613 Red Jewels

The pomegranate originated in Persia and has been cultivated in Georgia, Armenia and the Mediterranean region for several millennia.

Jewish tradition teaches that the pomegranate is a symbol for righteousness, because it is said to have 613 seeds which corresponds with the 613 mitzvot or commandments of the Torah. For this reason and others, many Jews eat pomegranates on Rosh Hashanah. However, the actual number of seeds varies with individual fruits. It is also a symbol of fertility.  Some Jewish scholars believe that it was the pomegranate, not the apple, that was the forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden.Pomegranate is one of the Seven Species (שבעת המינים, Shiv’at Ha-Minim), that are mentioned in Deuteronomy 8:8 as being native to the Land of Israel.

In Christianity, pomegranates are found in many religious paintings. The fruit, broken or bursting open, is a symbol of Jesus’ suffering and resurrection.

According to the Qur’an, pomegranates grow in the gardens of paradise. According to Islamic tradition, every seed of a pomegranate must be eaten, because one can’t be sure which seed came from paradise.

I adore pomegranates and hope to have my own pomegranate tree one day. I love to eat the seeds, drink pomegranate juice and cook with pomegranate molasses. It can be used in savory and sweet dishes; it is so versatile. It is a staple in my kitchen.

I have been wanting to make pomegranate curd for some time, but never found the right time to make it. So, I made tartlets for Shabbat dessert. It a lovely creamy curd and you can definitely taste the tartness of the pomegranate. I will probably cut the sugar to 1/3 of a cup next time.

The curd is such a lovely ruby color.

Pomegranate Curd Tart
For the curd:

3/4 cup caster sugar

Juice of 2 lemons

200 ml (1 cup) pomegranate nectar

5 egg yolks, beaten well

100 g (1 stick or 1/2 cup) butter, cut into small pieces

1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

For the crust:

1/3 cup sugar

113g (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp milk

For the curd:

In a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, and pomegranate juice until blended. Cook, stirring constantly (to prevent it from curdling), until the mixture becomes thick like sour cream.

Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer to remove any lumps. Whisk the butter into the mixture until it has melted. The pomegranate curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Cover immediately with plastic wrap by placing the wrap directly on the curd and refrigerate until cool.

Tart Crust

For the crust:

Preheat oven to 200C (400F).

In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter until light. Beat in flour, salt, and milk, until mixture is moist and crumbly (it should clump together if you press it between your fingers). Put dough into a 22cm (9 or 10-inch tart pan) and press it up the sides, making sure the layer on the bottom is even.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until crust is set and firm at the edges. Cool.

Fill the cooled tart shell with pomegranate curd and bake in a 180C (350F) oven for 15 minutes. Cool in the refrigerator for a 1-2 hours. Sprinkle the pomegranate seeds on the tart just before serving.


Yom Kippur 5769

I am still trying to finalize my menu for the pre-fast meal on Wednesday afternoon. I don’t want to over do it.

For erev Yom Kippur:

  • Roasted chicken quarters with Hashu filling (Syrian ground beef, rice and pine nuts)
  • Steamed green beans
  • Fruit salad

For break-the-fast:

  • Crackers
  • Cheese
  • Smoked Salmon
  • Baba Ganoush

About 1 hour later, we will have:

Mr. Baroness Tapuzina and I hope that you have an easy fast. Gmar Chatimah Tova (May you be sealed in the book of life).

Rosh Hashana 5769

Chag Sameach everyone! We have been invited to family for the holiday and I will be bringing dessert. I am still trying to decide which cake I am going to make, but I wanted to share some of my ideas with you before the holiday begins. I will post which one I make as soon as I decide. Here are my choices:

Greek Pistachio Honey Cake

Ka’ikeh b’Ah’sal (Honey Cake With Sesame Glaze)

Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Honey Cake

Beekeeper’s Honey Cake (I made this last year)

I have also found some interesting recipes for the rest of the meal:

Rubuh’ (roast veal stuffed with spiced ground meat and rice)

Ejjeh b’kerrateh (leek fritters)

Georgian Meatballs with Pine Nuts and Sour Cherries

Georgian Chicken in Pomegranate and Tamarind Sauce

And you can always use my recipes from last year: Rosh Hashana 5768 and Chag Sameach – Shana Tova

Chestnut Heaven

One of the things that I really like about winter is chestnut season.

I remember fondly when my grandmother would splurge and buy chestnuts every december. They were quite expensive when I was a child, but the house smelled so nice when she was roasting them in the oven. My first experience of eating fire roasted chestnuts was not until I lived in Europe. I couldn’t wait to see the vendors rolling their carts yelling “Roasted Chestnuts” in German, Italian or French. I loved biting into their floury goodness and now I enjoy finding recipes in which they can be used to accent a dish.

I had some goulash meat in the freezer that needed to be cooked and I started looking at recipes I hadn’t made yet. And since winter has begun here in Israel, and I had just bought a big bag of chestnuts, I started craving a hearty winter dish. I found an amazing recipe bursting with flavour. I am not sure where this dish originates from, but I know that it is from somewhere in the Caucasus. The spices, the walnuts, the pomegranate juice impart an amazing, dare I say orgasmic flavour to the dish and the house smelled like a spice market. I highly recommend this recipe and I will definitely make it again and again.

I didn’t have any sour apricots on hand, so I used dried sour cherries, but they were lost in the dish. I served it over a brown rice.

Beef Stew with Chestnuts and Pomegranate

Serving Size: 6

455g (1 lb) chestnuts roasted and shelled

2 medium onions

1/4 cup canola oil

800g (1-3/4 lbs) goulash or stew beef, cut into 1/2-inch cubes ( I used frozen goulash meat that I thawed out)

1/4 teaspoon turmeric ground

1/4 teaspoon saffron threads crushed

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon ground

1 cup walnuts, minced fine

1/4 - 1/2 cup of sour apricots, cut into quarters

1 cup pomegranate juice

2 tablespoon tomato paste

3 tablespoon lemon juice freshly squeezed

1-1/2 cups chicken stock

1 teaspoon honey or date honey

1 teaspoon salt

1 garlic clove, minced fine

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup fresh parsley as garnish (optional)

Heat the oil in a heavy casserole over medium heat. Saute the onions and garlic for 10 minutes. Raise the heat to high, add the meat, turmeric, salt, pepper, and brown meat on all sides. Stir in the saffron, cinnamon, walnuts, sour apricots, tomato paste, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1-1/2 hours.

Note: Depending on the cut of meat, you may need to cook this for 2 hours. Just make sure you check it half way through because you may need to add a little more liquid.

Add the lemon juice, pomegranate juice, and chestnuts. Stir well, cover and simmer for 10 more minutes. Serve over a bed of saffron rice.


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