May 312007
 

I just found my new favorite blog that is simply called, The Hummous Blog. Shooky Galili, a reporter and columnist for the Israeli news site YNET is the author of this blog and he wrote an article on YNET about hummous vocabulary:

“Hummus is the common denominator for all Israelis. Ask an expatriate what he misses most, watch two Israelis argue for hours about where the best hummus is served, or try driving through the hummus-eateries filled streets of Jaffa on a Saturday and you’ll understand:

Israelis simply love their hummus. That is understandable considering the fact that an average Israeli consumes about 10 kg (about 22 lbs) of hummus a year. ”

One of the best places in Israel to go for hummous is Ali Karavan, also known as Abu Hassan, a hole-in-the-wall on 1 Ha’dolfin Street in Yafo. The entire menu consists of masabacha (chickpeas in warm hummus-tahini sauce), labaneh (a soft cheese made out of yogurt), and hummus with or without ful (slow-cooked fava beans). All orders come with pita bread, raw onions, and a piquant lemon-garlic sauce on the side.

Ali Karavan is open every day except Saturday (Shabbat), from 8 a.m. until the day’s hummus runs out, usually mid-afternoon.

I buy my hummous from a Druze family from Dalyit al Karmel that sells hummous, kubbeh and other tasty salads every Friday at the Ra’anananim Mall in Ra’anana. All of their dishes are delicious. For more information, see Upper Galilee – Beautiful Place, Beautiful Food, Beautiful Drink.

May 202007
 

Before I begin, I must tell you that I am happy that this is the last holiday for a while. I am really over preparing all the holiday food.

As I explained in my first entry about Shavuot, traditionally we serve dairy dishes because the Torah which we received on this day is white, pure, and sweet like milk.

Among the most famous Shavuot dishes are blintzes, cheesecakes, cheese kreplach, cheese platters, sambousak and more.

Most Ashkenazis have a meat meal on the night of Shavuot and a dairy meal on the day of Shavuot. The dairy meal consists of a fish dish, salads and most likely cheesecake for dessert.

During Shavuot it is customary for some Sephardic Jews to eat leftover Passover matzo softened with milk and sweetened with honey. Other dishes such as Sutlatch (Turkish rice pudding), Atayef (Syrian), Kahi (Iraqi), Malabi (Middle Eastern), cheese-filled phyllo dough pockets, coriander cheese balls and artichokes stuffed with breadcrumbs and cheese are also common.

Sephardic women from Tunisia, Morocco and Libya take pride in baking a seven-layer cake for Shavuot called Siete Cielos or Seven Heavens. The cake is created in seven circular rising tiers, one smaller than the other with the smallest on top. Frequently it is decorated with various symbols made from dough. I have never seen one of these cakes, nor have I been able to find a recipe for it, but it sounds interesting. I have a feeling that it is more like bread, than a cake.

Kurdistan Jews eat a wheat cereal with labane and cheese-filled fritters, while many Afghani Jews cook rice and serve it with butter and yogurt.

Libyan, Greek, Turkish and Balkan woman bake wafers or bread in symbolic shapes. Among the symbolic shapes is a ladder which stands for Moses’ rise up Mount Sinai. Another shape is that of a hand, denoting hands openly receiving the Torah. Frequently there are two tablets representing the ten commandments.

I usually make cheesecake, but one that is not as rich as is made in the States. I do not use cream cheese. I use Israeli white cheese, which is similar to a thick greek-style yogurt. It is much lower in fat than cream cheese. I prefer to have a more tart cheesecake, so I make my personal favourite, which is lemon cheesecake.

Chag Shavuot Sameach everyone!

Lemon Cheesecake with Lemon Confit

Serving Size: 10 to 12

This is a recipe that I adapted from several different recipes. I use an Israeli white cheese, which is similar in texture to a Greek-style yogurt. You can use cream cheese, if you prefer.

Cheesecake Ingredients

For the lemon confit:

2 large juicy lemons (unwaxed if possible)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

For the shortbread crust:

60g (1/2 stick) unsalted butter (room temperature)

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup flour

2 cups finely ground petit beurre or shortbread (i.e. Pepperidge Farm Chessmen) cookies

For the cheesecake filling:

3 (500g/16oz) containers of Israeli 5% white cheese or Greek-style yogurt

250g (8oz) container mascarpone cheese

1/2 cup sugar

3 eggs

4 tablespoons lemon zest

1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

For the topping:

500g (16oz) sour cream

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make the lemon confit:

Start by making the confit as this needs to be prepared ahead of time – the day before you want to serve it, if possible.

Sliced Lemons

Take one and a half of the lemons and slice them into thin rings about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick, discarding the end pieces and pips. Place these in a saucepan and cover with cold water, bring to a simmer for 3 minutes, then drain through a sieve and discard the water, Pour 12 fl oz (425 ml) water into the same pan, add the sugar, stir over a low heat until all the sugar dissolves, then add the lemon slices. Cook for 45 minutes, until the skin is tender.

