Time to Bake Bread

I have been under the weather since last Friday and I stayed home today. The dinner I planned to make on Sunday night (see Spanish and Italian-Inspired Shabbat Dinner) has been postponed until Friday night. Yes, I am still making the matza fritters! And, I will post the photos.

I am really not a very good patient. My colleagues accuse me of being a workaholic. Maybe they are right…. I called work three times today and checked my office email three times. My name is Baroness Tapuzina and I am a workaholic.

So, how does one cure being a workaholic? Bake some bread. Since Pesach is officially over, I decided we needed a loaf of bread, so I got my stashed away flour and put it back in the kitchen. I decided to make my quick and easy whole wheat walnut bread and my husband came in and said, “How about making it with 50% whole wheat and 50% rye?” So I did.

What I like about this recipe is that it is very versatile. You can do half whole wheat, half all purpose or rye flour or all whole wheat. I also have made it with pumpkin seeds or walnuts and raisins. Use your imagination.

Whole Wheat Walnut Bread

Yield: 1 lb (450 g) loaf

1 1/4 cup (300 g) whole wheat flour, plus a little for dusting

1 slightly rounded teaspoon salt

1 slightly rounded teaspoon dried yeast

7 oz warm water

1 level teaspoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon walnut oil or olive oil

1/2 cup (110 g) walnut pieces

1/2 cup (110 g) dark or golden raisins (optional)

Lightly grease a 12 x 10 in (30 x 25.5 cm) baking sheet or line it with a silpat liner.

Put the flour, salt and yeast together in a mixing bowl. Whisk the warm water, brown sugar and walnut oil until the sugar has dissolved. Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture and either mix by hand or using the dough hook of your electric mixer. Mix to form a dough, adding a further tablespoon or two of water if it appears too dry. The dough should start to pull away from the sides of the bowl and yet not be so soft that it clings to your hands and sticks to the work surface.

Either stop the machine and knead for approximately 5 minutes by hand or until elastic or knead in your electric mixer. If possible, avoid using any additional flour because, as you knead, the dough will become more elastic and less sticky.

Press the dough out into a rough 12 inch (30 cm) square, and sprinkle the dried fruit and nuts over the surface. Roll up the dough, like a jelly roll and then knead briefly again to distribute the fruit and nuts evenly. Shape the dough into an oblong or round and place on the baking sheet and cover with a piece of oiled cellophane.

Walnut Bread Dough

Let rise in a warm place for about 1-1/4 hours or until the dough has almost doubled in size. Put two or three slash marks in the dough or mark with an X.

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) and bake for approximately 35 minutes.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/04/10/time-to-bake-bread/

Shabbat – A Special Moment in Time

Shabbat is a special time for me because it is about light, taste and touch. Light from the Shabbat candles, taste from the special foods that you prepare for your family and touch is the laying your hands on each other when you bless one another and your children.

I grew up in a small town in Alabama and there were hardly any single Jewish men for me to go out with. I never dated Jewish men until I was in my late twenties and early thirties. And then, I moved to Israel and met my husband. The first time we celebrated Shabbat together tears welled up in my eyes because I realized that this is what I was always looking for, someone to spend Shabbat with me who understands the emotions behind this special moment in time.

My husband and I take turns preparing Shabbat dinner. We both like to experiment with different herbs, spices, fruits and sauces.

Last Friday, my husband made roasted chicken and stuffed it with oranges and sprinkled orange juice, grated orange rind, rosemary, thyme and garlic on the chicken. He then placed carrots, sweet potato slices and quartered white potatoes around the chicken and roasted it the oven.

Sometimes I stuff the chicken with rice, couscous or bulgar and add dried cherries or apricots or figs, orange quarters, fresh ginger and lemons or put pomegranate molasses on the chicken. It just depends on my mood.

I make the challah that my father taught me how to bake. He is an excellent cook and I owe most of my cooking skills to him. This is not a quick and dirty recipe, but it makes the most delicious, rich challah. It is a great bread to use for French toast.

