Blood Orange Tart with Orange-Almond Crust

Blood Orange Tarts with Orange Almond Crust

When I hear someone say “blood oranges”, I am immediately whisked away to my time in Lugano and my many trips over the border into Italy. They have a perfume like no other and I loved having a tall freshly squeezed glass of the beautiful blood red juice. As I drank the sweet and tangy glass of nectar, I thought about the blue waters of Sicily. So when I made my weekly trip to my local organic farm shop and saw a crate full of blood oranges, my heart burst with joy. “Where are these from?”, I asked the green grocer. “They are from a farmer in  the Golan. They just arrived.”

Mr BT was returning from a business trip in a week, so I asked if they were going to be selling them for a while, and he said yes. So, a few days before Mr BT’s return, I bought enough for cocktails and for an idea I had for a Passover dessert. Initially, I was going to make an upside-down blood orange polenta cake which some Italian Jews serve for dessert on Passover, but the weather started getting warmer and I thought a nice simple tart with a creamy blood orange curd sounded more refreshing.

Blood Oranges

Until I cut into the orange, I was not sure what variety the oranges were, but as soon as I saw the dark red flesh, I knew they were the lovely Moro variety. The flavor is stronger and the perfume is more intense than a normal orange. It is more bitter than the other varieties, which is perfect for cocktails, marmalade, and creamy, luscious curd.

Blood Orange Juice

Mr BT and I have a history with blood orange juice: our guests were served a blood orange caipirinha when they arrived at the reception. The cocktail represented my Italian ancestry, payed homage to my Brazilian cousins, and reminded Mr BT that he was created from a beautiful love in Rome, the place where his parents married, lived, loved and made Mr BT.

The tart was made with simple ingredients, but delivered even more than I expected. It brought back beautiful memories of my time in Lugano and trips to Italy, my wedding, my in-laws’ grand love affair, and stirred the excitement of a early fall trip to one place neither one of us have been to: Sicily. We will be celebrating rather important, ahem, birthdays this year, and what better place to do so, than in beautiful Sicily?

Almond-Orange Tart Base

Blood Orange Tart with Orange-Almond Crust
For the curd:

6 egg yolks

Zest of 2 blood oranges (don't forget to grate the zest first before juicing)

125 milliliters (½ cup) blood orange juice

1-½ tablespoons lemon juice

165 grams (¾ cup) caster (superfine) sugar

70 grams (5 tbsp) cold butter, chopped

For the crust:

170 grams (6 ounces) whole almonds

1/4 cup caster (superfine) sugar

2 teaspoons blood orange zest

70 grams (5 tablespoons) butter, melted

For curd:

Place the egg yolks, orange juice, lemon juice and sugar in a saucepan over low heat and whisk to combine. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Remove from the heat and gradually add the butter, stirring well after each addition. Pour into a bowl, press a sheet of plastic wrap onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight. The curd should be thick.

For the crust:

Preheat oven to 180C (350°F) and butter a 22cm (9-inch) tart tin or 4 individual tart tins with a removable bottom.

In a food processor, grind the almonds with the sugar and orange zest until finely ground. Add the butter and pulse a few times, until the butter is evenly distributed. You may need to stir the mixture with a spatula before placing it in the tart tin. Pat almond mixture into the bottom and sides of tart tin. Bake for 10 minutes, until the nuts are lightly toasted, then remove to a rack to cool.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2014/04/23/blood-orange-tart-with-orange-almond-crust-2/

“Fudgy” Haroset Brownies

It is hard to get a chef to part with a special recipe and when you finally get the recipe out of them, they may leave out key ingredients so that when you try to make it at home, it doesn’t taste like you had at their restaurant. I can understand why they don’t want to give away all of their secrets because chefs, cookbook authors and some bloggers work very hard at perfecting their recipes, and they don’t want to give them away for free.

This story rings true with Mr. BT’s haroset recipe. This recipe was a closely guarded secret of my husband’s and I have been trying for years to get his permission to post his recipe, but he has always refused. But this year, he finally gave in and is letting me post, well…..most of the real recipe. This version will still taste good, but he just couldn’t part with a few secret ingredients.

I introduced Mr. BT to Venetian-style haroset when we first met and he loved it at first taste. He decided to try making his own version, which he has perfected over the years, and it is the best I have ever had. It is not for the weary and some people will be shocked by its powerful punch.

