For Shavuot: Goat Cheese Quick Bread with Apricot and Mint

Goat Cheese, Mint and Apricot Quick Bread

Cheesecake and blintzes are probably the two most popular dishes that are served on the Shavuot table, but being me, I like to find at least one new dish to put on my table. One of the first recipes that caught my eye in Joan Nathan‘s new cookbook, Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France, was a quick bread that had goat cheese, dried apricot and mint. The combination of the creamy goat cheese and apricots really appealed to me, and it was a simple recipe that could be made without much effort. I used sour apricots because I think that they give a stronger apricot flavor than the Mediterranean ones. This quick bread is delicious and is perfect for a elegant brunch, afternoon tea, or served as an appetizer, sliced thinly and cut in quarters, for a dairy dinner.

Quick Goat Cheese Bread with Mint and Apricots

Yield: 1 Loaf

Serving Size: 8 to 10

1/3 cup olive oil

3 large eggs

1/3 cup milk

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2oz grated Gruyère, aged Cheddar, or Gruyere de Comte cheese

4oz fresh goat cheese

1 cup chopped dried apricots (prefer sour or California apricots)

2 tablespoons roughly minced mint leaves or 2 teaspoons of dried mint

Preheat oven to 180C (350F) and grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan and line it with baking paper.

Add the eggs to a large bowl, and beat well. Add the milk and oil and whisk until smooth.

Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper in a separate bowl, and then add to the egg mixture. Stir until it is incorporated and the dough is smooth. Spread the batter into the prepared baking pan and sprinkle the Gruyère, Cheddar, or Comté, crumble the goat cheese on top, and then scatter the apricots and the mint. Pull a knife gently through the batter to blend the ingredients slightly.

Bake for 40 minutes. Cool briefly, and remove the bread from the pan, peeling off the baking paper. Slice and serve warm. You can also make it in advance and freeze it.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2011/06/06/for-shavuot-goat-cheese-quick-bread-with-apricot-and-mint/

Shavuot Ideas – Fresh Corn Pudding

Planning a dinner party can be quite daunting, but it helps if you are the “planning type” like I am. I was a meeting planner, by profession when I lived in the States and was responsible for planning meetings, conferences, and special events for anywhere from 10 to 10,000 attendees. My parents and grandparents also entertained a lot, so I learned everything I know about dinner party planning from my Dad and paternal grandmother who both loved to host grand gourmet dinner parties. So, planning this dinner for 11 was not a problem for me.  Here are a few good tips:

  1. Plan the menu before anything else and try to make sure that each course is a good marriage for the next.
  2. Check your wine stash or cellar and liquor stash or cabinet to see if you need to purchase a few more bottles.
  3. Make sure that your oven and Shabbat hot plate (if you have one) will be free for each course you need to make at the last minute or for those courses that need to stay hot before serving.
  4. Check that you have enough plates, silverware, glassware and serving pieces.
  5. Check that the tablecloth you want to use is ironed and doesn’t have that annoying wine stain from the last dinner party.
  6. Don’t overdo on the hors d’œuvre or your guests won’t eat your star attraction, the main meal.

Of course, it always helps to have a partner in crime and Mimi is a great friend, and a great co-hostess to work with. She was gracious to offer her home for the event and allowed me to share her kitchen with her. Her account of the “behind-the-scenes” is hysterical and quite accurate. There was a lot of swearing and “oh, I forgot to put that on the plate” going on in the kitchen.

For our main course, Mimi and I served beautiful fresh sea bass fillets that we bought from my favourite fish mongers, Dubkin Brothers. Mimi made the marinade, which was made with fresh herbs, lemon juice, and hot chilies. It was cooked perfectly and tasted good, but I would have preferred it to be spicier. We erred on the side of caution because some people do not like or cannot tolerate spicy food.  Mimi posted the fish recipe on her blog, Israeli Kitchen.

To accompany the fish, we served fresh, steamed green beans and I made individual fresh corn puddings that are made with corn cut from the cob and quickly pulsed in a food processor, fresh herbs, and a little fontina cheese for an added kick. This can be served as a first course, a vegetarian main course, or as we served it, as an accompaniment. I really like this dish, it is not too heavy and is best made with the sweetest, freshest corn you can find. I would have loved to have made it with Silver Queen corn, but sadly we do not have that variety here in Israel. I have heard that Silver Queen is all but a dying variety in the States, which is very sad because it is a sweet and creamy variety of corn. It was the best corn to use for everyone’s southern favorite, creamed corn.

Fresh Corn Pudding

Serving Size: 8

6 ears fresh corn, shucked

1/2 cup double (heavy) cream

1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

50g (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cool

3 large eggs, beaten lightly

2-3 tablespoons mixed fresh herbs: sage, thyme and chives

1/4 cup grated Fontina or other sharp, good melting, cheese

Preheat oven to 180C (350F) and butter eight 1/2-cup ramekins.

Cut the corn off the cobs and place in a food processor. Pulse the corn about three times, until you have a very coarse mixture. Do not pulverise it!

Put all of the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until combined. Add the corn, and mix thoroughly. Ladle the mixture evenly into the ramekins and place them in a baking pan just large enough to hold them. Place the tray in the oven and add enough hot water to reach halfway up sides of the ramekins.

Bake the corn puddings in the middle of oven for 50 minutes, or until tops are slightly puffed and golden and firm to the touch. Remove ramekins from water and cool slightly on a rack for about 5 minutes. Run a knife around edges of ramekins and invert each pudding onto a serving plate.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2010/05/14/shavuot-ideas-fresh-corn-pudding/

Shavuot Ideas -Baby Lettuce Salad with Pears, Blue Cheese and Candied Walnuts

We served this salad between the amuse bouche and main course as a light refresher, but you can also serve this before the dessert course. Irene chose Dalton Winery, Fume Blanc, 2008 to serve with the salad. This wine is aged in oak barrels and was a lovely crisp wine that I have also served with a fish course.

Baby Lettuce Salad with Pears, Blue Cheese and Candied Walnuts

Serving Size: 6

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

1 teaspoon minced shallot

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons walnut oil or avocado oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 bag assorted baby lettuce

1 bunch of arugula (rocket), trimmed

1/2 cup whole walnuts

2 tablespoons date honey (silan)

1 medium Bartlett pear--halved, cored and thinly sliced

1/2 cup crumbled Maytag or Danish blue cheese

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Place the walnuts on a baking tray and drizzle the date honey over the nuts and mix until they are completely coated. Add more date honey, if necessary. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, combine the vinegar and shallot. Whisk in the olive and walnut oils and season with salt and pepper. Add the lettuce, arugula, walnuts and pear slices, season with salt and pepper and toss well. Crumble the blue cheese on top and serve.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2010/05/14/shavuot-ideas-baby-lettuce-salad-with-pears-blue-cheese-and-candied-walnuts/

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