Cookies Perfect for Passover

I remember Passovers past at my grandparents’ and parents’ houses were always large and boisterous with at least 25-30 people attending, spread over two or three tables. We always invited friends who didn’t have anywhere else to go, and also the stray Jewish soldiers who were “stuck” at Fort McClellan during their basic training. Occasionally, we had a visiting Israeli soldier or two share the seder with us. I really miss these seders, my grandparents, my great-aunts and uncles, the wonderful food, the family tunes, waiting for Uncle Alfred or Papa to proudly read the last stanza of “Had Gadya” in one breath, ribbing my uncle Don about watering my wine, misbehaving at the “children’s” table (some of who were over 30), and the seder discussions. I must admit that I am more than teary-eyed as I am writing this post.

The seder was always a grand affair: the unveiling of the grand china, crystal, and silver, the beautiful way Alberta plated the individual servings of the haroset, hard-boiled egg and karpas. The lamb that my father carefully slathered with mustard and basted every 30 minutes, the minted peas in lettuce cups, the wild rice mixture or boiled new potatoes, and the pièce de résistance, the matza balls swimming in golden chicken soup. For dessert, Mama’s lovingly-made matza schalet with its beautiful crunchy crust and creamy lemon custard with just the right sourness.

Since moving to Israel, we attend the seder at my cousin’s or their in-laws where we share their seder traditions and variety of food from Poland, Bulgaria and  Russia: gefilte fish, fritas de prasa, and matza blini. The younger generations add their own traditions like rocket and endive salad with walnuts and pears. And, Mr BT and I are bringing new traditions to their seder: Italian haroset and whatever flourless dessert tickles my fancy.

This year I decided to bring a tray of cookies and found two easy and delicious recipes for fudgy chocolate-walnut cookies and a variation of Sicilian pistachio cookies which Mr BT and I enjoyed eating at a bakery in Venice. Both of these cookies were a huge hit. I really liked the salty-sweetness of the pistachio cookies, and the other cookies were a chocolate lover’s delight. I couldn’t find any orange blossom water for the pistachio cookies as I had wanted, but it will add a slight orangey floral note.

Don’t be afraid to add new traditions to your seder table. There is always room for the old and new traditions.

Flourless Chocolate Walnut Cookies

Fudgy Chocolate-Walnut Cookies

Yield: 1-1/2 dozen

320g (9oz or 2-3/4 cups) walnut halves

3 cups icing (confectioners') sugar

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 large egg whites, at room temperature, not beaten

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with a silpat liner or parchment paper.

Spread the walnut halves on a large rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 9 minutes, until they are golden and fragrant. Let cool slightly, then transfer the walnut halves to a work surface and finely chop them.

In a large bowl, whisk the icing sugar with the cocoa powder and salt to combine. Whisk in the chopped walnuts. Add the egg whites and vanilla extract and beat just until the batter is moistened (do not over beat the mixture or it will stiffen). Spoon a tablespoon of the batter for each cookie onto the baking sheets.

Bake the cookies for 16- 20 minutes, depending on your oven, until the tops of the cookies are glossy and lightly cracked and feel firm to the touch; shift the pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through.

Slide the parchment paper (with the cookies) onto 2 wire racks to cool completely before serving. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Flourless Pistachio Cookies

Pastine di Pistacchio

Yield: 1 dozen

(Flourless Pistachio Cookies)

190g (7oz) pistachios (roasted and salted)

100g (3.5 oz) almond meal

120 grams (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) caster (granulated) sugar

2 egg whites, room temperature, not beaten

1 teaspoon orange blossom water (optional)

A few drops of green food colouring (optional)

Icing (confectioners') sugar for dusting (optional)

Preheat the oven to 170C (325F). Line a baking sheet with a silpat liner or parchment paper.

Grind 90 grams of the pistachios finely and set aside. Chop the remaining 100 grams roughly and place in a plate or flat bowl for rolling.

