Sep 292009
 

I think my grandmother (z”l) would have been quite shocked by my erev Yom Kippur menu. It was definitely not the usual family fare. But, I have finally realised that we shouldn’t have a heavy meal before the 25 hour fast. It is just not healthy. So, I collected some interesting recipes for the meal.

I found a very interesting Iraqi fish dish that was adapted from a 13th century Baghdadi cookbook called Kitab al-Tabikh.

Al-Baghdadi’s Kitab al-Tabikh was for long the only medieval Arabic cookery book known to the English-speaking world, thanks to A.J Arberry’s path-breaking 1939 translation as `A Baghdad Cookery Book’ which was re-issued by Prospect Books in 2001 in Medieval Arab Cookery. For centuries, it has been the favourite Arab cookery book of the Turks. The original manuscript is still in Istanbul, and at some point a Turkish sultan commissioned a very handsome copy which can still be seen in The British Library in London. – From Amazon.Com

The recipe called for 1/2 cup of sumac and I was a bit skeptical, but the dish was outstanding. I used a large drumfish, called  מוסר in Hebrew or Mussar, which is a nice firm, meaty fish that was perfect for this dish. The Iraqis probably made this with a type of carp that is found in the Tigris river called Mangar.

I only stuffed one fish for the two of us, so I have enough stuffing left over for one more fish.

Baked Fish with Sumac Stuffing

Serving Size: 4

(Samak Mashwi bil Summaq) From A Baghdad Cookery Book (Kitab al-Tabikh) by Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan Al-Baghdadi

1 to 2kg whole fish, such as drum fish, barramundi, grey mullet or gilt-head sea bream (you may need 4 fish, depending on the size)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Sumac Stuffing for Fish

For the stuffing:

1/2 cup sumac

1/4 cup fresh za'atar or thyme

1/2 teaspoon each of coriander, cumin, and cinnamon

3 cloves of garlic, peeled

1/2 cup toasted walnuts

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

About 3 tablespoons water

Preheat the oven to 220C (450F).

Place all of the stuffing ingredients in a food processor and process into a paste, as pictured above. Add more water, if needed.

Cut 2 to 3 diagonal slits in the fish and rub the oil and the turmeric on the outside and inside of the fish. Stuff the fish with the sumac mixture and close the incision in the fish with kitchen string, tooth picks, or the silicon ties as shown in the picture above.

Place the fish on a roasting rack and bake in the second level of the oven for about 20 minutes or until the fish is flaky. Cooking time will vary according to the size of the fish.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2009/09/29/erev-yom-kippur-5770/


Israeli Couscous with Roasted Butternut Squash and Olives

My husband is not a big fan of ptitim (in Hebrew and maghrbiyya  in Arabic) or what the rest of the western world calls Israeli couscous. I have been trying to convince him to let me make it, so when I found an interesting recipe on Epicurious, I decided to push him a bit. He said ok. I found some whole wheat ptitim at the supermarket and I could have bought spelt ptitim, but I didn’t want to scare him off too much. This dish calls for preserved lemon which I like very much, but I didn’t have any at home, couldn’t find any in the olive sections of two different supermarkets, and didn’t have time to make any. So, I decided to add some lovely tart Tsuri olives instead that I cracked and pitted. The sweetness of the butternut squash with the tartness of the olives and the crunchy pine nuts and the fragrant hint of cinnamon gave a wonderful texture and taste to this dish. It was a perfect accompaniment to the fish and the salad I made. I think I have converted Mr. BT.

Janna Gur’s Carrot and Date Salad

I am in love with this carrot and date salad. I do not like tzimmes in any shape or form, but I really loved this dish. It calls for fresh dates which I have never cooked with.

Fresh dates are high in vitamin C. They are also a special food for Rosh Hashana. Moroccan Jews dip a medjhoul date in anise seeds, sesame seeds and powdered sugar to “mark the new year that is beginning as one of happiness and blessing and peace for all mankind.”

The crunchy dates and the cooked carrots were perfect together. And the silan (date honey) did not make the dish too sweet. I will definitely make this again.

