2nd Wedding Anniversary Dinner

December 30th was my 2nd wedding anniversary and we decided to wait until the weekend to celebrate. I try very hard to keep politics out of my foodblog, but I will say that even though terrible things are happening around us, we still felt we should celebrate our anniversary by making a nice meal. We have postponed birthdays and other special events over the years, but decided that we could have a comforting and quiet meal at home. We hope that the fighting will stop soon and that we can find some way to make peace with our neighbors.

The meal that we made had an unintentional color theme of brown. Brown is really not one of my favourite colors, but in this case, it was represented by one of my favourite meats that I rarely have a chance to eat, lamb. The supermarket near my home has been running a special on lamb for the past month and it is such a great deal that we decided to buy some. The butcher explained that a meat company has bought large quantities of lamb on the hoof and is marketing the meat both through selected supermarkets and directly to hotels and restaurants, making it possible for us to buy young lamb at a great price.

We more or less followed a recipe from Nigella Lawson for “Moroccan Roast Lamb”. This recipe is very simple, you make a simple marinade that you rub on the meat and let it marinate overnight. The main ingredient of the marinade is ras al hanout, a spice that I have a love affair with and have used in numerous dishes that I have posted on this blog. It is such a versatile spice that you can use in both savory and sweet dishes.

We served this with a steamed artichoke and vegetarian brown rice maklouba (rice layered with courgette and eggplant), which is a layered rice dish that I made a while ago with chicken. For dessert, I made a chocolate and chestnut torte that was light and airy. It was a perfect meal to celebrate actually eight years with my partner for life. Mr. Baroness Tapuzina has brought a great richness to my life and I love him very much. Thank you for a very interesting eight years, here is to many more to come.

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Moroccan Roast Lamb
Adapted from Forever Summer by Nigella Lawson
Ingredients
  • 2 kg 4.4lbs lamb shoulder
  • 2 tablespoons ras al hanout
  • Juice of two lemons
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic crushed
  • 2 cups of red wine
Instructions
  1. Mix all of the above ingredients except for the red wine and make incisions all over the lamb shoulder. Using your fingers, push pinches of the mixture into the incisions and then rub the remainder of the marinade all over the meat. Place in a large freezer bag or some other covered container and marinate the meat in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. Take the meat out the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature.
  3. Marinated Lamb Ready for the Oven
  4. Heat the oven to 200C (400F). Place the meat in a covered clay pot or foil covered roasting pan, add the red wine and roast for 20 minutes. Turn the oven down to 160C (325F) and roast for 2-3 hours until falling off the bone. Drain the fat from the sauce and serve over the lamb.

torta morbida di castagne e cioccolato

Rich Chocolate and Chestnut Cake
Torta Morbida di Castagne e Cioccolato
From La Cucina Italiana, December 2008
Serves 12

A Honey of a Dinner

We had a lovely time with my family in Jerusalem for Rosh Hashana. When we came back, I decided to continue the New Year’s celebration and make another special dinner for just the two of us. I know that I have blogged a lot about beef here, but we are really not big beef eaters: we eat a lot more fish and chicken. However, I found a nice reasonably priced piece of beef shoulder, which believe it or not, I have never cooked before.

I started looking at recipes and none of them really turned me on. I didn’t want to do the standard carrot, potato, and onion pot roast. Finally, I found a recipe called Boeuf a la Mode, which sounded like beef with vanilla ice cream. Actually, it is a quick and easy recipe that doesn’t require long hours in the kitchen. The spices gave a nice subtle flavour to the fork-tender beef. I served it with roasted potatoes and steamed broccoli.

I also made a creamy and delicious honey-thyme ice cream from The Cook and Gardener cookbook. I made it with Israeli citrus honey and a touch of Provencal chestnut honey that I brought back from our trip to the South of France and Provence a couple of years ago. It gave it a nice smokey flavour. The thyme was not overpowering, but you can definitely taste it. I really loved this ice cream and it was an excellent compliment to the honey cake I made.