Lemon Confit

Remove the slices with a slotted spoon. Reduce the liquid to 5 fl oz (150ml). Squeeze the juice from the remaining half lemon, add to the syrup and pour over the lemon slices. Cover and let sit overnight at room temperature.

Make the crust:

Petit Beurre Biscuit

Cream the butter and sugar together for 3-4 minutes. Add flour and ground petit beurre biscuits or shortbread to the mixture and blend for 3-4 seconds until fully incorporated. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of a 22cm (11-inch) spring-form pan.

Cheesecake base

Bake the crust at 180° for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow the crust to cool completely.

Make the cheesecake filling:

Israeli White Cheese

Beat the white cheese until light and smooth. Add the mascarpone cheese and sugar and continue to beat on medium speed. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the lemon zest and juice. Pour mixture into the cooled crust.

Wrap aluminium foil around the outside of the spring-form. Place the cheesecake pan into a roasting pan, and add enough water to the roasting pan to reach halfway up sides of the cheesecake pan. Place in a 180° oven for approximately one hour or until the cake is set and the top is light brown.

Make topping while cheesecake is baking:

Let sour cream stand at room temperature 30 minutes. In a bowl whisk together sour cream, sugar and vanilla extract. Spread over entire top of cake, smoothing evenly. Bake cheesecake in middle of oven 10 minutes.

Remove the cake from the roasting pan and place on a wire rack. Allow the cake to cool slightly, and then place it in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight.

Before serving, decorate the top of the cake with lemon confit or plate and place on top of a slice of cheesecake.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/05/20/shavuot-tradition-cheesecake/

May 172007
 

Today is my mother’s 65th birthday and yesterday was my mother-in-law’s 90th birthday. Two great ladies celebrating two great milestones. Happy birthday Mom and Boldog születésnapot Anyós!

My mother did not know how to boil water when she got married and someone was smart enough to give her the Elegant but Easy cookbook for a wedding gift. This cookbook helped my mother become the great cook she is today and one of her signature Shavuot recipes from this cookbook is Marion’s Noodle Pudding. I was never a fan of kugel, but this creamy and slightly tart noodle pudding is delicious, elegant and oh so easy to make.

When I proposed making this dish to my husband a few years ago he kind of sneered and said in his cute British public school accent, “I really dislike noodle kugels.”. I told him he hadn’t had this one and had to give it a try. He did and he really likes it. It is great for a brunch or served as a side dish with fish.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Marian Burros, one of the cookbook authors, for putting this recipe in her cookbook 47 years ago. It has been a family favourite which always takes me home when I make it. I love you Mom!

This recipe is not low in calorie, but I make it with low calorie cottage cheese, sour cream and milk and it still tastes great.

Marian’s Noodle Pudding

Serving Size: 8 to 10

From the original The New Elegant But Easy Cookbook by Marion Burros and Lois Levine

450g (1 lb.) broad egg noodles

450g (1 pint) sour cream

450g (1 lb.) cottage cheese

1 cup milk

2-1/2 teaspoons salt

4-1/2 tablespoons sugar

6 tablespoons melted butter

Crushed corn flakes

Pats of butter

Cook Noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Mix with all of the other ingredients. Place in greased 9 x 13 shallow casserole.

Marion Noodle Kugel 1

Top with crushed corn flakes. Dot the cornflakes with pats of butter.

You can refrigerate or freeze before baking. If you choose to do either, then put the corn flakes on the top after you bring the casserole to room temperature before baking.

Bake at 375 for 1-1/2 hours.

Marion Noodle Kugel 2

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/05/17/whos-marian-and-how-can-i-thank-her/

May 132007
 

King Solomon described the receiving of the Torah as “honey and milk guarded under your tongue”. Shavuot is not only the celebration of the receiving of the Torah from Mount Sinai and the ending of the morning-period that began after Passover, but it is also when the wheat was harvested in Israel. Farmers brought their first fruits to the Temple from the following seven species:

  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Grapes
  • Figs
  • Pomegranates
  • Olives
  • Dates

We usually serve at least one dairy meal, followed by a meat meal during Shavuot and there are many different explanations to why we do this. One is because when the Torah was received, the Jews were immediately bound to the ritual slaughtering of animals and didn’t have their meat prepared according to the new law when the Torah was given to them. Another is that the numerical value for the Hebrew word for milk, חלב (Khalav), is the same number of days that Moses spent on Mount Sinai.

Since my husband will not be here during Shavuot, I decided to make a dairy meal for him on Saturday night. Here is the first of three Shavuot recipes I am blogging about.

