Shana Tova u’Metukah

I have been busy preparing for Rosh Hashana and have finally completed everything I intended to make for Friday and Saturday.

I made 4 round challot, one plain and three with dried apricots, dried cranberries, raisins, dried cherries and dried apples. I used the new Kitchenaid to knead the dough and I am very happy with the results. I am back making challah like I used to make in the States. I finally learned how to braid a round challah from this website. I found the website by chance and called Mr. BT to come to my study so I could butter him up to help me with the braiding. He said, “It looks a bit complicated, maybe you should just do it the way you always do.”. I said, no, I would like to give this a try and if we start bickering over it, I will go back to the old way. Well, we figured it out and we didn’t fight about it. Happy days!

For dessert, I am bringing poached pears and Mr. BT’s pomegranate sorbet. We decided to do a light dessert this year. The pears are not too sweet and have a lovely spicy aroma that permeates from the kitchen. I think they will be a big hit.

Poached Pears

Serving Size: 8

1 bottle semi-dry white wine, such as Emerald Reisling

1/4 cup brandy

1/4 sugar

2 strips of orange zest

1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced

2 cinnamon sticks

10 whole cloves

8 firm ripe pears

Juice of 2 oranges

In a pot big enough to hold the pears snugly, put all of the ingredients except for the pears. Bring the liquid up to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the pears, cover the pan, and gently poach the pears for about 30 minutes until the pears are soft, but not mushy. Turn off the heat and let cool.

The pears can be poached up to 2 days ahead and kept in the poaching liquid in the refrigerator.

Saturday, I am serving chicken soup with kubbeh which I will blog about in a few days and Sunday, I am making a surprise, so you will have to wait.

Shabbat Shalom and Shana Tova u’Metuka to you and your family.

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

Chag Sameach,

Mr. BT and Baroness Tapuzina

Rosh Hashana 5770 Planning

It has been a long August without you, but I was swept away in work. Three of my colleagues were either on vacation or maternity leave and it left me holding down the fort. I just didn’t have the energy to spare for my poor neglected blog. But, I am back and I have a Wine Festival to report, a very interesting winery that is a 10 minute drive from my house, and my birthday celebration at work tomorrow. My birthday is actually this Friday.

But first things first, I must think about Rosh Hashana planning. This year, I am going to Jerusalem and am responsible for bringing the challot and dessert. I am going to be making the following:

One plain and one fruit and nut challah

Magical Honey Cake

Baked Apples Stuffed with Fruit and Nuts (without the custard sauce)

Poached Pears (water, brandy, little sugar, 2 strips of orange zest, piece of sliced ginger root, cinnamon stick, cloves)

Here are some interesting ideas for you and your loved ones (meat and dairy):

Roast Chicken with Dried Fruit and Almonds

Cornish Hens with Dried Apricot Sauce

Sephardic Spinach Patties

Fennel and Pistachio Salad

Beetroot and pomegranate salad

Carrot and Date Salad

Israeli Couscous with Roasted Butternut Squash and Preserved Lemon

Roasted Pumpkin with Dried Fruit

Apple and Calvados Cake

Apple and Honey Ice Cream

Apple and Honey Sorbet with Pomegranate Sauce

Yogurt and Honey Semifreddo

What are you making this year?

Mishmish Kind of Day

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

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

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

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

Spicy Chicken Tagine with Apricots, Rosemary, and Ginger

Serving Size: 4

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

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

3 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

2 red chilies, seeded and finely chopped

2 cinnamon sticks

3kg whole chicken, cut into 4 pieces

3/4 cup dried sour apricots

2 tablespoons honey

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

Sea salt

Fresh ground black pepper

4 tablespoons fresh basil, shredded

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

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

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

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

Apricot and Thyme Flognarde

Serving Size: 8

10 medium apricots, cut in half

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup flour, plus more for dusting

Pinch of salt

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup milk

1 cup half and half

2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped

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

2 tablespoons Cognac or brandy

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

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

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

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

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

Chag Pesach Sameach 5769

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

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

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


Mr. BT and Baroness Tapuzina

Bolo de Amêndoa - Portuguese Almond Torte

Serving Size: 10 to 12

Adapted for Passover from a recipe by David Leite

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

Icing sugar, for coating the pan

500g (3 cups) blanched slivered almonds

1 1/4 cups sugar

4 large yolks

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

2 teaspoons grated orange zest

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

4 large egg whites

Icing Sugar

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


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


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


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

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

Passover Preparations 2009

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

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

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

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

Syrah-Braised Lamb Shoulder with Olives, Cherries and Endives

Roasted Poussins with Pomegranate Sauce and Potato Rösti

Bolo de Amêndoa (Almond Torte) from David Leite

Walnut Date Torte

Baked Apples Marsala

I will add more as I find them.

