Apr 292010
 

I have had people ask me if there is any type of food that I really miss having here in Israel, and I usually say real Chinese and Indian restaurants. But, last week I saw a big container of frozen blackberries on sale and it reminded me of the beautiful container of large, sweet blackberries my sister bought when I was visiting her in the States a few months ago. I really miss fresh berries of all kinds, especially raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. There were blackberry bushes at the end of the street where I grew up, and every summer I would go and pick some to eat on the spot, or gather some and take them home, where they were made into delicious blackberry pies. You can find berries growing in northern Israel, but you have to pay double or triple what you pay in the States for them, and you only get a very small container.

I put some of the blackberries on top of a bowl of sheep’s yogurt and the rest I used to make a quick and easy coffeecake for Shabbat.

Lemon-Blackberry Coffeecake

Serving Size: 8 to 10

For the streusel:

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup all purpose flour

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon lemon zest

40g (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

For the cake:

50g (1/2 stick) butter, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg, room temperature

1/2 cup plain yogurt, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons lemon zest

1 cup fresh or frozen blackberries, well drained

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Lightly butter a 22cm (8 inch) round pan or use a corrugated paper baking round.

For the streusel:

Whisk together the sugar, flour, lemon zest and salt in a medium-size bowl. Mix in the softened butter into the flour mixture until it resembles granola, some larger chunks, some smaller. Set the mixture aside.

For the cake:

Cream the butter and sugar until light colored and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until combined. Be sure to scrape down the bowl. Beat in the yogurt and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and lemon zest. Add to the batter, mixing only until combined. Do not over mix or the cake will be tough. Gently fold in the blackberries until well distributed throughout the batter. Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle with the lemon streusel mixture until the batter is completely covered.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 15-20 minutes before serving.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2010/04/29/lemon-blackberry-coffeecake/

Apr 232010
 

I am not a big Mexican food eater, mainly because I do not like avocados and refried beans. I know that Mexican food is so much more than that; I just haven’t taken the time to learn more about Mexican cuisine. One dish I have made before is chicken mole which is made with a sauce that contains Mexican chocolate and chilies. I have used chocolate in savory dishes before and find that it adds an extra creaminess to the dish.

It is very difficult to find the ingredients you need to make Mexican dishes in Israel, and I had to improvise when I decided to make something with the kosher corn tortillas I bought at my parent’s local supermarket a few months ago. I found a very interesting recipe for cheese enchiladas that I had to try. I had to find a way to make the red mole without compromising too much on the taste using ingredients that are ready available here. I could not find dry mild chili powder, so I used sweet paprika, some cayenne pepper that I brought back from the States, and a whole, seeded red chili pepper. Believe it or not, it worked. It tasted like what I remember having in a restaurant, but I would like to make it next time with Oaxacan Mole which is amazing stuff. I have no idea where I will find dried guajillo chilies and dried epazote here to make the recipe. I guess I will have to wait until my next visit to the States.

The other problem we have here is that I cannot buy Monterrey Jack or Muenster cheeses. I have never seen them at any cheese shop or cheese counter in Israel. So, I decided to buy Fontina as a substitute, which was expensive, but was perfect for this dish. Next time, I will try making it with Gouda or Edam, which are less expensive alternatives.


Goat Cheese Enchiladas with Corn and Red Mole

slightly adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

For the enchiladas:

1/4 cup golden raisins

1/4 cup pine nuts

2 Tbs olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels

1 1/2 cups grated Jack or Muenster cheese (I used Fontina)

2 cups soft goat cheese

1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

salt and pepper

12 corn tortillas

For the red mole:

1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds

1 1/4 teaspoons each of anise seeds, cumin and dried oregano (I omitted the anise seeds because I didn't have any)

2 /12 Tbs olive oil

1 small onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup ground sweet paprika

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 small red chili, seeded and minced

1 oz 70% bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped or Mexican chocolate

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (omit if you use Mexican chocolate)

Salt

1-1/2 cups water

1 tsp white wine vinegar

Corn_Cheese_Filling

For the enchiladas:

Cover the raisins with warm water and set aside. Brown the pine nuts in a dry skillet and set aside. Add the 2 tablespoons of oil to the same skillet and saute the onion and garlic over medium heat to soften, then add the corn and cook for a couple of minutes more depending on whether the corn is fresh or frozen. Drain the raisins and put in a bowl with the pine nuts, onion and corn mixture, 1 cup of Fontina, the goat cheese and the cilantro. Mix everything thoroughly and add salt and pepper to taste.

