Named as the best spa in the Middle East for several years now, the Carmel Forest Spa Resort has more to offer than green scenery and luxurious spa services: it boasts a gourmet restaurant that serves countless state-of-the-art dishes, all made with local Israeli ingredients. Their cookbook Carmel Forest Spa Resort: A Love Story is a compilation of recipes inspired by cooking traditions brought to Israel from the Diaspora, with a more modern twist.
The idea for writing this cookbook came from guests’ letters, asking for recipes of dishes they had tasted while vacationing at the Sea Resort. After several years and hundreds of letters, it was clear that it was finally time to publish a cookbook of the resort’s most popular recipes. – Stephanie Wasserman
SEARED FILLET OF BASS ON A BED OF BEETROOT AND CAULIFLOWER RISOTTO
We love roasting fish on a hot griddle after marinating it in olive oil and herbs. Serve it with an extra-special risotto.
Makes four servings.
4 filleted bass, skin on
For the marinade
½ cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves minced
Freshly ground pepper
1 tsp. of coriander seeds, roasted and crushed
2 sprigs thyme
6 sage leaves
For the risotto
1 cup cauliflower florets
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 shallots, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 cups round rice, washed and drained
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups boiling vegetable stock
1 cup beetroot juice, strained
3 sprigs green onion, thinly sliced
Salt, freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. thyme leaves
1/8 oz. (50 g.) butter, cubed
½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 lemon, quartered
To prepare the fish: stir together all the marinade ingredients and marinate the fish for 30 to 60 minutes in the refrigerator
To prepare the risotto: heat oven to 180° centigrade. Toss the cauliflower florets with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake for 10 minutes until golden. Heat oil in a pot. Add the shallots and sauté five minutes until golden. Add the garlic and cauliflower florets and cook for one minute. Add the rice. Mix so that all the rice grains are coated with oil. Pour in the wine and cook until it absorbs completely. Begin to add the boiling stock, one ladle at a time, stirring until it is absorbed before adding the next one. In between, gradually add the beetroot juice. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add the green onion and butter gradually while stirring. Add the parmesan toward the end of the cooking.
Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the fish, skin side down, for three minutes. Turn and sear for three minutes on the other side.
To arrange the dish: Place the risotto in the middle of each plate. Place the fish on top and drizzle the marinade on the fish and around it.
Winemaker’s note: Yarden Chardonnay
This is a classic medium full-bodied Chardonnay, elegant and rich in flavors. It pairs well with fish such as bass and rich dishes such as risotto. Malolactic fermentation contributed to the balanced acidity that enhances the velvety texture of the risotto while balancing the acidity of the beetroot. The Yarden Chardonnay is aged for seven months in French oak barrels, 50% of which are new.
FRESH FIG SALAD WITH CARAMELIZED GOAT CHEESE
This summer salad was inspired by the famous crème brûlée dessert. A slice of Sainte Maure-style goat cheese is sprinkled with dark brown sugar and grilled to create a thin, sweet caramelized crust that complements the sharp flavor of the cheese, the freshness of the greens and the sweetness of the figs.
Makes six servings.
For the salad
1 cup arugula leaves
1 cup watercress leaves
1 cup green onions, chopped
10 ripe figs, quartered
1 cup roasted Brazil nuts, chopped
For the dressing
¼ cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. silan (date honey)
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp. arak
1 tsp. fresh ginger, grated
Salt, freshly ground black pepper
Pinch chili flakes
For the brûlée
3 ½ oz. (100 g.) Sainte Maure goat cheese (roll), sliced into 6 discs
Dark brown sugar
To prepare the dressing: In a jar with a tight lid, shake all the ingredients. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
To prepare the brûlée: Sprinkle the cheese slices with a little dark brown sugar and caramelize under the grill.
To make the salad: Gently toss the salad ingredients with the dressing. Transfer to serving dishes and top each serving with a slice of the caramelized cheese, pomegranate seeds.
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