Happy 2010!

The first year I moved to Israel I invited a few friends over to my flat for a nice New Year’s dinner. I bought sparklers and really bad champagne in  Shouk HaCarmel in Tel Aviv. A few minutes before midnight we went out to my rooftop terrace, lit the sparklers and started yelling out “Happy New Year!”. Much to my chagrin, a neighbor yelled out of his window “Sheket!”, which means “shutup!” I never really celebrated New Year’s Eve again.

New Year’s Eve is not celebrated in Israel like everywhere else. Religious Jews do not recognize it as the new year because the start of the new year in the Jewish calendar is Rosh Hashana, which falls during the early autumn. So, even though you will see people celebrating in restaurants, pubs, and discos around the country, most people do not celebrate it.

Mr BT and I had a quiet dinner at home.

I knew I wouldn’t have a lot of time to cook on Thursday, so I had to find some dishes that I could make quickly, but were gourmet. I found an interesting salmon recipe from Chef Eric Ripert, who is chef of the famous Michelin three-star restaurant, Le Bernardin. I have never eaten there, but I have seen him on few cooking shows and his dishes always looked delicious. The recipe called for the salmon to be wrapped in phyllo pastry, so I went to the supermarket to buy a package of phyllo the day before. I took the box out the night before and when I came home to start cooking I discovered, to my annoyance, that I had bought puff pastry! The dessert I was making also called for phyllo, so what was the Baroness to do?! I improvised, like any good chef would do. I had a package of rice paper wrappers that I hadn’t used yet. I had Mr BT check on the internet if rice paper would crisp up like phyllo, and he reported that it was crispier than wonton wrappers. So,  I  replaced the phyllo  with the rice paper and it was a huge success. The dish is light and delicious and I will definitely make it again. We began the meal with a steamed artichoke with aioli, then I served the salmon on a bed of sauteed mushrooms with a side of Creole Orange Rice. The rice is spicy with a nice hint of fresh orange. It was perfect with the salmon.

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Cranberry Bourekas
Servings: 10 to 12
Ingredients
  • 1 cup cranberries fresh or frozen
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2/3 cup Granny Smith apple peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped candied orange peel
  • 1 package puff pastry
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Line a baking sheet with silicone and set aside. Put the cranberries and water in a small pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, about 3 minutes or until the cranberries pop. Drain them, discarding the liquid and return the cranberries to the pan.
  2. Add the apple, raisins, walnuts, sugar, cinnamon, and orange peel; toss gently until mixed.
  3. Cranberry-Apple Bourekas
  4. Unroll the puff pastry and cut strips about 5cm (2 inches) wide. Place a rounded tablespoon of the cranberry mixture near the bottom edge of the puff pastry.
  5. Cranberry Bourekas
  6. Take the bottom right corner and wrap it over the filling and roll the filling up into a triangle. Repeat with the remaining strips.
  7. Cranberry Bourekas
  8. Place on the baking sheet and bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until the bourekas are golden. The bourekas make leak slightly during baking. Transfer the bourekas to a wire cooling rack and cool completely.

 

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Cranberry Bourekas
Servings: 10 to 12
Ingredients
  • 1 cup cranberries fresh or frozen
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2/3 cup Granny Smith apple peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped candied orange peel
  • 1 package puff pastry
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Line a baking sheet with silicone and set aside. Put the cranberries and water in a small pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, about 3 minutes or until the cranberries pop. Drain them, discarding the liquid and return the cranberries to the pan.
  2. Add the apple, raisins, walnuts, sugar, cinnamon, and orange peel; toss gently until mixed.
  3. Cranberry-Apple Bourekas
  4. Unroll the puff pastry and cut strips about 5cm (2 inches) wide. Place a rounded tablespoon of the cranberry mixture near the bottom edge of the puff pastry.
  5. Cranberry Bourekas
  6. Take the bottom right corner and wrap it over the filling and roll the filling up into a triangle. Repeat with the remaining strips.
  7. Cranberry Bourekas
  8. Place on the baking sheet and bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until the bourekas are golden. The bourekas make leak slightly during baking. Transfer the bourekas to a wire cooling rack and cool completely.

I wanted to make individual cranberry strudels for dessert, but I didn’t have any phyllo, so I decided to make bourekas instead. Mr BT suggested that I serve them to guests and not tell them what is inside. I would say that I didn’t have time to make dessert and thought we could have a savory dessert instead.