Fry the tortillas briefly in olive oil, drain them on a paper towel, and fill them with the cheese mixture. Roll them and place them seam-side down in a baking dish. Make the mole. At this point, you can refrigerate the enchiladas.

For the red mole:

Toast the seeds and oregano in a dry skillet, then remove to a plate as soon as they smell fragrant. Grind in a mortar. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onion. Cook, stirring frequently for about for minutes, or until onion is brown on the edges, then add garlic and ground spices and cook for one minute more. Remove from heat, let the pan cool for a minute, then stir the ground chili into the onions along with the water. Return to the stove and bring to a boil, stirring slowly but constantly so that the chili doesn't burn. It will thicken as it cooks, so add a little water if it gets too thick. Add the chocolate and stir until it has melted. Simmer for ten minutes, then stir in the vinegar to bring all the flavors together. Taste and add salt, if necessary.

When you are ready to bake the enchiladas, preheat the oven to 190C (375F). Pour the mole sauce over the enchiladas, sprinkle with the rest of the Fontina and bake until heated through, about 20 minutes.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2010/04/23/chili-and-chocolate/

Apr 192010
 

I am so lucky to live in a small country where I have the opportunity to meet so many interesting people. I especially enjoy meeting people who take pride in their work and make products with love, like Ziv Schwartzman does.

Early in our courtship, Mr. BT invited me to go away on our first weekend trip to the North. He booked a lovely zimmer in a sleepy village, known for its history, called Bat Shlomo, which is not far inland from Zichron Yaakov. Bat Shlomo was founded in 1889 and is one of the earliest Jewish settlements of the modern period. The original village consists of one charming street that contains beautiful stone houses with terracotta tiled roofs; the one above is my dream house.

However, we didn’t  manage to visit Bat Shlomo’s most important attraction during that trip because we were busy visiting other places and friends who lived in the area. It took us eight years before we had a chance to go back during working hours and make up for the missed opportunity.

When you enter the archway to the courtyard of Schwartzman Dairy, you are transported back in time to a period when the early settlers built the country with their hands, and cutting stones and setting them into walls was still backbreaking work.

The family has done a lovely job of decorating the courtyard with old pots, sewing machines, cartwheels, and plows in every nook and cranny.

The store, where you can taste and purchase all of their cheeses on offer, also serves as a museum displaying family photographs from 100 years ago, documents from the Turkish and British era, farm tools, household utensils, and family heirlooms.

The storefront brought a smile to my face and reminded me of the old dry-goods stores that were in most small towns in the United States. Okay, they didn’t sell labane and olives, but still.

Ziv Schwartzman is a third generation cheesemaker, olive grower, and producer of olive oil. He wants you to love his cheese as much as he loves making it, and you can’t help submitting to his enthusiasm, because all of his organic cow and goat cheeses are delicious, have depth of flavour and make you want to take some home, which of course we did.

We left with a bag full of goodies, including delicious labane with herbs, and black raspberry jam.

We also brought home a Tzfatit with herbs, Tomme, and a Chevrotine.  The cheese at the bottom of the picture is an English cheddar with cranberries that we purchased elsewhere.

We also sampled their delicious homegrown olives, olive oil, and jams.

They also sell a variety of spices, pickled vegetables, and bottles of soda pop from days gone by.

You can order a cheese platter and other goodies to eat on the premises and wash it down with their hot cider or if you’re lucky enough you can try their orgasmic malabi with carob and date honey, which Ziv graciously gave us to taste. I have to admit that I am not a huge fan of the watery malabi with fake raspberry syrup, and the even worse parve version with fake chocolate syrup and coconut that you find in restaurants; but as Ziv said, “This is not Tel Aviv malabi!”. This, my friends, is the best damn malabi I have ever had and I am sure he will not part with the recipe. It is milky, silky, and not too sweet; the combination of date honey and carob honey is a perfect marriage and I am going back very soon to have another one.

Apr 132010
 

Well, not really, but fresh garlic on your front porch does!

This past Friday I went to Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem with two foodie girlfriends, Mimi from Israeli Kitchen and Sarah from Foodbridge. We had a great time exploring the market finding all sorts of goodies to try. I came home with fontina, mahleb, pear cider from Normandy, a loaf of currant and walnut bread, artichokes, and 6 kilos of braided fresh garlic. I thought Mr. BT was going to kill me for buying so much garlic, but his Hungarian side was pleased as a peasant in the countryside. I thought my car was going to smell like a Romanian kitchen, but it wasn’t too bad, or maybe I just like the smell of garlic. We hung the beautiful braid on our shady front porch to dry.

