Wedding Fit for a Baroness

I was married for the first time this past December. Originally the wedding was planned in the spring in Israel. It was going to be a beautiful garden affair in an old Arab villa, called the Green Villa, overlooking Tel Aviv. But, unfortunately we had to cancel this wedding and two long years later, we finally had an unexpected dream wedding.

Wedding planning can be quite stressful on a couple and we were certainly not devoid of this stress. After much deliberation, we decided that it was more important to have my family at the wedding and so we embarked on planning a wedding in my hometown in the US. It was a difficult decision because my husband wanted his friends at his wedding, but he had already been married once and he knew that since it was my first wedding, my family was more important.

My dress was made in Israel two years ago. I co-designed it with the dress designer I hired. It was made of gold duponi silk, with an embroidered ribbon on the bottom of the dress and topped off with a gold veil. The train was made of a slightly darker gold duponi silk with tiny embroidered flowers in the same color thread. It was two pieces cut like the sash of a Kimono and joined together with a small bow.

My parents asked the Rabbi that married them in 1963 to officiate the wedding. He is the current Rabbi at my hometown synagogue and he had met my husband twice before. Being married by the same Rabbi that married my parents 43 years before was a real added bonus to the special event.

Everyone in my family had been married under the huppah my great grandfather built for the synagogue, but unfortunately it finally fell apart several years ago and the synagogue had not purchased anything to replace it. I am from a small town, so you can’t just call up the local huppah company and rent something. I had to think of something creative. At first, I thought I could make my own huppah cover. I would buy a piece of silk and paint it, but that was going to be a lot of trouble and what if I messed it up? So, I started looking on the internet for ideas, but a ready made one cost a minimum of 400USD. Then, my husband suggested that since we couldn’t get married in Israel, how about getting married under the Israeli flag. So, I started looking for a huppah-size one and they cost a minimum of 300USD. It was way over our budget. Then, something drew me to checking on eBay. I had never bought anything on eBay before, but I searched for “Huppah” and ‘lo and behold…. there was my huppah cover up for bid. It had never been used and was simply beautiful. I bid immediately and on the final day was in a bidding war with another person. They contacted me by email and asked when I was getting married. I told him and he said if I won, would I sell it to him for the same price I bought it because he was getting married two weeks after me. I said sure. I won the bid and he received the huppah a few days after my wedding.

The week before the wedding we still had to get flowers and get the poles and decoration for the huppah. Because I got married between Christmas and New Years, there were no flower deliveries, so there were no flowers to be had. No problem, we went to Home Depot, bought tropical plants and the four poles for the huppah. My husband drilled holes in the poles and attached hooks to the poles to hold up the huppah cover. We bought ribbon at the fabric store and a cousin and my sister painstakingly decorated the poles.

My sister decorated the synagogue with the plants we bought and I had a spa day at the salon/spa that my cousin works at. She is a wonderful massage therapist and she gave me the spa day as a gift.

We rented a CD player and played a medley of classical baroque music for the wedding ceremony. It began with Jewish Baroque music, Monteverdi and Rameau pieces, then my grandmothers walked to Tres Morillas (Spanish Baroque music performed by El Cancionero de Palacio), then the huppah holders, the Groom, Rabbi and Cantor walked down the aisle to to La Bomba (Spanish Baroque music performed by Ensalada; not the Mexican song). I walked down the aisle with my parents to Monteverdi’s Orfeo Toccata and we closed the ceremony with Bach’s Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen.

The reception was at a event hall/restaurant called Classic on Noble that is owned by friends of my family.

The menu was simple, but elegant:

Blood Orange Caipirinha

Antipasti (seasonal grilled vegetables)

Spanikopita triangles

Salad with dried fruit, nuts and pears

Salmon with goat cheese grits and roasted baby vegetables

We decided to forgo the traditional wedding cake and decided to have a dessert table:

In honor of David’s Hungarian heritage and our love for chestnuts, I made two Gesztenyetorte (Chestnut Torte). This cake is three slices of walnut sponge cake with a delicate chestnut cream filling. Melts in your mouth.