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

Purim 2009

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

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

Pecan-Fig Filling for Hamantashen

Yield: about 3 cups

2 cups dried figs

1/2 cup seedless raisins

Apple juice

1 cup toasted chopped pecans

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

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

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


Yield: 16 date pastries


Iraqi Date Pastries from Clemence Horesh

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

For the dough:

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup warm water

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

1-1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

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

For the filling:

2 pkg date filling


1 cup pitted soft Medjool dates

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 egg, beaten

Sesame seeds to coat

For the dough:

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

Date Balls

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

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

Date Ball on Dough

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

Ba'a'be or Iraqi Date Pastries

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

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

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

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

Vanishing Oatmeal, Raisin and Walnut Cookies

Yield: 3 dozen

Vanishing Oatmeal, Raisin and Walnut Cookies

From the Quaker Oatmeal Can

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

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt (optional)

3 cups Quaker Oats Old Fashioned, uncooked

1 cup raisins

1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

Heat oven to 170C (350F).

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

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

Tu Bishvat – The Jewish Arbor Day

Tu Bishvat is a minor Jewish holiday in the Hebrew month of Shevat, usually sometime in late January or early February, that marks the New Year of the Trees (Hebrew: ראש השנה לאילנות, Rosh HaShanah La’Ilanot‎) or the season in which the earliest-blooming trees in the Land of Israel emerge from their winter sleep and begin a new fruit-bearing cycle. It is customary to plant trees and eat dried fruits and nuts, especially figs, dates, raisins, carob, and almonds. In Israel, the flowering of the almond tree, which grows wild around the country, coincides with Tu Bishvat.

The origin of Tu Bishvat lies in the ancient Jewish taxation system, which was based mainly on the tithe of every farmer: The first tax was dedicated to the Levites, the men of sanctity and education; the second tithe was a means of securing the pilgrimage and strengthening national solidarity; and the tax of the poor was meant to safeguard, together with numerous other precepts (mitzvot), the social support system for the indigent of the land.

Only in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with the beginning of the Zionist movement that saw the Land of Israel as central to Jewish existence, did the holiday really become what we know it as today, the festival for planting trees or the Jewish version of Arbor Day.

This Tu Bishvat, I made two new dishes. For the main course, I decided to make Turkish köfte  or kebab as they are called in Hebrew.  They are basically small meat patties with grated onion, pistachios and spices. You will find a myriad of different variations of kebab. I served them with a tahina sauce and they were accompanied by a steamed artichoke and roasted potatoes with zaatar. I used Turkish red pepper flakes that have been roasted and rubbed with olive oil for this dish. They are not quite as hot as regular hot pepper flakes. This meat mixture can easily be prepared a day ahead and the dish is very quick and easy.

Köfte with Pistachios and Tahina Sauce
For the Köfte

1 ½ cups pistachios

340 g (3/4lb) lamb

340g (3/4lb) beef

2 medium onions, grated

2 tsp ground cumin

1 teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper

½ cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley

2 tablespoons olive oil

For the tahina sauce

Make 2 cups

1 tablespoon ground cumin

¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice

½ cup tahina

¼ cup water

Salt to taste

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon nigella seeds

Köfte with Pistachios

For the Köfte

Combine the meat, pistachios, onions, cumin, black pepper, red pepper and mix well. Refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.

Lightly knead parsley into the mixture. Roll into tablespoon size balls. Brown on a grill pan. Drain on paper and serve with tahina sauce.

For the tahina sauce

Whisk lemon into the tahina, gradually add water until smooth. Season with salt. Add the garlic, black pepper and nigella seeds. Keep at room temperature.

The second dish I decided to make was a traditional fruit cake called Gubana from the Friuli region of Italy and also from neighboring Slovenia. The version I made is a yeast cake, almost like brioche, that is prepared as if you are making puff pastry. The dough is very forgiving and not difficult to make. The only catch about this recipe is that it is time consuming. You must make the dough a day ahead. This cake is sublime; it almost melts in your mouth, and Mr. BT was almost fainting with pleasure.

Already known at the time of the Romans, the Gubana’s fame has increased over the centuries. Two versions exist: a “country” one (Gubana friulana) and an “urban” one (Gubana giuliana). The more refined latter type in fact has a flaky pastry shell and also contains, apart from the recipe of the former (raisins drenched in grappa, grated chocolate, almonds, walnuts, orange and citron peels, figs, plums and pine nuts), spices and candied fruits. The recipe I made is a combination of the Gubana Friulana and the Gubana Giuliana with a little touch of Baroness Tapuzina.

