Chili and Chocolate

I am not a big Mexican food eater, mainly because I do not like avocados and refried beans. I know that Mexican food is so much more than that; I just haven’t taken the time to learn more about Mexican cuisine. One dish I have made before is chicken mole which is made with a sauce that contains Mexican chocolate and chilies. I have used chocolate in savory dishes before and find that it adds an extra creaminess to the dish.

It is very difficult to find the ingredients you need to make Mexican dishes in Israel, and I had to improvise when I decided to make something with the kosher corn tortillas I bought at my parent’s local supermarket a few months ago. I found a very interesting recipe for cheese enchiladas that I had to try. I had to find a way to make the red mole without compromising too much on the taste using ingredients that are ready available here. I could not find dry mild chili powder, so I used sweet paprika, some cayenne pepper that I brought back from the States, and a whole, seeded red chili pepper. Believe it or not, it worked. It tasted like what I remember having in a restaurant, but I would like to make it next time with Oaxacan Mole which is amazing stuff. I have no idea where I will find dried guajillo chilies and dried epazote here to make the recipe. I guess I will have to wait until my next visit to the States.

The other problem we have here is that I cannot buy Monterrey Jack or Muenster cheeses. I have never seen them at any cheese shop or cheese counter in Israel. So, I decided to buy Fontina as a substitute, which was expensive, but was perfect for this dish. Next time, I will try making it with Gouda or Edam, which are less expensive alternatives.


Goat Cheese Enchiladas with Corn and Red Mole

slightly adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

For the enchiladas:

1/4 cup golden raisins

1/4 cup pine nuts

2 Tbs olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels

1 1/2 cups grated Jack or Muenster cheese (I used Fontina)

2 cups soft goat cheese

1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

salt and pepper

12 corn tortillas

For the red mole:

1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds

1 1/4 teaspoons each of anise seeds, cumin and dried oregano (I omitted the anise seeds because I didn't have any)

2 /12 Tbs olive oil

1 small onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup ground sweet paprika

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 small red chili, seeded and minced

1 oz 70% bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped or Mexican chocolate

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (omit if you use Mexican chocolate)

Salt

1-1/2 cups water

1 tsp white wine vinegar

Corn_Cheese_Filling

For the enchiladas:

Cover the raisins with warm water and set aside. Brown the pine nuts in a dry skillet and set aside. Add the 2 tablespoons of oil to the same skillet and saute the onion and garlic over medium heat to soften, then add the corn and cook for a couple of minutes more depending on whether the corn is fresh or frozen. Drain the raisins and put in a bowl with the pine nuts, onion and corn mixture, 1 cup of Fontina, the goat cheese and the cilantro. Mix everything thoroughly and add salt and pepper to taste.

Fry the tortillas briefly in olive oil, drain them on a paper towel, and fill them with the cheese mixture. Roll them and place them seam-side down in a baking dish. Make the mole. At this point, you can refrigerate the enchiladas.

For the red mole:

Toast the seeds and oregano in a dry skillet, then remove to a plate as soon as they smell fragrant. Grind in a mortar. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onion. Cook, stirring frequently for about for minutes, or until onion is brown on the edges, then add garlic and ground spices and cook for one minute more. Remove from heat, let the pan cool for a minute, then stir the ground chili into the onions along with the water. Return to the stove and bring to a boil, stirring slowly but constantly so that the chili doesn't burn. It will thicken as it cooks, so add a little water if it gets too thick. Add the chocolate and stir until it has melted. Simmer for ten minutes, then stir in the vinegar to bring all the flavors together. Taste and add salt, if necessary.

When you are ready to bake the enchiladas, preheat the oven to 190C (375F). Pour the mole sauce over the enchiladas, sprinkle with the rest of the Fontina and bake until heated through, about 20 minutes.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2010/04/23/chili-and-chocolate/

Malfatti di Spinaci e Ricotta Keeps the Vampires Away

Well, not really, but fresh garlic on your front porch does!

