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January 10, 2018

Tried & Tested: FRESS by Emma Spitzer

by Julieta Lucca

FRESS - Def. (verb) ‘to eat copiously and without restraint’

There’s something sentimentally beautiful about this cookbook...

so much so, that you can instantly tell it’s been curated with love.

From the very first pages to the last ones, you get a sense of how important family and tradition is to the author. The recipes feature a mixture of European cultures, derived from Spitzer’s love for travelling and her very own cultural background.

Emma Spitzer is mostly known for being one of the 2015 finalists of the well-known cooking show Masterchef.

In the book, she talks about how taking part in the show challenged her in ways she could’ve never imagined, but how it also brought her huge amounts of rewards.

FRESS could be described as the cookbook that wants nothing but uncomplicated, unfussy food, and you’d be right, but Emma’s collection of family recipes and own creations offers a unique gateway into the bold flavours of the traditional Jewish kitchen.

FRESS boasts with incredible flavours and recipes that turn up the heat in all senses of the word.

Emma’s dishes are full of heart and soul, that will not only teach you how to use middle eastern ingredients with confidence to help you produce incredibly tasting dishes but will leave you wanting to share them with everyone around you.


“Emma’s collection of family recipes and own creations offers a unique gateway into the bold flavours of the traditional Jewish kitchen.”


Tomato-stuffed Aubergine with a Sourdough and Walnut Crumb


🕑 45 minutes

  • serves 4
  • 2 large aubergines
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 slices sourdough bread
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp Za'atar
  • 50 g walnuts
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 1 large red onion (thinly sliced)
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp dark brown sugar
  • 3 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 400 g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • sea salt and pepper
  • fresh oregano leaves (to garnish)


1. Start by preheating the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/Gas Mark 4

2. Halve the aubergines lengthways and scoop out the flesh, leaving a 2mm layer of flesh in the skins. Reserve the flesh in a bowl for later. Sprinkle the table salt over the aubergine skins and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes.

3. Continue by cubing the sourdough and toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the za’atar. For the za’atar, you can purchase a premade version of the spice or make your own, by combining:

4 tbsp of toasted sesame seeds

8 tbsp dried thyme

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp ground sumac

1/4 tsp salt

4. Spread the sourdough on a baking tray and bake for 20 minutes, until they have dried out. Add the walnuts to the tray and bake for a further 10 minutes.

5. Take the tray out of the oven and let cool for a moment, before transferring the sourdough and walnuts to a food processor, add the thyme and pulse until the mixture reaches a coarse rubble consistency.

6. For the sauce, add two tablespoons of olive oil to a saucepan and fry the aubergine flesh over high heat until golden. Remove from the pan and set aside. Using the same saucepan now over low heat, add another tablespoon of olive oil and gently fry the onions until they are soft and translucent. Then add the vinegar and brown sugar and cook for 5 minutes until the onions caramelize. Add the garlic and spices and cook a further 2 minutes before adding the canned tomatoes, aubergine flesh, granulated sugar, and sea salt to taste. Simmer gently, uncovered, for 1o more minutes.

7. Meanwhile, rinse the salt from the aubergine skins and pat dry with a tea towel. Add a tablespoon of oil to a saucepan over medium heat and fry the skins for 5 minutes on each side. Transfer the aubergine skins to a deep roasting tray and place them together so they fit snuggly side by side. Check the seasoning of the tomato sauce before spooning it generously into the skins. Pour the stock into the pan around the aubergines, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.

8. Take the tray out of the oven and remove the foil. Add the sourdough crumb and bake for a further 10 minutes. Serve with fresh oregano leaves as a garnish.


Beautiful, hearty, generous dishes that embrace Jewish comfort food and play with Lebanese and other Mediterranean cuisines.

Emma’s recipes bring together flavours seamlessly in a way that builds up the home cook’s confidence in a friendly, familiar way.


✚ FRESS. Bold flavours from a Jewish Kitchen by Emma Spitzer

Buy on: Amazon UK | Amazon US

OTHER recipes we loved

– Freekeh Risotto with Roasted Cashews and Minted Soured Cream

– Chicken Shawarma with Jerusalem and Lebanese Spices

– Cumin Potato and Harissa Boureka Sandwich

– Dukkah-crusted Lamb Croquettes with Harissa Ketchup

– Challah French Toast with Sour Cherry Jam and Whipped Vanilla Mascarpone

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