Ringing in 2011 with a Gourmet Dinner

New Year's Eve 2011 Dinner

New Year’s Eve, Mr BT and I celebrated our anniversary and 2011 with a gourmet romantic dinner. Our anniversary was actually the day before, but I had more time to prepare a lovely meal on Friday, so we had an anniversary/Shabbat/2011 special meal.

Last week, I found two beautiful goose breast fillets and some very large bright yellow quinces. I thought these would be two perfect ingredients for a romantic anniversary dinner. I made goose breast with a quince and red currant sauce, roasted butternut squash, Jerusalem artichokes and potato, and steamed broccoli. For dessert, I made a luscious quince tarte tatin. All washed down with the perfect anniversary wine: Saslove Winery’s Marriage 2009 wine, which is made of three varieties of grapes: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Syrah.

This year, Mr BT and I will be searching for a home to call our own. Something we have dreamed about for a long time. I hope that 2011 is filled with more foodie adventures that I can share with you. And, I hope that all of your hopes and dreams come true this year.

Mr BT and I wish you all a very happy, healthy, peaceful and delicious 2011.

Goose Breast with Quince and Red Currant Sauce

Caramelised Goose Breast with Quince and Red Currant Sauce

Serving Size: 2

Butternut Squash, Jerusalem Artichokes and Potato

For the vegetables:

180g (1 cup) butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes

180g (1 cup) Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and cut into cubes

180g (1 cup) roasting potatoes, cubed

2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped

3 tablespoons of olive oil

Salt and pepper

Goose Breast

For the goose:

2 goose breast fillets, about 200g (7oz) each

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 piece of fresh ginger, about 2 1/2 cm (1 inch), minced

For the sauce:

1 medium poached quince, diced

1 shallot, minced

4 tablespoons port

1 piece of fresh ginger, about 2 1/2 cm (1 inch), minced

100ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine

1 strand of fresh red currants or 1/4 cup of thawed and drained fresh-frozen

1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Place the butternut squash, Jerusalem artichoke and potato on a baking tray in one layer. Sprinkle the fresh thyme and massage in the olive oil until the vegetables are coated evenly with the thyme and the oil. Sprinkle the vegetables with salt and pepper and roast them for 15-25 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

After the vegetables are ready, preheat the oven to 220C (425F).

Season the goose breast with salt and pepper. Heat a dry pan over medium-high heat. Sear the goose, skin-side down, until golden. Turn the breast over and cook for another couple of minutes. Add the honey, mustard and ginger to the pan, and baste the goose a few times. Transfer the goose to a roasting pan with a rack and roast in the oven for 5 minutes. Do not overcook. The goose should be slightly pink in the center.

Meanwhile, add the quince and shallot to the pan in which you seared the goose, keeping the goose fat in the pan to help thicken the sauce. Add the port to deglaze the pan, bring to the boil and simmer until reduced by half. Add the ginger and the white wine, return to the boil and simmer to reduce again. Season with salt and pepper, and add the red currants and chives.

To serve, place the roasted vegetables on the center of the plate, slice the goose breast and place on top and pour the sauce on top of the goose.


Quince Tarte Tatin

Quince Tarte Tatin
by David Lebovitz

The is one of the best tartes Tatin I have ever had and Mr BT thought so too. It is not too sweet and really shows off the quince.

Hamin – Slow Cooking for the Soul

Israeli Hamin, North African Shahina and Dafina, Iraqi Tabit, Yemenite Taris, Hungarian Solet, Kurdish Matfunia, Ladino Haminado, German Shalet and Eastern European Cholent or Chulent are all words for a Shabbat slow-cooked meal that has been made since at least the 12th century and possibly as far back as ancient Egypt in many households except my own. Whatever you choose to call it, hamin originates from the ban on lighting a fire or cooking during Shabbat, since these are considered to be forbidden forms of work. However, it’s permitted to start something cooking before Shabbat starts, so provided the heat is kept low enough, it’s possible to start cooking the hamin on Friday afternoon and have a nice tender slow-cooked meal for lunch on Saturday.

I had never heard of this dish until I moved to Israel. I remember my grandmother telling me how she and my great-grandmother would make challot at home and take them to the village baker to bake on Friday morning, but she never mentioned making this stew and my great-grandmother, who died when I was 19 years old, never made it for Shabbat, so I have to assume that this dish was as unfamiliar to my family as was gefilte fish.

Growing up in the Deep South, baked beans, pinto beans, and blackeyed peas were all readily available, but not a very popular staple in my house. My mother loved all of these, but I always thought they were disgusting. So when I saw cholent for the first time, it reminded me of refried beans or baked beans, two dishes that I really disliked. I tried it once at the house of one of my relatives in Israel, but I couldn’t bring myself to eat it again. However, one day I was discussing my dislike of cholent with Mimi of Israeli Kitchen and she told me that there are many different types of cholent, some without beans, that I should try.

I started doing some research and found that there are Sephardic versions that use chickpeas, bulgar, rice, and even couscous instead of the European versions that use white beans (also called navy beans) or barley, like the ones used in cassoulet. The Ashkenazi ones used beef, goose, and duck while the Sephardic ones used beef, lamb and chicken. This dish is supposed to be a complete main course in one pot, so it also can contain stuffed goose necks, chicken necks or stomach.  If you are Ashkenazi the stuffing is likely to be some variation of flour, bread crumbs, chicken, goose or duck fat and potatoes; if you are Sephardi, it is more likely to be minced meat and rice flavored with spices such as cinnamon, cardamon and allspice.