This past Friday I went to Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem with two foodie girlfriends, Mimi from Israeli Kitchen and Sarah from Foodbridge. We had a great time exploring the market finding all sorts of goodies to try. I came home with fontina, mahleb, pear cider from Normandy, a loaf of currant and walnut bread, artichokes, and 6 kilos of braided fresh garlic. I thought Mr. BT was going to kill me for buying so much garlic, but his Hungarian side was pleased as a peasant in the countryside. I thought my car was going to smell like a Romanian kitchen, but it wasn’t too bad, or maybe I just like the smell of garlic. We hung the beautiful braid on our shady front porch to dry.

I am always looking for quick dishes to make during the week and I had some ricotta and spinach I bought to use during Passover, but never got around to using. So, I used them to make a very quick, light and delicious Italian dish called Malfatti. It is a Tuscan dish made with ingredients that are used to fill ravioli. In fact it was probably concocted when someone had made too much ravioli filling. There are various versions of this dish, including one served with a brown butter and sage sauce, but I served mine with a tomato and fresh garlic sauce. They are like little soft pillows in your mouth, but without having to pick the feathers from between your teeth.

Malfatti di Spinaci e Ricotta

Serving Size: 4 to 6 serving as a light main course and 6 to 8 a

(Spinach and Ricotta Malfatti)

500g (1lb) ricotta

2 cups chopped frozen spinach, thawed and moisture squeezed out

100g (1/2 cup) butter, melted

1/4 cup semolina, plus more for shaping

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

4 large egg yolks

1 large whole egg

Freshly ground black pepper

Parmesan cheese

Put a teaspoon of semolina into a narrow wineglass. Drop in a ball and swirl until it forms an oval. Repeat. (You may need to add more semolina) You can freeze them at this point.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in the malfatti and cook until they float, about 8 minutes. (If frozen, 10 minutes.) Drain malfatti and place on plates or in a flat bowl. Serve with tomato sauce or a brown butter and sage sauce, and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padana

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2010/04/13/malfatti-di-spinaci-e-ricotta-keeps-the-vampires-away/

Shavuot Tradition – Cheesecake!

Before I begin, I must tell you that I am happy that this is the last holiday for a while. I am really over preparing all the holiday food.

As I explained in my first entry about Shavuot, traditionally we serve dairy dishes because the Torah which we received on this day is white, pure, and sweet like milk.

Among the most famous Shavuot dishes are blintzes, cheesecakes, cheese kreplach, cheese platters, sambousak and more.

Most Ashkenazis have a meat meal on the night of Shavuot and a dairy meal on the day of Shavuot. The dairy meal consists of a fish dish, salads and most likely cheesecake for dessert.

During Shavuot it is customary for some Sephardic Jews to eat leftover Passover matzo softened with milk and sweetened with honey. Other dishes such as Sutlatch (Turkish rice pudding), Atayef (Syrian), Kahi (Iraqi), Malabi (Middle Eastern), cheese-filled phyllo dough pockets, coriander cheese balls and artichokes stuffed with breadcrumbs and cheese are also common.

Sephardic women from Tunisia, Morocco and Libya take pride in baking a seven-layer cake for Shavuot called Siete Cielos or Seven Heavens. The cake is created in seven circular rising tiers, one smaller than the other with the smallest on top. Frequently it is decorated with various symbols made from dough. I have never seen one of these cakes, nor have I been able to find a recipe for it, but it sounds interesting. I have a feeling that it is more like bread, than a cake.

Kurdistan Jews eat a wheat cereal with labane and cheese-filled fritters, while many Afghani Jews cook rice and serve it with butter and yogurt.

Libyan, Greek, Turkish and Balkan woman bake wafers or bread in symbolic shapes. Among the symbolic shapes is a ladder which stands for Moses’ rise up Mount Sinai. Another shape is that of a hand, denoting hands openly receiving the Torah. Frequently there are two tablets representing the ten commandments.

I usually make cheesecake, but one that is not as rich as is made in the States. I do not use cream cheese. I use Israeli white cheese, which is similar to a thick greek-style yogurt. It is much lower in fat than cream cheese. I prefer to have a more tart cheesecake, so I make my personal favourite, which is lemon cheesecake.