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Honey-Thyme Ice Cream
Ingredients
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup citrus honey
  • 2 teaspoons chestnut honey optional
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 16 sprigs fresh thyme
Instructions
  1. Milk & Cream Infused with Thyme
  2. Heat the milk, 1 cup of cream and the honey in a heavy saucepan just before it begins to boil. Take off the heat immediately; add the sprigs of thyme and let it steep for about 30 minutes.
  3. Strain the milk mixture, place it in a clean saucepan, and bring the milk mixture to simmer over medium heat.
  4. Honey-Thyme Custard
  5. n separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Gradually whisk hot milk mixture into yolk mixture; return to same pan. Stir over medium-low heat until custard thickens and leaves path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across (do not boil). Strain into another medium bowl; chill covered until cold.
  6. Process chilled custard in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer ice cream to container; cover and freeze.

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Honey-Thyme Ice Cream
Ingredients
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup citrus honey
  • 2 teaspoons chestnut honey optional
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 16 sprigs fresh thyme
Instructions
  1. Milk & Cream Infused with Thyme
  2. Heat the milk, 1 cup of cream and the honey in a heavy saucepan just before it begins to boil. Take off the heat immediately; add the sprigs of thyme and let it steep for about 30 minutes.
  3. Strain the milk mixture, place it in a clean saucepan, and bring the milk mixture to simmer over medium heat.
  4. Honey-Thyme Custard
  5. n separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Gradually whisk hot milk mixture into yolk mixture; return to same pan. Stir over medium-low heat until custard thickens and leaves path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across (do not boil). Strain into another medium bowl; chill covered until cold.
  6. Process chilled custard in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer ice cream to container; cover and freeze.

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.

 

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Tehina-Pistachio Ice Cream
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Tehina Ice Cream Base
  4. 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.
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Tehina-Pistachio Ice Cream
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Tehina Ice Cream Base
  4. 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.

Spice up your Life!

I decided to try something new for a change. I have been wanting to play around with warka leaves for sometime now. Warka leaves are a very thin pastry, thinner than phyllo which are used to make Maghrebi savoury and sweet pastries, such as beestiya and cigars. For an good explanation of warka and Algerian cuisine, see my friend, Chef Zadi’s blog.

I also made some clove-cinnamon ice cream. I really love the flavour of cloves and thought it would be an excellent compliment to the peach briwatt. It was. As usual, I doubled the amount of cloves and used about 9 cinnamon sticks. My husband loved the strong clove flavour, but you might want to follow the recipe the first time unless you are a spice junkie like me.

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Peach Birwatt
Ingredients
  • 2 warka leaves also known as brik, brick, dioul and malsouqa
  • 1 peach peeled, halved and cut into thin slices
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ras al hanout or cinnamon
  • Sliced almonds
  • 50 g butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
Instructions
  1. Thaw out two warka leaves and cover them until ready to use. Place one warka leave on a flat surface and place the slices of one half of the peach onto the bottom half of the warka leaf. Sprinkle some sliced almonds, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of ras al hanout or cinnamon on the peaches. Dot with a pat of butter.
  2. Brush water on the edges of the warka and fold the bottom edge over the peaches and then the sides. The, roll the parcel up until you have a burrito or blintz shape.
  3. Melt the butter and the olive oil in a medium heat pan and fry the parcels until lightly brown on either side. Serve warm with ice cream.

My husband thought the the peach flavour was a bit too subtle for the ice cream, but I liked it. You can use any fruit of your choice, but if you use a harder fruit, such as apple, you might want to sautée them before placing them in the pastry.

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Peach Birwatt
Ingredients
  • 2 warka leaves also known as brik, brick, dioul and malsouqa
  • 1 peach peeled, halved and cut into thin slices
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ras al hanout or cinnamon
  • Sliced almonds
  • 50 g butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
Instructions
  1. Thaw out two warka leaves and cover them until ready to use. Place one warka leave on a flat surface and place the slices of one half of the peach onto the bottom half of the warka leaf. Sprinkle some sliced almonds, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of ras al hanout or cinnamon on the peaches. Dot with a pat of butter.
  2. Brush water on the edges of the warka and fold the bottom edge over the peaches and then the sides. The, roll the parcel up until you have a burrito or blintz shape.
  3. Melt the butter and the olive oil in a medium heat pan and fry the parcels until lightly brown on either side. Serve warm with ice cream.
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