Slow Roasted Short Ribs in Pomegranate Juice

Over the years I have posted a lot of recipes for slow cooking on my blog; this stems from my dream to have an outdoor brick oven for making pizza, bread and clay pots filled with some slow-simmering concoction. Slow cooking takes me back to my childhood when I watched my great-grandmother make all of the lovely baked goods, stewed fruits, and gooey, browned chicken that she made in a crusty old enameled pot she brought with her from Germany in 1935. Oma used her body and soul to make plum cakes, lebkuchen, butter cookies, spiced plums, stewed figs, etc. She didn’t have a Kitchenaid or a food processor, she made everything from scratch, her hands and arms were the whisk, the wooden spoon, she knew when something was mixed enough and didn’t concern herself with weights and measurements, nor did she bother with oven temperature. She made everything by sight, touch, taste and feel, and she always knew when the oven was hot enough for this, that or the other.

I thought a lot about Oma while I was preparing my mise en place for our Rosh Hashana dinner. I felt her watching over me, reassuring me that I had enough onions, garlic and carrots, and that I should be careful not to burn anything. It is at times like these, especially when I am making an old family recipe, that I wish I could bring Oma and Mama K back here, for just a few hours, to give me pointers on how to not make the butter cookies spread out,  or so that I can ask them if I have made the dish to their standards.

Slow Roasted Short Ribs in Pomegranate Juice

3 hours, 30 minutes

Serving Size: 4 to 6

Slow Roasted Short Ribs in Pomegranate Juice

Adapted recipe from Eli Landau and Haim Cohen

3 kg short ribs (asado or shpundra), with as much fat removed as possible, cut into sections

2 medium onions, sliced thinly

8 small shallots, peeled and cut in half

1 head of garlic separated into cloves, peeled and roughly chopped

3 carrots, peeled and diced

3 celery stalks, diced

6 sprigs of thyme

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary

3 fresh bay leaves or 2 dried

2 cups (1/2 liter) of pomegranate juice

2 cups (1/2 liter) of chicken stock

Seeds from 1 pomegranate

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 100C (200F).

Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to a large oven-proof pot on medium-high heat. Add the short ribs and brown them on all sides. Place them on a plate and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and the shallots, and saute them until they are transparent. Add the garlic, carrots and celery, and stir until the onions begin to brown. Add the thyme, rosemary and bay leaves, stirring for 2-3 minutes.

Add 1 cup of pomegranate juice and scrape the pot, loosening any bits that have stuck to the bottom. Add the rest of the pomegranate juice and chicken stock, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil.

Add the meat back to the pot and bring to the boil again, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and place it in the oven or leave it on the stove top, on the smallest burner and the lowest flame, for 3-1/2 hours. Occasionally baste the meat.

When the meat is cooked, almost falling of the bone, place it on a serving platter. Place the pot on medium-high heat and cook until the sauce thickens. Pour some of the sauce over the meat and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

Rosh Hashana 5772: Tarte à la Compote de Pommes

Tarte à la Compote de Pommes

For erev Rosh Hashana I tried another recipe from Joan Nathan’s new cookbook, Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France, and it was a perfect ending to a lovely meal. Apart from the wonderful taste, what I loved about it is that it was easy to make. I made the apple sauce and the tart dough a couple of days ahead and baked it the morning of the dinner. The apple sauce is delicious on its own and the best part is that this dessert has very little sugar in it. I used Granny Smith apples for the apple sauce because I prefer their tartness and for the slices on top, I used Gala, a lovely delicate apple that is perfect for a French-style tart.

Tarte à la Compote de Pommes

Serving Size: 8

(French Apple Sauce Tart) Slightly adapted from Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France by Joan Nathan

1-1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

130g (9 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter or margarine, cut into small cubes

2 cups of thick apple sauce (recipe below)

2 Gala apples, peeled and thinly sliced, preferably with a mandoline

In the bowl of a food processor, put the flour, salt and sugar, and pulse for a few seconds to combine. Add the butter or margarine and pulse until the mixture has the consistency of coarse cornmeal. Add 2 tablespoons of water and pulse until the dough pulls away from the sides and forms a ball. Shape the dough into a disk, wrap in cellophane, and put in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 220C (425F). Roll the dough into a circle 25cm (10-inches) in diameter. Place the dough into a 22cm (9-inch) tart pan with a removable bottom. Prick the bottom and sides of the dough with a fork and bake blind for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Set aside to cool slightly.

