Short Order: Here we go round the mulberry bush

Fat-free ratatouille; cheese sauce; tangy beetroot; cinnamon tzimmes.

beetroot 88 (photo credit: )
beetroot 88
(photo credit: )
I recently spent Shabbat in Shiloh, a windswept beauty situated on a hill in Samaria. The clean air and pristine landscape - and awesome significance of Tel Shiloh, presumed location of the biblical Tabernacle - were striking for this Israeli who only occasionally crosses the Green Line. As I was looking around Friday afternoon for something to do to help my hostess, I heard a call from the garden: "There's an important job for you out here." It was picking mulberries from a luxuriant tree, which I learned was self-set - it grew without anyone planting it. Next day those mulberries showed up on the lunch table, mixed with fresh, 3%-fat cottage cheese. "I didn't know what else to do with them," my hostess confessed. But the concoction turned out to be an inspired addition to a vegetarian lunch. I'd never eaten a mulberry (tut ya'ar) before, and this was a fitting introduction. WHEN I tried to get the recipe for her delicious vegetable lasagna, my matter-of-fact hostess rattled it off in a businesslike manner: "Put a layer of lasagna in a oiled baking dish, cover it with ratatouille, add another layer of lasagna, cover with a cheese sauce - Mozzarella is best, but any will do - and sprinkle with 25 grams of grated yellow cheese. Bake at 180 for 30 minutes. That's it!" Recommended: Barilla's lasagna. FAT-FREE RATATOUILLE (Adapted from Evelyn Rose's 'The New Jewish Cuisine') 350 gr. ready-crushed tomatoes or 4-5 fresh tomatoes, chopped 1 clove garlic, crushed 3-4 medium peppers (any color) 1 small onion, chopped Put into a fairly wide pan and bring to the boil. Add: 1 medium eggplant, cut into 1-cm. slices 1 Tbsp. chopped coriander or parsley Half-cover and simmer for 20 minutes, then add: 2 large zucchini, cut into 1-cm. slices Cook for 15 minutes more until everything is just tender. If the mixture is still watery, uncover and bubble for 5 minutes or so until thick but still juicy. Stir in: 1 Tbsp. lemon juice 1 tsp. salt 10 grinds black pepper CHEESE SAUCE 30 gr. butter 1 cup milk 1 rounded Tbsp. corn flour 1⁄2 level tsp. salt 8 grinds black pepper 1⁄2 level tsp. mustard powder pinch cayenne pepper pinch nutmeg 75 gr. Mozzarella cheese, grated Put the milk in a heavy-bottomed pan and bring to a boil. Pour immediately into a jug. Rinse the pan and melt the butter in it. Stir in the corn flour. Allow to bubble together for 2 minutes, remove from the heat and pour in the milk all at once. Immediately beat the sauce with a spoon or small whisk until smooth and thickened. Add the seasonings. Return to moderate heat and allow to bubble for 1 minute, while stirring. Add the Mozzarella. Too thick? Add a little more milk and bring back to a boil. WHEN THE heat of summer clamps down, the wise make a beeline for the salad table. TANGY BEETROOT 2-3 medium beetroots citrus vinegar brown sugar Wearing thin, disposable gloves, scrub the beetroots very well under running water, leaving the trailing taproot intact. Put into a pot and fill with water about a quarter of the way up. Cover and cook for 1 hour. Remove and cool. Peel off the thin skin and cut away any rough areas. Again wearing gloves, grate the beetroot or cut it into smallish cubes. Add a short "pour" of vinegar and sprinkle with sugar to taste. Mix well. Add more vinegar or sugar if needed. CINNAMON TZIMMES several carrots honey (or brown sugar) cinnamon a little salt (optional) a few raisins Peel or scrub the carrots and cut into 1⁄2-cm. slices. Put in a pot and add a few centimeters of water. Add salt, honey to taste and sprinkle with cinnamon. Cover and cook on medium-low heat for 20 minutes or until soft. Ideally the water should be absorbed. If it isn't, uncover, raise the heat and cook a few minutes more. Cool to room temperature. SINCE AN unidentified bug laid a close associate of mine low for about a month with hardly any appetite except a craving for melons, I can report that this season's Galia melons - smallish, round and yellow - are terrific: sweet, juicy and utterly refreshing. Out of some 35 that were purchased and cut up, only one turned out to have the sharp, ether-like taste that sometimes mars the best-looking specimens. The rest were perfect.