Since publishing All You Knead Is Bread and The Book of Buns, I have been busy in the food writing world! November 2014 saw the publication of Mexico – The Cookbook for which I was the contributing editor, perfecting my Mexican cookery skills along the way. May 2015 sees the publication of Homemade Sourdough. So, on to my next project.
Bread and Spread has been rumbling around in my mind for a long time. It has an undeveloped FB page which you are welcome to like and I have the recipe list all figured out, divided into exciting sections, and mostly written. It will have a short list of different kinds of fantastic bread including flat breads, sourdoughs, “regular breads” and crackers. The main focus, however, will be a range of wonderful dips and spreads which are, just like the kinds of bread in my books, from around the world. They have been exhaustively researched and lovingly tested and they are terrific. If a book comes out any time after now that has this title, well, you read about it here first and I spoke to my old publisher about it way back in 2012 so people will know that this idea is, originally, mine! And it’s a great idea.
Bread and Spread exactly suits the current food mood with recipes that are simple, wholesome, lively, original, easy and quick to prepare, and fantastic to share both at formal events and informal gatherings. This book needs a publisher! I am happy to discuss why I am not working with the publishers of my other books in an off line conversation. In the absence of having a publisher, knowing publishers, and being fundamentally incapable of self publishing (the I.T. is just too hard), I am going to start to publish here on the VB website in the hopes that the recipes will catch someone’s eye and that someone will either BE a publisher, KNOW a publisher or BE a self publishing genius. I need your help to get the book published on real, live, touchable paper so contact me if you can help!
The first recipe I will share here is for a spread called variously zoog, zhug, zhoug, and any other spelling you like that is more or less pronounced like you think these words are pronounced. It is a coriander-based spread that originates anywhere from Yemen to Israel, depending on who you talk to. This was introduced to me by my friend Jackie and the recipe here is adapted from the one she gave to me. Beware, this is really addictive. It’s great on bread and pretty much any thing else too. There are about a zillion recipes – but the basic ingredients do not really vary much.
3 cups fresh coriander leaves (2-3 big bunches of coriander, depending on how big they are. A “cup” in this recipe is equivalent to any receptacle that holds 8 fluid oz.)
2-4 small green or red chiles (serrano or arbol chiles from Mexico or bird chiles from Thailand) depending on how spicy you like things
2 medium sized cloves of garlic, peeled and squashed roughly with a rock or the broad side of a big knife
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander seeds
3 tablespoons of lemon juice
pinch of salt
3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
If you are dealing with very strong coriander you may want to pick the leaves off the stalks. It’s tedious but it tones down the flavour. If you are dealing with rather mild coriander, or you simply LOVE the flavour of coriander, you may want to take away the big fat stalks and leave the leaves on the rather more slender ones. I pick the leaves off the stalks. Jackie does not. So, try it both ways and see what you like.
If you like spice, just cut off and discard the stalk end of the chile but otherwise use them whole, and use four of them. If you prefer the flavour but not the heat, slit the chiles open from top to tail and remove the seeds and the veins. Use two rather than four and see how you go. You can up the number and up the “wholeness” as you make this spread again and again to find the level of heat you love. The heat of chiles is in the seeds and the veins, not really in the flesh. Use surgical gloves when you handle chiles and/or wash your hands with soap and a scrub brush as soon as you have finished. The juice from chiles will burn you so be careful.
Put everything except the olive oil into a food processor. Pulse the machine up to about 10 times to grind up the mixture. You will need to get in there with a spatula and scrape down the sides from time to time. Add a drop of the olive oil. Pulse. Add more oil, pulse. Repeat this until you have used up the olive oil. If you need a bit more oil to make a more spreadable texture, do use it but this is not pesto. It is drier and the mixture is coarse. Taste it for salt, adding more if you need it.
You can eat this straight away or you can put it is a bowl and cover it with cling film and pop it in the fridge for a good few hours or over night. It tastes better when it has had time to think about itself. In an airtight container this will last in the fridge for a week.