Jewish holidays are nearly always associated with emblematic feasts. However, Lag Ba’omer does not hold any such ritualistic festivities.

But rather than allowing for the traditional cookout with s’mores, blackened potatoes and dehydrated soups, a polished meal is still attainable.

While grilling has become the refined act of cooking outdoors, cooking over a bonfire takes on a more primal form of instinctive cooking, resulting in bold, robust flavors. No matter how remarkable the landscape, it is the meals around the campfire that are always the apex of the event.

Simple and convenient dishes are your goal. You want to use few ingredients that are easy to carry and do not require much effort or equipment.

When cooking over an open fire, the temperature will never be precise, thus any food you do cook will have to withstand a certain degree of elegant scorching, but that is precisely the allure of this challenge.

Once you have mastered the art of cooking over a bonfire, you set yourself up for weekends of outdoor fun.

If possible, make preparations at home. Be sure to keep meat and half-prepared foods chilled until cooking time.

LAMB KEBABS
Makes about 6 servings

Marinate kebabs a few hours prior to cooking. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for half an hour (this keeps the meat from sticking to the skewers, and the skewers from burning)

✔ 1⁄2 cup olive oil
✔ 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
✔ 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
✔ 11⁄2 tsp. good quality mustard
✔ 1 kg. lamb, cut into bite-size cubes
✔ 2 cups cherry tomatoes
✔ 2 onions cut into 2-cm.quarters
✔ 1⁄2 cup chopped mint
✔ Salt and pepper to taste Place olive oil, vinegar, garlic, mustard, herbs, salt, pepper and lamb in a plastic bag. Seal bag and set aside to marinate.

Place onion quarters on a plate and brush with some of the marinade.

Ease meat onto skewers, alternating with vegetables, with about 3 pieces of lamb per skewer.

Grill on wire mesh a few inches above the heat for approximately 5 minutes per side, brushing with marinade after each turn.

CASSOULET
Serves 6-8

Cassoulet is the French version of beef and bean casserole. Originating in southern France, it is traditionally made with sausage and white beans.

To cook it over an open fire, you will need a heavy crockpot that can be left for a few hours over the fire.

✔ 1 kg. white beans, rinsed
✔ 1 package of sausages or hot dogs
✔ 1 kg. beef, diced
✔ 250 gr. tomato paste
✔ 1 large onion, diced
✔ 5 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
✔ 5 large carrots, peeled and sliced
✔ Enough water to cover beans and meat
✔ Salt and pepper to taste
✔ 1 tsp. cumin (optional)

Put all the ingredients in a large cast iron pot, cover, and place over fire for 4 to 6 hours. To shorten cooking time, use precooked frozen beans or canned beans.

APPLE COBBLER
Serves about 8

✔ 3 cups apples, peeled and sliced
✔ 1⁄4 cup chocolate chips (optional)
✔ 1 tsp. cinnamon
✔ 1 cup brown sugar
✔ 1⁄2 tsp. salt Crumb topping:
✔ 2 cups all-purpose flour
✔ 1 cup instant oatmeal
✔ 2 tsp. baking powder
✔ 1 tsp. baking soda
✔ 2 Tbsp. sugar
✔ 1⁄2 tsp. salt
✔ 250 gr. margarine at room temperature, cut into small pieces (canola oil can be used, but it results in a slightly different texture)

Mix dry topping ingredients together. Slowly incorporate margarine (or oil) while mixing.

Set aside for use later. This can be done at home just before leaving and brought to the site in a plastic container.

Once the campfire is ablaze, place a grill netting 10 cm. above the flame. Slice apples and toss with brown sugar.

Place fruit in a heavy, cast-iron skillet. (Aluminum tins can be substituted for cast iron; however, you will have to watch them closely, as the fire may burn through the aluminum.) Once the fruit is in the tin, spread topping evenly over fruit, cover with aluminum foil and place over fire for approximately half an hour or until dough becomes crispy.

Weekend Market Watch By Laura Taub 

New for Shavuot Yotvata is the first of the large dairies to launch new items for the holiday, with 15% cooking cream, 9% sour cream, and 9% vanilla sour cream with added vitamin D, which is perfect for cheesecakes.

Mix and serve
The Spice-route Farm (Havat Derech Hatavlinim) offers a collection of mixes, ready to be added to cheeses for dips or for pies, omelettes and salads.

Among others, there are the basil mix, for pasta and cheeses, with dried tomatoes, basil and pistachio (NIS 15 for 100 gr.), onion mix for dips, (NIS 11 for 100 gr.), vegetables and spice mix for pies and omelettes (NIS 11 for 100 gr.) and more. Available in a few stores around the country. To find one near you call (04) 953-3405, www.derechhatavlinimco.il.

Sugar-free
Tusso is a new brand of sugar-free products. The first items to be launched in Israel are sweets, including chocolate (assorted flavors NIS 12), cakes (NIS 17), and cookies (we liked the granola ones, NIS 16) and more. All the products are without trans fat, artificial coloring or preservatives and some are made from whole wheat and are rich in fiber. Kosher.

Imported by Denshar, available in supermarkets.

Sport nuts
Zico is a drink brand made from 100% coconut liquid, also known as the drink consumed by celebrity sport stars and models.

The liquid collected from the fruit is rich in minerals, especially zinc, which protect the body from dehydration and muscle contraction. To be consumed before, during and after a workout. NIS 19, available at Eden Teva Market, Nitzat Haduvdevan, Green, Castel and other health stores.

Cool cut
In time for the watermelon season, The Cook Store has added a fun knife to its vast collection. The red-and-green knife is 28 cm. long with an ergonomic handle, and the blade is protected by a polymeric coat. NIS 129, available at cookware stores.

Dark and tempting
Splendid is a quality brand of chocolate, with 70% cocoa. The new flavors include bittersweet dark chocolate made from a mixture of five different cocoa beans, imported from Africa, South America and Southeast Asia.

The chocolate won taste contests by chefs and consumers.

Now with new flavors in a new packaging.

Yummy. NIS 11.18 for 100 gr.


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