Put the finely ground pistachios, almond meal, sugar, egg whites, optional orange blossom water and optional food colouring in a large bowl. Mix just until the batter is moistened, do not over beat. If the batter is too moist, add a little more almond meal.

Form one tablespoon of the batter into balls and roll in the chopped pistachios. Place the cookies about 2 centimeters (3/4 inch) apart and bake for approximately 13 minutes. Let cook for 10 minutes before moving to a baking rack. Dust with icing sugar, when cooled.

Georgian Meatballs with Walnuts and Sour Cherries

Georgian food is not widely known, but it has a mixture of Eastern European, Central Asian, and Middle Eastern influences. They make dumplings like you find in Poland and Russian and  Khachapuri, which is similar to Turkish pide with kashkaval cheese. One of their famous dishes is chicken with walnut sauce and you will find numerous different recipes for walnut sauce. Some of them contain garlic and herbs, such as Satsivi,  and others contain red wine vinegar or pomegranate molasses, such as Bazhe.

I decided to make a delicious and easy Georgian kebab or meatball recipe. It contains dried sour cherries and walnuts. You can add pinenuts instead of walnuts, but I like the earthy taste of the walnuts. Don’t leave out the mint in this recipe because it really adds to the flavour of the kebab.

Georgian Meatballs with Walnuts and Sour Cherries

Serving Size: 4

7 ounces ground veal

7 ounces ground chicken

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

1/4 cup dried sour cherries, chopped

1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped and lightly toasted or toasted pinenuts

1/2 teaspoon Hungarian paprika

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1 egg white, lightly whipped

1/4 cup of fresh parsley, finely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

Georgian Kebab

Combine the veal and chicken in a bowl, then add the onion, garlic, sour cherries, pine nuts, paprika, allspice, and cinnamon. Mix well, then add the egg white and mix again. Finally, add the fresh herbs and salt and pepper to taste and mix thoroughly.

Shape the mixture into small balls the size of golf balls. Heat the oil in a frying pan, then sauté the meatballs, a few at a time, turning occasionally, until cooked through and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Italian Soufganyiot – Frittole

Chag Hannukah Sameach everyone! Happy Hannukah.

We were invited to a lovely Hannukah party at a friend’s house. So, I decided to make an Italian fritter that is usually made for Carnevale, but is quite fitting for our oily festival. Every region in Italy has their own fritter recipe: mine is from the imaginary province of Italy where we live in central Israel.

Our landlord recently surprised us one Friday morning by planting three lovely citrus trees: a clementine, a lemon, and an orange tree. He also brought us a large box of clementines and oranges to eat.

So, I decided to make some candied orange peel with some of the oranges and they were a perfect addition to the Hannukah fritters. These are lightly candied because I do not like to make them with a lot of sugar.

These fritters are also not too sweet because I cut the sugar in half. So, if you have a sweet tooth, you can make them with 1/2 cup of sugar. I also think the dusting of sugar is not necessary because the sweetness of the apples and the candied orange is enough.

Because they are not fried for very long, the apples remain crunchy enough to still taste fresh. Mr. BT thinks that next time we should also add some fresh or candied ginger to the batter in order to give it a real kick.

Frittole di Mela, Uvetta, Scorza D'arancia Candita E Pistacchio

Yield: Approximately 20-30 fritters

(Apple, Raisin, Candied Orange Rind and Pistachio Fritters) Adapted from a recipe from Kyle Phillips of ItalianFoodAbout.Com

No yeast method:

2 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour, plus 2 more tablespoons

1/4 cup sugar, plus more for dusting (if you want)

3/4 cup whole milk (may need to add a little more)

2 eggs

1/2 cup raisins, muscatel if possible

1/2 cup chopped pistachios or whole pine nuts

1/2 cup candied orange rind, minced

2 large granny smith apples


2 teaspoons baking powder

Zest and juice of one small lemon

Oil for frying

Yeast method:

20g fresh yeast or 1 sachet instant dried yeast

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon warm milk

2 cups flour

Pinch salt

1/4 cup sugar, plus more for dusting (if you want)

1/2 cup raisins, muscatel if possible

1/2 chopped pistachios or whole pine nuts

1/2 cup candied orange rind, minced

2 granny smith apples


Zest and juice of one small lemon

Oil for frying

No yeast method:

Put the raisins in a small bowl and soak in brandy for one hour, until plump.

