For Shavuot: Goat Cheese Quick Bread with Apricot and Mint

Goat Cheese, Mint and Apricot Quick Bread

Cheesecake and blintzes are probably the two most popular dishes that are served on the Shavuot table, but being me, I like to find at least one new dish to put on my table. One of the first recipes that caught my eye in Joan Nathan‘s new cookbook, Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France, was a quick bread that had goat cheese, dried apricot and mint. The combination of the creamy goat cheese and apricots really appealed to me, and it was a simple recipe that could be made without much effort. I used sour apricots because I think that they give a stronger apricot flavor than the Mediterranean ones. This quick bread is delicious and is perfect for a elegant brunch, afternoon tea, or served as an appetizer, sliced thinly and cut in quarters, for a dairy dinner.

Quick Goat Cheese Bread with Mint and Apricots

Yield: 1 Loaf

Serving Size: 8 to 10

1/3 cup olive oil

3 large eggs

1/3 cup milk

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2oz grated Gruyère, aged Cheddar, or Gruyere de Comte cheese

4oz fresh goat cheese

1 cup chopped dried apricots (prefer sour or California apricots)

2 tablespoons roughly minced mint leaves or 2 teaspoons of dried mint

Preheat oven to 180C (350F) and grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan and line it with baking paper.

Add the eggs to a large bowl, and beat well. Add the milk and oil and whisk until smooth.

Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper in a separate bowl, and then add to the egg mixture. Stir until it is incorporated and the dough is smooth. Spread the batter into the prepared baking pan and sprinkle the Gruyère, Cheddar, or Comté, crumble the goat cheese on top, and then scatter the apricots and the mint. Pull a knife gently through the batter to blend the ingredients slightly.

Bake for 40 minutes. Cool briefly, and remove the bread from the pan, peeling off the baking paper. Slice and serve warm. You can also make it in advance and freeze it.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2011/06/06/for-shavuot-goat-cheese-quick-bread-with-apricot-and-mint/

Shavuot Ideas – Saffron Semifreddo with a Dried Cherry-Cardamom Sauce and Almond-Orange Financiers

Chocolate is most people’s guilty pleasure, but my guilty pleasure is ice cream. And not just any ice cream, but luscious Italian gelato, preferably eaten in Italy at one of my favorite gelateria, Perche No!, in Firenze, or in Israel at Gelateria Siciliana on Ibn Givrol in Tel Aviv.

I also enjoy making my own ice cream and sorbet at home, which I have blogged in several posts here.

The final course for the dinner party last week was a recipe for semifreddo that intrigued me from the moment I saw it on the Food52 website. Semifreddo literally means “half-frozen” and is a frozen dessert that has a mousse-like texture from equal parts of ice cream custard and whipped double (heavy) cream.

I didn’t deviate from the recipe at all and even made the salted-honey hazelnuts, but in the rush of trying to serve the dessert, I forgot to plate them. It was actually better in the end because it would have been too much of a taste contrast with the mini almond-orange financiers I served on the side. The dessert was a huge hit, which made me very happy since Mimi was afraid that some of the guests might not like the taste of saffron. I used a very high quality saffron that I had been keeping for a special occasion.

Sarah, from Foodbridge, brought a large bag filled with Surinam Cherries, also known as Pitanga in Brazil. They were a perfect decoration for the top of the semifreddo and were also quite delicious. I had never had them before but they  remind me of cherries, which as my faithful readers know is one of my favorite fruits.

Mimi suggested that we serve an alternative to the semifreddo, so I decided to make mini financiers which I baked in a silcone chocolate mold that can withstand up to 220C (425F). Financiers are a light teacake, similar to sponge cake, and are usually made of almond flour, a beurre noisette (brown butter), egg whites, icing sugar and flour. Financiers are often baked in rectangular-shaped molds which are suppose to resemble a bars of gold. You can find these molds in cooking shops, such as 4Chef, in Tel Aviv.

The dessert was a huge hit and I will definitely make this again. I made the semifreddo a couple of days in advance and made the financiers the day before, but you could easily make these several days before and freeze them.

The dessert was served with Mimi’s delicious homemade liqueurs. On offer were lemoncello, geranium, apricot, strawberry and coffee. I love all of them, but my personal favorite is apricot.

