Mishmish Kind of Day

The Hebrew word for apricot is mishmish. I think it is such a cute word and makes such a nice endearment. Okay, I know it sounds a bit silly, but I do love apricots and it is the beginning of the season here. I decided not to make a cheesecake this year for Shavout and made a apricot flognarde instead. I also carried the apricot theme for Shabbat and made a spicy apricot chicken tagine with chili, ginger, and rosemary. Dried sour apricots are the key to this tagine, so try to find them at your local store. They are called “California” dried apricots in the States.

Although I didn’t make a cheesecake for home, my company held a Shavuot cooking contest this past Wednesday, and I won second prize for my Lemon Cheesecake with Lemon Confit. I was really chuffed over it. They had separate categories for savory and sweet dishes, and four people from my team, including myself, won first and second place in both categories. There are some real gourmets in my group.

I would like to thank everyone for the wishes of good health. Mr BT is on the mend and I am back to my old self.

I do not have a copy of the cookbook from which this recipe comes, but after making this delicious tagine I am tempted to order it. It has a nice balance of flavours and the addition of fresh basil at the end is an excellent foil to the sour apricots. I will definitely make this again.

Spicy Chicken Tagine with Apricots, Rosemary, and Ginger

Serving Size: 4

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

3 sprigs rosemary, 1 finely chopped, the other 2 cut in half

3 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

2 red chilies, seeded and finely chopped

2 cinnamon sticks

3kg whole chicken, cut into 4 pieces

3/4 cup dried sour apricots

2 tablespoons honey

1 (14 ounce) can plum tomatoes or whole tomatoes, with their juice

Sea salt

Fresh ground black pepper

4 tablespoons fresh basil, shredded

Heat olive oil in a tagine or heavy-based casserole dish. Stir in ginger, onion, chopped rosemary, and chilies and sauté until the onion begins to soften. Stir in halved rosemary sprigs and the cinnamon sticks. Add chicken and brown on both sides.

Toss in the apricots and honey. Stir in plum tomatoes with their juice. Add a little water if necessary to ensure there is enough to cover the base of the tagine and submerge the apricots. Bring liquid to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover with a lid and cook gently for 35 - 40 minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle shredded basil over chicken. Serve immediately.


There was some lovely white asparagus for sale at the supermarket and I thought this would be an excellent addition to our dinner for Shavuot. I forgot to take a picture of the main course, which was trout stuffed with fresh sage, thyme and za’atar from our garden. I also added slices of young fragrant garlic and lemon slices. And to close the dinner, I made an apricot and thyme flognarde based on the lovely Limousin cherry clafoutis recipe from Paula Wolfert. Fresh thyme goes well with fresh apricots and lemon thyme would have even been better.

Apricot and Thyme Flognarde

Serving Size: 8

10 medium apricots, cut in half

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup flour, plus more for dusting

Pinch of salt

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup milk

1 cup half and half

2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped

50g (4 tablespoons unsalted butter), softened, plus more for the dish

2 tablespoons Cognac or brandy

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a bowl, toss the halved apricots with all of the sugar except for 1 tablespoon and set aside.

Meanwhile, in another bowl, whisk the 1/2 cup flour and salt. Whisk in the eggs. In a small saucepan, heat 1/2 cup of the milk with 3 tablespoons of the butter until the butter melts. Whisk the warm milk into the flour mixture just until smooth. Whisk in the remaining milk and cream. Add the thyme, Cognac and vanilla, cover and let rest at room temperature for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 220C (425F). Butter a 22 cm (9 1/2-inch) deep-dish pie plate or a well-seasoned iron skillet and dust with flour. Place the apricot halves in a single layer in the pie plate, adding any sugar from the bowl to apricots. Whisk the batter again and pour it over the apricots.

Bake the flognarde just above the center of the oven for 20 minutes, or until the top is just set and golden. Top with the remaining 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon of butter. Bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool. Cut into wedges, and serve.


