Happy as a Duck in Andalusian Sauce

Last Friday we were invited by a dear old friend of ours to a wine tasting in Har Adar, near Abu Gosh. It is a beautiful drive up to the Jerusalem Hills that always reminds me of Provence. Yossi and his lovely wife Dina, who makes lovely biscuits,  were our gracious hosts. Yossi, who writes a blog called Yossi’s Wine Page, invites vintners from boutique wineries around the country to do wine tastings about once a month at his home .

This month’s event was a tasting of wines from Ben-Shoshan winery at Kibbutz Bror Hayil in the South. The award-winning winery makes approximately 12,000 bottles a year which are sold mostly in wine boutiques. Yuval Ben-Shoshan and his adorable son Gefen (which means a grape vine) were showing off their delicious wines.Bror Hayil in the Sou

Yuval makes his wine from grapes grown in two completely parts of the country. One is Avdat, in the northern Negev desert, an area that 1500 years ago was the center of the ancient kingdom of the Nabataeans, who also built Petra in Jordan. In spite of the desert climate, the Nabataeans were famous for developing irrigation systems, including underground storage cisterns, that allowed them to farm the land successfully with very little rain water; and modern Israeli farmers have done very much the same thing except using modern technology. The other area is at Kfar Shamai, in the northern Galilee, which is one of the countries grape-producing regions.

The result is an outstanding Shiraz 2007, which won a bronze medal at the Israel Wine Awards this year, Cabernet Sauvignon Avdat, Cabernet Sauvignon Kfar Shamai, and a Cabernet-Merlot blend. We tasted the first three wines and came home with a bottle of Shiraz and Cabernet Avdat. The Shiraz was unusually light and fruity, and just right to drink a little cooler than room temperate, which is how it was served due to the heat of the hot Israeli sun beating down on us.

Mr BT’s birthday was last Sunday and I was lucky to find a whole duck on sale that I snapped up right away. I had never cooked a whole duck before, but I knew that I had to find something special to make for Mr BT’s special day. I found a recipe for duck with an Andalusian sauce where the duck is first marinated in a boiling marinade flavored with star anise and tumeric. It is served with an delicious sauce made of oranges, lemons, honey, and balsamic vinegar. I served the duck with pan-roasted potatoes and sauteed artichoke hearts and mushrooms. If I had served this dish in the winter, I would have served it over creamy polenta.

We toasted his birthday with the Ben-Shoshan Shiraz 2007. It was a perfect match to the sweet and sour Andalusian sauce.

For dessert, I served a light dessert of beautiful fresh figs with a drizzle of Provencal chestnut honey.

Roast Duck with Andalusian Sauce

Serving Size: 4

1.4 kg (3lb) whole duck

For Boiling Marinade:

1 quart of water

6 cloves garlic (skin on and bashed)

6 bay leaves

4 star anise

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon tumeric

For the sauce:

Juice and zest of 2 large oranges

Juice of 1 medium lemon

2 cloves garlic (crushed)

1/2 a pint of chicken stock

60g (2oz) sultanas

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 heaping teaspoon cornstarch

3-4 teaspoons cold water for slurry

For the boiling marinade: Put all of the ingredients in a tall pot, such as an asparagus steamer, and bring to the boil. Boil for ten minutes and then reduce to a simmer.

Meanwhile, cut the wings tips off the duck and make two cuts into the carcass, parallel to the wing bones. This will allow the duck fat to escape during roasting.

Suspend the duck, using a butcher's hook or similar into the neck over the pot, without letting it fall into the marinade. Using a small soup ladle, pour the marinade all over the duck. Keep doing this until the duck has a nice golden yellow color from the tumeric. Place the duck on a rack in a roasting pan and dry for approximately one hour.

After the duck has dried, preheat the oven to 200C (400F) and roast the duck on a rack over a roasting tin of water for approximately one hour and a half. Check the duck half way through cooking because you may need to put a tent of aluminum foil over it to prevent the duck breast and wings from overcooking.

