Short Order: Good friends and great food - that says it all

The evening disproved a conviction of mine that Jerusalem artichokes are best pureed in soups or mashed with another vegetable.

cooking 88 (photo credit: )
cooking 88
(photo credit: )
A good friend is one in deed, not just in word, and on Saturday night Hila Solomon proved she embodied this sentiment as she and her Spoons boutique restaurant staff served, in her Yemin Moshe home, an exquisitely prepared dinner to more than 20 people, all close friends and associates of Greer Fay Cashman. Explaining how it all came about, she related that Greer, creator of the Post's popular Grapevine column, had once complained that she attended so many functions where people would spot her and immediately ask: "So when are we going to appear in The Jerusalem Post?" The event, therefore, was being held "simply to celebrate Greer, for herself." There to pay personal, and sometimes amusing, tribute to the guest of honor were Elana Rozenman and her husband, Zvi, Libby Bergstein, Zvi Mazel and his wife, Michelle, Isi and Naomi Leibler and Rena and Rabbi Emanuel Quint. They were joined by the Post's Ruthie Blum, Shmuel and Sarah Klein, Yaakov Kirschen, aka Dry Bones, and his wife, Sali Ariel, Marva and Bill Levine, Steve Leibowitz, Rabbi Duni and Anna Bruckenstein and Jerusalem Baha'i representative Kern Wisman and his wife, Barbara. The evening disproved a conviction of mine that Jerusalem artichokes - those knobby roots that look like scruffy relations of ginger root - are best pureed in soups or mashed with another vegetable. We ate them baked whole flavored with sumac, a red flower growing in the Jerusalem area which can be bought ground in spice shops and imparts a wonderful "dry" citrus-lemon flavor. JERUSALEM ARTICHOKES BAKED IN THEIR SKINS 1 kg. firm Jerusalem artichokes good olive oil salt ground black pepper sumac Choose artichokes as white, clean and nodule-free as possible. Wash them with soap and water and scrub as you would potatoes. Remove any long, hanging ends and cut off any ugly nodules. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Cut each artichoke into 3-cm. pieces and place on the tray. Coat them with the oil and dust with salt and pepper. Using about 2 tablespoons of ground sumac, use your hands to coat each piece. Bake, uncovered, on 220 for about 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 180 and bake for approximately 40 minutes more, or until the artichokes are soft when tested with a fork. Serve hot, for 6-8 people WE LOVED this soup, with its origins in Sephardi cooking from India: 'BAGHDADI RED' LENTIL SOUP 500 gr. red lentils 3 large onions 4 Tbsp. olive oil 1 Tbsp. finely chopped garlic 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, finely chopped 2 tsp. cumin 1 tsp. turmeric 2 Tbsp. salt 1/2 Tbsp. black pepper (optional) 1 hot red chilli 4 large, fresh bay leaves 2 tomatoes 1/3 cup of fresh lemon juice garnish: chopped coriander or parsley sliced lemon on the side Wash the lentils and check carefully for stones, etc. Wash them again until the water runs clear. Put the onion and oil in a heavy soup pot. Stir gently and sweat the onions. Add the garlic, ginger, cumin and turmeric. Stir until well mixed. Add the lentils and stir until they're coated with the spices. Add the salt, pepper and bay leaves (and chilli, if using). Soak the tomatoes in boiling water, remove the skins, dice, and add. Cover with water and boil , then turn the heat down and simmer, covered, for about 1 hour. Keep stirring. If the water is absorbed, add more as you go. Once the lentils are soft (it could take up to 90 minutes) blend the mixture with a spoon or, for a finer soup, use a blender or hand blender. Add the lemon juice, and more water if the consistency is too thick, and garnish. Serves 6-8. (copyright: Hila Solomon) GOOD HEALTH is paramount, so when I read that dark chocolate in moderate helpings is good for the heart, I jumped to it, forcing myself to eat two or three squares most days. And do you know? It wasn't so hard. But my (now healthier) heart did a little dance when I discovered the supermarket selling a new version of Elite's "cow" chocolate called Dark and Airy (marir avriri). As someone who remembers Cadbury's Aero from the UK with affection, this is marvelous. And those air bubbles must make it less fattening. Note: It's marked "dairy."