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.

Holiday Stollen

It was my turn again to bring goodies for my team’s weekly Kabbalat Shabbat. Since my turn fell on Christmas Eve and given the fact that none of us celebrate Christmas, I thought I would do something unusual and make a typical German Christmas fruit cake that no one on my team had ever seen or tasted.

Stollen is something that is very familiar to me because my family would eat it along with lebkuchen, speculaas, and my grandmother’s famous butter cookies for Hannukah and the end of the year family celebrations. My grandmother never made a stollen at home, but she always received one from family friends in Germany. I thought it would be fun to make one. Now I know why my grandmother never made it and only served it once a year. It is an absolute calorie bomb! Only make this if you are giving 99.9% of it away as I did. Of course, you are welcome to eat as much as you want, it is absolutely delicious, but don’t tell me I didn’t warn you about your growing hips.

I think most of the team liked it because they are still talking about it this week and asking me when I am going to bake another one.

I would like to wish all of you a very Happy Holidays and a Peaceful 2010 from the Tapuzina baronial dynasty.

Holiday Stollen

Yield: Makes 2 loaves, each about 700 grams (1 1/2 pounds)

2/3 cup black raisins

2/3 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup dried cherries or dried cranberries

1/3 cup dark rum

1 cup almond halves, lightly toasted

1 package active dry yeast (25g fresh yeast)

1/2 cup milk, at room temperature

4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar

2 3/4 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and reserved

450g (4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

1 large egg yolk

1/2 cup chopped candied ginger

1/4 cup chopped candied orange

1/4 cup chopped candied lemon

2 cups icing sugar


The night before baking, put the raisins, cherries or cranberries, and rum in a small bowl.


Put the almonds with 1/4 cup water in another small bowl. Cover both and let sit overnight at room temperature.

Stollen Starter

The next day, in an electric mixer with paddle attachment, set on low speed, make the starter by mixing the yeast with milk until dissolved. Add 1 cup flour and mix until a soft, sticky dough forms, about 2 minutes. Transfer the starter to a lightly greased bowl, cover with oiled or buttered plastic wrap, and let rest for 40 minutes at room temperature.

In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment and set on low speed, mix the remaining 3 cups of flour, 3 tablespoons of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, lemon zest and vanilla seeds. With the motor running, pour in 1 cup of melted butter. Mix at low speed for 1 minute, then add the egg yolk. Mix until liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute more. You may have to add a little milk if the mixture is still too dry.

Divide the starter into 3 pieces and add it to the mixing bowl, 1 piece at a time, mixing at low speed until each addition is thoroughly combined, 2 to 3 minutes after each addition. After the starter is absorbed, mix the dough on a medium speed until glossy, 4 to 5 minutes.


Add the almonds, candied ginger, candied orange and candied lemon, and mix at low speed until combined, 2 to 3 minutes. Then add the raisins, cherries, and rum, and mix until combined, 2 to 3 minutes more.

Stollen Dough

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until the fruit and nuts are well mixed into the dough rather than sitting on the surface, and the dough is smooth and glossy, about 5 minutes. Place the dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest for 1 hour to let rise slightly, then knead it once or twice, cover with plastic and let rest for another hour.

Shaped Stollen

Divide into two equal pieces and shape each into an oval loaf about 20cm (8 inches) long. Stack two rimmed baking sheets on top of each other, lining the top sheet with parchment paper. Place the loaves on top and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the loaves to rest for 1 more hour at room temperature.

Baked Stollen

About 20 minutes before the rise is completed, preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Remove the plastic wrap and bake for about 1 hour. The loaves should be uniformly dark golden brown and the internal temperature taken from middle of each loaf should be 88C (190F).

Stollen covered in Ginger Sugar

Meanwhile, mix the remaining 3/4 cup sugar and 2-1/4 teaspoons ground ginger in a small bowl. When stollen is done, transfer the top pan onto a wire cooling rack (leave stollen on pan). While still hot, brush the stollen with the remaining 1 cup of melted butter, letting the butter soak into loaves. Sprinkle the ginger sugar on the tops and sides of the loaves. When the loaves are completely cool, cover loosely parchment paper or foil and let sit at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight.