While the duck is roasting, prepare the sauce. Put all of ingredients in a small saucepan, except for the cornstarch and water. Bring to a boil and reduce the sauce by half. Then, make a slurry of cornstarch and water, and whisk it into the sauce to thicken it. When the sauce is sufficiently thickened, take it off the heat and reheat it before serving.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2009/08/08/happy-as-a-duck-in-andalusian-sauce/

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/

Tu Bishvat – The Jewish Arbor Day

Tu Bishvat is a minor Jewish holiday in the Hebrew month of Shevat, usually sometime in late January or early February, that marks the New Year of the Trees (Hebrew: ראש השנה לאילנות, Rosh HaShanah La’Ilanot‎) or the season in which the earliest-blooming trees in the Land of Israel emerge from their winter sleep and begin a new fruit-bearing cycle. It is customary to plant trees and eat dried fruits and nuts, especially figs, dates, raisins, carob, and almonds. In Israel, the flowering of the almond tree, which grows wild around the country, coincides with Tu Bishvat.

The origin of Tu Bishvat lies in the ancient Jewish taxation system, which was based mainly on the tithe of every farmer: The first tax was dedicated to the Levites, the men of sanctity and education; the second tithe was a means of securing the pilgrimage and strengthening national solidarity; and the tax of the poor was meant to safeguard, together with numerous other precepts (mitzvot), the social support system for the indigent of the land.

Only in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with the beginning of the Zionist movement that saw the Land of Israel as central to Jewish existence, did the holiday really become what we know it as today, the festival for planting trees or the Jewish version of Arbor Day.

This Tu Bishvat, I made two new dishes. For the main course, I decided to make Turkish köfte  or kebab as they are called in Hebrew.  They are basically small meat patties with grated onion, pistachios and spices. You will find a myriad of different variations of kebab. I served them with a tahina sauce and they were accompanied by a steamed artichoke and roasted potatoes with zaatar. I used Turkish red pepper flakes that have been roasted and rubbed with olive oil for this dish. They are not quite as hot as regular hot pepper flakes. This meat mixture can easily be prepared a day ahead and the dish is very quick and easy.

Köfte with Pistachios and Tahina Sauce
For the Köfte

1 ½ cups pistachios

340 g (3/4lb) lamb

340g (3/4lb) beef

2 medium onions, grated

2 tsp ground cumin

1 teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper

½ cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley

2 tablespoons olive oil

For the tahina sauce

Make 2 cups

1 tablespoon ground cumin

¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice

½ cup tahina

¼ cup water

Salt to taste

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon nigella seeds

Köfte with Pistachios

For the Köfte

Combine the meat, pistachios, onions, cumin, black pepper, red pepper and mix well. Refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.

Lightly knead parsley into the mixture. Roll into tablespoon size balls. Brown on a grill pan. Drain on paper and serve with tahina sauce.

For the tahina sauce

Whisk lemon into the tahina, gradually add water until smooth. Season with salt. Add the garlic, black pepper and nigella seeds. Keep at room temperature.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2009/02/15/tu-bishvat-the-jewish-arbor-day/


The second dish I decided to make was a traditional fruit cake called Gubana from the Friuli region of Italy and also from neighboring Slovenia. The version I made is a yeast cake, almost like brioche, that is prepared as if you are making puff pastry. The dough is very forgiving and not difficult to make. The only catch about this recipe is that it is time consuming. You must make the dough a day ahead. This cake is sublime; it almost melts in your mouth, and Mr. BT was almost fainting with pleasure.

Already known at the time of the Romans, the Gubana’s fame has increased over the centuries. Two versions exist: a “country” one (Gubana friulana) and an “urban” one (Gubana giuliana). The more refined latter type in fact has a flaky pastry shell and also contains, apart from the recipe of the former (raisins drenched in grappa, grated chocolate, almonds, walnuts, orange and citron peels, figs, plums and pine nuts), spices and candied fruits. The recipe I made is a combination of the Gubana Friulana and the Gubana Giuliana with a little touch of Baroness Tapuzina.

