Jun 212008
 

I was so excited when I purchased my new computer because I new it would make blogging so much better. However, a few days after I hooked everything up, my monitor blew up, literally! I was sitting a my desk, reading my email and all of a sudden I heard a pop, the monitor turned black and a puff of smoke came out the top of it! So, I have been monitorless for a while. Now, I am up and running again and I have a few things to tell you about while I was monitorless.

Just picked Queen Anne cherries, Bulgarian cheese, sheep cheese, Gouda cheese

I went to a cherry picking festival at Kibbutz Rosh Tzurim with my husband and a colleague from Germany. We drove 45 minutes to the beautiful Judean Hills which always reminds me of the rugged terrain in Provence. The festival had booths with people selling kosher charcuterie, local wine and pottery. They also offered a free tractor ride around the kibbutz.

It was very hot, but there was a large crowd eager to pick big juicy red and Queen Anne cherries. We picked cherries, or rather my husband had a great time climbing trees picking the cherries, and my colleague and I had fun eating them! Don’t worry, we kept plenty to bring home with us. The Queen Anne cherries were tastier than the red ones. I was really impressed that my husband could still climb trees considering he hasn’t climbed one in over 40 years!

The trees were covered with netting so the birds couldn’t eat the cherries. This kibbutz packs and sells its cherries for the shuk (open market) and the local supermarkets. The cherries that were available for picking at the cherry festival were the last of the crop. They were juicy and sweet, especially the ones my husband picked from the top of the tree. Unlike the older trees that grew as nature intended, the new ones were espaliered, like apple trees, to make the fruit easier to pick.

We packed a nice picnic lunch consisting of:

Baby greens, dried apricots, cranberries and walnuts with a mustard vinaigrette
Stuffed grape leaves
Roasted eggplant slices
French bread
Bulgarian cheese
Sheep cheese
Smoked Gouda cheese
Olive oil potato crisps
Pomegranate iced tea
Just picked Queen Anne cherries
Dried fruits and nuts
Chocolate-hazelnut cookies

Other people at the festival came up to us and complimented us on our beautiful picnic. One woman even took a picture of it with her mobile phone. We though this was a rather ordinary picnic and had a laugh about it.

We had a very nice time and will definitely go back next year.

Jun 212008
 

Being away for most of May didn’t give me a lot of time to decide what to make for Shavuot this year. I decided to keep it simple and not over do it. My menu was:

Salad of baby mixed greens with nectarines

Trout stuffed with dried apricots and pistachios

Mashed potatoes with basil

Steamed broccoli

All of the dishes were delicious. I have to admit the trout dish really caught my eye because of the unusual stuffing. I would have never have thought that apricot and pistachios should be stuffed inside of any fish, but it really married well with the trout. The sour apricots and the crunch of the pistachios lent such a nice flavour to the mild flavour of the trout. I will definitely make this again.

Trout Stuffed with Dried Apricots and Pistachios

Serving Size: 2

25g/1oz white breadcrumbs

55g/2oz dried sour (California) apricots, finely chopped

2 tablespoons parsley or coriander, finely chopped

40g/1-1/2 oz pistachio nuts, finely chopped

55g/2oz melted butter

Salt and pepper

2 fresh whole trout, gutted and rinsed

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F).

Apricot-Pistachio Stuffing

Place the breadcrumbs, apricots, parsley, pistachios, half the butter, salt and pepper into a bowl and mix well.

Stuffed Trout

Place each of the trout on a large sheet of buttered foil on a baking tray. Spoon half the mixture into each of cavities. Brush the trout with the rest of the melted butter and enclose the foil around each of the fish to form two parcels. Place the tray into the oven for 25-30 minutes. Remove from the foil and serve.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2008/06/21/shavuot-2008-updated/

 

I know you are going to say that every French baker is going to sentence me to death for making brioche with whole wheat flour, but I have to tell you that the bread was delicious. Okay, it wasn’t as delicate as regular brioche, but it is was still very tasty.

Whole Wheat Brioche with Dried Fruit

Yield: 2 loaves

1/2 cup hand-hot water

1 tablespoon dried yeast or 25g fresh yeast

3 tablespoons sugar

6 large eggs, room temperature

4-1/2 cups whole wheat flour or white flour (for traditional brioche)

2 teaspoons salt

226g (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature

1 cup of mixed dried fruit (such as cranberries, raisins, apricots)

1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon milk, for egg wash

Combine the water, yeast and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.

Let stand for five minutes to let the yeast and sugar dissolve.

Add the eggs and beat at medium speed for one minute, until well mixed. At low speed, add two cups of flour and the salt. Mix for five minutes. Add an additional two cups of flour and mix for five minutes. Still on low speed, add the softened butter in chunks and mix for two minutes, scraping down the beater and sides of the bowl, until well blended. Sprinkle in the remaining 1/2 cup of flour.

Use the dough hook or knead the dough by hand for two minutes. Scrape the dough into a large buttered bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

The next day, allow the dough to sit a room temperature for one hour. Grease two loaf pans. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and cut in half. Pat each portion into a rectangle, then roll up each rectangle into a cylindrical loaf. Place each loaf, seam-side down, into a greased pan. Cover the pans with a damp towel and set aside to rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, 2 to 2-1/2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). When the dough has risen, brush the top of each with the egg wash and bake for approximately 45 minutes or until the top springs back and it sounds slightly hollow when tapped. Turn the loaves onto a wire rack to cool.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2008/06/21/shavuot-2008-updated/

Torta di Chioccolata al Forno con Vaniglia e Nocciola (Perugian-style chocolate hazelnut cheesecake)

This cheesecake is to die for! I used Israeli 5% white cheese instead of cream cheese and it was just as creamy, but with a lot less calories. I am not a big chocolate eater, but this was made with 60% bittersweet chocolate and it was just sweet enough. I really liked that this recipe did not call for a lot of sugar and the hazelnuts really make the cake. I felt like I was eating a Perugina Baci. Smacking delicious it was.

Chag Sameach everyone!

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