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.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2009/05/30/mishmish-kind-of-day/

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.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2009/05/30/mishmish-kind-of-day/

Curry Roasted Chicken

Since my surgery, I have been trying to get back in the kitchen, but I have been working long days at work and so I haven’t had a lot of energy to cook. Most of our meals have not been special enough to blog about. Last Shabbat, I decided it was time to cook again. There was a whole chicken staring at me in the freezer and I knew that I wanted to try something new. I had a hankering for curry, so what better than curry roasted chicken. You can be very flexible with this recipe by using a curry and other spices of your choice. This chicken is even better the next day. You could easily make this dish the night before and pop it in the oven the next day.

Curry Roasted Chicken

Serving Size: 4

1 roasting chicken about 2kg (4lb)

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon nigella seeds

1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds

4 green cardamom pods

1 tablespoon medium madras curry powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 head garlic cloves separated and unpeeled, plus 6 cloves, peeled

2 tablespoons finely grated ginger

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 shallots , unpeeled and quartered

3 sticks cinnamon

1 cup chicken broth

Preheat oven to 230C (450F). Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Place on a rack in a small roasting pan or baking dish. Set aside.

Spices for Curry Rub

In a small frying pan over medium heat, combine cumin seeds, nigella seeds, black peppercorns, coriander seeds and cardamom pods. Swirl until lightly toasted and fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly; grind using a mortar and pestle. (To save time, or if you don't have equipment, use pre-ground spices and toast in pan 45 seconds.) Mix with curry powder, cinnamon and red pepper flakes. Add six finely chop peeled garlic cloves and combine with ginger and olive oil in a small bowl. Rub mixture over entire chicken.

Curry Roasted Chicken

Place the unpeeled garlic, shallots and cinnamon sticks inside the chicken cavity. Tie legs with kitchen string. Roast 30 minutes before basting with 1/2 cup of the chicken broth. Roast 20 minutes more, then baste with the remaining 1/2 cup of broth. Continue cooking until the juices run clear when the chicken is pierced with a knife and meat is no longer pink, about 1 hour and 15 minutes in total. Remove from oven and let stand for a couple of minutes.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2009/04/29/curry-roasted-chicken/

Hainanese Chicken and Rice

I had some minor surgery last week and have to eat more delicate food for the next couple of weeks, so no matza for me. This will be the first time since I was about two years old that I am not eating matza during Pesach. It is a bit strange not being able to eat matza and matza ball soup, but it is all in the name of good health.

I was searching for a simple and tasty recipe I could have with my current restrictions and I came across a recipe for Singapore’s national dish, Hainanese Chicken. I never managed to have any when I was in Singapore, mainly because I was only there for two days and only saw the inside of the hotel I was staying at. To visit Singapore without eating this dish is a mortal sin. They usually serve it with a hot fiery red pepper sauce, but I had to keep it mild.

This is a delicate, yet very fragrant dish. I highly recommend it. And as a reminder, we are a kitniyot eating family.

Hainanese Chicken and Rice

Serving Size: 4 to 6

Adapted from a recipe by Mark Bittman

For chicken:

1-1/2 to 2kg (3 to 4 pounds) whole chicken

salt

3 tablespoons of grated garlic

1 big knob of ginger, grated finely

1/4 cup peanut oil or canola oil

2 cups white (jasmine) rice

2 tablespoons dark sesame oil

Ginger-Scallion sauce (recipe to follow)

Chopped fresh scallion or cilantro leaves for garnish

For garlic-scallion sauce:

1/4 cup minced (or grated) fresh ginger

1/2 cup chopped scallion

1 or 2 clove garlic, grated

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup peanut oil or canola oil

For chicken:

Trim the chicken of excess fat and cut into 4 pieces. Place about 10cm (4 inches) of water in a large pot over high heat.

Sprinkle salt on both sides of the chicken pieces and rub them with half of the garlic and ginger mixture. When the water boils, place the chicken in the pot. The water should just cover the chicken; add more water if necessary.

Bring back to the boil, cover, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the chicken remain in the pot for 1 hour, covered. The meat should be opaque all the way through; if not, return to pot to a boil and cover again for another 5 - 10 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside.

Put the oil in a separate pot over medium heat. When hot, add the remaining garlic and ginger, stirring occasionally, until the garlic and ginger are softened. Add the rice and stir, then add 4 cups of the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Simmer the rice on low for approximately 20 minutes. Taste and add salt, if necessary.

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces (optional) and rub with sesame oil.

For garlic-scallion sauce:

Mix the ginger, scallion, garlic and salt together in a heatproof bowl. Put the oil in a small saucepan or skillet over high heat until smoking. Carefully pour the hot oil over the ginger scallion mixture (Note: it will sizzle a lot). Mix well and serve or refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Drizzle on some of the ginger-scallion sauce and serve over the rice. You can also serve the stock with some scallion in a small bowl on the side.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2009/04/11/hainanese-chicken-and-rice/

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.