When my husband and I were looking for a place to have our wedding we did a tasting at one of the venues and they served us a pistachio-crusted salmon that was to die for! I decided that I would have to replicate that recipe at home. They put a layer of homemade pesto on the top side of a salmon fillet and then coated it with a mixture of pistachios and bread crumbs. I made it several years ago for Shavuot and it was delicious. This year, I tried whole grain mustard and it was also very good. This dish is dead easy to make.

Pistachio-Crusted Salmon

Serving Size: 4

4 salmon fillets, 6-8 ounces each

2 tablespoons whole grain mustard or homemade pesto

½ cup shelled raw pistachios

¼ cup toasted bread crumbs

Grind the pistachios to a medium fine texture by pulsing gently in a food processor. Be careful not to over process, as the nuts will begin to turn into a paste. Mix with the breadcrumbs.

Salmon Coated with Mustard

Salmon with pistachio mixture

oat the top of each salmon fillet with mustard and press into the pistachio and breadcrumb mixture to coat. Drizzle a little olive oil on top and put in a 190C (375F) for approximately 10-15 minutes or until the fish is slightly pink in the middle.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/05/13/shavuot-the-holiday-of-the-first-fruits/

May 092007
 

Sorry I didn’t get back to you right away, but I have been working hard at work.

I tried to get a decent bonfire picture for you, but the bonfire down the street was a bit pitiful. It looked more like a campfire than a bonfire. Actually, I am not so upset about this because it was one less bonfire to ruin our environment. Yes, I know it is a religious holiday, but I am concerned about the environment and global warming.

Lag B’Omer is a bit complicated to explain. Lag, which is spelled לג (Lamed Gimmel) in Hebrew is also the number 33 and, therefore Lag B’Omer means “the 33rd day of the Omer”. The Omer is the period of 49 days between Passover and Shavuot (Festival of Weeks); Shavuot is the harvest festival as well as the day on which according to tradition the Torah was given on Mount Sinai, and it was important to count the days accurately in order to bring in the harvest at the optimum time.

During the time of the Bar Kochva revolt against the Romans, a plague killed 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva during the counting of the Omer, but miraculously stopped on the 33rd day. Over the centuries, the Jewish people experienced more tragedies (massacres, pogroms, etc.) during this seven week period. To commemorate these tragedies, it has become customary to observe a period of semi-mourning during the Counting of the Omer. Weddings and other festivities are not held, music is not heard, and hair is not cut.

On Lag B’Omer, an interruption in the period of mourning is observed. Weddings, festivities, music, dancing and haircuts are allowed (many 3-year-old boys receive their first haircut called Upsherin). Many celebrate by lighting very large bonfires which symbolize the light of the Torah which was revealed by the Zohar (Radiance), Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who wrote the book of Kabbalah (not the type that Brittany and Madonna practice!).

In Israel, many travel to the grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in the Upper Galilee moshav (cooperative village) of Meron.

Even though the bonfire pictures didn’t work out, the short ribs I made were delicious. You could taste the ginger and orange, but it was not overpowering. The meat was juicy and tender. I will definitely use this marinade again. It would be great on chicken, but I would not marinate the chicken overnight. I would probably marinate it for an hour or so. I served it with steamed artichokes and brown rice.

Orange-Ginger BBQ Short Ribs

Serving Size: 2 to 4

1.36kg (3lb) short ribs

1 cup orange juice

1/3 cup lemon juice

1/3 cup honey

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

1 Tbsp. fresh ginger peeled and grated

1 Tbsp. garlic peeled and minced

2 tsp. lemon zest grated

1 tsp. salt

1/3 cup brandy

Hot chili oil to taste

Trim excess fat from the short ribs. Combine all other ingredients. Mix well and pour over ribs. Cover and marinate in refrigerator overnight, but no longer than 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 220C (425F). Remove ribs from marinade. Reserve marinade in a saucepan. Place ribs on a rack over a pan of hot water in oven. Roast 1 hour, turning once halfway through the cooking until browned and crisp. Reduce marinade to a glaze-like consistency (about 1-1/2 cups). Reduce oven heat to 190C (375F). Brush ribs with glaze, roast 15 minutes, turn, brush with glaze and roast 15 minutes more.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/05/09/holy-smoke/

May 052007
 

No we are not Catholics, but we love fish and usually eat it two or three times a week. Did you know that batter-fried fish, as in “Fish & Chips” was a Portuguese Jewish invention and was introduced to England by Portuguese Jewish immigrants? One trip to London to visit my mother-in-law I had a hankering for fish and chips, so my lovely husband took me to a very nice and well known fish and chips restaurant, called The Nautilus (27-29 Fortune Green Road London NW6 1DU), in West Hampstead. Instead of using the heavy batter that some places use, they used a nice light coating of matzah meal! It was the best fish and chips I have ever had. I had plaice and David had halibut. I tried doing this at home and have never looked back.