Saffron Semifreddo with Cherry Cardamom Syrup and Salted Honey Hazelnuts

Serving Size: 6

For the Saffron semifreddo:

5 large egg yolks

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon high quality saffron threads

1 tablespoon sweet vermouth

1 cup double (heavy) cream

For cherry-cardamom syrup:

1/2 cup dried, unsweetened cherries

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cardamom, toasted

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup filtered water

For the salted honey-hazelnuts:

1/2 cup hazelnuts

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 teaspoons honey

For the Saffron semifreddo:

Bring a small saucepan or double boiler with water to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. Have an ice water bath big enough for the base of the double boiler or mixing bowl on standby.

In a medium glass bowl or the pan of a double boiler, combine the egg yolks, sugar, and saffron threads. Place the bowl or pan over the simmering water and whisk constantly until the mixture is thick and doubled in volume.

Remove from heat and submerge in the ice water bath, continuing to stir to bring down the temperature. If the mixture gets too cold and is sticking to the bottom of the pan, it will release easily if you run hot water on the outside of the bowl.

Beat the heavy cream in a mixer until soft peaks form. Set aside.

Place the egg yolk mixture and the sweet vermouth in the bowl of mixer with a whip attachment, and whip until the mixture becomes thick and pale in color.

Add a third of the whipped cream to the egg mixture and stir together gently. Fold in the remaining whipped cream into the egg mixture. When this is done, you can spoon the mixture into 6 individual ramekins, or place it in a plastic cellophane lined loaf pan, or decorative silicone mold of your choice. Cover the ramekins or other container with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, at least 6 hours. To serve, run a butter knife under hot water and cut around the edge of the ramekin to invert the semifreddo onto individual plates. Serve with the cherry-cardamom syrup and salted honey-hazelnuts (recipes to follow).

For cherry-cardamom syrup:

Combine all of the ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the syrup is reduced by half and coats the back of a spoon. Set aside to cool.

For the salted honey-hazelnuts:

Preheat oven to 180C (350F) degrees.

Place the hazelnuts in a small mixing bowl and toss with the olive oil and sea salt. Add honey and toss once more to coat. Transfer the nuts to a silpat-lined baking sheet and bake, stirring at least once, until the nuts are golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Once the hazelnuts have cooled, roughly chop the nuts and serve alongside the semifreddo.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2010/05/16/shavuot-ideas-saffron-semifreddo-with-a-dried-cherry-cardamom-sauce-and-almond-orange-financiers/

 

Almond-Orange Financiers

Yield: 21 5 x 10-cm (2 x 4-inch) financiers or 50 mini

30g (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted, for buttering 21 financier molds

140g (1 cup) almond flour or finely ground blanched almonds

210g (1-2/3 cups) icing (confectioner's) sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Zest of one large orange

Pinch of salt

5 large egg whites

185 g (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Preheat the oven to 220C (425F).

With a pastry brush, butter the financier molds with the 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Arrange them side-by-side, but not touching, on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet with the buttered molds in the freezer to re-solidify the butter and make the financiers easier to unmold.

In a large bowl, combine the almonds, sugar, flour, orange zest and salt. Mix to blend. Add the egg whites and mix until thoroughly combined. Add the 3/4 cup of butter and mix until blended. The mixture will be fairly thin and pourable.

Spoon the batter into the molds, filling them almost to the rim. Place the baking sheet in the center of the oven. Bake until the financiers just being to rise, about 7 minutes. Reduce the heat to 200C (400F). Bake until the financiers are a light, delicate brown and begin to firm up, about another 7 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the financiers rest in the oven until firm, about another 7 minutes.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the financiers cool in the molds for 10 minutes. Unmold.

(Note: If you are using metal Financier molds, then wash them immediately with a stiff brush in hot water without detergent so that they retain their seasoning.) The financiers may be stored in an airtight container for several days.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2010/05/16/shavuot-ideas-saffron-semifreddo-with-a-dried-cherry-cardamom-sauce-and-almond-orange-financiers/

Pre-Rosh Hashana Breakfast

I love weekend breakfasts. It is our time to talk about something interesting or just look at each other lovingly without saying anything at all for a couple of minutes. It is our time to read an interesting story or listen to early music. It has become our weekend ritual. So, in preparing for Rosh Hashana last week, my husband decided to make a lovely herb-potato frittata to go with the Whole Wheat Apple-Walnut Batard I made for the weekend.

