Refined dining

Try these gourmet dishes for a special dinner with friends.

Fresh anchovies and cherry tomatoes (photo credit: Dan Peretz)
Fresh anchovies and cherry tomatoes
(photo credit: Dan Peretz)
Considered one of the up-and-coming young chefs in the Israeli culinary world, Kobi Bachar is setting the tone in the kitchens of the two restaurants of the Mamilla Hotel in Jerusalem. Bachar recently introduced a new menu at the Rooftop Restaurant and refined the menu of the dairy Café and Bistro. Now he is working on improving the menu of the hotel’s Mirror Bar. Bachar took the time to modify his complicated recipes for the home cook. To try the real thing, you will have to taste them in his restaurants, but do try to make them at home – your friends will applaud.
For the anchovies
✔ 600 gr. cleaned and opened anchovies (ask the fish vendor to do it for you) ✔ 1 kg. coarse salt ✔ 1 tsp. ground coriander seeds ✔ Zest of 1 lemon For the salad
✔ 10 red cherry tomatoes ✔ 10 yellow cherry tomatoes ✔ 10 dark striped cherry tomatoes ✔ Large red tomatoes ✔ Olive oil ✔ 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme leaves ✔ Salt and pepper ✔ Sugar ✔ Handful of fresh za’atar or oregano leaves ✔ Juice of 1 lemon Mix together the salt, lemon zest and coriander.
Place half the mixture in a baking dish. Arrange the fish, skin side up, on the salt mixture. Cover the fish with the rest of the salt mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 40 minutes.
Fill a bowl with ice water. Wash the fish well. Dry on a kitchen towel and place in a container. Cover with olive oil. The fish can keep for several months, so it is recommended to prepare a large amount.
Heat oven to 100º.
Cut the tomatoes (not the cherry tomatoes) into 6 wedges each. Arrange in a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle the thyme and season with salt and pepper and a good measure of sugar. Bake in the oven for 2 hours with oven door slightly open.
Remove and let cool. half. Season the salad with salt, pepper and a little lemon juice. Divide the tomatoes among the plates. Divide the baked tomatoes among the plates and arrange the fish fillets in between. Garnish with fresh za’atar or oregano leaves. Serve with freshly baked bread.
Fall squash and pumpkin soup (Dan Peretz)Fall squash and pumpkin soup (Dan Peretz)
✔ 500 gr. pumpkin, peeled and cubed (5 cups) ✔ 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed ✔ 3 acorn squashes, peeled and cubed ✔ 2 zucchini, cubed ✔ 2 onions, peeled and chopped ✔ 1 Tbsp. brown sugar ✔ 5 Tbsp. dry vermouth ✔ Pinch fennel seeds ✔ 2 Tbsp. olive oil ✔ 3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced ✔ Chili powder ✔ Salt and white pepper ✔ 50 gr. (about 2 Tbsp.) peeled pumpkin seeds, without salt ✔ 2 Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and sliced paper-thin ✔ Oil for deep frying Heat olive oil in a large pot. Sauté the onions until they become transparent.
Add fennel seeds, garlic, sugar and a pinch of the chili.
Mix well and add the pumpkin and squashes. Sauté a few minutes while mixing and add the vermouth. Cook until the alcohol has evaporated, cover with water, bring to a boil, lower the heat and cook for 20-30 minutes.
Using a hand blender, puree the soup.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, heat the oil for the deep frying pan and fry the artichoke slices until almost transparent. Place on paper towels to absorb excess oil.
To serve: Pour soup into serving dishes.
Garnish with Pumpkin seeds and artichoke chips and a few drops of olive oil.
Baked sea bass on a bed of salt (Dan Peretz)Baked sea bass on a bed of salt (Dan Peretz)
✔ 6 pieces of sea bass, 200 gr. each ✔ Olive oil ✔ Thyme ✔ Ground pepper ✔ 3 kg. coarse salt (best to use Atlantic salt) ✔ 6 red potatoes ✔ 12 stalks green asparagus; peel the bottom carefully ✔ 2 cups water ✔ ½ cup lemon juice
Blanch asparagus in salted boiling water for 1 minute. Remove and immediately place in ice water for 2 minutes and strain.
Heat oven to 180º.
Line the bottom of a baking sheet with ½ kg. salt and arrange potatoes on the salt. Bake until potatoes are done and salt has hardened. Add the fish to the baking sheet and place on the salt. Bake for 10 more minutes.
Mix lemon juice and water in a jug.
Very carefully pour the lemon water on the hot salt to get a lemony perfume. Gently transfer the fish to the serving plates and add one potato to each plate.
Option: Serve with peeled black garlic cloves (available in spice shops) and red mustard leaves (mizona) or arugula.
 Recipes and photos courtesy of Mamilla Hotel Rooftop and Cafe-Brasserie restaurants and chef Kobi Bachar