Every Friulian homemaker will have the “original” recipe for Gubana and they will differ from house to house and town to town. A tale is told about a poor mother living in the Natisone Valleys who had nothing to sweeten the Christmas meals with. So she prepared a cake made with what she had at home: flour, eggs, walnuts and honey. The regional tradition requires that the “Gubana” be present for every major festival, such as Christmas and Easter but also for wedding banquets; the bride and bridegroom used to present every guest with this delicious cake.  The term “Gubana” is a Slovenian word deriving from “gubat”, which means “to roll up”. In the local dialect it is called “Gubanza”, which became “Gubana” in Italian.

Gubana– Friulian Fruit Cake

Serving Size: 10-12

For the dough:

340g (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cold

3 3/4 cups all purpose flour

50g fresh yeast or 2 packages dry yeast

1/3 cup warm water

1 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 cup whole milk, room temperature

For the filling:

6 pitted prunes

6 dried figs

6 dried sour apricots

10 dried sour cherries

1/8 cup candied lemon

3 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup hazelnuts

1/2 cup walnut pieces

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/4 cup pine nuts

3 tablespoons grappa

Grated zest of 1 small orange

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon of water

To make the dough:

Cut the butter into small pieces and place it in a bowl. Sprinkle over 1/4 cup of the flour, and using your fingers, works the butter and flour together to make a uniform mixture. The butter should remain malleable. Shape the butter into a 10cm (4 inch) square, wrap it in plastic and set it aside in a cool place, but not in the refrigerator. Note: If you live in a hot climate, then put the butter in the refrigerator, but let it sit for a few minutes to become malleable before placing it on the dough.

In a small bowl, whisk together the yeast and warm water to dissolve the yeast. Add a pinch of sugar and let the mixture sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine 2 cups of flour with the salt. Add the yeast mixture, sugar, egg and milk. Using the paddle, beat the ingredients until smooth. Switch to the dough hook and knead in the remaining 1-1/2 cups of flour for about 3 to 5 minutes or until you have a smooth, elastic dough. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel, and let it relax for 30 to 45 minutes.

Turn the dough onto a well-floured board and roll it into a large rectangle, about 40 x 40 cm (16 x 16 inches). Sprinkle the surface with some flour.

Gubana Dough

Place the square of butter in the middle of the rectangle of dough.

Gubana Dough

Fold the left and right sides over the middle, then the top sides over that; the goal is to make a "package" of dough.

Sprinkle the work surface and the top of the dough, as well as your rolling pin. Roll the dough in from the middle toward the top and bottom, making a long rectangle, maintaining the width, but increasing the length.

Gubana Dough

Gubana Dough

Fold the bottom upwards to the center, making a flap, and then fold the top over that, making an envelope. Turn the dough clockwise, so that the top flap faces the right; the dough should resemble a book. Once again, flour the work surface, the dough and the rolling pin, and repeat the rolling and folding process. You will end up with another book fold. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Gubana Filling

For the filling and assembly:

To make the filling, place all of the dried fruits and nuts, sugar, cocoa and spices into the food processor.

Gubana filling

Process to chop until the fruit-nut mixture is finely chopped and the spices and cocoa are thoroughly combined. Add the grappa and orange zest, and pulse to incorporate them.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. If it was stored overnight, you will have to allow it to come to room temperature for about an hour before attempting to roll it. On a lightly floured board, roll the dough into a large rectangle, about 38 x 55 cm (15 x 22 inches).

Spread filling on dough

Spread the filling evenly across the center of the dough, leaving a 2.5 cm (1-inch) border at the near end and each side.

Rolling the dough over the filling

Roll the dough, jellyroll style, starting from the bottom, wide side; you will wind up with a long snake.