A Date with my Honey

I use Silan, also known as date honey, as part of the yeast starter for the bread that Mr BT and I make every week. It doesn’t really impart any extra flavour to the bread, but I think it is a bit healthier than white sugar.

I was really tired of making the same chicken dishes I make all the time, so I decided to try an experiment using date honey. It has a slight taste of dates and can be spread on bread, mixed with equal parts of tahina and used as a spread, used on pancakes instead of maple syrup, etc. What I like about Silan is that it is not sickeningly sweet.

I mixed the date honey with oranges and grapefruits from the trees around the moshav. And for an extra kick, I added some chili paste and grated ginger. It made an excellent spicy barbeque sauce.

Spicy Silan, Citrus and Ginger Chicken

Serving Size: 4 to 6

1 whole chicken, cut into eighths

1/2 cup date honey

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 cup grapefruit juice or lemon juice

1-1/2 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated with a microplane

1 teaspoon chili paste

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Place the chicken in a baking dish. Mix all of the ingredients and pour over the chicken. Bake for 1-1/2 hours or until falling of the bone.

Serve with rice, couscous or quinoa.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2009/02/21/a-date-with-my-honey/

Chicken with Barley and Mushrooms

We are starting to feel winter approaching here in the center of  Israel. The temparature is around 19C (66F) during the day and around 12C (54F) in the evening. I know that most of you are having a real chuckle over my definition of winter, but the only true winter that you see in Israel is in the Golan Heights and Galilee, Jerusalem and the Negev.

Given the temperature change,  I was in the mood for a nice hearty dish for Shabbat dinner. I have been trying to convince my husband for a while now that he will like the way I cook barley. His experience with barley has apparently not been a good one. I on the other hand love barley and have nice memories of my father making a big pot of  barley & mushroom soup. I really miss this soup and I have not made in years.  So, I did a little bit of Southern sweet talking and convinced him to try an interesting barley recipe I found.

The recipe called for barley groats which is the least processed form of barley, with just the outermost hull removed. While it is chewier and slower to cook than more processed forms of barley, it is rich in fiber. They sell it in the supermarkets here in Israel, but you should be able to find it at Whole Foods or a health food store.

This simple one-pot chicken dish is perfect for a cold winter day. It is full of flavour using good chicken stock, fresh thyme and white wine. It  is even better the next day. You can make this with pearl barley, but reduce the cooking time from 1 hour to 35-40 minutes.

And the best part is that Mr. Baroness Tapuzina said he loved it and I could make it again for him. Twenty-five points for using my Scarlett O’Hara impression. It works every time. ;-) Now I can make the mushroom and barley soup.

Chicken with Barley Groats and Mushrooms

Serving Size: 4 to 6

1 whole chicken cut into 8 pieces

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

3 tbsp vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped

2 leeks (white and light green parts only), chopped

3 3/4 cups chicken stock

4 cloves garlic, crushed in a garlic press

1 1/2 cups barley groats or pearl barley

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 cups sliced mushrooms

1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1/2-tsp dried)

Season chicken with 1/8-tsp salt and pepper. In a shallow Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat and brown the chicken in batches. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium and saute the onion until golden. Add the leeks and the garlic, sauteing until the leeks are softened. Add the barley and bay leaf, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes. Then stir in the wine and cook until it evaporates. Add the chicken stock, mushrooms, thyme and remaining salt. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes and then add the chicken, nestling it into the barley. Cover and cook until barley is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 1 hour for barley groats (35-40 minutes for pearl barley).

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2008/12/10/barley-chicken/

Wild, Wild Citrus

The much acclaimed Israeli oranges, grapefruit and lemons are finally appearing at the markets. I remember when my grandparents would buy a box of Jaffa oranges or receive them as a gift. Carefully boxed and individually wrapped in paper, I knew these oranges must be something special because Harry and David’s Fruit of the Month Club fruit that was wrapped in paper was the cream of the crop. They were the best oranges I had ever tasted. Don’t get me wrong, I also like Valencia and Sicilian citrus, but there is something special about Israeli citrus. Borrowing from a Florida citrus ad, “They are like sunshine in my mouth!”.

I am very fortunate to live in an area that is full of citrus groves. In fact, apart from the thousands of acres of cultivated citrus, there are wild trees lining the road to our moshav from which we can pick fruit freely without taking income away from our neighbors, and the fact that these trees don’t get any artificial irrigation actually makes the taste of fruit more concentrated, although they usually ripen later than the ones that are irrigated.

Mr. BT brought me a present of a couple of dozen oranges and grapefruits last week, which inspired me to make the following. I served it with roasted cauliflower and potatoes. I love this dish because it brings the wonderful aroma of citrus groves into your home.

