Dec 312009
 

I haven’t really talked about my life before Mr BT, meaning my single girl days, because it is not really a subject that is relevant to this food blog. However, when I decided to make a dish from my single girl past, it brought back memories of living in the quaint German town of Schwaebisch Hall. It is a time where I expanded my cooking repertoire: I learned how to make Kaesespaetzle from a local friend, and Zimtsterne from my landlady.

I also learned about Turkish cuisine thanks to my Turkish boyfriend at the time. He took me to his aunt and uncle’s house for an authentic meal. I remember every dish his aunt made was delicious. I used to hang out at a lovely Turkish restaurant that made the most delicious Turkish Pide. The Turkish family that owned the little restaurant were from Eastern Turkey and they would stuff the flat, long oval-shaped dough to order. They filled it with feta and aubergine or my personal favorite, ground lamb. I think they had a couple of other varieties, but I don’t remember. They made them on a long wooden paddle and then put them directly on the oven floor to bake. I am going to have to try and make them sometime.

I shared a flat over a bar with two Greek guys  from Thessaloniki, an Italian guy from Genoa, and an Italian girl from Friuli. The two Greek guys ran the bar. We had a lot of fun at the bar, especially when we would sweet talk our two Greek roommates into having a “Greek Night” in the bar with dancing and plate throwing. On the rare occasion when the bar was closed and we were all home together, we would take turns making dinner. One time the Italian guy made pasta with his mother’s homemade pesto. You haven’t had pesto until you have had Genovese pesto. One night the female Italian roommate and I made pasta with my marinara sauce. And one night, the Greek guys made Kotopoulo me Lemoni sto fourno me Patates or roasted lemon chicken with potatoes. It is a very simple dish, but bursting with lemony goodness. It is better if you make this with fresh oregano, but you can use dried. I used fresh zaatar, which is a distant cousin, because I did not have any oregano on hand.

Kotopoulo me Lemoni sto fourno me Patates - (Roasted Lemon Chicken and Potatoes)

Serving Size: 4 to 6

1 chicken cut into eight pieces

3-4 medium-size red potatoes, cut into quarters

Juice of 3 large lemons

2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano or 2-3 teaspoons of dried oregano

1 head of garlic, separated into cloves, with skins left on

1 large onion, sliced thinly

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Place the onion, garlic cloves and potatoes in a roasting pan, sprinkle half of the oregano, salt (omit if using kosher chicken) and pepper. Drizzle olive oil over everything in the pan and then gently toss until the potatoes are coated with the oil and oregano. Place the chicken on top of the potato-onion-garlic mixture and the rest of the oregano on the chicken. Pour the lemon juice over everything in the pan, and bake at 180C (350F) for 1 hour or until the chicken and potatoes are a nice golden brown.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2009/12/31/greek-lemon-chicken-and-potatoes/

Dec 292009
 

It was my turn again to bring goodies for my team’s weekly Kabbalat Shabbat. Since my turn fell on Christmas Eve and given the fact that none of us celebrate Christmas, I thought I would do something unusual and make a typical German Christmas fruit cake that no one on my team had ever seen or tasted.

Stollen is something that is very familiar to me because my family would eat it along with lebkuchen, speculaas, and my grandmother’s famous butter cookies for Hannukah and the end of the year family celebrations. My grandmother never made a stollen at home, but she always received one from family friends in Germany. I thought it would be fun to make one. Now I know why my grandmother never made it and only served it once a year. It is an absolute calorie bomb! Only make this if you are giving 99.9% of it away as I did. Of course, you are welcome to eat as much as you want, it is absolutely delicious, but don’t tell me I didn’t warn you about your growing hips.

I think most of the team liked it because they are still talking about it this week and asking me when I am going to bake another one.

I would like to wish all of you a very Happy Holidays and a Peaceful 2010 from the Tapuzina baronial dynasty.

Holiday Stollen

Yield: Makes 2 loaves, each about 700 grams (1 1/2 pounds)

2/3 cup black raisins

2/3 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup dried cherries or dried cranberries

1/3 cup dark rum

1 cup almond halves, lightly toasted

1 package active dry yeast (25g fresh yeast)

1/2 cup milk, at room temperature

4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar

2 3/4 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and reserved

450g (4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

1 large egg yolk

1/2 cup chopped candied ginger

1/4 cup chopped candied orange

1/4 cup chopped candied lemon

2 cups icing sugar

DSC03847

The night before baking, put the raisins, cherries or cranberries, and rum in a small bowl.

