Next Year in Jerusalem!

We had a small, but lovely seder last night. All of the new dishes I made were delicious.

We started the meal with my husband’s salmon in a tarragon sauce. The sauce was made with dijon mustard, fresh tarragon, white wine and garlic. I could have done a better job of decorating the plate with herbs or something. I will try to remember that for next year.

The next course was my matza ball soup which I have already blogged about. It was enjoyed by all.

The main course, Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Spiced Pinenuts was outstanding. I will definitely make this again. The sauce is a beautiful blend of apricots, saffron and ginger. It has the most amazing flavor and the crunch and spiciness of the pinenuts really compliments the dish. I recommend making this dish the day before you want to serve it to allow all of the flavours to infuse the chicken. We served this with a steamed artichoke and the rice below.

The disappointment of the night was the rice. It was a mixed rice, composed of persian white rice, thai red rice and wild rice. Unfortunately, the thai red rice colour bled onto the other rice and you could not tell there were three different types of rice. The wild rice was also not felt in the blend.

We concluded the meal with Nigella Lawsons’s Damp Apple and Almond Cake which should really be renamed. One of my friends said that the name is offputting and I would have to agree with her. However, in spite of the name the cake is delicious and very moist. It has just the right hint of apple and is not too sweet. It is dead easy to make and I will definitely make this again.

We also had my husband’s wild citrus sorbet which was made with wild grapefruits as well as a little lemon and orange that he picked from the trees lining the main road to our moshav. He also added a little simple syrup. You will never want to buy another supermarket grapefruit after you have had one fresh from the tree. The grapefruit flavour is so sweet and intense. The sorbet was cool and refreshing, and went well with the cake.

A Bittersweet Passover

I have finalized my menu for the seder this coming Saturday. It is the second Passover that I have ever hosted. While I am happy to host the seder dinner, it will be a bittersweet seder for my husband and me. The sweet part is that we will get to use the beautiful seder plate, matza plate and matza cover that my beloved cousins gave us as a wedding present, but the bitter part will be that my beloved cousin, Michael, passed away in January and will not be here to help us celebrate the seder. He was a vital part of our seder for the past three years and his absence will definitely be felt. We will miss you Michael, but will carry on in your memory.

The menu is as follows:

Salmon with a Tarragon Sauce (instead of gefillte fish)

Chicken Soup with Matza Balls

Italian Haroset alla Famiglia Nordell

Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Spiced Pinenuts

Steamed Artichoke

Wild Rice Mix

Damp Apple and Almond Cake

Wild Citrus Sorbet (from the wild citrus trees around the moshav)

Pesach kasher vesameach lekulam (Happy Passover to Everyone) from Baroness Tapuzina and Family

Passover Preparations

I am busy deciding what to prepare for the main dish and dessert for Passover, since most of the other items on the menu are the expected traditional fare. I am considering the following:

Roasted Poussins with Pomegranate Sauce

Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Spiced Pinenuts (from my friend Chef Farid Zadi)

Patatine e Carciofi Arrosto (Roasted Potatoes and Artichokes)

Torta del Re

Nottingham Nut Cake

Lemon, Creme Fraiche and Chestnut Cake (for a dairy meal)

Damp Apple and Almond Cake

Castagnaccio

For more ideas, click here. I will post my menu in a couple of weeks.

Spanish and Italian-Inspired Shabbat Dinner

Since I was too ill to cook the last night of Pesach, I made the meal for Shabbat. Luckily, I still had some matza for my dessert.

Dinner this evening was:

Carn Estofada amb Prunes i Patates (Catalan-Style Veal Stew with Prunes and Potatoes)

I used osso bucco instead of the recommended veal shoulder. As the dish was simmering away, my husband sneaked a taste of the sauce and moaned blissfully, “this dish should be in a museum.” Need I say more? This dish is outstanding. The flavors of chocolate, prunes, chili, cinnamon and orange zest marry into an amazingly complex sauce that just bursts on the palate. The crispy potatoes add the perfect texture to the dish. This is a very rich dish that should be served with a dry and assertive red wine, such as the one we had. In the absence of the Rioja, we drank, a good Cabernet Franc or Shiraz would do pretty well.