Pollo Arrosto All'Arancia, Pompelmo, Limone e Zenzero

Serving Size: 4 to 6

(Roasted Chicken with Orange, Grapefruit, Lemon and Ginger) Adapted from Cucina Ebraica: Flavors of the Italian Jewish Kitchen by Joyce Goldstein

1 lemon

1 roasting chicken, about 2kg (5 pounds)

Grated zest of 1 small grapefruit, then grapefruit cut into quarters

Grated zest of 1 orange, then orange cut into quarters

3 tablespoons peeled and grated fresh ginger root

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

5 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons lemon juice

4 tablespoons fresh grapefruit juice

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

3 tablespoons honey

Orange sections for garnish

Preheat an oven to 180C (350F).

Cut the lemon into quarters. Rub the outside of the chicken with one of the lemon quarters, then discard. In a small bowl, stir together the lemon and orange zests and 1 tablespoon of the grated ginger. Rub this mixture evenly in the cavity. Put the lemon and orange quarters inside the bird. Place the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper.

Combine the olive oil, lemon and orange juices, honey, and the remaining 2 tablespoons ginger in a small bowl. Mix well.

Place the chicken in the oven and roast, basting with the citrus juice mixture at least 4 times during cooking, until the juices run clear when the thigh is pierced with a knife, about 1 hour.

Transfer to a serving platter and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Carve the chicken. Garnish with orange sections.

Variation: Use 4 tablespoons pomegranate juice in place of the lemon juice.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2008/11/07/wild-wild-citrus/

Erev Yom Kippur 5769

Erev Yom Kippur dinner at my parent’s and grandparent’s house was always a multi-course affair. It was really no different from the festive multi-course meal we had for Rosh Hashana. Since moving to Israel, I realized that these massive meals did not help with the 25 hour fast. In fact, they made it much more difficult. So, we had a two-course meal.

I deboned chicken quarters by removing the the pelvic bone, thigh bone and half of the leg bone. If you buy your meat from a butcher, you can ask them to do this in advance. Otherwise, it is really not that difficult to do. I then stuffed it with a Syrian meat and rice mixture called, Hashu. It is typically used as a filling for kubbeh or lamb shoulder. It has a lovely aroma of allspice and cinnamon with a hint of hot paprika. I used sweet paprika this time, because it is better to have blander food before you fast. It is an easy main course to prepare and would be elegant enough for a dinner party. But, to add a little more elegance to the meal, you could stuff cornish hens.

For those of you who fasted, I hope it was an easy one for you.

Chicken Quarters stuffed with Hashu
For the chicken:

4 chicken/thigh quarters, deboned by removing the pelvic bone, thigh bone and 1/2 of the leg bone

2-4 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

String to tie chicken

For the filling:

500g (1 pound) lean ground beef

1/3 cup short-grain rice (white or brown)

2 teaspoons ground allspice

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon hot paprika

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 onion, finely chopped (1/2 cup)

1 cup pine nuts

1/4 cup water

Soak rice in cool water, enough to cover, for 30 minutes. Drain.

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix well with your hands. Add the meat mixture to a frying pan, add water and start breaking the meat in to small pieces. Cover until the rice is cooked through for approximately 10 minutes. Let cool.

Deboned and Ready for Stuffing

Stuffing with Hashu

Tied with a Silcone Tie

Ready for the oven

Fill the chicken with approximately 1/4 cup of the meat mixture and fold the chicken meat over the mixture and tie with cooking twine (I used silicone ties) to enclose the stuffing. Put seam side down and drizzle each chicken quarter with pomegranate molasses.

Bake at 180C (350F) for 1 hour.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2008/10/11/erev-yom-kippur-5769-2/

Yom Kippur 5769

I am still trying to finalize my menu for the pre-fast meal on Wednesday afternoon. I don’t want to over do it.

For erev Yom Kippur:

  • Roasted chicken quarters with Hashu filling (Syrian ground beef, rice and pine nuts)
  • Steamed green beans
  • Fruit salad

For break-the-fast:

  • Crackers
  • Cheese
  • Smoked Salmon
  • Baba Ganoush

About 1 hour later, we will have:

Mr. Baroness Tapuzina and I hope that you have an easy fast. Gmar Chatimah Tova (May you be sealed in the book of life).

Rosh Hashana 5769

Chag Sameach everyone! We have been invited to family for the holiday and I will be bringing dessert. I am still trying to decide which cake I am going to make, but I wanted to share some of my ideas with you before the holiday begins. I will post which one I make as soon as I decide. Here are my choices:

Greek Pistachio Honey Cake

Ka’ikeh b’Ah’sal (Honey Cake With Sesame Glaze)

Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Honey Cake

Beekeeper’s Honey Cake (I made this last year)

I have also found some interesting recipes for the rest of the meal:

Rubuh’ (roast veal stuffed with spiced ground meat and rice)

Ejjeh b’kerrateh (leek fritters)

Georgian Meatballs with Pine Nuts and Sour Cherries

Georgian Chicken in Pomegranate and Tamarind Sauce

And you can always use my recipes from last year: Rosh Hashana 5768 and Chag Sameach – Shana Tova

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