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/

Lemon Sole

Last night I made a nice light fish dish for a hot August night.

Lemon Sole

Serving Size: 2

6 fillets of sole

Zest of 1 lemon

Juice of 3 lemons

1 cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons single cream (half and half), creme fraiche or thick yogurt

Put approximately two tablespoons of olive oil in pan on a medium flame. Add the garlic and then the fish, lemon juice, white wine and the thyme. Cook covered for about five minutes or until the fish is done. Remove the fish and reduce the sauce to about a third, add the cream and stir until thickened. Place the fish back in the pan and spoon the sauce over the fish. Sprinkle on the lemon zest and serve.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/08/26/lemon-sole/

Fish on Friday

No we are not Catholics, but we love fish and usually eat it two or three times a week. Did you know that batter-fried fish, as in “Fish & Chips” was a Portuguese Jewish invention and was introduced to England by Portuguese Jewish immigrants? One trip to London to visit my mother-in-law I had a hankering for fish and chips, so my lovely husband took me to a very nice and well known fish and chips restaurant, called The Nautilus (27-29 Fortune Green Road London NW6 1DU), in West Hampstead. Instead of using the heavy batter that some places use, they used a nice light coating of matzah meal! It was the best fish and chips I have ever had. I had plaice and David had halibut. I tried doing this at home and have never looked back.

Tomorrow night is Lag B’Omer and we decided to have fish for Shabbat dinner tonight and have meat tomorrow evening for the holiday. We didn’t get to have a BBQ for Israel’s Independence Day because I was abroad. So, we are making up for it tomorrow night.


I am marinating the meat above overnight. More about this and Lag B’Omer tomorrow.

This evening I fried red mullet fillets which I first dredged in an egg wash and then matzah meal that I mixed with fresh thyme and fresh chives, herb salt and black pepper. I served it with fresh corn on the cob and green beans.

We had this with a 10-year-old South African chardonnay that amazingly survived well. I thought it was going to taste like vinegar.

For dessert, I thawed out a cheat’s version of mincemeat filling that I had made for hamentaschen and made a mincemeat pie. The dough is a ready-made parve pastry that I bought at the supermarket.

Shabbat Shalom!

Shabbat – A Special Moment in Time

Shabbat is a special time for me because it is about light, taste and touch. Light from the Shabbat candles, taste from the special foods that you prepare for your family and touch is the laying your hands on each other when you bless one another and your children.

I grew up in a small town in Alabama and there were hardly any single Jewish men for me to go out with. I never dated Jewish men until I was in my late twenties and early thirties. And then, I moved to Israel and met my husband. The first time we celebrated Shabbat together tears welled up in my eyes because I realized that this is what I was always looking for, someone to spend Shabbat with me who understands the emotions behind this special moment in time.

My husband and I take turns preparing Shabbat dinner. We both like to experiment with different herbs, spices, fruits and sauces.

Last Friday, my husband made roasted chicken and stuffed it with oranges and sprinkled orange juice, grated orange rind, rosemary, thyme and garlic on the chicken. He then placed carrots, sweet potato slices and quartered white potatoes around the chicken and roasted it the oven.

Sometimes I stuff the chicken with rice, couscous or bulgar and add dried cherries or apricots or figs, orange quarters, fresh ginger and lemons or put pomegranate molasses on the chicken. It just depends on my mood.

I make the challah that my father taught me how to bake. He is an excellent cook and I owe most of my cooking skills to him. This is not a quick and dirty recipe, but it makes the most delicious, rich challah. It is a great bread to use for French toast.

Challah

Yield: 1 wedding size loaf, 2 large loaves, 3 medium loaves or 4 small loaves

This recipe is from The First Jewish Catalog: A Do-It-Yourself Kit. This is a cake-like challah. Great for the holidays or anytime.

2 c lukewarm water

3 pkg or 3 tbsp. dry yeast or 1 cube (50g) fresh yeast

8 c or more unbleached flour

1-1/2 c sugar

1-1/2 tsp salt

1/2 lb (224g) butter or margarine

4 beaten eggs

1 beaten egg for glaze

Variation: add golden raisins during first kneading. Reduce sugar by 1/2 cup.

Mix water and yeast in a very large bowl. Add 3 c. flour and 1 c. sugar. Stir with a fork and let rise 30 minutes in a warm place.

Meanwhile, put the remaining flour, sugar and salt in another bowl. Add margarine or butter and cut with a knife until mixture resembles coarse meal.

