Cooking with Love

Monday, December 31, 2007

My Holiday Cookie

I do love the christmas season even if we don't celebrate it. But Haifa is known for its co-existance, something that is quite rare here in the middle east. But Haifa is different we have jews, christians and muslims (even bahai) all living in harmony. We live together, learn from one another and enjoy this special friendship.
These cookies are made with raisins but, I decided to take them a step further and made them with dried strawberries (I think cranberrys will work great too).
The recipe came originally from a friend but I know I have spotted the recipe online, I just don't remember where).

Pistachio Dried Strawberry Icebox Cookies
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
150 grams butter at room temp
1/4 cup + 2 TBS sugar
1/2 tsp grated orange peel
1/2 cup raw shelled pistachios
1/3 cup chopped dried strawberries (or cranberries)

1 egg
1/4 cup brown sugar

In a mixer on medium speed mix together all ingredients until a ball forms.
Roll into two "logs" and refrigerate, covered in saran wrap, for at least 2 hours.
Brush with egg and coat with brown sugar.

Cut with sharp knife and place on sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake 15 to 18 minutes at 180 C till golden.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Parmesan Bread Sticks

These are great crunchy bread sticks - "Grissini" as the Italian call it.
They are easy to make and great with butter, served with any italian dinner (me? I love it with anything from cottage cheese to dipping it in soup)

2 tsp fast acting yeast
250ml warm water
500 grams flour (I use bread flour)
1 tsp. salt
40 ml good quality olive oil
2 TBS freshly grated parmesan cheese

Optional - Kosher salt, sesame seeds, za'atar, pepper flakes

Mix together the water and yeast and let stand approx. 10 minutes till starts to get bubbly. In a mixer bowl put the flour and salt and lightly mix together. Add the water / yeast mixture and begin to mix on slow speed. Add the olive oil and continue mixing. Add cheese and mix on moderate speed.
Cover bowl with towel and let satnd till dough doubles in size.
Preheat oven to 180C and line 2 shhets with parchment paper.
Knead the dough again in order to let air escape. Take ping pong size pieces of dough and roll into long thin sticks. At this point you can brush the sticks with olive oil and dip them in anything from pepper flakes to coarse salt to even more parmesan cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes until sticks are golden. If you need to test (do NOT test them all LOL) the sticks - then break a stick - it should be dry and crunchy.
Keep in airtight jar. But they won't last long....

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Promise kept - Home Made Tehina

Equal amounts of tehina paste (its thick and gooey) and cold water (I use mineral water)
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
juice from 1 lemon (at least for amount of 1/2 cup tehina + 1/2 cup water)
olive oil
parsley for garnish

In shaker - shake the paste and water. Add lemon juice, garlic and salt and shake vigorously. If too thin - add more paste. If too thick add either more water or more lemon juice.
Add 1 tsp olive oil and garnisg with parsley.

No Knead Bread- Again...

Just because I think it is so easy and wonderful

Monday, December 24, 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

How to stuff a vine leave

I love stuffed vine leaves. There areo many different fillings - meat, cheese, yoghurt, rice....every nationality in the middle east has its own way to stuff leaves.
I love watching the druze woman in the northern villages sitting on the ground with a small table rolling vine leaves with such ease and grace. Every leave looking like a thin cigar in a matter of seconds. It looks like an art to me, a graceful ballet of the fingers. I do envy them.

This is my version:
a batch of vine leaves (they sell them here at all the markets
2 cups rice (real rice - not instant)
1/4 cup pine nuts, sauteed till golden
1 onion, grated
1 tomatoe, grated
1-2 minced garlic cloves
juice from one lemon
2 TBS olive oil

Mix all ingredients

Now to the filling tutorial:
Take a nice vine leave, without tears or holes. Flatten with the root side down.

Place about a teaspoon filling in a nice thin row near the bottom.

Fold lower bottom part of the leave and...
Then the other lower part, as shown
Fold right side over the lower part already folded
And the other side in same way
And begin to roll from bottom to top This is how the vine leave should look. After 2-3 time you will get the hang of it.
Irregular or torn leaves can be used to cover the bottom of a wide pan. Vine leaves can be layered in the pan. Scatter a few garlic cloves, sliced and some sliced cherry tomatoes.
4 cups boiling water
lemon juice
3-4 TBS olive oil

cover the leaves with a wide unbreakable plate. Cover and cook over low heat till all the water is absorbed.
Serve with homeade Tehina, recipe - tomorrow :)
vine leaves before cooking (cuz i forgot to photograph them after)

Clouds of Cashew Cardomom Cookies

I found these online posted by me sexy kitchen blog -
and I think they are really cool. Easy to make and I do so love the aroma of cardomom (you know what cardomom is called in hebrew "hel" הל ha! such a weird name for such a wonderful spice!!
The cookies

200 grams sugar
1/4 cup cashews, raw
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp cardamom
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
pinch salt

corsely grind cashews

Put all the ingredients in the mixer and mix until ball forms. Leave at room temp. for 30 minutes to rest.

