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Archive for the ‘Dessert’ Category

It’s been months that I have been planing on making these cookies. It all started after I had Thini cookies at Sugar-Daddy in Tel Aviv earlier this year. I was talking about making these cookies for so long that it seemed like it wasn’t going to happen.
After looking up recipes online and in my cookbook collection and not coming up with anything that seemed promising, I tried to improvise… The first batch of cookies was too hard, so I added some butter and replaced a 1/3 of the spelt flour with almond meal. And here you go, a winner recipe, the cookies came out tasty and crumbly, perfect served with tea or on their own. So good!
Thini is basically ground up sesame seeds and Silan is a date syrup, the combination of these two flavors is unreal.
First thing is making sure you are using high quality Thini paste, I prefer Thini that comes from the middle east, it just seems to be better than any local brand I tried. The Silan should be as natural as possible, and without preservatives.

1/2 cup raw Thini paste
1/2 cup date syrup
8 tablespoon of butter (1 stick)
1 1/2 cup flour, I used spelt and almond meal, 1 cup spelt and 1/2 almond.
1/4 cup chopped pistachio
cinnamon, cardamon, vanilla and a pinch of salt

Pre-heat the oven to 355 (180 Celsius)
Start by placing the thini and butter in a sauce pan over low heat, mix until well combined.
In a large bowl mix the thini-butter paste with the silan, chopped pistachios, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, a few drops of vanilla extract, 1/2-1 teaspoon of ground cardamon and the salt.
Slowly add the flour and mix by hand until a soft dough is formed.
Using your hands, form small balls and place on a baking pan, since the dough is soft the cookies will spread, so make sure they are spread out.


Bake for 10-12 minutes, just until slightly brown and take out. Let cool before trying to move the cookies or they will fall apart.
The cookies are extremely soft at first but they will harden as they cool down.

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Its Shavuot, the holiday that commemorates God giving the Torah to the Israelites, and we celebrate it by wearing all white and eating dairy. That might seem odd, but somewhere, someone, had an argument good enough to make others agree, and therefore I wear white (actually I wore purple) and eat cheese. And I can’t complain, as I LOVE dairy in most of its edible forms.

Earlier this week I visited Liat and was handed a bag full of passion-fruit, different from most fruit, the best passion-fruit are the dark and wrinkly looking ones. I love Passion fruit, and it’s Shavuot, what else was I to do?

Short side story, while visiting Hawaii last year I was introduced to the local version of Passion-fruit, Jamaican Lilikoi, a yellow-orange colored fruit, that looks very much like the familiar passion-fruit, but is much sweeter. During that trip I became slightly obsessed with the idea of topping a cheese cake with this wonderful, delicious, tropical fruit, but that never happened. With the combination of the fruit in my bag and the arriving holiday the outcome was inevitable.

Passion-Cheese cake it is.

The recipe is easy as can be, but it is made with an Israeli soft cheese that doesn’t have an American equivalent… You can buy it in Israeli/Jewish supermarkets if you really wanna give it a go or use kwark or fromage blanc instead.

For the dough base:
1/2 cup (100g) sugar
2 cups (280g) AP flour
3 egg yolks
200g cold butter, diced

mix all ingredients together until a uniform dough is formed, placed in a buttered baking dish and shape to make an even base.

Bake on medium heat (180°c, 350°f) for 30 minutes.
once the dough is baked scrape it with a fork to make crumbs, cool down and place in an air-tight box.

For the cheese cake, mix 500 ml heavy cream and 1/3 cup (70g) sugar whip to form a thick cream, then mix in 500g white cheese (Israeli soft, white cheese, should be drained in a cheese cloth over a bowl, in the fridge, for at least two hours prior to mixing in the cake), and some lemon zest.

once the base is completely cool, pour the cheese mixture over the dough and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours to set.

Before serving let stand in room temp for 15 minutes, then, either sprinkle with the crumbs or top with passion fruit, or berries.

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A few days ago as we were eating some cherry pie, Tacuma asked: “when are you gonna make some cherry pie?”
when cherries are in season, I said, thinking it won’t be before summer, two days later while walking through Chinatown I saw a women selling cherries, and though I usually prefer using produce in its peak season I couldn’t resist and bought 2lbs of tart cherries.

Looking for a good cherry pie recipe I learned about Clafoutis. Clafoutis is a custard that is made from cream, flour, eggs, spices and cherries. Being the custard lover that I am and with Nitzan alongside me salivating over the pictures in the book, we decided to go for it. since I had already thawed some crust dough I had saved from my last pie, I decided to add it to the mix. Could have done just fine without it, and most likely will next time, but it was still delicious.
You start with pitting the cherries, a task that is a bit tedious, but in my opinion has to be done.
According to this french cook book, traditionally you leave the pits in, that’s fine as long as you make sure you warn your guests before they start eating.
Since we ate many of them in the process of cleaning we ended up with one pound of  pitted cherries. Just enough. place the cherries in a baking dish, including any juice that is left after cleaning them.
pre-heat oven to 375°F (180°C)
In a bowl whisk together 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar until well mixed and slightly stiff. add 3.5 oz (100 gr) of almond meal, 2 tablespoons of AP flour, 2 cups of cream or half and half, cinnamon and vanilla extract to taste and mix well.
Pour mixture over the cherries,  and into the oven it goes…


After about 40-45 minutes poke the center and check if the custard is set, continue cooking until nicely golden on top, if the center is still a little soft don’t worry, it will set as it cools down.

Dust with some powdered sugar before serving. Enjoy !

