Comfort Food – Cream of Cauliflower Soup

Even though it is December and it should be raining in Israel, winter hasn’t really begun. On Friday, I was out in a short-sleeved shirt planting baby pansies, some unknown flowering purple and white plants, and burgundy and white petunias. I am preparing the “garden” for the winter. I am cutting down the basil and lemongrass. The rest of the herbs, such as thyme and rosemary, should endure the winter weather.

Since it isn’t that cold, I haven’t felt like making the hearty winter soups that I usually make to keep us warm and cozy, but there was a sale on cauliflower and I saw an interesting recipe for cauliflower soup from Thomas Keller’s latest cookbook, Ad Hoc at Home. It is very easy to make and has a slight hint of curry in it. The recipe calls for 1/4 teaspoon of curry, but I used one teaspoon of hot madras curry and it was still subtle. I also used 10% fat cooking cream instead of heavy cream and it was still luscious and creamy.

After a small bowl of soup, I served baked salmon with a lemon-artichoke pesto on a bed of mashed Jerusalem artichokes and petit pois on the side. The pesto had the perfect amount of acidity from the lemon juice and capers. It was a nice and light addition to the thick soup.

Comfort Food – Cream of Cauliflower Soup

Serving Size: 10-12 as a first course

From Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller

2 heads cauliflower (2 to 2-1/2 kg or 4 to 5 pounds total)

50g (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter

3/4 cup coarsely chopped leeks (white and light green parts only)

3/4 cup coarsely chopped onion

1 teaspoon hot madras curry powder or curry of your choice

Salt

2 cups milk

2 cups heavy cream

2 cups water

1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

Extra virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

Remove the leaves from cauliflower, and cut out the core. Trim the stems and reserve them. For the garnish, trim 2 cups of florets about the size of a quarter and set aside.

Coarsely chop the remaining cauliflower and the stems into 1-inch pieces so that they will cook in the same amount of time. You need 8 cups of cauliflower.

Melt 40g (3 tablespoons) of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, leeks, curry, and chopped cauliflower. Season with 2 teaspoons of salt, cover, and cook stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are almost tender, about 20 minutes.

Pour in the milk, cream, and water, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes, skimming off the foam from time-to-time.

Using a stick blender, puree the cauliflower at the lowest speed, and blend until smooth and velvety. Check the seasoning, and add more salt if needed. If the soups is too thick, you can dilute it with a little water. At this point, the soup can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil, Add the vinegar and the reserved cauliflower florets, and blanch until tender, approximately 4 to 6 minutes. The vinegar will help keep the cauliflower white. Drain. Melt the remaining butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat, swirling the pan, until the butter turns a rich golden brown. Add the florets and saute until the cauliflower is lightly brown.

To serve, top each serving with a few cauliflower florets, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2009/12/05/comfort-food/

Salmon with Lemon Artichoke Pesto

4 salmon fillets, skinned

1 can artichoke hearts

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3 cloves garlic, crushed

Pinch red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon capers, drained well

2 teaspoons finely minced lemon zest

3 tablespoons pesto

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

1/2 teaspoon minced rosemary

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F).

Combine the artichokes, lemon juice, garlic, pepper flakes, oil, capers, lemon zest, and pesto in the food processor. Pulse a few times until the mixture is still chunky. Stir in the fresh herbs.

Lay a fillet on top of a large square of foil and spread 2 tablespoons of the mixture on top of the salmon , fold up to enclose the fillets, and tightly crimp the edges to seal the pouches. Repeat with the remaining fillets. Place on a large baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2009/12/05/comfort-food/

Vegetable Latkes with a Twist

I am always looking for something new and different to make for each holiday, and Hannukah is no exception. Bon Appetit magazine has some interesting recipes in its December 2008 edition and the cauliflower latke recipe sparked my interest. I made cauliflower latkes last year, but I was not completely happy with the outcome. They tasted great, but they weren’t very crunchy. The Bon Appetit recipe is a little crunchier and I really like the spicy kick from the Allepo pepper. If you can’t find any where you live, then just use cayenne pepper. The zaatar aioli was a perfect match to these latkes. I used a very nice zaatar mixture that we received as a gift from my company for Rosh Hashana. This zaatar had bigger dried zaatar leaves, sesame seeds and nigella, which gave the aioli an extra added crunch. I served the latkes with red mullet that I sauteed with garlic, lemon juice, and fresh oregano, and a steamed artichoke. I will definitely make these again next year. I think I am all fried food out. We cut down our Hannukah fried food eating considerably this year and our bodies are giving us a big hug for that.

