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Hagarita -  the love of cooking and sharing food

Tahini and Silan cookies

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.

Cooking with my father - part two

Its bone marrow time!About a year and a half ago, just a few days before I started working at The Breslin, I had dinner there with my father. Both of us ordered the bone marrow onion soup. neither of us was overly impressed and then he made a promise, that in due time he will teach me how to make what he was calling "real bone marrow". The time has finally arrived, and for my farewell meal he shared with me his bone marrow roasting recipe. Bone marrow is something I was avoiding for years, for obvious reasons, I like to Believe. It's fatty content always seemed unappealing to me. Then when I finally had some, I wished I have done so years earlier. When roasted correctly, bone marrow is the perfect companion for a nice slice of bread, scooped out and spread on a toast. finger licking worthy.

Starting by pre-heating your oven to a medium-high heat, place the bones in a baking dish, marrow part up, and sprinkle some sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and paprika.

place them in the oven for about 20 minutes, watching closely to ensure they aren't going over and melting into oil. You know they are ready when the bone is nicely colored and the marrow looks like it starting to char.

Cooking with my father

My father is an amazing cook, he's been a culinary inspiration to me for years. His cooking skills always amazed me, he taught me some tricks that are the direct result of him being an inventor and is the only person who I allow alluring me into eating foods I wouldn't dare considering.One of my favorite food games is asking him for one of his recipes. The ritual, is, with slight circumstantial changes, the same every time. It usually takes place over the dinner table, as I am wolfing on one of his delicious creations, I then, with a mouth full of food, ask him for the ingredients and he refuses to tell me what it is that was happening in his pots. then I ask again, and he, once more, says no. Then I give it a few minutes, just staring at him with anticipation. I can tell I'm getting close to breaking him down and so I ask once more. Usually that's where he tells me what he did and how, unfortunately I can rarely duplicate it. Last weekend was a whole different story though. I came home to spend the weekend with my family and had the extreme pleasure of watching him in action. We are so far away from each other, that those moments are truly rare and fill me up with joy. He was slicing beef fillet to about a 1/4 inch thick slices, then in a mortar he made a paste from Rosemary, sea salt, pepper and olive oil. The meat was then rubbed with the paste and set aside.

A heavy grilling pan was then wrapped in foil to avoid a ridiculously dirty stove top and the searing began. The meat goes in for a quick minute or two, on both sides and then comes out. Once all the meat is done he starts the sauce.

Now you might ask yourself why am I about to give out a recipe of a man who so strictly protects them, here's why: 3 months ago, just as I returned home, my father made this very same dish, he asked that I'll go get Moscato, and I did, only I got the bubbly version... He made it anyways, using the bubbly wine instead and that would have been it if it wasn't for the next time he decided to make it, this time using the wine he initially planned on using, the sauce came out different, something was missing, those bubbles did something to the flavor that didn't come through using the flat wine. Ha, what an incredible turn out to my little mistake! And so now I claim this recipe to be partially mine, and therefor can share it with the world. (also, i asked and he said it's fine...)

Back to the sauce now, on the same cast iron pan he used to sear the meat he now pours the wine, let it release all the flavors and adds butter, cream and lots of black pepper, if salt is needed it will be added a well. The meat goes back in for a quick second and then served.

oh my god, these are the yummiest little things!!!

Amy B was here this weekend for a very short minute, and that was a great reason to cook and celebrate. On Sunday as a part of our way to convince Roi to come and help us with an ongoing bathroom renovation, and since Amy was in town, I cooked an elaborate brunch featuring these little cheesy puffs, called gougères, savory cheesy pastry puffs. oh my, they are so delicious.Being the gruyere lover that I am its sorta hard to be objective about any food that has this fantastic swiss work of art in it, but pairing these little yummies with some poached eggs was simply delightful, and it didn't require too much work either (it is rare for me to go for recipes that do...). It doesn't require using a mixer, nor it won't break your hand mixing it.

