trying different cheeses, yoghurt, seeds, or chilli flakes and herbs. Nuts are also great to experiment with as each one has a different flavour profile - walnuts and pistachios have a natural sweetness which is why you'll also see them used in desserts, whereas Zoe uses toasted pine nuts which have more of a savoury, buttery flavour.

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Zoe Tigner-Haus
My father is a big eater and as a child we used to have massive lunches at home. It was from him that I learnt a lot about seasoning.