Fish, Fish, and more Fish with a Smattering of Cherry

I love to experiment with all of the wonderful fresh fish we can get here in Israel. And the other day, they had some small fish at the fish monger in the supermarket. I don’t usually buy fresh fish there, but this looked especially fresh. I have been buying my fish from Dubkin Brother’s located at Moshav Tekuma near the border with Gaza. They sell their fish to restaurants and come up to the center of the country every two weeks to make deliveries to individuals. They are lovely people, have good prices,  and most importantly their fish is a high quality and very fresh. The fish comes packed in ice in a Styrofoam cooler that they take back with the next delivery. So far I have ordered baramundi, sea bass, gilt-head sea bream, and red mullet.

The best way to cook it is to not do too much to it.  Most of the time I saute it in a pan or grill it under the oven, depending the type of fish. If I saute it, I slice garlic thinly and place it in a hot pan with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, add the fish, and then add the juice of two large lemons and a couple of tablespoons of chopped thyme, fresh zaatar, oregano, or chives. If I grill it, such as trout, then I stuff the cavity with rosemary, thyme, oregano, lemon slices, and sliced garlic and grill in the oven.

I bought small red mullet and another fish that I have never heard of and don’t know the name in English, but they were both wonderful. I just lightly coated them in flour and cooked them in a shallow pan of oil for about two to three minutes on each side. I served them with basil-garlic red potatoes and steamed broccoli.

Mr BT made red mullet with a mango sauce. He sauteed the fish in a little butter and olive oil. He added mango juice, white wine and a splash of balsamic vinegar, removed the fish and reduced the sauce. He has also made drumfish with a sour cream and herb sauce. You could also make it with yogurt. Skies the limit.

For one of the meals, I used the last of the cherries that we picked at the cherry festival. I had frozen them and they were perfect for a nice fruit crisp. It brought back childhood memories when my mother used to make a delicious apple crisp. She didn’t make the topping with oatmeal, but this recipe is British fruit crisp. The crisp was delicious and the cherries didn’t need any additional sugar.

Fresh Sour Cherry Crisp

Serving Size: 6 to 8

4 cups pitted sour cherries

4 tablespoons flour

1 cup quick-cooking oats

1 cup flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

100g (1/2 cup) butter, melted

Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Butter medium size baking dish, approximately 22 x 32 cm (9 x 13 inches).

In a medium bowl, mix the cherries and the flour. Evenly distribute the cherries in the baking dish.

Combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and melted butter. Crumble evenly over the cherry mixture. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the crumble topping is golden brown.

Cherry Heaven

I was so excited when I purchased my new computer because I new it would make blogging so much better. However, a few days after I hooked everything up, my monitor blew up, literally! I was sitting a my desk, reading my email and all of a sudden I heard a pop, the monitor turned black and a puff of smoke came out the top of it! So, I have been monitorless for a while. Now, I am up and running again and I have a few things to tell you about while I was monitorless.

Just picked Queen Anne cherries, Bulgarian cheese, sheep cheese, Gouda cheese

I went to a cherry picking festival at Kibbutz Rosh Tzurim with my husband and a colleague from Germany. We drove 45 minutes to the beautiful Judean Hills which always reminds me of the rugged terrain in Provence. The festival had booths with people selling kosher charcuterie, local wine and pottery. They also offered a free tractor ride around the kibbutz.

It was very hot, but there was a large crowd eager to pick big juicy red and Queen Anne cherries. We picked cherries, or rather my husband had a great time climbing trees picking the cherries, and my colleague and I had fun eating them! Don’t worry, we kept plenty to bring home with us. The Queen Anne cherries were tastier than the red ones. I was really impressed that my husband could still climb trees considering he hasn’t climbed one in over 40 years!

The trees were covered with netting so the birds couldn’t eat the cherries. This kibbutz packs and sells its cherries for the shuk (open market) and the local supermarkets. The cherries that were available for picking at the cherry festival were the last of the crop. They were juicy and sweet, especially the ones my husband picked from the top of the tree. Unlike the older trees that grew as nature intended, the new ones were espaliered, like apple trees, to make the fruit easier to pick.

We packed a nice picnic lunch consisting of:

Baby greens, dried apricots, cranberries and walnuts with a mustard vinaigrette
Stuffed grape leaves
Roasted eggplant slices
French bread
Bulgarian cheese
Sheep cheese
Smoked Gouda cheese
Olive oil potato crisps
Pomegranate iced tea
Just picked Queen Anne cherries
Dried fruits and nuts
Chocolate-hazelnut cookies

Other people at the festival came up to us and complimented us on our beautiful picnic. One woman even took a picture of it with her mobile phone. We though this was a rather ordinary picnic and had a laugh about it.