makes 8-10 servings

1/3 cup (3 oz/90 g) unsalted butter 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper pinch of cayenne pepper 1 cup (5 oz/155 g) all-purpose flour 4 large eggs 3 + 1 for brushing 1 1/2 cups (6 oz/185 g) shredded Gruyere cheese

pre-heat oven to 425°F (220° C), line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. in a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the butter, salt, white pepper, cayenne, and 1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) water and bring to a boil. cook, stirring, until the butter melts, 3-4 minutes. Add the flour and, using a wooden spoon, mix vigorously until a thick paste forms and pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 3 minutes. remove from heat. break 1 egg into the pan, using the wooden spoon, beat it into the batter until combined. repeat with additional 2 eggs. whisk in 1 cup (4 oz/125 g) of the cheese.

dip a teaspoon into a glass of cold water, then scoop up a generous teaspoonful of the batter and push it onto the prepares baking sheet with a fingertip. repeat with the remaining batter, spacing them 2 inches (5 cm) apart and dipping the spoon each time to prevent sticking. brush the tops off with an egg and sprinkle with the remaining of the cheese.

bake for 10 minutes, reduce oven temp to 350°F (180° C) and bake until golden and crisp, about 15 minutes. remove from the oven, pierce each one with a wooden skewer, and then return to the oven. turn off oven and leave the gougères in the oven for 10 minutes. serve at room temperature

Bon Appetit!

french cherry clafoutis.

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 !

blueberry french toast

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.

french lentils soup

I promised Debbie about a month ago that I will make some lentil soup and put the recipe up, but this entire time I just wasn't inspired to cook any lentils, then I saw these green french lentils at the coop and knew that today is the day.

Like other legumes, lentils are low in fat and high in protein and fiber, but they have the added advantage of cooking quickly and they don't require any soaking. Green lentils are usually the ones I go for, the french ones are more delicate and take longer to cook. all lentils should be rinsed and picked through for stones before cooking. Oh, and by the way, they will take longer to cook if they are combined with salt or acidic ingredients, so add these last.

for the soup you will need: 1 medium onion, diced 5-6 cloves of garlic 1 medium carrot, sliced 1 stick of celery 1 small turnip 1 large potato 1 1/2 cup of lentils, picked and rinsed 5-6 cups of chicken stock or water 1 tomato, chopped 2 tablespoon cumin 2 tablespoon paprika 1 bay leaf salt and pepper 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice chopped parsley for garnish

start by sweating the onion, carrot, celery and turnip in 2 tablespoons of oil, add black pepper and a pinch of salt just to get some liquid out of the veggies, add garlic, potato and lentils. Add liquid, cumin, paprika and a bay leaf. bring to a boil and lower to simmer. cook for 40 minutes to an hour, depending on the lentils you are using. Keep checking that there is enough liquid in the pot,  the lentils soak up a lot of liquid as they cook and the soup will slowly turn thicker, its up to you to decide how thick you want it to be. Taste a few lentils after the first 40 minutes and see if they are completely cooked and soft, make any adjusting to the flavor if needed, if the lentils are ready add the lemon juice, salt and the chopped tomato, cook for 5-10 more minutes discard the bay leaf and serve, garnished with chopped parsley.

eat your sprouts

As a kid, just like many, I didn't eat brussels sprouts, I'm not sure if it was the smell, the look or simply the name that made me abstain from it, either way it wasn't until recent years when I started eating it. One of the first times I truly felt like we might have a future was at Alta restaurant in NYC a few years ago, they were roasted and served with apples, pistachios and creme fraiche, as I'm writing these words I am wondering "how could it be that I have never tried to duplicate that dish?" Brussels sprouts get a delicious sweet flavor when caramelized and even slightly burnt, I like starting them in a hot pan and then finishing it in the oven.

There are many ways to roast these little green beauties, some include the addition of bacon, pancetta, chorizo or other cured pork products, it sure does add some fatty goodness to the dish and if you chooses to use any of the above, start by rendering the meat for a few minutes to get some of the fat melted in the pan, then add to the same pan your cleaned and washed sprouts, cut in halves or quarters. If you chooses a vegetarian dish, heat up some oil and/or butter and throw them in on a medium-high heat, then add salt and pepper and cook for a 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Place pan in a pre-heated over, at 375° F, for about 10-15 minutes, or until brussels sprouts are soft and nicely roasted. you can add some roasted nuts once out of the oven, my favorite are sliced almonds but if I don't have any I'll use pine nuts instead. This simple dish can be easily adjusted to your liking, you can spice it up with some chili or serve with fresh granny-smith apple slices and some lite drizzle of honey or reduced apple cider.

