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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Yom Kippur 5769

I am still trying to finalize my menu for the pre-fast meal on Wednesday afternoon. I don’t want to over do it.

For erev Yom Kippur:

  • Roasted chicken quarters with Hashu filling (Syrian ground beef, rice and pine nuts)
  • Steamed green beans
  • Fruit salad

For break-the-fast:

  • Crackers
  • Cheese
  • Smoked Salmon
  • Baba Ganoush

About 1 hour later, we will have:

Mr. Baroness Tapuzina and I hope that you have an easy fast. Gmar Chatimah Tova (May you be sealed in the book of life).

Niçoise Picnic

There are lots of beautiful places in Israel to have a picnic. You can choose to drive North and have a picnic near the Sea of Galilee:

Or to the Hula Valley:

Or drive south to the ancient desert of the Negev and the moon-like landscape of Mitzpe Ramon:

Wherever you choose to have a picnic, you should always bring lots to drink, a blanket on which to sit and beautiful food to eat.

My husband and I were invited to a picnic with friends that we haven’t seen in a while at Park Yarkon in North Tel Aviv. We were so excited to see our friends, we forgot to take a picture of the park which is a strip of land along the Yarkon river. It is very nice there with plenty of picnic tables, a nice walking path, and a chance to see people rowing on the Yarkon.

I decided to make a savory tart that we had two years ago on our trip to the South of France. I made a Niçoise specialty called Tourte de Blettes. It is a double pastry filled with sauteed swiss chard, golden raisins, pine nuts, eggs, and a little cream. After it is baked, you sprinkle icing sugar on top. I know this sounds a bit strange, but it is delicious and it can be served along with a beautiful green salad or if you are brave, you can serve it as dessert. This tart gets its sweetness from the golden raisins. I think it is a perfect picnic dish because it can be made in advance and put in the freezer. It is best served at room temperature.

Tourte de Blette
For the pastry:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

170 g (1-1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

50g (1/4 cup) cold vegetable shortening or non-butter flavored margarine

1/2 teaspoon salt

7 to 9 tablespoons ice water

For the filling:

1/2 cup golden raisins

1 cup water

2 lb green Swiss chard, half of the center ribs chopped fine

1 large egg

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh orange zest

1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted

2 teaspoons icing (confectioners) sugar

For the pastry:

Blend together flour, butter, shortening, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Drizzle 5 tablespoons ice water evenly over mixture. Gently stir with a fork (or pulse) until incorporated.

Squeeze a small handful of dough: If it doesn't hold together, add more ice water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, stirring (or pulsing) until incorporated. Do not overwork dough, or pastry will be tough.

Turn dough out onto a work surface. Gather all dough together with pastry scraper.divide dough with one half slightly larger, then form each into a ball and flatten each into a 5-inch disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 1 hour. Dough can be chilled up to 2 days ahead.

Prebake Tourte de Blettes

For the filling:

Bring raisins and water to a boil in a heavy saucepan, then remove from heat and let stand, covered, 1 hour. Drain in a colander, then pat dry with paper towels. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 200C (400F).

Blanch chard in a large pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tender but still bright green, about 5 minutes. Transfer chard with a slotted spoon to a large bowl of ice and cold water to stop cooking. Drain chard in a colander, then squeeze out excess water by handfuls. Coarsely chop chard.

Whisk together egg, cream, granulated sugar, zest, and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Stir in pine nuts, raisins, and chard until combined.

For the Tourte de Blette:

Roll out larger piece of dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 38- by 27-centimeter (15- by 11-inch) rectangle and fit into tart pan (do not trim edges). Chill shell while rolling out top.

Roll out smaller piece of dough on a lightly floured surface with lightly floured rolling pin into a 30- by 22-centimeter (12- by 9-inch) rectangle. Spread chard filling evenly into shell, then top with second rectangle of dough. Using a rolling pin, roll over edges of pan to seal tart and trim edges, discarding scraps. Cut 3 steam vents in top crust with a paring knife, then put tart in pan on a baking sheet. Bake until top is golden, about 1 hour. Transfer to a rack and cool 10 minutes, then remove side of pan. Cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Dust with confectioners sugar.

Happy 2008!

The previous year was a whirlwind for me. It was a year of a couple of firsts, one was celebrating the first anniversary of my first and hopefully only marriage. Second, was writing my first blog. I have really enjoyed sharing new cooking and travelling adventures with all of you and don’t worry, there is much more to come.

