Some Like It Hot

My husband and I both love good Chinese food and since it is impossible to find good Chinese food in Israel, we have to wait until we go to London or the States. However, I did learn to make Chinese food from my grandparent’s Chinese cook, Ying. She is a master in the kitchen and was a great teacher. She really understands the science behind cooking, whether she is explaining how to cook various types of meats and poultry or baking. She also taught me a lot about the balance of flavours and how important that is in Chinese cooking. One flavour should not necessarily stand out more than the other; it should be a marriage of ingredients. I had so much fun learning from her. We even took a French pastry course together. She was raised in Vietnam, so she already knew quite a bit about French cooking, but she enjoyed the course, just the same.

My husband was away for his birthday and we celebrated it when he came back. I made him one of our favourites, Szechuan Chicken with Cashews. The heat from the chili paste and the crunch from the cashews make this dish. This dish is spicy, so if you can’t stand the heat, you might want to use one teaspoon of chili paste instead of two. If you like very spicy Thai or Indian food, like we do, you could add another half a teaspoon. I served this over Thai rice.

This recipe looks like it has a lot of steps, but it is very easy to make.

Szechuan Chicken with Cashews

Serving Size: 4

600g boneless, skinless, chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 2cm (3/4-inch) pieces

1 egg white

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon dark soy sauce

Pinch of black pepper

1 large yellow or red bell pepper

1 medium yellow onion

1 head of broccoli, separated into florets

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon cold water

1 tablespoon light soy sauce

2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil

1 cup raw cashew nuts

1/4 teaspoon of salt

2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil

2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger root

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce

2 teaspoons chili paste

1/2 cup chicken broth

2 tablespoons chopped green onion

Mix the egg white, 1 teaspoon of cornstarch, 1 teaspoon of dark soy sauce and the black pepper in a medium bowl; stir in the chicken. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the bell pepper into 2cm (3/4-inch) pieces. Cut the onion into 16 pieces and cut the broccoli in to small florets.

Combine the 1 tablespoon cornstarch, water and 1 tablespoon light soy sauce in a small bowl.

Heat the wok on high, and when it is very hot, add the 2 tablespoons of peanut oil; tilting the wok to coat the sides. Add the cashews and stir-fry them for about one minute or until lightly browned. Remove the cashews from the wok and drain them on a paper towel. Sprinkle them with salt.

Note: You can use roasted cashews, but obviously do not salt them and only add them at the last minute.

Add the chicken to the wok and stir-fry until the chicken turns a pale colour. Remove the chicken from the wok and set aside in a bowl or on a plate.

Add 2 tablespoons of peanut oil. Add the onion and ginger, and stir-fry until the ginger is light brown and the onion is translucent. Add the chicken, bell pepper, broccoli, hoisin sauce, cashews (if using roasted ones) and chili paste, and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the broth and heat until boiling. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and stir for about 1 minute until the sauce is thickened. Stir in the cashews (if using raw ones) and green onions.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2008/08/25/some-like-it-hot/

Paprika in his Veins

Do you have low blood paprika? Every once in a while my husband has a craving for his mother’s Hungarian cooking. Doesn’t every son? So, he decided to make a nice home cooked meal for Shabbat, the beloved Hungarian dish Paprikáscsirke or Chicken Paprikás. There are hundreds of different recipes for this dish and I am sure that every Hungarian mother has their own version of this dish. Hungarian Jews who kept kosher of course omitted sour cream as we did. Make sure that you use a high quality Hungarian paprika for the best results.

Chicken Paprikás

Serving Size: 4 to 6

(Paprikáscsirke)

1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces

2 large onions, coarsely chopped

5 large cloves garlic

3 bay leaves

1/3 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 1/2 tbsp oil

2 tbsp ground paprika (sweet Hungarian, not smoked)

1/2 tbsp ground hot paprika

Salt to taste

1 large red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped

1 large green bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped

2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

Heat the oil, in a large Dutch oven that has a lid. Add the chicken and brown it, remove the chicken to a plate. Add the onion and saute until soft, add the paprika, black pepper, bay leaves, garlic, and stir until the paprika uniformly colors the onion mixture. Saute for approximately 10 minutes. Add the chicken and cover the pot, simmer for about 45 minutes. Add the bell peppers, simmer for an additional 15 minutes and then add the tomatoes. Simmer for another 15 minutes.