Either way its hard to go wrong.

happy holidays, braised fennel

fennel is one of the earliest food i can remember, it seems like it was always on our dinner table, for the most part served chopped, raw in a lemon dressing. i always liked the flavor of fennel and its hairy leafy part as well, it has that anise like flavor, and though i'm not at all into licorice i am very much into fennel.there are many dishes you can make with fennel, i have been dreaming on fennel ice-cream ever since someone at the coop was telling me about her experiments with an ice-cream maker, but on my plate today, something a little less time-consuming: braised fennel. braised fennel is delicious, charring it before you braise it will bring out some hidden sweetness and will take it to a much happier place.

i start by taking the tops off, saving the leafy part for garnish, then slicing it length wise in order to keep the bulb sort of intact, then i gently toss it in olive oil, salt and pepper and place it in a hot cast iron to grill it, flipping about 4 minutes in or when it turned brown, for a total of 8-10 minutes. if you need to work in batches do so, don't over-crowed the pan.

once all pieces are nicely charred place them back in the pan and add about 1/2 cup of white wine, let it boil for a minute or two and add equal amount of chicken or veggie stock, salt, pepper, some chili flakes, a few threads of saffron and the juice of half an orange or 1 meyer lemon. cover and let simmer for about 15 minutes until fennel is soft.

garnish with some beautiful fronds.

mouth watering layers of meat sauce, ricotta and pasta, or as some call it : Lasagna

When it comes to pasta I must admit, I am pretty spoiled. Ever since I got a pasta maker as a birthday gift a few years back I had a really hard time going back to the pre-packaged dry version. Now don't think that every time I want pasta I pull it out and start rolling, but I definitely prefer buying fresh pasta if I'm too lazy to make my own.Lasagna is one of those wonder dishes that allows you to, pretty much, put whatever you want in it, and know that it will come out delicious. Today's Lasagna was constructed from a spicy lamb meat sauce, ricotta bechamel, kale and some Parmesan-Gruyere to top it off.

I use fresh pasta sheets, ground lamb meat, kale and half and half, you can change those basic ingredients and still follow the recipe.

In a sauce pan cook 1 1/2 cups of half and half with 1/2 an onion, 1 bay leaf and 2 cloves, simmer for 15-20 minutes, don't let it boil! While the cream is cooking dice 1 big onion, and 2 chopped cloves of garlic, in a cast iron or your favorite "meat sauce making" pan, sauté the onion and garlic in some oil (I like a combination of high heat oil, like sunflower oil, and some bacon fat) for 2-3 minutes, add 1 T salt, 1/2 T fresh pepper, 2 T paprika, sweet or spicy or both, 2 T dry oregano and a bay leaf or two. Cook for 1-2 minutes then add the meat and break into small chunks with a wooden spoon, cook for a few more minutes. Add 1/3 Cup red wine and cook for 8-10 minutes until the alcohol is cooked off.

Add 1 cup of diced tomatoes, either fresh, blanched and peeled or out of a can, 2 T of tomato paste and a pinch of sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Wash the kale and saute it in a wok for a few minutes until soft.

Remove cream from heat, discard the onion, cloves and bay leaf. In a second sauce pan on low heat melt 1 T butter add 1 T flour and whisk together until well blend, slowly add the cream, whisking constantly until all incorporate, remove from heat. Add 1 cup of ricotta, salt, pepper and a few shaving of fresh nutmeg.

Assemble the lasagna (yum): Pre-heat oven to 400°F. Pick a deep, large baking dish, first layer should be meat sauce, not too much, just a thin layer at the bottom, follow by a layer of pasta, then kale, ricotta sauce, another layer of pasta, some meat sauce, etc. The order is completely optional, just make sure to start with a layer of sauce before the pasta, or else you might have a dry bottom. I never boil my pasta before layering it, not the fresh nor the dry. Top the whole thing with some grated cheese, Parmesan and Guryere are my choices. Stick it in the pre-heated over covered with baking paper and topped with foil for 20-25 minutes if using fresh pasta, 10-15 minutes longer if using dry pasta, then remove the foil and baking paper and cook for 10 more minutes or until the cheese is nicely crisped and golden in color.

Let cool for at least 10-15 minutes, its hard, I know, but you can do it. I find that taking it out of the oven before sitting down and then starting with some soup or salad is usually enough time, but it is most delicious the next day (like I can wait...)