Grate the zest of the lemon. Peel, core and cut the apples into a medium dice. Set aside and sprinkle the juice of the lemon you just zested on the apples.

Mix the eggs, sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl. Add the flour, baking powder and milk. Then fold in the pistachio nuts, apples and candied orange. Drain the raisins well and dust them with the 2 tablespoons of flour, shaking them in a strainer to remove the excess flour. Fold them into the flour mixture.

Heat the oil on medium-high heat and when it is hot, drop the batter a tablespoon at a time into the hot oil. Fry on both sides until golden brown. Drain them on absorbent paper and dust optionally with sugar.

Serve immediately. These do not keep well.

Yeast method:

Put the raisins in a small bowl and soak in brandy for one hour, until plump.

In another bowl, mix together yeast and warm milk. Add flour, salt, sugar, apples, pistachios, candied peel and raisins to the batter. Whisk together well to make a thick batter. Cover and leave in a warm place for 2-3 hours, or until volume has doubled.

Heat the oil on medium-high heat and when it is hot, drop the batter a tablespoon at a time into the hot oil. Fry on both sides until golden brown. Drain them on absorbent paper and dust optionally with sugar.

Ice Cream – Middle Eastern Style

L to R: Roasted Apricot-Almond Ice Cream and Tehina-Pistachio Ice Cream

It is quite hot here now and I thought it was time to pull the ice cream maker out again. I took a look at my long list of ice cream recipes and really didn’t see anything that tickled my fancy, so I started thinking about what ingredients are available right now and one of them was fresh apricots. As most of you know by now, I love to experiment with different ingredients and I didn’t want to make some ordinary apricot ice cream, so I thought about what spices would go well with apricots…. ras al hanout. I got the idea for this ice cream from a recipe from a fellow blogger, Mike’s Table. He is hosting a blog event called “You Scream, I Scream, We All Scream for Frozen Desserts“. I can’t wait to see the other entries.

The other ingredient I have wanted to experiment with for quite a while is raw tehina (sesame paste). I didn’t want to use sugar to sweeten the tehina because it just didn’t sound right to me, so I decided the perfect sweetener in keeping with its Middle Eastern roots would be date honey, also known as silan in Hebrew.

The apricot ice cream came out nice and creamy with a strong fruity taste, although perhaps not quite as acid as I would have liked. Next time, I will try adding some dried sour apricots as well.

The tehina ice cream is creamy and has a smoky sesame flavor that is reminiscent of halva. It is not too sweet and the pistachios add a nice crunch. Next time, I will add some chopped dates to the mixture.

They are both delicious ice creams and will be added to the top of my ice cream recipes.


Roasted Apricot-Almond Ice Cream

Yield: About 1 liter (quart)

12 ripe apricots

2 teaspoons ras al hanout

1 tablespoon sugar plus some for sprinkling

2 tablespoons honey

1 cup double cream

Small squeeze lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 egg yolks

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 cup whole almonds with the skins

Roasted Apricots

Preheat oven to 220C (425F). Cut the apricots in half, remove the seed, and place the halved apricots, cut side up in a baking dish. Sprinkle them with sugar and the ras al hanout. Roast them in the oven until they are caramelised (as shown in the picture above). Let them cool for 20 minutes. Puree the apricots, honey and any juices from the baking dish in a food processor or blender. Transfer to a bowl and mix with 1/2 cup of the cream, lemon juice and vanilla. Mix well and set up in an ice bath with a strainer on top.