Lower the oven temperature to 200C (400F). Spread the apple sauce over the tart base and place the sliced apples on top in a circular pattern. Bake for 30 minutes and serve at room temperature.

Compote de Pommes

Yield: 2 cups

1 kilo (2 pounds) Granny Smith Apples, cored, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

250 grams (1/2 pound) Italian blue plums or red plums

1/8 cup of sugar

1/4 cup pomegranate juice

1/3 cup white wine

Place all of the ingredients in a heavy saucepan, cover, and cook over low heat for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the apples are mushy. Set aside to cool.

Rosh Hashana 5772: Muesli Challah

Muesli Challah

I love researching the history of food, and one of the foremost experts on the history of Jewish Food is Gil Marks. I am going to have the immense honor of dining with him and hopefully picking his brain a bit. His entry about Challah in his book, Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, explains the different traditions of the Ashkenazi and Sephardi communities for eating bread on Shabbat: whereas Ashkenazi communities had little access to white wheat flour, and so reserved it for the challah on Shabbat, the Sephardi world had easier access to white flour, and so the difference between weekday and Shabbat bread was not so much in the type of flour used, but in different variations of the bread itself, including adding sesame seeds, or even switching to whole wheat flour.

After reading this entry in Marks’ encyclopedia, I wondered if my ancestors would think that my festive challah made from whole wheat, rye and white flour would be fitting enough for our holiest holidays, and I hope the answer would be yes. I have a recipe for muesli buns that I thought would make an interesting challah for this year’s Rosh Hashana, and it didn’t disappoint. It might be a bit unconventional, but I am an unconventional kind of girl. I also made my tried and true challah for the plain eaters in the family.

This year, as every year, we celebrated Rosh Hashana with family and friends in Jerusalem. It was an interesting group as we represented the best of the Israeli table, one that represented several different countries: Israel, Holland, England, Germany, France, the Philippines and the United States. We thought of loved ones we missed who are no longer here or are far away, we laughed, and we thought of all of the things we want to do to make this year more sweet, more healthy, more prosperous, and most importantly more peaceful.

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

Chag Sameach,

Baroness Tapuzina and Mr BT

Muesli Challah

Yield: 2 medium loaves

500 grams (4 cups) whole wheat flour

300 grams (3-1/3 cups) rye flour

300 grams (3-1/3 cups) all purpose flour

30 grams (2 tablespoons) salt

50 grams (2 ounces) fresh yeast

740 ml (3 cups) cold water

100 grams (3.5 ounces) raisins

100 grams dried figs (3.5 ounces), cut into quarters

100 grams prunes (3.5 ounces), cut into quarters

100 grams hazelnuts, roasted

100 grams Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced

400 grams mixture of flax seed, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, etc.

Honey for drizzling on top

Add the flours and salt to a mixer with a dough hook and mix until combined. Crumble the fresh yeast over the flour mixture and add the cold water. Mix initially at low speed and then increase the speed to medium until the dough separates from the sides of the bowl. The dough will still be a little sticky. If the dough is too dry, add water, a tablespoon at a time. Lower the speed and add the dried fruits and hazelnuts. Place the dough in a large oiled bowl, cover with a towel or cellophane, and let rise for about 1 hour until it doubles in size.

Punch the dough down and place on a clean, floured, work surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. Divide the dough into eight pieces, hand-rolling each piece into a long snake, and braid into two loaves with four strands each. Brush each loaf with honey and sprinkle the seed mixture on top.

Place each loaf on a lined baking sheet, cover with a towel, and let rise for about 30 minutes.

Bake for 30-40 minutes at 180C (350F). This bread freezes well.

For buns: Make half a recipe and divide the dough into 12 pieces and bake for 15 minutes.

