Mar 302009
 

Even though we have had a few cold and rainy days, it is definitely looking more like spring every day. More people are hanging out at our beautiful beaches. We had some friends visiting from the States and took them on a tour of the North.

We went to Caesaria,

the Carmel Forest and saw beautiful wild flowers,

and then a late lunch at my favourite fish restaurant, Uri Buri , in Acco.

I had a whole grilled gilt head sea bream with roasted vegetables and Mr BT had Baramundi with spinach puree and feta (pictured above), served with side dish of mejaddara.

The last package of lamb necks was staring at me in the freezer, so I decided to cook it for Shabbat dinner. I found a very interesting recipe on a foodblog called Habeas Brulee. The pomegranate and ginger were a perfect addition to the lamb. I couldn’t get enough of the sauce.

Slow Cooked Lamb Neck with Pomegranate, Garlic and Ginger

Serving Size: 4

Adapted from Habeas Brulee food blog

1kg (2.2lbs) lamb neck, bone in

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

8 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped

An equal amount fresh ginger, finely chopped

2 cups red wine

1 to 2 cup water

4 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

2 teaspoons cardamom

2 big pinches saffron threads

2 dried chilies

2 teaspoons honey

Put a tablespoon of olive oil in a hot dutch oven, sprinkle salt and pepper on the lamb neck pieces and brown on both sides. Remove the lamb from the pan.

Add the ginger and garlic, and saute for a couple of minutes on low, until the garlic and ginger is slightly softened, but not yet caramelized. Add the wine, water, and the rest of the ingredients.

Cover and braise over low heat for approximately 2-3 hours on a low flame, or until tender. Serve over rice or polenta.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2009/03/30/pomegranate-garlic-ginger-lamb/

Mar 182009
 

Spring is in the air and that  means it is time to start preparing for Passover, which begins on 8 April. I am not going to be doing a lot of preparation this year, but I have gathered a few interesting recipes for you to consider for your own meal. First, here is a link to all of my Passover recipes from the last couple of years. And, here are some interesting ones for you to try:

Italian Passover recipes from Chef Chaim Cohen and Dr. Eli Landau

Kodredo Relleno al Forno (Roast stuffed lamb with egg/lemon crust)

Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder with Almond-Mint Pesto (Omit the cheese from the recipe)

Syrah-Braised Lamb Shoulder with Olives, Cherries and Endives

Roasted Poussins with Pomegranate Sauce and Potato Rösti

Bolo de Amêndoa (Almond Torte) from David Leite

Walnut Date Torte

Baked Apples Marsala

I will add more as I find them.

Mimi at Israeli Kitchen is having a Pre-Passover Cooking Event. Email her recipes for your favorite Passover dishes – any variety, savory or sweet – and she will cook and blog about the most interesting ones. See her blog for more details.

Mar 102009
 

Chag Purim Sameach everyone. This year I added two new cookies and two new hamantashen fillings for my mishloach manot (gifts of food) that I am giving to my neighbors. The hamantashen fillings I made this year are: peach lekvar, cranberry-orange and pecan-fig. The hamantashen dough recipe and other filling recipes is here.

The peach lekvar is the same recipe as the apricot lekvar, but I used dried peaches instead. The filling is deliciously peachy and the mixture of the dried figs and pecans is also a very nice filling for the hamantashen.

Pecan-Fig Filling for Hamantashen

Yield: about 3 cups

2 cups dried figs

1/2 cup seedless raisins

Apple juice

1 cup toasted chopped pecans

Place figs and raisins in large bowl with enough apple juice to cover. Refrigerate 3 hours, or overnight. Place fig mixture in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer until soft, about 10 minutes. Let cool; drain, reserving syrup. Puree figs and raisins in food processor along with 1/4 cup reserved syrup. Transfer to bowl; mix in pecans. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate until ready to use.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2009/03/10/purim-2009/

I have wanted to try and make Iraqi date cookies ever since I first tried them a couple of years ago after finding them in a local greengrocer near my office . I was so happy when I found Maggie Glezer’s recipe. The recipe looks complicated, but the cookies are actually very easy to make and even easier if you can find ready-made date paste. You should be able to find a package or two at a Middle Eastern store. The ready-made filling is just pure dates without any added sugars or fillers. This filling is also used to make mamoul cookies.

These are a flaky semolina pastry filled with pure date filling. The sweetness of the dates is all that is needed for this delicious cookie. They are perfect for afternoon tea.

Ba'abe

Yield: 16 date pastries

Ba'abe

Iraqi Date Pastries from Clemence Horesh

Adapted from A Blessing of Bread: The Many Rich Traditions of Jewish Bread Baking Around the World by Maggie Glezer

For the dough:

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup warm water

2/3 cup semolina (a.k.a. pasta flour)

1-1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

140g (10 tablespoons or 2/3 cup) melted butter or margarine

For the filling:

2 pkg date filling

or

1 cup pitted soft Medjool dates

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 egg, beaten

Sesame seeds to coat

For the dough:

Stir the salt into the water until it dissolves. Mix the semolina and the flour, then stir in the melted butter or oil until it is well distributed and the mixture clumps together. Add the water and mix; the dough will feel very soft at first and then firm up. If necessary, add a tablespoon or two more water to make a smooth, soft dough, or a tablespoon or two more flour to firm it up. Wrap the dough in a plastic bag and let it rest at room temperature for 30-60 minutes or in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Date Balls

Make the filling if you can't find packaged date filling: In a sauté pan over low heat, heat the dates just until they are warm to the touch, then turn off the heat. Using your hands, knead the dates into the oil in the pan. When the filling is smooth and cohesive, roll the filling up into 16 tablespoon-sized balls with your hands, setting the balls on a plate.

