Some people can afford to hire a chef to come to their home and prepare a
perfect meal for their special guests. Harel Azikri is a private chef who
specializes in creating “concept dinners” for his clients. He has been cooking
at private events in his clients’ homes for the last six years, creating special
menus tailored to his clients’ wishes. He presents Israeli haute cuisine,
influenced by international trends.
Azikri agreed to give us a few of his
favorite recipes that anyone can prepare at home and make their guests feel as
if a chef had prepared the meal for them.
“I chose four easy recipes that
take very little effort and time but will no doubt earn you many compliments,”
says Azikri. “I chose chestnuts, great cheeses, herbs and oranges – all
ingredients that for me spell ‘winter.’
FILO PASTRY CHEESE PARCELS
✔ 8 filo pastry leaves
✔ 150 gr. grated cheddar or other hard
✔ 150 gr. sheep’s feta cheese, crumbled
✔ 1⁄2 cup milk
✔ 1 egg
✔ A pinch
✔ 100 gr. butter
✔ Bread crumbs
Defrost filo pastry. Heat oven
To prepare cheese mix: Combine together the 2 cheeses, egg, milk
and nutmeg until smooth.
Melt butter in a small skillet. Remove
Place a filo leaf on a clean work surface. Brush the leaf with
melted butter. Place another leaf on top and brush it. Cut the two leaves into 9
Sprinkle each square with a small amount of bread crumbs
and place a heaping spoon of the cheese mix on each square. Using the
chives as string, tie each square into a parcel.
Place the parcels in a
buttered muffin baking form to keep the parcels from losing their shape and the
filling from running out. Bake the parcels in the oven for 10-12 minutes or
until the edges begin to brown slightly. Serve with green salad.
CHESTNUT AND LEEK SOUP
Makes 6-8 servings
✔ 1⁄2 kg. shelled chestnuts, ready to
✔ 2 or 3 leeks, washed and sliced into 2-cm. rings
✔ 3 or 4 sage leaves
container of cream
✔ White pepper
✔ 50 gr. butter
For the vegetable
✔ 6-7 garlic cloves, minced
✔ 1 large onion
✔ 1 celery stalk and leaves
✔ 1 large zucchini or squash
✔ 2 large carrots
✔ 10 seeds black pepper
✔ 3 sprigs
✔ 2 bay leaves
✔ 1⁄5 liter water
Peel the vegetables and
roots. Wash well and chop roughly.
Place all the vegetables in a
big pot, fill with water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and continue to
simmer about 11⁄2 hours until you get a deep-colored clear broth. Strain and reserve the broth.
To prepare soup: Melt
butter in the pot. Add leek rings and sauté for 5 minutes. Add sage and cook 1
more minute. Add chestnuts and cook, mixing for 2 more minutes. Pour the
vegetable broth back into the pot with the chestnuts and leeks and bring to a
boil. Lower heat and simmer gently for 45 minutes. Season the soup with
salt and pepper. Remove from heat, cool a little and puree, using a hand
blender. Return to heat, add the puree and heat only until the soup reaches a
gentle simmer. Stir from time to time. Serve hot, garnished with parsley
Makes 6 servings
Melanzane is an Italian layered pie made from layers
of eggplant, mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce and basil, with a crust of Parmesan
✔ 2 eggplants
✔ 1⁄2 kg. cherry tomatoes, halved
✔ 1 onion,
✔ 3 cloves garlic, minced
✔ Salt and pepper
✔ 2 tsp. sugar
balls fresh mozzarella
✔ 100 gr. grated Parmesan cheese
✔ Canola oil for frying
✔ 2 Tbsp. olive oil
Slice the eggplants to 1.5-cm thick rounds. Place on a
baking sheet. Salt generously and leave to “sweat” at least 1 hour. Pat dry the
eggplant slices with paper towels. Heat canola oil in a large skillet and fry
the eggplant slices about 3 minutes on each side. Place fried slices on a paper
towel to soak up the excess oil. Continue until all eggplant slices are
To prepare sauce: Heat olive oil in a small pot. Add onion and
sauté until transparent. Add garlic. Add tomatoes and sugar and cook over
high heat about 15 minutes until sauce thickens. Add chopped fresh basil, salt
and pepper. Taste the sauce and correct seasoning if necessary.
arrange the dish: In a deep baking dish, create six circles using a little of
the sauce. Place a slice of eggplant on each circle. Place a slice of
mozzarella on top. Again put some sauce on the mozzarella, a slice of eggplant
and a slice of mozzarella. Put a spoonful of sauce, another slice of
eggplant and finish with a little more sauce. Prepare the other five
melanzane the same way. Sprinkle a generous amount of grated Parmesan cheese on
The recipe can be prepared up to this stage in advance and kept in
About 30 minutes before serving, bake in a 180º oven
for 25 minutes or until Parmesan cheese is browned. Serve hot with fresh basil
COFFEE AND ORANGE CAKE
Makes two loaves or one 24- cm. ring
gr. soft butter
✔ 2 cups sugar
✔ 4 eggs
✔ 500 gr. flour
✔ 2 tsp. baking powder
✔ 1 tsp. instant coffee
✔ 1⁄2 cup milk
✔ 1 cup sour cream
✔ 1 cup yogurt
✔ 1 tsp.
✔ Zest of 1 orange
✔ 150 gr. bitter chocolate
Heat oven to 170º. Blend butter and sugar at medium speed until mixture is
smooth (about 5 minutes). Lower speed and add eggs one at a time.
dry ingredients together, then add to the egg mixture and blend briefly at low
speed. Gradually add milk, sour cream, yogurt, vanilla extract and zest.
Continue mixing about 1 minute until batter is smooth.
Melt chocolate in
a double boiler or in the microwave. Spray baking sheets or grease them.
Pour 1⁄3 of the mixture to the baking form, pour half the chocolate over it and
cover with the rest of the batter.
To create the marbled effect, insert a
knife halfway into the batter and move forward in circular motions along the
Bake 1 hour and check with a wooden toothpick.
and frost with the rest of the chocolate.
Recipes and photos courtesy of Harel
Azikri Boutique Cuisine, 050-910-7149