The finishing piece to this meal was the semifreddo I made the day before. This is a very easy dish to make and would be perfect for any dinner party. I recommend using a strong-tasting honey such as chestnut, eucalyptus, thistle, or heather. The rosemary was quite subtle, so I will steep more rosemary in the milk next time. You need to factor in the cream that you will be folding in later. It will mute the honey and rosemary flavor.

Chestnut Honey, Rosemary, and Goat's Milk Semifreddo

Serving Size: 8

2 cups goat's milk

3 sprigs of rosemary

2 egg yolks

1/2 cup chestnut honey

Pinch of salt

2 cups heavy cream

Put the goat's milk in a heavy saucepan and heat until the milk is steaming, but not boiling. Turn off the heat and add the rosemary. Let it steep for 45 minutes. Taste the milk to make sure that it has a significant rosemary taste. If not, let it steep for another 20 to 30 minutes.

In a medium size bowl, whisk the egg yolks, honey and salt together.

Strain the milk mixture and place the milk in a clean heavy saucepan. Reheat the milk on medium heat, but do not boil. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into yolk mixture; return to same pan. Stir over medium-low heat until custard thickens and leaves a path on back of the spoon when a finger is drawn across (do not boil). Strain into another medium bowl; chill covered until cold.

When the custard is cold, whip the cream to soft, thick peaks. If the cream is added when the custard is still warm, it will melt the cream.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2009/09/29/erev-yom-kippur-5770/

Sep 272009
 

It is finally quince season here in Israel and I love to make savory autumn meals with this tasty fruit. The supermarket had a special on goose right before Rosh Hashana, so I decided to buy several packs of goose ribs from Hungary. At least that is what they are called on the package in Hebrew.

Goose ribs, you say with a laugh….well, actually they are goose drumsticks that have been trimmed to look like lamb ossobuco. So, I decided to make goose “ossobuco” with quince for Shabbat dinner. I wanted to serve it over polenta, but it is not cold enough to have that hearty a meal. I served it over couscous and with Mr BT’s grilled asparagus as a first course. I would recommend making this a day ahead to enhance all of the wonderful flavours of this dish. The taste actually got richer when I reheated it the next day. Goose can be fairly tough, but the meat absolutely fell off the bone.

This dish should be served with a hearty red wine, such as a Shiraz.

Goose Ossobuco with Quince

Serving Size: 4

2kg (4 1/2lbs) goose drumsticks (skin removed and half of the leg bone has been cut off)

2 quince

Juice of one lemon

8 large shallots, chopped finely

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

4 tablespoons Olive oil

2 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/2 bottle dry red wine

2 liters (4 pints) chicken stock

Few sprigs of thyme

1 large bay leaf

Preheat oven to 180C (350F).

Peel, core, and cut the quince into quarters. Place in a small bowl and squeeze the juice of one lemon on top of the quince. Set aside.

In a dutch oven, heat the olive oil on medium-low heat. Add the shallots and garlic and gently cook them until soft and lightly colored. Add the flour cook the flour mixture for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomato paste and gradually add in the red wine to avoid forming lumps. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add the goose drumsticks, quince, thyme, bay leaf, and simmer for 15 minutes. Transfer the dutch oven to the oven, covered, and cook for two hours or until the goose is tender.

Serve over polenta, couscous, quinoa, or pasta.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2009/09/27/goose-ossobuco-with-quince/

Sep 232009
 

I am still trying to finalize my menu for Yom Kippur on Sunday afternoon. I will be updating this post over the next few days.

For erev Yom Kippur:

For break-the-fast:

  • Crackers
  • Cheese
  • Smoked Salmon
  • Baba Ganoush

About 1 hour later, we will have:

  • Keftes de Prasa (Leek patties)
  • Keftes de Espinaca (Spinach patties)
  • Carrot and Date Salad

Mr. BT and I hope that you have an easy fast. Gmar Chatimah Tova (May you be sealed in the book of life).

Sep 182009
 

I have been busy preparing for Rosh Hashana and have finally completed everything I intended to make for Friday and Saturday.

