Carmel Forest Spa Resort: A Love Story

These recipes are from the cookbook Carmel Forest Spa Resort: A Love Story, which slowly began to take shape over a number of years.

Rice Mansaf (photo credit: ODED MAROM)
Rice Mansaf
(photo credit: ODED MAROM)
These recipes are from the cookbook Carmel Forest Spa Resort: A Love Story, which slowly began to take shape over a number of years, as guests craved the wonderful tastes they had enjoyed at the hotel and desired to recreate a similar experience once back home.
Chef Amir Kalfon, who presides over the culinary experience at Carmel Forest Spa Resort, assembled an anthology of recipes of the most popular dishes he prepares for guests, which include dishes from Druze cuisine and special meals for individuals with food sensitivities. All recipes naturally call for the freshest and highest-quality produce grown in Israel and items manufactured locally.
Druse Cuisine | Rice Mansaf
Serves 8
For the lamb
1 lb (½ kg) shoulder of lamb, deboned and cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) cubes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, sliced
8 cups water
1 teaspoon nutmeg
3 cardamom pods, crushed
1 cinnamon stick
5 allspice pods
2 bay leaves
Gluten-Free Pecan Cookies (Credit: ODED MAROM)Gluten-Free Pecan Cookies (Credit: ODED MAROM)
For the rice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup pine nuts
3 cups rice (long grain)
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
This is a specialty found in Druze cuisine that is known to be extremely healthy and easily digestible – a celebratory rice stew with lamb, pine nuts and many spices, which the Druse serve at weddings and special occasions. The secret lies in the slow and long cooking of the scented lamb and the flavors that are absorbed into the rice.
To prepare the lamb: Heat oil in a large. Add onion and saute for 5 minutes until golden. Add the meat and sear 3 minutes on all sides. Add the water and spices and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and cook 2 to 2 ½ hours or until the meat is very soft. Drain. Keep the meat and the liquid in separate dishes.
To prepare the stew: In a wide and low pot, heat the olive oil. Add the pine nuts. Cook on low heat 2 to 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, take out 1 tablespoon of the pine nuts for garnish.
Add the spices, the cooked meat and the rice to the pot, but do not stir. Pour in enough of the lamb’s cooking liquid to cover the rice.
Place a damp kitchen towel over the pot and then the lid. Cook 7 minutes on medium heat. Turn the heat off and let the rice “rest” covered 15 to 20 minutes. During that time, the riche continues to cook, so don’t try to peek. Leave the lid and the towel on for the duration
Before serving: Turn the pot upside-down on a large round serving platter and carefully remove the pot. Sprinkle with the reserved pine nuts.
Carmel Forest: A Love Story (Credit: Courtesy)Carmel Forest: A Love Story (Credit: Courtesy)
Line the serving platter with a large Druse pita and turn the mansaf on it. You may also sprinkle sumac and chopped parsley on the mansaf.
Desserts | Gluten-Free Pecan Cookies
Makes 20 cookies
2 white eggs
½ cup sugar
1 ¼ cups (3.5 oz or 100 gr.) ground pecans
3 tablespoons nougat powder*
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
For the garnish
Pecan halves
*Available at baking stores.
As they contain no butter or flour, these crisp, light nutty cookies are suitable for those sensitive to and/or avoiding gluten. They are also ideal for Passover.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit (180 degrees celsius)
In a mixer bowl, mix egg whites and sugar. Place the bowl over a pot with boiling water (double-boiler) so the bowl does not touch the water. Heat until the suga dissolves completely.
Return the bowl to the mixer and beat until a soft, light foam forms.
Add the ground pecans, nougat powder and cardamom. Gently fold in by hand until homogenous.
Transfer the mixture into apastry bag. On a lined or silicone baking sheet, make 1.25 inch (3 cm.) discs. Place half a pecan on top of each disc.
Bake for 10 minutes. Open the oven door to let the steam out and continue to let the cookies dry for 10 more minutes. Remove from oven but do not release the cookies from the baking sheet until the yare cooled completely. Transfer cookies into an airtight container.