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The blessing in the (salad) dressing



After Yom Kippur, I crave umami – that cheek sucking feeling that is said to bring about contentment and fullness. Well for me, at least. Although umami is often associated with Asian food, it’s more enigmatic than that. It’s something beyond taste. I achieve my sense of umami through the combination of lemon juice, olive oil, and a touch of garlic and fresh herbs

Fresh artichokes have become a regular on my fast-breaking table. They look spectacular heaped in a giant bowl (or in a mini bowl this year) with the dressing gleaming on top.

This dressing is also amazing on a Fattoush salad


12 artichokes

1 lemon juiced for soaking the artichokes


Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Fill a bowl with cold water and the lemon juice. Trim the artichoke stalk and using a sharp knife, cut off the top third of the artichoke. Rub the artichoke with the lemon skins from the lemon you squeezed and then remove the inner choke by cutting around the furry bit.

Boil for about 20 minutes or until a knife can pierce the centre.

Drain upside down and then pour over the dressing while they are warm.

Dressing for artichokes and Fattoush

10 tbsp lemon juice

20 tbsp olive oil

1 handful of mint leaves

2 handfuls of Italian parsley

2 cloves of garlic

1 tsp salt (you may need a bit more, please taste the dressing)

Black pepper

Fattoush salad


2 pita breads sliced open into two pieces

2 packets baby tomatoes (I like the coloured ones)

2 Mediterranean cucumbers

1 red onion

2 tsp Sumac (it’s a red spice)

2 handfuls coriander

1 small packet radishes

(Red pepper diced if you like it)


Fry the pita bread halves in some sunflower oil until crispy, and then set aside on a paper-towel covered cooling rack to drain and cool. Slice the tomatoes in half. Add your deseeded chopped cucumbers. (There is no need to peel them). Peel and dice the red onion, and add it to the bowl with your thinly sliced radishes and chopped coriander. Before serving, roughly break up your pita breads and dress with the artichoke dressing.

Basque cheesecake

Even the cheesecake is forgiving!

I’m a yenta. I hate not being in the know (time of confession!). So, when my bestie in Australia informed me that she was having a Basque cheesecake for dinner, I was determined to find out what it was.

A Basque cheesecake is basically a flop-proof crustless cheesecake. It’s meant to get burnt and crack. It can also be made the day before, thus rendering it completely stress free. It isn’t the prettiest cheesecake, but it’s the most delicious one.


920g cream cheese (I use the Woolies one that looks like Philadelphia)

1½ cups of sugar

6 eggs

2 cups thick cream

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 tsp kosher salt (don’t use normal salt – it’s too salty)

⅓ cup cake flour


Preheat your oven to 200 degrees centigrade (yes, I know it’s hot), and line a 24cm springform tin with baking paper. You will need two pieces – one to go from north to south, and one to go from east to west. The paper must stick up above the tin as the cake rises high before its descent. Place your tin on a baking sheet.

Beat the cream cheese with the sugar until it’s smooth, and you can’t feel the sugar if you rub a bit between your fingers. Add the eggs one at a time, wiping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Add the cream, vanilla, and salt. Sift the flour and add to the cream cheese mixture. Beat well for at least five minutes.

Pour into your springform tin, and bake for 60 minutes. The cake will be brown and burnt on top. Don’t worry if it wiggles in the centre when you remove it, it’s meant too!

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