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/

Red and White Sangria – The Perfect Yom Ha’Atzmaut Refreshment

Sangria Fruit

Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, is on Monday. The whole country will be turning on their grills and the flavors of grilled lamb, beef short ribs, kebabs,  steaks, chicken, and fish will fill the air. I like to start the celebration with a big pitcher of sangria.

For some, Sangria is typically a Mediterranean drink served at Spanish restaurants in beautiful pottery jugs, made from red wine and fruit. However, sangria doesn’t originate from Spain. Legend has it that the British East India Company travelled to India and tried a drink known as Pac that contained five ingredients referred to in its name- eau de vie, sugar, lemon, water and tea.

The British took this recipe back from the East Indies and the name of the drink evolved into punch. The word punch became ponche in Spanish, used to describe sangria which is, in essence, a fruit punch. Even the French claim to have created this drink that they call sang-gris. Truth be told, the Greeks, Romans, and Ancient Israelites all had various drinks that they made from a base of red wine, fruit juices, and honey because the water was not fit to drink since it was used to bathe in and also used for various other unclean reasons.

No matter where it originates, it is a refreshing spring and summer drink that is perfect as a cocktail served by the pool or  with a light summer meal on the terrace. If you search, you will find hundreds of variations of sangria, some even adding ginger ale or Sprite! I prefer to make mine with the minimum of ingredients: wine, fruit, a cinnamon stick or ginger syrup, and a splash of Cointreau or brandy.

Red and White Sangria

Red Sangria

Serving Size: 4 to 6

2 orange, sliced thinly

1/2 apple, cut into cubes

2 small red plums, nectarines or other stone fruit, cut into cubes

2 cinnamon sticks

1 bottle red wine, such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, or other dry red

2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice

3 tablespoons Cointreau or brandy

Put all of the fruit and cinnamon stick in a large pitcher. Add the red wine, orange juice and Cointreau. Stir well and chill for 3-4 hours or overnight to allow the flavors to meld together. Serve over ice.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2011/05/07/red-and-white-sangria-the-perfect-yom-haatzmaut-refreshment/

 

White Sangria

Serving Size: 4 to 6

For the sangria:

1 orange, sliced thinly

1 lemon, sliced thinly

1/2 apple, cut into cubes

1 bottle white wine, such as Emerald Riesling or Chardonnay

1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

3 tablespoon ginger syrup

3 tablespoons Cointreau or brandy

For the Ginger Syrup:

1 cup of water

1 cup of sugar

1/2 cup fresh ginger, peeled and sliced thinly

For the ginger syrup:

Place the water and sugar in a small pan, and bring to a boil. Add the ginger slices and simmer for 15 minutes. Cool and place in a glass jar. Keep refrigerated.

For the sangria:

Put all of the fruit in a large pitcher. Add the white wine, orange juice, ginger syrup and Cointreau. Stir well and chill for 3-4 hours or overnight to allow the flavors to meld together. Serve over ice.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2011/05/07/red-and-white-sangria-the-perfect-yom-haatzmaut-refreshment/

 

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/

Flan De Naranja

I love a rich Brazilian flan with an almost burnt caramel sauce. I grew up eating coconut flan that my grandmother’s Chinese cook used to make for dessert for special occasions and many a Shabbat dinner. So, when I decided to make it during the time Mr BT and I were courting, I was deflated when he told me that he loathes custard of any kind! I said, “but you haven’t had my flan. Maybe I can change your mind?” “All right, I will give it a try” he said. Well, I am happy to say that I did convert him that night, and I was not afraid to go ahead and make a light and creamy orange flan for the pre-Yom Kippur meal.

This flan is dairy free, but still has the same creaminess that one expects without the need for a caramel sauce. It is pure orange goodness. This dessert will be a perfect ending to your Sukkot meal.

Orange Flan

Flan De Naranja

Serving Size: 4

(Orange Flan) From Casa Moro by Sam & Sam Clark

6 large egg yolks

60g (1/3 cup) caster sugar

300ml (1-1/4 cups) freshly squeezed orange juice, not strained

Preheat the oven to 120C (250F).

Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until thick, light and fluffy. Gradually add the orange juice, while whisking, making sure that you whisk the sides and bottom of the bowl. Pour the mixture into four glass or ceramic ramekins and place them in a deep pan. Place the pan in the oven and pour cold water up to the level of the top of the orange/egg mixture, about half way up the ramekin. Bake for 1-1/2 to 2 hours. The flan should be wiggly and will be creamy and orangey. Refrigerate for at least 2-4 hours before serving.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2010/09/19/flan-de-naranja/

 

Goose with Shallots and Clementines

We had a lovely long holiday weekend  which ended with celebrating my birthday. For Shabbat, I made a lovely, fragrant meal of slow cooked goose legs with shallots and clementines, which have just started showing up in the market. This dish is rich and fork-tender. I served it with a herb roesti that Mr BT made and steamed Brussels sprouts. A perfect dish for a sweet new year.