Enjoy with some fresh arugula and red onion salad.

Meyer Lemon and Ricotta Pancakes

Sunday, it's noon and we are hungry. Last night we made Lasagna and I have some ricotta left, Tacuma wants pancakes... mmm... let me think..... I love Ricotta pancakes, and I don't need to be asked twice to make them, I also happened to have 3 Meyer lemons that been waiting to get used. perfect.

Now is the time to admit that I cheated when making the pancakes, I did use Pamela's Baking Mix instead of making the batter from scratch, but to my defense, it is so incredibly good that it just doesn't make sense not to use it. Especially on such a lazy Sunday.

for two people I used 1 cup of baking mix, I separated 2 eggs and added the yolks to the dry mix, then a 1/3 cup milk ( I used almond milk but you can use anything from water to cream), 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, pinch of salt and the zest of 1Meyer lemon. mix well until combined with no lumps, if the batter is too thick or too thin adjust with either more liquid or more dry mix. I don't add sugar to the batter, simply so I can later drown it in maple. whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks and fold into batter. turn your oven on and set to 200°F. on a hot cast iron, oiled or buttered, or both, pour the batter using a spoon or a small ladle. once the pancake seem firm and you can see bubbles appearing throughout, gently lift with a spatula and flip. once golden brown on both sides remove from heat and keep warm in the preheated oven until all pancakes are ready to serve. In a bowl combine 1/2 cup or ricotta, juice of 1/2 a meyer lemon, 1/2 tablespoon of maple syrup, zest of 1 lemon and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. mix well and serve with pancakes.

Best served with.... Bacon!

Roasted Chestnuts Cookies

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).

Molasses spice cookies

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.

Anna's earth apples (Pommes Anna)

For my birthday last week, I got a sweet cook book from my close friends  R and N: "Essentials of French Cooking" that is divided by the regions of France, and has an incredible selection of recipes, with classics like Coq au Vin,  Beef Bourguignon and Tart Tatin, as well as less known dishes like Blue Cheese and Walnut soufflé and Sausage and Choucroute (sauerkraut). Everything in this book looks amazing and everything calls for a lot of butter!! Today I finally decided to stop drooling over the pictures and cook a recipe from it. Looking at the selection of available produce in my kitchen, I decided to use the potatoes, I bought a hand-full of blue potatoes about a week ago and a fresh load of Yukons yesterday, and it was time to make something out of them.Pommes Anna- Anna's potatoes, is a potato gratin named after Anna Deslions by the Cafe des Anglais in Paris, it is tasty and easy and looks beautiful. Bon Apetit!

Ingredients:

  • 5 tablespoons (2 1/2 oz/ 75 g)unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 lb (750g) potatoes
  • salt and fresh black pepper

Directions:

  1. preheat the oven to 375° F (19o° C). Coat a 9" (23-cm) pie pan with 1 tablespoon of butter
  2. peel the potatoes, rinse and dry. Using the thin slicing blade on a mandolin or a sharp knife cut the potatoes into slices 1/8 " (3mm) thick.
  3. in a sauce pan melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter until in foams and set aside.
  4. arrange some of the potatoes in a single layer in the prepared pan, overlapping them just slightly. lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with the melted butter. Repeat the layering process with the rest of the potatoes.
  5. bake in the oven until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork and the top is crisp and golden, 45-60 minutes, transfer to a wire rack and let stand for 5 minutes.
  6. run a knife around the edge of the pan, then place a plate over the top and invert the pan and plate together to unmold.

Since I didn't use 1 1/2 lb of potatoes they didn't go all the way to the top of the pan, which made it very hard to invert and unmold, I did, however, use a cake pan that opens with a spring, and simply opened it up and transfer the whole thing to a serving dish.

Eat more pie!

Yesterday Aoife and I decided on a trade, she will make me a very needed cake/pie serving dish and I, in return, will make her pies. Sweet and savory pies. First pie to be exchanged: leek, goat cheese and mushrooms (with a little bit of sun-chokes).I bought a beautiful Leek at the coop a few days ago that has been begging to be cooked, and so as soon as I got up I started working on it. Tart dough is simple to make and it is by far more rewarding then buying a frozen pre-made crust. The fun thing about baking pies is that you don't have to be so accurate, often when baking there is not much room for making up stuff as you go. With pies, however, I find that I have a lot more room to play with quantities and ingredients and that is exactly how I like to cook. I actually had some sun-chokes that needed to be used and so I peeled them, sliced them, cooked them in some milk and stuffed them in the bottom of the tart.