Honey for a Sweet Year, and a Fruitful One Too

Bee sculpture

A guest post from my other half, Mr. BT:

One of the great pleasures of living in Israel is the country’s agricultural riches, something that already led to the Land of Israel being described in the Bible as eretz zavat chalav u’dvash – ‘a land flowing with milk and honey.’ The milk in this description was probably more from sheep and goats than cows; and the ‘honey’ was almost certainly the sweet syrup of the dates that grow all over the country, not bee honey. Nevertheless, the historical image of honey as an integral part of the country’s agricultural tradition remains strong within Jewish culture, and especially so at this time of year, the early autumn, when we celebrate Rosh Hashana, the New Year.

Like Pesach in the springtime, when Jewish tradition dictates that we place on the Seder table, and eat, certain foods with symbolic religious significance, we put on the Rosh Hashana table foods with symbolic importance. But unlike the Seder, where we eat bitter herbs and unleavened matza to remind ourselves of the Children of Israel’s suffering as slaves in Egypt before the Exodus, and hasty exit without having time to let our dough rise, the symbols on the Rosh Hashana table are all about the sweetness and success we wish upon ourselves for the coming year.

Of all the culinary symbols – which according to tradition include pomegranates, a fish, courgettes, and carrots – the most important, and the ones most associated with the festival, are apples and honey. We sprinkle honey on the challah or other festival bread to express our hope for a sweet year, instead of the salt that is traditionally used on Shabbat; we eat slices of apple dipped in honey as well; and the blessings over all these foods reflect our desire for success, fertility and sweetness. And of course, we keep on using honey during the following three weeks of festival period to reinforce the message.

Honey Making Factory

It’s not only the honey itself that it important in Jewish culture. The honeybee, too, has a special significance in Jewish history: the name of the Biblical prophetess and judge Dvora (Deborah) – the Jewish people’s only woman leader until Golda Meir, and a pretty feisty leader in her own right – means ‘bee,’ and her name is still popular among Jewish and non-Jewish girls alike.

Simon's Honey Shop

It’s hardly a surprise, then, that when Baroness Tapuzina and I go shopping during the whole month before Rosh Hashana, every supermarket, grocery and stall in the shopping malls is crammed with jars of honey waiting to be consumed during the holiday period, and all of it locally produced. But, like pretty well everything else in Israeli food culture today, we have a tremendous variety of honey: from eucalyptus blossoms, thistle, clover, citrus, avocado and more. Not only that, but on top of the mass-market labels, there is a good variety of artisanal honey from small producers all over Israel.

To celebrate this wealth, the Baroness and I decided to visit a couple of local producers during the annual honey festival shortly before Rosh Hashana, both to taste a good selection, and to learn more about the Israeli honey industry.

Simon's Bee Farm Shop

Our first stop was at the shop of Simon’s Bee Farm in Kfar Sirkin, a moshav (agricultural village) just on the edge of highly urban Petach Tikva. Simon’s is special for two things in particular: one is that they sell all the output from their hives, which are scattered around most of the country, whereas most Israeli beekeepers sell at least part of their output to large companies, in particular the Yad Mordekhai label (originally owned entirely by the kibbutz of that name, but now owned by the Strauss food conglomerate). The other is that they have ten different varietals, including a honey that comes mainly from onion flowers, one from avocado and mango blossoms, and a Jordan Hills honey that the bees gather from avocado and lychee blossoms. Although we’re familiar with most of the other types, we had never tried these three before: I liked the onion honey more than the Baroness did (she found the oniony flavour off-putting), but we agreed that the other two were delicious, and bought a jar of each one.

Orna Simon

Unlike in the United States, where honey is usually pasteurised and therefore remains clear and liquid, Orna Simon explained to us that none of the Simon’s honey is pasteurised, so some of it becomes thick and even crystallises in the jar. But she says that for many of their customers, especially the Russian immigrants, this is a sign of high quality.