Goose with Shallots and Clementines

Goose with Shallots and Clementines

4 goose legs

200g shallots , peeled

6 whole cloves garlic, peeled

1 tablespoon ras el hanout

400ml (1/2 quart) vegetable stock

1 tablespoon clear honey

Juice 1 lemon or lime

4 small, firm clementines , peeled

2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Heat oven to 190C (375F). Place the goose legs on a raised grid in one layer in a large roasting pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 45 minutes. Remove the goose legs and set aside. Spoon 3 tablespoons of the goose fat or olive oil into a large, wide pan (reserve the remainder of the goose fat).

Add the shallots and saute until just starting to colour. Add the ras el hanout and the garlic cloves and mix well. Add the stock, honey, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and bring to the boil. Add the goose legs, cover tightly and cook over a gentle heat for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the goose fat or olive oil in a frying pan, add the clementines and fry until they are glistening and starting to brown. Add to the pan with the duck and cook for a further 25 minutes until the goose is fork tender. Sprinkle the goose with sesame seeds before serving.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2010/09/12/goose-with-shallots-and-clementines/

Baroness’ Sinful Honey Cake

Rosh Hashana Table 122

Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, is a holiday for starting anew. So for this year’s holiday I decided to create my own signature honey cake, something special to welcome the new promise of a sweet year to come. What would be better than to take a honey cake and top it with thinly sliced apples that were poached in white wine, and top it with a luscious 72% dark chocolate glaze. Actually, it is so delicious as to be positively sinful. Fortunately, we have just over a week to enjoy it, confident in the knowledge that on Yom Kippur we will be able to atone for this sin.

This year, as in every year, we celebrated Rosh Hashana with family and friends in Jerusalem. We thought of loved ones we missed, we laughed , and we thought of all of the things we want to do to make this year more sweet, more healthy, more prosperous, and most importantly more peaceful.

May you be inscribed in the Book of Life and we hope you have happy, healthy, prosperous, and peaceful new year.

We would also like to wish Eid Mubarak to all of our Muslim friends.

Chag Sameach,

Baroness Tapuzina and Mr BT

Apple and Honey Cake 120

Baroness' Sinful Honey Cake

Yield: One frosted round cake and 1 plain loaf cake

Serving Size: 8-10 (round cake) and 10 (loaf cake)

For the poached apples:

3 medium granny smith apples, peeled and cored

1/2 bottle Riesling white wine

2 cinnamon sticks

5 whole cloves

2 large pieces of orange peel

1 sheet of parchment paper

For the honey cake:

1/2 cup dried sugarless cranberries

1/4 cup candied orange peel

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

800g (6 cups + 3 tablespoons) spelt whole grain flour or all-purpose flour

1-1/2 cups sugar

2 heaping teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1-1/2 cups honey

1 cup oil

4 eggs

2 tablespoons instant espresso coffee

1 cup boiling water

2 level teaspoons baking soda

Zest of two medium oranges

For the chocolate glaze:

200g (7oz) 72% premium dark chocolate

50g (3.5 tablespoons) butter or margarine

For the poached apples:

Place the apples in a medium size pan and add the spices and orange peel. Cover with the white white and place the parchment paper on top of the apples. Poach on medium heat and reduce the heat to a simmer. Poach the apples for 15 minutes or until they are tender, but not mushy. Remove from the poaching liquid, put them in a covered container and refrigerate until cold. This can be done the day before baking.

For the cake:

Preheat the oven to 170C (325F). Grease a 22cm (8-inch) round spring-form pan and a loaf pan.

Place the cranberries, orange peel, and walnuts in a food processor and grind until each ingredient is in fine pieces. Be careful not to grind it into a paste. Set aside.

Mix the flour, sugar, and spices in a bowl. Add the honey, oil and eggs, and whisk into a smooth batter. Dissolve the coffee into 1 cup of boiling water. Add the baking soda to the batter, and then add the coffee. Gently fold in the orange rind, and the cranberry, candied orange and walnut mixture.

Pour half of the batter into round pan and the other half into the loaf pan. Bake for approximately 45 minutes until the cake is dark brown and the toothpick is clean with a few crumbs adhering. Depending on your oven, you may have to bake your cakes for an additional 10-15 minutes.

Cool in the pan until completely cooled. The cake a be prepared up to two days ahead.