Ice Cream Base

Meanwhile scald the remaining 1/2 cream and 1/2 cup of whole milk, talking care not to boil it. In the bowl, beat the egg yolks and 1 tablespoon of sugar until creamy. Temper the eggs with a scoop of the hot cream and slowly add the rest. Place the egg-cream mixture in a clean saucepan and cook at medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of spoon.

Pour the cooked custard through the strainer, discarding the solids, into the cooled apricot mixture and whisk all together. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming and put in the refrigerator for about six hours.

While the custard cools, toast the almonds on a cookie sheet in a 200C (400F) oven for about 5-10 minutes, shaking them halfway through to prevent burning. Once they have cooled, cut the almonds in half.

When the custard is cold, place it in a ice cream maker, and follow the manufacturer's instructions. Add the almonds during the last minute or two of churning. Transfer to the freezer and eat when ready.

Tehina-Pistachio Ice Cream

1 cup raw tehina (raw sesame paste)

2 cups full fat milk

1 cup double cream

4 egg yolks

1/2 cup date honey (silan)

2 teaspoons vanilla

3/4 cup roasted pistachios, roughly chopped

Scald the milk in a saucepan, taking care not to boil. Remove from the heat and add the tehina, mix well, cover, and let steep for about an hour. In a bowl whisk the egg yolks and date honey.

Rewarm the milk mixture and strain into the yolk mixture, constantly stirring, using a spatuala to extract as much of the milk-tehina mixture as possible. Discard the solids.

Tehina Ice Cream Base

Place the egg-tehina mixture in a clean saucepan and cook at medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of spoon. Strain the mixture once again, and cool over ice-cold water. Chill in the refrigerator, add the double cream and churn it in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.

Shavuot 2008 – Updated

Being away for most of May didn’t give me a lot of time to decide what to make for Shavuot this year. I decided to keep it simple and not over do it. My menu was:

Salad of baby mixed greens with nectarines

Trout stuffed with dried apricots and pistachios

Mashed potatoes with basil

Steamed broccoli

All of the dishes were delicious. I have to admit the trout dish really caught my eye because of the unusual stuffing. I would have never have thought that apricot and pistachios should be stuffed inside of any fish, but it really married well with the trout. The sour apricots and the crunch of the pistachios lent such a nice flavour to the mild flavour of the trout. I will definitely make this again.

Trout Stuffed with Dried Apricots and Pistachios

Serving Size: 2

25g/1oz white breadcrumbs

55g/2oz dried sour (California) apricots, finely chopped

2 tablespoons parsley or coriander, finely chopped

40g/1-1/2 oz pistachio nuts, finely chopped

55g/2oz melted butter

Salt and pepper

2 fresh whole trout, gutted and rinsed

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F).

Apricot-Pistachio Stuffing

Place the breadcrumbs, apricots, parsley, pistachios, half the butter, salt and pepper into a bowl and mix well.

Stuffed Trout

Place each of the trout on a large sheet of buttered foil on a baking tray. Spoon half the mixture into each of cavities. Brush the trout with the rest of the melted butter and enclose the foil around each of the fish to form two parcels. Place the tray into the oven for 25-30 minutes. Remove from the foil and serve.


I know you are going to say that every French baker is going to sentence me to death for making brioche with whole wheat flour, but I have to tell you that the bread was delicious. Okay, it wasn’t as delicate as regular brioche, but it is was still very tasty.

Whole Wheat Brioche with Dried Fruit

Yield: 2 loaves

1/2 cup hand-hot water

1 tablespoon dried yeast or 25g fresh yeast

3 tablespoons sugar

6 large eggs, room temperature

4-1/2 cups whole wheat flour or white flour (for traditional brioche)

2 teaspoons salt

226g (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature

1 cup of mixed dried fruit (such as cranberries, raisins, apricots)

1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon milk, for egg wash

Combine the water, yeast and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.

Let stand for five minutes to let the yeast and sugar dissolve.