Chag Shavuot Sameach everyone!

Lemon Cheesecake with Lemon Confit

Serving Size: 10 to 12

This is a recipe that I adapted from several different recipes. I use an Israeli white cheese, which is similar in texture to a Greek-style yogurt. You can use cream cheese, if you prefer.

Cheesecake Ingredients

For the lemon confit:

2 large juicy lemons (unwaxed if possible)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

For the shortbread crust:

60g (1/2 stick) unsalted butter (room temperature)

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup flour

2 cups finely ground petit beurre or shortbread (i.e. Pepperidge Farm Chessmen) cookies

For the cheesecake filling:

3 (500g/16oz) containers of Israeli 5% white cheese or Greek-style yogurt

250g (8oz) container mascarpone cheese

1/2 cup sugar

3 eggs

4 tablespoons lemon zest

1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

For the topping:

500g (16oz) sour cream

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make the lemon confit:

Start by making the confit as this needs to be prepared ahead of time – the day before you want to serve it, if possible.

Sliced Lemons

Take one and a half of the lemons and slice them into thin rings about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick, discarding the end pieces and pips. Place these in a saucepan and cover with cold water, bring to a simmer for 3 minutes, then drain through a sieve and discard the water, Pour 12 fl oz (425 ml) water into the same pan, add the sugar, stir over a low heat until all the sugar dissolves, then add the lemon slices. Cook for 45 minutes, until the skin is tender.

Lemon Confit

Remove the slices with a slotted spoon. Reduce the liquid to 5 fl oz (150ml). Squeeze the juice from the remaining half lemon, add to the syrup and pour over the lemon slices. Cover and let sit overnight at room temperature.

Make the crust:

Petit Beurre Biscuit

Cream the butter and sugar together for 3-4 minutes. Add flour and ground petit beurre biscuits or shortbread to the mixture and blend for 3-4 seconds until fully incorporated. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of a 22cm (11-inch) spring-form pan.

Cheesecake base

Bake the crust at 180° for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow the crust to cool completely.

Make the cheesecake filling:

Israeli White Cheese

Beat the white cheese until light and smooth. Add the mascarpone cheese and sugar and continue to beat on medium speed. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the lemon zest and juice. Pour mixture into the cooled crust.

Wrap aluminium foil around the outside of the spring-form. Place the cheesecake pan into a roasting pan, and add enough water to the roasting pan to reach halfway up sides of the cheesecake pan. Place in a 180° oven for approximately one hour or until the cake is set and the top is light brown.

Make topping while cheesecake is baking:

Let sour cream stand at room temperature 30 minutes. In a bowl whisk together sour cream, sugar and vanilla extract. Spread over entire top of cake, smoothing evenly. Bake cheesecake in middle of oven 10 minutes.

Remove the cake from the roasting pan and place on a wire rack. Allow the cake to cool slightly, and then place it in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight.

Before serving, decorate the top of the cake with lemon confit or plate and place on top of a slice of cheesecake.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/05/20/shavuot-tradition-cheesecake/

Who’s Marian and how can I thank her?

Today is my mother’s 65th birthday and yesterday was my mother-in-law’s 90th birthday. Two great ladies celebrating two great milestones. Happy birthday Mom and Boldog születésnapot Anyós!

My mother did not know how to boil water when she got married and someone was smart enough to give her the Elegant but Easy cookbook for a wedding gift. This cookbook helped my mother become the great cook she is today and one of her signature Shavuot recipes from this cookbook is Marion’s Noodle Pudding. I was never a fan of kugel, but this creamy and slightly tart noodle pudding is delicious, elegant and oh so easy to make.

When I proposed making this dish to my husband a few years ago he kind of sneered and said in his cute British public school accent, “I really dislike noodle kugels.”. I told him he hadn’t had this one and had to give it a try. He did and he really likes it. It is great for a brunch or served as a side dish with fish.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Marian Burros, one of the cookbook authors, for putting this recipe in her cookbook 47 years ago. It has been a family favourite which always takes me home when I make it. I love you Mom!