Form balls the size of pin pongs and flatten with the bottom of a floured cup.

Bake approx. 20 -22 minutes till golden.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar and let cool completely.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

After Success - Comes Failure

I was so high from the Daring Bakers Success that I spent my morning baking and cooking.

There is a point in a bakers life where we need to say - enough....

I forgot to say that word and after stuffing grape leaves, roasting a chicken, baked wonderful pistachio cookies and cashew cardomom cookies (promise to post tomorrow) I decided on these beautiful cookies in black and white I found here

I definately should have quit while I was ahead....

My cookies came out chubby - not anything remotely resembling the beautiful cookies I so admired.

The only part of the recipe that I succeeded in was the icing. So I decided not to throw the cookies away - but covered them in icing, sprinkled jimmies and hope someone likes them tomorrow at work. Or I'll just give them to my boss LOL

Friday, December 21, 2007

I AM a Daring Baker!!

Every month the Daring Bakers get a challenge. This months challnge was a yule log. As I am both jewish and Israeli - I had no true understanding of this wonderful cake and tradition. I am glad I am now exposed to all these wonderul ideas.

I also wish now that Santa visited good little jewish children....and jewish daring bakers LOL!!

After reading on other posts regarding the butter cream curdling I was a bit hesitant that, as this is the first time I will be making buttercream, that I may fail. So I made sure I have extra butter, extra eggs - extra everything.

But - I did it on the first try! Please Please check out my blog list for more daring bakers' yule logs - for they are truly wonderful!

Thank you Ivonne and Lis for this great experience!!

My genoise was a cocoa genoise which I filled with dulche de leche.
My genoise did not overbake as I sat ny the stove for the 12 minutes baking. So I had no problem rollig it. No breakage!
The buttercream, as mentioned - was the part I feared most....but really had no problem. Egg whites need to be whisked over simmering water until the sugar dissolves completely....
Then beat in the mixer - add the butter, espresso powder and brandy.
Cut genoise to look like a log....
Cover with buttercream and "comb" it to look like a log. Add the martzipan mushrooms...

And this is my first daring baker pride and joy!!


Plain Genoise:

3 large eggs

3 large egg yolk

spinch of salt

¾ cup of sugar

½ cup cake flour - spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off (also known as cake & pastry flour)

¼ cup cornstarc

hone (1) 10 x 15 inch jelly-roll pan that has been buttered and lined with parchment paper and then buttered again

1.Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.

2.Half-fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat so the water is simmering.

3.Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, salt and sugar together in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Place over the pan of simmering water and whisk gently until the mixture is just lukewarm, about 100 degrees if you have a thermometer (or test with your finger - it should be warm to the touch).

4.Attach the bowl to the mixer and, with the whisk attachment, whip on medium-high speed until the egg mixture is cooled (touch the outside of the bowl to tell) and tripled in volume. The egg foam will be thick and will form a slowly dissolving ribbon falling back onto the bowl of whipped eggs when the whisk is lifted.

5.While the eggs are whipping, stir together the flour and cornstarch.

6.Sift one-third of the flour mixture over the beaten eggs. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the flour mixture, making sure to scrape all the way to the bottom of the bowl on every pass through the batter to prevent the flour mixture from accumulating there and making lumps. Repeat with another third of the flour mixture and finally with the remainder.

7.Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

8.Bake the genoise for about 10 to 12 minutes. Make sure the cake doesn’t overbake and become too dry or it will not roll properly.

9.While the cake is baking, begin making the buttercream.10.Once the cake is done (a tester will come out clean and if you press the cake lightly it will spring back), remove it from the oven and let it cool on a rack.

Coffee Buttercream:

4 large egg whites1 cup sugar

24 tablespoons (3 sticks or 1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened

2 tablespoons instant espresso powder

2 tablespoons rum or brandy

1.Whisk the egg whites and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Set the bowl over simmering water and whisk gently until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are hot.

2.Attach the bowl to the mixer and whip with the whisk on medium speed until cooled. Switch to the paddle and beat in the softened butter and continue beating until the buttercream is smooth.

Dissolve the instant coffee in the liquor and beat into the buttercream.

Meringue Mushrooms:

3 large egg whites, at room temperature

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

½ cup (3-1/2 ounces/105 g.) granulated sugar

1/3 cup (1-1/3 ounces/40 g.) icing sugar

Unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting

1.Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Have ready a pastry bag fitted with a small (no. 6) plain tip. In a bowl, using a mixer on medium-low speed, beat together the egg whites and cream of tartar until very foamy. Slowly add the granulated sugar while beating. Increase the speed to high and beat until soft peaks form when the beaters are lifted. Continue until the whites hold stiff, shiny peaks. Sift the icing sugar over the whites and, using a rubber spatula, fold in until well blended.