Serve over rice, noodles, spaetzle or with dumplings.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2008/07/26/paprika-in-his-veins/

Southern Fried and Syrian Passover

The real secret to good fried chicken is the marinade and authentic southern fried chicken is marinated in buttermilk. Since we keep kosher, I had to find another alternative to achieve the same tenderizing effect that buttermilk produces….. lemon juice. And, since we are not allowed to use flour during Passover, I used matza meal instead, and although it doesn’t stick as well as flour, it worked beautifully. This produces a nice lemony-garlic fried chicken. It is definitely finger licking good.

Passover Fried Chicken with Lemon and Paprika

Serving Size: 8

3/4 cup fresh lemon juice

6 medium garlic cloves, crushed

4 teaspoons sweet paprika

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 (3 pound) chickens, cut into eight pieces each

1-1/4 teaspoons salt

2 cups matzo meal (or more)

3 eggs, beaten

Canola oil

Combine first 4 ingredients in large non-aluminum dish. Add chicken, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, turning chicken pieces over twice.

Line 2 baking sheets with wax paper. Season matzo meal with salt and pepper.

Drain chicken pieces and blot dry with paper towels. Dip chicken into matzo meal. Next, dip chicken pieces into egg and, finally, dip again in matzo meal, coating completely. Shake off excess matzo meal.

Chill the chicken for 30 minutes.

Heat 1.5cm (1/2 inch) of oil to 180C (350F) in heavy large skillet. Add thigh and leg pieces of chicken to the skillet, taking care not to crowd. Cook until golden brown and springy to the touch. When cooked, place on paper towels to drain. Add chicken breasts and repeat procedure.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2008/04/28/southern-fried-and-syrian-passover/

My husband decided to surprise me this Passover with a bag of potato flour. I have never cooked with potato flour in my life and cannot remember anyone in my family using it. So, I wanted to find something interesting to make with it. I once had a cake made with potato flour and really disliked the texture. I remembered seeing a recipe once for crepes made with potato flour and decided to marry those with a Syrian meat filling I found from Poopa Dweck. She just wrote a beautiful cookbook about Syrian Jewish cooking and I must buy this book. I saw it at our local bookstore and it has my name all over it. The meat filling is called Hashu and it is typically used to fill vegetables. My husband adapted the recipe by adding pomegranate molasses and hot paprika. It is delicious and worked nicely with my chive crepes.

How do you like the kosher squid to the right of the crepe? That is my husband trying to be clever with the leftover crepe batter. :-)

Syrian Passover Meat Crepes

Serving Size: 4

This recipe is adapted from Aromas of Aleppo: The Legendary Cuisine of Syrian Jews by Poopa Dweck.

For the crepes:

4 Tablespoons potato starch

1 cup water

4 eggs

3 tablespoons of chopped fresh chives

Salt and Pepper

Olive oil

For the Hashu (Aleppian Ground Meat and Rice 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

For the crepes:

In a small bowl, slowly add the water to the potato flour and mix thoroughly. Add the potato flour mixture, chives salt, and pepper to the beaten eggs and mix well. Heat a non-stick crepe pan over medium heat. When hot, add a little oil to coat pan. Stir batter and ladle about 4 tablespoons into the skillet. Immediately swirl batter to spread the pan.? Cook until bottom is light brown. Flip crepe and cook for about 1 minute until speckled. Fill the crepes with about 3 tablespoons of the meat filling and roll. Heat rolled crepes in a 150C (300F) oven for about 5 minutes or on a Shabbat plate until heated through. Do not over cook.

Syrian Hashu Filling

For the Hashu (Aleppian Ground Meat and Rice Filling)

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.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2008/04/28/southern-fried-and-syrian-passover/

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.

Erev Yom Kippur

Tonight, I making a simple two course meal consisting of a Moroccan Kdra called Djej Kdra Touimiya or Chicken Kdra with Almonds and Chick-Peas, green beans, and some fresh fruit for dessert.

A Kdra is a tagine that is cooked with smen (I have to use olive oil), onions, saffron, cinnamon and sometimes ginger, depending on where you live. I am making a Fez version, which is made with a little dried ginger.

