Aug 292008
 

There are lots of beautiful places in Israel to have a picnic. You can choose to drive North and have a picnic near the Sea of Galilee:

Or to the Hula Valley:

Or drive south to the ancient desert of the Negev and the moon-like landscape of Mitzpe Ramon:

Wherever you choose to have a picnic, you should always bring lots to drink, a blanket on which to sit and beautiful food to eat.

My husband and I were invited to a picnic with friends that we haven’t seen in a while at Park Yarkon in North Tel Aviv. We were so excited to see our friends, we forgot to take a picture of the park which is a strip of land along the Yarkon river. It is very nice there with plenty of picnic tables, a nice walking path, and a chance to see people rowing on the Yarkon.

I decided to make a savory tart that we had two years ago on our trip to the South of France. I made a Niçoise specialty called Tourte de Blettes. It is a double pastry filled with sauteed swiss chard, golden raisins, pine nuts, eggs, and a little cream. After it is baked, you sprinkle icing sugar on top. I know this sounds a bit strange, but it is delicious and it can be served along with a beautiful green salad or if you are brave, you can serve it as dessert. This tart gets its sweetness from the golden raisins. I think it is a perfect picnic dish because it can be made in advance and put in the freezer. It is best served at room temperature.

Tourte de Blette
For the pastry:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

170 g (1-1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

50g (1/4 cup) cold vegetable shortening or non-butter flavored margarine

1/2 teaspoon salt

7 to 9 tablespoons ice water

For the filling:

1/2 cup golden raisins

1 cup water

2 lb green Swiss chard, half of the center ribs chopped fine

1 large egg

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh orange zest

1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted

2 teaspoons icing (confectioners) sugar

For the pastry:

Blend together flour, butter, shortening, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Drizzle 5 tablespoons ice water evenly over mixture. Gently stir with a fork (or pulse) until incorporated.

Squeeze a small handful of dough: If it doesn't hold together, add more ice water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, stirring (or pulsing) until incorporated. Do not overwork dough, or pastry will be tough.

Turn dough out onto a work surface. Gather all dough together with pastry scraper.divide dough with one half slightly larger, then form each into a ball and flatten each into a 5-inch disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 1 hour. Dough can be chilled up to 2 days ahead.

Prebake Tourte de Blettes

For the filling:

Bring raisins and water to a boil in a heavy saucepan, then remove from heat and let stand, covered, 1 hour. Drain in a colander, then pat dry with paper towels. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 200C (400F).

Blanch chard in a large pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tender but still bright green, about 5 minutes. Transfer chard with a slotted spoon to a large bowl of ice and cold water to stop cooking. Drain chard in a colander, then squeeze out excess water by handfuls. Coarsely chop chard.

Whisk together egg, cream, granulated sugar, zest, and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Stir in pine nuts, raisins, and chard until combined.

For the Tourte de Blette:

Roll out larger piece of dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 38- by 27-centimeter (15- by 11-inch) rectangle and fit into tart pan (do not trim edges). Chill shell while rolling out top.

Roll out smaller piece of dough on a lightly floured surface with lightly floured rolling pin into a 30- by 22-centimeter (12- by 9-inch) rectangle. Spread chard filling evenly into shell, then top with second rectangle of dough. Using a rolling pin, roll over edges of pan to seal tart and trim edges, discarding scraps. Cut 3 steam vents in top crust with a paring knife, then put tart in pan on a baking sheet. Bake until top is golden, about 1 hour. Transfer to a rack and cool 10 minutes, then remove side of pan. Cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Dust with confectioners sugar.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2008/08/29/nicoise-picnic/

Aug 252008
 

My husband and I both love good Chinese food and since it is impossible to find good Chinese food in Israel, we have to wait until we go to London or the States. However, I did learn to make Chinese food from my grandparent’s Chinese cook, Ying. She is a master in the kitchen and was a great teacher. She really understands the science behind cooking, whether she is explaining how to cook various types of meats and poultry or baking. She also taught me a lot about the balance of flavours and how important that is in Chinese cooking. One flavour should not necessarily stand out more than the other; it should be a marriage of ingredients. I had so much fun learning from her. We even took a French pastry course together. She was raised in Vietnam, so she already knew quite a bit about French cooking, but she enjoyed the course, just the same.

My husband was away for his birthday and we celebrated it when he came back. I made him one of our favourites, Szechuan Chicken with Cashews. The heat from the chili paste and the crunch from the cashews make this dish. This dish is spicy, so if you can’t stand the heat, you might want to use one teaspoon of chili paste instead of two. If you like very spicy Thai or Indian food, like we do, you could add another half a teaspoon. I served this over Thai rice.

This recipe looks like it has a lot of steps, but it is very easy to make.

Szechuan Chicken with Cashews

Serving Size: 4

600g boneless, skinless, chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 2cm (3/4-inch) pieces

1 egg white

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon dark soy sauce

Pinch of black pepper

1 large yellow or red bell pepper

1 medium yellow onion

1 head of broccoli, separated into florets

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon cold water

1 tablespoon light soy sauce

2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil

1 cup raw cashew nuts

1/4 teaspoon of salt

2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil

2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger root

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce

2 teaspoons chili paste

1/2 cup chicken broth

2 tablespoons chopped green onion

Mix the egg white, 1 teaspoon of cornstarch, 1 teaspoon of dark soy sauce and the black pepper in a medium bowl; stir in the chicken. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the bell pepper into 2cm (3/4-inch) pieces. Cut the onion into 16 pieces and cut the broccoli in to small florets.

Combine the 1 tablespoon cornstarch, water and 1 tablespoon light soy sauce in a small bowl.

Heat the wok on high, and when it is very hot, add the 2 tablespoons of peanut oil; tilting the wok to coat the sides. Add the cashews and stir-fry them for about one minute or until lightly browned. Remove the cashews from the wok and drain them on a paper towel. Sprinkle them with salt.

Note: You can use roasted cashews, but obviously do not salt them and only add them at the last minute.

Add the chicken to the wok and stir-fry until the chicken turns a pale colour. Remove the chicken from the wok and set aside in a bowl or on a plate.

Add 2 tablespoons of peanut oil. Add the onion and ginger, and stir-fry until the ginger is light brown and the onion is translucent. Add the chicken, bell pepper, broccoli, hoisin sauce, cashews (if using roasted ones) and chili paste, and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the broth and heat until boiling. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and stir for about 1 minute until the sauce is thickened. Stir in the cashews (if using raw ones) and green onions.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2008/08/25/some-like-it-hot/

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Close

Loading ...

Sorry :(

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