For dessert, I made a family recipe that I have never made for my husband. They are matza fritters and they are made in several different countries. The Dutch call them Gremshelish, the Italians call them Pizzarelle Con Giulebbe. My recipe is combination of the Italian version and the version my grandmother used to make from leftover Matza Shalet batter. She served it with a lemon custard. This custard is dairy, so if you keep more than one hour between eating meat and dairy, you can serve this with a non-dairy lemon sauce of your choice.

This was a big hit with my husband. The custard is very light and creamy and the fritters are also light, but should not be served with a rich meal like we had for Shabbat dinner. You should make a double or triple recipe of the custard for all of the fritters.

Pizzarelle Con Crema di Limone

Yield: About 25 fritters and 2 cups of sauce

(Matzah Fritters with Lemon Custard)

For the fritters:

5 matzahs, broken into small pieces

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup slivered almonds or pine nuts

3 egg yolks, lightly beaten

2 egg whites

Vegetable oil for deep frying

For the lemon cream:

1/4 cup sugar

2 large egg yolks

1 cup single cream (half and half)

2 tablespoons grated lemon peel

1-1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the batter:

Wet Matza

Place the matza pieces in a bowl of cold water and soak until soft but not falling apart, one to two minutes. Drain in a colander and squeeze out any excess water.

Mix all Ingredients

In a large bowl, mix together the matza pieces, sugar, cinnamon, lemon rind, vanilla, salt, raisins, pine nuts and egg yolks.

Add Egg Whites

Ready to Fry

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the matza mixture.

Frying Fritters

In a large, heavy pot, on medium-high, heat at least 2 inches of oil. Drop heaping tablespoons of the matza as necessary, until they are a deep brown on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Matza Fritters

Serve warm or at room temperature, accompanied by the lemon custard.

For the lemon cream:

Whisk sugar and egg yolks in medium bowl to blend. Bring cream and lemon peel to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Slowly whisk the cream mixture into the yolk mixture. Return to saucepan. Stir over medium heat until custard thickens and leaves path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across, about 5 minutes (do not boil). Strain custard into bowl; discard solids. Whisk lemon juice and vanilla into custard. Chill until cold, about 3 hours. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated.)

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/04/14/spanish-and-italian-inspired-shabbat-dinner/

Jewish Penicillin for Pesach

Nathan Matza Ball Soup

I love chicken soup and I may be a bit bold to say this, but I think my chicken soup is very good. I have been tweaking this recipe for about twenty years and I think I have just right. This is not a clear broth soup; it is a rich broth. My husband says, “This broth is rich enough to be a hedge fund.” Forgive me, he has a one track mind because of his startup company.

I won my husband’s heart with my soup and matza balls. I am going to be making a big pot for the seder next week. I always make the soup a day ahead so that the flavours will have time to develop.

I have to tell you that you should be very honoured that I am parting with my soup and family matza ball recipe :-). I hope you will make them with as much love as I do.

Chag Sameach everyone! Next Year in Jerusalem!

Baroness Tapuzina's Chicken Soup

Serving Size: 12

1 (1-1/2kg or #3 or 3lb) chicken

1-1/2kg (3lb) chicken wings or two turkey wings

1 large turkey neck cut into pieces

4 soup beef bones with meat on the bone (optional)

2 large yellow onions, peeled and cut in quarters

2 large leeks, cut into 1/2 inch (1cm) pieces

4 medium carrots, cut in to 1-inch (2.5cm) pieces

1/2 head of whole garlic gloves, peeled

2 sprigs of fresh thyme, rosemary and parsley

6 juniper berries

20 mixed peppercorns

Salt to taste

Olive oil

Put a generous amount of olive oil in a large soup pot and heat on medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion, leeks and garlic and sweat until softened. Add the carrots, juniper berries, peppercorns and fresh herbs. Then add the chicken wings, turkey necks and soup bones, and brown lightly, stirring constantly and being careful not to burn the onion, leeks and garlic. Finally, add the chicken and pour enough water to cover all the ingredients. Bring to a rolling boil and reduce the heat to a simmer, cooking for approximately 2-3 hours.

Remove the chicken, chicken wings, turkey neck and soup bones to a bowl. When cool enough to touch, pull the meat from the bones and discard the skin, bones, etc. Put in a container or ziploc bag and put in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Put the soup in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, skim off the fat, if desired, and reheat the soup, add the chicken and turkey meat back to the soup. How much is up to you and bring to a rolling boil to cook the matza balls (see below).

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/03/23/jewish-penicillin-for-pesach/

I always make the matza balls ahead of time and freeze them. Since my matza balls are a little different from most, I thought I would give you a step-by-step instruction in case you would like to try to make them.