Chag Pesach Sameach 5769

Mr. BT and I would like to wish you and your family a very happy Passover. I made a Portuguese Almond Torte from a recipe by David Leite. I had to make a few adjustments to it to make it kosher for Passover, such as unfortunately having to use margarine instead of butter and I used powdered sugar to “flour” the baking pan. It smells wonderful and I am sure it it will be a delicious addition to our Seder.

I am going to borrow a Passover greeting from my cousin and say:

As we gather together this Pesach, may we rejoice in the ritual that binds us as a People. May the celebration of this festive holiday remind us of memorable Seders of the past and inspire us to create new and meaningful rituals for retelling the story of the Exodus today. And, as we celebrate our own freedom from oppression, may we be moved to work toward alleviating the suffering of others.


Mr. BT and Baroness Tapuzina

Bolo de Amêndoa - Portuguese Almond Torte

Serving Size: 10 to 12

Adapted for Passover from a recipe by David Leite

170g (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter or margarine, at room temperature

Icing sugar, for coating the pan

500g (3 cups) blanched slivered almonds

1 1/4 cups sugar

4 large yolks

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

2 teaspoons grated orange zest

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

4 large egg whites

Icing Sugar

Position the rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 170C (350F). Grease a 10-inch springform pan with butter or margarine, line the bottom with parchment paper, and grease the paper. Coat the pan with icing sugar and tap out the excess.


Grind the almonds and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a food processor until the consistency of fine cornmeal. Make sure the almonds are as finely chopped as possible. Add the butter or margarine and pulse to combine. Set aside.


In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand-held mixer in a big bowl, beat 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the yolks on medium-high until very light and fluffy, about 7 minutes. Add the zest, salt, and cinnamon and mix until incorporated. Add the almond mixture and vanilla.


In an impeccably clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until foamy then slowly whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar until the whites form soft, luscious peaks. Add about one third of the egg whites to the almond mixture and stir to lighten. Carefully fold in the remainder of the whites until no streaks show. Spoon the batter into the pan and smooth the top.

Bake until the cake is golden brown and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let rest for 5 minutes before releasing the cake from the pan. Cool completely before serving. The middle will collapse a bit; that is as it should be. Sift icing sugar on top of cake before serving.


Passover Preparations 2009

Spring is in the air and that  means it is time to start preparing for Passover, which begins on 8 April. I am not going to be doing a lot of preparation this year, but I have gathered a few interesting recipes for you to consider for your own meal. First, here is a link to all of my Passover recipes from the last couple of years. And, here are some interesting ones for you to try:

Italian Passover recipes from Chef Chaim Cohen and Dr. Eli Landau

Kodredo Relleno al Forno (Roast stuffed lamb with egg/lemon crust)

Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder with Almond-Mint Pesto (Omit the cheese from the recipe)

Syrah-Braised Lamb Shoulder with Olives, Cherries and Endives

Roasted Poussins with Pomegranate Sauce and Potato Rösti

Bolo de Amêndoa (Almond Torte) from David Leite

Walnut Date Torte

Baked Apples Marsala

I will add more as I find them.

Mimi at Israeli Kitchen is having a Pre-Passover Cooking Event. Email her recipes for your favorite Passover dishes – any variety, savory or sweet – and she will cook and blog about the most interesting ones. See her blog for more details.

Purim 2009

Chag Purim Sameach everyone. This year I added two new cookies and two new hamantashen fillings for my mishloach manot (gifts of food) that I am giving to my neighbors. The hamantashen fillings I made this year are: peach lekvar, cranberry-orange and pecan-fig. The hamantashen dough recipe and other filling recipes is here.

The peach lekvar is the same recipe as the apricot lekvar, but I used dried peaches instead. The filling is deliciously peachy and the mixture of the dried figs and pecans is also a very nice filling for the hamantashen.

