Sep 262008
 

We didn’t have a Rosh Hashana tradition of making honey cakes in my house. I didn’t even know there was a tradition to serve honey cake during this holiday. We made Honigkuchen, which were basically lebkuchen, a type of spice cookie that we always made for Hannukah. My grandmother always made Noodle Schalet (Noodle Pudding, not Kugel, with eggs, lemon zest and raisins) with lemon sauce for dessert. We had Suesse Apfel (carmelised apple slices in honey) as a side dish with roast beef.

So when I moved to Israel, people started asking me what does your mother put in her honey cake? Does she put nuts in, coffee or tea, schnapps, only cinnamon? I had no idea what they were talking about. All of the supermarkets and bakeries were selling different types of honey cakes. The few times I had them in the States, I always remembering them being dry and inedible. I made my first honey cake a few years ago and I could have built a house with it. It was heavy and dry. Then, I made the Beekeeper’s Honey Cake and it was less dry.

I finally decided which cake I am going to make for Erev Rosh Hashana, the Magical Honey Cake. As most of my regular readers know, I usually have to tweak a recipe and this time was no different. I used Janna Gur’s recipe as a base and added a few more spices, some orange rind, and substituted cranberries soaked in rum for the raisins. I cheated and tasted one of the cakes on the second day, it is moist, spicy and bursting with flavour from the honey. This is going to be my tried and true honey cake from now on.

Magical Honey Cake

Yield: 3 loaves

6 cups + 3 tablespoons flour

1-1/2 cups sugar

2 heaping teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon cardamom

1 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1-1/2 cups honey

1 cup oil

4 eggs

2 tablespoons instant espresso coffee

1 cup boiling water

2 level teaspoons baking soda

Zest of two medium oranges

1/3 cup dried cranberries soaked in rum, just to cover

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 170C (325F). Grease the loaf pans.

Dry Ingredients

Mix the flour, sugar, and spices in a bowl. Add the honey, oil and eggs, and whisk into a smooth batter. Dissolve the coffee into 1 cup of boiling water. Add the baking soda to the batter, and then add the coffee. Gently fold in the orange rind, cranberries and rum, and the walnuts.

Honey Cake Batter

Pour the batter into the greased loaf pans and bake for approximately 45 minutes until the cake is dark brown and the toothpick is clean with a few crumbs adhering.

Cool the cakes completely and wrap with aluminum foil. Place in a cool, dry place to mature for 7 days.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2008/09/26/not-my-grandmothers-honey-cake/

Sep 242008
 

Chag Sameach everyone! We have been invited to family for the holiday and I will be bringing dessert. I am still trying to decide which cake I am going to make, but I wanted to share some of my ideas with you before the holiday begins. I will post which one I make as soon as I decide. Here are my choices:

Greek Pistachio Honey Cake

Ka’ikeh b’Ah’sal (Honey Cake With Sesame Glaze)

Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Honey Cake

Beekeeper’s Honey Cake (I made this last year)

I have also found some interesting recipes for the rest of the meal:

Rubuh’ (roast veal stuffed with spiced ground meat and rice)

Ejjeh b’kerrateh (leek fritters)

Georgian Meatballs with Pine Nuts and Sour Cherries

Georgian Chicken in Pomegranate and Tamarind Sauce

And you can always use my recipes from last year: Rosh Hashana 5768 and Chag Sameach – Shana Tova

Sep 122008
 

Yesterday, I woke up and was another year older. My grandmother, may she rest in peace,  always said we should celebrate our birthday because if we don’t, it means that we aren’t here anymore. I like to subscribe to that philosophy. Birthdays should be celebrated.

I woke up to my husband serenading me with Happy Birthday and I arrived at work to my office which was decorated with gold streamers, paper tulips, clusters of paper flower bouquets, and a Happy Birthday banner. It is nice to be loved.

Every Thursday my team gets together for “Kabbalat Shabbat”. It is not really Kabbalat Shabbat, because that is really the welcoming of the Sabbath which is done on Friday before the sundown. However, it is a tradition at most offices in Israel to do on Thursday and bring snacks, sweets and some wine. It was my turn to bring something, and so it was an easy way to celebrate my birthday with my colleagues.