I think I was Moroccan in a former life because I am in love with the food, the architecture, the music and the culture in general. My earliest introduction to Moroccan food was when I bought Paula Wolfert’s, Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco, at a cookery shop in Seattle, Washington. The first dish that I tried got me hooked and I have exploring Moroccan food ever since. Since moving to Israel, I have been intrigued even more.

Chicken Kdra with Almonds and Chick-Peas (Djej Kdra Touimiya)

Serving Size: 4 to 6

1 cup blanced whole almonds

1/2 cup dried chick-peas, soaked overnight or canned (if you must)

1/4 teaspoon pulverised saffron (mixed with a little tumeric)

Salt to taste (omit for kosher chicken)

1 teaspoon ground white pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 large cinnamon stick

3 tablespoons butter or olive oil or 2 tablespoons smen

1-1/2 kg (3 to 3 1/2 lb) chicken, quartered

2 medium yellow onions, quartered lengthwise and finely sliced

4 cups chicken stock or water, more if necessary

1/4 cup chopped parsley

Juice of 1 lemon, or to taste

Put the almonds in a pan, cover with cold water and simmer, covered for approximately two hours. Set the almonds aside, submerged in water.

In another saucepan, cover the soaked chick-peas with fresh cold water, boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for one hour. Drain and rinse with cold water. Rub the chick-peas to remove their skins. Discard the skins.

Note: For canned chickpeas, rinse and skin them and set them aside. Do not add them until the chicken has finished cooking.

Place the butter, smen or olive oil in a casserole. Add 1/2 of the saffron-turmeric mixture, the spices and the chicken. Cook on a low flame for two to three minutes. Chop 4 or 5 slices of onion fine and add to the casserole. Add the stock or water. Bring to a boil and add the fresh chick-peas. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, covered.

Add the remaining sliced onions and parsley. Cook for an additional 30 minutes or until the chicken is falling off the bone. Remove the chicken from the casserole. If relevant, add the canned chick-peas to the sauce. Boil the sauce at a high heat, uncovered and reduce the sauce to a thick gravy.

Drain the almonds and add the remaining saffron to the sauce. Cook for an additional two or three minutes and spoon over the chicken. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Serve with couscous or rice.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/09/21/erev-yom-kippur/

Rosh Hashana 5768

Chag Sameach everyone! I hope you had a nice meal with your family. We went to my cousin’s house for the first night of Rosh Hashana and had a lovely time.

We invited some friends of ours for dinner last night. My husband made a Rosh Hashana favourite and I introduced several new surprises to our repertoire. Everything was delicious.

The cake calls for sour cream and one of my guests has a dairy allergy and can only tolerate butter in baked goods, so I substituted a non-dairy yogurt in its place. It worked fine.

And in case you are wondering about why I served a dairy cake, we keep kashrut according to the Italian tradition which is one hour between meat and dairy.

Our menu was:

Cocktails


Provence des Papes Savoury Biscuits


Rosemary Cashews
Cocktails

First Course
Apples with honey
Pomegranate seeds


Ducklava with Chestnut Honey

Main Course


Clay Pot Festival of Fruits Chicken
Couscous
Green beans


Round Challah with dried fruits and nuts
Golan Winery Sion Creek red wine

Dessert


Beekeeper’s Honey Cake
Mango-Nectarine sorbet

Provence des Papes Savoury Biscuits

Yield: 24 biscuits

Recipe from Restaurant: La Garbure (Châteauneuf du Pape) Chef: Jean Louis Giansilly

5 garlic cloves

3 sprigs of basil

5 tbsp olive oil

50g (3.5 tbsp) pine nuts

300g (1.3 cups) flour

10cl (.4 cup) warm water

10cl (.4 cup) olive oil

2 tsp salt

25g (1.7 tablespoons) baking powder

4 egg yolks

Ground pepper

Prepare a pesto by crushing the garlic cloves with the basil, olive oil, and pine nuts.

Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, virgin olive oil, egg yolks, warm water, and some ground pepper. Add the pesto and blend well to obtain a smooth dough.

Roll into a long snake and slice the into 1/4 inch (6mm) wafers and bake at 180C (350F) for about 10 minutes (depending on size).

