Cookies Perfect for Passover

I remember Passovers past at my grandparents’ and parents’ houses were always large and boisterous with at least 25-30 people attending, spread over two or three tables. We always invited friends who didn’t have anywhere else to go, and also the stray Jewish soldiers who were “stuck” at Fort McClellan during their basic training. Occasionally, we had a visiting Israeli soldier or two share the seder with us. I really miss these seders, my grandparents, my great-aunts and uncles, the wonderful food, the family tunes, waiting for Uncle Alfred or Papa to proudly read the last stanza of “Had Gadya” in one breath, ribbing my uncle Don about watering my wine, misbehaving at the “children’s” table (some of who were over 30), and the seder discussions. I must admit that I am more than teary-eyed as I am writing this post.

The seder was always a grand affair: the unveiling of the grand china, crystal, and silver, the beautiful way Alberta plated the individual servings of the haroset, hard-boiled egg and karpas. The lamb that my father carefully slathered with mustard and basted every 30 minutes, the minted peas in lettuce cups, the wild rice mixture or boiled new potatoes, and the pièce de résistance, the matza balls swimming in golden chicken soup. For dessert, Mama’s lovingly-made matza schalet with its beautiful crunchy crust and creamy lemon custard with just the right sourness.

Since moving to Israel, we attend the seder at my cousin’s or their in-laws where we share their seder traditions and variety of food from Poland, Bulgaria and  Russia: gefilte fish, fritas de prasa, and matza blini. The younger generations add their own traditions like rocket and endive salad with walnuts and pears. And, Mr BT and I are bringing new traditions to their seder: Italian haroset and whatever flourless dessert tickles my fancy.

This year I decided to bring a tray of cookies and found two easy and delicious recipes for fudgy chocolate-walnut cookies and a variation of Sicilian pistachio cookies which Mr BT and I enjoyed eating at a bakery in Venice. Both of these cookies were a huge hit. I really liked the salty-sweetness of the pistachio cookies, and the other cookies were a chocolate lover’s delight. I couldn’t find any orange blossom water for the pistachio cookies as I had wanted, but it will add a slight orangey floral note.

Don’t be afraid to add new traditions to your seder table. There is always room for the old and new traditions.

Flourless Chocolate Walnut Cookies

Fudgy Chocolate-Walnut Cookies

Yield: 1-1/2 dozen

320g (9oz or 2-3/4 cups) walnut halves

3 cups icing (confectioners') sugar

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 large egg whites, at room temperature, not beaten

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with a silpat liner or parchment paper.

Spread the walnut halves on a large rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 9 minutes, until they are golden and fragrant. Let cool slightly, then transfer the walnut halves to a work surface and finely chop them.

In a large bowl, whisk the icing sugar with the cocoa powder and salt to combine. Whisk in the chopped walnuts. Add the egg whites and vanilla extract and beat just until the batter is moistened (do not over beat the mixture or it will stiffen). Spoon a tablespoon of the batter for each cookie onto the baking sheets.

Bake the cookies for 16- 20 minutes, depending on your oven, until the tops of the cookies are glossy and lightly cracked and feel firm to the touch; shift the pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through.

Slide the parchment paper (with the cookies) onto 2 wire racks to cool completely before serving. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Flourless Pistachio Cookies

Pastine di Pistacchio

Yield: 1 dozen

(Flourless Pistachio Cookies)

190g (7oz) pistachios (roasted and salted)

100g (3.5 oz) almond meal

120 grams (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) caster (granulated) sugar

2 egg whites, room temperature, not beaten

1 teaspoon orange blossom water (optional)

A few drops of green food colouring (optional)

Icing (confectioners') sugar for dusting (optional)

Preheat the oven to 170C (325F). Line a baking sheet with a silpat liner or parchment paper.

Grind 90 grams of the pistachios finely and set aside. Chop the remaining 100 grams roughly and place in a plate or flat bowl for rolling.

Put the finely ground pistachios, almond meal, sugar, egg whites, optional orange blossom water and optional food colouring in a large bowl. Mix just until the batter is moistened, do not over beat. If the batter is too moist, add a little more almond meal.