At the end of 30 minutes, add 4 eggs to the yeast mixture and stir well (will decrease in volume).

Add flour/margarine mixture to the yeast mixture and knead in the bowl. If sticky, add up to 2 more cups of flour.

Knead well on floured board until smooth and elastic. Put in oiled bowl and cover with towel. Put in warm place and let rise 2 hours or until doubled.

Punch down. Knead lightly for a minute or two.

Divide into 1 to 4 parts depending on whether you want small, medium, large or wedding size loaves. Divide each part into 3 equal parts, roll into braids and braid, pinching ends. Place on an oiled or silicone-lined baking sheet(s). Cover and let rise in warm place as long as possible (3 - 5 hours).The longer you can let it rise without killing the yeast, the lighter it will be.

When the bread has finished rising, brush with the egg glaze and bake at 350F (180C) for 50-55 minutes (1 wedding size loaf), 45-50 minutes (2 large loaves), 30-45 minutes (3 medium loaves) or 30 minutes (4 small loaves).

This bread can be frozen for up to three months. Wrap in plastic wrap and heavy duty foil.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/03/29/shabbat-a-special-moment-in-time/

Baby It’s Cold Outside…Soup and Socca

It snowed in Jerusalem this morning and we had hail this afternoon in central Israel. Spring has not sprung yet. Jerusalem gets snow about once a year, but yesterday it didn’t stick.

I like visiting Jerusalem. I think it is a romantic city with all of the Jerusalem stone buildings and the skyline of the old city. The best way to get an overview of the old city is to climb on the roofs of the houses there. The view is amazing.

I really like going to outdoor markets. They are full of sights, sounds, smells and are also a great place to people watch. You can find some amazing faces in the market, like the amba man and the juice man. Their faces are timeless….just put another period costume on them and it could be the market 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem.

Mahane Yehuda market is just the market to see all of the things I described above. It has also revamped itself with chic cafes, restaurants and other shops. I was always afraid to go there because of the bombings. I only went there last summer, for the first time since I moved to Israel over six years ago.

The market is always busy, but it is very crowded on Thursday night and Friday morning. Everyone is busy finding things to prepare their Shabbat meals.

I found chickpea flour at the market. My husband and I went to Provence last summer for a glorious vacation and every since we tried the Nicoise specialty, socca, we wanted to try and make it at home. We had our first socca at Lou Pilha Levain Nice.

They prepare theirs on a copper pan. They specialize in serving Nicoise dishes and they do a wonderful job.

They have delicious gargantuan tourte de blette (upper left corner of the above photo), which is a sweet tart filled with swiss chard, raisin and pinenuts and sprinkled with icing sugar. Typical tourte de blette are not as thick as theirs.

Socca is a type of savoury pancake made of chickpea flour and water. It is dead easy to make, but not always easy to reproduce. You need to cook it at a very high temperature for a short period of time. It is typically cooked on a large round copper pan over a very hot wood fire or gas flame.

Of course we don’t have the big round copper pan and open fire they have to make this, but I thought I would give it a try with our cast iron plancha in the oven.

The other night, my husband made a delicious pot of minestrone con ceci (chickpea minestrone). He is refusing to give up the recipe. It is basically the farmers market, sans the fruit, in a bowl. Suffice it to say it was delicious and gave me an idea to try to finally make socca so we could say we had a ceci or hummous festival at our house. I decided to add fresh chives and fresh thyme to mine. It reminded me of Nice, but that is for another posting…..

Chive and Thyme Socca

Serving Size: 4 to 6

300g (1 cup + 5 tbsp) chickpea flour

500ml (2 cups) cold water

1 tsp salt

Pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp chopped fresh chives

1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme

Heat a cast iron skillet in a 240C/475F oven.

Mix together all of the ingredients above and whisk until you have a smooth batter. The batter should be thinner than crepe batter.

Socca batter

Brush a generous amount of oil on the pan. The oil should be smoking. Pour the batter on the hot plancha and cook with the oven door slightly ajar for the first couple of minutes and then turn on the grill (broiler) to maximum so that the socca can get crisp on top.

Socca on the Plancha

Keep an eye on it as it bubbles and rises, but make sure that it doesn't burn. It should only be slightly brown.

It should be slightly crisp on the outside, but creamy on the inside even though it should be about 1/8 of an inch or 3mm thick.

Cut it into squares.

I tried making it on the stovetop and it works, but you have to cook it like a crepe and turn it over. I prefer the oven method.

Socca with Chives

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/03/16/baby-its-cold-outsidesoup-and-socca/

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