The next day, sift 1-1/2 cups of confectioners’ sugar over the loaves, rolling to coat the bottom and sides evenly with sugar. Wrap each loaf in plastic and let sit at room temperature for at least 2 days before sifting the remaining 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar over the loaves before serving.

Lemon-Brined Fried Chicken for Hannukah

I used to be quite active in several food forums like eGullet, but I started having problems when I posted a recipe or a link to a blog post where I had changed the recipe slightly due to kashrut issues. People started arguing with me about how the recipe was no longer authentic, such as my mother-in-law’s chicken paprikàs recipe. She is 100% Hungarian and the recipe doesn’t contain sour cream, so I was very annoyed when someone who claimed to be half-Hungarian told me not once, but three times that the recipe was not chicken paprikàs, that is was pörkölt and that I couldn’t call the dish paprikàs because it didn’t have sour cream in it. I have another recipe for pörkölt with slightly different ingredients, and frankly didn’t have the patience to argue with him other than to tell him that I would like for him to tell my 92-year-old mother-in-law Holocaust survivor,  a tough woman who survived two Gestapo interrogations, that her recipe was not authentic. Why can’t kosher versions of a national dish also be authentic, especially when they are made by a native of that country and they were made by generations of Jews while they lived there?

My family has always made variations of a dish, especially when the dish called for pork, such as bacon or sausage. For example, frijoles negros (black beans). The recipe my father made called for pork knuckle, so he used to make it with beef kielbasa sausage. A lot of cooks in Eastern Europe and France would substitute smoked goose for bacon in dishes that called for a smokey pork flavour. Does it change the taste from the original? Probably. But one could argue that the kosher version is also original.

When a meat recipe has a dairy ingredient, I do not replace it with a non-dairy substitute. I really dislike non-dairy creamers,  while rice and soy milk are usually too sweet to substitute. So when I found another Ad Hoc recipe for Thomas Keller’s famous fried chicken, I had to think long and hard if I wanted to make it because it called for buttermilk. I read a couple of kosher sites that suggested substituting coconut milk with lemon juice, but I was afraid that the coconut taste would be a more than subtle flavour additive. I decided to replace the regular flour with self-raising whole wheat flour and dip the chicken in water. I know that this altered the recipe significantly because the crust was not as crunchy, but it was partly my fault by not double-dipping the chicken. I should have first dredged the chicken in flour, then the water, and then again in the flour. I only did a single dip. However, even with all the changes I had to make, the chicken was delicious and I will make it again. Next year, though, I will use half the salt because there is already enough salt on a kosher chicken. The lemon brine tenderizes the chicken and also adds a nice flavour from the thyme and rosemary. The flour mixture is just peppery enough.

Ad Hoc Lemon-Brined Fried Chicken

Serving Size: 8

Adapted recipe from Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller

3-3/4 liters (1 gallon) cold water

1/2 cup kosher salt

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey

12 bay leaves

1 head of garlic, smashed but not peeled

2 tablespoons black peppercorns

3 large rosemary sprigs

1 small bunch of thyme

1 small bunch of parsley

Finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons

Two 1-1/2 kg (3-pound) kosher chickens

3 cups whole wheat self-raising flour

2 tablespoons garlic powder

2 tablespoons onion powder

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

Vegetable oil, for frying

Rosemary and thyme sprigs, for garnish

In a very large pot, combine 1 liter (1 quart) of the water with the salt, honey, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns, rosemary, thyme and parsley. Add the lemon zest and juice and the lemon halves and bring to a simmer over moderate heat, stirring until the salt is dissolved. Cool completely and stir in the remaining 2-3/4 liters (3 quarts) of cold water. Add the chickens, making sure they are completely submerged, and refrigerate overnight.

Drain the chickens and pat dry. Scrape off any herbs or peppercorns stuck to the skin and cut each bird into 8 pieces. Make sure you keep the chicken on the bone to ensure moistness.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne. Put cold water in a medium size bowl. Working with a few pieces at a time, dip the chicken in the water, then dredge in the flour mixture, pressing so it adheres all over. Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

In a very large, deep skillet, heat 2.5 cm (1 inch) of vegetable oil to 165C (330F). Fry the chicken in 2 or 3 batches over moderate heat, turning once, until golden and crunchy and a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of each piece registers 71C (160F), about 20 minutes. Drain the oil from the chicken on paper towels, and keep warm in a low oven while frying the remaining chicken pieces. Transfer the chicken to a platter, garnish with the herb sprigs and serve hot or at room temperature.