Form one tablespoon of the batter into balls and roll in the chopped pistachios. Place the cookies about 2 centimeters (3/4 inch) apart and bake for approximately 13 minutes. Let cook for 10 minutes before moving to a baking rack. Dust with icing sugar, when cooled.

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.

Keftes de Espinaca con Muez

There is something cathartic telling someone that you are sorry if you hurt them or caused them pain in any way. My husband  and I say we are sorry after every fight because my grandmother always told me to never go to bed angry. This was one of the many pieces of advice she gave me as a key to a successful marriage and I took them to heart because she and my grandfather were married almost 65 years. Every year, before Yom Kippur, my husband and I look each other in the eye and say, “I am sorry if I hurt you or caused you any pain this past year.” All of this and asking friends and neighbors for forgiveness is essential because the religious part of Yom Kippur only relates to what we sins between man and G-d. In other words, breaking commandments to do with Shabbat or keeping kosher, and so on.

The first time I said this to my husband I just welled up with tears and felt a huge weight lift off of me. It was a very strange feeling, catharsis.

Now we are celebrating the week long holiday of Sukkot. I do not have beautiful pictures of a Sukkah this year, but I will be posting about a lovely adventure with Mr. BT in the next few days.

Last night, I roasted chicken that I had stuffed with garlic, lemon, fresh thyme, and fresh rosemary. I placed the chicken on a bed of sliced butternut squash, drizzled on pomegranate molasses, and sprinkled turkish pepper all over. I served this with a wonderful Sephardic spinach patty that I made with ground walnuts. They are lovely and light, and could also be served as a main dish with another vegetable or salad.

Chag Sameach to everyone. I hope you are having lovely meals under the stars.

Keftes de Espinaca con Muez

Serving Size: 4-6 as a main course or 8-10 as a side dish

(Sephardic Spinach Patties with Walnuts) Adapted from Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World by Rabbi Gil Marks

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, crushed

2-1/2 cups thawed frozen chopped spinach, squeezed dry

About 1 cup freshly ground walnuts

1/2 cup whole wheat dried bread crumbs or matza meal

About 3/4 teaspoon table salt

Ground black pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Flour for dredging

Vegetable oil for frying

Lemon wedges for serving

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and the crushed garlic. Sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the spinach, ground walnuts, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Stir in the eggs. If the mixture is too loose, add a little more bread crumbs and if the mixture is two dry, then add another egg. The mixture can be stored in the refrigerator for a day.

Shape the spinach mixture into patties 7.5cm (3 inches) long and 4cm (1-1/2 inches) wide, with tapered ends. Dredge the patties in flour and lightly pat off the excess. In a large skillet, heat a thin layer of oil over medium heat. Fry the patties, turning, until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. Serve warm, accompanied with lemon wedges.

Georgian Chicken with Walnut and Garlic Sauce

Mr BT and I have been busy in the garden planting artichokes, sugar snap peas, lavender, and sunflowers. I hope to show you the fruits of our labour in about six weeks. We also have a nice array of herbs growing: lemon thyme, rosemary, oregano, regular thyme, basil, purple basil, and zaatar. I really love cooking with herbs and we cook with them several times a week. Fresh herbs really add a special flavour to food that you can’t always get with dried herbs.

I decided to try another Georgian recipe for Shabbat. This time one of their famous chicken with walnut sauces. Since, Mr BT is half  Hungarian and can’t live without a garlic dish, I decided to try Chkmeruli  (pronounced ch’k-muh-roo’-lee) which is made with walnuts and 10 cloves of garlic. The sauce is so creamy that you may think there is cream in the recipe. Next time I want to try Satsiv, which is another chicken with walnut sauce that has cinnamon, clove, fenugreek, and coriander in the recipe.

Chicken with Garlic and Walnut Sauce - Chkmeruli

Serving Size: 4

1.5 kg (3lb) chicken cut into pieces

Salt (for non-kosher chicken)

Freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

10 garlic cloves, peeled

1 cup of walnuts

1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsely

1 cup of water

Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, heat the oil. Brown the chicken over medium high heat for 10 minutes; turn and brown for 10 minutes more. Cover the pan and continue cooking over low heat for 20 to 25 minutes, until the chicken is done.