2.Scoop the mixture into the bag. On one baking sheet, pipe 48 stems, each ½ inch (12 mm.) wide at the base and tapering off to a point at the top, ¾ inch (2 cm.) tall, and spaced about ½ inch (12 mm.) apart. On the other sheet, pipe 48 mounds for the tops, each about 1-1/4 inches (3 cm.) wide and ¾ inch (2 cm.) high, also spaced ½ inch (12 mm.) apart. With a damp fingertip, gently smooth any pointy tips. Dust with cocoa. Reserve the remaining meringue.

3.Bake until dry and firm enough to lift off the paper, 50-55 minutes. Set the pans on the counter and turn the mounds flat side up. With the tip of a knife, carefully make a small hole in the flat side of each mound. Pipe small dabs of the remaining meringue into the holes and insert the stems tip first. Return to the oven until completely dry, about 15 minutes longer. Let cool completely on the sheets.

Marzipan Mushrooms:

8 ounces almond paste

2 cups icing sugar

3 to 5 tablespoons light corn syrup

Cocoa powder

1.To make the marzipan combine the almond paste and 1 cup of the icing sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on low speed until sugar is almost absorbed.

2.Add the remaining 1 cup of sugar and mix until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

3.Add half the corn syrup, then continue mixing until a bit of the marzipan holds together when squeezed, adding additional corn syrup a little at a time, as necessary: the marzipan in the bowl will still appear crumbly.

4.Transfer the marzipan to a work surface and knead until smooth.

5.Roll one-third of the marzipan into a 6 inches long cylinder and cut into 1-inch lengths.

6.Roll half the lengths into balls. Press the remaining cylindrical lengths (stems) into the balls (caps) to make mushrooms.

7.Smudge with cocoa powder.

Assembling the Yule Log:

1.Run a sharp knife around the edges of the genoise to loosen it from the pan.

2.Turn the genoise layer over (unmolding it from the sheet pan onto a flat surface) and peel away the paper.

3.Carefully invert your genoise onto a fresh piece of parchment paper.

4.Spread with half the coffee buttercream (or whatever filling you’re using).

5.Use the parchment paper to help you roll the cake into a tight cylinder.

6.Transfer back to the baking sheet and refrigerate for several hours.

7.Unwrap the cake. Trim the ends on the diagonal, starting the cuts about 2 inches away from each end.

8.Position the larger cut piece on each log about 2/3 across the top.

9.Cover the log with the reserved buttercream, making sure to curve around the protruding stump.

10.Streak the buttercream with a fork or decorating comb to resemble bark.

11.Transfer the log to a platter and decorate with your mushrooms and whatever other decorations you’ve chosen.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Cinnamon Crescents - Blogging Event

I love these bloggong Events and I search for the ones I can participate in constantly. Sunita
Sunita holds a monthly bloggong event with spices. Last month was ginger and this month is my favorite - Cinnamon. There is nothing more warming than the smell of cinnamon. It can be added to both sweet and savoury dishes. To meat or vegan. Cinnamon is that one spice that you cannot and should not live without!

My recipe is for Cinnamon Crecents by Idit Hayat.

50 grams almonds
50 grams hazelnuts ( I guess walnuts or pecans can be used too, probably even cashews)
150 grams butter, room temp.
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp grated lemon peel
50 grams sugar
210 grams all purpose flour

Powdered sugar + cinnamon , for sprinkling

Mix together all the ingredients (except the powdered sugar, of course)
Form a ball and cool for 30 minutes in the refrigerator (I put the ball in a ziplock bag)

Preheat oven to 180C and line pans with parchement paper.
Form crecsents (or whatever form you choose) and place on pan. Bake approx. 18 minutes till golden. While still hot sprinkle with powedered sugar.

Cool completely and store in airtight jar up to 5 days.

100 gram nuts

Ground Nuts

butter and spice and everything nice

50 grams sugar
210 grams flour

In the mixer
30 minutes cooling time


18 minutes in the oven at 180 C

sprinkle with powdered sugar & cinnamon

I also made them round

My Italian Love Story

And so it begins...a pizza crust smothered with homemade tomatoe sauce.
Cheese sprinkled around and crust folded over.
We look at each other and the love begins...

We have our moment. We smile and decorate our love with cheese and cherry tomatoes. A few mushrooms for that special touch.

We fire up our love, a little bit too we are slightly burned....but when in love...what is a little pain...LOL

And we overflowed from the sides...

Our triangle of love....

And we depart. As friends....Only a memory remains now....a few crumbs of happiness...
Until we meet italian love!

My Pizza:

3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup water
2 TBS sugar
1 TBS salt
1 TBS fast acting yeast
3-4 TBS olive oil

I knead it all in my bread machine.

Tomatoe Sauce:
1 small can of tomatoe paste
4 TBS water
1 TBS olive oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper

Mix together.

Cover pizza with sauce. Avoid edges. Sprinkle esges with cheese and fold cruse over. Sprinkle remaining cheese over pizza. Decorate with tomatoes, tuna, mushrooms. pepperoni - whatever you crave.

In preheated oven with pizza stone - bake for approx. 10 minutes.

True love - forever!