Gubana ready for rising

Grease a 25cm (10 inch) springform pan. Roll the snake into a tight coil, and lay it into the pan, seam side down. Brush the dough with melted butter. Cover the dough with a towel and allow it to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Gubana

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Brush the surface of the dough with egg glaze. Bake the Gubana on the center rack of the oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until golden brown. Rotate the pan halfway through the cooking period to ensure it browns evenly. Allow the Gubana to cool for 20 minutes in the pan, then carefully remove the sides of the pan to cool it completely. To serve, slice the cake in wedges. Gubana will keep wrapped in plastic up to 2 days.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2009/02/15/tu-bishvat-the-jewish-arbor-day/

Italian Soufganyiot – Frittole

Chag Hannukah Sameach everyone! Happy Hannukah.

We were invited to a lovely Hannukah party at a friend’s house. So, I decided to make an Italian fritter that is usually made for Carnevale, but is quite fitting for our oily festival. Every region in Italy has their own fritter recipe: mine is from the imaginary province of Italy where we live in central Israel.

Our landlord recently surprised us one Friday morning by planting three lovely citrus trees: a clementine, a lemon, and an orange tree. He also brought us a large box of clementines and oranges to eat.

So, I decided to make some candied orange peel with some of the oranges and they were a perfect addition to the Hannukah fritters. These are lightly candied because I do not like to make them with a lot of sugar.

These fritters are also not too sweet because I cut the sugar in half. So, if you have a sweet tooth, you can make them with 1/2 cup of sugar. I also think the dusting of sugar is not necessary because the sweetness of the apples and the candied orange is enough.

Because they are not fried for very long, the apples remain crunchy enough to still taste fresh. Mr. BT thinks that next time we should also add some fresh or candied ginger to the batter in order to give it a real kick.

Frittole di Mela, Uvetta, Scorza D'arancia Candita E Pistacchio

Yield: Approximately 20-30 fritters

(Apple, Raisin, Candied Orange Rind and Pistachio Fritters) Adapted from a recipe from Kyle Phillips of ItalianFoodAbout.Com

No yeast method:

2 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour, plus 2 more tablespoons

1/4 cup sugar, plus more for dusting (if you want)

3/4 cup whole milk (may need to add a little more)

2 eggs

1/2 cup raisins, muscatel if possible

1/2 cup chopped pistachios or whole pine nuts

1/2 cup candied orange rind, minced

2 large granny smith apples

Brandy

2 teaspoons baking powder

Zest and juice of one small lemon

Oil for frying

Yeast method:

20g fresh yeast or 1 sachet instant dried yeast

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon warm milk

2 cups flour

Pinch salt

1/4 cup sugar, plus more for dusting (if you want)

1/2 cup raisins, muscatel if possible

1/2 chopped pistachios or whole pine nuts

1/2 cup candied orange rind, minced

2 granny smith apples

Brandy

Zest and juice of one small lemon

Oil for frying

No yeast method:

Put the raisins in a small bowl and soak in brandy for one hour, until plump.

Grate the zest of the lemon. Peel, core and cut the apples into a medium dice. Set aside and sprinkle the juice of the lemon you just zested on the apples.

Mix the eggs, sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl. Add the flour, baking powder and milk. Then fold in the pistachio nuts, apples and candied orange. Drain the raisins well and dust them with the 2 tablespoons of flour, shaking them in a strainer to remove the excess flour. Fold them into the flour mixture.

Heat the oil on medium-high heat and when it is hot, drop the batter a tablespoon at a time into the hot oil. Fry on both sides until golden brown. Drain them on absorbent paper and dust optionally with sugar.

Serve immediately. These do not keep well.

Yeast method:

Put the raisins in a small bowl and soak in brandy for one hour, until plump.

In another bowl, mix together yeast and warm milk. Add flour, salt, sugar, apples, pistachios, candied peel and raisins to the batter. Whisk together well to make a thick batter. Cover and leave in a warm place for 2-3 hours, or until volume has doubled.