Meanwhile, finely grind the garlic and walnuts.

When the chicken is tender, transfer it to a plate and keep warm. Pour off all but 4 tablespoons of the pan drippings. Add the ground garlic and nuts mixture, water and the parsley to the pan. Add about 1/4 teaspoon of salt and simmer the sauce on medium heat for approximately 5 minutes. Place the chicken pieces back in the pan, turning them to coat them with the sauce. Heat thoroughly before serving.

Pre-Rosh Hashana Breakfast

I love weekend breakfasts. It is our time to talk about something interesting or just look at each other lovingly without saying anything at all for a couple of minutes. It is our time to read an interesting story or listen to early music. It has become our weekend ritual. So, in preparing for Rosh Hashana last week, my husband decided to make a lovely herb-potato frittata to go with the Whole Wheat Apple-Walnut Batard I made for the weekend.

My mother is a addicted to cookbooks and every time I go back to the States for a visit, I usually find one or two new ones on her cookbook shelves. She had the shelves custom made when she renovated her kitchen umpty-ump years ago. One visit, I spied a new cookbook that I quickly fell in love with. It is called The Cook and the Gardener: A Year of Recipes and Writings from the French Countryside. The author, Amanda Hesser, wrote a lovely book about her year adventure that she spent as a cook in a seventeenth-century chateau in Burgundy. What I love about the book is that it is separated into the four seasons. She is a beautiful writer and really takes you on a visual trip to the French countryside. The recipes are quite precise and I find them easy to follow.

Apple-Walnut Batard

The texture of the batard is really nice. The only complaint I have is that either the bread did not rise enough or the recipe calls for too much filling. Next time I am going to gently knead the filling into the dough and see if it works out better. It turned it out more like apple-walnut stuffed bread. In spite of that, the bread is still appley and delicious, and it goes especially well with a thin slice of Gouda.

Apple-Walnut Batard Slice

Whole Wheat Apple - Walnut Batard

Yield: 1 Batard

Starter after 12 hours

Simple Bread Starter

1/2 teaspoon dry yeast or 25g (1 teaspoon) fresh cake yeast

2 tablespoons warm water

1/2 cup water, at room temperature

1 cup all-purpose flour

Whole Wheat Dough

1/2 teaspoon dry yeast or 25g (1 teaspoon) fresh cake yeast

1 tablespoon warm water

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 tablespoon milk

1 recipe Starter (see above)

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt

1/2-3/4 cup rye flour

Bread Dough

1 recipe Whole Wheat Dough (see above)

6 tablespoons raw sugar

2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thin

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

All purpose flour, for shaping

Whole wheat flour, for rising

For the bread starter:

Make the starter one day ahead. In a small bowl, stir the yeast into the 2 tablespoons of warm water and let the mixture stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining water and the flour, and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth, 2-3 minutes. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let ferment in a cool place, 8-12 hours.

For the dough:

n a medium mixing bowl, stir the yeast into the water and let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Then stir in the olive oil, milk, and Starter, stirring to break up the latter.

Thick as Paint

Dough Forming Ball

he texture should be that of house paint. Add the whole wheat flour, stirring to mix, then the salt and the rye flour, adding it 1/4 cup at a time and stirring to mix with a wooden spoon until the ingredients begin to clump together in a large ball.

First Knead

Turn out onto a floured board and knead, incorporating the remaining flour, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Use a pastry scraper to help lift and clear the dough from the work surface so you don't need to add to much flour. Make sure to work quickly, as whole wheat flour tends to stick more readily than white, and slap the dough against the work surface from time to time - this develops tenacity in the dough. Place the dough in a tall oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, 2 to 2-1/2 hours. Then proceed with filling the bread dough.

