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.

A Date with my Honey

I use Silan, also known as date honey, as part of the yeast starter for the bread that Mr BT and I make every week. It doesn’t really impart any extra flavour to the bread, but I think it is a bit healthier than white sugar.

I was really tired of making the same chicken dishes I make all the time, so I decided to try an experiment using date honey. It has a slight taste of dates and can be spread on bread, mixed with equal parts of tahina and used as a spread, used on pancakes instead of maple syrup, etc. What I like about Silan is that it is not sickeningly sweet.

I mixed the date honey with oranges and grapefruits from the trees around the moshav. And for an extra kick, I added some chili paste and grated ginger. It made an excellent spicy barbeque sauce.

Spicy Silan, Citrus and Ginger Chicken

Serving Size: 4 to 6

1 whole chicken, cut into eighths

1/2 cup date honey

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 cup grapefruit juice or lemon juice

1-1/2 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated with a microplane

1 teaspoon chili paste

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Place the chicken in a baking dish. Mix all of the ingredients and pour over the chicken. Bake for 1-1/2 hours or until falling of the bone.

Serve with rice, couscous or quinoa.

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.

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