Faye Levy’s Passover article on Haroset in the LA Times contains five delicious recipes, but the one that I had to try was the Haroset Bars. I had been searching for something new to make for the seder and this was perfect since we always have leftover haroset. I adapted her recipe because Mr BT’s haroset is already sweet enough and packed with dried fruit. I also substituted walnut meal for matza meal. I do not usually bake with matza meal.

My recipe produced a very moist bar and some of my relatives used a fork to eat them instead of using their hands, but that is probably because we are a little too European :-) to eat dessert with our hands. I grew up eating fruit with a knife and fork, but I have learned to eat it with my hands. It took me years to eat fried chicken with my hands.

I think the marriage of haroset and chocolate was meant to be. This is definitely a recipe I will make again and again.

I hope that you and your family had a lovely Passover holiday.

Chag Sameach!

 

"Fudgy" Haroset Brownies

Yield: 24 small bars, 16 large

Adapted recipe by Faye Levy

1/2 cup ground walnuts or almond flour

1/4 cup potato starch

1/4 teaspoon salt

113g (1 stick) unsalted margarine or butter, soft, cut in small pieces

3 tablespoons mild olive oil

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar (about 2.4 ounces)

1-1/2 cup (packed) haroset with Mr. BT's World Famous Thermonuclear Haroset (see below) or Faye's haroset

2 large eggs

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Lightly butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line the pan with foil and butter the foil.

In a medium bowl, mix the ground walnuts, potato starch and salt.

In a large mixing bowl using a hand-held mixer, or in a stand mixer, beat the butter until it is smooth. Add the oil and the brown sugar; beat until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. Add the eggs, one by one, beating thoroughly on high speed after each one. Add 4 tablespoons of the ground walnut mixture and beat over low speed. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the remaining ground walnut mixture. Stir in the haroset and chocolate pieces.

Transfer the batter to the pan and spread it in an even layer. Sprinkle the chopped walnuts and pat them lightly so they adhere to the batter. Bake until the top browns lightly and a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out nearly clean, 18 to 22 minutes; if the wooden pick comes out chocolaty, test again. Cool the brownies in the pan on a rack.

Turn the brownies out gently onto a plate, then onto another plate or a cutting board so that the walnuts are on top. Using a sharp knife, cut it carefully into 16 bars. Serve at room temperature.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2013/03/31/fudgey-haroset-brownies/

Mr. BT's World Famous Thermonuclear Haroset

Yield: 6 cups

Mr. BT's World Famous Thermonuclear Haroset

4 large Granny Smith apples, cored, but unpeeled and cut to 1/2 cm (1/4-inch, but really 1/5th) dice

Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon

150g (6 ounces) chopped walnuts

150g (6 ounces) chopped almonds

150g (6 ounces) dried Mediterranean apricots, cut into eighths

12 dried figs, stems removed, cut into twelfths

12 large Madjhool dates, pitted, quartered along its length, cut into fifths

12 pitted prunes, cut into eighths

150g (6 ounces) golden raisins

150g (6 ounces) dark raisins

1 cup sweet kosher wine

1/4 cup brandy

1/2 cup date honey (Silan)

3/4 cup sweet chestnut paste

Grated rind and juice of one orange

1/2 knob (about 1-inch) fresh ginger, peeled and grated on a micro-plane

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 tablespoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon allspice

Place the apples in a large bowl and add the lemon juice. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Add more spices and sweet wine to taste.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2013/03/31/fudgey-haroset-brownies/

 

Spring Meal with Friends

Pasta with Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes and Garlic

As I started describing in my last blog post, Mr BT and I went to our friends Cassia and Massimo for a festive Yom Ha’atzmaut meal: we brought the lamb and dessert and Massimo made the primo piatto, pasta with sauteed cherry tomatoes and garlic. The cherry tomatoes were sauteed in a lovely extra virgin oil oil from our favorite olive oil producer, the Jahshan family in Kalanit near Tiberias, and he also added about six cloves of fresh garlic that we bought at Shuk Ramle a week before. The cherry tomatoes were bursting with sweetness and the garlic gave the sauce a slight fiery touch. It was bellissimo!

Cassia and Massimo also provided the wine we all bought at the La Terra Promessa Winery in Kibbutz Gat. The winery is run by Sandro and Irit Pelligrini. Sandro is originally from Parma, Italy and his wife Irit’s family is originally from Cochin, India. The winery is in southern Israel near the buffalo farm that we like to visit to buy their delicious buffalo yogurt, cream and cheeses, which are now available a some supermarkets around the country. La Terra Promessa wines were a pleasant surprise: fruity, full-bodied with a wonderful bouquet, and featuring grapes that are relatively uncommon here in Israel, such as Primitivo. They also had a very interesting Emerald Riesling that was dry, instead of the usual semi-sweet Israeli wines made from this grape. Sandro and Irit also have a restaurant that has received good reviews, featuring dishes from both their Italian and Cochin heritages.