Stay tuned for more pie recipes over the next few weeks, and feel free to suggest ideas for pies I should make for the clay master and her chef lover.

Dough ingredients:

  • 2 cups All purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cut to cubes
  • 6 tablespoons ice cold water

Mix flour and salt in a bowl, add butter and mix until the butter pieces are pea-size. Add the water, one tablespoon at a time and mix with your fingertips. Do not over work the dough or it will become hard. Wrap in plastic and let rest in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Make the filling:

  • 3lbs leek, white part, thinly sliced
  • 15-20 mixed mushrooms, cremini, oyster, shiitake, brushed cleaned and chopped coarsely
  • 3 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 oz goat cheese
  • 3 oz creme fraiche
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock

* if you want to use potatoes or sun-chokes as well, peel and slice them and then cook in milk or cream for about 20 minutes until soft.

In a frying pan melt the butter and add the leek. Cook until leek is translucent, about 5 minutes, add thyme, bay leaf, 1/2 the salt, 1/2 the pepper and the chicken stock. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Make sure not to brown the leeks. Uncover and cook for about 15 more minutes until all juices are almost gone. In a separate pan melt the remaining butter and add the mushrooms and, salt and pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes until the mushrooms have released their juices. Place the leeks in a bowl, discard the nay leaf and mix in goat cheese and creme fraiche.

On a floured surface roll out the dough. Butter a 9" pie pan and line with rolled dough, fill with the leek mixture and bake for 15-20 minutes until the crust and leeks are starting to turn golden. Place mushrooms on top and bake for 10-15 minutes more. Place on a wire rack and let cool for 10-15 minutes. Serve warm.

Apple pie.

Apple pie is a quick and easy desert that I always love making, and I love it even more now that I have a kitchenaid and I can make a crust in 5 minutes.That was pretty much the first thing I did this morning and it came out perfect. I just love easy, delicious food.

Crust: Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cup All purpose flour
  • 10 tablespoon cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 3 tablespoon vegetable shortening
  • 3 tablespoon sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup cold whole milk

in a mixer bowl mix all dry ingredients together until combine, add butter and shortening and mix on low-speed until butter pieces are pea size. add milk slowly and mix until dough is formed. Do not over mix! Divide the dough to two pieces, wrap in plastic and let rest in fridge for 15 min.

Filling: Ingredients:

  • 7 medium granny smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 8 pieces
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cut chopped pecan
  • 3-4 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 oz whiskey

Directions:

  1. preheat oven to 350 degrees (175 Celsius)
  2. in a sauce pan melt butter, add apples, sugar and cinnamon, mix together and cook until apples are soft  (about 10 minutes)
  3. remove from heat and into a bowl, add vanilla, whiskey and pecans and mix together
  4. take dough out of the fridge and roll out of a floured surface till dough is about 1/4 inch thick - .5 cm
  5. butter a 9" pie pan and place dough in the pan, pour the apples into the crusted pan
  6. you can cover the pie with the second ball of dough by rolling it out and placing over the apples or cut stripes of dough and create a lattice
  7. brush the edges and top of the crust with milk or cream and sprinkle with sugar
  8. bake for about an hour-75 minutes until apples are soft and the crust is golden
  9. allow the pie to cool before serving

Best enjoyed warm with some good vanilla ice-cream...

Fighting the cold - chinese style

As the weather in NY drops below the freezing point, soups seems to be the only natural thing to eat.I was told by my acupuncturist yesterday that I need to push out something that is still external , but may become internal if left untreated, and so I should eat a lot of Miso. According to Chinese tradition exterior diseases first affect the body surfaces that are exposed directly to the environment - the skin, the mucous membranes of the nose, throat, and lungs. The most prevalent exterior conditions are the common cold and flu, the sooner ones notices these conditions and take action, the more likely their interior progress can be reversed. Food that promotes sweating is recommended for treating such conditions - miso soup, ginger and peppermint tea are my favorite remedies.