DSC03848

Put the almonds with 1/4 cup water in another small bowl. Cover both and let sit overnight at room temperature.

Stollen Starter

The next day, in an electric mixer with paddle attachment, set on low speed, make the starter by mixing the yeast with milk until dissolved. Add 1 cup flour and mix until a soft, sticky dough forms, about 2 minutes. Transfer the starter to a lightly greased bowl, cover with oiled or buttered plastic wrap, and let rest for 40 minutes at room temperature.

In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment and set on low speed, mix the remaining 3 cups of flour, 3 tablespoons of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, lemon zest and vanilla seeds. With the motor running, pour in 1 cup of melted butter. Mix at low speed for 1 minute, then add the egg yolk. Mix until liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute more. You may have to add a little milk if the mixture is still too dry.

Divide the starter into 3 pieces and add it to the mixing bowl, 1 piece at a time, mixing at low speed until each addition is thoroughly combined, 2 to 3 minutes after each addition. After the starter is absorbed, mix the dough on a medium speed until glossy, 4 to 5 minutes.

DSC03846

Add the almonds, candied ginger, candied orange and candied lemon, and mix at low speed until combined, 2 to 3 minutes. Then add the raisins, cherries, and rum, and mix until combined, 2 to 3 minutes more.

Stollen Dough

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until the fruit and nuts are well mixed into the dough rather than sitting on the surface, and the dough is smooth and glossy, about 5 minutes. Place the dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest for 1 hour to let rise slightly, then knead it once or twice, cover with plastic and let rest for another hour.

Shaped Stollen

Divide into two equal pieces and shape each into an oval loaf about 20cm (8 inches) long. Stack two rimmed baking sheets on top of each other, lining the top sheet with parchment paper. Place the loaves on top and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the loaves to rest for 1 more hour at room temperature.

Baked Stollen

About 20 minutes before the rise is completed, preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Remove the plastic wrap and bake for about 1 hour. The loaves should be uniformly dark golden brown and the internal temperature taken from middle of each loaf should be 88C (190F).

Stollen covered in Ginger Sugar

Meanwhile, mix the remaining 3/4 cup sugar and 2-1/4 teaspoons ground ginger in a small bowl. When stollen is done, transfer the top pan onto a wire cooling rack (leave stollen on pan). While still hot, brush the stollen with the remaining 1 cup of melted butter, letting the butter soak into loaves. Sprinkle the ginger sugar on the tops and sides of the loaves. When the loaves are completely cool, cover loosely parchment paper or foil and let sit at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight.

The next day, sift 1-1/2 cups of confectioners’ sugar over the loaves, rolling to coat the bottom and sides evenly with sugar. Wrap each loaf in plastic and let sit at room temperature for at least 2 days before sifting the remaining 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar over the loaves before serving.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2009/12/29/holiday-stollen/

Dec 212009
 

I used to be quite active in several food forums like eGullet, but I started having problems when I posted a recipe or a link to a blog post where I had changed the recipe slightly due to kashrut issues. People started arguing with me about how the recipe was no longer authentic, such as my mother-in-law’s chicken paprikàs recipe. She is 100% Hungarian and the recipe doesn’t contain sour cream, so I was very annoyed when someone who claimed to be half-Hungarian told me not once, but three times that the recipe was not chicken paprikàs, that is was pörkölt and that I couldn’t call the dish paprikàs because it didn’t have sour cream in it. I have another recipe for pörkölt with slightly different ingredients, and frankly didn’t have the patience to argue with him other than to tell him that I would like for him to tell my 92-year-old mother-in-law Holocaust survivor,  a tough woman who survived two Gestapo interrogations, that her recipe was not authentic. Why can’t kosher versions of a national dish also be authentic, especially when they are made by a native of that country and they were made by generations of Jews while they lived there?

My family has always made variations of a dish, especially when the dish called for pork, such as bacon or sausage. For example, frijoles negros (black beans). The recipe my father made called for pork knuckle, so he used to make it with beef kielbasa sausage. A lot of cooks in Eastern Europe and France would substitute smoked goose for bacon in dishes that called for a smokey pork flavour. Does it change the taste from the original? Probably. But one could argue that the kosher version is also original.