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/09/15/rosh-hashana-5768/

Clay Pot Festival of Fruits Chicken

Serving Size: 4 to 6

This recipe was created by my husband for the Jewish festival of Rosh Hashana. It is a fruity, but not an overly sweet dish.

1 chicken, cut into eighths

1 onion, thinly sliced

4-5 whole garlic cloves

2 cm fresh ginger, grated or chopped finely

1 quince, cored and cut into eighths

10-20 majhoul dates, pitted and cut into quarters

10 dried figs, stem removed and cut into eighths

10-20 dried sour apricots, cut into quarters

20 walnut halves

Couple of pinches of black pepper

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

2 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp cloves

1 tsp. ground allspice

1 tsp. ground nutmeg

1 cup dry red wine

1 cup water

½ c pomegranate molasses

½ tbsp balsamic vinegar

Olive oil

On a low heat, place the olive oil in the clay pot, just to cover the surface. Add the onions when the oil is hot, but not sizzling. When the onion is soft, add the garlic. When the onion is lightly brown, turn up the heat and add the chicken pieces, stirring constantly until browned, approximately 10 minutes.

Reduce the heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Cook on a low flame for approximately 1 ½ hours, stirring every 15 minutes and checking that there is enough remaining liquid for a nice sauce.

Server with nut-studded rice or couscous.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/09/15/rosh-hashana-5768/

Sumac and Spice Makes Everything Nice

I guess I am on a spice kick right now, but then spices are the key ingredient in Middle Eastern food. I bought some sumac a while ago and have been meaning to make something with it and today is the day.

Sumac has a sour and vaguely lemony taste and grows wild in the Mediterranean and in much of the Middle East. It is a popular condiment in Turkey and Iran, where it’s liberally sprinkled on kebabs and rice, or mixed with onions as an appetizer or salad. The Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrians and Egyptians add water and other spices to sumac to form a paste, and add it to meat, chicken and vegetable dishes. I only recently learned that sumac is related to poison ivy.

I decided to make a popular Palestinian dish, called Musakhan (which means ‘something that is heated’), that is typically made in a taboun oven, but I will have to make due with my regular oven. My dream is to have an outdoor wood-fired oven someday so I can do some real slow cooking and baking.

As with all Middle Eastern dishes, there are numerous variations of this dish. Some are only with sumac, others with sumac and a combination of several different spices. I have chosen to make the dish with sumac, allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon.

Because the dish is cooked on top of flat bread, it is typically eaten with your hands, using the bread as a base to pick up the moist chicken and sauteed onions.

I got the flat bread above, called Saluf, at a Yemenite bakery around the corner from my house. They sell this flat bread that they made right in front of my eyes and they also sell Yemenite Shabbat bread called Kubaneh. It was very tempting to tear off some of the hot bread, but I behaved myself.

The dish was delicious. My husband I thought that I could have added a couple more tablespoons of sumac and next time I will cover the dish with foil before I put it in the oven. The bread was a little too crunchy on the top.

We did taste all of the spices and they gave off such a wonderful perfume in the house. I forgot about the pine nuts. Oh well.

This dish was even better the next day and the bread on the bottom was very soft and was infused with all of the juices and flavour from the chicken and spices. I am definitely making this again.

Musakhan

Yield: 4

Musakhan

Adapted from recipes by Clifford A. Wright and Paula Wolfert

1 (1 1/2kg or 3lb) frying chicken, quartered

2 tablespoons ground sumac

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Sea salt (optional for kosher chicken)

Juice of 1 lemon

1kg (2lbs) red onions, peeled and thinly sliced

Olive oil

2 large Saluf (Yemenite flat bread), Lafa (Iraqi flat bread), khubz 'arabi (Arabic flat bread) or 1/4 kg (1/2 lb) of pita, split in half

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

2 heads of garlic, roasted

Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Trim off excess fat.

Sumac Rub on Chicken

Combine the sumac, spices, salt and pepper. Set aside 2 teaspoons and mix the rest with the lemon juice. Rub into the chicken and marinate up to 1 day.

Place the onions in a large skillet, toss with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, reserved spices, and a pinch of salt. Cover and cook gently 30 minutes. Set aside in a bowl. (Up to this point, the dish can be prepared 1 day in advance.)