Print
Cranberry Bourekas
Servings: 10 to 12
Ingredients
  • 1 cup cranberries fresh or frozen
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2/3 cup Granny Smith apple peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped candied orange peel
  • 1 package puff pastry
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Line a baking sheet with silicone and set aside. Put the cranberries and water in a small pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, about 3 minutes or until the cranberries pop. Drain them, discarding the liquid and return the cranberries to the pan.
  2. Add the apple, raisins, walnuts, sugar, cinnamon, and orange peel; toss gently until mixed.
  3. Cranberry-Apple Bourekas
  4. Unroll the puff pastry and cut strips about 5cm (2 inches) wide. Place a rounded tablespoon of the cranberry mixture near the bottom edge of the puff pastry.
  5. Cranberry Bourekas
  6. Take the bottom right corner and wrap it over the filling and roll the filling up into a triangle. Repeat with the remaining strips.
  7. Cranberry Bourekas
  8. Place on the baking sheet and bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until the bourekas are golden. The bourekas make leak slightly during baking. Transfer the bourekas to a wire cooling rack and cool completely.

Not my Grandmother’s Honey Cake

We didn’t have a Rosh Hashana tradition of making honey cakes in my house. I didn’t even know there was a tradition to serve honey cake during this holiday. We made Honigkuchen, which were basically lebkuchen, a type of spice cookie that we always made for Hannukah. My grandmother always made Noodle Schalet (Noodle Pudding, not Kugel, with eggs, lemon zest and raisins) with lemon sauce for dessert. We had Suesse Apfel (carmelised apple slices in honey) as a side dish with roast beef.

So when I moved to Israel, people started asking me what does your mother put in her honey cake? Does she put nuts in, coffee or tea, schnapps, only cinnamon? I had no idea what they were talking about. All of the supermarkets and bakeries were selling different types of honey cakes. The few times I had them in the States, I always remembering them being dry and inedible. I made my first honey cake a few years ago and I could have built a house with it. It was heavy and dry. Then, I made the Beekeeper’s Honey Cake and it was less dry.

I finally decided which cake I am going to make for Erev Rosh Hashana, the Magical Honey Cake. As most of my regular readers know, I usually have to tweak a recipe and this time was no different. I used Janna Gur’s recipe as a base and added a few more spices, some orange rind, and substituted cranberries soaked in rum for the raisins. I cheated and tasted one of the cakes on the second day, it is moist, spicy and bursting with flavour from the honey. This is going to be my tried and true honey cake from now on.

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Magical Honey Cake
Servings: 3 loaves
Ingredients
  • 6 cups + 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 heaping teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1-1/2 cups honey
  • 1 cup oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso coffee
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 level teaspoons baking soda
  • Zest of two medium oranges
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries soaked in rum just to cover
  • 1/2 cup walnuts chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 170C (325F). Grease the loaf pans.
  2. Dry Ingredients
  3. Mix the flour, sugar, and spices in a bowl. Add the honey, oil and eggs, and whisk into a smooth batter. Dissolve the coffee into 1 cup of boiling water. Add the baking soda to the batter, and then add the coffee. Gently fold in the orange rind, cranberries and rum, and the walnuts.
  4. Honey Cake Batter
  5. Pour the batter into the greased loaf pans and bake for approximately 45 minutes until the cake is dark brown and the toothpick is clean with a few crumbs adhering.
  6. Cool the cakes completely and wrap with aluminum foil. Place in a cool, dry place to mature for 7 days.

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):

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Impade
Venetian Jewish Almond Cookies
Ingredients
Pastry:
  • 500 g all purpose flour
  • 275 g sugar
  • 3 small or medium eggs
  • 125 ml corn oil
Filling:
  • 250 g whole blanched almonds
  • 200 g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • Zest of one lemon
Instructions
  1. Impade Dough
  2. 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.
  3. Impade Almond Filling
  4. Grind the almonds and place in bowl. Add the sugar, lemon zest, the eggs and mix well.
  5. Preheat the oven to 200C (400F).
  6. Rolled dough
  7. 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.
  8. Rolled out and filled
  9. 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.
  10. Impade Prebaked
  11. Then shape the dough into the shape of the letter "S".
  12. Impade
  13. Bake the biscuits at 200C (400F) for 5 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 180C (350F) for an additional 15 minutes.
  14. Roll them immediately in icing sugar (confectioner's sugar) and let them cool.

Italian Hannukah

The first night of Hannukah we were invited to a friend’s house to celebrate with their family. We had a nice meal of mushroom soup, potato latkes, butternut squash and curry latkes, salad, homemade Merlot wine and peapod wine. It was a delicious dinner.

I volunteered to bring dessert and instead of bringing soufganyiot, I decided to make an Italian holiday dessert, Panettone in honor of my Italian ancestry. A couple of years ago, I found an interesting take on this sweet bread which is usually made with raisins and candied fruit. The one I made is called Cranberry Pistachio Panettone. It is an eggy, buttery sweet bread, but not too sweet. I like it better than the panettone I used to buy in Milano and Lugano. It is really easy to make, just a little time consuming because of the rising time, but well worth the wait. You can freeze it, just make sure you wrap it well.

I baked it in a tall, narrow cooking pot that I use to cook pasta or asparagus. If you can find a paper panettone form, then use that. I could find one in any of the baking shops. You can also be decadent and make this with dried tart cherries instead of cranberries.

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