Mama K's World Famous Matza Balls

Yield: 45 matza balls

This recipe has been handed down from generation to generation in my family. It is Westphalian and Alsatian. If you are afraid of using chicken fat, try half chicken fat and half olive oil.

14 matzos

2 medium white onions, chopped coarsely

3/4 cup melted chicken fat and/or goose fat

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

2 teaspoons salt, you made want to add more

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

7 eggs, lightly beaten with a fork

1/8 cup matza meal

Additional matza meal for rolling

Step 2 Wet Matza

Wet Matza

Break the matzas into chunks and put into a colander placed in sink. Run water over the colander until the matza is moist, but not water logged. Let the water drain and let stand for one to two minutes. (Can be put into plastic bag and kept overnight in the refrigerator.)

Onions Browning

Brown the onions in melted fat in large heavy frying pan over medium heat until "real brown".

Step 4 Add Matza

Add the matzas and stir gently frequently. Most of the moisture has to evaporate. If mixture sticks to bottom, put lid on the pan for a few minutes to soften. Add the salt, pepper, parsley and nutmeg.

Cooked Mixture

Cool until no more steam comes off the mixture because it must be cool enough so the eggs won't cook.

Mixture with Eggs

Add the eggs and gently stir in the matza meal.

Test the first matza ball by placing it in boiling water. Test that it maintains it shape and taste to check if more salt, pepper and nutmeg should be added.

Finished product

Place a thick layer of matza meal on foil-lined cookie sheet. Use spoons or scoop to make balls, rolling very carefully into the size of a large walnut, using as little pressure as possible. Place on cookie sheet and roll in meal. If you prefer, wet your hands and roll in palm, but this requires scraping off hands and re-wetting frequently. Discard the excess matza meal. Leave on the cookie sheet in the refrigerator, covered with wax paper, or freeze on the sheet before packing in bags for freezer. They can be kept in the freezer for 3 months.

Bring chicken soup to a boil and add Matzo Balls (after they have been brought to room temperature) a few at a time. When they rise to the top, put the lid on the soup for 5 minutes. Serve and say AAHHHH loudly with each bite.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/03/23/jewish-penicillin-for-pesach/

Passover Desserts

As Pesach is fast approaching, I have decided on what desserts I am going to make to make this year: Chocolate-Pistachio Cake and the Orange-Ginger Cake (See Passover Preparations).

This pistachio cake is based on a recipe from Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers, Italian Easy: Recipes from the River Cafe. It is a very easy cake to make. I would prefer to make it with butter, but I must make a parve cake for Passover.

Normally, I do not like Passover cakes made with matza meal, but this cake only calls for 1/2 cup and you really don’t notice it. Substitute with flour when it is not Passover.

Since the Passover hostess is a chocoholic, I am covering the cake with a bittersweet chocolate glaze, but the original recipe is served plain with a lemon glaze.

Chocolate Pistachio Cake

Serving Size: 8 to 10

For the cake:

250g (2-1/4 sticks) unsalted butter or margarine

1 lemon

1 vanilla bean or equivalent of vanilla paste

150g (2/3 cup) blanched almonds

170 g (3/4 cup) pistachios

1-1/4 cups superfine sugar

4 eggs

1/2 cup matza cake flour

For the lemon topping:

1 lemon

113g (1/2 cup) pistachios

1/4 cup superfine sugar

For the chocolate glaze:

85g (3 oz) fine-quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

85g (3/4 stick) margarine or butter, cut into pieces

57g (1/4 cup) ground pistachios

Make the cake

Heat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Grease a 9-inch (22cm) springform pan with 4 teaspoons of the butter and line with baking parchment.

Soften the remaining margarine or butter. Finely grate the lemon peel. Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. Finely grind the almonds and pistachios together.

Beat the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the lemon peel and vanilla seeds, then fold in the nuts and sift in the flour.

Spoon the batter into the pan and bake for 45-60 minutes. The cake is ready when a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the pan, then turn out.

Make the lemon topping

Grate the lemon peel and squeeze the juice. Halve the pistachios.

Mix the lemon juice with the sugar, boil until reduced to a syrup, then add the peel. Stir in the pistachios and pour over the cake.

Make the chocolate glaze

Melt chocolate with 1 tablespoon butter in a small heavy saucepan over very low heat, stirring. Remove from heat and add remaining 5 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring until smooth.