When a meat recipe has a dairy ingredient, I do not replace it with a non-dairy substitute. I really dislike non-dairy creamers,  while rice and soy milk are usually too sweet to substitute. So when I found another Ad Hoc recipe for Thomas Keller’s famous fried chicken, I had to think long and hard if I wanted to make it because it called for buttermilk. I read a couple of kosher sites that suggested substituting coconut milk with lemon juice, but I was afraid that the coconut taste would be a more than subtle flavour additive. I decided to replace the regular flour with self-raising whole wheat flour and dip the chicken in water. I know that this altered the recipe significantly because the crust was not as crunchy, but it was partly my fault by not double-dipping the chicken. I should have first dredged the chicken in flour, then the water, and then again in the flour. I only did a single dip. However, even with all the changes I had to make, the chicken was delicious and I will make it again. Next year, though, I will use half the salt because there is already enough salt on a kosher chicken. The lemon brine tenderizes the chicken and also adds a nice flavour from the thyme and rosemary. The flour mixture is just peppery enough.

Ad Hoc Lemon-Brined Fried Chicken

Serving Size: 8

Adapted recipe from Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller

3-3/4 liters (1 gallon) cold water

1/2 cup kosher salt

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey

12 bay leaves

1 head of garlic, smashed but not peeled

2 tablespoons black peppercorns

3 large rosemary sprigs

1 small bunch of thyme

1 small bunch of parsley

Finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons

Two 1-1/2 kg (3-pound) kosher chickens

3 cups whole wheat self-raising flour

2 tablespoons garlic powder

2 tablespoons onion powder

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

Vegetable oil, for frying

Rosemary and thyme sprigs, for garnish

In a very large pot, combine 1 liter (1 quart) of the water with the salt, honey, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns, rosemary, thyme and parsley. Add the lemon zest and juice and the lemon halves and bring to a simmer over moderate heat, stirring until the salt is dissolved. Cool completely and stir in the remaining 2-3/4 liters (3 quarts) of cold water. Add the chickens, making sure they are completely submerged, and refrigerate overnight.

Drain the chickens and pat dry. Scrape off any herbs or peppercorns stuck to the skin and cut each bird into 8 pieces. Make sure you keep the chicken on the bone to ensure moistness.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne. Put cold water in a medium size bowl. Working with a few pieces at a time, dip the chicken in the water, then dredge in the flour mixture, pressing so it adheres all over. Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

In a very large, deep skillet, heat 2.5 cm (1 inch) of vegetable oil to 165C (330F). Fry the chicken in 2 or 3 batches over moderate heat, turning once, until golden and crunchy and a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of each piece registers 71C (160F), about 20 minutes. Drain the oil from the chicken on paper towels, and keep warm in a low oven while frying the remaining chicken pieces. Transfer the chicken to a platter, garnish with the herb sprigs and serve hot or at room temperature.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2009/12/21/lemon-brined-fried-chicken-for-hannukah/

Dec 152009
 

If you have been following me for a while, you know by now that I like to try something different each year for Hannukah as well as other holidays in the Jewish calendar. Most of the time they turn out great and sometimes they don’t turn out so great. Usually I don’t blog about the disasters. I tried making pumpkin fritters for the first night of Hannukah. They smelled great, they looked good, but they tasted like fried goo. Thank goodness I had a lovely gargantuan fresh mango for Plan B.

I had bought chestnut flour a while back and kept forgetting to make something with it. I found all sorts of interesting recipes only to find out they tasted terrible. Either they were dry and tasteless or wet and gooey. I found an Italian recipe for chestnuts puffs and thought I would give them a try. The worst that could happen was that I will never buy chestnut flour again.

The dough did not rise very much and I didn’t have high hopes on the dough puffing up at all, but lo and behold, the dough did work. The taste is very interesting, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. They have the faint sweetness of fresh chestnut. Mr BT loved them. They are not very sweet, they almost taste like a fried graham cracker, but not. I am still on the fence about whether I really like them or not, but buying more chestnut flour is a great excuse for going to Umbria on another holiday. Maybe I do like the puffs after all.

Sgonfiotti di Castagne - (Hannukah Chestnut Puffs)

Yield: Approximately 40 puffs

1/2 cup warm water

2-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

1-1/4 chestnut flour

1/4 icing sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

1-1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 large egg

1 teaspoon salt

Vegetable oil

Mix the warm water and yeast in mixing bowl of an electric mixer. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

In separate bowl, mix 1/2 cup of chestnut flour, the icing sugar and cinnamon; set aside.