Buttermilk, Raspberry and Almond Cake

For dessert, I made a soft almond and buttermilk sponge cake filled with raspberries which we served with Massimo’s homemade limoncello. His limoncello is some of the best I have ever had and he has promised to show me how to make it when I can find some unwaxed organic lemons.

Buttermilk Raspberry Cake and Lemoncello

Raspberry-Almond Buttermilk Cake

Serving Size: 8

This is a quick and easy dessert that is perfect for Shabbat or anytime.

140g (1-1/2 cups) ground almonds or almond flour

140g (1 stick or 10 tablespoons) butter or margarine

140g (3/4 cups) sugar

140g (1 cup) self-raising flour

1 egg or 2 eggs for a parve cake

3/4 cup buttermilk (omit for parve cake)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

300g (2 cups) raspberries, fresh or frozen or any other berries

2 tablespoons flaked almonds

Preheat oven to 180C (350F).

Place a piece of round parchment in the base of a 20cm (8-inch) springform tin and grease the tin with butter or margarine. Place the ground almonds, butter, sugar, flour, egg, buttermilk and vanilla in a food processor and blitz until combined.

Spread half of the mixture in the cake tin and then scatter the raspberries over the batter. Dollop the remaining batter on top and spread with a pallet knife. Sprinkle the top with the sliced almonds and bake for approximately 50 minutes or until golden brown on the top.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2012/05/12/spring-meal-with-friends/

Eccles Cakes for Tu Bishvat

Eccles Cakes

 

I don’t know why, but I have always had a fascination with mincemeat. I don’t even remember the first time I ate this boozy filling in a pie, but I must have been a child and for some strange reason this little girl, who was quite a picky eater, when it came to new foods and food with strange names, never questioned whether there really was meat in this rather sweet and spicy dessert. I just thought it tasted good. Flash forward to 1982 and my first trip to the island across the pond: I remember having an Eccles Cake at a picnic at Windsor Great Park watching Prince Charles miss the wooden ball during the Queen’s Cup polo match. I don’t think it was the best Eccles Cake I have ever had, but it was the beginning of my love affair with them.

Eccles Cakes were first sold in 1793 in a shop in the village of Eccles, which is now part of Greater Manchester, but the original recipe may have been adapted from a cookbook from 1769 called The Experienced English House-Keeper by Mrs. Elizabeth Raffald, who was from Cheshire. The author called them “Sweet Patties” and the filling contained the meat of a boiled calf’s foot (gelatine), apples, oranges, nutmeg, egg yolk, currants and French brandy.

Nowadays, you will find all types of additions to the “traditional” Eccles Cake filling, but the traditional filling is the same as the recipe I adapted from Dan Lepard: currants, lemon zest and brandy. I added candied peel, which might horrify traditionalists, but I like the added flavour. You might even find recipes with spices such as nutmeg or cinnamon, but I think this takes away from the lovely naked fruity taste of the currants , and you should never, ever, use puff pastry, because then you would not be able to call them Eccles Cakes any more; they would have to be called Chorley cakes.

I think they are nice to eat any time, but this year they were a tasty treat for our Tu Bishvat table. Dan Lepard’s recipe is easy to make and the dough is a dream to work with; yes, it is a little time-consuming, but well worth it. These make rather large cakes, which you could easily make into 24 smaller cakes for a more reasonable portion.

Note: I found the currants at Eden Teva Market in Netanya.

 

Eccles Cakes

Yield: 12 large or 24 small

Adapted recipe from Dan Lepard

Note: I have tried to convert the measurements as precisely as I can for the American readers, but it is better to use the precise metric measurements if you have a scale.