Caramelised Apples

Prepare the filling. In a skillet (preferably an iron skillet) large enough to hold the apples, heat half of the sugar over medium-high heat until it melts and begins to bubble. Carefully, add the apple slices, spreading them out to cover the base of the pan. Saute until the apple begins to color, but is not cooked through, about 3 minutes. You should do this over medium-high heat because you want the apple to color as quickly as possible without burning the sugar. Adjust the temperature as necessary, and remember the sugar holds its heat well, especially in an iron pan. Sprinkle the uncooked sides with the remaining sugar and turn them over. Once they are well browned on the other side, 5 to 7 minutes, remove to a plate or bowl to let cool.

After the first rising, punch the dough down and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Shape into a loose round loaf and let rest for 15 minutes. Lay a dish towel on top of a baking sheet and rub a thick layer of whole wheat flour into to it so the dough will not stick to the towel.

Apple-Walnut Filling

Using as little flour as possible to keep the dough from sticking to the board and your hands, pound out the loaf into an oval, 1/2 inch thick. Spread the cooled walnuts and apples evenly over the dough.

Batard Second Rise

Working lengthwise, roll the dough into a log, as tight as possible. Pinch the seam to seal it, and transfer to the dish towel, seam-side up. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

A half hour before baking, heat the oven to 220C (425F), and place the baking stone in the lower third of the oven. Place a small pan of water on the lowest rack.

When the dough is ready, invert the risen loaf onto the baking stone and bake until risen and browned, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the pan of water after the first 15 minutes. Test the loaf by tapping on the bottom of it with your knuckle. If it sounds hollow, it's done. Remove to a baking rack and let cool completely before slicing.

Baking for Mama – May She Rest in Peace 1912-2007

My 95-year-old Grandmother has not been well lately passed away Saturday 29 December in the USA, which had me thinking of all of the wonderful times we had cooking together. I owe a lot of my cooking skills to her. She encouraged me to take cooking lessons and taught me how to make all of the family holiday recipes. During December, we always baked all of the special goodies for family near and far. Family would always come to visit during the Christmas vacation, and even though we did not celebrate Christmas, we always had special goodies around, such as her chocolate cake, 1-2-3-4 cake, her amazing butter cookies, Rose’s apricot tarts, and her schnecken. But the baked goods that she always looked forward to was the big package of German goodies that family friends in Germany sent my grandparents. The package came from the famous Lebkuchen Schmidt bakery in Nürnberg. She would open the package and take a deep whiff, and then delicately open the packages. We would stand there in excitement smelling the spicey goodness and salivating, waiting to take a bite of the lovely Elisen lebkuchen and speculaas cookies. You could smell the cardamom, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg all over the house.

I usually buy lebkuchen when I am in Germany, but this year I was unable to make a trip there before Christmas, so I decided to do the impossible and try to make some myself. I knew that they would not be as good as Lebkuchen Schmidt, who have been making these amazing biscuits since 1927. My first attempt resulted in overbaked biscuits because I had spread the dough too thin on the oblaten wafer. However, the second time round I managed to get it right and even my famously critical other half drooled every time he came close to one. I decided to leave my lebkuchen natural and used square oblaten instead of round. If you cannot find oblaten wafers, which are similar to communion wafers, then use rice paper.

I couldn’t find candied orange, so I made it myself using thick-skinned navel oranges.

Mama, I made these for you and if I didn’t live so far away, I would have brought you some to savour.

Nürnberger Elisenlebkuchen

Yield: 75 pieces of five centimeter (2 inches) diameter

470 g (2-1/3 cups) sugar

4 eggs

1 teaspoon of vanilla sugar

400 g (14 ounces) hazelnuts (one-half milled rough and the other fine)

80g (3 ounces) whole almonds, finely chopped

50 g (1.7 ounces) roughly chopped walnuts

100 g (3.5 ounces) of finely cut candied orange and lemon peel respectively

Freshly grated untreated orange and lemon peel

1 teaspoon of finely chopped ginger root in syrup

1 teaspoon of the following milled spices: cinnamon, cloves, allspice, coriander, mace, cardamom, nutmeg

Oblaten Package

2 packets of oblaten wafers (5 cm (2 inches) diameter)

Punch Icing

130 g (1 cup) icing sugar, sifted

2 teaspoon of rum

2 teaspoons of red wine

Chocolate Icing

20 g (.7 ounces) of bittersweet chocolate (preferably 70%; high quality)

For decoration:

A selection of nuts and candied fruit

Use the egg whisk attachment of an electric beater to beat sugar, eggs and vanilla sugar so that the foamed mass has doubled and the sugar is dissolved.