Serving Size: 8 to 10

(Chestnut Torte) Recipe from George Lang's Cuisine of Hungary by George Lang

For the sponge cake:


10 egg whites

¾ cup sugar

¼ cup flour

½ cup finely ground walnuts

Butter and flour for pan

Chestnut filling (below)

Chocolate, grated or shaved

For the chestnut filling:

1kg chestnuts in shells or 450g canned Swiss or French chestnut puree

3 oz semi sweet chocolate

225g + 2 Tbs sweet butter

¾ cup vanilla sugar

1 whole egg

¼ cup light rum

For the sponge cake:

Preheat oven to 190. Add 1 tsp cold water and a pinch of salt to the egg whites. Whip egg whites until soft peak stage. Continue to beat and add the sugar, spoon by spoon until egg whites are very stiff. (A spoon should be able to stand up in the meringue if it is beaten stiffly enough.)

Gently add the flour, walnuts and another pinch of salt. Fold in, making sure you do no break the egg white foam.

Line a baking sheet 17 x 12 inches with wax paper. Butter paper lightly, sprinkle with flour and shake off excess.

Spread batter evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 min, until firm and golden brown on top.

Cool completely with wax paper over top to keep cake from getting crusty; then cut lengthwise into 3 pieces.

For the filling:

Cook the chestnuts, shell and skin them and puree while still warm. You should have about 1 lb of puree.

Soften the chocolate in the top part of a double boiler over hot water. Beat together the butter, vanilla sugar, egg and rum until the mixture is very light and foamy.

Add the softened chocolate and the chestnut puree, and beat until thoroughly mixed.

Fill cake layers with chestnut filling and cover sides and top with more of it. Decorate with grated or shaved chocolate. Chill in refrigerator for several hours before serving. Serve thin slices, this is a very rich cake.


This cake can be round, square or oblong. It is an easy cake to make and yet quite different from the run-of-the-mill torte. The layers have the texture of a moist sponge cake. Make smaller layers and have a torte with more than 3 layers if you prefer. If you bake the dough a little longer, you will get crisper layers.

And, I gave the restaurant the recipes for two other desserts:

Anacapri Tart – An orange mascarpone tart with a rosemary crust. A slice of heaven. This tart is an Italian confection and represents our love of anything Italian.

Anacapri Tart

Serving Size: 10

For the pastry:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

2 tsp minced rosemary leaves

Grated zest of 1 orange

12 tbsp sweet butter, cubed

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

2 tbsp cointreau or grand marnier

For the filling:

1 1/4 cups orange juice

grated zest of 1 large orange

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup mascarpone, or similar sweet cheese

7 large eggs

3 tbsp cointreau or grand marnier

Confectioner’s sugar

For the pastry:

Place the flour, salt, sugar, rosemary, and the orange zest in a medium bowl and rub the cold butter into it with fingertips or a pastry blender until it resembles very coarse crumbs. Combine the egg, the egg yolk and the liqueur and, with a fork, stir it all into the bowl with the flour mixture, forming a rough paste.

Turn it out onto a lightly flowered work space and, with a few short strokes, form the mixture into a dough. flatten the dough into a disc, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and place it in the freezer for 20 minutes. press the rested, chilled dough over the surfaces of a buttered 12- to 14-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. cover the pastry-lined tin in plastic wrap and chill it again, for twenty minutes, in the freezer.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

With a fork, prick the chilled pastry over its surface and bake it for 10 minutes. lower the temperature to 375 degrees and continue baking the pastry for an additional 5 or 6 minutes or until it is firm and barely beginning to take on some color. Cool the pastry thoroughly on a rack. Proceed with the orange cream.

For the filling:

If the oven is not already hot, preheat it to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, beat together the orange juice, the zest, the sugar, and the mascarpone, amalgamating the ingredients as well. add the eggs, one at a time, beating vigorously, incorporating each before adding the next. add the liqueur and beat thoroughly.

