This Shabbat, try this chefs personal favorite

Ayelet Perry left Israel in the early 1990s to pursue her master’s degree at Stanford in genetics, her husband Nir his MBA. Little did they dream that 10-plus years later they would own a successful, three-part enterprise in the food business.

Ayelet always had a passion for fine cuisine, perhaps because she grew up in a family that owned restaurants and had an appreciation for good, fresh food. What could be more inspirational than California with its wineries, agriculture and world-class restaurants? Her fervor was for pastry, and she started a small baking business making sufganiot (Chanukah donuts), turning out 1,000 a day in her own kitchen.

Her career as a pastry chef took off after apprenticing at Spago, Fleur de Cocoa, Fleur de Lys and Michael Mina. Her next step was a full-scale catering business, Cassis Catering, followed by Gooseberry Box, box lunches for offices and meetings, and now the Red Currant, a Mediterranean restaurant in the Allied Arts Guild in Menlo Park.

Ayelet and Nir, her business partner, put in 12 to 16 hours a day on the ventures. Their sons, Ohad, 8, and Edo, 12, are used to their parents’ schedule and frequently hang out at the Cassis Catering site “helping” with the food.

The Perrys don’t have a lot of spare time for entertaining, but they do make Shabbat a family affair. The menu varies, but one of their favorites is pan-seared Branzino (sea bass), Red Currant’s signature dish, and something chocolate for dessert.

Pan-Seared Branzino

Serves 8

8 fish fillets (Branzino or other sea bass)

salt and pepper

3 to 4 Tbs. canola oil

With paper towel, thoroughly dry each fillet. This will ensure a crispy skin. Season with salt and pepper before cooking.

In sauté pan on high heat add canola oil. When oil almost reaches smoking

temperature, add fillet skin side down. Cook until brown and crisp, approximately

5 minutes. A good indicator is the edges will become brown. Turn down the heat to medium and flip the fillet. Cook for 1 minute. Serve immediately with preserved lemon and roasted pepper marmalade, accompanied by fennel confit and Jerusalem artichoke puree.

Jerusalem Artichoke Purée

2 lbs. Jerusalem artichokes, peeled

2 large Yukon gold potatoes

3 cups milk

1⁄2 stick of butter


Cut Jerusalem artichokes and potatoes into large pieces. Place in pot with milk and add water until they are covered. Simmer on low heat for 40 minutes. Drain the milk and water, but save for later use. Using a potato masher make a purée. Do not overwork. Add butter piece by piece, salt to taste and liquid as needed. When finished, keep purée warm in water bath (bain marie).

Preserved Lemons and Roasted Pepper Marmalade

1⁄2 cup grape seed oil

5 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced

1⁄2 tsp. coriander seeds

1⁄2 cup preserved lemons

6 roasted peppers, peeled and sliced into strips

cilantro, chopped (optional)

salt and pepper

In a heavy sauté pan, add grape seed oil and garlic in low heat for a few minutes. Do not brown the garlic! Add coriander seeds and preserved lemons and continue to heat for 2 minutes. Add roasted peppers and cook for 10 more minutes. Remove from heat and add salt and pepper to taste and chopped cilantro, if using.

Assembly: Place artichoke puree on bottom of plate and top with the fish. Top the fish with marmalade and garnish the plate. When hosting a large party, you can prepare everything in advance and leave the fish for last-minute preparation.

Louise Fiszer is a Palo Alto cooking teacher, author and the co-author of “Jewish Holiday Cooking.” Her columns alternate with those of Rebecca Ets-Hokin. Questions and recipe ideas can be sent to j. or to [email protected].