Bring the chicken to room temperature and preheat the oven to 180C (350F). In the same skillet as used for the onions, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil, then lightly brown the chicken on all sides over a medium heat. Remove and set aside.

Layering Onions and Chicken

Cover a baking dish with two overlapping halves of the flat bread or several pita halves. Spoon half the onions over each, then arrange the chicken on top of the onions and cover with the remaining onions and the juices from the skillet.

Musakhan Oven Ready

Cover with the two remaining half leaves of flat bread or pita, tucking in the sides, crusty side up, and spray with water. Bake until the chicken is very tender and almost falling off the bone, approximately 1-1/ 2 hours. Check the chicken occasionally and cover the baking dish with aluminum foil before the top cover of the flat bread begins to burn.

Serve at once with a sprinkling of the pine nuts and roasted garlic.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/09/01/sumac-and-spice-makes-everything-nice/

Spring Has Sprung

The weather is so strange; I know… global warming. I experienced 30C (86F) in Germany last week without air-conditioning and I come back to Israel and it is 22C (72F).


Spring is in full bloom here in Israel. The bougainvillea are in bloom and the wildflowers are showing their beauty. There are about 2,800 different species of flora in Israel. A great place to see some of this flora is at Ramat Hanadiv (the Hill of the Benefactor) in Zichron Yaacov. Founded by the Rothschild family, it has been open since 1954. Baron Edmond de Rothschild and his wife Adelheid are buried there.

Friday before last I decided to make a variation of a favorite of ours, Nigella Lawson’s Georgian Stuffed Chicken. This dish calls for dried cherries and rice, but I decided to add dried blueberries and substitute couscous for the rice. It was delicious. I also added a few other goodies, such as ras el hanut and pomegranate molasses.


But before I started preparing the meal, we began the late afternoon with a cocktail of Campari and freshly squeezed Jaffa orange juice.

Ingredients: I didn’t have enough pinenuts, so added some sliced almonds

Georgian Stuffed Chicken

Serving Size: 4 to 6

Adapted recipe from Nigella Lawson

For the stuffing

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 small onions, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic

1 cup couscous, cooked according to the package

1/4 cup dried sour cherries, roughly chopped

1/4 cup dried blueberries

1/4 cup pinenuts

1 tablespoon ras el hanut or cinnamon

For the chicken

1 2kg (approximately 4 lb) chicken

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Process or finely chop the onion and garlic, and add to the pan, frying over a medium heat until the onion softens and begins to color.

While the onion mixture is cooking, preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C).

Berry Mixture

Add the chopped cherries, blueberries, pinenuts and ras el hanut or cinnamon and mix well. Add the fruit and nut mixture to the precooked couscous and combine well.

Couscous Stuffing

Spoon the fruit-studded couscous into the cavity the chickens. Place the remaining stuffing under the chicken or around the sides.

Ready for the Oven

Drizzle the pomegranate molasses all over top and sides of the chicken.

Georgian Chicken

Roast in the oven for approximately 1-1/2 hours. The skin should be golden and crispy and the meat cooked through; test by piercing the bird between thigh and body and if juices run clear, the chicken's ready.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/05/01/spring-has-sprung/

If you do not have access to a Middle Eastern market, you can make your own ras el hanut.

Ras el Hanut

This recipe is from Paula Wolfert's "Couscous and Other Good Food From Morocco".

Because these spices are quite strong, Paula suggests that you grind some sugar cane in your blender after making this to get rid of the strong smell.

Recipe #1 is for those of you that have access to an excellent spice shop.

Recipe #1

4 whole nutmegs

10 dried rosebuds

12 cinnamon sticks

12 blades mace

1 tsp aniseed

8 pieces tumeric

2 small pieces orris root

2 dried cayenne peppers

1/2 tsp lavender

1 T white peppercorns

2 pieces galangal

2 T whole ginger root

6 cloves

24 allspice berries

20 white or green cardamon pods

4 black cardamon pods

Recipe #2:

1/2 oz allspice berries

1 oz black peppercorns

1/2 oz galangal

1/2 oz mace blades

1-1/2 whole nutmegs

10 cardamon pods

1-1/2 oz dried ginger root

1/2 oz stick cinnamon

1/4 oz tumeric

3 dried rosebuds

1 clove

Place all the ingredients of either recipe #1 or #2 in a blender and grind until fine. Sift the mix and place in an airtight jar.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/05/01/spring-has-sprung/


I served steamed artichokes and roasted cauliflower with the chicken.


