Mar 092007
 

The Jewish community in my hometown in Alabama was founded in 1888. Most of the money raised to build the synagogue was through the efforts of the Ladies Hebrew Benevolent Society. Sherry Blanton, the synagogue’s historian writes, “With boundless enthusiam they quickly planned a New Year’s hop as their first fund raiser. A series of successful bazaars enlarged their treasury, further augmented by the profits of Purim parties, strawberry festivals, and oyster dinners as well as “tariffs on the Jewish gentlemen”

Yes folks, my lovely synagogue was built with money with proceeds from oyster dinners!!! I was appalled. But, then again they built a synagogue none-the-less and it is the 11th oldest community still worshiping in the same building. The community is dwindling, but it will always be my home away from home. Recently, it became even more special when I celebrated my wedding there on 30 December 2006.

But, that is not the reason I am telling you about oysters. My cousin sent me a very funny family story that involves his mother, my Aunt Sophie z”l:

One day, Aunt Julia was visiting in Birmingham. Mom had a Seder Plate hanging on the dining room wall. To quote Aunt Julia: “Sophie – what a lovely oyster plate you have!”

I had never heard this story. Thank you Mark, you made my day!

Mar 062007
 

Pesach or Passover is in a little over three weeks! April 2nd is the evening of Pesach and it is time to prepare the house and think about what I am going to bring to my cousin’s house in Jerusalem.

I always bring my grandmother’s world famous matza balls, David’s world famous haroset (secret recipe that he will not part with) and a couple of homemade desserts.

I will give you one special ingredient in David’s haroset, chestnut paste.

My grandmother’s matza balls are made with whole matza.

Nathan Matza Balls

I make them in advance and freeze them. I can’t enter my cousin’s house without bringing these matza balls and David threatens to stop Passover if I don’t make them.

Speaking of stopping Passover…. I have a great story about my great-uncle Alfred. A few days before Passover one year he went to the local supermarket in my hometown in Alabama to buy some matza. He looked in the usual place and he couldn’t find anything. So, he went to the manager’s desk and asked where the matza was. The manager said, “Sir, the matza will be here next week.” To which my uncle replied, “Ok, I will go home right now and pray to the Lord our G-d and ask him to postpone Passover for a few days!” True story.

As for the seder plate above, I just love it. I dreamt about this seder plate before I bought it. I always wanted one with glass vessels. On my second trip to Israel, I saw this seder plate at the gift shop at the Museum Complex in Jerusalem. The artist’s name is Shraga Landesman and he makes some beautiful pieces of Judaica.

Someone once told me that my seder plate looked like something from Star Trek. I told him that would be one interesting seder considering that Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock are MOT (members of the tribe).

Mar 052007
 

Whatever you choose to call Yafo, it will always be that magical place on the sea. I love the Arab architecture, the amazing sea views and cultural mix.

Don’t get me wrong, Yafo is not a perfect place, but there is something that draws me to the old city of Yafo. Maybe because it reminds me of some of the villages David and I visited in Provence.

I would love to buy an old house there and fix it up.

David’s uncle and aunt lived in the middle of the old city of Yafo. His uncle was a painter, potter and stained glass maker. The menorah outside in the courtyard of the Ihud Shivat Zion Synagogue in Tel Aviv was made by his late uncle, Peter Rozsa, and the stained glass windows in the synagogue were designed by his aunt, Claire Szilard and built by his uncle.

Yafo also has some very nice art galleries, restaurants and a Yafo institution, Abulafiya.

Abulafia is open 24 hours a day. There is always a line to buy fresh pita and other wood fired bread straight from the oven, some sprinkled with za’atar or kashkaval cheese.

I try not to do this very often, but I love to go to the Arab pastry shoppes and look at all the beautiful pastries. Okay, sometimes I buy one or two pieces. The best Arab pastries come from a shop in Nazareth. My boss is from there and sometimes she brings us treats when she goes to visit her family. They are not as sickeningly sweet as you find at Greek restaurants in the States.

The best baklava that I ever had was in Istanbul. However, the best baklava is suppose to be from Lebanon. Maybe one day I will be able to cross the border and try some.

Since we are on the subject of baklava, I found a savory baklava recipe some years ago that I would love to try, but the main ingredient, duck, is just a little too expensive here to play with. This definitely is a special occasion dish. Perhaps for an anniversary…..

I finally made the Ducklava and it is delicous. However, I have to call it Clucklava, because I made it with boneless chicken thighs instead of duck and I also made it with very large dried cranberries (I thought they were cherries) instead of the dried cherries. I also used round warka leaves, fried the cigars in a frying pan instead of baking them, and drizzled chestnut honey on the outside of the cigar instead of adding it to the filling. It was a perfect first course and I will definitely make it again.

Ducklava

Serving Size: 6 as an appetizer

2 c (500g) cooked duck meat

1/2 c (113g) almonds, pecans, pistachios or walnuts

1/4 c bourbon

1/2 c (113g) dried sour cherries

2 T minced shallot

1 T honey (optional)

1/2 pkg phyllo, thawed

1/2 c melted butter or olive oil

Chestnut honey or similar strong honey such as Greek Fir, for drizzling

Soak cherries in bourbon for 30 minutes. Grind the nuts and duck meat in a food processor or chop by hand until combined. Add cherries to duck mixture, reserving the bourbon. Briefly pulse to combine. Add shallots and three tablespoons of bourbon, pulsing to incorporate. Add more bourbon by the tablespoon until the mixture is thick and chunky. Season with salt as needed and add honey, if desired.

Preheat oven to 375F (190C).

Warka

With a pastry brush, brush butter or oil on the top layer of two sheets of phyllo. Fold in half to form a long rectangle. Brush top lightly with more butter or oil.

Making Ducklava

With your hands, use 1/2 cup of duck mixture to form a log to place at the short side of the phyllo dough, leaving about 1/2-inch on either side. Roll the short end with the duck mixture into a thick cigar.

Rolled up Ducklava

Place the cigar, seam-side down on baking sheet, tucking in the phyllo on either end. Brush lightly with butter or oil. Repeat this five more times.

You can refrigerate the ducklava for up to 6 hours by wrapping the cigars in plastic wrap. Bake for approximately 20 minutes until golden, or according to the phyllo package directions. Remove from oven and slice cigars diagonally into two-inch sections, if desired. Drizzle with honey. Serve hot.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/03/05/jaffa-view/

Mar 032007
 

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.

Flowers

I will show you how I cook with the wonderful bounty we have here.

Shuk HaCarmel

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.

Hamantaschen Fillings

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.

Hamantaschen

Hamantaschen

Yield: 20 hamentashen

Dough

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.

Hamantaschen Dough

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.

Hamantaschen Jewels

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.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/03/03/hello-world-2/

 

Apricot Lekvar

Yield: 2 cups

200g (2 cups) dried California (I prefer these sour apricots) or Mediterranean apricots

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.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/03/03/hello-world-2/

 

Cranberry-Orange Filling

Yield: 2 cups

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.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/03/03/hello-world-2/

Date-Walnut Filling

Yield: 2 cups

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

Warm water

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.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/03/03/hello-world-2/

 

 

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Close

Loading ...

Sorry :(

Can't connect ... Please try again later.