I wish all of you a happy and healthy 2008. May all of your wishes come true.

New Year’s Eve is not widely celebrated here in Israel because in Judaism, the new year is Rosh Hashana, which normally falls in September or the beginning of October, depending on the Jewish Calendar. We went to a friend’s house for dinner, but did not say celebrate the new year, it was just a dinner with friend’s. We feasted on entrecote, lamb chops, lentils, zucchini, salad, homemade tomato bread, roasted potatoes and plenty of champagne.

To close the meal, I made Tarte au Citron. I know some of you will shriek that I made a parve version of this tarte, but it was as delicious as when I make it with butter. I know that sounds crazy, but it is true. This recipe is from chef Thomas Keller of French Laundry, Bouchon and Per Se restaurants in the United States. The crust is made with pinenuts, but you could easily make it with a plain tart crust of your choice. Just make sure that the tart crust does not contain a lot of sugar. The lemon filling is lemony and very creamy because you make it using sabayon method, which means that you rapidly whisk the mixture over a bain marie until it is thick and creamy.

Tarte au Citron

Yield: One 22 cm (9-inch) tart

Recipe from Bouchon by Thomas Keller

1/3 recipe Pine Nut Pastry Dough (see accompanying recipe)

2 eggs, cold

2 egg yolks, cold

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

85g (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter or margarine, cut into 6 pieces

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) degrees. Generously butter and flour a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and refrigerate it while the oven preheats.

Remove the tart pan from the refrigerator. Use your fingertips to press the chilled pine nut dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Trim off any excess dough.

Bake the crust for 10 to 15 minutes, then rotate it and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until it is golden brown. Remove the crust from the oven and let it cool while you make the filling. (There may be some cracks in the crust; they will not affect the finished tart.)

Bring about 1-1/2 inches of water to a boil in a pot that is slightly smaller than the diameter of the bowl you will be using for the filling. (The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water.)

Meanwhile, in a large metal bowl, whisk the eggs, yolks and sugar for about 1 minute, or until the mixture is smooth. Set the bowl over the pot and, using a large whisk, whip the mixture while you turn the bowl (for even heating). After about 2 minutes, when the eggs are foamy and have thickened, add one-third of the lemon juice. Continue to whisk vigorously and, when the mixture thickens again, add another one-third of the lemon juice. Whisk until the mixture thickens again, then add the remaining lemon juice. Continue whisking vigorously, still turning the bowl, until the mixture is thickened and light in color and the whisk leaves a trail in the bottom of the bowl. The total cooking time should be 8 to 10 minutes.

Turn off the heat and leave the bowl over the water. Whisk in the butter a piece at a time. The filling may loosen slightly, but it will thicken and set as it cools. Pour the warm filling into the tart crust and place the pan on a baking sheet.

Preheat the broiler. While the filling is still warm, place the tart under the broiler. Leaving the oven door open, brown the top of the filling, rotating the tart if necessary for even color; this will take only a few seconds, so do not leave the oven. Remove the tart from the broiler and let it sit for at least 1 hour before serving. Serve at room temperature or cold.

Pine Nut Crust

Yield: Enough for three 9-inch tarts

Recipe from Bouchon by Thomas Keller

Because this dough uses only one egg, it is difficult to make in a smaller quantity. You will use one-third of this recipe to make the Lemon Tart; freeze the extra dough for another time.

2 cups pine nuts (283g or 10 ounces)

1/3 cup granulated sugar

3 cups all-purpose flour

226g (1 cup) unsalted butter or margarine, at room temperature (2 sticks)

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

Place the pine nuts in a food processor and pulse a few times. Add the sugar and flour and continue to pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.

Add the butter, egg and vanilla and mix to incorporate all the ingredients (the dough can be mixed by hand or in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment). Divide the dough into 3 equal parts. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes before using. The extra dough can be frozen, wrapped well, for up to 1 month.

Erev Sukkot

Wednesday night was the beginning of the seven day festival of Sukkot. The word Sukkot is the plural of the Hebrew word sukkah, which means booth or hut. During this holiday, Jews are suppose to build a temporary structure in which to eat their meals, entertain guests, relax, and even sleep. The sukkah can be built of any materials, but its roof must be an organic material, such as palm fronds or tree branches, and it must be partially open to the sky.