Miso is a fermented soybean paste thought to have originated in China some 2,500 years ago. It is made by combining cooked soybeans, mold, salt and various grains and then fermenting them together for six months to two years. There are three basic types of miso: soybean, barley and rice, and 40-50 other varieties. Each type has its own distinctive color and flavor. Healing properties of miso: 13%-20% protein; it is a live food containing lactobacillus (the same in yogurt) that aids in digestion; it creates an alkaline condition in the body promoting resistance against disease. According to tradition, miso promotes long life and good health. In my miso soup I like using a lot of ginger and scallions, along with kombu, wakame, tofu and shiitake. Kombu (kelp) -  moistens dryness; increases yin fluids; softens hardened areas and masses in the body; helps transform heat induced phlegm; benefits kidneys; diuretic; anti-coagulant effect on the blood; is a natural fungicide; relieves coughing and asthma; soothes the lungs and throat; eradicates fungal and candida yeast overgrowths. Wakame - diuretic; transforms and resolves phlegm; high in calcium; rich in niacin and thiamine; promotes healthy hair and skin; soften hardened tissue and masses; tonifies the yin fluids; used in Japanese tradition to purify the mother's blood after childbirth. Tofu - benefits the lungs and large intestine; relieves inflammation in the stomach; neutralizes toxins. Shiitake

What a healthy, cold fighting soup this is going to be! *most of this information is based on the book "healing with whole foods" by Paul Pritchard Miso soup recipe Ingredients:

  • 10-12 cups of chicken stock or water - I prefer using chicken stock, got to give grandma's remedies some credit too.
  • about 2-3 tablespoons of dark miso
  • 1/4 cup dry Wakame, soaked in 2 cups of water
  • 1 big piece of Kombu, cut into small chunks (use scissors)
  • 1/2 pack of tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon of bonito (or any other) dry fish flakes, optional
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • ginger, at least 3-5 inch long, peeled and sliced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced
  • 10 shiitake mushrooms, leg removed, cut in 4

Directions:

  1. in a soup pot, sautee garlic onion and ginger for about 4-5 minutes
  2. add wakame and the liquid it was soaked in and stir
  3. add mushrooms, 3/4 of scallions, kombu, tofu, bonito fish flakes and chicken stock
  4. bring to a boil and reduce to simmer, cook for about 30 minutes
  5. add miso, stir and cook for 10 more minutes
  6. serve hot with fresh scallions on top
  7. optional addition: hard-boiled or fried egg is a delicious addition to this soup.

*Miso, Kombu, Wakame and Bonito flakes can be found in Chinese or Japanese supermarkets.

Chicken with Chestnuts and Couscous

When food that I love is in season I buy it all the time and I try to cook all sorts of dished with it. Chestnuts, as I mentioned before, are high up on my "favorites" list, they are great in savory dishes, desserts and also just roasted with nothing but salt. Their rich and creamy texture is delightful and when I have some around I can't stop eating them. For the last few weeks I have been buying them in abundance with the intention of roasting, peeling and freezing them so I can have some even when the season is over. I say "with the intention" because the truth of the matter is that I have been cooking them more then I have been saving them, and there is nothing wrong with that, especially if the result is dishes like this one. This recipe comes from a book by the Israeli chef: Israel Aharoni.

Ingredients: serves 6

  • 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 6 chicken legs, separated to thigh and drumstick
  • 1 onion, diced roughly
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • fresh ginger about 1 inch long, chopped
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • salt and fresh black pepper
  • 500 gr Chestnuts - in the recipe he uses jarred chestnuts, I used them fresh, roasted for 30 minutes and peeled.

Directions:

  1. In a wok, heat up the oil, Sautée the chicken and brown it nicely on all sides. Remove from wok and put aside
  2. add the onion, garlic and ginger to the oil and Sautée for 5 minutes
  3. place chicken back in the wok and add soy sauce, wine, sugar, salt and pepper, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer
  4. cover and simmer for 30 minutes
  5. add chestnuts, stir and cook for another 20-30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked and the chestnuts are soft

Easy and delicious.

You can serve this with rice or quinoa, I used couscous, hand rolled by my grandmother, Miriam, who I believe is one of the only people that still hand roll their couscous. It is a long, long process but you will never hear her complain, and I won't complain either, it is the best couscous one can eat, and I am thankful to still have 1/2 a pound in my freezer.