Pecan-Fig Filling for Hamantashen

Yield: about 3 cups

2 cups dried figs

1/2 cup seedless raisins

Apple juice

1 cup toasted chopped pecans

Place figs and raisins in large bowl with enough apple juice to cover. Refrigerate 3 hours, or overnight. Place fig mixture in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer until soft, about 10 minutes. Let cool; drain, reserving syrup. Puree figs and raisins in food processor along with 1/4 cup reserved syrup. Transfer to bowl; mix in pecans. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate until ready to use.


I have wanted to try and make Iraqi date cookies ever since I first tried them a couple of years ago after finding them in a local greengrocer near my office . I was so happy when I found Maggie Glezer’s recipe. The recipe looks complicated, but the cookies are actually very easy to make and even easier if you can find ready-made date paste. You should be able to find a package or two at a Middle Eastern store. The ready-made filling is just pure dates without any added sugars or fillers. This filling is also used to make mamoul cookies.

These are a flaky semolina pastry filled with pure date filling. The sweetness of the dates is all that is needed for this delicious cookie. They are perfect for afternoon tea.


Yield: 16 date pastries


Iraqi Date Pastries from Clemence Horesh

Adapted from A Blessing of Bread: The Many Rich Traditions of Jewish Bread Baking Around the World by Maggie Glezer

For the dough:

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup warm water

2/3 cup semolina (a.k.a. pasta flour)

1-1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

140g (10 tablespoons or 2/3 cup) melted butter or margarine

For the filling:

2 pkg date filling


1 cup pitted soft Medjool dates

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 egg, beaten

Sesame seeds to coat

For the dough:

Stir the salt into the water until it dissolves. Mix the semolina and the flour, then stir in the melted butter or oil until it is well distributed and the mixture clumps together. Add the water and mix; the dough will feel very soft at first and then firm up. If necessary, add a tablespoon or two more water to make a smooth, soft dough, or a tablespoon or two more flour to firm it up. Wrap the dough in a plastic bag and let it rest at room temperature for 30-60 minutes or in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Date Balls

Make the filling if you can't find packaged date filling: In a sauté pan over low heat, heat the dates just until they are warm to the touch, then turn off the heat. Using your hands, knead the dates into the oil in the pan. When the filling is smooth and cohesive, roll the filling up into 16 tablespoon-sized balls with your hands, setting the balls on a plate.

Shape and bake the ba'abe: Arrange the oven racks on the upper- and lower-third positions. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly flour a work surface and have more flour available. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper, or oil or butter them. Have ready the date balls, the beaten egg and the sesame seeds.

Date Ball on Dough

Roll out the dough into an 18-inch-square. Using a 3- to 4-inch-diameter glass, teacup or cookie cutter, cut out circles of the dough. Put a slightly flattened date ball in the center of each and seal the dough around the ball. Pinching each pastry by the seal, dip the smooth half first in the beaten egg, then in the sesame seeds. On your work surface, with the seeded-side up, flatten each pastry into a 2-inch disk with a rolling pin. Punch a decorative pattern into the pastry with the end of a wooden spoon or a skewer.

Ba'a'be or Iraqi Date Pastries

Arrange the ba'abe on the baking sheet, leaving room for expansion. Bake for about 20 minutes or until light brown. Cool thoroughly on a rack, then store them in a sealed container.


These oatmeal cookies take me back to when my brother (z”l), of blessed memory, used to come home from school and whip up a batch of these cookies. They filled the house with such a wonderful smell of cinnamon and love. And, it reminds me of how much I miss him.

When I first found oatmeal in the supermarket in Israel, I really had a big chuckle because Israelis, who find it difficult to transliterate foreign words into Hebrew without making funny mistakes, call it Quacker oatmeal.

Mr BT who doesn’t really have a sweet tooth, except for chocolate, really likes these cookies, especially because he can use the pretext that they are healthy.