Every Friulian homemaker will have the “original” recipe for Gubana and they will differ from house to house and town to town. A tale is told about a poor mother living in the Natisone Valleys who had nothing to sweeten the Christmas meals with. So she prepared a cake made with what she had at home: flour, eggs, walnuts and honey. The regional tradition requires that the “Gubana” be present for every major festival, such as Christmas and Easter but also for wedding banquets; the bride and bridegroom used to present every guest with this delicious cake.  The term “Gubana” is a Slovenian word deriving from “gubat”, which means “to roll up”. In the local dialect it is called “Gubanza”, which became “Gubana” in Italian.

Gubana– Friulian Fruit Cake

Serving Size: 10-12

For the dough:

340g (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cold

3 3/4 cups all purpose flour

50g fresh yeast or 2 packages dry yeast

1/3 cup warm water

1 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 cup whole milk, room temperature

For the filling:

6 pitted prunes

6 dried figs

6 dried sour apricots

10 dried sour cherries

1/8 cup candied lemon

3 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup hazelnuts

1/2 cup walnut pieces

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/4 cup pine nuts

3 tablespoons grappa

Grated zest of 1 small orange

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon of water

To make the dough:

Cut the butter into small pieces and place it in a bowl. Sprinkle over 1/4 cup of the flour, and using your fingers, works the butter and flour together to make a uniform mixture. The butter should remain malleable. Shape the butter into a 10cm (4 inch) square, wrap it in plastic and set it aside in a cool place, but not in the refrigerator. Note: If you live in a hot climate, then put the butter in the refrigerator, but let it sit for a few minutes to become malleable before placing it on the dough.

In a small bowl, whisk together the yeast and warm water to dissolve the yeast. Add a pinch of sugar and let the mixture sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine 2 cups of flour with the salt. Add the yeast mixture, sugar, egg and milk. Using the paddle, beat the ingredients until smooth. Switch to the dough hook and knead in the remaining 1-1/2 cups of flour for about 3 to 5 minutes or until you have a smooth, elastic dough. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel, and let it relax for 30 to 45 minutes.

Turn the dough onto a well-floured board and roll it into a large rectangle, about 40 x 40 cm (16 x 16 inches). Sprinkle the surface with some flour.

Gubana Dough

Place the square of butter in the middle of the rectangle of dough.

Gubana Dough

Fold the left and right sides over the middle, then the top sides over that; the goal is to make a "package" of dough.

Sprinkle the work surface and the top of the dough, as well as your rolling pin. Roll the dough in from the middle toward the top and bottom, making a long rectangle, maintaining the width, but increasing the length.

Gubana Dough

Gubana Dough

Fold the bottom upwards to the center, making a flap, and then fold the top over that, making an envelope. Turn the dough clockwise, so that the top flap faces the right; the dough should resemble a book. Once again, flour the work surface, the dough and the rolling pin, and repeat the rolling and folding process. You will end up with another book fold. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Gubana Filling

For the filling and assembly:

To make the filling, place all of the dried fruits and nuts, sugar, cocoa and spices into the food processor.

Gubana filling

Process to chop until the fruit-nut mixture is finely chopped and the spices and cocoa are thoroughly combined. Add the grappa and orange zest, and pulse to incorporate them.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. If it was stored overnight, you will have to allow it to come to room temperature for about an hour before attempting to roll it. On a lightly floured board, roll the dough into a large rectangle, about 38 x 55 cm (15 x 22 inches).

Spread filling on dough

Spread the filling evenly across the center of the dough, leaving a 2.5 cm (1-inch) border at the near end and each side.

Rolling the dough over the filling

Roll the dough, jellyroll style, starting from the bottom, wide side; you will wind up with a long snake.

Gubana ready for rising

Grease a 25cm (10 inch) springform pan. Roll the snake into a tight coil, and lay it into the pan, seam side down. Brush the dough with melted butter. Cover the dough with a towel and allow it to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.


Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Brush the surface of the dough with egg glaze. Bake the Gubana on the center rack of the oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until golden brown. Rotate the pan halfway through the cooking period to ensure it browns evenly. Allow the Gubana to cool for 20 minutes in the pan, then carefully remove the sides of the pan to cool it completely. To serve, slice the cake in wedges. Gubana will keep wrapped in plastic up to 2 days.

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.

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