For the chocolate glaze:

Just before assembling the cake, melt the chocolate over a water on low heat and add the butter or margarine. Cool for 5 minutes.

For assembly:

Slice the apples into thin slices and place on top of the round cake. Place the chocolate glaze in the middle of the cake and spread to the edges of the top of the cake. Let chocolate glaze will thicken as it cools.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2010/09/10/baroness-honey-cake/

Salmon with Spicy Citrus Soy Sauce

The hot weather does not inspire me to stay in the kitchen very long, so I have been making light, quick meals for dinner, and Mr. BT has been making nice big salads that include the home-grown lettuce of which he is very proud. This past Shabbat, I made a lovely fish dinner with salmon in an Asian citrus sauce over soba noodles. I served it with steamed asparagus and sauteed mushrooms.

Soba noodles are made from buckwheat flour, which is wheat-free and gluten free, and can be served hot or cold. The Bretons make crepes with the flour and the Russians make Blini. It is also a good honey plant that produces a rich, dark honey. The buckwheat hulls are used to fill upholstery and the groats are now used to produce gluten-free beer.

I like to serve the soba noodles warm and sprinkle a little sesame oil on them just before serving.

Salmon with Spicy Citrus Soy Sauce

Serving Size: 2

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce

Juice of small lemon

Juice of small orange

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon chili paste

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced

3 large cloves garlic, minced

2 salmon fillets

Mix all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Place the salmon fillets in a frying pan with a little oil over medium heat. Add the sauce and cook until the salmon is still slightly pink in the center. Serve over soba noodles or brown rice.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2010/07/24/salmon-with-spicy-citrus-soy-sauce/

Shavuot Ideas – Saffron Semifreddo with a Dried Cherry-Cardamom Sauce and Almond-Orange Financiers

Chocolate is most people’s guilty pleasure, but my guilty pleasure is ice cream. And not just any ice cream, but luscious Italian gelato, preferably eaten in Italy at one of my favorite gelateria, Perche No!, in Firenze, or in Israel at Gelateria Siciliana on Ibn Givrol in Tel Aviv.

I also enjoy making my own ice cream and sorbet at home, which I have blogged in several posts here.

The final course for the dinner party last week was a recipe for semifreddo that intrigued me from the moment I saw it on the Food52 website. Semifreddo literally means “half-frozen” and is a frozen dessert that has a mousse-like texture from equal parts of ice cream custard and whipped double (heavy) cream.

I didn’t deviate from the recipe at all and even made the salted-honey hazelnuts, but in the rush of trying to serve the dessert, I forgot to plate them. It was actually better in the end because it would have been too much of a taste contrast with the mini almond-orange financiers I served on the side. The dessert was a huge hit, which made me very happy since Mimi was afraid that some of the guests might not like the taste of saffron. I used a very high quality saffron that I had been keeping for a special occasion.

Sarah, from Foodbridge, brought a large bag filled with Surinam Cherries, also known as Pitanga in Brazil. They were a perfect decoration for the top of the semifreddo and were also quite delicious. I had never had them before but they  remind me of cherries, which as my faithful readers know is one of my favorite fruits.

Mimi suggested that we serve an alternative to the semifreddo, so I decided to make mini financiers which I baked in a silcone chocolate mold that can withstand up to 220C (425F). Financiers are a light teacake, similar to sponge cake, and are usually made of almond flour, a beurre noisette (brown butter), egg whites, icing sugar and flour. Financiers are often baked in rectangular-shaped molds which are suppose to resemble a bars of gold. You can find these molds in cooking shops, such as 4Chef, in Tel Aviv.

The dessert was a huge hit and I will definitely make this again. I made the semifreddo a couple of days in advance and made the financiers the day before, but you could easily make these several days before and freeze them.

The dessert was served with Mimi’s delicious homemade liqueurs. On offer were lemoncello, geranium, apricot, strawberry and coffee. I love all of them, but my personal favorite is apricot.

Saffron Semifreddo with Cherry Cardamom Syrup and Salted Honey Hazelnuts

Serving Size: 6

For the Saffron semifreddo:

5 large egg yolks

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon high quality saffron threads

1 tablespoon sweet vermouth

1 cup double (heavy) cream

For cherry-cardamom syrup:

1/2 cup dried, unsweetened cherries

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cardamom, toasted

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup filtered water

For the salted honey-hazelnuts:

1/2 cup hazelnuts

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 teaspoons honey

For the Saffron semifreddo:

Bring a small saucepan or double boiler with water to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. Have an ice water bath big enough for the base of the double boiler or mixing bowl on standby.