For the pastry

400 grams (4 cups) strong white flour (I used '00')

1 tsp salt

25 grams (2 tablespoons) caster (granulated) sugar

175g (1-1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter or margarine, cut into small cubes

50g (3-1/2 tablespoons) butter or margarine, cut into small cubes

1 medium egg yolk (keep the egg white for later)

100ml (a little less than 1/2 cup) cold water

75ml (1/3 cup) cold milk or cold water

For the filling

500g (18 oz) Zante currants

Finely grated zest of 2 lemons

1 tablespoon candied orange peel, finely chopped

1 tablespoon candied lemon peel, finely chopped

100g (7 tablespoons) unsalted butter

2 tablespoons brandy (optional)

Demerara sugar

Place the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl and add the butter or margarine. Whisk the egg yolk with the water and milk or just water, and mix with the flour to a firm dough. Wrap, chill for 30-60 minutes, then, dusting the work surface with a little flour, roll into a 2cm (3/4-inch) thick rectangle. Fold the dough into thirds, then re-roll it to the same size and fold again. Wrap and chill for 30-60 minutes. Repeat the double roll, fold and chill twice more.

Eccles Cakes Filling

Place the currants in a bowl, pour 500ml (2 cups) of boiling water and set aside for five minutes. Drain thoroughly, then mix the currants with the lemon zest, candied lemon and orange, butter or margarine and brandy, and put in the refrigerator while finishing preparing the dough.

Eccles Cakes Dough

Roll the pastry to 2cm (3/4-inch) thick, cut in half and keep one half chilled while you roll the other half into a 0.25cm (1/15-inch) thick rectangle. Cut the dough into six (12 for the smaller version) equal squares.

Eccles Cakes Filled

Place a 50-60g (3-1/2 to 4 tablespoons) ball of currants (or half that if you are making the smaller cakes) in the centre of each one, dampen the edges with water and pinch them together to form a tight seal so the filling will not spill out.

Eccles Cakes Ready for Egg Wash

Flip it over, round the shape with your fingers, roll out slightly to flatten and place them seam down on a baking tray lined with a silpat or nonstick paper. Repeat with the other pastry and filling.

Eccles Cakes Ready for Oven

Brush with beaten egg white, sprinkle with sugar, slash the tops and bake at 200C (180C fan-assisted)/390F for about 30 minutes.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2012/02/12/eccles-cakes-for-tu-bishvat/

 

Rosh Hashana 5772: Tarte à la Compote de Pommes

Tarte à la Compote de Pommes

For erev Rosh Hashana I tried another recipe from Joan Nathan’s new cookbook, Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France, and it was a perfect ending to a lovely meal. Apart from the wonderful taste, what I loved about it is that it was easy to make. I made the apple sauce and the tart dough a couple of days ahead and baked it the morning of the dinner. The apple sauce is delicious on its own and the best part is that this dessert has very little sugar in it. I used Granny Smith apples for the apple sauce because I prefer their tartness and for the slices on top, I used Gala, a lovely delicate apple that is perfect for a French-style tart.

Tarte à la Compote de Pommes

Serving Size: 8

(French Apple Sauce Tart) Slightly adapted from Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France by Joan Nathan

1-1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

130g (9 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter or margarine, cut into small cubes

2 cups of thick apple sauce (recipe below)

2 Gala apples, peeled and thinly sliced, preferably with a mandoline

In the bowl of a food processor, put the flour, salt and sugar, and pulse for a few seconds to combine. Add the butter or margarine and pulse until the mixture has the consistency of coarse cornmeal. Add 2 tablespoons of water and pulse until the dough pulls away from the sides and forms a ball. Shape the dough into a disk, wrap in cellophane, and put in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 220C (425F). Roll the dough into a circle 25cm (10-inches) in diameter. Place the dough into a 22cm (9-inch) tart pan with a removable bottom. Prick the bottom and sides of the dough with a fork and bake blind for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Set aside to cool slightly.

Lower the oven temperature to 200C (400F). Spread the apple sauce over the tart base and place the sliced apples on top in a circular pattern. Bake for 30 minutes and serve at room temperature.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2011/10/01/rosh-hashana-5772-tarte-a-la-compote-de-pommes/

Compote de Pommes

Yield: 2 cups

1 kilo (2 pounds) Granny Smith Apples, cored, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

250 grams (1/2 pound) Italian blue plums or red plums

1/8 cup of sugar

1/4 cup pomegranate juice

1/3 cup white wine

Place all of the ingredients in a heavy saucepan, cover, and cook over low heat for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the apples are mushy. Set aside to cool.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2011/10/01/rosh-hashana-5772-tarte-a-la-compote-de-pommes/

Cookies Perfect for Passover

I remember Passovers past at my grandparents’ and parents’ houses were always large and boisterous with at least 25-30 people attending, spread over two or three tables. We always invited friends who didn’t have anywhere else to go, and also the stray Jewish soldiers who were “stuck” at Fort McClellan during their basic training. Occasionally, we had a visiting Israeli soldier or two share the seder with us. I really miss these seders, my grandparents, my great-aunts and uncles, the wonderful food, the family tunes, waiting for Uncle Alfred or Papa to proudly read the last stanza of “Had Gadya” in one breath, ribbing my uncle Don about watering my wine, misbehaving at the “children’s” table (some of who were over 30), and the seder discussions. I must admit that I am more than teary-eyed as I am writing this post.