Sgonfiotti di Castagne (Hannukah Chestnut Puffs)

If you have been following me for a while, you know by now that I like to try something different each year for Hannukah as well as other holidays in the Jewish calendar. Most of the time they turn out great and sometimes they don’t turn out so great. Usually I don’t blog about the disasters. I tried making pumpkin fritters for the first night of Hannukah. They smelled great, they looked good, but they tasted like fried goo. Thank goodness I had a lovely gargantuan fresh mango for Plan B.

I had bought chestnut flour a while back and kept forgetting to make something with it. I found all sorts of interesting recipes only to find out they tasted terrible. Either they were dry and tasteless or wet and gooey. I found an Italian recipe for chestnuts puffs and thought I would give them a try. The worst that could happen was that I will never buy chestnut flour again.

The dough did not rise very much and I didn’t have high hopes on the dough puffing up at all, but lo and behold, the dough did work. The taste is very interesting, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. They have the faint sweetness of fresh chestnut. Mr BT loved them. They are not very sweet, they almost taste like a fried graham cracker, but not. I am still on the fence about whether I really like them or not, but buying more chestnut flour is a great excuse for going to Umbria on another holiday. Maybe I do like the puffs after all.

Sgonfiotti di Castagne - (Hannukah Chestnut Puffs)

Yield: Approximately 40 puffs

1/2 cup warm water

2-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

1-1/4 chestnut flour

1/4 icing sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

1-1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 large egg

1 teaspoon salt

Vegetable oil

Mix the warm water and yeast in mixing bowl of an electric mixer. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

In separate bowl, mix 1/2 cup of chestnut flour, the icing sugar and cinnamon; set aside.

In the mixing bowl, add the remaining 3/4 chestnut flour, all purpose flour, granulated sugar, butter, egg, and salt. Beat at medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for 45 minutes.

Heat about 7cm (3 inches) of oil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat.

Divide the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll one piece of dough to 3mm (1/8-inch) thick. Cut rounds using a floured 38mm (1-1/2 inch) round cutter.

Fry the rounds, about 10 at a time, turning once until puffed golden, 30 to 45 seconds. Drain on a paper towel. Dust with the reserved chestnut-sugar mixture and serve warm or a room temperature.

Assyrian Inspired Hannukah

I know I should have made something Greek for Hannukah if I wanted to make something from the relevant ancient enemy of the Macabbees, but I couldn’t find anything that sparked my interest. So, I decided to make an Assyrian dish. They did conquer Israel in 772BC and scattered the tribes throughout the Middle East. But don’t worry, I don’t harbor any bad feelings towards the Assyrians. They are our brothers and still speak a variation of the language of my forefathers, Aramaic. The Assyrians have been Christian for almost two thousand years and make up a small, persecuted, minority in Iraq; many of them fled during the period since the fall of Saddam Hussein because of the violence between the different Muslim factions in Iraq.

Mr BT forgot that we would not be eating at home on Thursday and had taken out some ground beef from the freezer. So, I had to figure out what Hannukah inspired dish I was going to make with ground beef. I didn’t want to make kebab or stuffed vegetables like I normally do. I remembered that I had seen recipes for potato patties stuffed with ground meat, but was always afraid that they would be lead bombs in the stomach. But, in the spirit of Hannukah, I decided to give it a try. Potato patties are eaten in a variety of countries, using a variety of spices or no spices at all. The Russian version are quite bland, while the Algerian and Iraqi versions are quite flavourful. I decided to make a fusion version from Algerian and Assyrian recipes for potato patties filled with minced beef or lamb. The potato exterior is from an Algerian recipe and the meat mixture is Assyrian.

Mr BT calls this type of cooking “Con-fusion” cooking. Con, as in Congress, the opposite of progress. Okay, I know, stop with the bad jokes and get back to cooking.

The potato chaps were surprisingly light and full of spicy goodness. The spices are quite subtle, so make sure you taste the meat before making the patties. If you want to see a good step-by-step pictorial of how to make them, see Mimi’s photos from Israeli Kitchen.

