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/

All You Really Need is Soup

“Only the pure of heart can make good soup”
Beethoven

Winter is a good excuse to make hearty soups, something that is true in my house. Mr BT is a world class soup maker. His repertoire includes: chicken soup, lentil soup, onion soup, vegetable soup and cauliflower soup. He always makes a big pot for us to enjoy throughout the week or he freezes some of it to enjoy whenever we want. As the lovely quote from Beethoven states, Mr BT puts his heart and soul in his soups. I am a lucky woman.

Like most of Mr BT’s creations, the recipe for this soup can vary according to what vegetables are seasonally available. You can also substitute lentils or barley for the chickpeas. You may find turkey soup a little unusual: Mr BT decided to start using turkey as a partial or complete substitute for the more common chicken because it has a stronger flavour and has much more meat that similar cuts of chicken.

Mr BT's Turkey and Vegetable Soup

Yield: 10 liters (2 gallons)

2 cups dried medium chickpeas

1 teaspoon baking soda

4 large yellow onions, thinly sliced

6 large cloves garlic, chopped

8 large carrots, quartered lengthwise and sliced 6mm (1/4 inch) thick

1/2 head celery, dark green leaves removed, sliced

20 juniper berries

3 large sprigs fresh oregano

6 large sprigs fresh thyme

6 bay leaves

4 turkey wings, separated or 2 turkey necks, cut into 8cm (3-inch) sections

500g (1lb) beef soup bones

1/2 head white cabbage, cut lengthwise into six pieces and sliced

1 tablespoon sea salt

1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

3 medium courgettes (zucchinis), quartered lengthwise and sliced

2 red and 2 yellow peppers, cut into small chunks

3 large tomatoes, cut into small pieces, keeping the pulp

3 heaping tablespoons of chicken soup powder mixed with a little hot water

The night before making the soup, place chickpeas in a medium sized bowl, add baking soda and cover with enough warm water to leave 4cm (1-1/2 inches) above the chickpeas.

Gently heat enough olive oil (not extra virgin) to saute the onions. Add onions and stir as they saute. After 10 minutes, add the carrots, the celery, juniper berries, thyme, oregano and bay leaves. Cover the pot and saute gently for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure they do not stick to the bottom.

Add soup bones and turkey, and continue to saute gently for another 20 minutes, covered. Add the cabbage, and continue to saute, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes.

Add water (hot, if you have a kettle) to within 2.5cm (1 inch) of the top of the pot, bring to a boil, and then lower the flame to a rolling simmer. Add the chickpeas. Leave to simmer for at least 2 hours.

Add the courgette, peppers, tomatoes and the soup powder mixture. Continue to simmer for at least 30 minutes. Serve piping hot.

This soup is better on the second and third day.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2009/01/24/all-you-really-need-is-soup/

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/

Duck, Duck, Goose!

Saturday evening I invited a colleague from Germany and another friend to join us in our Sukkah for a festive meal. Several weeks ago I saw a special at the supermarket on kosher goose legs imported from Hungary and decided to wait for a special occasion to cook them.

I had never cooked goose before, so I asked on Daniel Rogov’s site if any one had a recipe. Daniel provided a recipe for goose with orange sauce and another one for goose with raspberry sauce. I happened to see frozen black currants at the supermarket and decided to make Sauce Cassis. It was a perfect complement to the goose. If you don’t keep kosher, you will presumably add butter to the sauce to thicken it, but I used a little goose fat instead. I served it with crushed basil & garlic potatoes and green peas, and the dinner was delicious. My friend Carol, made a lovely apple and pear crumble for dessert. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo of it.

Goose with Sauce Cassis

Serving Size: 4

For the goose:

4 goose legs

2 cloves garlic

Salt and pepper

For the sauce:

1-1/4 cups chicken or beef stock

1/2 cup Madeira or port wine

1/4 cup Creme de Cassis

1/4 cup black currants (fresh or frozen)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Rind of 1/2 lemon

1 piece of orange rind

2 tablespoons goose fat

For the goose:

Rub legs well with garlic and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Brown the legs in a hot frying pan until brown on both sides. Roast on roasting pan with a rack in a 200C (190F) oven for 35 minutes per kilo (15 minutes per pound).

When the legs are done, remove them from the oven to rest.

For the sauce:

Combine stock and all of the other ingredients, except for the goose fat, in a saucepan and cook until it has reduced by half.

When the goose is ready, remove the excess fat from the pan, reserving 2 tablespoons, and add the remaining liquid to the sauce. Add the 2 tablespoons of goose fat and cook for another couple of minutes.

Reheat the goose legs and serve with a generous amount of sauce on top of the goose.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2008/10/20/duck-duck-goose/

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

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/

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