On each of the seven days of Sukkot, the Torah requires that Jews should take four species of plants and shake them in a specific manner. These species are: the lulav (date palm frond), hadass (bough of a myrtle tree), aravah (willow branch), which are bound together and collectively referred to as the lulav, and the etrog (a citron, a lemon-like citrus fruit). The shaking of the lulav with the etrog is done in the synagogue and in the Sukkah.

There isn’t really any typical dishes for Sukkot. A lot of people make dishes with fruit, such as quince, pomegranates and apples. I decided to try two new recipes for the evening meal. For the main course I prepared Honey-Barbecued Short Ribs with Rosemary-Glazed Corn on the Cob and I prepared a Quince-Bay Leaf Tart with Pistachio Crust for dessert. Both of the dishes were delicious, but we prefer the other short rib recipe I made for Lag B’Omer.

The quince tart recipe called for one large quince, so I used two medium size ones and it was clearly not enough, but too late to do anything about it, so I topped the quince with two sliced apples.

Honey-Barbecued Short Ribs with Rosemary-Glazed Corn on the Cob
(I used thyme instead of rosemary)

Quince Tart with Pistachio Crust

Slice of tart

Quince-Bay Leaf Tart with Pistachio Crust

Serving Size: 6 to 8


4 medium quinces

4 large bay leaves

1/4 cup vanilla sugar or 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla


60 g (1/3 cup) pistachio nuts

100 g (7 tablespoons) unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon salt

75 g (5 tablespoons) sugar

150 g (2/3 cup) flour

Quince and Bay Leaf

Use a mandolin to slice the quince in thin, even slices. Place the quince slices, bay leaves and sugar in a saucepan. Add enough water to cover and simmer until the quince is soft and the water has evaporated. This could take 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Pistachio Crust

Place the pistachios in a Cuisinart and pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Mix together the nuts, butter, sugar, and flour until it forms into a dough. This is a basic butter crust recipe and it will be a little dry.

Press the dough in a lightly greased tart pan and add the quince filling. Bake in a pre-heated oven (175°C/ 347°F) for 25-30 minutes or slightly brown on the top.

"Often Imitated, but Never Duplicated"

This was my Uncle Alfred’s slogan for his restaurant, The Annistonian. My 96-year-old beloved great-uncle died two weeks ago, two days after his birthday. Uncle Alfred was born in Berlin, Germany to a family of butchers. Instead of becoming a professional boxer (he was a junior champion semi-professional boxer in Berlin), he decided to follow in the family footsteps and became a Metzgermeister (master butcher) in 1928.

In June of 1938, Uncle Alfred volunteered to report to the local police station, where he and other men were taken to Sachsenhausen. His family was worried when he did not come back that evening after reporting to the police station and his mother went to the police station to find out what happened to him. She saw a school friend of Alfred’s, who worked at the police station and he promised to find out where he had been taken. Six weeks later, and thanks to his school friend, he was released from Sachsenhausen. When he returned home, his mother told him to leave the country right away. He listened to her and a few days later, through the help of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society of Europe (HICEM), he went to Belgium, stayed two weeks, and then made his way to Paris. He eventually went to Marseilles, and started looking for a country that would give him citizenship. He found out that Colombia was accepting immigrants and he obtained passage to Colombia in the fall of 1938.

He worked in gold mines in Colombia for one year and became very sick and almost died. He decided dying of malaria was not going to be his fate and he moved to Bogota, where he worked in various restaurants and then eventually opened a restaurant and butcher shop. After the war was over, he found out that his parents, two brothers and one sister died in Auschwitz. One sister came to Bogota and raised a family and another sister immigrated to the US.

He went to New York in 1951, met my great-aunt Helen at Grossinger’s and in 1953 came to my hometown where he opened a fine-dining restaurant called the Annistonian in 1958. From 1958 – 1976, people came from near and far for his hand-cut steaks, seafood, fish and his pièce de résistance… Wiener Schnitzel.

I wish I had taken the time to learn more about cooking from him. I really regret this now. One of his most amazing feats in the kitchen was that he could carve a turkey and put it back together and you wouldn’t realize it had been carved until you got up close to it. He also made very good strudel and Black Forest cherry cake. When I tried making both of these desserts, he gave me his good housekeeping seal of approval. I was honored.

When I decided to move to Israel, Uncle Alfred called me “his hero”, but he was my hero. He survived the Nazis, moved to a strange country where he had to learn how to work in the gold mines for survival, survived the loss of most of his family, triumphed in Bogota and made a family and a career in the US. To honor his memory, I made a meal.