Ground Hazelnuts and Almonds

Candied Orange Lemon and Ginger

Then add the nuts, candied and fresh orange and lemon peel, ginger and spices. Cover the batter and leave it in a cool place for 24 hours.

Oblaten Sheets

Unbaked Lebkuchen

The next day form small, approx. 15 g (1 rounded tablespoon), balls from the mix with wet hands and place each on a wafer so that a 3 to 5 mm broad margin remains. Place the wafers on a baking paper lined baking tray and bake until light brown for 10 to 12 minutes at 200C (400F) in a preheated oven.

The Lebkuchen should be well risen but not quite finished inside because they have to further develop and remain soft inside. The finished Lebkuchen should be slid onto a drying rack to cool. Place one-third of the cookies to the side: they should remain natural, e.g. without icing.

For the punch icing:

Mix the sifted icing sugar and to a smooth consistency with rum and red wine. Then dip the upper surface of a further third of the Lebkuchen (not the wafer side) into this icing.

For the chocolate icing:

Melt and temper the chocolate, and then dip the upper surface of the remaining Lebkuchen. Leave the iced Lebkuchen on a drying rack to dry.

Decorate the lebkuchen with nuts and candied fruit while the icing or natural cookie is still soft.

Store the completed Lebkuchen in an airtight tin. Cover the cakes with greaseproof paper and lay a few apple peelings on top. This keeps them soft and moist. Try to let the cookies mature for about ten days before serving them.

Dinner Under the Stars

The beginning of last week we were invited to a friend’s house for dinner. We had delicious dinner in their lovely Sukkah. I forgot to bring my camera, but will update this post when my friend sends me the pictures we took using her camera.

Our friend Miriam makes delicious wines using grapes, other fruits and herbs. We had the honor of having her cabernet sauvignon, strawberry and summer wines, which is made from pea pods. Yes folks, you read it correctly, pea pods. It was delicious and tasted quite fruity; very difficult to describe without sounding a bit pretentious. The strawberry wine was a little fizzy and tasted as if you were biting into a giant, luscious and ripe strawberry. Yum.

We closed the meal with delicious lemon cakes that her daughter made and the Kritika Patouthia biscuits and mango-nectarine sorbet that my husband and I made.

Kritika Patouthia are Greek biscuits from the island of Crete. They are filled with ground almonds, ground walnuts, sesame seeds and honey and are typically rolled in icing (powdered) sugar. I decided that they were sweet enough and omitted the icing sugar. These cookies are delicious and went well with the last of the summer mango-nectarine sorbet. I came up with this recipe when I didn’t have enough mangoes to make sorbet. The nectarines work quite well with the mango and do not get lost with the strong mango flavour.

Kritika Patouthia

Yield: 5 to 6 dozen


1/2 cup olive oil

4 tablespoons water

4 tablespoons orange juice

Juice of one lemon

6 tablespoons white sugar

4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt


1 cup ground walnuts

1 cup ground almonds

1 cup sesame seeds

1 cup honey

Confectioners' sugar

Orange flower water or orange juice for sprinkling

Mix together olive oil, water, orange juice, lemon juice and sugar. Set aside. In a large bowl sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Add olive oil mixture to flour mixture.

On a floured surface, work and knead to a smooth dough. Cover dough (you can place the empty bowl over it) and let dough rest for an hour.

While dough is resting, make filling.

To Make Filling:

Combine ground walnuts, ground almonds, sesame seeds and honey together in a bowl. Mix until well coated.

Preheat oven to 350F (180C).