We had a very nice time and will definitely go back next year.

Sweet Break at Work

Every Thursday my team takes a 30 minute break to go to the rooftop and enjoy the fresh air and homemade goodies that each team member, in turn, brings. Sometimes we have the break in the morning, and have breakfast goodies, and sometimes we have the break in the afternoon. We change it around for variety and the last couple of months we decided the theme would be cakes and ice cream. When we had the breakfast round, one of my colleagues brought a gas burner and made omelets. They were delicious.

This week was my turn and since my birthday is at the beginning of next week, I decided to celebrate my birthday and make homemade ice creams and cakes. I prefer cakes without icing and really like cakes or tarts with lots of fruit. So, I decided to make a plum cake, cherry coffee cake, dulce de leche ice cream, and for the adventurous I made pomegranate gelato. Everything was delicious except for the pomegranate gelato. It was terrible. The recipe calls for cornstarch as a thickener, which I have never been able to find in Israel, and so I decided to use an egg yolk instead. It was not enough to form a custard, and I should have added more eggs, but I decided to process it anyway. The gelato didn’t solidify completely, and it had a very funny chalky aftertaste. I am going to try and make a pomegranate sorbet instead.

Meggyes Piskóta

Serving Size: 8 to 12

(Hungarian Cherry Coffee Cake) This cake is moist, chock-full of cherries, easy to make and is delicious. You can make this a day ahead.

Softened butter and dried bread crumbs, for the pan

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup sliced natural almonds

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

300g (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature

1 pound sweet cherries, pitted (preferably fresh, or use 380g (12 ounces) frozen cherries, unthawed, and bake for a few more minutes)

Confectioner's sugar, for garnish

Preheat to 375°F. Butter a 13- X 9-inch baking pan, coat with the bread crumbs, and tap out the excess.

Process the flour, almonds, baking powder, and salt in a food processor until the almonds are very finely chopped, almost a powder; set aside.

Beat the butter on high speed in a medium bowl until smooth, about 1 minute. Gradually add the sugar and beat until light in color and texture, about 2 minutes. Add the yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add the vanilla extract.

Using clean beaters and a clean, dry bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed just until they form stiff, shiny peaks. Fold half of the whites into the butter mixture, then half of the almond-flour mixture; repeat with the remaining whites and almond-flour mixture to make a thick batter.

Prebaked Cherry Coffee Cake

Spread evenly in the pan and arrange the cherries in rows in the batter.

Bake until golden brown and until the top springs back when lightly pressed in the center, approximately 30 to 35 minutes. Sift confectioner's sugar over the top. Serve warm or cool completely.

Almond-Plum Cake

Serving Size: 8

Adapted from a recipe from Food & Wine magazine

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cups granulated sugar

250g (9 ounces) almond paste

85g (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

6 eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla paste

3 large plums (12 ounces)—halved, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch wedges

Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and flour a 22cm (9-inch) spring-form pan. In a small bowl, mix the cake flour with the baking powder and salt.

Beat the sugar with the almond paste until crumbly. Add the butter and beat at high speed until light in color and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until fully incorporated between additions. Beat in the vanilla extract. Gently fold in the flour mixture until fully incorporated. Put the mixture into the prepared pan.

Prebaked Almond Plum Cake

Arrange the plums over the top of the batter. Bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes, or until the cake is deeply golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cake and remove the outside ring of the pan. Let the cake cool for at least 30 minutes longer.

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream

Yield: About 1 liter (quart)

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 1/2 cups milk

2/3 cup dulce de leche

6 egg yolks

1/4 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the cream, milk and the dulce de leche, stirring constantly, until the mixture is blended and steam begins to rise from the surface, 4 to 5 minutes.

In a heatproof mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and salt until blended. Gradually add the hot cream mixture, whisking constantly until fully incorporated. Transfer the mixture to a clean saucepan and set over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring slowly and continuously with a wooden spoon or spatula, until the custard thickens and a finger drawn across the back of the spoon leaves a path, 8 to 10 minutes; do not allow the custard to boil.

Pour the custard through a fine-mesh sieve set over a clean bowl. Cool the custard to room temperature and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour.

Transfer the custard to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

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