Vanishing Oatmeal, Raisin and Walnut Cookies

Yield: 3 dozen

Vanishing Oatmeal, Raisin and Walnut Cookies

From the Quaker Oatmeal Can

225g (1 cup (2 sticks)) butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt (optional)

3 cups Quaker Oats Old Fashioned, uncooked

1 cup raisins

1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

Heat oven to 170C (350F).

In large bowl beat together butter and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla, beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Stir in oats, raisins and walnuts. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes for a chewy cookie or 11 to 12 minutes for a crisp cookie. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet, remove to wire rack. Cool completely.


Perfect Dish for a Cold and Rainy Winter’s Night

Israel depends on a rainy winter for its water supply for the rest of the year. We have had a serious drought here that no one is taking seriously. However, the last few weekends we have had a significant amount of much needed rain.

Rain and cold always demand hot and hearty dishes to keep us warm and cozy inside and out. There is a another sale at our local supermarket on lamb; this time the sale is on lamb neck. I don’t think lamb neck is readily available at supermarkets or butchers in most parts of the US and Canada, but you may be able to find it at a Halal butcher in larger cities with a Muslim population. If not, you could always use lamb shoulder. I don’t think you will have a problem finding it in Europe.

This lamb recipe was published in Haaretz newspaper a couple of weeks ago and is from a famous restaurant in Nazareth called Diana’s. It specializes in meat, especially lamb kebab that is chopped by hand, and seafood.

The seasoning of the lamb is more subtle than usual for middle eastern food: even though one tablespoon each of allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon appears to be a lot,  this is for quite a large quantity of meat and none of the spices has a very strong taste to begin with. It is very important to let the meat cook on a very low flame for long enough to become really tender: in fact, if you can cook the meat (without adding the spinach) the day before and then cook it again for about 30 minutes (following the rest of the instructions) just before serving, it will be even better.

Lamb and Turkish Spinach Stew

Serving Size: 4

4 pieces lamb neck with the bone, weighing approximately 350g (3/4lb) each

1 tablespoon ground allspice

1 tablespoon grated nutmeg

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Olive oil

8 whole shallots, peeled

8 whole garlic cloves, peeled

5 garlic cloves, crushed

1 kg (2 lbs) fresh medium size spinach leaves, stems removed, rinsed well and coarsely chopped

Mix the spices together. Lightly salt the meat and rub the spices on both sides of the lamb neck.

Heat a little olive oil in a skillet and saute the pieces of meat until they start to brown. Transfer the meat to a large pot. Saute the whole shallots and the whole garlic cloves and add to the pot with the meat. Pour in enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Cook for about an hour over a high flame.

Lower the flame and skim off the foam that has formed on top. Simmer for an additional two hours over a low flame until the meat is very tender.

Add the spinach leaves and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, add olive oil to a pan and saute the crushed garlic until golden. Add the garlic to the stew, mix and adjust seasoning to taste. Serve over rice.


For dessert, I used a new carrot cake recipe that I hadn’t tried before. This cake is spicy, but not sweet at all except for the natural sweetness of the carrot, in spite of the fact that it calls for 1-1/2 cups of icing sugar. So if you like very sweet cakes, this one might not be for you.

Carrot and Walnut Cake

Serving Size: 10 to 12

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups icing sugar (confectioner's sugar)

1 cup crushed walnuts

1 cup grated carrots

1 cup milk or water

6 eggs

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground clove

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Preheat oven to 170C (350F). Grease and flour one large tube pan.

Sift the flour, baking soda, and baking powder together and set aside. Beat the eggs together with the spices for 5 minutes. Stir in the icing sugar and mix well. Beat in the vegetable oil and continue beating for 5 minutes.

Alternately add the flour mixture and the milk or water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to the egg mixture. With a spoon stir in the carrots and the walnuts. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake at 170F (350F) for 1 hour.