Chag Hannukah Sameach from Mr BT and Baroness Tapuzina!

Potato Chaps or Potato Kibbeh

Serving Size: 4-6 as a main course

Potato Mixture:

1kg (2lbs) white potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters

2 eggs

1 medium onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped

Meat filling:

1/4 kg (1/2lb) lean ground beef

1 small onion, minced

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/4 cup parsley

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

1 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cardamom

Pinch of ground cloves

Pinch of ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup canola oil or oil of your choice

Flour for dredging

Cook potatoes in water, until tender. Drain the potatoes and mash them until smooth. Add eggs, onion, garlic, salt, turmeric, cinnamon and parsley.

In a frying pan, saute the onion and garlic in a little olive oil. Add the ground beef, parsley, pine nuts, and all of the spices. Cook until the meat is cooked through. Set aside to cool.

Moisten your hands with water, and take a couple of tablespoons of the potato mixture, flatten it in the palm of your hand. Place 1 tablespoon of the the meat mixture in the middle. Carefully bring the sides of the potato over the meat mixture. You may have to add a little more of the potato mixture to the top of the patty. Close the patty and flatten it. Moisten your hands in cold water before you make each patty. Place the patties on a tray and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Dredge the patties lightly in flour before frying.

Winter Scent of Orange

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

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

Orange-Glazed Coffee Cake

Serving Size: 8 - 10

For the dough:

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

1/4 cup warm water

1/2 cup warm milk

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

½ cup chopped candied orange rind

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large egg, lightly beaten

4 cups all-purpose flour

For the glaze:

Sugar syrup from candied orange or an egg wash

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

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

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

Orange-Glazed Coffee Cake Rising

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

Orange-Glazed Coffee Cake Risen

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

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

Vegetable Latkes with a Twist

I am always looking for something new and different to make for each holiday, and Hannukah is no exception. Bon Appetit magazine has some interesting recipes in its December 2008 edition and the cauliflower latke recipe sparked my interest. I made cauliflower latkes last year, but I was not completely happy with the outcome. They tasted great, but they weren’t very crunchy. The Bon Appetit recipe is a little crunchier and I really like the spicy kick from the Allepo pepper. If you can’t find any where you live, then just use cayenne pepper. The zaatar aioli was a perfect match to these latkes. I used a very nice zaatar mixture that we received as a gift from my company for Rosh Hashana. This zaatar had bigger dried zaatar leaves, sesame seeds and nigella, which gave the aioli an extra added crunch. I served the latkes with red mullet that I sauteed with garlic, lemon juice, and fresh oregano, and a steamed artichoke. I will definitely make these again next year. I think I am all fried food out. We cut down our Hannukah fried food eating considerably this year and our bodies are giving us a big hug for that.

Spicy Cauliflower Latkes with Zaatar Aioli

Yield: About 45 small latkes

Adapted from a recipe by Jayne Cohen

1 medium head of cauliflower cut into 1/2 inch pieces

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

1/4 chopped fresh oregano

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fine dry unseasoned breadcrumbs

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground Aleppo pepper or cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 or 2 large eggs

Olive oil (not extra-virgin) for frying


Add garlic and half of cauliflower to processor; blend until smooth. Add remaining cauliflower, parsley, and dill. Pulse until cauliflower is chopped and mixture is still slightly chunky. Transfer to large bowl. Mix in breadcrumbs, baking powder, salt, Aleppo or cayenne pepper and black pepper. Beat 1 egg in small bowl; mix into batter. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Add enough oil to heavy large skillet to coat bottom generously; heat over medium-high heat. Working in batches, drop 1 tablespoonful batter for each latke into skillet; flatten to 1 1/2-inch round. Cook until golden, adding oil as needed and adjusting heat if browning quickly. Transfer to rimmed baking sheets. Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 180C ( 350F). Bake latkes uncovered until heated through, about 10 minutes. Serve latkes with aioli, if desired, or sprinkle with zaatar and serve.