Sesame Almond Walnut Filling

Roll out dough to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into 3 inch squares. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of filling in center of each square.

fold up

Moisten edges with orange flower water or orange juice and cover the filling by folding in the four corners and pressing them firmly together in the center.

Bake for about 25 minutes. While cookies are still warm, sprinkle lightly with orange flower water or orange juice and dip in a bowl of confectioners' sugar.

Mango and Nectarine

Mango and Nectarine Sorbet

Serving Size: 8

3 medium size mangoes, cut into chunks

3 large nectarines, peeled and cut into chunks

Juice of one medium size lemon

1/2 cup simple syrup or to taste

ying and yang

Place the mango and nectarine chunks in a food processor and process until the mixture is a puree. Add the simple syrup and lemon; mix for one to two minutes. Put in an ice cream maker, following manufacturer's instructions.

Take the sorbet out of the freezer 15 minutes prior to serving.

Rosh Hashana 5768

Chag Sameach everyone! I hope you had a nice meal with your family. We went to my cousin’s house for the first night of Rosh Hashana and had a lovely time.

We invited some friends of ours for dinner last night. My husband made a Rosh Hashana favourite and I introduced several new surprises to our repertoire. Everything was delicious.

The cake calls for sour cream and one of my guests has a dairy allergy and can only tolerate butter in baked goods, so I substituted a non-dairy yogurt in its place. It worked fine.

And in case you are wondering about why I served a dairy cake, we keep kashrut according to the Italian tradition which is one hour between meat and dairy.

Our menu was:


Provence des Papes Savoury Biscuits

Rosemary Cashews

First Course
Apples with honey
Pomegranate seeds

Ducklava with Chestnut Honey

Main Course

Clay Pot Festival of Fruits Chicken
Green beans

Round Challah with dried fruits and nuts
Golan Winery Sion Creek red wine


Beekeeper’s Honey Cake
Mango-Nectarine sorbet

Provence des Papes Savoury Biscuits

Yield: 24 biscuits

Recipe from Restaurant: La Garbure (Châteauneuf du Pape) Chef: Jean Louis Giansilly

5 garlic cloves

3 sprigs of basil

5 tbsp olive oil

50g (3.5 tbsp) pine nuts

300g (1.3 cups) flour

10cl (.4 cup) warm water

10cl (.4 cup) olive oil

2 tsp salt

25g (1.7 tablespoons) baking powder

4 egg yolks

Ground pepper

Prepare a pesto by crushing the garlic cloves with the basil, olive oil, and pine nuts.

Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, virgin olive oil, egg yolks, warm water, and some ground pepper. Add the pesto and blend well to obtain a smooth dough.

Roll into a long snake and slice the into 1/4 inch (6mm) wafers and bake at 180C (350F) for about 10 minutes (depending on size).

Clay Pot Festival of Fruits Chicken

Serving Size: 4 to 6

This recipe was created by my husband for the Jewish festival of Rosh Hashana. It is a fruity, but not an overly sweet dish.

1 chicken, cut into eighths

1 onion, thinly sliced

4-5 whole garlic cloves

2 cm fresh ginger, grated or chopped finely

1 quince, cored and cut into eighths

10-20 majhoul dates, pitted and cut into quarters

10 dried figs, stem removed and cut into eighths

10-20 dried sour apricots, cut into quarters

20 walnut halves

Couple of pinches of black pepper

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

2 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp cloves

1 tsp. ground allspice

1 tsp. ground nutmeg

1 cup dry red wine

1 cup water

½ c pomegranate molasses

½ tbsp balsamic vinegar

Olive oil

On a low heat, place the olive oil in the clay pot, just to cover the surface. Add the onions when the oil is hot, but not sizzling. When the onion is soft, add the garlic. When the onion is lightly brown, turn up the heat and add the chicken pieces, stirring constantly until browned, approximately 10 minutes.

Reduce the heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Cook on a low flame for approximately 1 ½ hours, stirring every 15 minutes and checking that there is enough remaining liquid for a nice sauce.

Server with nut-studded rice or couscous.