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I learned this one from Jules, shortly after he had learned it from Matt and Kayla. This delicious variation of a french toast is simple and doesn’t require frying, it’s perfect if you are having some friends over for brunch.

You will need:
1 loaf of challah bread, sliced the night before and left out or lightly toasted in the oven – this step is important to help the bread soak up as much liquid as possible.
4-5 eggs, scrambled
2-3 cups of milk
1 pint of blueberries
2 Tbsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp cardamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
powdered sugar for dusting
maple syrup

baking dish, buttered

pre-heat oven to 400°
in a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and spices, cut the bread into pieces and soak in liquid, mix it with your hands to insure the bread is completely soaked.
Mix in the blueberries, I like to use a lot of berries, about 3/4 of a pint.
transfer the mixture into a baking dish, fluff it with your fingers and sprinkle a few more berries on top.
place in the oven for about 30 minutes, covered, then remove cover and bake for 10 minutes more or until lightly golden in color. finish with some powdered sugar.


serve warm with pure maple syrup.

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On Christmas day I was invited to the Pacheco’s to take part in their traditional Christmas feast. Soon as I walked in I was handed a glass of bourbon and egg-nog ,I was expecting a delicious meal and so I wasn’t surprised to see turkey and ham, brussel sprouts, mashed potato, home baked bread and some stuffing on the table, but nothing would have got me prepared for dessert.

A brown, mountain shaped cake was placed in the middle of the table, so far nothing extraordinary,and then our host started pouring whiskey right on top of the cake, now we are talking A LOT of whiskey, so at this point my attention was only on this cake.

As expected, after the liqueur came the match

Now let me tell you a little about this cake; it is at least 2 years old (no joke) and was made by the sister of our host, this cake is made of different fruit, plump up with whiskey and/or rum, steamed and then left to age for a few years, it was sitting in her fridge for at least 2 years and according to her “these will last forever”. Oh wow, all I know at this point is that my taste buds are ready!

The cake was delicious! It was moist and fruity with a strong yet not over-powering flavor of the whiskey and was served with a light home-made cream.  I don’t have the recipe since it was made in Ireland by a relative of a family I only pretend to be related, but it is might mean I have to join them on their next trip over.

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Another pound of Chestnuts miraculously found its way into my kitchen, it seems like that is all I want to eat this days, chestnuts and soups. There is something so comforting about roasting chestnuts in the winter, and the fact that they are so cheap right only makes it easier for me to buy them.
I saw this recipe last week, when browsing through the smitten kitchen, and been dreaming of these cookies since.

I always favored food that requires some sort of getting your hands dirty, some peeling action, breaking and cracking, and chestnuts are exactly that. In the last few weeks, while slowly realizing I’m obsessed with chestnuts, I noticed how easy it is to over roast them, at least two batches were dried out because I left them in the oven too long (thankfully they are only $3 a lb these days), but 20-25 minutes, on 450°F is all it takes, you can also shake them once or twice while roasting, to get an even spread of the heat.
A shallow X cut on top helps you to later crack and peel the skin off as it will start rolling back during the roast.

Start with a pound of chestnuts and cut an X on top of each one, with a sharp knife or a bread knife, try not to cut too deep into the “meat” but deep enough that the skin will peel back while roasting. Start with a pound, even though you will need less for the recipe, sometimes the chestnuts end up having rotten middles.
After roasting, let them cool and then peel them, chop coarsely and measure one cup, place in a food processor and pulse until very fine, add 2 sticks of soft butter and pulse to combine, add 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon salt, a few fresh shavings of nutmeg and 2 cups all-purpose flour. pulse until even dough is formed.
If you don’t have a food processor chop the chestnuts as fine as you can, whip the butter and sugar in a mixer bowl, add vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, chestnuts and flour and beat to form dough.

Divide the dough and wrap each half in plastic, cool in the fridge for about an hour.
Preheat the oven to 350°F . Working with each half of the chilled dough at a time start rolling out balls, about two teaspoons in size and place on a baking sheet, they won’t spread so you don’t have to leave more than 1/2 inch between the cookies.
Bake for about 14 minutes, until just lightly golden in color on top. The cookies will very easily go from buttery and creamy to dry, so be careful not to overbake them. I always like testing out 2 or 3 first, every oven is different and many times I find that I need to adjust the baking time or temperature from the original recipe.

Let the baked cookies cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet and then roll them in 1 cup of powdered sugar mixed with a few pinches of cinnamon, and allow to cool completely.
Be aware! These cookies are a buttery creamy goodness and they are addictive (I had 5 while writing this, 3 more when taking pictures and 2 just because).

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Taking a baking sheet full of hot cookies out of the oven beats opening a package of cookies, every time!
If you didn’t notice it until now, I love simple recipes, it doesn’t appeal to me to bake a cake that calls for 8 hours in the oven or that is so complicated you must follow a long list of specific directions. I like simple and delicious food, now that being said, I don’t mind working hard for good food, I just believe that a difficult recipe does not necessarily produce a good meal.
With those intentions I decided to bake some molasses cookies today, and as soon as the word cookies left me mouth and reached the ears of Tacuma, he started jumping up and down. That’s it, there is no going back now…

* The recipe below is modified from a few different recipes I found online, Martha’s recipe and Brenda hall’s were the most influential.

Ingredients.

  • 3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted
  • 1 cup unrefined sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup  sugar

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the melted butter, 1 cup sugar, and egg until smooth. Stir in the molasses. In a bowl combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger; blend into the molasses mixture. Cover, and chill dough for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Roll dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining white sugar. Place cookies 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets.
  3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until tops are cracked. Cool on wire racks.

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