Zaatar Aioli

Zaatar Aioli

Yield: About 1 1/3 cups

Adapted from a recipe by Jayne Cohen

2 large garlic clove, peeled and crushed

4 generous tablespoons mayonnaise

1/8 cup fresh lemon juice

1/8 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/8 cup za'atar

Mix all of the ingredients in a medium size bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Let stand at least several hours to allow flavors to develop. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.

Italian Soufganyiot – Frittole

Chag Hannukah Sameach everyone! Happy Hannukah.

We were invited to a lovely Hannukah party at a friend’s house. So, I decided to make an Italian fritter that is usually made for Carnevale, but is quite fitting for our oily festival. Every region in Italy has their own fritter recipe: mine is from the imaginary province of Italy where we live in central Israel.

Our landlord recently surprised us one Friday morning by planting three lovely citrus trees: a clementine, a lemon, and an orange tree. He also brought us a large box of clementines and oranges to eat.

So, I decided to make some candied orange peel with some of the oranges and they were a perfect addition to the Hannukah fritters. These are lightly candied because I do not like to make them with a lot of sugar.

These fritters are also not too sweet because I cut the sugar in half. So, if you have a sweet tooth, you can make them with 1/2 cup of sugar. I also think the dusting of sugar is not necessary because the sweetness of the apples and the candied orange is enough.

Because they are not fried for very long, the apples remain crunchy enough to still taste fresh. Mr. BT thinks that next time we should also add some fresh or candied ginger to the batter in order to give it a real kick.

Frittole di Mela, Uvetta, Scorza D'arancia Candita E Pistacchio

Yield: Approximately 20-30 fritters

(Apple, Raisin, Candied Orange Rind and Pistachio Fritters) Adapted from a recipe from Kyle Phillips of ItalianFoodAbout.Com

No yeast method:

2 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour, plus 2 more tablespoons

1/4 cup sugar, plus more for dusting (if you want)

3/4 cup whole milk (may need to add a little more)

2 eggs

1/2 cup raisins, muscatel if possible

1/2 cup chopped pistachios or whole pine nuts

1/2 cup candied orange rind, minced

2 large granny smith apples


2 teaspoons baking powder

Zest and juice of one small lemon

Oil for frying

Yeast method:

20g fresh yeast or 1 sachet instant dried yeast

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon warm milk

2 cups flour

Pinch salt

1/4 cup sugar, plus more for dusting (if you want)

1/2 cup raisins, muscatel if possible

1/2 chopped pistachios or whole pine nuts

1/2 cup candied orange rind, minced

2 granny smith apples


Zest and juice of one small lemon

Oil for frying

No yeast method:

Put the raisins in a small bowl and soak in brandy for one hour, until plump.

Grate the zest of the lemon. Peel, core and cut the apples into a medium dice. Set aside and sprinkle the juice of the lemon you just zested on the apples.

Mix the eggs, sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl. Add the flour, baking powder and milk. Then fold in the pistachio nuts, apples and candied orange. Drain the raisins well and dust them with the 2 tablespoons of flour, shaking them in a strainer to remove the excess flour. Fold them into the flour mixture.

Heat the oil on medium-high heat and when it is hot, drop the batter a tablespoon at a time into the hot oil. Fry on both sides until golden brown. Drain them on absorbent paper and dust optionally with sugar.

Serve immediately. These do not keep well.

Yeast method:

Put the raisins in a small bowl and soak in brandy for one hour, until plump.

In another bowl, mix together yeast and warm milk. Add flour, salt, sugar, apples, pistachios, candied peel and raisins to the batter. Whisk together well to make a thick batter. Cover and leave in a warm place for 2-3 hours, or until volume has doubled.

Heat the oil on medium-high heat and when it is hot, drop the batter a tablespoon at a time into the hot oil. Fry on both sides until golden brown. Drain them on absorbent paper and dust optionally with sugar.

Baking for Mama – May She Rest in Peace 1912-2007

My 95-year-old Grandmother has not been well lately passed away Saturday 29 December in the USA, which had me thinking of all of the wonderful times we had cooking together. I owe a lot of my cooking skills to her. She encouraged me to take cooking lessons and taught me how to make all of the family holiday recipes. During December, we always baked all of the special goodies for family near and far. Family would always come to visit during the Christmas vacation, and even though we did not celebrate Christmas, we always had special goodies around, such as her chocolate cake, 1-2-3-4 cake, her amazing butter cookies, Rose’s apricot tarts, and her schnecken. But the baked goods that she always looked forward to was the big package of German goodies that family friends in Germany sent my grandparents. The package came from the famous Lebkuchen Schmidt bakery in Nürnberg. She would open the package and take a deep whiff, and then delicately open the packages. We would stand there in excitement smelling the spicey goodness and salivating, waiting to take a bite of the lovely Elisen lebkuchen and speculaas cookies. You could smell the cardamom, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg all over the house.