Pour the orange cream into the prepared pastry and bake the tart for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cream is just firmed and has taken on patches of burnished skin and the crust is deeply golden.

Cool the tart on a rack for 15 minutes before removing its ring and permitting it to cool thoroughly. Thickly dust the tart with confectioner’s sugar. Serve the tart on the day it was baked; do not refrigerate.

Gâteau Surprise Chocolat Pistache (from the Chocolat & Zucchini blog) – A rich pistachio cake with a dark chocolate ganache. To remind us of our Mediterranean home. And, we both adore pistachios.

All in all the wedding was simple, elegant and beautiful as the title of this entry says, A Wedding Fit for a Baroness. I want to thank all of my family, especially my parents, my sister and my cousins Gil, Dionne, Allen and Heather, for making my special day very special. It was my dream wedding and more.

And especially to the love of my life, my beautiful husband David who works so hard to make our dreams come true. I love you baby!

Fish on Friday

No we are not Catholics, but we love fish and usually eat it two or three times a week. Did you know that batter-fried fish, as in “Fish & Chips” was a Portuguese Jewish invention and was introduced to England by Portuguese Jewish immigrants? One trip to London to visit my mother-in-law I had a hankering for fish and chips, so my lovely husband took me to a very nice and well known fish and chips restaurant, called The Nautilus (27-29 Fortune Green Road London NW6 1DU), in West Hampstead. Instead of using the heavy batter that some places use, they used a nice light coating of matzah meal! It was the best fish and chips I have ever had. I had plaice and David had halibut. I tried doing this at home and have never looked back.

Tomorrow night is Lag B’Omer and we decided to have fish for Shabbat dinner tonight and have meat tomorrow evening for the holiday. We didn’t get to have a BBQ for Israel’s Independence Day because I was abroad. So, we are making up for it tomorrow night.

I am marinating the meat above overnight. More about this and Lag B’Omer tomorrow.

This evening I fried red mullet fillets which I first dredged in an egg wash and then matzah meal that I mixed with fresh thyme and fresh chives, herb salt and black pepper. I served it with fresh corn on the cob and green beans.

We had this with a 10-year-old South African chardonnay that amazingly survived well. I thought it was going to taste like vinegar.

For dessert, I thawed out a cheat’s version of mincemeat filling that I had made for hamentaschen and made a mincemeat pie. The dough is a ready-made parve pastry that I bought at the supermarket.

Shabbat Shalom!

Exotic Fruits

Israelis love travelling to India. It is a rite of passage for most young adults after they finish their army service, although Thailand, Vietnam and Nepal are also high on the list.

I would love to travel to India. My dream is to go on the Palace on Wheels. This is where my royal highnessness :-) comes shining through. For me, the Palace on Wheels is the epitome of romance. Rajasthan is supposed to be an amazing place, full of bright colors; rich red and orange raw silk fabric. My wedding dress fabric was a gold duponi silk from India. I adore Indian textiles and sari fabric.

The surprising thing is that Indian food is not more popular in Israel. There are only a few Indian restaurants here. There is a chain called Tandoori: the food is good, but they are rather expensive.

I really enjoy getting Indian takeout in London. I love all the choices of curries, side dishes, samosas, stuffed naan, etc. I also like making it myself. All of the wonderful smells from the cardamon, cinnamon, whole peppercorns and other spices. It fills the whole house with a wonderful spicy, oriental aroma.

For Tu’Bishvat I decided to make an Indian meal, well at least most of it was Indian dishes.

All of the Indian dishes I made for this meal came from Madhur Jafrey’s A Taste of India. I have two of her cookbooks and both of them have delicious recipes, but this cookbook is also a work of art. The photography and the stories she tells take you to India. You can taste the food and smell the smells.

The main dish I made was Chicken with Apricots and Potato Straws (Sali Jardaloo Murgi). This dish is from the state of Gujarat, which is on the Northwest coast of India and borders Rajastan. It has some amazing Temples, one of which is the Temple of Krishna. The dish is spicy and fruity, seasoned with hot chilies, cinnamon, cumin, cardamon, cloves, fresh ginger and garlic.