I was looking for something different and most importantly something that didn’t take a lot of time. So, I found something really interesting on Smitten Kitchen‘s blog, Raspberry Crumb Breakfast Bars. Her pictures are so beautiful; just the picture enticed me to make them. And, she had me at “Raspberry”. The title of these bars are misleading because they are not crumb bars at all. I think they are more like soft, squidgy granola bars. Simply said, they are delicious and most importantly all about the raspberry. We don’t have much of a raspberry season here in Israel, so I used frozen berries. I think you could make this recipe with blackberries, blueberries, black or red currants or sour cherries. Next time, and believe me there will be a next time, I am going to make them with mixed berries.

My beloved husband made me a nice dinner, beginning with a delicious shaken, not stirred Apple Martini. He made:

Wiener Schnitzel
Crushed Basil Potatoes
Brussels Sprouts

He served it with a nice Shiraz Rose and we had fresh guavas for dessert. It was a lovely dinner.

Raspberry Crumb Breakfast Bars

Yield: 24 bars

Recipe from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking from the Baked Bakery in Red Hook, Brooklyn

For the crust and crumb:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 1/4 cups rolled oats (like you use for porridge)

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

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

For the raspberry filling:

1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

500g (1lb) raspberries, fresh or 600g frozen

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

30g (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Make the crust and crumb: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 31x 21 cm (9-by-13-inch) glass or light-colored metal baking pan. Line the pan with a piece of parchment paper, cut to hang over the short sides of the pan to allow easy removal of the bars.

Place the flour, brown sugar, oats, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a food processor. Pulse until combined. Add the butter and pulse until a loose crumbs forms.

Reserve 1-1/2 cup of the mixture and set aside. Place the rest of the mixture into the prepared pan and press the crumb mixture evenly in the pan with the back of a large wooden spoon. The crust should touch the sides of the pan. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool. Keep the oven on while you prepare the raspberry filling.

In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon and flour together. Add the raspberries, lemon juice and butter and toss gently with your hands until the raspberries are evenly coated.

Gently place the raspberry filling evenly on top of the cooled crust. Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture evenly on top of the filling.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until the top is golden brown and the filling starts to bubble around the edges.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then cut into squares and serve. The bars can be store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to two days.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2008/09/12/they-say-its-my-birthdayyesterday/

Sep 062008
 

Okay, I know the title is a bit lame, but the photo of the food is even lamer. I forgot to check the batteries on my camera and when I tried to take the photo, the batteries were dead. I had to take a picture with my phone camera instead. Oh well.

Beef and veal have been very expensive here the last several months and we decided that it just wasn’t worth spending our hard earned money on expensive meat. However, the supermarket up the road from our house had veal shanks on sale and I couldn’t resist. They were 50NIS (14USD or 9.80Euro) per kilo. So, I bought two meaty ones.

I found an interesting North African style recipe for osso bucco.  This  recipe would normally be made with lamb. It was very easy to make and absolutely delicious. It was fall-off-the-bone tender and it has a very distinct spicy kick from the chili paste, which we both like. Next time I will add a little more of the spices because they got a bit lost. I only detected a slight taste of cinnamon and nutmeg. I served it with lemon orzo and green peas.

This is a recipe you could easily make the day before.

Moroccan-Style Veal Shanks

Serving Size: 4

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 meaty veal shanks (about 1/2 kilo or 1 1/4 pounds each)

Salt and freshly ground pepper (no salt if you are using kosher meat)

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 carrots, finely chopped

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon harissa or other chili paste

1 cup dry red wine

1 cup chicken stock

One large can crushed tomatoes

Preheat the oven to 170F (325F). In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Season the shanks with salt and pepper. Add them to the casserole, 2 at a time, and cook over moderately high heat until browned all over, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a plate and wipe out the casserole.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in the casserole. Add the onion, carrots and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the cumin, coriander, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg and cook, stirring until lightly toasted, about 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and harissa and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in the wine and boil until reduced to a thick syrup, about 4 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and the chicken stock to the casserole. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Put the veal shanks in the liquid. Cover tightly and braise in the oven for about 3 hours, basting occasionally, until the meat is almost falling off the bone.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2008/09/06/the-veal-shank-redemption/

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