In the mixing bowl, add the remaining 3/4 chestnut flour, all purpose flour, granulated sugar, butter, egg, and salt. Beat at medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for 45 minutes.

Heat about 7cm (3 inches) of oil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat.

Divide the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll one piece of dough to 3mm (1/8-inch) thick. Cut rounds using a floured 38mm (1-1/2 inch) round cutter.

Fry the rounds, about 10 at a time, turning once until puffed golden, 30 to 45 seconds. Drain on a paper towel. Dust with the reserved chestnut-sugar mixture and serve warm or a room temperature.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2009/12/15/sgonfiotti-di-castagne-hannuka-chestnut-puffs/

Dec 122009
 

I know I should have made something Greek for Hannukah if I wanted to make something from the relevant ancient enemy of the Macabbees, but I couldn’t find anything that sparked my interest. So, I decided to make an Assyrian dish. They did conquer Israel in 772BC and scattered the tribes throughout the Middle East. But don’t worry, I don’t harbor any bad feelings towards the Assyrians. They are our brothers and still speak a variation of the language of my forefathers, Aramaic. The Assyrians have been Christian for almost two thousand years and make up a small, persecuted, minority in Iraq; many of them fled during the period since the fall of Saddam Hussein because of the violence between the different Muslim factions in Iraq.

Mr BT forgot that we would not be eating at home on Thursday and had taken out some ground beef from the freezer. So, I had to figure out what Hannukah inspired dish I was going to make with ground beef. I didn’t want to make kebab or stuffed vegetables like I normally do. I remembered that I had seen recipes for potato patties stuffed with ground meat, but was always afraid that they would be lead bombs in the stomach. But, in the spirit of Hannukah, I decided to give it a try. Potato patties are eaten in a variety of countries, using a variety of spices or no spices at all. The Russian version are quite bland, while the Algerian and Iraqi versions are quite flavourful. I decided to make a fusion version from Algerian and Assyrian recipes for potato patties filled with minced beef or lamb. The potato exterior is from an Algerian recipe and the meat mixture is Assyrian.

Mr BT calls this type of cooking “Con-fusion” cooking. Con, as in Congress, the opposite of progress. Okay, I know, stop with the bad jokes and get back to cooking.

The potato chaps were surprisingly light and full of spicy goodness. The spices are quite subtle, so make sure you taste the meat before making the patties. If you want to see a good step-by-step pictorial of how to make them, see Mimi’s photos from Israeli Kitchen.

Chag Hannukah Sameach from Mr BT and Baroness Tapuzina!

Potato Chaps or Potato Kibbeh

Serving Size: 4-6 as a main course

Potato Mixture:

1kg (2lbs) white potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters

2 eggs

1 medium onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped

Meat filling:

1/4 kg (1/2lb) lean ground beef

1 small onion, minced

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/4 cup parsley

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

1 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cardamom

Pinch of ground cloves

Pinch of ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup canola oil or oil of your choice

Flour for dredging

Cook potatoes in water, until tender. Drain the potatoes and mash them until smooth. Add eggs, onion, garlic, salt, turmeric, cinnamon and parsley.

In a frying pan, saute the onion and garlic in a little olive oil. Add the ground beef, parsley, pine nuts, and all of the spices. Cook until the meat is cooked through. Set aside to cool.

Moisten your hands with water, and take a couple of tablespoons of the potato mixture, flatten it in the palm of your hand. Place 1 tablespoon of the the meat mixture in the middle. Carefully bring the sides of the potato over the meat mixture. You may have to add a little more of the potato mixture to the top of the patty. Close the patty and flatten it. Moisten your hands in cold water before you make each patty. Place the patties on a tray and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Dredge the patties lightly in flour before frying.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2009/12/12/assyrian-inspired-hannukah/

Dec 072009
 

I don’t always make a dessert for Shabbat, but sometimes Mr. BT requests something a little sweet. I haven’t made anything with molasses in years, in fact, I think it was when I was a child and I helped my mother make and decorate gingerbread men for a holiday party at my school. The supermarket near my home had regular and robust molasses for sale. I was a bit surprised since most of the people who shop there are Yemenite, but maybe they make something with molasses that I don’t know about.

Mr. BT was not too excited about anything with molasses, so I had to find something that would appeal to his love of anything ginger. I found an interesting recipe for Molasses Crumb Cake from the King Arthur Flour website. Usually their recipes are a bit too American for my taste, but every once in a while they surprise me with an interesting recipe. The cake is a one bowl cake that is perfect to make on short Fridays during the winter. It is moist and has a burst of spiciness that made Mr BT say “Yum!” A half recipe turned out fine.