Challah

Yield: 1 wedding size loaf, 2 large loaves, 3 medium loaves or 4 small loaves

This recipe is from The First Jewish Catalog: A Do-It-Yourself Kit. This is a cake-like challah. Great for the holidays or anytime.

2 c lukewarm water

3 pkg or 3 tbsp. dry yeast or 1 cube (50g) fresh yeast

8 c or more unbleached flour

1-1/2 c sugar

1-1/2 tsp salt

1/2 lb (224g) butter or margarine

4 beaten eggs

1 beaten egg for glaze

Variation: add golden raisins during first kneading. Reduce sugar by 1/2 cup.

Mix water and yeast in a very large bowl. Add 3 c. flour and 1 c. sugar. Stir with a fork and let rise 30 minutes in a warm place.

Meanwhile, put the remaining flour, sugar and salt in another bowl. Add margarine or butter and cut with a knife until mixture resembles coarse meal.

At the end of 30 minutes, add 4 eggs to the yeast mixture and stir well (will decrease in volume).

Add flour/margarine mixture to the yeast mixture and knead in the bowl. If sticky, add up to 2 more cups of flour.

Knead well on floured board until smooth and elastic. Put in oiled bowl and cover with towel. Put in warm place and let rise 2 hours or until doubled.

Punch down. Knead lightly for a minute or two.

Divide into 1 to 4 parts depending on whether you want small, medium, large or wedding size loaves. Divide each part into 3 equal parts, roll into braids and braid, pinching ends. Place on an oiled or silicone-lined baking sheet(s). Cover and let rise in warm place as long as possible (3 - 5 hours).The longer you can let it rise without killing the yeast, the lighter it will be.

When the bread has finished rising, brush with the egg glaze and bake at 350F (180C) for 50-55 minutes (1 wedding size loaf), 45-50 minutes (2 large loaves), 30-45 minutes (3 medium loaves) or 30 minutes (4 small loaves).

This bread can be frozen for up to three months. Wrap in plastic wrap and heavy duty foil.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/03/29/shabbat-a-special-moment-in-time/

Baby It’s Cold Outside…Soup and Socca

It snowed in Jerusalem this morning and we had hail this afternoon in central Israel. Spring has not sprung yet. Jerusalem gets snow about once a year, but yesterday it didn’t stick.

I like visiting Jerusalem. I think it is a romantic city with all of the Jerusalem stone buildings and the skyline of the old city. The best way to get an overview of the old city is to climb on the roofs of the houses there. The view is amazing.

I really like going to outdoor markets. They are full of sights, sounds, smells and are also a great place to people watch. You can find some amazing faces in the market, like the amba man and the juice man. Their faces are timeless….just put another period costume on them and it could be the market 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem.

Mahane Yehuda market is just the market to see all of the things I described above. It has also revamped itself with chic cafes, restaurants and other shops. I was always afraid to go there because of the bombings. I only went there last summer, for the first time since I moved to Israel over six years ago.

The market is always busy, but it is very crowded on Thursday night and Friday morning. Everyone is busy finding things to prepare their Shabbat meals.

I found chickpea flour at the market. My husband and I went to Provence last summer for a glorious vacation and every since we tried the Nicoise specialty, socca, we wanted to try and make it at home. We had our first socca at Lou Pilha Levain Nice.

They prepare theirs on a copper pan. They specialize in serving Nicoise dishes and they do a wonderful job.

They have delicious gargantuan tourte de blette (upper left corner of the above photo), which is a sweet tart filled with swiss chard, raisin and pinenuts and sprinkled with icing sugar. Typical tourte de blette are not as thick as theirs.

Socca is a type of savoury pancake made of chickpea flour and water. It is dead easy to make, but not always easy to reproduce. You need to cook it at a very high temperature for a short period of time. It is typically cooked on a large round copper pan over a very hot wood fire or gas flame.

Of course we don’t have the big round copper pan and open fire they have to make this, but I thought I would give it a try with our cast iron plancha in the oven.

The other night, my husband made a delicious pot of minestrone con ceci (chickpea minestrone). He is refusing to give up the recipe. It is basically the farmers market, sans the fruit, in a bowl. Suffice it to say it was delicious and gave me an idea to try to finally make socca so we could say we had a ceci or hummous festival at our house. I decided to add fresh chives and fresh thyme to mine. It reminded me of Nice, but that is for another posting…..