The seder was always a grand affair: the unveiling of the grand china, crystal, and silver, the beautiful way Alberta plated the individual servings of the haroset, hard-boiled egg and karpas. The lamb that my father carefully slathered with mustard and basted every 30 minutes, the minted peas in lettuce cups, the wild rice mixture or boiled new potatoes, and the pièce de résistance, the matza balls swimming in golden chicken soup. For dessert, Mama’s lovingly-made matza schalet with its beautiful crunchy crust and creamy lemon custard with just the right sourness.

Since moving to Israel, we attend the seder at my cousin’s or their in-laws where we share their seder traditions and variety of food from Poland, Bulgaria and  Russia: gefilte fish, fritas de prasa, and matza blini. The younger generations add their own traditions like rocket and endive salad with walnuts and pears. And, Mr BT and I are bringing new traditions to their seder: Italian haroset and whatever flourless dessert tickles my fancy.

This year I decided to bring a tray of cookies and found two easy and delicious recipes for fudgy chocolate-walnut cookies and a variation of Sicilian pistachio cookies which Mr BT and I enjoyed eating at a bakery in Venice. Both of these cookies were a huge hit. I really liked the salty-sweetness of the pistachio cookies, and the other cookies were a chocolate lover’s delight. I couldn’t find any orange blossom water for the pistachio cookies as I had wanted, but it will add a slight orangey floral note.

Don’t be afraid to add new traditions to your seder table. There is always room for the old and new traditions.

Flourless Chocolate Walnut Cookies

Fudgy Chocolate-Walnut Cookies

Yield: 1-1/2 dozen

320g (9oz or 2-3/4 cups) walnut halves

3 cups icing (confectioners') sugar

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 large egg whites, at room temperature, not beaten

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with a silpat liner or parchment paper.

Spread the walnut halves on a large rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 9 minutes, until they are golden and fragrant. Let cool slightly, then transfer the walnut halves to a work surface and finely chop them.

In a large bowl, whisk the icing sugar with the cocoa powder and salt to combine. Whisk in the chopped walnuts. Add the egg whites and vanilla extract and beat just until the batter is moistened (do not over beat the mixture or it will stiffen). Spoon a tablespoon of the batter for each cookie onto the baking sheets.

Bake the cookies for 16- 20 minutes, depending on your oven, until the tops of the cookies are glossy and lightly cracked and feel firm to the touch; shift the pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through.

Slide the parchment paper (with the cookies) onto 2 wire racks to cool completely before serving. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2011/04/20/cookies-perfect-for-passover/

Flourless Pistachio Cookies

Pastine di Pistacchio

Yield: 1 dozen

(Flourless Pistachio Cookies)

190g (7oz) pistachios (roasted and salted)

100g (3.5 oz) almond meal

120 grams (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) caster (granulated) sugar

2 egg whites, room temperature, not beaten

1 teaspoon orange blossom water (optional)

A few drops of green food colouring (optional)

Icing (confectioners') sugar for dusting (optional)

Preheat the oven to 170C (325F). Line a baking sheet with a silpat liner or parchment paper.

Grind 90 grams of the pistachios finely and set aside. Chop the remaining 100 grams roughly and place in a plate or flat bowl for rolling.

Put the finely ground pistachios, almond meal, sugar, egg whites, optional orange blossom water and optional food colouring in a large bowl. Mix just until the batter is moistened, do not over beat. If the batter is too moist, add a little more almond meal.

Form one tablespoon of the batter into balls and roll in the chopped pistachios. Place the cookies about 2 centimeters (3/4 inch) apart and bake for approximately 13 minutes. Let cook for 10 minutes before moving to a baking rack. Dust with icing sugar, when cooled.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2011/04/20/cookies-perfect-for-passover/

Tamarind Date Cake for Tu Bishvat

Tamarind Date Cake

Tu Bishvat is a minor Jewish holiday in the Hebrew month of Shevat, usually sometime in late January or early February, that marks the New Year of the Trees (Hebrew: ראש השנה לאילנות, Rosh HaShanah La’Ilanot‎) or the season in which the earliest-blooming trees in the Land of Israel emerge from their winter sleep and begin a new fruit-bearing cycle. It is customary to plant trees and eat dried fruits and nuts, especially figs, dates, raisins, carob, and almonds.