Spicy Cauliflower Latkes with Zaatar Aioli

Yield: About 45 small latkes

Adapted from a recipe by Jayne Cohen

1 medium head of cauliflower cut into 1/2 inch pieces

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

1/4 chopped fresh oregano

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fine dry unseasoned breadcrumbs

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground Aleppo pepper or cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 or 2 large eggs

Olive oil (not extra-virgin) for frying

DSC03250

Add garlic and half of cauliflower to processor; blend until smooth. Add remaining cauliflower, parsley, and dill. Pulse until cauliflower is chopped and mixture is still slightly chunky. Transfer to large bowl. Mix in breadcrumbs, baking powder, salt, Aleppo or cayenne pepper and black pepper. Beat 1 egg in small bowl; mix into batter. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Add enough oil to heavy large skillet to coat bottom generously; heat over medium-high heat. Working in batches, drop 1 tablespoonful batter for each latke into skillet; flatten to 1 1/2-inch round. Cook until golden, adding oil as needed and adjusting heat if browning quickly. Transfer to rimmed baking sheets. Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 180C ( 350F). Bake latkes uncovered until heated through, about 10 minutes. Serve latkes with aioli, if desired, or sprinkle with zaatar and serve.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2008/12/27/vegetable-latkes-with-a-twist/

Zaatar Aioli

Zaatar Aioli

Yield: About 1 1/3 cups

Adapted from a recipe by Jayne Cohen

2 large garlic clove, peeled and crushed

4 generous tablespoons mayonnaise

1/8 cup fresh lemon juice

1/8 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/8 cup za'atar

Mix all of the ingredients in a medium size bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Let stand at least several hours to allow flavors to develop. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2008/12/27/vegetable-latkes-with-a-twist/

Healthier Hannukah

As most of you know, the holiday of Hannukah is all about oil. So, the foods that we eat during this time are fried and oily. This year we decided that we wanted to try and have a more healthier Hannukah. We did have potato pancakes, but I thought we should try a lower carbohydrate latke that wouldn’t make us feel like we were missing out on having yummy carbohydrate-laden potato latkes.

I decided to make cauliflower latkes. Okay, you don’t quite get the crunch of a regular potato latke, but they were very good. They certainly tasted like potato latkes because I put most of the same ingredients that I put in the potato version. My husband gives them a high rating and so do I.

Cauliflower Latkes

Yield: 20 latkes

1 (about 1kg or 2 pounds) large cauliflower, trimmed and chopped into 1-inch pieces

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs or whole wheat breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dry thyme

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

2 green onions, sliced, including the green part

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Salt to taste

Freshly ground pepper to taste

4 Tablespoons vegetable oil for frying

Steam the cauliflower until tender, but not mushy. Mash to the consistency of mashed potatoes with 1/4-inch lumps. Drain any excess moisture.

Meanwhile, gently saute onions in vegetable oil over medium-low heat until soft and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool about 5 minutes.

Combine the mashed cauliflower, sauteed onions, bread crumbs, thyme, parsley, green onion, eggs, salt, and pepper with a wooden spoon.

Heat about 4 tablespoons of oil in a deep skillet.

Scoop out a heaping tablespoon of the cauliflower mixture into your hands and compress into a patty about 1/2-inch thick. Place patty in hot oil to fry. Repeat with remaining cauliflower, cooking 4 to 5 patties at a time, flipping when golden on the first side. Do not crowd pan or they will not brown and crisp properly. Drain cauliflower latkes on paper towels and keep warm in the oven at 250 F. until all are completed.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/12/12/healthier-hannukah/

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.

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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