Bee Keeper's Outfits

From Kfar Sirkin, we went on to another moshav not far from our own called Tsofit (we do have beehives on the moshav where we live, but their output isn’t sold in the village). Here at Tsofit, beekeeper Yanay Sachs has a small factory at the back of his house, not only to produce and package the honey from his hives, but also to educate Israeli children about bees and honey.

Honey Comb

Yanay showed us a very cute film (made mainly for children) about beekeeping and how honey is extracted from the hives, and then took us on a tour of the production facilities. Here, the beeswax seals covering the hexagonal cells in each frame are scraped off with a broad mechanical knife, so that the honey can flow out into a separator (where any solid bits of dead bees are removed) and then to large storage containers, from which the jars are filled.

Yanai Sachs

Yanay doesn’t have the same wide selection of varietals as the Simon family bee farm, but he says that in the case of honey, as opposed to wine grapes, talking about varietals “is a bluff, because the bees fly to all the flowers within a range of three kilometres, and you don’t know where they’ve been.” A former head of the national beekeepers council, he also dismisses other beekeepers’ marketing of organic honey as a gimmick, saying that “organic honey is no more organic than anything else.”

Honey Extractor

However valid Yanay Sachs’ comments may be, we Israelis certainly like our honey: some 400-500 beekeepers around the country, of whom 100 are full-time professionals, own 90,000 hives, each one of which produces 30-40kg of honey every year. But this isn’t all for the sake of satisfying the national sweet tooth. Agriculture is still a central part of Israeli life just as it was part of the history of the Jewish people going back more than 3,500 years, and all the honey that Israelis consume during Rosh Hashana, and the rest of the year, is just a by-product of the bees’ real work: pollinating the country’s crops and ensuring the country’s multi-billion-dollar agricultural sector continues to produce all our wonderful food.

Goose with Shallots and Clementines

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

Goose with Shallots and Clementines

Goose with Shallots and Clementines

4 goose legs

200g shallots , peeled

6 whole cloves garlic, peeled

1 tablespoon ras el hanout

400ml (1/2 quart) vegetable stock

1 tablespoon clear honey

Juice 1 lemon or lime

4 small, firm clementines , peeled

2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

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

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

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

Baroness’ Sinful Honey Cake

Rosh Hashana Table 122

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

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

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

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

Chag Sameach,

Baroness Tapuzina and Mr BT

Apple and Honey Cake 120

Baroness' Sinful Honey Cake

Yield: One frosted round cake and 1 plain loaf cake

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

For the poached apples:

3 medium granny smith apples, peeled and cored

1/2 bottle Riesling white wine

2 cinnamon sticks

5 whole cloves

2 large pieces of orange peel

1 sheet of parchment paper

For the honey cake:

1/2 cup dried sugarless cranberries

1/4 cup candied orange peel

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

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

1-1/2 cups sugar

2 heaping teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1-1/2 cups honey

1 cup oil

4 eggs

2 tablespoons instant espresso coffee

1 cup boiling water

2 level teaspoons baking soda

Zest of two medium oranges

For the chocolate glaze:

200g (7oz) 72% premium dark chocolate

50g (3.5 tablespoons) butter or margarine

For the poached apples:

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

For the cake:

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

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

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

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

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

For the chocolate glaze:

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

For assembly:

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

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?

A Honey of a Dinner

We had a lovely time with my family in Jerusalem for Rosh Hashana. When we came back, I decided to continue the New Year’s celebration and make another special dinner for just the two of us. I know that I have blogged a lot about beef here, but we are really not big beef eaters: we eat a lot more fish and chicken. However, I found a nice reasonably priced piece of beef shoulder, which believe it or not, I have never cooked before.

I started looking at recipes and none of them really turned me on. I didn’t want to do the standard carrot, potato, and onion pot roast. Finally, I found a recipe called Boeuf a la Mode, which sounded like beef with vanilla ice cream. Actually, it is a quick and easy recipe that doesn’t require long hours in the kitchen. The spices gave a nice subtle flavour to the fork-tender beef. I served it with roasted potatoes and steamed broccoli.