Grandmother’s Cake

I think there are about 9 or 10 different varieties of dates grown here in Israel. Dates were always an exotic treat for me as a kid. My father made a delicious apple and date cake, and I would always sneak some of the dates to munch on. My favourite variety of dates is Medjoul, they are  luscious pieces of caramel in your mouth. They are so rich that I can only eat a couple at a time.

Babkas are dime a dozen here because of the Eastern European influence on baked goods, but this is the Middle East and there is definitely a twist on things. For example, I don’t think you would find a Babka filled with date filling in Russia or Poland, at least not thirty or forty years ago. Here you find them filled with halva and chocolate, date, chocolate, hazelnut or walnut filling.

This recipe produces a moist and not too sweet babka. I glazed this babka with orange syrup that I had from making candied orange peel. It was a nice added touch to the cake.

Date, Orange and Walnut Babka

Yield: 2 loaves

For the dough:

4 cups all purpose flour

1 cup, less one tablespoon milk or water

50g fresh yeast

1/2 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

1 egg

2 egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

100g (3-1/2oz) butter, softened or margarine

For Date, Orange and Walnut Filling:

1 cup date filling

(if you can't buy pre-prepared date filling, see below)

Grated zest of 1 medium orange

1 cup chopped walnuts

For syrup (optional):

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

Prepare the dough:

Place all of the ingredients except the butter in a mixer fitted with a kneading hook and knead for seven minutes or mix and knead by hand. Add butter and continue kneading for five minutes. The dough should be shiny and very soft. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover and allow to rise to twice the original size.

Meanwhile mix the date filling and grated zest together and set aside.

Prepare the cakes:

Divide the dough in half and roll one piece on a well-floured surface to 20x30cm (9x12 inches) rectangle. Spread half of date filling on the dough and then sprinkle half of the walnuts on top of the date filling.

Roll the dough into a tight log, pinching either end of the log. Slice the log lengthwise and braid the two pieces together. Line a loaf pan with baking paper and tuck in the ends of cake so it fits snugly into the pan. Repeat the process with the second piece of dough.

Allow to rise until doubled. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Bake the cakes for 35-40 minutes until deep golden brown.

While the cakes are baking, bring the water and sugar to a boil, and simmer for 20 minutes. Brush the hot cakes with the syrup. They will keep fresh wrapped in foil for 3-4 days or you can freeze them.


Date Filling

Yield: 1-1/2 cups

1 cup chopped, pitted dates

6 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine both ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium heat about five minutes or until thick. Let cool before using.


2nd Wedding Anniversary Dinner

December 30th was my 2nd wedding anniversary and we decided to wait until the weekend to celebrate. I try very hard to keep politics out of my foodblog, but I will say that even though terrible things are happening around us, we still felt we should celebrate our anniversary by making a nice meal. We have postponed birthdays and other special events over the years, but decided that we could have a comforting and quiet meal at home. We hope that the fighting will stop soon and that we can find some way to make peace with our neighbors.

The meal that we made had an unintentional color theme of brown. Brown is really not one of my favourite colors, but in this case, it was represented by one of my favourite meats that I rarely have a chance to eat, lamb. The supermarket near my home has been running a special on lamb for the past month and it is such a great deal that we decided to buy some. The butcher explained that a meat company has bought large quantities of lamb on the hoof and is marketing the meat both through selected supermarkets and directly to hotels and restaurants, making it possible for us to buy young lamb at a great price.

We more or less followed a recipe from Nigella Lawson for “Moroccan Roast Lamb”. This recipe is very simple, you make a simple marinade that you rub on the meat and let it marinate overnight. The main ingredient of the marinade is ras al hanout, a spice that I have a love affair with and have used in numerous dishes that I have posted on this blog. It is such a versatile spice that you can use in both savory and sweet dishes.