Add the eggs and beat at medium speed for one minute, until well mixed. At low speed, add two cups of flour and the salt. Mix for five minutes. Add an additional two cups of flour and mix for five minutes. Still on low speed, add the softened butter in chunks and mix for two minutes, scraping down the beater and sides of the bowl, until well blended. Sprinkle in the remaining 1/2 cup of flour.

Use the dough hook or knead the dough by hand for two minutes. Scrape the dough into a large buttered bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

The next day, allow the dough to sit a room temperature for one hour. Grease two loaf pans. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and cut in half. Pat each portion into a rectangle, then roll up each rectangle into a cylindrical loaf. Place each loaf, seam-side down, into a greased pan. Cover the pans with a damp towel and set aside to rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, 2 to 2-1/2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). When the dough has risen, brush the top of each with the egg wash and bake for approximately 45 minutes or until the top springs back and it sounds slightly hollow when tapped. Turn the loaves onto a wire rack to cool.

Torta di Chioccolata al Forno con Vaniglia e Nocciola (Perugian-style chocolate hazelnut cheesecake)

This cheesecake is to die for! I used Israeli 5% white cheese instead of cream cheese and it was just as creamy, but with a lot less calories. I am not a big chocolate eater, but this was made with 60% bittersweet chocolate and it was just sweet enough. I really liked that this recipe did not call for a lot of sugar and the hazelnuts really make the cake. I felt like I was eating a Perugina Baci. Smacking delicious it was.

Chag Sameach everyone!

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):


Yield: About 45 biscuits

Venetian Jewish Almond Cookies


500g all purpose flour

275g sugar

3 small or medium eggs

125 ml corn oil


250g whole blanched almonds

200g sugar

2 eggs

Zest of one lemon

Impade Dough

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.

Impade Almond Filling

Grind the almonds and place in bowl. Add the sugar, lemon zest, the eggs and mix well.

Preheat the oven to 200C (400F).

Rolled dough

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.

Rolled out and filled

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.

Impade Prebaked

Then shape the dough into the shape of the letter "S".


Bake the biscuits at 200C (400F) for 5 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 180C (350F) for an additional 15 minutes.

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.

Erev Sukkot

Wednesday night was the beginning of the seven day festival of Sukkot. The word Sukkot is the plural of the Hebrew word sukkah, which means booth or hut. During this holiday, Jews are suppose to build a temporary structure in which to eat their meals, entertain guests, relax, and even sleep. The sukkah can be built of any materials, but its roof must be an organic material, such as palm fronds or tree branches, and it must be partially open to the sky.

On each of the seven days of Sukkot, the Torah requires that Jews should take four species of plants and shake them in a specific manner. These species are: the lulav (date palm frond), hadass (bough of a myrtle tree), aravah (willow branch), which are bound together and collectively referred to as the lulav, and the etrog (a citron, a lemon-like citrus fruit). The shaking of the lulav with the etrog is done in the synagogue and in the Sukkah.

There isn’t really any typical dishes for Sukkot. A lot of people make dishes with fruit, such as quince, pomegranates and apples. I decided to try two new recipes for the evening meal. For the main course I prepared Honey-Barbecued Short Ribs with Rosemary-Glazed Corn on the Cob and I prepared a Quince-Bay Leaf Tart with Pistachio Crust for dessert. Both of the dishes were delicious, but we prefer the other short rib recipe I made for Lag B’Omer.

The quince tart recipe called for one large quince, so I used two medium size ones and it was clearly not enough, but too late to do anything about it, so I topped the quince with two sliced apples.