I made 4 round challot, one plain and three with dried apricots, dried cranberries, raisins, dried cherries and dried apples. I used the new Kitchenaid to knead the dough and I am very happy with the results. I am back making challah like I used to make in the States. I finally learned how to braid a round challah from this website. I found the website by chance and called Mr. BT to come to my study so I could butter him up to help me with the braiding. He said, “It looks a bit complicated, maybe you should just do it the way you always do.”. I said, no, I would like to give this a try and if we start bickering over it, I will go back to the old way. Well, we figured it out and we didn’t fight about it. Happy days!

For dessert, I am bringing poached pears and Mr. BT’s pomegranate sorbet. We decided to do a light dessert this year. The pears are not too sweet and have a lovely spicy aroma that permeates from the kitchen. I think they will be a big hit.

Poached Pears

Serving Size: 8

1 bottle semi-dry white wine, such as Emerald Reisling

1/4 cup brandy

1/4 sugar

2 strips of orange zest

1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced

2 cinnamon sticks

10 whole cloves

8 firm ripe pears

Juice of 2 oranges

In a pot big enough to hold the pears snugly, put all of the ingredients except for the pears. Bring the liquid up to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the pears, cover the pan, and gently poach the pears for about 30 minutes until the pears are soft, but not mushy. Turn off the heat and let cool.

The pears can be poached up to 2 days ahead and kept in the poaching liquid in the refrigerator.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2009/09/18/shana-tova-umetukah/

Saturday, I am serving chicken soup with kubbeh which I will blog about in a few days and Sunday, I am making a surprise, so you will have to wait.

Shabbat Shalom and Shana Tova u’Metuka to you and your family.

May you all be inscribed in the Book of Life and we hope you have happy, healthy, and prosperous new year.

Chag Sameach,

Mr. BT and Baroness Tapuzina

Sep 172009
 

Mr. BT made me a lovely birthday dinner last week. I couldn’t have had any better at a restaurant. My dinner began with my surprise gift. After 45 years of life, I was presented with a dark blue Kitchenaid, something I have wanted for years. It has already made a two honey cakes, whole wheat bread, and some beautiful challah for Rosh Hashana.

Dinner began with a very artistically displayed portobello mushroom framed by grilled asparagus. It looked like the evil eye was protecting me for my birthday.

The next course was grilled fresh barramundi stuffed with a bunch of fresh tarragon and served with a porcini mushroom and shallot sauce. Barramundi is especially popular in Australia and is now also farmed at a kibbutz in the Negev. We buy it fresh from the kibbutz. It is a lovely sweet, white, flaky fish. Mr. BT served the fish with sauteed fresh spinach and steamed rice.

Dessert were two lovely homemade sorbets: Pink Grapefruit-Campari and Granny Smith Apple-Calvados. They were both delicious and the granny smith apple sorbet was like a whole apple orchard in your mouth. It has an amazing appley flavour accentuated by Mr. BT having left the peel on.

We drank a delicious and fruity white wine blend of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, and Gewuertztraminer made by our local boutique winery, Yekev Mond (website only in Hebrew) at Moshav Mishmeret, which is literally a five minute drive from our house. This winery has been producing wines for several years, but only started selling three years ago. Moshe Keren, the winemaker, gave us the grand tour lasting about two hours, most of which was taken up by tasting his wines and liqueurs. We began by tasting grape juice that had been crushed four hours earlier. It already had a lovely fruity flavour. He then gave us a taste of a Shiraz, also straight from the fermentation tank, that had been fermenting for the past 28 hours. It was obviously quite young, but you could already taste the alcohol and it had it a lovely fragrance.

From there we went to the tasting room and tried a Merlot, the white blend (see above), Cabernet Sauvignon, and a blend of Merlot and Cab. However, the big surprises were a Muscat Alexandroni that had an absolutely intoxicating aroma of honey, a Port that wouldn’t have disgraced any Portuguese maker (and it’s the first Israeli Port we have tasted that is really worth drinking), a mulberry liqueur, and a mint liqueur. It is just as well the drive home was only five minutes on quiet country roads because we both happily skipped to our car.