Even though it is considered a minor festival, the commandment to plant trees in the Land of Israel is so important in Jewish tradition that there is even an ancient Rabbinical saying that if you see the Messiah arrive while you are on your way to plant a tree, you have to finish planting it before greeting him.

This Tu Bishvat I am recovering from the flu, but I decided that it was important to still make something this year in memory of all of those who lost their lives in the tragic Carmel fire last month. I wish their families no more sorrow and pray for a new, healthy forest to grow in place of the old one.

Dates and Tamarind

I made a Baronessed version of my baking hero,  Dan Lepard‘s Tamarind Date Cake. The original recipe calls for dates, which I assume most people would use Madjools, but I decided to take advantage of the different varieties of dates we have on offer here and used Madjool (center in picture above), Dekel Noor (right), and Halawi (left) dates. I wasn’t sure what Dan meant by tamarind paste in the recipe, but I used mashed whole tamarind (top of picture above) instead of the smooth paste you can buy in a jar. The mashed tamarind is more readily available in health food stores here.

This cake is delicious, moist and not too sweet because the tamarind adds a nice sour note to the cake. This is the second best date cake I have ever had. The best is my father’s fresh apple cake that has an equal amount of dates in the recipe.

Tamarind Date Cake Slice

Tamarind Date Cake

Yield: 1 round cake

Serving Size: 8

adapted recipe from Dan Lepard

200g (7 ounces) chopped dates (Madjool or a combination of several varieties)

50g (1.7 ounces or 1/4 cup) tamarind paste

300ml (1-1/4 cup) water

250g (1/2lb or 2 sticks) unsalted butter

150g (5 ounces or 1/2 cup) dark brown sugar

2 large eggs

275g (9.7 ounces or 2-3/4 cups) plain flour

2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground clove

Zest of 1 large orange

175g (6 ounces or 1-1/2 cups) walnuts, roughly chopped

Line the base and sides of a deep, 18cm (7 inch) cake tin with nonstick baking paper, and heat the oven to 180C/350F (160C/325F convection). Put the dates, tamarind paste and water in a pan and bring to a boil. Boil for a minute, remove from the heat, add the butter, and set aside for 10 minutes to cool.

Place the date mixture in a large mixing bowl and add the brown sugar, stir, then beat in the eggs until smooth. Ina separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, spices and orange zest together and add to the date mixture until combined. Then, stir in the walnuts.

Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and bake for about an hour, or until a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from the pan, and completely cool on a cake rack.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2011/01/20/tamarind-date-cake-for-tu-bishvat/

Ringing in 2011 with a Gourmet Dinner

New Year's Eve 2011 Dinner

New Year’s Eve, Mr BT and I celebrated our anniversary and 2011 with a gourmet romantic dinner. Our anniversary was actually the day before, but I had more time to prepare a lovely meal on Friday, so we had an anniversary/Shabbat/2011 special meal.

Last week, I found two beautiful goose breast fillets and some very large bright yellow quinces. I thought these would be two perfect ingredients for a romantic anniversary dinner. I made goose breast with a quince and red currant sauce, roasted butternut squash, Jerusalem artichokes and potato, and steamed broccoli. For dessert, I made a luscious quince tarte tatin. All washed down with the perfect anniversary wine: Saslove Winery’s Marriage 2009 wine, which is made of three varieties of grapes: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Syrah.

This year, Mr BT and I will be searching for a home to call our own. Something we have dreamed about for a long time. I hope that 2011 is filled with more foodie adventures that I can share with you. And, I hope that all of your hopes and dreams come true this year.

Mr BT and I wish you all a very happy, healthy, peaceful and delicious 2011.