Molasses Crumb Cake

Serving Size: 24

Slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour

3 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground ginger

220g (2 sticks) unsalted butter or margarine, cold and cut into 2-1/2 cm (1-inch) pieces

1 cup robust molasses

2 large eggs

1 cup hot water

1 teaspoon sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Grease and flour 22cm x 33 cm (9x13-inch) pan.

Mix the flour, sugar, and ginger in a large bowl. Cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly, like coarse cornmeal. Set aside 1 cup of the mixture. Add the molasses, eggs, water, and baking soda to the remaining crumb mixture and hand-whisk until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the reserved crumb mixture evenly over the top of the batter.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool to lukewarm before serving.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2009/12/07/molasses-crumb-cake/

Dec 052009
 

Even though it is December and it should be raining in Israel, winter hasn’t really begun. On Friday, I was out in a short-sleeved shirt planting baby pansies, some unknown flowering purple and white plants, and burgundy and white petunias. I am preparing the “garden” for the winter. I am cutting down the basil and lemongrass. The rest of the herbs, such as thyme and rosemary, should endure the winter weather.

Since it isn’t that cold, I haven’t felt like making the hearty winter soups that I usually make to keep us warm and cozy, but there was a sale on cauliflower and I saw an interesting recipe for cauliflower soup from Thomas Keller’s latest cookbook, Ad Hoc at Home. It is very easy to make and has a slight hint of curry in it. The recipe calls for 1/4 teaspoon of curry, but I used one teaspoon of hot madras curry and it was still subtle. I also used 10% fat cooking cream instead of heavy cream and it was still luscious and creamy.

After a small bowl of soup, I served baked salmon with a lemon-artichoke pesto on a bed of mashed Jerusalem artichokes and petit pois on the side. The pesto had the perfect amount of acidity from the lemon juice and capers. It was a nice and light addition to the thick soup.

Comfort Food – Cream of Cauliflower Soup

Serving Size: 10-12 as a first course

From Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller

2 heads cauliflower (2 to 2-1/2 kg or 4 to 5 pounds total)

50g (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter

3/4 cup coarsely chopped leeks (white and light green parts only)

3/4 cup coarsely chopped onion

1 teaspoon hot madras curry powder or curry of your choice

Salt

2 cups milk

2 cups heavy cream

2 cups water

1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

Extra virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

Remove the leaves from cauliflower, and cut out the core. Trim the stems and reserve them. For the garnish, trim 2 cups of florets about the size of a quarter and set aside.

Coarsely chop the remaining cauliflower and the stems into 1-inch pieces so that they will cook in the same amount of time. You need 8 cups of cauliflower.

Melt 40g (3 tablespoons) of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, leeks, curry, and chopped cauliflower. Season with 2 teaspoons of salt, cover, and cook stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are almost tender, about 20 minutes.

Pour in the milk, cream, and water, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes, skimming off the foam from time-to-time.

Using a stick blender, puree the cauliflower at the lowest speed, and blend until smooth and velvety. Check the seasoning, and add more salt if needed. If the soups is too thick, you can dilute it with a little water. At this point, the soup can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil, Add the vinegar and the reserved cauliflower florets, and blanch until tender, approximately 4 to 6 minutes. The vinegar will help keep the cauliflower white. Drain. Melt the remaining butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat, swirling the pan, until the butter turns a rich golden brown. Add the florets and saute until the cauliflower is lightly brown.

To serve, top each serving with a few cauliflower florets, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2009/12/05/comfort-food/

Salmon with Lemon Artichoke Pesto

4 salmon fillets, skinned

1 can artichoke hearts

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3 cloves garlic, crushed

Pinch red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon capers, drained well

2 teaspoons finely minced lemon zest

3 tablespoons pesto

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

1/2 teaspoon minced rosemary

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F).

Combine the artichokes, lemon juice, garlic, pepper flakes, oil, capers, lemon zest, and pesto in the food processor. Pulse a few times until the mixture is still chunky. Stir in the fresh herbs.

Lay a fillet on top of a large square of foil and spread 2 tablespoons of the mixture on top of the salmon , fold up to enclose the fillets, and tightly crimp the edges to seal the pouches. Repeat with the remaining fillets. Place on a large baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2009/12/05/comfort-food/

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