Transfer the glaze to a bowl and chill, covered, until slightly thickened and spreadable, about 30 minutes.

Spread the glaze over cake with a small metal spatula. Sprinkle pistachios on the top and sides of the cake.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/03/21/passover-desserts/

 

The other cake I considered making this year is another favourite of mine. It is a spice cake with a chocolate glaze. Simple and delicious. I do not remember where I got this recipe.

Chocolate Almond Torte
For the cake:

1/2 cup sugar plus additional for dusting

400g (1-3/4 cups ) finely ground almonds

85g (3 oz) fine-quality bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, coarsely grated

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

5 large egg yolks

2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest

4 large egg whites

1/2 teaspoon salt

For the chocolate icing:

85g (3 oz) fine-quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

85g (3/4 stick) margarine or butter, cut into pieces

75g (1/3 cup) sliced almonds

22cm (9-inch) cake pan or springform pan ( I use a springform)

For the cake:

Preheat oven to 180C (350°F). Butter pan and dust with sugar, knocking out excess.

Stir together ground almonds, chocolate, and spices in a bowl. Beat yolks with 1/4 cup sugar in another bowl with an electric mixer until thick and pale, then beat in zest.

Beat whites with salt with cleaned beaters in a large bowl until they just hold soft peaks. Gradually beat in remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until whites just hold stiff peaks.

Stir one third of whites into yolk mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites in 2 more batches. Fold in ground almond mixture.

Pour batter into mold and bake in middle of oven until golden and a tester comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool cake in mold on a rack 10 minutes, then invert onto rack and cool completely.

For the chocolate icing:

Melt chocolate with 1 tablespoon margarine in a small heavy saucepan over very low heat, stirring. Remove from heat and add remaining 5 tablespoons margarine, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring until smooth. Transfer icing to a bowl and chill, covered, until slightly thickened and spreadable, about 30 minutes.

Spread icing over cake with a small metal spatula. Sprinkle almonds on the top and sides of the cake. Chill cake until icing is set, at least 1 hour. Transfer cake to a platter and bring to room temperature before serving.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/03/21/passover-desserts/

Passover Preparations

We are going to my cousin’s in Jerusalem as we do every year and we always bring the charoset, chicken soup with matza balls and dessert. I always try to bring a different dessert.

I am still trying decide what to bring this year. Maybe one of these:

  • Torta di Carote from the Veneto region
  • Persian Rice Cookies
  • Super Moist Banana & Almond Cake
  • Chocolate Almond Torte with cinnamon, allspice, cloves and a dark chocolate glaze

Last year I made Gâteau à l’Orange et au Gingembre from one of my favourite blogs, Chocolate & Zucchini. It is a moist cake that has an intense orange and ginger flavour. I might be tempted to make it again this year. It was a huge hit. And, it is very easy to make.

Gâteau à l'Orange et au Gingembre

Serving Size: 8 - 10

Orange and Ginger Cake From Chocolate and Zucchini

For the cake:

3 small oranges or 2 large oranges (preferably organic)

6 eggs

250g (1-1/3 cups) sugar

250g (1-1/3 cups) almond flour or almond meal

Thumb-sized knob of fresh ginger

1/4 C candied ginger

1 teaspoon baking powder

For the glaze:

Zest and juice of a lemon

60 g (1/3 cup) thick sugar crystals, the type used as a topping for chouquettes or brioches

Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F). Grease a 24 cm (8-inch) springform cake pan.

Clean and scrub the oranges well. Put them in a medium saucepan, and cover with water. Put the saucepan over medium heat, and simmer for two hours, adding a little hot water when the level gets too low (note : you may, like me, find the smell of whole oranges boiling very unpleasant, but it has nothing to do with the smell or taste of the finished product). Drain, and let cool. Cut in quarters and puree in the food processor.

Peel and chop the fresh ginger. Cut the candied ginger in small dice. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs with a fork. Whisk in the orange puree, the sugar, the almonds, the baking powder, the fresh ginger, until well blended. Fold in the bits of candied ginger.

Pour the batter in the cake pan, and bake for about an hour, until puffy and golden. Let cool for a few minutes on a rack, while you prepare the frosting. Run a knife around the cake to loosen it, and remove the sides of the pan.