Chive and Thyme Socca

Serving Size: 4 to 6

300g (1 cup + 5 tbsp) chickpea flour

500ml (2 cups) cold water

1 tsp salt

Pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp chopped fresh chives

1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme

Heat a cast iron skillet in a 240C/475F oven.

Mix together all of the ingredients above and whisk until you have a smooth batter. The batter should be thinner than crepe batter.

Socca batter

Brush a generous amount of oil on the pan. The oil should be smoking. Pour the batter on the hot plancha and cook with the oven door slightly ajar for the first couple of minutes and then turn on the grill (broiler) to maximum so that the socca can get crisp on top.

Socca on the Plancha

Keep an eye on it as it bubbles and rises, but make sure that it doesn't burn. It should only be slightly brown.

It should be slightly crisp on the outside, but creamy on the inside even though it should be about 1/8 of an inch or 3mm thick.

Cut it into squares.

I tried making it on the stovetop and it works, but you have to cook it like a crepe and turn it over. I prefer the oven method.

Socca with Chives

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/03/16/baby-its-cold-outsidesoup-and-socca/

Israeli Breakfast – Us Time

Friday is a day off and since the shops close at 3pm here, we try to do all of our Shabbat shopping on Wednesday or Thursday evening. This allows us to have a nice leisurely breakfast on Friday and also gives us time to talk about life and current events.

I think it is so important to find some “us time” to spend with your loved ones. Communication is definitely the key to a successful marriage. This is something I learned from my family. My grandmother also told me to always have dinner on the table and he won’t go looking for food at another restaurant. You can interpret that any way you want. 😉 And, she was married for almost 65 years, so she must have done something right.

My husband is originally from London and sometimes for a change, I make buttermilk scones for breakfast instead of making wholewheat bread or buying bread from our favourite bakery.

This morning was one of those days.

Making scones is not much different from making biscuits and they taste great with butter and honey, labane and jam or just plain. Sometimes I make them with walnuts or raisins.

David likes to spread fresh avocado on his! Yes, I realise that we are being a bit unconventional. We should be having them for afternoon tea with strawberry preserves and clotted cream, but we dare to be different.

Our usual Friday breakfast routine is Ilan’s coffee, fresh squeezed orange juice, fresh herb omelet and a scone or some sliced fresh bread.

Omelet with fresh thyme, chives, marjoram and sage

We always have labane, bulgarian cheese spread, cottage cheese and jams on the table. If I wasn’t allergic to raw tomato we would also have Israeli salad (tomato and cucumbers).

Various Israeli cheeses: Starting at 12:05, Tome, Smoked Emek, Sheep Cheese with Bay Leaves, Camembert, Tzaftit, Farmers Cheese with Nigella Seeds

Occasionally, we will go to a boutique dairy and buy sheep, goat or buffalo cheeses.

The picture above was taken at the Buffalo farm at Moshav Bitzaron. They have amazing buffalo milk cheeses. For example, the cheese on the left is Tzaftit with herbs and sesame seeds. It is a very mild cheese. They also have some of the best buffalo mozzarella and cow milk butter in the country. They let you try before you buy. And ….

The buffalo are adorable! They also have a petting zoo for the kids.

Scones

Yield: 8 to 10 scones

113g (1/2 stick) butter

5 to 7 cups self-raising flour

1 cup buttermilk

Preheat an oven to 220C (450F). Lightly grease a baking sheet with butter or use a silpat liner.

In a food processor, pulse the flour and butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer to a bowl.

Alternatively, in a bowl, stir together the dry ingredients. Then, using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk. Using a fork, mix together until a soft elastic dough forms.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead 5 or 6 times until the dough is smooth. Roll out about 3/4 inch thick. Using a scallop-edged cookie cutter 3 inches in diameter, cut out rounds. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet.

Bake the scones until they rise and are golden brown on top, about 15 minutes. Serve hot.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/03/10/israeli-breakfast-us-time/

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