Heat the oil on medium-high heat and when it is hot, drop the batter a tablespoon at a time into the hot oil. Fry on both sides until golden brown. Drain them on absorbent paper and dust optionally with sugar.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2008/12/24/italian-soufganyiot-frittole/

Hankering for Tuscany

I can’t believe that it has been over a year since our trip to Verona, Tuscany, and Umbria. We are constantly talking about that trip and are longing to go back, so much so, that we hope one day we can buy a vacation home in Italy.

I have been meaning to finish blogging about our trip to Italy, but other events have distracted me. So, I am going to try and finally finish writing about our trip in the next few weeks.

Mr. BT and I did not spend a lot of time in Tuscany this trip because we concentrated most of the trip on Umbria. However, since neither one of us had been to Siena, we decided to make a detour on our way to Umbria. Siena was founded by the Etruscans and later refounded as a Roman colony. It grew to be one of the major cities of Europe and used to be as big as Paris was. It is really hard to believe that it was once that large and prosperous. Prosperity and innovation came to an abrupt halt with the Black Death, which reached Siena in 1348. The population went from 100,000 to 30,000 and never recovered. Today, it has a population of approximately 60,000.

The center of Siena is its great square, Piazza del Campo. Over four hundred years ago, Michel de Montaigne described it as the most beautiful square in the world. I am not sure it is the most beautiful, but it is surely something to be seen. It is massive, you can see that this was the center of life for the Sienese. It was the  location of the city’s marketplace for produce and livestock, the scene of executions, bullfights, communal boxing matches, and the Palio. The Palio is a traditional medieval bareback horse race that is still held today, with all of its pomp and circumstance, one day in July and August.

The Duomo di Siena in its current size was built around 1215. Had it been completed, it would have been the largest cathedral in Italy outside Rome. Unfortunately, the expansion of the Duomo was halted due to the Black Death and lack of funds. But, it is still an awesome structure. It is a combination of Romanesque and Gothic architecture made of black and white marble. The striped, almost zebra-like design is modelled after buildings in Pisa and Lucca. Walking in the cathedral with all of the inlaid marble floors and striped walls puts you in a trance.  Donatello, young Michaelangelo, Nicola Pisano and his son Giovanni, Arnolfo di Cambio and Pinturicchio all contributed to the mass of beautiful art in the cathedral.

It is really hard to take it all in in one visit. We were under pressure to get to Umbria before dark, so we didn’t get to spend as much time as we would have like. This church is a definite must-see.

You cannot leave Siena without trying some of their specialties, such as pici. This pasta, which looks like spaghetti but is about twice as thick, is usually served with a wild boar ragu, but we made it with pesto in our hideaway on a mountain in Umbria.

Some of their other specialties are pappa col pomodoro (bread and tomato soup), tortino di carciofi (artichoke omelette), and salsicce seche (dried sausages). They are also famous for delicious sweets, such as panforte and ricciarelli. The best place to try these are at Pasticceria Nannini , which has been selling its delicious panforte, ricciarelli, and other Sienese delights since 1909.

Ricciarelli (pictured above, upper left corner) are classic orange-laced Sienese almond paste cookies that were once a Christmas delight, but are now enjoyed year-round. We bought a couple of these and wished we had bought some more. But our waists thanked us half-heartedly for not doing so.

Panforte contains dried fruits, spices (such as black pepper) and nuts. Some say that an authentic panforte should contain 17 ingredients to coincide with the number of neighborhoods (contrade) within the city walls.  Documents from 1205 show that panforte was paid to the monks and nuns of a local monastery as a tax or tithe which was due on the seventh of February that year. Literally, panforte means “strong bread” which refers to the spicy flavour. The original name of Panforte was “panpepato” (pepper bread), due to the strong pepper used in the cake. There are references to the Crusaders carrying panforte with them on their quests. It is thought that the original panforte was made by nuns.

