Short Order: Birthdays, friends & very fine food

True to this column's minimalist nature, I asked manager Barry Sibul if he would give me the recipe for one of the simplest dishes, emphasizing that it was also delicious.

'Over the 28 years I've been in Israel," says Yonatan Silver, "I've lived in about nine places, mostly in Jerusalem." Along the way, he's accumulated quite a bunch of friends, and earlier this month they turned up in full force at the capital's Village Green vegetarian restaurant to celebrate his birthday. Short Order was there too, and very pleased with the wholesome-looking and tasty soups, quiches, pies and salads; also with the desserts, which included a very decent chocolate birthday cake. True to this column's minimalist nature, I asked manager Barry Sibul if he would give me the recipe for one of the simplest dishes, emphasizing that it was also delicious. "Buy quality chickpeas," he advised. Soak them for 12 hours, throw away the water and just cover the chickpeas with fresh water. Boil them until they are soft, about two hours - or use a pressure cooker." HUMOUS IN VINAIGRETTE 1⁄2 kg. chickpeas (humous) 1⁄4 bunch parsley 1⁄2 Tbsp. salt 1⁄2 Tbsp. sugar 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard 1 clove garlic 1⁄4 cup lemon juice Mix the ingredients in a blender, add half a cup of canola oil and half a cup of water and blend a bit more. Pour over the cooled chickpeas. THERE ARE people who denigrate the zucchini (British: courgette), claiming it is watery and tasteless. I counterclaim that this is one of the most versatile of vegetables, adding its delicate taste to any number of dishes. Here are two: the first from Wendy Elliman, who says her three daughters love it; the second from Louise Armoni, based on a recipe from Claudia Rosen's Book of Middle Eastern Food. DORIT'S ZUCCHINI MOUSSE 5 zucchini 3 potatoes, peeled 3 eggs 1⁄2 cup self-rising flour 1⁄2 cup oil 1-2 large onions, finely chopped and sauteed in a little oil 1 Tbsp. chemical-free soup powder or crushed bouillon cube salt and pepper to taste bread crumbs for sprinkling sweet paprika (optional) Grate the zucchini and potatoes into a bowl. Add the eggs, oil and flour, salt, pepper and soup powder. Add the onion. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top, with sweet paprika if you want color. Transfer the mixture to a casserole and bake in a 180° oven for up to an hour, until it is golden brown on top and firm. COURGETTE EGGAH 3-4 nice-sized courgettes, cut into 1⁄2-cm. slices 1 medium onion, finely chopped 6 eggs 6 slices brown bread, soaked in a little milk 3 Tbsp. parsley, chopped (optional) butter salt and pepper Fry the onion in a little butter until soft and golden, add the courgette slices and saute until they are soft and lightly colored all over. Drain on absorbent paper (or go on cooking until not much liquid is left). Beat the eggs. Add the bread, squeezed dry, crumbling it in your hand. Add the onion and courgettes and parsley, if using, and season lightly. Mix well. Method 1. Pour the mixture onto some sizzling butter in a frying pan and cook gently over very low heat until the eggs are set, about 20 minutes. (Test with a knife to see how it is doing.) Either dry and brown the top lightly under a hot grill, or invert the omelette onto a plate and carefully slip it back into the frying pan for a bit longer. Method 2. Pour the mixture into a buttered ovenproof dish and cook in a preheated 180° oven for 40-45 minutes, or until well done. Cover the dish for the first 30 minutes, then uncover it to allow the top to brown for the final 10-15 minutes. LAST BUT not least, here's a lovely relish from Josie Lee, a stalwart of the Sam Orbaum Jerusalem Scrabble Club: APPLE & MANGO CHUTNEY 3⁄4 cup diced onion 3⁄4 cup brown sugar 3⁄4 cup red wine vinegar 1⁄2 lemon, seeded and sliced 1⁄4 cup golden raisins 1 clove garlic, minced 3⁄4 tsp. cinnamon 1⁄2 tsp. salt 1⁄4 tsp. each of powdered clove, ginger and paprika 2 ripe mangoes, peeled and diced 2 green apples, peeled and diced Combine all the ingredients except the mango and apple in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the mango and apple, increase the heat and cook for 15 minutes more, stirring frequently, until the fruit is tender and the chutney thickened.