Saturday, 13 November 2010

Relax, it's totally kosher

I'm worried that I'm turning into a bit of a neat freak. It's worrying because I have built an entire persona around being a bit shabby around the edges, a bit sloppy in my personal administration. I use the clothes horse as extra storage space and there is a sludgy layer of decomposed receipts, tickets and tissues from last winter's cold at the bottom of my handbag. And about eight lip balms! So that's where they all went.

But I've been sober for too long. And now mess bothers me. An unplumped sofa is irritating. This very morning, I got up and got dressed and couldn't - actually couldn't - put on a slightly wrinkled sweater (fresh from the clothes horse) until I'd given it a quick iron, despite the fact that it's just some size 18 navy blue thing from Gap to go over a size 14 ugly striped tube dress I've been wearing for the last 6 years, (it feels like).

It's a shame that this new manic cleanliness has coincided with the too-huge-to-move stage of up the duffness. As I spot a cobweb in a corner of the living room, I flail for a good five minutes like a tortoise on its back to get off the sofa in search of a duster. And I thought pregnant women were just putting it on! No.

But I don't want to be a neat freak because I don't really like neat freaks, although they're better than hopeless slobs. But my identity! It's my identity. It's like alcoholics and smokers who can't give up, not because they're actually addicted, but because they truly believe it's the most interesting thing about them.

So I thought the best thing to do would be to invite a kosher Jew round for dinner. If there's anyone who appreciates a bit of manic housewifery, it's a kosher Jew.

My friend X lives and works primarily among the goyim, (that's you and me), and doesn't get to eat meat very often, and especially not at other people's houses, because buying kosher meat isn't like buying organic meat, it's like buying magic meat or contrabrand and the purveyors don't really want to sell it to you.
They hide their shops away in the middle of nowhere and shut, on Fridays - when you need it most - at lunchtime. But they're pretty nice people, otherwise, and when you run in shrieking "Give me that fucking chicken!" three minutes before they lock up for the weekend, they sell it to you, and some chicken livers for good measure.

Because of the list of rules and regs about kosher cooking, which thrilled the new neat-freak me, and the heavy dose of the religious about proceedings, I stopped thinking it was my old friend X coming for dinner, and started worrying that it might actually be God himself.

And an Old Testament God is quite a scary prospect. He's not really into turning the the other cheek and lending you his tamborine to sing kumbaya; he's more about raging down off the top of a mountain, shaking you by the neck and screaming "What the fuck do you think you're doing?!" before sending a plague of boils through your letterbox.

So as I cast my eyes over my Shabbas table with its candles and covered bread (don't ask - too complicated) and white tablecloth, it all looked so ritualistic that I got a faint sense that I was about to be sacrificed.

See what I mean?

But then X arrived and said a couple of prayers and my feeling of doom disappeared and we all fell on the chopped liver like we hadn't seen meat for a fortnight, which X actually hadn't.

The pot roast chicken I did with this late-purchase kosher bird was exactly the same as Nigella's chicken, so I won't go through all that again,

...but here's a picture anyway

but chopped liver is a thing worth describing.

Obviously, unless you're kohser, you can use any chicken liver for this.

Chopped liver, for 4

1 packet chicken livers from Waitrose, which I think comes in at about 300g
1 large onion
3 eggs
some parsley if you like
a lot of salt and pepper

1 Put your eggs on to boil for 10 minutes. You might have some clever way of boiling eggs, in which case, do it like that.

2 Chop your onion and fry gently for at least 15 minutes in some vegetable or groundnut oil.

3 Wash the livers and take off any gross or green bits. Then grill hard, both sides, until they start to blacken a bit. Yes, I know this is counter-intuitive but it's how it's done, okay? This won't take more than about 4 minutes each side.

4 Roughly chop 2 of the boiled eggs and the livers and put them, with the onions, in a food processor. Pulse or blend until you get a kind of mortar-ish, spreadable rubble. You might have to do this in two batches and you might have to loosen it a bit with some veg or light olive oil.

5 Add salt and pepper until it tastes nice. I added a lot, probably in the end about three or four big pinches of salt and nine or ten turns of the pepper grinder.

6 Turn out onto a serving plate thingy, then chop up the last boiled egg finely and sprinkle over the top. You can also sprinkle over some parsley if you like

7 Eat with challah, which is that plaited bread. It's very sweet and you can make an excellent bread and butter pudding with the leftovers, says X. And don't forget the pickle! Haimisha cucumbers. Yum.



  1. oh yes, a meal after my own heart... can I come round for Friday night dinner please? Mum's stopped making it now we've all flown the nest and I miss it terribly...!... simply love chicken livers!

  2. Ooo I can't wait to try this! My boyfriend's family is half Israeli half Lebanese ( and his parents met and fell in love during the war, to boot!) so chopped liver is a new and delicious dish for me. The first time I attempted making it, it was rather cat food like, so I tend to only eat it when Omar's Nona makes it. I will let you know how I fare with your recipe !

  3. Though a goy, I've been to a couple of pretty swellegant bar mitzvahs in my time, and the chopped liver – and the rest of the impressive spread – was delicious. And when my Dad worked in the City, sometimes we'd meet him for lunch at The Nosherie in Farringdon. My favourite was salt beef on rye with mustard and a pickle on the side, with cheese blintzes for afters – bliss. Maybe Giles knew of The Nosherie? Please stay a bit shabby around the edges ... don't turn into a neat freak and rob me of my schadenfreude.

  4. Yay! I love chopped liver. I used to be very lazy and buy the ready-made stuff from Waitrose's kosher section.

    I'm a newcomer to the blog and it's ace. I've been catching up with your older posts. Thank you for echoing my sentiments about early pregnancy!

    Just wondered if you too got fed up of people asking "How's baby?" in the early months? The lack of definite article is grating enough, but when all you have is a 12 week scan to go by, and no kicking sensation yet, what are you supposed to say?

    Oops, turned out to be a long, waffly comment. Hope it's all going well.

  5. Can I just note that you have very elegant lighting in your home. Tres chic.

  6. YOU MAY. FFS I thought more people would be impressed. The lighting in this house is my crazed obsession.