Honey-Barbecued Short Ribs with Rosemary-Glazed Corn on the Cob
(I used thyme instead of rosemary)

Quince Tart with Pistachio Crust

Slice of tart

Quince-Bay Leaf Tart with Pistachio Crust

Serving Size: 6 to 8


4 medium quinces

4 large bay leaves

1/4 cup vanilla sugar or 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla


60 g (1/3 cup) pistachio nuts

100 g (7 tablespoons) unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon salt

75 g (5 tablespoons) sugar

150 g (2/3 cup) flour

Quince and Bay Leaf

Use a mandolin to slice the quince in thin, even slices. Place the quince slices, bay leaves and sugar in a saucepan. Add enough water to cover and simmer until the quince is soft and the water has evaporated. This could take 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Pistachio Crust

Place the pistachios in a Cuisinart and pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Mix together the nuts, butter, sugar, and flour until it forms into a dough. This is a basic butter crust recipe and it will be a little dry.

Press the dough in a lightly greased tart pan and add the quince filling. Bake in a pre-heated oven (175°C/ 347°F) for 25-30 minutes or slightly brown on the top.

Wedding Fit for a Baroness

I was married for the first time this past December. Originally the wedding was planned in the spring in Israel. It was going to be a beautiful garden affair in an old Arab villa, called the Green Villa, overlooking Tel Aviv. But, unfortunately we had to cancel this wedding and two long years later, we finally had an unexpected dream wedding.

Wedding planning can be quite stressful on a couple and we were certainly not devoid of this stress. After much deliberation, we decided that it was more important to have my family at the wedding and so we embarked on planning a wedding in my hometown in the US. It was a difficult decision because my husband wanted his friends at his wedding, but he had already been married once and he knew that since it was my first wedding, my family was more important.

My dress was made in Israel two years ago. I co-designed it with the dress designer I hired. It was made of gold duponi silk, with an embroidered ribbon on the bottom of the dress and topped off with a gold veil. The train was made of a slightly darker gold duponi silk with tiny embroidered flowers in the same color thread. It was two pieces cut like the sash of a Kimono and joined together with a small bow.

My parents asked the Rabbi that married them in 1963 to officiate the wedding. He is the current Rabbi at my hometown synagogue and he had met my husband twice before. Being married by the same Rabbi that married my parents 43 years before was a real added bonus to the special event.

Everyone in my family had been married under the huppah my great grandfather built for the synagogue, but unfortunately it finally fell apart several years ago and the synagogue had not purchased anything to replace it. I am from a small town, so you can’t just call up the local huppah company and rent something. I had to think of something creative. At first, I thought I could make my own huppah cover. I would buy a piece of silk and paint it, but that was going to be a lot of trouble and what if I messed it up? So, I started looking on the internet for ideas, but a ready made one cost a minimum of 400USD. Then, my husband suggested that since we couldn’t get married in Israel, how about getting married under the Israeli flag. So, I started looking for a huppah-size one and they cost a minimum of 300USD. It was way over our budget. Then, something drew me to checking on eBay. I had never bought anything on eBay before, but I searched for “Huppah” and ‘lo and behold…. there was my huppah cover up for bid. It had never been used and was simply beautiful. I bid immediately and on the final day was in a bidding war with another person. They contacted me by email and asked when I was getting married. I told him and he said if I won, would I sell it to him for the same price I bought it because he was getting married two weeks after me. I said sure. I won the bid and he received the huppah a few days after my wedding.

The week before the wedding we still had to get flowers and get the poles and decoration for the huppah. Because I got married between Christmas and New Years, there were no flower deliveries, so there were no flowers to be had. No problem, we went to Home Depot, bought tropical plants and the four poles for the huppah. My husband drilled holes in the poles and attached hooks to the poles to hold up the huppah cover. We bought ribbon at the fabric store and a cousin and my sister painstakingly decorated the poles.

My sister decorated the synagogue with the plants we bought and I had a spa day at the salon/spa that my cousin works at. She is a wonderful massage therapist and she gave me the spa day as a gift.