We tried a slice of the Panforte Margherita, which is made of sugar, almonds, hazelnuts, flour, orange zest, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. It was absolutely delicious.

All-in-all our short trip to Siena was well worth it. More to come….

The supermarket had a very good deal on an inexpensive cut of meat they called “Hamin”, which means a cut of meat for a slow-roasting Moroccan version of cholent. I really dislike cholent, but I figured I could find some other interesting slow-roasting recipe for this good deal. I remembered a wonderful beef and polenta dish that I had years ago in Firenze and I knew this was the perfect recipe for my cheap cut of meat.

Brasato al Chianti is a Tuscan slow-cooked beef dish that is typically made with Chianti wine, but I used a nice Israeli red table wine instead because Chianti does not cost 4 Euros here. For the Piedmont version of this dish, substitute a Barolo wine. A sangiovese or any light-bodied red wine can also be substituted.

The result was excellent: you wouldn’t have guessed that this was about the cheapest cut of beef they had in the supermarket, because it came out tender and full of flavour.

Brasato al Chianti

Serving Size: 4-6

(Italian beef braised in red wine)

1/4 cup olive oil

1kg (2 pounds) beef rump roast

2 onions, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 bottle Chianti wine

1 cup stock or water

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 sprig fresh rosemary

1 spring fresh oregano

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 bay leaves

6 whole cloves

1 cinnamon stick

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and refrigerate for 8-24 hours.

Heat the oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high flame. Remove the meat from the marinade, drying it off before searing. Brown the meat on all sides. Add marinade and vegetables to the pot. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low, cover and bake at 150C (300F) for 4 hours. Add water as necessary to maintain liquid so it covers about half of the beef. Remove the meat to a cutting board, cover loosely with foil and set aside to rest for 10-15 minutes.

While the meat is resting, strain the pot liquid through a colander. Discard the sprigs of herbs and puree the vegetables in a food mill, blender or food processor. Stir the pureed vegetables back into the strained liquid and adjust the seasonings. Slice the beef and place it decoratively on a warm platter.

If you like a lighter sauce like I do, you can serve the sauce and vegetables as is or remove the vegetables and reduce the liquid by half, adding the vegetables a couple of minutes before serving.

Serve over polenta or gnocchi, or make polenta cakes, like I did, by make polenta according to the directions on the package. Let the polenta cool, form patties, and fry them in a little olive oil.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2008/12/15/hankering-for-tuscany/

 


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/

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/

Spring Flowers and Red Fruit

The flowers we planted at the new house are doing well as are our herbs. The round pot in the background of the picture above contains rosemary and lavender, which remind me of our trip to Provence.

We also planted za’atar. I can’t wait to put some on roasted chicken and in my homemade bread.

Does anyone know what these are called? I know the purple one is a petunia, but I am not sure about the others. I fell in love with them at the nursery. They picture does not show the amazing colors. They are a vibrant orange, vibrant red and vibrant fuchsia.

I just happened to have some sour cherries that were begging to be put into something, so I decided to make a creamy sour cherry clafoutis. This recipe is from one of my favourite food writers, Paula Wolfert, who is an expert on Southwestern French cuisine and Moroccan cuisine. My husband and I were lucky enough to be recipe testers for her new edition of The Cooking of Southwest France. The clafoutis recipe is very easy to make and you can substitute any summer fruit you like. It is also good with apricots or plums.

Limousin Cherry Clafoutis

Serving Size: 8

300g (1 pound) sour cherries, fresh or frozen, pitted (optional) and patted dry with paper towels

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

50g (4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened), plus more for the dish

2 tablespoons Cognac or brandy

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Confectioners' sugar for dusting

In a bowl, toss the cherries with all of the sugar except for 1 tablespoon. Spread the cherries out on a baking sheet and freeze for 1-1/2 hours. If you are using frozen cherries, remove them from the box and follow the instructions above.