I usually buy lebkuchen when I am in Germany, but this year I was unable to make a trip there before Christmas, so I decided to do the impossible and try to make some myself. I knew that they would not be as good as Lebkuchen Schmidt, who have been making these amazing biscuits since 1927. My first attempt resulted in overbaked biscuits because I had spread the dough too thin on the oblaten wafer. However, the second time round I managed to get it right and even my famously critical other half drooled every time he came close to one. I decided to leave my lebkuchen natural and used square oblaten instead of round. If you cannot find oblaten wafers, which are similar to communion wafers, then use rice paper.

I couldn’t find candied orange, so I made it myself using thick-skinned navel oranges.

Mama, I made these for you and if I didn’t live so far away, I would have brought you some to savour.

Nürnberger Elisenlebkuchen

Yield: 75 pieces of five centimeter (2 inches) diameter

470 g (2-1/3 cups) sugar

4 eggs

1 teaspoon of vanilla sugar

400 g (14 ounces) hazelnuts (one-half milled rough and the other fine)

80g (3 ounces) whole almonds, finely chopped

50 g (1.7 ounces) roughly chopped walnuts

100 g (3.5 ounces) of finely cut candied orange and lemon peel respectively

Freshly grated untreated orange and lemon peel

1 teaspoon of finely chopped ginger root in syrup

1 teaspoon of the following milled spices: cinnamon, cloves, allspice, coriander, mace, cardamom, nutmeg

Oblaten Package

2 packets of oblaten wafers (5 cm (2 inches) diameter)

Punch Icing

130 g (1 cup) icing sugar, sifted

2 teaspoon of rum

2 teaspoons of red wine

Chocolate Icing

20 g (.7 ounces) of bittersweet chocolate (preferably 70%; high quality)

For decoration:

A selection of nuts and candied fruit

Use the egg whisk attachment of an electric beater to beat sugar, eggs and vanilla sugar so that the foamed mass has doubled and the sugar is dissolved.

Ground Hazelnuts and Almonds

Candied Orange Lemon and Ginger

Then add the nuts, candied and fresh orange and lemon peel, ginger and spices. Cover the batter and leave it in a cool place for 24 hours.

Oblaten Sheets

Unbaked Lebkuchen

The next day form small, approx. 15 g (1 rounded tablespoon), balls from the mix with wet hands and place each on a wafer so that a 3 to 5 mm broad margin remains. Place the wafers on a baking paper lined baking tray and bake until light brown for 10 to 12 minutes at 200C (400F) in a preheated oven.

The Lebkuchen should be well risen but not quite finished inside because they have to further develop and remain soft inside. The finished Lebkuchen should be slid onto a drying rack to cool. Place one-third of the cookies to the side: they should remain natural, e.g. without icing.

For the punch icing:

Mix the sifted icing sugar and to a smooth consistency with rum and red wine. Then dip the upper surface of a further third of the Lebkuchen (not the wafer side) into this icing.

For the chocolate icing:

Melt and temper the chocolate, and then dip the upper surface of the remaining Lebkuchen. Leave the iced Lebkuchen on a drying rack to dry.

Decorate the lebkuchen with nuts and candied fruit while the icing or natural cookie is still soft.

Store the completed Lebkuchen in an airtight tin. Cover the cakes with greaseproof paper and lay a few apple peelings on top. This keeps them soft and moist. Try to let the cookies mature for about ten days before serving them.

Spanish and Indian-Inspired Hannukah

I really like finding interesting recipes that may not be holiday-specific, but fit in with the types of foods that are typically served for the holiday. And I like to mix cultures in a meal. I think it makes the meal more interesting. So, for this meal I decided to serve a Spanish potato fritter which is also made in Italy, and an Argentinian cut of meat with Indian spices. I just love global cooking!