Sep 122009
 

It was my turn to bring goodies for my team’s weekly Kabbalat Shabbat, which literally means “Receiving Sabbath”. Kabbalat Shabbat is usually celebrated by reciting Psalms and prayers before Shabbat begins on Friday evening, but in Israeli companies and offices it has also come to mean a break on Thursday for colleagues to get together informally over savory or sweet munchies and drinks. Weather permitting, we have our break on the rooftop of our building where there are nice niches with tables and chairs to sit and look over the Sharon plain. Since my birthday was the next day, I decided to bring a birthday cake. Usually we bring coffee cakes or cheese and nuts, but when someone has a birthday, they try to bring something more special.

When I was a child, I always asked for a German Chocolate cake for my birthday. Talk about sickeningly sweet! I am not sure when I stopped asking for cakes with tons of frosting, but now I really dislike buttercream, or even worse, frosting made with shortening like they put on cakes in the States with cups and cups of icing sugar.

But I don’t mind the sour icing that is put on a carrot cake. Usually, it is icing made with cream cheese, but I found an interesting frosting made with mascarpone and fromage frais, which is a low fat cheese from France. It is similar to German quark. I decided to use labane, a yogurt cheese, that is readily available in the Middle East and is 5% fat. This carrot cake is a moist spicy cake that goes well with the sharpness of the icing.

The team enjoyed the cake and took seconds and thirds, but fortunately there was enough left to bring back to Mr. BT, who would have been disappointed if hadn’t got any.

Carrot Cake with Mascarpone, Labane, and Cinnamon Icing
For the cake:

300g (2 3/4 cups) self-raising flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Pinch of salt

4 eggs

335ml (1 2/3 cup) sunflower oil or other light vegetable oil

450g (2 1/4 cup) caster sugar

2 cups grated carrots

1 1/4 chopped walnuts

2 tablespoons hot water

Butter and flour for the tins

For the icing:

500g (1lb) mascarpone

400g (3/4lb) Labane, 5% fat (or drained greek-style yogurt)

1/4 cup icing (confectioner's) sugar, sifted

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

For the cake:

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Lightly grease two 23cm (9-inch) spring-form cake tins with melted butter. Line the bottom of each tin with parchment paper. Butter the paper and then dust the tin with flour.

Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, spices and salt in a bowl and set aside.

Separate two of the eggs.

In the mixing bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the oil and the sugar. Slowly add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, beating well. Add the carrots, and then add the walnuts. Then add the flour followed by the hot water. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form and fold them into the cake batter.

Divide the cake mixture between the prepared tins. Place the baking tins on a baking tray in the middle of the oven and bake for approximately 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of a cake comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes and then remove them from the tray and let cool on a baking rack.

For the icing:

Whisk all of the ingredients together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Cover with clingfilm and chill for 1-2 hours, until you are ready to ice the cake.

With a palette knife, spread a layer of icing on one cake, then press the other on top. Spread the rest of the icing over the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Keep refrigerated.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2009/09/12/birthday-cake/

Sep 102009
 

It has been a long August without you, but I was swept away in work. Three of my colleagues were either on vacation or maternity leave and it left me holding down the fort. I just didn’t have the energy to spare for my poor neglected blog. But, I am back and I have a Wine Festival to report, a very interesting winery that is a 10 minute drive from my house, and my birthday celebration at work tomorrow. My birthday is actually this Friday.

But first things first, I must think about Rosh Hashana planning. This year, I am going to Jerusalem and am responsible for bringing the challot and dessert. I am going to be making the following:

One plain and one fruit and nut challah

Magical Honey Cake

Baked Apples Stuffed with Fruit and Nuts (without the custard sauce)

Poached Pears (water, brandy, little sugar, 2 strips of orange zest, piece of sliced ginger root, cinnamon stick, cloves)

Here are some interesting ideas for you and your loved ones (meat and dairy):

Roast Chicken with Dried Fruit and Almonds

Cornish Hens with Dried Apricot Sauce

Sephardic Spinach Patties

Fennel and Pistachio Salad

Beetroot and pomegranate salad

Carrot and Date Salad

Israeli Couscous with Roasted Butternut Squash and Preserved Lemon

Roasted Pumpkin with Dried Fruit

Apple and Calvados Cake

Apple and Honey Ice Cream

Apple and Honey Sorbet with Pomegranate Sauce

Yogurt and Honey Semifreddo

What are you making this year?

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