Time to Bake Bread

I have been under the weather since last Friday and I stayed home today. The dinner I planned to make on Sunday night (see Spanish and Italian-Inspired Shabbat Dinner) has been postponed until Friday night. Yes, I am still making the matza fritters! And, I will post the photos.

I am really not a very good patient. My colleagues accuse me of being a workaholic. Maybe they are right…. I called work three times today and checked my office email three times. My name is Baroness Tapuzina and I am a workaholic.

So, how does one cure being a workaholic? Bake some bread. Since Pesach is officially over, I decided we needed a loaf of bread, so I got my stashed away flour and put it back in the kitchen. I decided to make my quick and easy whole wheat walnut bread and my husband came in and said, “How about making it with 50% whole wheat and 50% rye?” So I did.

What I like about this recipe is that it is very versatile. You can do half whole wheat, half all purpose or rye flour or all whole wheat. I also have made it with pumpkin seeds or walnuts and raisins. Use your imagination.

Whole Wheat Walnut Bread

Yield: 1 lb (450 g) loaf

1 1/4 cup (300 g) whole wheat flour, plus a little for dusting

1 slightly rounded teaspoon salt

1 slightly rounded teaspoon dried yeast

7 oz warm water

1 level teaspoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon walnut oil or olive oil

1/2 cup (110 g) walnut pieces

1/2 cup (110 g) dark or golden raisins (optional)

Lightly grease a 12 x 10 in (30 x 25.5 cm) baking sheet or line it with a silpat liner.

Put the flour, salt and yeast together in a mixing bowl. Whisk the warm water, brown sugar and walnut oil until the sugar has dissolved. Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture and either mix by hand or using the dough hook of your electric mixer. Mix to form a dough, adding a further tablespoon or two of water if it appears too dry. The dough should start to pull away from the sides of the bowl and yet not be so soft that it clings to your hands and sticks to the work surface.

Either stop the machine and knead for approximately 5 minutes by hand or until elastic or knead in your electric mixer. If possible, avoid using any additional flour because, as you knead, the dough will become more elastic and less sticky.

Press the dough out into a rough 12 inch (30 cm) square, and sprinkle the dried fruit and nuts over the surface. Roll up the dough, like a jelly roll and then knead briefly again to distribute the fruit and nuts evenly. Shape the dough into an oblong or round and place on the baking sheet and cover with a piece of oiled cellophane.

Walnut Bread Dough

Let rise in a warm place for about 1-1/4 hours or until the dough has almost doubled in size. Put two or three slash marks in the dough or mark with an X.

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) and bake for approximately 35 minutes.

Exotic Fruits

Israelis love travelling to India. It is a rite of passage for most young adults after they finish their army service, although Thailand, Vietnam and Nepal are also high on the list.

I would love to travel to India. My dream is to go on the Palace on Wheels. This is where my royal highnessness :-) comes shining through. For me, the Palace on Wheels is the epitome of romance. Rajasthan is supposed to be an amazing place, full of bright colors; rich red and orange raw silk fabric. My wedding dress fabric was a gold duponi silk from India. I adore Indian textiles and sari fabric.

The surprising thing is that Indian food is not more popular in Israel. There are only a few Indian restaurants here. There is a chain called Tandoori: the food is good, but they are rather expensive.

I really enjoy getting Indian takeout in London. I love all the choices of curries, side dishes, samosas, stuffed naan, etc. I also like making it myself. All of the wonderful smells from the cardamon, cinnamon, whole peppercorns and other spices. It fills the whole house with a wonderful spicy, oriental aroma.

For Tu’Bishvat I decided to make an Indian meal, well at least most of it was Indian dishes.

All of the Indian dishes I made for this meal came from Madhur Jafrey’s A Taste of India. I have two of her cookbooks and both of them have delicious recipes, but this cookbook is also a work of art. The photography and the stories she tells take you to India. You can taste the food and smell the smells.

The main dish I made was Chicken with Apricots and Potato Straws (Sali Jardaloo Murgi). This dish is from the state of Gujarat, which is on the Northwest coast of India and borders Rajastan. It has some amazing Temples, one of which is the Temple of Krishna. The dish is spicy and fruity, seasoned with hot chilies, cinnamon, cumin, cardamon, cloves, fresh ginger and garlic.