Goose Breast with Quince and Red Currant Sauce

Caramelised Goose Breast with Quince and Red Currant Sauce

Serving Size: 2

Butternut Squash, Jerusalem Artichokes and Potato

For the vegetables:

180g (1 cup) butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes

180g (1 cup) Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and cut into cubes

180g (1 cup) roasting potatoes, cubed

2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped

3 tablespoons of olive oil

Salt and pepper

Goose Breast

For the goose:

2 goose breast fillets, about 200g (7oz) each

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 piece of fresh ginger, about 2 1/2 cm (1 inch), minced

For the sauce:

1 medium poached quince, diced

1 shallot, minced

4 tablespoons port

1 piece of fresh ginger, about 2 1/2 cm (1 inch), minced

100ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine

1 strand of fresh red currants or 1/4 cup of thawed and drained fresh-frozen

1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Place the butternut squash, Jerusalem artichoke and potato on a baking tray in one layer. Sprinkle the fresh thyme and massage in the olive oil until the vegetables are coated evenly with the thyme and the oil. Sprinkle the vegetables with salt and pepper and roast them for 15-25 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

After the vegetables are ready, preheat the oven to 220C (425F).

Season the goose breast with salt and pepper. Heat a dry pan over medium-high heat. Sear the goose, skin-side down, until golden. Turn the breast over and cook for another couple of minutes. Add the honey, mustard and ginger to the pan, and baste the goose a few times. Transfer the goose to a roasting pan with a rack and roast in the oven for 5 minutes. Do not overcook. The goose should be slightly pink in the center.

Meanwhile, add the quince and shallot to the pan in which you seared the goose, keeping the goose fat in the pan to help thicken the sauce. Add the port to deglaze the pan, bring to the boil and simmer until reduced by half. Add the ginger and the white wine, return to the boil and simmer to reduce again. Season with salt and pepper, and add the red currants and chives.

To serve, place the roasted vegetables on the center of the plate, slice the goose breast and place on top and pour the sauce on top of the goose.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2011/01/02/ringing-in-2011-with-a-gourmet-dinner/

Quince Tarte Tatin

Quince Tarte Tatin
by David Lebovitz

The is one of the best tartes Tatin I have ever had and Mr BT thought so too. It is not too sweet and really shows off the quince.

Fritelle di Mele – Apple Fritters

Apple Fritters

The holidays always make me think of the fun family gatherings we used to have. With most of the older generation no longer with us, it makes me think even more about the holiday foods I used to watch my paternal grandmother make. Before Hannukah, my grandmother was busy making her famous square chocolate cake, butter cookies, candied almonds, Butter-Mandel Kuchen, which she called Hefeteig (yeast dough) and Schnecken. But one of the treats that we all looked forward to were the fresh apple fritters she would make. The house would smell of sweet oil, apples, cinnamon and powdered sugar. I can smell them now as I am writing this post.

I decided to introduce my family’s tradition of apple fritters for Hannukah to Mr. BT and by the smile on his face, I think it will be a tradition we will continue.

Fritelle di Mele – Apple Fritters

Yield: 10 fritters

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted

1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, separated

1 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup beer (lager or pilsner)

1 large firm baking apple, such as Granny Smith

1/4 cup rum, brandy or calvados

Peanut or safflower oil, for frying

Icing sugar

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, clove and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, butter, and vanilla. Mix in a third of the flour mixture, then a third of the beer to combine. Add the rest of the flour mixture and beer in two additions; whisk well to combine. Set aside for 30 minutes.

Peel, core, and slice the apple into ten 1/3 cm-(1/8 inch)-thick rings. Spread out the rings on a large plate or shallow pan, and pour the rum over the apple slices. Let the slices sit for 20 minutes to macerate in the rum.

Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, and fold them gently into the batter.

Fill a high-sided skillet or wide pot with 5 centimeters (2 inches) of oil, and heat the oil to 190C (375F). In batches, dip the apple rings into the batter to coat both sides, and fry, turning once, until the apple fritters are golden and crisp, about 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels, sprinkle icing sugar on top, and serve warm.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2010/12/07/fritelle-di-mele-apple-fritters/

Spelt Flour – In Biblical Portions

Stybl Spelt Flour

I have been baking exclusively with spelt flour for the last several months and it all began when I bought a kilo of organic spelt flour from the Stybel flour stand at Orbanics. I had heard that spelt is supposed to be better for you: that it is easier to digest, higher in protein, high in complex carbohydrates, contains all 8 essential amino acids needed by the human body, and is loaded with key essential minerals and vitamins. But, it has taken me a long time to actually buy some to bake with. I bake almost exclusively with whole wheat flour, so I am used to working with a whole grain flour. I actually like the nuttiness of some of the heartier whole wheat flours and would always buy bread and other baked goods from the Vollkorn (Wholemeal) bakery when I lived in Germany. The funny thing is after all these years I didn’t realize that bread I used to buy the most was a whole kernel spelt bread (Dinkelflockenbrot).