Chicken with Apricots ad Potato Straws

Serving Size: 4 to 6

(Sali Jardaloo Murgi) Recipe from A Taste of India by Madhur Jaffrey

1.4 kg (3lbs) whole chicken or chicken pieces, skinned

4 whole dried hot red chillies

5cm (2-inch) cinnamon stick, broken up

1-1/2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds

7 cardamom pods

10 whole cloves

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon finely crushed garlic

100g (4oz) dried sour apricots

1/2 cup vegetable oil

225g (1/2lb) medium-sized onions, cut into very fine half rings

2 tablespoons tomato paste mixed with 1 cup of water

1-1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

1-1/2 tablespoons sugar

For the potato straws:

1 tablespoon salt

200g (7oz) large potato, peeled

Vegetable oil for deep frying

To make the chicken:

If using a whole chicken, cut it into small pieces. For example, divide the chicken legs into 2 and the whole breasts into 4 pieces and place in a big bowl.

Place the red chillies, cinnamon, cumin, cardamon and cloves in a coffee grinder and grind as finely as possible.

Rub in 1 teaspoon of the ginger, 1/2 teaspoon of the garlic and half of the spice mixture on to the chicken, making sure the chicken pieces are coated with the mixture. Set aside for 1 hour.

Place the apricots in a small pan with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer, uncovered, until the apricots are tender, but not mushy. Set them aside to cool.

Heat 1/2 cup of oil in a heavy pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and fry until they are a reddish-brown in colour. Turn the heat down and add the remaining ginger, garlic and spice mixture. Stir well and add the chicken, browning lightly for about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste liquid and the salt. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to low, and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Stir in the vinegar and sugar, cover again and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and remove as much fat from the pan as you can.

Place the apricot gently in between the chicken pieces and let them soak in the sauce for at least 30 minutes.

To make the potato straws:

Fill a large bowl with about 8 cups of water. Mix in the salt.

Grate the potato on the coarsest grating blade and place in the bowl of water, stirring them around in the water. Remove one handful of the the potato straws at a time, squeezing out as much liquid as you can. Spread them out on a tea towel and pat as much moisture off as possible.

Put vegetable oil into a wok or frying pan until it is 5cm (2-inches) in depth in the pan. Heat slowly over a medium-low heat. When the oil is hot, this may take 10 minutes, put a small handful of potato straws in the oil. Stir them until they are crisp and golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

When ready to serve, heat the chicken on medium-low heat and garnish top with the potato straws.

The next dish was Aubergines with Apple (Tsoont Vaangan). This dish is from Kashmir. I know this combination sounds strange, but it is delicious.

Aubergines with Apples

Serving Size: 4 as a side dish

(Tsoont Vaangan) Recipe from A Taste of India by Madhur Jaffrey

550g (1-1/4lb) aubergines, cut crosswise into thick slices

1-2 large, hard, tart apples such as a Granny Smith, cut into sixths, unpeeled

1/4 tsp ground fennel seeds

1/2- 1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp tumeric

1/4 tsp red chilli powder (cayenne pepper)

6tbsp mustard or vegetable oil

1/8 tsp ground asafetida

Put the fennel, salt, tumeric and chili powder in a small bowl and add 1 tablespoon of water and mix into a paste.

Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the asafetida and then the apple wedges. Saute, until the apples are golden brown. Remove the apples and set aside.

Place one layer of aubergine in the pan. You may need to add a little more oil. Brown them on both sides, remove from the pan and set aside. Repeat this until all of the aubergine has been cooked.

Put the apples and aubergine back in the pan, add the paste and stir gently. Cook on low heat for about 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and serve.

For dessert, I moved to a country whose dishes I have never made before, Georgia.

This is a Walnut Raisin Torte (Nigvzis Torti). It is not too sweet and is a perfect dessert for Tu’Bishvat. Full of nuts and raisins. It is also not very hard to make. I made a half a recipe, which serves about six people.


Related Posts with Thumbnails