This is my first post on my first blog. I am excited to start this new blog and hope you will enjoy coming along for the ride as I show you my home that I love.
Most of this website will be about my food adventures, but I will also share the beauty of my country.
Israel is a country of contrasts. We have the mountains and forests in the North, the Mediterranean Sea on the West coast, the Dead Sea in the East, the Negev desert and the Red Sea in the South.
We are the third largest flower exporter in the world and grow some of the best produce in the world.
I will show you how I cook with the wonderful bounty we have here.
Tonight is the evening of Purim and I just returned from the reading of the story of Esther. I am making hamantaschen, which are three-cornered biscuits filled with a variety of fillings. The standards are apricot, prune and poppyseed fillings. But, I like to experiment with other fillings. My usual fillings are apricot lekvar and date-walnut filling. This year I am adding my take on mincemeat and cranberry-orange filling.
My hamantaschen recipe is from Claudia Roden’s, The Jewish Book of Food. I like this dough because it is more of a flaky pastry than the crunchy cookie ones you find in the bakery. These are more delicate.
I also like the fact that this recipe only contains 2 tablespoons of sugar. I do not add any added sugar to my fillings. I think they are sweet enough.
From The Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand to New York by Claudia Roden
250g (1-3/4 cup) flour
A pinch of salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 or 3 drops of vanilla extract
150g (5oz) unsalted butter or margarine, cut into small cubes
1 egg yolk
2-3 teaspoons milk or water, if necessary
Egg wash (1 egg + a teaspoon of water)
Mix the flour, salt sugar and vanilla extract. Add the butter or margarine and mix in with your fingers to resemble cornmeal. Mix in the egg yolk and form the dough into a ball. Try not to overwork the dough. Cover with plastic film and put in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
Cut the dough into four parts, roll one part at a time to about 1/8 inch (3mm) thick. Cut circles with a 3-inch (7-1/2 cm) round cookie or American biscuit cutter.
Place 1 heaping teaspoon of filling in the center of the dough and pinch three sides together to form a triangle. Make sure that you pinch the ends well. Place them on a cookie sheet, preferably with a silpat liner and brush the dough with the egg wash.
Bake at 375 F (190C) for approximately 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Let them cool on the tray for about 10 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack.
1/2 cup orange juice or water
Cook over low heat until very tender and most of the liquid has reduced. Cool and process in the food processor until smooth.
200g (2 cups) dried cranberries
100g (1 cup) golden raisins
1 medium orange, seeded, unpeeled and cut into quarters
1/2 cup water
Process the orange quarters in food processor until finely chopped.
In a saucepan, add all of the ingredients, including the chopped orange and cook on a low flame until the cranberries and raisins are tender. Cool and process to a chunky paste.
250g (2 cups) date filling
(you can find this a Middle Eastern store) or chopped dates that have been cooked over a low flame with water to form a paste.
200g (2 cups) walnuts
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground clove
Place the date filling, walnuts, cinnamon and clove in the food processor and add 2 tablespoons of warm water. Mix until smooth. You can add more water, if necessary. The filling should be thick.