The hamin may also may contain dumplings. Kurdish Jews make a cracked wheat and semolina dumpling that is stuffed with minced beef or lamb; Moroccan Jews serve a large fragrant dumpling made with a mixture of ground nuts, minced lamb, mince beef and bread crumbs, flavoured with sugar, black pepper, mace, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg.

For my virgin hamin, I found an interesting recipe from the master chef of cholent, Sherry Ansky, a food writer who is passionate about this slow-cooked dish, so much so, that she devoted an entire book to the subject, punctuated by stories from her own life about the role different types of hamin and cholent had played for her. I chose to make a root vegetable hamin with asado or short ribs and goose drumsticks. This recipe does not contain the dreaded bean nor the much loved slowed eggs that I also loathe. I started by browning the meat and the vegetables in a large frying pan and then did the next stage of cooking in a large soup pot, and only after that moved all the ingredients to a very large clay pot, but if you have a large enough Dutch oven or Pojke, then you can just do the whole job in that one pot. You should cook this for about 20 hours, including the one hour it cooks on the stove top.

Since I never prepare a heavy Shabbat lunch, I decided to make this Thursday night and serve it for Shabbat dinner. It is a bit unconventional, but it worked for us. This hamin is delicious and I have been converted. I am going to wait a few weeks, but I would like to try another hamin. I see an Iraqi Tabit in our future or maybe one with pitim or maybe one with pasta……

Don’t plan any activities after lunch because you will probably be too heavy and bloated to even move from the table.

Root Vegetable Hamin

Serving Size: 6 to 8

Adapted from a recipe in Hamin (in Hebrew) by Sherry Ansky

Hamin Ingredients

2 kilos (4lbs) veal or lamb osso buco (I used short ribs)

1 kilo goose drumsticks

10 whole shallots, peeled

2 heads of garlic, unpeeled, cut in half

3 to 4 celery stalks, chopped

2 celery roots

2 parsley roots

4 to 6 small turnips

1/2 (1lb) kilo Jerusalem artichokes

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne

1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika

2 -3 bay leaves

3 sprigs fresh thyme

2-3 fresh sage leaves

2 sprigs rosemary

3 medium tomatoes chopped or 250g crushed tomatoes

1 tablespoon tomato paste

6 to 7 potatoes, peeled and cut in half

2-3 small sweet potatoes (optional, instead of some of the potatoes), peeled and cut into thick slices

Water to cover

Peel and cut the turnips, celery root, parsley root and Jerusalem artichokes into large cubes. Place the root vegetables and celery in a bowl and set aside.

Place 1 tablespoon of oil in a large Dutch oven on medium-high heat. Brown the meat and goose drumsticks, in batches, on all sides, and set aside in a bowl.

Add 2-3 more tablespoons of oil, reduce the heat to medium and saute the whole shallots for 3-4 minutes. Add all of the root vegetables except for the potatoes. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon to ensure that the vegetables do not stick to the bottom of the pot. Add the paprika, cayenne, black peppercorns, chopped tomatoes and tomato paste and stir a little more.

Root Vegetable Hamin

Then return all of the meat to the pot and stir everything together. Pour on enough boiling water to just cover all of the ingredients and add the thyme, bay leaf, sage, and rosemary. Reduce the temperature to a simmer and cook for one hour. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 90-100C (195 - 212F).

Add the potatoes and garlic, add a little more salt to taste, cover the pot tightly and put it in the oven until lunchtime the following day.


Goose Ossobuco with Quince

It is finally quince season here in Israel and I love to make savory autumn meals with this tasty fruit. The supermarket had a special on goose right before Rosh Hashana, so I decided to buy several packs of goose ribs from Hungary. At least that is what they are called on the package in Hebrew.

Goose ribs, you say with a laugh….well, actually they are goose drumsticks that have been trimmed to look like lamb ossobuco. So, I decided to make goose “ossobuco” with quince for Shabbat dinner. I wanted to serve it over polenta, but it is not cold enough to have that hearty a meal. I served it over couscous and with Mr BT’s grilled asparagus as a first course. I would recommend making this a day ahead to enhance all of the wonderful flavours of this dish. The taste actually got richer when I reheated it the next day. Goose can be fairly tough, but the meat absolutely fell off the bone.

This dish should be served with a hearty red wine, such as a Shiraz.

Goose Ossobuco with Quince

Serving Size: 4

2kg (4 1/2lbs) goose drumsticks (skin removed and half of the leg bone has been cut off)

2 quince

Juice of one lemon

8 large shallots, chopped finely

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

4 tablespoons Olive oil

2 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/2 bottle dry red wine

2 liters (4 pints) chicken stock

Few sprigs of thyme

1 large bay leaf

Preheat oven to 180C (350F).

Peel, core, and cut the quince into quarters. Place in a small bowl and squeeze the juice of one lemon on top of the quince. Set aside.

In a dutch oven, heat the olive oil on medium-low heat. Add the shallots and garlic and gently cook them until soft and lightly colored. Add the flour cook the flour mixture for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomato paste and gradually add in the red wine to avoid forming lumps. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add the goose drumsticks, quince, thyme, bay leaf, and simmer for 15 minutes. Transfer the dutch oven to the oven, covered, and cook for two hours or until the goose is tender.

Serve over polenta, couscous, quinoa, or pasta.


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