We served this with a steamed artichoke and vegetarian brown rice maklouba (rice layered with courgette and eggplant), which is a layered rice dish that I made a while ago with chicken. For dessert, I made a chocolate and chestnut torte that was light and airy. It was a perfect meal to celebrate actually eight years with my partner for life. Mr. Baroness Tapuzina has brought a great richness to my life and I love him very much. Thank you for a very interesting eight years, here is to many more to come.

Moroccan Roast Lamb

Serving Size: 6

Adapted from Forever Summer by Nigella Lawson

2kg (4.4lbs) lamb shoulder

2 tablespoons ras al hanout

Juice of two lemons

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, crushed

2 cups of red wine

Mix all of the above ingredients except for the red wine and make incisions all over the lamb shoulder. Using your fingers, push pinches of the mixture into the incisions and then rub the remainder of the marinade all over the meat. Place in a large freezer bag or some other covered container and marinate the meat in the refrigerator overnight.

Take the meat out the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature.

Marinated Lamb Ready for the Oven

Heat the oven to 200C (400F). Place the meat in a covered clay pot or foil covered roasting pan, add the red wine and roast for 20 minutes. Turn the oven down to 160C (325F) and roast for 2-3 hours until falling off the bone. Drain the fat from the sauce and serve over the lamb.


torta morbida di castagne e cioccolato

Rich Chocolate and Chestnut Cake
Torta Morbida di Castagne e Cioccolato
From La Cucina Italiana, December 2008
Serves 12

Winter Scent of Orange

I love the smell of oranges. They smell so fresh, sweet and crisp; they remind me of sunshine and happiness. Something that is a bit lacking here right now. For the past several years, I have made a panettone for Hannukah, but this year I decided I wanted to make something that would feature my favourite winter fruit, the orange. We are surrounded by so many orange trees, the smell is intoxicating and I guess I have been hypnotized by their fragrance. I had some low fat ricotta cheese begging me to do something with it, so I decided to make a yeast coffee cake with the rest of the candied orange I made the week before. I kept the sugar syrup that I used to candied the orange rind and used some of it to glaze the coffee cake with before and after it was baked. The sugar syrup had a lovely bitter orange flavour that helped cut the sweetness of the syrup. This is a very light and moist cake full of the orange flavour I was craving.

Mr. Baroness Tapuzina and I would like to wish you all a happy and much more peaceful 2009 than we are experiencing here now. We are safely away from the fighting and intend to stay that way.

Orange-Glazed Coffee Cake

Serving Size: 8 - 10

For the dough:

1 package active dry yeast or 25 g (1 ounce) fresh yeast

1/4 cup warm water

1/2 cup warm milk

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

½ cup chopped candied orange rind

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large egg, lightly beaten

4 cups all-purpose flour

For the glaze:

Sugar syrup from candied orange or an egg wash

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir the warm milk, orange juice, sugar, ricotta cheese, orange zest, candied orange rind, salt and egg into the yeast mixture.

Using heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and set on low speed, beat 2 cups flour into the yeast mixture until a wet dough forms. Beat in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a stiff dough forms.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 5 to 10 minutes, adding more flour as needed to prevent sticking. Place the dough in a large greased bowl, tuning to coat. Cover loosely with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours.

Orange-Glazed Coffee Cake Rising

Grease a 22cm (9 inch) springform pan. Punch down the dough. turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 1 to 2 minutes. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 20-inch-long rope. Braid the ropes together. Coil braided dough in prepared pan; tuck ends under. Cover loosely with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled, 30 minutes.

Orange-Glazed Coffee Cake Risen

Preheat oven to 200C (400F) brush the dough with sugar syrup or with an egg wash. Bake until the top of cake is dark golden brown. 20 to 25 minutes. Turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool slightly.

Brush some more of the orange sugar syrup over the warm cake. Serve warm or a room temperature.