I am always looking for quick dishes to make during the week and I had some ricotta and spinach I bought to use during Passover, but never got around to using. So, I used them to make a very quick, light and delicious Italian dish called Malfatti. It is a Tuscan dish made with ingredients that are used to fill ravioli. In fact it was probably concocted when someone had made too much ravioli filling. There are various versions of this dish, including one served with a brown butter and sage sauce, but I served mine with a tomato and fresh garlic sauce. They are like little soft pillows in your mouth, but without having to pick the feathers from between your teeth.

Malfatti di Spinaci e Ricotta

Serving Size: 4 to 6 serving as a light main course and 6 to 8 a

(Spinach and Ricotta Malfatti)

500g (1lb) ricotta

2 cups chopped frozen spinach, thawed and moisture squeezed out

100g (1/2 cup) butter, melted

1/4 cup semolina, plus more for shaping

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

4 large egg yolks

1 large whole egg

Freshly ground black pepper

Parmesan cheese

Put a teaspoon of semolina into a narrow wineglass. Drop in a ball and swirl until it forms an oval. Repeat. (You may need to add more semolina) You can freeze them at this point.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in the malfatti and cook until they float, about 8 minutes. (If frozen, 10 minutes.) Drain malfatti and place on plates or in a flat bowl. Serve with tomato sauce or a brown butter and sage sauce, and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padana

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2010/04/13/malfatti-di-spinaci-e-ricotta-keeps-the-vampires-away/

Apr 042010
 

We have had a lovely Pesach with family and friends. We went to a powerful and moving play at the Susan Dellal Center for Dance and Theatre in Neve Tzedek, called Silver Spoons. It is performed by members of non-profit group called Knafayim (‘Wings’). This organization provides an opportunity for artistically talented people with special needs to train to be actors, dancers, musicians and artists.

The play is about a group of actors who are mentally disabled, mainly with Down’s Syndrome. Each actor tells a true story about themselves, some of them quite disturbing, such as the women who spoke about being raped. I laughed, I cried, and I cheered for their courage and their amazing talent. But, the most important thing you walk away with is that they just wanted to be respected like any other human being. They have dreams just like you and me. They dream of being a professional dancer, a taxi driver, an actress,  and a bride. I think everyone in Israel should attend the wonderful play and more importantly help this organization realize their dream of  having a center for the arts.

For the final evening of Pesach, I made a delicious, melt-in-your-mouth, roasted lamb shoulder with baby artichokes. I marinated the lamb for over 24 hours in red wine, fresh herbs, cinnamon and white wine vinegar. Mr. BT is a very happy man tonight. I hope that you all had a lovely Pesach or Easter celebration with your family.

Roasted Lamb Shoulder with Baby Artichokes

Serving Size: 6

2.5kg (6lbs) lamb shoulder, cut into 4 very thick chops, about 1/2kg (1.5lbs) each

2 medium carrots, cut in 2.5cm (1-inch) chunks, (about 2 cups)

2 medium onions, cut in large chunks (about 3 cups)

1 cinnamon stick, 7.5cm (3-inches) long

6 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled

4 small branches of fresh rosemary

8 fresh sage leaves

3 sprigs fresh thyme

3 sprigs of fresh za'atar

1/2 teaspoon coarsely black pepper

1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

2 cups dry red wine

1/2 cup white wine vinegar

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups light chicken stock

12 baby artichokes

DSC04204

Trim most of the fat from the chops, leaving only a very thin layer on the outside surface. Put the meat in a large bowl with all of the ingredients except for the stock and the artichokes. Toss well to distribute all of the seasonings, and submerge the meat in the marinade. Seal the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours. Turn the meat occasionally.

DSC04250

Heat the oven to 180C (350F). Arrange the meat in a roasting pan, spread the marinade all around them, and pour in the stock. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and roast for 3 hours, basting and turning the meat every 30 minutes or so. Remove the pan from the oven, turn the oven up to 200C (400F).

Cut the artichokes in half, removing the choke and place them in the pan. Put the pan back in the oven, cover with foil, and cook for another hour or until the lamb is tender. Serve with the pan juices.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2010/04/04/roasted-lamb-shoulder-with-baby-artichokes/

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