Try it some time, instead of having a themed dinner party where the entire menu is from one country or region, try making the menu diverse by making a Swedish appetizer, Middle Eastern main dish, Thai side dish and a Brazilian dessert.

I decided to make another variation of the Ashkenazi potato latkes and make something a little more Sephardi, so I made potato and sage fritters. These are quite light and are perfect for a hot appetizer. They are very easy to make and can be made a few hours ahead of time and reheated in the oven. The recipe only called for one tablespoon of sage. I like a nice sage flavour, so I added two tablespoons. I probably could have added more. The lemon is rather pronounced, so if you don’t like a strong lemon flavour, you could put in only one teaspoon of lemon zest.

Potato and Sage Fritters

Yield: 40 fritters

For the sponge:

1/4 cup warm water

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 envelope (1-1/8 teaspoon) active dry yeast

For the fritters:

450g (1lb) pound russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

Cold water

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons sea salt

2 large eggs

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves

2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

4 to 6 cups peanut oil, for deep-frying

To make the sponge:

In a small bowl, combine the water, flour and yeast. Mix well and set aside in a warm place until yeasty-smelling and covered in very small bubbles, about 45 minutes.

In a medium saucepan, cover the potatoes with cold water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, add 1 tablespoon of sea salt. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until the potatoes are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain and mash the potatoes with a fork. Allow them to cool.

Potato and Sage Fritters

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and olive oil until thoroughly combined. In a bowl, combine cooled potatoes with the sponge, flour, sage, lemon zest, pepper, and 2 teaspoons of salt. Mix to evenly distribute the ingredients. Add the egg mixture to potato mixture, and stir until thoroughly combined. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. You should have a thick, sticky batter. Add a bit more flour, if needed. Cover the bowl with a towel and set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Heat the oil in a deep-fryer or heavy pot to 190C (375F).

Potato and Sage Fritter Batter Risen

Scoop 1 tablespoon of the risen batter at a time, and use another spoon to scrape it into the hot oil. Don't crowd the fryer. Fry fritters until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes, turning them over occasionally. Drain the fritters on paper towels to absorb any excess oil. Sprinkle with salt and serve warm.

We got a great deal on Argentinian asado, or short ribs as they are called in the States. The best part was that they had relatively little fat on them. Slow cooking is a must for this cut of meat, so when I saw this recipe and it didn’t call for slow roasting, I was a bit skeptical. I didn’t have time to marinate them for three days, so maybe that makes the difference. I marinated the ribs for a full 24 hours and then slow roasted (roasting pan, 2 cups of water, covered with foil) them in the oven at 150C (300F) for 1-1/2 hours and then grilled them. They were outstanding and I can only imagine what they would be like if I had marinated them for three days.

We actually had a problem with this recipe because the way the asado is cut here in Israel, the pieces of bone (rib) embedded in the meat are almost three inches long, which means that the thickness of the meat is considerably greater than in the States. This means that you can’t expect to cook it through with just a few minutes on the grill, however hot. In a typical South American grill in Israel (we have quite a few of them just up the road in Kfar Saba, where there is a big Argentinian immigrant community), the asado is often slow grilled for more than an hour on a vertical stand placed a few inches from the fire, which brings out the full flavour in this rather fatty cut of meat.

This marinade is also great on chicken. You can put it directly on the chicken and cook it straight away if you want.

Indian-Style Grilled Short Ribs

Yield: 4

Recipe from Chef Floyd Cardoz

6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger

1/4 cup dry red wine

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup or honey or date honey

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon rosemary leaves

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons thyme

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

8 beef short ribs on the bone (about 450g (1lb) each), trimmed of excess fat

In a blender, combine the garlic, ginger and red wine and puree. Scrape the wine puree into a medium bowl and stir in all of the remaining ingredients except the short ribs. Pour the marinade into 2 resealable plastic bags and add the short ribs. Tightly seal the plastic bags and refrigerate the short ribs in the marinade for 3 days.

Indian-style short ribs

Light a grill. Remove the short ribs from the marinade, scraping off any excess. Grill the short ribs over moderately high heat until they are lightly charred and medium-rare, about 5 minutes per side.

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