Chicken with Apricots ad Potato Straws

Serving Size: 4 to 6

(Sali Jardaloo Murgi) Recipe from A Taste of India by Madhur Jaffrey

1.4 kg (3lbs) whole chicken or chicken pieces, skinned

4 whole dried hot red chillies

5cm (2-inch) cinnamon stick, broken up

1-1/2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds

7 cardamom pods

10 whole cloves

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon finely crushed garlic

100g (4oz) dried sour apricots

1/2 cup vegetable oil

225g (1/2lb) medium-sized onions, cut into very fine half rings

2 tablespoons tomato paste mixed with 1 cup of water

1-1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

1-1/2 tablespoons sugar

For the potato straws:

1 tablespoon salt

200g (7oz) large potato, peeled

Vegetable oil for deep frying

To make the chicken:

If using a whole chicken, cut it into small pieces. For example, divide the chicken legs into 2 and the whole breasts into 4 pieces and place in a big bowl.

Place the red chillies, cinnamon, cumin, cardamon and cloves in a coffee grinder and grind as finely as possible.

Rub in 1 teaspoon of the ginger, 1/2 teaspoon of the garlic and half of the spice mixture on to the chicken, making sure the chicken pieces are coated with the mixture. Set aside for 1 hour.

Place the apricots in a small pan with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer, uncovered, until the apricots are tender, but not mushy. Set them aside to cool.

Heat 1/2 cup of oil in a heavy pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and fry until they are a reddish-brown in colour. Turn the heat down and add the remaining ginger, garlic and spice mixture. Stir well and add the chicken, browning lightly for about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste liquid and the salt. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to low, and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Stir in the vinegar and sugar, cover again and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and remove as much fat from the pan as you can.

Place the apricot gently in between the chicken pieces and let them soak in the sauce for at least 30 minutes.

To make the potato straws:

Fill a large bowl with about 8 cups of water. Mix in the salt.

Grate the potato on the coarsest grating blade and place in the bowl of water, stirring them around in the water. Remove one handful of the the potato straws at a time, squeezing out as much liquid as you can. Spread them out on a tea towel and pat as much moisture off as possible.

Put vegetable oil into a wok or frying pan until it is 5cm (2-inches) in depth in the pan. Heat slowly over a medium-low heat. When the oil is hot, this may take 10 minutes, put a small handful of potato straws in the oil. Stir them until they are crisp and golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

When ready to serve, heat the chicken on medium-low heat and garnish top with the potato straws.

The next dish was Aubergines with Apple (Tsoont Vaangan). This dish is from Kashmir. I know this combination sounds strange, but it is delicious.

Aubergines with Apples

Serving Size: 4 as a side dish

(Tsoont Vaangan) Recipe from A Taste of India by Madhur Jaffrey

550g (1-1/4lb) aubergines, cut crosswise into thick slices

1-2 large, hard, tart apples such as a Granny Smith, cut into sixths, unpeeled

1/4 tsp ground fennel seeds

1/2- 1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp tumeric

1/4 tsp red chilli powder (cayenne pepper)

6tbsp mustard or vegetable oil

1/8 tsp ground asafetida

Put the fennel, salt, tumeric and chili powder in a small bowl and add 1 tablespoon of water and mix into a paste.

Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the asafetida and then the apple wedges. Saute, until the apples are golden brown. Remove the apples and set aside.

Place one layer of aubergine in the pan. You may need to add a little more oil. Brown them on both sides, remove from the pan and set aside. Repeat this until all of the aubergine has been cooked.

Put the apples and aubergine back in the pan, add the paste and stir gently. Cook on low heat for about 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and serve.

For dessert, I moved to a country whose dishes I have never made before, Georgia.

This is a Walnut Raisin Torte (Nigvzis Torti). It is not too sweet and is a perfect dessert for Tu’Bishvat. Full of nuts and raisins. It is also not very hard to make. I made a half a recipe, which serves about six people.


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