For dessert, I served Iraqi date biscuits called Baba Beh Tamur. I purchased these parve biscuits at a fruit and vegetable market in Ra’anana. The sweetness comes from the date filling. I will definitely buy them again or try to make them myself.

Shabbat – A Special Moment in Time

Shabbat is a special time for me because it is about light, taste and touch. Light from the Shabbat candles, taste from the special foods that you prepare for your family and touch is the laying your hands on each other when you bless one another and your children.

I grew up in a small town in Alabama and there were hardly any single Jewish men for me to go out with. I never dated Jewish men until I was in my late twenties and early thirties. And then, I moved to Israel and met my husband. The first time we celebrated Shabbat together tears welled up in my eyes because I realized that this is what I was always looking for, someone to spend Shabbat with me who understands the emotions behind this special moment in time.

My husband and I take turns preparing Shabbat dinner. We both like to experiment with different herbs, spices, fruits and sauces.

Last Friday, my husband made roasted chicken and stuffed it with oranges and sprinkled orange juice, grated orange rind, rosemary, thyme and garlic on the chicken. He then placed carrots, sweet potato slices and quartered white potatoes around the chicken and roasted it the oven.

Sometimes I stuff the chicken with rice, couscous or bulgar and add dried cherries or apricots or figs, orange quarters, fresh ginger and lemons or put pomegranate molasses on the chicken. It just depends on my mood.

I make the challah that my father taught me how to bake. He is an excellent cook and I owe most of my cooking skills to him. This is not a quick and dirty recipe, but it makes the most delicious, rich challah. It is a great bread to use for French toast.

Challah

Yield: 1 wedding size loaf, 2 large loaves, 3 medium loaves or 4 small loaves

This recipe is from The First Jewish Catalog: A Do-It-Yourself Kit. This is a cake-like challah. Great for the holidays or anytime.

2 c lukewarm water

3 pkg or 3 tbsp. dry yeast or 1 cube (50g) fresh yeast

8 c or more unbleached flour

1-1/2 c sugar

1-1/2 tsp salt

1/2 lb (224g) butter or margarine

4 beaten eggs

1 beaten egg for glaze

Variation: add golden raisins during first kneading. Reduce sugar by 1/2 cup.

Mix water and yeast in a very large bowl. Add 3 c. flour and 1 c. sugar. Stir with a fork and let rise 30 minutes in a warm place.

Meanwhile, put the remaining flour, sugar and salt in another bowl. Add margarine or butter and cut with a knife until mixture resembles coarse meal.

At the end of 30 minutes, add 4 eggs to the yeast mixture and stir well (will decrease in volume).

Add flour/margarine mixture to the yeast mixture and knead in the bowl. If sticky, add up to 2 more cups of flour.

Knead well on floured board until smooth and elastic. Put in oiled bowl and cover with towel. Put in warm place and let rise 2 hours or until doubled.

Punch down. Knead lightly for a minute or two.

Divide into 1 to 4 parts depending on whether you want small, medium, large or wedding size loaves. Divide each part into 3 equal parts, roll into braids and braid, pinching ends. Place on an oiled or silicone-lined baking sheet(s). Cover and let rise in warm place as long as possible (3 - 5 hours).The longer you can let it rise without killing the yeast, the lighter it will be.

When the bread has finished rising, brush with the egg glaze and bake at 350F (180C) for 50-55 minutes (1 wedding size loaf), 45-50 minutes (2 large loaves), 30-45 minutes (3 medium loaves) or 30 minutes (4 small loaves).

This bread can be frozen for up to three months. Wrap in plastic wrap and heavy duty foil.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/03/29/shabbat-a-special-moment-in-time/

Upper Galilee – Beautiful Place, Beautiful Food, Beautiful Drink

The Upper Galilee is one of my favourite areas to visit in Israel. Most of our delicious fruit comes from this area: apples, pears, plums, cherries, raspberries and grapes….Ah! the grapes. It is chockful of vineyards producing some delicious wines. Yes, Israel is producing some very nice wines thanks to a number of boutique wineries (not all of them in the Galilee) that have popped up over the years. Some of my favourite wineries are Flam, Sea Horse, Amphorae, Saslove, Galil Mountain, Dalton, Recanati, Margalit, Castel and Carmel’s (click on Carmel Fine Wines) new line of single vineyard and private collection wines.