Open Sesame

When Mimi of the Israeli Kitchen blogged about tehina biscuits in an Arab pastry shop in Tsfat, I remembered that I had a recipe for them in Janna Gur’s The Book of New Israeli Food. I happened to have all of the ingredients in the house, so I made them. They are a little different from the ones Mimi blogged about. This recipe puts the icing sugar on the dough before you bake them and the ones in Mimi’s picture are rolled in icing sugar after they are baked. The cookies are easy to make and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. A little piece of halva-like heaven.

Tehina Biscuits

Yield: about 50 biscuits

250g (9oz) butter or margarine, softened

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup raw tehina

3 cups + 2 tablespoons flour

10g (2 teaspoons) baking powder

For dusting:

3 tablespoons icing sugar

1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon

Beat the butter and sugar until fluffy and creamy. Lower the speed and add the vanilla, cinnamon, salt, orange zest and tehina. Mix to a smooth consistency. Add the flour and baking powder until the dough is smooth. Cover and refrigerate for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F).

Mix the icing sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Take pieces of dough and form balls the size of large olives. Roll the balls in the sugar-cinnamon mixture and place on a Silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing them about 1/2 inch apart. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes. The cookies should remain light colored. Don't move them to a cooling rack until they are completely cool because these are delicate.

Store in an airtight jar.


613 Red Jewels

The pomegranate originated in Persia and has been cultivated in Georgia, Armenia and the Mediterranean region for several millennia.

Jewish tradition teaches that the pomegranate is a symbol for righteousness, because it is said to have 613 seeds which corresponds with the 613 mitzvot or commandments of the Torah. For this reason and others, many Jews eat pomegranates on Rosh Hashanah. However, the actual number of seeds varies with individual fruits. It is also a symbol of fertility.  Some Jewish scholars believe that it was the pomegranate, not the apple, that was the forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden.Pomegranate is one of the Seven Species (שבעת המינים, Shiv’at Ha-Minim), that are mentioned in Deuteronomy 8:8 as being native to the Land of Israel.

In Christianity, pomegranates are found in many religious paintings. The fruit, broken or bursting open, is a symbol of Jesus’ suffering and resurrection.

According to the Qur’an, pomegranates grow in the gardens of paradise. According to Islamic tradition, every seed of a pomegranate must be eaten, because one can’t be sure which seed came from paradise.

I adore pomegranates and hope to have my own pomegranate tree one day. I love to eat the seeds, drink pomegranate juice and cook with pomegranate molasses. It can be used in savory and sweet dishes; it is so versatile. It is a staple in my kitchen.

I have been wanting to make pomegranate curd for some time, but never found the right time to make it. So, I made tartlets for Shabbat dessert. It a lovely creamy curd and you can definitely taste the tartness of the pomegranate. I will probably cut the sugar to 1/3 of a cup next time.

The curd is such a lovely ruby color.

Pomegranate Curd Tart
For the curd:

3/4 cup caster sugar

Juice of 2 lemons

200 ml (1 cup) pomegranate nectar

5 egg yolks, beaten well

100 g (1 stick or 1/2 cup) butter, cut into small pieces

1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

For the crust:

1/3 cup sugar

113g (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp milk

For the curd:

In a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, and pomegranate juice until blended. Cook, stirring constantly (to prevent it from curdling), until the mixture becomes thick like sour cream.

Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer to remove any lumps. Whisk the butter into the mixture until it has melted. The pomegranate curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Cover immediately with plastic wrap by placing the wrap directly on the curd and refrigerate until cool.

Tart Crust

For the crust:

Preheat oven to 200C (400F).

In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter until light. Beat in flour, salt, and milk, until mixture is moist and crumbly (it should clump together if you press it between your fingers). Put dough into a 22cm (9 or 10-inch tart pan) and press it up the sides, making sure the layer on the bottom is even.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until crust is set and firm at the edges. Cool.

Fill the cooled tart shell with pomegranate curd and bake in a 180C (350F) oven for 15 minutes. Cool in the refrigerator for a 1-2 hours. Sprinkle the pomegranate seeds on the tart just before serving.


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