Tomorrow night is Lag B’Omer and we decided to have fish for Shabbat dinner tonight and have meat tomorrow evening for the holiday. We didn’t get to have a BBQ for Israel’s Independence Day because I was abroad. So, we are making up for it tomorrow night.


I am marinating the meat above overnight. More about this and Lag B’Omer tomorrow.

This evening I fried red mullet fillets which I first dredged in an egg wash and then matzah meal that I mixed with fresh thyme and fresh chives, herb salt and black pepper. I served it with fresh corn on the cob and green beans.

We had this with a 10-year-old South African chardonnay that amazingly survived well. I thought it was going to taste like vinegar.

For dessert, I thawed out a cheat’s version of mincemeat filling that I had made for hamentaschen and made a mincemeat pie. The dough is a ready-made parve pastry that I bought at the supermarket.

Shabbat Shalom!

May 012007
 

The weather is so strange; I know… global warming. I experienced 30C (86F) in Germany last week without air-conditioning and I come back to Israel and it is 22C (72F).


Spring is in full bloom here in Israel. The bougainvillea are in bloom and the wildflowers are showing their beauty. There are about 2,800 different species of flora in Israel. A great place to see some of this flora is at Ramat Hanadiv (the Hill of the Benefactor) in Zichron Yaacov. Founded by the Rothschild family, it has been open since 1954. Baron Edmond de Rothschild and his wife Adelheid are buried there.

Friday before last I decided to make a variation of a favorite of ours, Nigella Lawson’s Georgian Stuffed Chicken. This dish calls for dried cherries and rice, but I decided to add dried blueberries and substitute couscous for the rice. It was delicious. I also added a few other goodies, such as ras el hanut and pomegranate molasses.


But before I started preparing the meal, we began the late afternoon with a cocktail of Campari and freshly squeezed Jaffa orange juice.

Ingredients: I didn’t have enough pinenuts, so added some sliced almonds

Georgian Stuffed Chicken

Serving Size: 4 to 6

Adapted recipe from Nigella Lawson

For the stuffing

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 small onions, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic

1 cup couscous, cooked according to the package

1/4 cup dried sour cherries, roughly chopped

1/4 cup dried blueberries

1/4 cup pinenuts

1 tablespoon ras el hanut or cinnamon

For the chicken

1 2kg (approximately 4 lb) chicken

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Process or finely chop the onion and garlic, and add to the pan, frying over a medium heat until the onion softens and begins to color.

While the onion mixture is cooking, preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C).

Berry Mixture

Add the chopped cherries, blueberries, pinenuts and ras el hanut or cinnamon and mix well. Add the fruit and nut mixture to the precooked couscous and combine well.

Couscous Stuffing

Spoon the fruit-studded couscous into the cavity the chickens. Place the remaining stuffing under the chicken or around the sides.

Ready for the Oven

Drizzle the pomegranate molasses all over top and sides of the chicken.

Georgian Chicken

Roast in the oven for approximately 1-1/2 hours. The skin should be golden and crispy and the meat cooked through; test by piercing the bird between thigh and body and if juices run clear, the chicken's ready.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/05/01/spring-has-sprung/

If you do not have access to a Middle Eastern market, you can make your own ras el hanut.

Ras el Hanut

This recipe is from Paula Wolfert's "Couscous and Other Good Food From Morocco".

Because these spices are quite strong, Paula suggests that you grind some sugar cane in your blender after making this to get rid of the strong smell.

Recipe #1 is for those of you that have access to an excellent spice shop.

Recipe #1

4 whole nutmegs

10 dried rosebuds

12 cinnamon sticks

12 blades mace

1 tsp aniseed

8 pieces tumeric

2 small pieces orris root

2 dried cayenne peppers

1/2 tsp lavender

1 T white peppercorns

2 pieces galangal

2 T whole ginger root

6 cloves

24 allspice berries

20 white or green cardamon pods

4 black cardamon pods

Recipe #2:

1/2 oz allspice berries

1 oz black peppercorns

1/2 oz galangal

1/2 oz mace blades

1-1/2 whole nutmegs

10 cardamon pods

1-1/2 oz dried ginger root

1/2 oz stick cinnamon

1/4 oz tumeric

3 dried rosebuds

1 clove

Place all the ingredients of either recipe #1 or #2 in a blender and grind until fine. Sift the mix and place in an airtight jar.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/05/01/spring-has-sprung/


I served steamed artichokes and roasted cauliflower with the chicken.


For dessert, I served Iraqi date biscuits called Baba Beh Tamur. I purchased these parve biscuits at a fruit and vegetable market in Ra’anana. The sweetness comes from the date filling. I will definitely buy them again or try to make them myself.

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