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.

Moroccan Roast Lamb

Serving Size: 6

Adapted from Forever Summer by Nigella Lawson

2kg (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

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.

Take the meat out the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature.

Marinated Lamb Ready for the Oven

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.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2009/01/04/2nd-wedding-anniversary-dinner/

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.

Boeuf a la Mode

Serving Size: 4 to 6

1 kilo (2 lbs) beef shoulder roast

4 cups thinly sliced onions

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. salt

1 tablespoon ras al hanut

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/4 cup dry red wine

Beef Shoulder Roast

Preheat oven to 160C (325F). Combine salt, ras al hanut, and pepper. Rub seasoning on both sides of the meat.

In large roasting pan, arrange half of onions and garlic. Set roast on top of the onion mixture. Top with remaining onions, garlic, and red wine. Cover pan tightly with foil. Cook for 2-1/2 to 2-3/4 hours, or until pot roast is tender.

Remove pot roast to serving platter; keep warm.

Skim fat from pan juices and onion mixture. Carve pot roast into thin slices. Spoon onion mixture over pot roast. Garnish with parsley, if desired.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2008/10/03/a-honey-of-a-dinner/

Honey-Thyme Ice Cream

Yield: About 1 liter (quart)

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

Milk & Cream Infused with Thyme

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.

Strain the milk mixture, place it in a clean saucepan, and bring the milk mixture to simmer over medium heat.

Honey-Thyme Custard

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.

Process chilled custard in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer ice cream to container; cover and freeze.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2008/10/03/a-honey-of-a-dinner/

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.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2008/06/22/ice-cream-middle-eastern-style/

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.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2008/06/22/ice-cream-middle-eastern-style/

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.

Cinnamon-Clove Ice Cream

Yield: About 1 liter (quart)

2 cups whole milk

2 cups whipping cream

1 cup sugar

6 whole cinnamon sticks

16 whole cloves, slightly crushed

8 large egg yolks

Combine milk, cream, 1/2 cup sugar, cinnamon and cloves in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Cover; steep 1 hour. Then, strain the milk mixture and put back in a clean saucepan.

Whisk yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in bowl until well blended. Bring milk mixture to simmer. 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 uncovered until cold, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours.

Process chilled custard in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer ice cream to container; cover and freeze. (Can be prepared 3 days ahead. Keep frozen.)

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/08/20/spice-up-your-life/

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.

Peach Birwatt

Serving Size: 2

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

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.

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.

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.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/08/20/spice-up-your-life/

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