I also made a creamy and delicious honey-thyme ice cream from The Cook and Gardener cookbook. I made it with Israeli citrus honey and a touch of Provencal chestnut honey that I brought back from our trip to the South of France and Provence a couple of years ago. It gave it a nice smokey flavour. The thyme was not overpowering, but you can definitely taste it. I really loved this ice cream and it was an excellent compliment to the honey cake I made.

Boeuf a la Mode

Serving Size: 4 to 6

1 kilo (2 lbs) beef shoulder roast

4 cups thinly sliced onions

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. salt

1 tablespoon ras al hanut

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/4 cup dry red wine

Beef Shoulder Roast

Preheat oven to 160C (325F). Combine salt, ras al hanut, and pepper. Rub seasoning on both sides of the meat.

In large roasting pan, arrange half of onions and garlic. Set roast on top of the onion mixture. Top with remaining onions, garlic, and red wine. Cover pan tightly with foil. Cook for 2-1/2 to 2-3/4 hours, or until pot roast is tender.

Remove pot roast to serving platter; keep warm.

Skim fat from pan juices and onion mixture. Carve pot roast into thin slices. Spoon onion mixture over pot roast. Garnish with parsley, if desired.

Honey-Thyme Ice Cream

Yield: About 1 liter (quart)

2 cups whole milk

2 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup citrus honey

2 teaspoons chestnut honey (optional)

5 egg yolks

16 sprigs fresh thyme

Milk & Cream Infused with Thyme

Heat the milk, 1 cup of cream and the honey in a heavy saucepan just before it begins to boil. Take off the heat immediately; add the sprigs of thyme and let it steep for about 30 minutes.

Strain the milk mixture, place it in a clean saucepan, and bring the milk mixture to simmer over medium heat.

Honey-Thyme Custard

n separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Gradually whisk hot milk mixture into yolk mixture; return to same pan. Stir over medium-low heat until custard thickens and leaves path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across (do not boil). Strain into another medium bowl; chill covered until cold.

Process chilled custard in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer ice cream to container; cover and freeze.

Not my Grandmother’s Honey Cake

We didn’t have a Rosh Hashana tradition of making honey cakes in my house. I didn’t even know there was a tradition to serve honey cake during this holiday. We made Honigkuchen, which were basically lebkuchen, a type of spice cookie that we always made for Hannukah. My grandmother always made Noodle Schalet (Noodle Pudding, not Kugel, with eggs, lemon zest and raisins) with lemon sauce for dessert. We had Suesse Apfel (carmelised apple slices in honey) as a side dish with roast beef.

So when I moved to Israel, people started asking me what does your mother put in her honey cake? Does she put nuts in, coffee or tea, schnapps, only cinnamon? I had no idea what they were talking about. All of the supermarkets and bakeries were selling different types of honey cakes. The few times I had them in the States, I always remembering them being dry and inedible. I made my first honey cake a few years ago and I could have built a house with it. It was heavy and dry. Then, I made the Beekeeper’s Honey Cake and it was less dry.

I finally decided which cake I am going to make for Erev Rosh Hashana, the Magical Honey Cake. As most of my regular readers know, I usually have to tweak a recipe and this time was no different. I used Janna Gur’s recipe as a base and added a few more spices, some orange rind, and substituted cranberries soaked in rum for the raisins. I cheated and tasted one of the cakes on the second day, it is moist, spicy and bursting with flavour from the honey. This is going to be my tried and true honey cake from now on.

Magical Honey Cake

Yield: 3 loaves

6 cups + 3 tablespoons flour

1-1/2 cups sugar

2 heaping teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon cardamom

1 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1-1/2 cups honey

1 cup oil

4 eggs

2 tablespoons instant espresso coffee

1 cup boiling water

2 level teaspoons baking soda

Zest of two medium oranges

1/3 cup dried cranberries soaked in rum, just to cover

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 170C (325F). Grease the loaf pans.

Dry Ingredients

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

Honey Cake Batter

Pour the batter into the greased loaf pans and bake for approximately 45 minutes until the cake is dark brown and the toothpick is clean with a few crumbs adhering.

Cool the cakes completely and wrap with aluminum foil. Place in a cool, dry place to mature for 7 days.

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