Uncle Alfred, I will always treasure your great humor, your amazing charm, your delicious food and your great dancing.

The menu was as follows:



Main Course

Wiener Schnitzel

Bratkartoffeln (Home fries)


Wine: Wuerttemberg Edition Gourmet Kerner 2004


Fig Galette

We began the evening with my husband’s tapenade. He adds just the right amount of garlic to give it that kick. In addition to the usual ingredients he added a little fresh rosemary and oregano. It was delicious.

I have a confession to make, and please do not send me any cards or letters in protest, but my husband hand-cut and pounded a whole turkey breast instead of veal. The veal was 15EUR/20USD per kilo and is just over our budget right now. If you do happen to make this with turkey, do not marinate it in lemon juice.

Wiener Schnitzel

Serving Size: 4 to 6

2 pounds boneless leg of veal or turkey breast, cut into 1/4 inch slices, pounded thin

1 cup lemon juice (omit when using turkey)

1 teaspoon salt (leave out if you are using kosher meat)

1/4 freshly ground pepper

3 eggs

3 tablespoons water

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 cup dry bread crumbs

1 1/2 cups canola or light olive oil

Lemon slices

Arrange veal in single layer in large baking dish. Pour lemon juice over the veal and let stand one hour, turning the veal twice. Drain the veal and pat dry, then sprinkle it with salt (don't use salt if you are using kosher meat) and pepper.

Beat eggs and water in a pie plate. Coat veal with flour, dip in egg mixture, coat with crumbs, patting them in gently, and shake off the excess. Put the slices between parchment paper on a plate and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

Heat the oil in large heavy skillet until it begins to smoke. Fry one cutlet at a time in the oil until golden brown, about 2 minutes each side. Drain the meat on paper toweling and keep in a warm oven until all the cutlets are cooked. Garnish with lemon slices and parsley sprigs.

The trick to making good home fries is to use waxy, firm potatoes. Do not use baking potatoes. Peel them and parboil them either the day before or earlier in the day.


Serving Size: 6 to 8

2.5 kg (4-5 lb.) potatoes, waxy potatoes

250 ml (1 cup) yellow onion, thinly sliced

125 ml (1/2 cup) olive oil

2 tablespoons good Hungarian sweet paprika

1 teaspoon good Hungarian hot paprika

Salt and pepper

Parsley (optional)

Parboil the potatoes until tender, but still firm. Let cool and then cut into 1/8inch/3mm slices.

Sauté the onions gently in the olive oil until translucent. Add the paprika and let the onion take on its color and taste. Add the potatoes and fry until golden brown and slightly crispy. Season with salt and pepper and heat everything through.

Fresh from Oven

The fig galette was easy to prepare, but make sure that you place the tart on a rimmed cookie sheet, otherwise you will have a mess in your oven.

Fig Galette

Serving Size: 6

For the dough:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

100g (7 tablespoons) cold margarine or butter, cut into cubes

3 tablespoons very cold orange juice or water

For the filling:

566g (1 1/4 lb.) ripe figs, stemmed and quartered lengthwise

1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Egg wash

1/4 cup sliced almonds

To make the dough, in the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, granulated sugar and salt and pulse to blend. Add the butter and shortening and pulse until reduced to pea-size pieces. Add the water a little at a time and pulse until the dough just begins to come together in a rough mass. Transfer the dough to a work surface and shape into a disk. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 2 hours.

Preheat an oven to 200C/400F.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly dust a work surface and a rolling pin with flour. Roll out the dough into a round slightly larger than 13 inches/33cm and about 1/8 inch/3mm thick. Lift and turn the dough several times as you roll to prevent sticking, and dust the surface and the rolling pin with additional flour as needed. Use a dough scraper or an icing spatula to loosen the pastry if it sticks. Trim off any ragged edges to make an even 13-inch/33cm round. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

To make the filling, in a large bowl, gently toss together the figs, brown sugar, lemon zest and vanilla until all the ingredients are evenly distributed.


Uncover the dough and transfer to the baking sheet. The edges of the dough round will hang over the pan edges. Arrange the figs in a pile in the center of the dough, leaving a 2-inch/5cm border uncovered. Fold the dough up and over the filling, pleating loosely all around the circle and leaving the galette open in the center.

Ready to Bake

Brush the pleated dough with the egg wash. Sprinkle the almonds on top of the dough and press on them lightly to help them stick.

Bake until the crust is golden and the figs are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, about 40 minutes. Transfer the galette to a wire rack and let cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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