In a medium glass bowl or the pan of a double boiler, combine the egg yolks, sugar, and saffron threads. Place the bowl or pan over the simmering water and whisk constantly until the mixture is thick and doubled in volume.

Remove from heat and submerge in the ice water bath, continuing to stir to bring down the temperature. If the mixture gets too cold and is sticking to the bottom of the pan, it will release easily if you run hot water on the outside of the bowl.

Beat the heavy cream in a mixer until soft peaks form. Set aside.

Place the egg yolk mixture and the sweet vermouth in the bowl of mixer with a whip attachment, and whip until the mixture becomes thick and pale in color.

Add a third of the whipped cream to the egg mixture and stir together gently. Fold in the remaining whipped cream into the egg mixture. When this is done, you can spoon the mixture into 6 individual ramekins, or place it in a plastic cellophane lined loaf pan, or decorative silicone mold of your choice. Cover the ramekins or other container with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, at least 6 hours. To serve, run a butter knife under hot water and cut around the edge of the ramekin to invert the semifreddo onto individual plates. Serve with the cherry-cardamom syrup and salted honey-hazelnuts (recipes to follow).

For cherry-cardamom syrup:

Combine all of the ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the syrup is reduced by half and coats the back of a spoon. Set aside to cool.

For the salted honey-hazelnuts:

Preheat oven to 180C (350F) degrees.

Place the hazelnuts in a small mixing bowl and toss with the olive oil and sea salt. Add honey and toss once more to coat. Transfer the nuts to a silpat-lined baking sheet and bake, stirring at least once, until the nuts are golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Once the hazelnuts have cooled, roughly chop the nuts and serve alongside the semifreddo.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2010/05/16/shavuot-ideas-saffron-semifreddo-with-a-dried-cherry-cardamom-sauce-and-almond-orange-financiers/

 

Almond-Orange Financiers

Yield: 21 5 x 10-cm (2 x 4-inch) financiers or 50 mini

30g (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted, for buttering 21 financier molds

140g (1 cup) almond flour or finely ground blanched almonds

210g (1-2/3 cups) icing (confectioner's) sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Zest of one large orange

Pinch of salt

5 large egg whites

185 g (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Preheat the oven to 220C (425F).

With a pastry brush, butter the financier molds with the 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Arrange them side-by-side, but not touching, on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet with the buttered molds in the freezer to re-solidify the butter and make the financiers easier to unmold.

In a large bowl, combine the almonds, sugar, flour, orange zest and salt. Mix to blend. Add the egg whites and mix until thoroughly combined. Add the 3/4 cup of butter and mix until blended. The mixture will be fairly thin and pourable.

Spoon the batter into the molds, filling them almost to the rim. Place the baking sheet in the center of the oven. Bake until the financiers just being to rise, about 7 minutes. Reduce the heat to 200C (400F). Bake until the financiers are a light, delicate brown and begin to firm up, about another 7 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the financiers rest in the oven until firm, about another 7 minutes.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the financiers cool in the molds for 10 minutes. Unmold.

(Note: If you are using metal Financier molds, then wash them immediately with a stiff brush in hot water without detergent so that they retain their seasoning.) The financiers may be stored in an airtight container for several days.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2010/05/16/shavuot-ideas-saffron-semifreddo-with-a-dried-cherry-cardamom-sauce-and-almond-orange-financiers/

Shavuot Ideas -Baby Lettuce Salad with Pears, Blue Cheese and Candied Walnuts

We served this salad between the amuse bouche and main course as a light refresher, but you can also serve this before the dessert course. Irene chose Dalton Winery, Fume Blanc, 2008 to serve with the salad. This wine is aged in oak barrels and was a lovely crisp wine that I have also served with a fish course.

Baby Lettuce Salad with Pears, Blue Cheese and Candied Walnuts

Serving Size: 6

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

1 teaspoon minced shallot

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons walnut oil or avocado oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 bag assorted baby lettuce

1 bunch of arugula (rocket), trimmed

1/2 cup whole walnuts

2 tablespoons date honey (silan)

1 medium Bartlett pear--halved, cored and thinly sliced

1/2 cup crumbled Maytag or Danish blue cheese

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Place the walnuts on a baking tray and drizzle the date honey over the nuts and mix until they are completely coated. Add more date honey, if necessary. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, combine the vinegar and shallot. Whisk in the olive and walnut oils and season with salt and pepper. Add the lettuce, arugula, walnuts and pear slices, season with salt and pepper and toss well. Crumble the blue cheese on top and serve.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2010/05/14/shavuot-ideas-baby-lettuce-salad-with-pears-blue-cheese-and-candied-walnuts/

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