Bon appetit!

Baked Asparagus and Potato cakes

Last Night we had Aoife and Greg over for dinner, on the menu: some bread, cheese and olives, baked asparagus, chicken in red wine and chestnuts and potato cakes (latkes).Baked asparagus is one of the easiest side dishes to make, and it is always delicious. Aside from the fact you have  to peel the skin of the asparagus, a task that can get a bit tedious at times, it is a quick and easy winner.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch Asparagus
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 pint heavy cream or half and half
  • 2 tablespoons Paprika
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Gruyere cheese, or a mix of both
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon or chili flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Direction:

  1. preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. gently peel off the skin of the Asparagus with a vegetable peeler, making sure you are not taking off to much of the flush
  3. in a bowl mix together cream, garlic, paprika, half of the cheese, chili, salt, pepper and half of the bread crumbs
  4. place Asparagus in a shallow baking dish and pour mixture over it, mix with your hands to insure the mixture is coating the asparagus in all layers
  5. mix the remaining cheese and bread crumbs together and sprinkle on top
  6. cover with baking paper and foil and bake for about 30 minutes
  7. take off foil and bake uncovered 10 more minutes or until the cheese is nice and golden

In the spirit of Channukah we also made some potato cakes, these little fried devils are so tasty its is basically impossible to stop eating them. They are pretty simple to make, the one thing you must pay attention to is squeezing as much of the liquid out as you can, that will assure you will get a nicely crisped potato cake. As far as a recipe goes for these ones, I usually sort of eye-ball everything when I make them, mostly because  you have to adjust the amount of the eggs and flour according to how wet the potatoes are, but here is a basic recipe to give you an idea of what to do.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups peeled and shredded potatoes, stored in cold water until ready to use. I use either white, russet or Yukon gold, you can use any kind of potatoes you like
  • 1 medium onion, shredded
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • black pepper
  • I had some Parmesan and Gruyere , mix left over from the baked asparagus so I added it in as well
  • vegetable oil for frying

Directions:

  1. drain potatoes and squeeze as much of the water as you can
  2. in a bowl, mix all ingredients together
  3. heat oil, about 1/2 inch in depth, in a cast iron or your preferred frying pan
  4. take a spoonful of the mixture in your hand and squeeze it to get as much of the liquid out, then place it in the hot oil and flatten it a little with a spoon or your fingertips
  5. flip the cake over once it start browning
  6. take out of the oil and place on a cloth or paper towels to soak access oil
  7. serve warm with creme fraiche or sour cream

Jerusalem artichoke and chestnuts Gratin

When it comes to grocery shopping I do 99.9% of it at the Park Slope Food Co-op, I say 99.9% because every once in a while I'll get lazy and buy some pasta or chicken at the neighborhood's Italian market. The co-op's selection of fresh produce is so great that often I buy things without having a plan as for what to do with them. That was the case with the Jerusalem Artichokes I pulled out of my fridge today, I bought them last Saturday simply because they looked so fresh and beautiful and because I love Jerusalem artichokes (or Sun chokes as some call them). I looked at the artichokes and then around my kitchen, I spotted some Chestnuts and tried to figure out how to pair the two, a short online search yielded a few recipes but non involved Chestnuts, and then I found it, thank you Martha Stewart.

It is delicious!!

Here is the recipe, slightly modified from Martha's recipe:

Ingredients

Serves 6 to 8

  • 1 pound Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch-thick and reserved in cold water until ready to use
  • 3 cups milk
  • 8 ounces creme fraiche
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon Chili flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch-thick
  • 5 ounces shallots, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 5 ounces peeled chestnuts, halved lengthwise
  • 1 cup bread crumbs

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, combine Jerusalem artichokes and milk. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Drain, reserving 3/4 cups of the milk.
  2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk creme fraiche, reserved milk, lemon juice, 1/4 cup Gruyere, thyme, salt, chili and pepper. Add artichokes, potatoes, chestnuts, shallots; gently mix to combine. Transfer to a 6-cup shallow baking dish, and cover tightly with parchment-lined aluminum foil. Place on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until artichokes are tender, about 1 hour. Remove foil, and sprinkle with breadcrumbs and remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Bake, uncovered, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve warm.