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 the cream. Add the Cognac and vanilla, cover and let rest at room temperature for at least 1 hour.

Prebaked Clafoutis

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. Spread the cherries in a single layer in the pie plate, adding any sugar from the baking sheet to the cherries. Whisk the batter again and pour it over the cherries.

Bake the clafoutis 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. Dust with confectioners' sugar, cut into wedges, and serve.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2008/05/04/spring-flowers-and-red-fruit/

Chag Purim Sameach – Happy Purim!

My first post on this blog was during the holiday of Purim and here we are one year later making Hamantaschen again. I decided to make three of the four fillings I made last year: Cranberry-Orange, Date-Walnut and Apricot Lekvar.

My family did not have a tradition of making Hamantaschen for Purim. My German grandmother made Haman’s Ears, which was dough that was rolled out and cut into strips, fried in oil and dusted with powdered sugar. I only started making this biscuits about 12 years ago when the little old lady that used to make them for our synagogue developed dementia and couldn’t make them anymore. She was not a member of our congregation, and so we used to drive 60 miles to Birmingham to buy them from her to serve at our congregation’s Purim party. One of the congregants went to pick up the 10 dozen Hamantaschen she had ordered and the little old lady didn’ t know why she was there and hadn’t made any biscuits. So, I received a frantic phone call asking if I could make them. I said I had never tried, but how hard could they be? I found a recipe and I have been making them ever since.

This year, I wanted to make another cookie in addition to the Hamantaschen because I had to make gifts to give to our landlords, who live about 100 yards away, and our new neighbors. It is Jewish law that on Purim one must send at least one Mishloach Manot (sending gifts of food) to a friend and also send Matanot La’evyonim (gifts to the poor). You are suppose to give two different types of ready-to-eat food, each of which require a different blessing. So, you can give two different cakes or biscuits or fruits, etc or mix them up.

I was looking at an Italian blog and found a link to a recipe for biscuits that are from the Jewish Ghetto in Venice. A friend of mine who is from Venice told me that he remembers going to a bakery in the Ghetto and buying these biscuits. They are called Impade and they are filled with an almond filling and rolled in icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar). Have a look at the link below for more pictures on how to make the cookies. If you speak Italian, then you can read the entire recipe. Here is a loose translation (I did a few things differently):

Impade

Yield: About 45 biscuits

Venetian Jewish Almond Cookies

Pastry:

500g all purpose flour

275g sugar

3 small or medium eggs

125 ml corn oil

Filling:

250g whole blanched almonds

200g sugar

2 eggs

Zest of one lemon

Impade Dough

Mix the sugar and the flour together and create a well. Add the eggs and the oil and bring the flour-sugar mixture from the sides into the egg-oil mixture. Mix until you create a ball, similar to pie dough. It should be soft and elastic. Set aside and prepare the filling.

Impade Almond Filling

Grind the almonds and place in bowl. Add the sugar, lemon zest, the eggs and mix well.

Preheat the oven to 200C (400F).

Rolled dough

Take 1/3 of the dough and roll into a 2cm (4/5 inch) diameter snake. Cut the snake into 5cm (2 inch) pieces and roll each one flat into a rectangle.

Rolled out and filled

Put one teaspoon of almond filling in the middle of the rectangle and bring the long sides together over the filling and pinch together into a crest.

Impade Prebaked

Then shape the dough into the shape of the letter "S".

Impade

Bake the biscuits at 200C (400F) for 5 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 180C (350F) for an additional 15 minutes.

Roll them immediately in icing sugar (confectioner's sugar) and let them cool.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2008/03/21/chag-purim-sameach-happy-purim/

Happy 2008!

The previous year was a whirlwind for me. It was a year of a couple of firsts, one was celebrating the first anniversary of my first and hopefully only marriage. Second, was writing my first blog. I have really enjoyed sharing new cooking and travelling adventures with all of you and don’t worry, there is much more to come.