This recipe is not low in calorie, but I make it with low calorie cottage cheese, sour cream and milk and it still tastes great.

Marian’s Noodle Pudding

Serving Size: 8 to 10

From the original The New Elegant But Easy Cookbook by Marion Burros and Lois Levine

450g (1 lb.) broad egg noodles

450g (1 pint) sour cream

450g (1 lb.) cottage cheese

1 cup milk

2-1/2 teaspoons salt

4-1/2 tablespoons sugar

6 tablespoons melted butter

Crushed corn flakes

Pats of butter

Cook Noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Mix with all of the other ingredients. Place in greased 9 x 13 shallow casserole.

Marion Noodle Kugel 1

Top with crushed corn flakes. Dot the cornflakes with pats of butter.

You can refrigerate or freeze before baking. If you choose to do either, then put the corn flakes on the top after you bring the casserole to room temperature before baking.

Bake at 375 for 1-1/2 hours.

Marion Noodle Kugel 2

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/05/17/whos-marian-and-how-can-i-thank-her/

Israeli Breakfast – Us Time

Friday is a day off and since the shops close at 3pm here, we try to do all of our Shabbat shopping on Wednesday or Thursday evening. This allows us to have a nice leisurely breakfast on Friday and also gives us time to talk about life and current events.

I think it is so important to find some “us time” to spend with your loved ones. Communication is definitely the key to a successful marriage. This is something I learned from my family. My grandmother also told me to always have dinner on the table and he won’t go looking for food at another restaurant. You can interpret that any way you want. ;-) And, she was married for almost 65 years, so she must have done something right.

My husband is originally from London and sometimes for a change, I make buttermilk scones for breakfast instead of making wholewheat bread or buying bread from our favourite bakery.

This morning was one of those days.

Making scones is not much different from making biscuits and they taste great with butter and honey, labane and jam or just plain. Sometimes I make them with walnuts or raisins.

David likes to spread fresh avocado on his! Yes, I realise that we are being a bit unconventional. We should be having them for afternoon tea with strawberry preserves and clotted cream, but we dare to be different.

Our usual Friday breakfast routine is Ilan’s coffee, fresh squeezed orange juice, fresh herb omelet and a scone or some sliced fresh bread.

Omelet with fresh thyme, chives, marjoram and sage

We always have labane, bulgarian cheese spread, cottage cheese and jams on the table. If I wasn’t allergic to raw tomato we would also have Israeli salad (tomato and cucumbers).

Various Israeli cheeses: Starting at 12:05, Tome, Smoked Emek, Sheep Cheese with Bay Leaves, Camembert, Tzaftit, Farmers Cheese with Nigella Seeds

Occasionally, we will go to a boutique dairy and buy sheep, goat or buffalo cheeses.

The picture above was taken at the Buffalo farm at Moshav Bitzaron. They have amazing buffalo milk cheeses. For example, the cheese on the left is Tzaftit with herbs and sesame seeds. It is a very mild cheese. They also have some of the best buffalo mozzarella and cow milk butter in the country. They let you try before you buy. And ….

The buffalo are adorable! They also have a petting zoo for the kids.

Scones

Yield: 8 to 10 scones

113g (1/2 stick) butter

5 to 7 cups self-raising flour

1 cup buttermilk

Preheat an oven to 220C (450F). Lightly grease a baking sheet with butter or use a silpat liner.

In a food processor, pulse the flour and butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer to a bowl.

Alternatively, in a bowl, stir together the dry ingredients. Then, using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk. Using a fork, mix together until a soft elastic dough forms.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead 5 or 6 times until the dough is smooth. Roll out about 3/4 inch thick. Using a scallop-edged cookie cutter 3 inches in diameter, cut out rounds. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet.

Bake the scones until they rise and are golden brown on top, about 15 minutes. Serve hot.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/03/10/israeli-breakfast-us-time/

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