Shape and bake the ba'abe: Arrange the oven racks on the upper- and lower-third positions. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly flour a work surface and have more flour available. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper, or oil or butter them. Have ready the date balls, the beaten egg and the sesame seeds.

Date Ball on Dough

Roll out the dough into an 18-inch-square. Using a 3- to 4-inch-diameter glass, teacup or cookie cutter, cut out circles of the dough. Put a slightly flattened date ball in the center of each and seal the dough around the ball. Pinching each pastry by the seal, dip the smooth half first in the beaten egg, then in the sesame seeds. On your work surface, with the seeded-side up, flatten each pastry into a 2-inch disk with a rolling pin. Punch a decorative pattern into the pastry with the end of a wooden spoon or a skewer.

Ba'a'be or Iraqi Date Pastries

Arrange the ba'abe on the baking sheet, leaving room for expansion. Bake for about 20 minutes or until light brown. Cool thoroughly on a rack, then store them in a sealed container.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2009/03/10/purim-2009/

These oatmeal cookies take me back to when my brother (z”l), of blessed memory, used to come home from school and whip up a batch of these cookies. They filled the house with such a wonderful smell of cinnamon and love. And, it reminds me of how much I miss him.

When I first found oatmeal in the supermarket in Israel, I really had a big chuckle because Israelis, who find it difficult to transliterate foreign words into Hebrew without making funny mistakes, call it Quacker oatmeal.

Mr BT who doesn’t really have a sweet tooth, except for chocolate, really likes these cookies, especially because he can use the pretext that they are healthy.

Vanishing Oatmeal, Raisin and Walnut Cookies

Yield: 3 dozen

Vanishing Oatmeal, Raisin and Walnut Cookies

From the Quaker Oatmeal Can

225g (1 cup (2 sticks)) butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt (optional)

3 cups Quaker Oats Old Fashioned, uncooked

1 cup raisins

1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

Heat oven to 170C (350F).

In large bowl beat together butter and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla, beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Stir in oats, raisins and walnuts. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes for a chewy cookie or 11 to 12 minutes for a crisp cookie. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet, remove to wire rack. Cool completely.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2009/03/10/purim-2009/

Mar 072009
 

Israel depends on a rainy winter for its water supply for the rest of the year. We have had a serious drought here that no one is taking seriously. However, the last few weekends we have had a significant amount of much needed rain.

Rain and cold always demand hot and hearty dishes to keep us warm and cozy inside and out. There is a another sale at our local supermarket on lamb; this time the sale is on lamb neck. I don’t think lamb neck is readily available at supermarkets or butchers in most parts of the US and Canada, but you may be able to find it at a Halal butcher in larger cities with a Muslim population. If not, you could always use lamb shoulder. I don’t think you will have a problem finding it in Europe.

This lamb recipe was published in Haaretz newspaper a couple of weeks ago and is from a famous restaurant in Nazareth called Diana’s. It specializes in meat, especially lamb kebab that is chopped by hand, and seafood.

The seasoning of the lamb is more subtle than usual for middle eastern food: even though one tablespoon each of allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon appears to be a lot,  this is for quite a large quantity of meat and none of the spices has a very strong taste to begin with. It is very important to let the meat cook on a very low flame for long enough to become really tender: in fact, if you can cook the meat (without adding the spinach) the day before and then cook it again for about 30 minutes (following the rest of the instructions) just before serving, it will be even better.

Lamb and Turkish Spinach Stew

Serving Size: 4

4 pieces lamb neck with the bone, weighing approximately 350g (3/4lb) each

1 tablespoon ground allspice

1 tablespoon grated nutmeg

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Olive oil

8 whole shallots, peeled

8 whole garlic cloves, peeled

5 garlic cloves, crushed

1 kg (2 lbs) fresh medium size spinach leaves, stems removed, rinsed well and coarsely chopped

Mix the spices together. Lightly salt the meat and rub the spices on both sides of the lamb neck.

Heat a little olive oil in a skillet and saute the pieces of meat until they start to brown. Transfer the meat to a large pot. Saute the whole shallots and the whole garlic cloves and add to the pot with the meat. Pour in enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Cook for about an hour over a high flame.

Lower the flame and skim off the foam that has formed on top. Simmer for an additional two hours over a low flame until the meat is very tender.

Add the spinach leaves and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, add olive oil to a pan and saute the crushed garlic until golden. Add the garlic to the stew, mix and adjust seasoning to taste. Serve over rice.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2009/03/07/perfect-dish-for-a-cold-and-rainy-winters-night/

For dessert, I used a new carrot cake recipe that I hadn’t tried before. This cake is spicy, but not sweet at all except for the natural sweetness of the carrot, in spite of the fact that it calls for 1-1/2 cups of icing sugar. So if you like very sweet cakes, this one might not be for you.

Carrot and Walnut Cake

Serving Size: 10 to 12

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups icing sugar (confectioner's sugar)

1 cup crushed walnuts

1 cup grated carrots

1 cup milk or water

6 eggs

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground clove

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Preheat oven to 170C (350F). Grease and flour one large tube pan.

Sift the flour, baking soda, and baking powder together and set aside. Beat the eggs together with the spices for 5 minutes. Stir in the icing sugar and mix well. Beat in the vegetable oil and continue beating for 5 minutes.

Alternately add the flour mixture and the milk or water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to the egg mixture. With a spoon stir in the carrots and the walnuts. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake at 170F (350F) for 1 hour.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2009/03/07/perfect-dish-for-a-cold-and-rainy-winters-night/

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