I wish all of you a happy and healthy 2008. May all of your wishes come true.

New Year’s Eve is not widely celebrated here in Israel because in Judaism, the new year is Rosh Hashana, which normally falls in September or the beginning of October, depending on the Jewish Calendar. We went to a friend’s house for dinner, but did not say celebrate the new year, it was just a dinner with friend’s. We feasted on entrecote, lamb chops, lentils, zucchini, salad, homemade tomato bread, roasted potatoes and plenty of champagne.

To close the meal, I made Tarte au Citron. I know some of you will shriek that I made a parve version of this tarte, but it was as delicious as when I make it with butter. I know that sounds crazy, but it is true. This recipe is from chef Thomas Keller of French Laundry, Bouchon and Per Se restaurants in the United States. The crust is made with pinenuts, but you could easily make it with a plain tart crust of your choice. Just make sure that the tart crust does not contain a lot of sugar. The lemon filling is lemony and very creamy because you make it using sabayon method, which means that you rapidly whisk the mixture over a bain marie until it is thick and creamy.

Tarte au Citron

Yield: One 22 cm (9-inch) tart

Recipe from Bouchon by Thomas Keller

1/3 recipe Pine Nut Pastry Dough (see accompanying recipe)

2 eggs, cold

2 egg yolks, cold

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

85g (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter or margarine, cut into 6 pieces

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) degrees. Generously butter and flour a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and refrigerate it while the oven preheats.

Remove the tart pan from the refrigerator. Use your fingertips to press the chilled pine nut dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Trim off any excess dough.

Bake the crust for 10 to 15 minutes, then rotate it and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until it is golden brown. Remove the crust from the oven and let it cool while you make the filling. (There may be some cracks in the crust; they will not affect the finished tart.)

Bring about 1-1/2 inches of water to a boil in a pot that is slightly smaller than the diameter of the bowl you will be using for the filling. (The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water.)

Meanwhile, in a large metal bowl, whisk the eggs, yolks and sugar for about 1 minute, or until the mixture is smooth. Set the bowl over the pot and, using a large whisk, whip the mixture while you turn the bowl (for even heating). After about 2 minutes, when the eggs are foamy and have thickened, add one-third of the lemon juice. Continue to whisk vigorously and, when the mixture thickens again, add another one-third of the lemon juice. Whisk until the mixture thickens again, then add the remaining lemon juice. Continue whisking vigorously, still turning the bowl, until the mixture is thickened and light in color and the whisk leaves a trail in the bottom of the bowl. The total cooking time should be 8 to 10 minutes.

Turn off the heat and leave the bowl over the water. Whisk in the butter a piece at a time. The filling may loosen slightly, but it will thicken and set as it cools. Pour the warm filling into the tart crust and place the pan on a baking sheet.

Preheat the broiler. While the filling is still warm, place the tart under the broiler. Leaving the oven door open, brown the top of the filling, rotating the tart if necessary for even color; this will take only a few seconds, so do not leave the oven. Remove the tart from the broiler and let it sit for at least 1 hour before serving. Serve at room temperature or cold.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2008/01/05/happy-2008/

Pine Nut Crust

Yield: Enough for three 9-inch tarts

Recipe from Bouchon by Thomas Keller

Because this dough uses only one egg, it is difficult to make in a smaller quantity. You will use one-third of this recipe to make the Lemon Tart; freeze the extra dough for another time.

2 cups pine nuts (283g or 10 ounces)

1/3 cup granulated sugar

3 cups all-purpose flour

226g (1 cup) unsalted butter or margarine, at room temperature (2 sticks)

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

Place the pine nuts in a food processor and pulse a few times. Add the sugar and flour and continue to pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.

Add the butter, egg and vanilla and mix to incorporate all the ingredients (the dough can be mixed by hand or in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment). Divide the dough into 3 equal parts. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes before using. The extra dough can be frozen, wrapped well, for up to 1 month.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2008/01/05/happy-2008/

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