We rented a CD player and played a medley of classical baroque music for the wedding ceremony. It began with Jewish Baroque music, Monteverdi and Rameau pieces, then my grandmothers walked to Tres Morillas (Spanish Baroque music performed by El Cancionero de Palacio), then the huppah holders, the Groom, Rabbi and Cantor walked down the aisle to to La Bomba (Spanish Baroque music performed by Ensalada; not the Mexican song). I walked down the aisle with my parents to Monteverdi’s Orfeo Toccata and we closed the ceremony with Bach’s Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen.

The reception was at a event hall/restaurant called Classic on Noble that is owned by friends of my family.

The menu was simple, but elegant:

Blood Orange Caipirinha

Antipasti (seasonal grilled vegetables)

Spanikopita triangles

Salad with dried fruit, nuts and pears

Salmon with goat cheese grits and roasted baby vegetables

We decided to forgo the traditional wedding cake and decided to have a dessert table:

In honor of David’s Hungarian heritage and our love for chestnuts, I made two Gesztenyetorte (Chestnut Torte). This cake is three slices of walnut sponge cake with a delicate chestnut cream filling. Melts in your mouth.


Serving Size: 8 to 10

(Chestnut Torte) Recipe from George Lang's Cuisine of Hungary by George Lang

For the sponge cake:


10 egg whites

¾ cup sugar

¼ cup flour

½ cup finely ground walnuts

Butter and flour for pan

Chestnut filling (below)

Chocolate, grated or shaved

For the chestnut filling:

1kg chestnuts in shells or 450g canned Swiss or French chestnut puree

3 oz semi sweet chocolate

225g + 2 Tbs sweet butter

¾ cup vanilla sugar

1 whole egg

¼ cup light rum

For the sponge cake:

Preheat oven to 190. Add 1 tsp cold water and a pinch of salt to the egg whites. Whip egg whites until soft peak stage. Continue to beat and add the sugar, spoon by spoon until egg whites are very stiff. (A spoon should be able to stand up in the meringue if it is beaten stiffly enough.)

Gently add the flour, walnuts and another pinch of salt. Fold in, making sure you do no break the egg white foam.

Line a baking sheet 17 x 12 inches with wax paper. Butter paper lightly, sprinkle with flour and shake off excess.

Spread batter evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 min, until firm and golden brown on top.

Cool completely with wax paper over top to keep cake from getting crusty; then cut lengthwise into 3 pieces.

For the filling:

Cook the chestnuts, shell and skin them and puree while still warm. You should have about 1 lb of puree.

Soften the chocolate in the top part of a double boiler over hot water. Beat together the butter, vanilla sugar, egg and rum until the mixture is very light and foamy.

Add the softened chocolate and the chestnut puree, and beat until thoroughly mixed.

Fill cake layers with chestnut filling and cover sides and top with more of it. Decorate with grated or shaved chocolate. Chill in refrigerator for several hours before serving. Serve thin slices, this is a very rich cake.


This cake can be round, square or oblong. It is an easy cake to make and yet quite different from the run-of-the-mill torte. The layers have the texture of a moist sponge cake. Make smaller layers and have a torte with more than 3 layers if you prefer. If you bake the dough a little longer, you will get crisper layers.

And, I gave the restaurant the recipes for two other desserts:

Anacapri Tart – An orange mascarpone tart with a rosemary crust. A slice of heaven. This tart is an Italian confection and represents our love of anything Italian.

Anacapri Tart

Serving Size: 10

For the pastry:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

2 tsp minced rosemary leaves

Grated zest of 1 orange

12 tbsp sweet butter, cubed

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

2 tbsp cointreau or grand marnier

For the filling:

1 1/4 cups orange juice

grated zest of 1 large orange

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup mascarpone, or similar sweet cheese

7 large eggs

3 tbsp cointreau or grand marnier

Confectioner’s sugar

For the pastry:

Place the flour, salt, sugar, rosemary, and the orange zest in a medium bowl and rub the cold butter into it with fingertips or a pastry blender until it resembles very coarse crumbs. Combine the egg, the egg yolk and the liqueur and, with a fork, stir it all into the bowl with the flour mixture, forming a rough paste.