My mother is a addicted to cookbooks and every time I go back to the States for a visit, I usually find one or two new ones on her cookbook shelves. She had the shelves custom made when she renovated her kitchen umpty-ump years ago. One visit, I spied a new cookbook that I quickly fell in love with. It is called The Cook and the Gardener: A Year of Recipes and Writings from the French Countryside. The author, Amanda Hesser, wrote a lovely book about her year adventure that she spent as a cook in a seventeenth-century chateau in Burgundy. What I love about the book is that it is separated into the four seasons. She is a beautiful writer and really takes you on a visual trip to the French countryside. The recipes are quite precise and I find them easy to follow.

Apple-Walnut Batard

The texture of the batard is really nice. The only complaint I have is that either the bread did not rise enough or the recipe calls for too much filling. Next time I am going to gently knead the filling into the dough and see if it works out better. It turned it out more like apple-walnut stuffed bread. In spite of that, the bread is still appley and delicious, and it goes especially well with a thin slice of Gouda.

Apple-Walnut Batard Slice

Whole Wheat Apple - Walnut Batard

Yield: 1 Batard

Starter after 12 hours

Simple Bread Starter

1/2 teaspoon dry yeast or 25g (1 teaspoon) fresh cake yeast

2 tablespoons warm water

1/2 cup water, at room temperature

1 cup all-purpose flour

Whole Wheat Dough

1/2 teaspoon dry yeast or 25g (1 teaspoon) fresh cake yeast

1 tablespoon warm water

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 tablespoon milk

1 recipe Starter (see above)

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt

1/2-3/4 cup rye flour

Bread Dough

1 recipe Whole Wheat Dough (see above)

6 tablespoons raw sugar

2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thin

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

All purpose flour, for shaping

Whole wheat flour, for rising

For the bread starter:

Make the starter one day ahead. In a small bowl, stir the yeast into the 2 tablespoons of warm water and let the mixture stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining water and the flour, and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth, 2-3 minutes. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let ferment in a cool place, 8-12 hours.

For the dough:

n a medium mixing bowl, stir the yeast into the water and let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Then stir in the olive oil, milk, and Starter, stirring to break up the latter.

Thick as Paint

Dough Forming Ball

he texture should be that of house paint. Add the whole wheat flour, stirring to mix, then the salt and the rye flour, adding it 1/4 cup at a time and stirring to mix with a wooden spoon until the ingredients begin to clump together in a large ball.

First Knead

Turn out onto a floured board and knead, incorporating the remaining flour, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Use a pastry scraper to help lift and clear the dough from the work surface so you don't need to add to much flour. Make sure to work quickly, as whole wheat flour tends to stick more readily than white, and slap the dough against the work surface from time to time - this develops tenacity in the dough. Place the dough in a tall oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, 2 to 2-1/2 hours. Then proceed with filling the bread dough.

Caramelised Apples

Prepare the filling. In a skillet (preferably an iron skillet) large enough to hold the apples, heat half of the sugar over medium-high heat until it melts and begins to bubble. Carefully, add the apple slices, spreading them out to cover the base of the pan. Saute until the apple begins to color, but is not cooked through, about 3 minutes. You should do this over medium-high heat because you want the apple to color as quickly as possible without burning the sugar. Adjust the temperature as necessary, and remember the sugar holds its heat well, especially in an iron pan. Sprinkle the uncooked sides with the remaining sugar and turn them over. Once they are well browned on the other side, 5 to 7 minutes, remove to a plate or bowl to let cool.

After the first rising, punch the dough down and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Shape into a loose round loaf and let rest for 15 minutes. Lay a dish towel on top of a baking sheet and rub a thick layer of whole wheat flour into to it so the dough will not stick to the towel.

Apple-Walnut Filling

Using as little flour as possible to keep the dough from sticking to the board and your hands, pound out the loaf into an oval, 1/2 inch thick. Spread the cooled walnuts and apples evenly over the dough.

Batard Second Rise

Working lengthwise, roll the dough into a log, as tight as possible. Pinch the seam to seal it, and transfer to the dish towel, seam-side up. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

A half hour before baking, heat the oven to 220C (425F), and place the baking stone in the lower third of the oven. Place a small pan of water on the lowest rack.

When the dough is ready, invert the risen loaf onto the baking stone and bake until risen and browned, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the pan of water after the first 15 minutes. Test the loaf by tapping on the bottom of it with your knuckle. If it sounds hollow, it's done. Remove to a baking rack and let cool completely before slicing.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2008/10/01/pre-rosh-hashana-breakfast/

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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