Put the sugar crystals in a small bowl with the lemon juice and zest. Spoon this mixture evenly onto the top of the cake. Let cool completely before serving. It can be made a day ahead, wrapped in plastic and stored in the refrigerator.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/03/14/passover-preparations/

The second dessert I made were chocolate-covered Weesper Moppen, which are Dutch almond cookies. They are chewy cookies with a wonderful almond flavour which can be made plain and rolled in coarse sugar or covered in dark chocolate. I like them because they are not very sweet.

Chocolate- Covered Weesper Moppen

Yield: About 20 cookies

250g (8oz + 2 tablespoons) coarse almond paste or grind 125g//1/2 cup of blanched almonds and 125g (1/2 cup) of fine sugar

1 tsp lemon zest

1 small egg

200g (8oz) 80% dark chocolate (Valrhona or some other premium brand), melted

Mix everything except the chocolate together until you have a soft paste.

Wet your hands with cold water, and roll the paste into log. It will still be very sticky and a bit hard to manage. You could roll them in a little kosher for Pesach icing sugar or put the dough in plastic wrap and roll it into a log and place into the refrigerator for 10 minutes to firm up a little.

With a sharp knife (wipe it between cuts) cut the dough into 20 rounds about 1/2 inch or 1cm thick. Place them cut side down on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment or a silpat liner.

Let them dry out for about 2 hours. I put them in a cold oven, with the fan on, for one hour, which worked excellently!

Then, preheat the oven to 200 C / 375 F. When the oven is hot, bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes. Check that they don't brown too much. Remove them from the sheet, let them cool.

After they have cooled, dip them in the melted chocolate. You can either cover the entire cookie or just one side.

They will dry out a bit more as they cool, but they should still be slightly chewy. They are best served the same day or the following day.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/03/14/passover-preparations/

Oyster Suppers

The Jewish community in my hometown in Alabama was founded in 1888. Most of the money raised to build the synagogue was through the efforts of the Ladies Hebrew Benevolent Society. Sherry Blanton, the synagogue’s historian writes, “With boundless enthusiam they quickly planned a New Year’s hop as their first fund raiser. A series of successful bazaars enlarged their treasury, further augmented by the profits of Purim parties, strawberry festivals, and oyster dinners as well as “tariffs on the Jewish gentlemen”

Yes folks, my lovely synagogue was built with money with proceeds from oyster dinners!!! I was appalled. But, then again they built a synagogue none-the-less and it is the 11th oldest community still worshiping in the same building. The community is dwindling, but it will always be my home away from home. Recently, it became even more special when I celebrated my wedding there on 30 December 2006.

But, that is not the reason I am telling you about oysters. My cousin sent me a very funny family story that involves his mother, my Aunt Sophie z”l:

One day, Aunt Julia was visiting in Birmingham. Mom had a Seder Plate hanging on the dining room wall. To quote Aunt Julia: “Sophie – what a lovely oyster plate you have!”

I had never heard this story. Thank you Mark, you made my day!

Dare I Say It?

Pesach or Passover is in a little over three weeks! April 2nd is the evening of Pesach and it is time to prepare the house and think about what I am going to bring to my cousin’s house in Jerusalem.

I always bring my grandmother’s world famous matza balls, David’s world famous haroset (secret recipe that he will not part with) and a couple of homemade desserts.

I will give you one special ingredient in David’s haroset, chestnut paste.

My grandmother’s matza balls are made with whole matza.

Nathan Matza Balls

I make them in advance and freeze them. I can’t enter my cousin’s house without bringing these matza balls and David threatens to stop Passover if I don’t make them.

Speaking of stopping Passover…. I have a great story about my great-uncle Alfred. A few days before Passover one year he went to the local supermarket in my hometown in Alabama to buy some matza. He looked in the usual place and he couldn’t find anything. So, he went to the manager’s desk and asked where the matza was. The manager said, “Sir, the matza will be here next week.” To which my uncle replied, “Ok, I will go home right now and pray to the Lord our G-d and ask him to postpone Passover for a few days!” True story.

As for the seder plate above, I just love it. I dreamt about this seder plate before I bought it. I always wanted one with glass vessels. On my second trip to Israel, I saw this seder plate at the gift shop at the Museum Complex in Jerusalem. The artist’s name is Shraga Landesman and he makes some beautiful pieces of Judaica.

Someone once told me that my seder plate looked like something from Star Trek. I told him that would be one interesting seder considering that Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock are MOT (members of the tribe).

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