Turn it out onto a lightly flowered work space and, with a few short strokes, form the mixture into a dough. flatten the dough into a disc, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and place it in the freezer for 20 minutes. press the rested, chilled dough over the surfaces of a buttered 12- to 14-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. cover the pastry-lined tin in plastic wrap and chill it again, for twenty minutes, in the freezer.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

With a fork, prick the chilled pastry over its surface and bake it for 10 minutes. lower the temperature to 375 degrees and continue baking the pastry for an additional 5 or 6 minutes or until it is firm and barely beginning to take on some color. Cool the pastry thoroughly on a rack. Proceed with the orange cream.

For the filling:

If the oven is not already hot, preheat it to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, beat together the orange juice, the zest, the sugar, and the mascarpone, amalgamating the ingredients as well. add the eggs, one at a time, beating vigorously, incorporating each before adding the next. add the liqueur and beat thoroughly.

Pour the orange cream into the prepared pastry and bake the tart for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cream is just firmed and has taken on patches of burnished skin and the crust is deeply golden.

Cool the tart on a rack for 15 minutes before removing its ring and permitting it to cool thoroughly. Thickly dust the tart with confectioner’s sugar. Serve the tart on the day it was baked; do not refrigerate.

Gâteau Surprise Chocolat Pistache (from the Chocolat & Zucchini blog) – A rich pistachio cake with a dark chocolate ganache. To remind us of our Mediterranean home. And, we both adore pistachios.

All in all the wedding was simple, elegant and beautiful as the title of this entry says, A Wedding Fit for a Baroness. I want to thank all of my family, especially my parents, my sister and my cousins Gil, Dionne, Allen and Heather, for making my special day very special. It was my dream wedding and more.

And especially to the love of my life, my beautiful husband David who works so hard to make our dreams come true. I love you baby!

Shavuot – The Holiday of the First Fruits

King Solomon described the receiving of the Torah as “honey and milk guarded under your tongue”. Shavuot is not only the celebration of the receiving of the Torah from Mount Sinai and the ending of the morning-period that began after Passover, but it is also when the wheat was harvested in Israel. Farmers brought their first fruits to the Temple from the following seven species:

  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Grapes
  • Figs
  • Pomegranates
  • Olives
  • Dates

We usually serve at least one dairy meal, followed by a meat meal during Shavuot and there are many different explanations to why we do this. One is because when the Torah was received, the Jews were immediately bound to the ritual slaughtering of animals and didn’t have their meat prepared according to the new law when the Torah was given to them. Another is that the numerical value for the Hebrew word for milk, חלב (Khalav), is the same number of days that Moses spent on Mount Sinai.

Since my husband will not be here during Shavuot, I decided to make a dairy meal for him on Saturday night. Here is the first of three Shavuot recipes I am blogging about.

When my husband and I were looking for a place to have our wedding we did a tasting at one of the venues and they served us a pistachio-crusted salmon that was to die for! I decided that I would have to replicate that recipe at home. They put a layer of homemade pesto on the top side of a salmon fillet and then coated it with a mixture of pistachios and bread crumbs. I made it several years ago for Shavuot and it was delicious. This year, I tried whole grain mustard and it was also very good. This dish is dead easy to make.

Pistachio-Crusted Salmon

Serving Size: 4

4 salmon fillets, 6-8 ounces each

2 tablespoons whole grain mustard or homemade pesto

½ cup shelled raw pistachios

¼ cup toasted bread crumbs

Grind the pistachios to a medium fine texture by pulsing gently in a food processor. Be careful not to over process, as the nuts will begin to turn into a paste. Mix with the breadcrumbs.

Salmon Coated with Mustard

Salmon with pistachio mixture

oat the top of each salmon fillet with mustard and press into the pistachio and breadcrumb mixture to coat. Drizzle a little olive oil on top and put in a 190C (375F) for approximately 10-15 minutes or until the fish is slightly pink in the middle.

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