There are also boutique dairies producing some top class cheeses and yogurts, boutique olive oil producers and delicious honey.

I am always relaxed when I go to the North and there are a number of zimmers or cabins that you can stay at for the weekend. Most of the zimmers include a homemade Israeli breakfast with omelets, homemade jams, assorted bread, Israeli salad, olives and cheeses. I find the zimmers a perfect way to getaway for a romantic weekend. Most of them have a jacuzzi for two!

If you want luxury, then I recommend staying at Israel’s only Relais & Chateau hotel, Mitzpe Hayamim. It is a beautiful spa-hotel with a great view of the Hula valley, the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) and even the Mediterranean to the west.

The scenery is breathtaking and it is a great place to go on long nature walks and hikes in the mountains.

The Upper Galilee always makes me think of wonderful Middle Eastern dishes. I love kubbeh, grilled meats and all the different mezzes, such as roasted cauliflower and aubergine, hummous, red pepper salad, etc.

Usually when I serve a Middle Eastern dish, I buy the salads from a very sweet Druze woman who has a restaurant in Dalyit al Karmel and comes to the a shopping mall near my house to sell her delicious salads, lamb kubbeh and baklawa. I like to buy her hoummous, cauliflower puree, red pepper hummous and her kubbeh. Shown in the two photos above. The fourth salad on the bottom right is made of courgettes.

One of my favourite dishes is Makloubeh, which means “Upside Down”. It is the Palestinian national dish and is also made in Jordan and a few other Middle Eastern countries. This dish can also be made with lamb or a mixture of chicken and lamb.

Don’t be shocked by the amounts of oil. You do not have to use that much.

If you are using kosher chicken do not add any extra salt. You get enough salt from the chicken and the salted eggplant. I would add a little more of the spices to the dish, but I like fragrant dishes.

Makloubeh

Serving Size: 8

Makloubeh

2 whole chickens, skinned and quartered (or 8 chicken thighs)

3-1/2 cups canola oil, plus 3 tablespoons

1 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon cumin powder

Salt to taste

4 saffron threads

2 cinnamon sticks

5 whole cardamom pods

3 peppercorns

5 cups water

Freshly ground black pepper

2 large heads of cauliflower, separated in to florets

2 large eggplant, peeled, cubed and salted; place in a colander so the water can drain

2 large onions, halved through the root end, thinly sliced, core still attached

5 cups medium grain rice

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon allspice

4 saffron threads

1/2 teaspoon fresh nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/3 cup toasted pine nuts for garnish

In a large saucepan, brown both sides of the chicken in 1/2 cup canola oil. Once browned, add nutmeg, allspice, cumin powder, salt, saffron, cinnamon sticks, cardamom seeds, and peppercorns.

Add approximately 5 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add freshly ground pepper. Cover and cook over low-medium heat for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the meat begins to pull away from the bone. Set the chicken and 2 cups of broth aside.

Fry the cauliflower in a large pot with 3 cups of canola oil until golden brown. Remove and let drain on paper towels. Drain the eggplant and fry as you did the cauliflower. Set both the fried cauliflower and eggplant aside. Heat 3 tablespoons of canola oil in very large pot. When the oil is hot, not smoking, add the onions and saute them for approximately 10 minutes. Place the chicken pieces on top of the onions and cook together for a few minutes then cover and let sit for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, rinse the rice about 5 or 6 times until the water runs clear. Put the rice in a bowl, add the spices and mix well.

Place the fried eggplant and cauliflower on top of the chicken and then put the rice on top of the vegetables. Add the 2 cups of reserved chicken broth (make sure the whole spices are not in the broth) and water to just barely cover the rice. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cover. When the water has been absorbed, the dish is done, approximately 25 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and let rest for about 10 to 15 minutes. Place a large serving plate on top of the dish and flip the pot and plate over. Carefully lift the pot off the plate and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/03/25/upper-galilee-beautiful-place-beautiful-food-beautiful-drink/

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