Cooking Class: Summer buffet

Whether you are planning a relaxing vacation at a resort or staying at home, exotic light meals are in order for the summer.

Smoken spring chicken (photo credit: Courtesy of Isrotel)
Smoken spring chicken
(photo credit: Courtesy of Isrotel)
One of the most important features of a successful vacation is the food. The Isrotel managers know that and put major efforts into it. “In recent years,” says VP of operations Shlomi Tahan, “we try to introduce more and more fresh ingredients into the dining rooms of our hotels, with special emphasis on vegetables and low-fat gourmet cooking, as well as other nutritional values.
For instance, the cooking-in-front-of-theguest approach, where chefs prepare salads, omelets and crepes, grilled meats, fish and other dishes according to the diner’s wish, helps minimize the wasting of food and offers higher quality, more healthful dishes.”
As summer approaches, we asked the team of talented chefs from the Isrotel chain to give us their best recipes. Here is a selection of a few of the recipes they offered.
EXOTIC SALAD This is one of many healthful and delicious dishes served at the Carmel Spa Resort by chef Amir Khalfon, who also supervises the cuisine at Isrotel’s new luxury resort Beresheet at Mitzpe Ramon. For the best results, he uses fresh produce grown on the premises in his organic vegetable patch. Once you get the hang of it, you can improvise with different ingredients to create new exotic salads all summer long.
✔ Leaves of 1 iceberg lettuce, torn by hand ✔ Leaves of heart of 1 romaine lettuce, torn by hand ✔ Leaves of red Alon lettuce, torn by hand ✔ 1 cup arugula leaves ✔ 2 cucumbers, thinly sliced ✔ 100 gr. fresh mulberries (or other fresh berries) ✔ 1 mango, sliced (if not available, use papaya or other fruit) ✔ 2 sprigs green onion, cut into 2-cm. pieces ✔ 150 gr. hazelnuts, roasted and chopped ✔ 1 cup slices of citrus fruit (grapefruit, orange or mandarin)
For the dressing: ✔ 1⁄2 cup olive oil ✔ 2⁄3 cup orange, mandarin or grapefruit juice ✔ 2 Tbsp. lemon juice ✔ 1 tsp. Dijon mustard ✔ 5 basil leaves ✔ 1 cm. fresh ginger ✔ 2 Tbsp. honey ✔ 1 cloves garlic ✔ 1⁄4 chili pepper ✔ Salt and pepper
To prepare dressing: Mix ingredients with a hand blender until smooth.
Season to taste.
Mix all the salad ingredients in a bowl, pour 2⁄3 of the dressing and toss.
Serve on individual plates and drizzle more dressing on the plate.
VIETNAMESE BEEF SALAD Cecile Levy, chef of Wong’s grill restaurant in the Royal Beach Hotel in Eilat, takes her cues from the Asian cuisine, adapted to the kosher Israeli kitchen.
Asian salads are known for freshness and richness of flavors, which are very suitable for summer alfresco dining. Asian ingredients can be found in most supermarkets and specialty stores.
✔ 1⁄2 lemongrass, sliced into long strips ✔ 200 gr. vinegar ✔ 200 gr. sugar ✔ 1 carrot, julienned (cut into thin strips; use peeler for best results) ✔ 1 cucumber, julienned ✔ 1 kohlrabi, julienned ✔ 1 onion, cut into halves and julienned or sliced very thin ✔ 20 basil leaves ✔ 20 fresh coriander leaves ✔ 5 green onions, sliced diagonally ✔ 5 celery sticks, sliced diagonally ✔ 100 gr. fillet of beef, seared and sliced thinly ✔ Handful roasted peanuts, crushed
Place carrot, onion, cucumber and kohlrabi in a bowl. In a small saucepan, cook vinegar and sugar. Add lemongrass and continue cooking until sugar dissolves. Pour over the vegetables, cover the bowl and refrigerate.
Assemble salad: in a serving bowl, place a little of the marinated vegetables, a few basil and coriander leaves, green onion and celery. Add beef strips and mix. Serve with sprinkled peanuts.
If you like spicy food, add a few thinly sliced strips of red chili pepper.
SMOKED GOOSE IN BLACK TEA You don’t need the large professional grill to smoke small to medium size cuts.
It is possible to get good results using a small barbecue which has a lid. Chef Amir Khalfon, of Beresheet and the Carmel Spa Resort, suggests using spices to add flavor to the smoke.
✔ 4 cuts of goose breast ✔ 1⁄2 cup mirin (rice wine) ✔ 1⁄4 tsp. black pepper ✔ 1 Tbsp. coriander seeds ✔ 1⁄2 tsp. green pepper ✔ Coarse salt
For the smoking: ✔ 6 cinnamon sticks ✔ 5 lemongrass sprigs ✔ 1 cup black tea leaves (preferably Ceylon)
Mix together black pepper, coriander, green pepper, salt and mirin.
Dip the goose in the mixture. Wet the smoking ingredients – cinnamon, lemongrass and tea. Light the coals.
Once ready, place a metal grid over the fire. Sprinkle the smoking seasoning on the grid (most of it will fall into the fire), then place the meat over the seasoning.
Cover and let smoke for 5-7 minutes.
Take the meat off the grill and roast it on a hot skillet, fat side down, for 5 minutes.
Serve with tossed vegetables.
SMOKED SPRING CHICKEN Smoking a spring chicken will create a lovely summertime dinner for a special evening.
✔ 1 spring chicken (ofion) cut in half ✔ 1⁄4 cup olive oil ✔ 1⁄2 tsp. mustard seeds ✔ 1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt ✔ 1⁄2 cup orange juice ✔ 1⁄4 tsp. white pepper ✔ 2 Tbsp. rosemary leaves, chopped
For the smoking: A handful each of green vine leaves, pine leaves, lemongrass sprigs, rosemary sprigs, sage sprigs.
Mix olive oil and seasoning and rub chicken on all sides.
Soak smoking herbs in water for at least 2 hours. Light the grill and wait until coal turns gray and place the grid on top. Place the wet leaves on the net and the chicken over the leaves. Cover grill and smoke the chicken about 20 minutes.
To finish the cooking, continue grilling for 20 more minutes with lid open, or cook in a 240º oven for 30 minutes.