Italians call it “Farro” and it is found in gourmet soups, pizza crusts, breads and cakes; in Umbria it is even used instead of durum wheat to make pasta.

Spelt (Triticum spelta) is an ancient grain that is member of the same grain family as common bread wheat, rye, oats and barley, but is an entirely different species. It is one of the original seven grains mentioned in Ezekiel 4:9: “Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and spelt, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof …”. Sister Hildegard von Bingen (St. Hildegard), touted as one of the earliest health food nuts, said “the spelt is the best of grains. It is rich and nourishing and milder than other grain. It produces a strong body and healthy blood to those who eat it and it makes the spirit of man light and cheerful. If someone is ill, boil some spelt, mix it with egg and this will heal him like a fine ointment.”

Spelt Grain

Spelt was a popular grain up until the 19th century, when the common bread wheat was discovered to be easier to mill and give a much higher yield than spelt which was harder to process because it contains a very thick husk unlike its cousin. Spelt started showing up in health food stores in the 1980s, but has only recently shown a tremendous comeback since whole foods are shown to be much better for us.

Spelt is not wheat-free like some people are saying, and is definitely not gluten free. Celiac sufferers cannot consume products made from spelt, but some people with wheat allergies or wheat intolerance can eat small quantities of spelt. If, however, you have an allergy or intolerance to wheat, consult a doctor before you try eating products made with spelt.

Spelt is not difficult to bake with, but there are a few important pointers to ensure a successful baked-good:

  • Unlike all-purpose flour, where you can get away with not always sifting the flour, it is important to sift spelt flour before using it. Otherwise, you may end up with a lumpy dough or cake batter.
  • Compared to wheat flour, spelt flour needs less liquid to make the same consistency dough. Use three-quarters the amount of liquid relative to that you would use with wheat flour. For example, if a particular recipe requires 1 cup of liquid when mixed with wheat flour, it would need ¾ of a cup when using spelt flour.
  • Do not overmix the batter or overknead the dough. The gluten in spelt is not as durable as in other wheat and may result in a crumbly or tough texture.
  • It is recommended to keep spelt flour in your refrigerator or freezer to maintain its freshness.

Don’t be afraid to bake with spelt, it makes a really light loaf of bread with an appealing nutty flavour. The high protein in the spelt results in a very light, soft-textured bread that isn’t crumbly when sliced. It also makes a light, soft-textured cake.

Spelt Cherry Pie

Cherry Pie with Spelt Flour and Cream Cheese Pie Crust

Serving Size: 8

Pie crust adapted from a recipe from the The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

Pastry for a two-crust 9-inch pie:

170g (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold

2 cups spelt flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

127g (4.5 ounces) cream cheese, cold and cut into 3 or 4 pieces

2 tablespoons ice water

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Egg wash

1 tablespoon caster sugar

Cherry filling:

1/4 cup Demerara sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

2 teaspoons ground cardamom

1kg (2-1/4 pounds) fresh sour cherries, pitted, or 3 packages of 380 grams (2 pounds) frozen sour cherries, partially thawed and drained

For the cherry filling:

In a large bowl, mix the cherries with the sugar, cornstarch and cardamom. Add more sugar if the cherries are too tart.

Spelt Cherry Pie

For the pastry:

Cut the butter into small (about 3/4-inch) cubes. Wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze it until frozen solid. Place the flour, salt, and baking powder in freezer bag and freeze for at least 30 minutes.

Place the flour mixture in a food processor with the metal blade and process for a few seconds to combine. Add the cream cheese and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the butter and pulse until it is in even small pieces, each a little larger than a pea. Add the water and the vinegar and pulse until the pieces of butter are the size of tiny peas. The mixture will be separate tiny pieces. Do not pulse into a mass.

Divide the mixture into two ziploc bags and knead the mixture just until the dough comes together. Flatten into discs and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes or overnight.

Grease a 22-inch (9-inch) pie pan. Roll out the bottom crust and place in the pan. Add the cherry filling and cover with the top crust. Cut slits in the top crust or cut out a decorative design to let the steam out of the pie while it is baking. Crimp the edges decoratively. Brush the crust with an egg wash and sprinkle the top with caster sugar.

Place the pie on baking sheet and bake at 200C (400F) for 20 minutes. Cover the edges with a foil collar to prevent over-browning. Continue to bake until the filling bubbles and the crust is golden brown, about 25-30 minutes longer. Transfer the pie to rack and cool for at least 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2010/11/23/spelt-flour-in-biblical-portions/

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