Thank you to all my readers who are keeping up with my blog – and a heartfelt apology for not including the recipes for the desserts in my last post. I was just so tired! But now, not only do I have my own take on these desserts (new and improved), but I am including more healthy and fairly easy recipes for you to try. Here goes:
Gluten-free Cranberry Carrot Almond Cake (parve)
I have been playing around with this recipe to make it gluten free and oh-so moist. I love that it’s parve, so for those of you who are keeping Kosher, you can eat it with anything, dairy or meat. It’s also great in the morning with coffee.
Notes: I’m definitely not complaining, but you just can’t get angel flake coconut here!! So, I’m using the closest thing: finely ground desiccated coconut. Feel free to substitute (and please bring me a couple bags of angel flake when you come to visit!). If you prefer to stay non-alcoholic, use almond extract in lieu of amaretto or rum (A spiced rum would also be lovely).
- 2 large carrots, peeled and grated
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries (75 grams)
- 1/4 cup golden raisins 60 grams)
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar (120 grams)
- 4 Tbsp amaretto, rum, or 2 Tbsp almond extract
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup coconut or canola oil
- 1 1/2 cups (360 grams) finely ground almonds or almond flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 eggs, well-beaten
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (1/3 tsp dried nutmeg powder)
- 1 naval orange rind, finely grated
- juice of 1 orange, squeezed
- 1/2 cup desiccated, ground coconut
- almonds, pecans or walnuts for decoration
Preheat oven to 175*C (350*F). Grease a round baking dish, which will also serve as a serving dish. Soak the crans and raisins in hot water (or liqueur) to reconstitute. Set aside. In large mixing bowl combine all the ingredients except for the nuts. Stir well to completely combine. The batter will be a rather loose one. No worries. Transfer to the greased baking dish and put in oven for about 50 minutes until the top is golden-brown, and a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool. Decorate with the nuts in a nice pattern.
To “plate” the dish, I squeezed a little silan (date syrup!! My latest obsession, which you MUST try. It might be available in the States at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, and I’ll be writing about it on a later post, as well as bringing a suitcase load back with me for gifts whenever we visit the US). If no silan, you can use honey. Place a cake slice on top and sprinkle with a small bit of coconut and ground pistachios. Really easy, and very pretty.
Zucchini Leek Soup (parve)
So, get this one. They do NOT sell soups in the store in Israel. That’s right. You heard me: no canned soups, no convenient aseptic boxes of Kosher, organic chicken or beef broth. They do sell powdered bouillon, but I don’t want to go there. So, every week I buy chicken ends or beef bones to make my own. And I’m getting really creative in the kitchen. Yay!!! So, when you visit, don’t forget the aseptics of soup… This is a healthy, tasty, quick and super-easy veggie/parve soup, so eat with a grilled cheese sandwich or before a meat meal. I like that…
- 1 large leek, trimmed, washed and sliced thinly (white/light green part only)
- 4-6 large zucchinis or green squashes, chopped into thick pieces
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin Olive oil
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tsp fried thyme or 3 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
In a large stockpot, heat the oil and add the leeks. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and transparent (about 5-7 minutes). Add in the zucchini. Cook an additional 5 minutes. Cover with water and add in all spices except nutmeg. Bring to boil, and let cook on boil for about 5 minutes. Then reduce to low heat and cover. Let cook for about 45 minutes. Use an immersion blender (my only kitchen appliance these days) to blend to a loose puree/soup. Serve hot with freshly grated nutmeg on top. (If you desire, you can stir in a bit of cream before serving…)
Smoked Duck Salad with Soft-boiled Eggs (Basar/meat) serves 4
O.K. I’ve been fiddling with this salad for weeks now, and have a love relationship going with it. The flavors combine and it’s like heaven. It would be beautiful in the spring or at a festive luncheon. A meal in itself. If you can’t find smoked chicken or duck breast, a rotisserie chicken will stand in nicely. I make my own coupons, which are amazing fresh, because, you guessed it – none to be found here, and I’m gluten free. And I dress with a light Italian salad dressing (for those in the States, I highly recommend Wolfgang Kaufmann’s Italian found at Bristol Farms. Inexpensive, and incomparably the best. Please bring a bottle or two of that when you come over – bed and breakfast as well as tours included).
- 1 head red butter lettuce, washed and torn
- 1 head green butter lettuce, washed and torn
- 1 large endive, washed & sliced
- 1/2 small red Bermuda onion, thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup chickpeas (canned, drained)
- 1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives
- 1/3 cup dried sweet cherries
- 8 soft boiled eggs
- 1 – 1 1/2 cup freshly made croutons.
- Fresh sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
In a really pretty salad bowl (this dish deserved it!), add the lettuces, onion, chickpeas and olives. Place the smoked duck breast, chopped in cubes on top. Gently place halved soft boiled eggs, so the semi-thick yolk just runs over the salad (gorgeous and impressive, but easy presentation. Add warm croutons, and dress.
Soft boiled eggs:
For the perfect soft boiled eggs, heat water in a pot with 1/4 cup vinegar to boiling. Gently, with spoon, slip eggs into the boiling water so they are submerged. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Remove egg with large slotted spoon and run under cold tap water. Use a teaspoon to sharply crack the egg about 1/4 of the way down. Separate. With the teaspoon, run under the edges and gently slip the egg out and onto salad.
Take 3-6 slices hearty whole grain, country bread ( I use a wonderful gluten free loaf), and cube into bite sized pieces. Put about 2 Tbsp olive oil and 3-4 crushed fresh garlic cloves in the pan and let heat up. Add the bread cubes. Stir occasionally to prevent burning and to well coat the cubes, browning on all sides, maybe 5 minutes. Sprinkle liberally with sea salt and pepper. Soo, good. Crisp on the outside and a bit soft on the inside, and soon garlicky and wonderful.
Out-of- This-World Veggie Stir Fry (parve)
This is so tasty, makes excellent leftovers, and is good for when you want to clean out the fridge. the drizzled tehineh (sesame seed paste mixture) is protein and calcium packed, and adds an Asian-Middle Eastern twist as well as making it rich and yummy. The shiitake mushrooms makes it meaty and is good to combat fatigue.
- 2 carrots, peeled and shredded or sliced thinly
- small head of cauliflower, washed & cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 zucchinis, washed and sliced thinly
- 1 medium red bermuda onion peeled, sliced thinly, and halve the slices
- 1 medium white onion, peeled, sliced thinly
- 1/2 small head of cabbage shredded
- 1/2 small red cabbage, shredded
- 4-5 leaves chard, torn into bite-sized pieces
- 5-6 dried, de-stemmed shitake mushroom heads (find cello-wrapped in Asian section)
- 4 Tbsp soy sauce or Braggs Liquid Aminos (which I also can’t get here and love)
- tehineh (can substitute peanut or cashew butter)
- Chimmichurri oil or sauce (1 Tbsp)
Remove the stems from the shiitake mushrooms and put the heads into a small bowl. Pour boiling water over top and let sit to rehydrate. Then slice. Put 2 Tbsp canola or coconut oil into your wok and heat up on high. Add veggies (they will cook down, and stir fry until soft. Add the shrooms. Add the soy sauce. That simple. I serve over a gluten free, rice and spinach, artichoke or wakame spaghetti base. As the veggies cook down, put the tehineh or nut butter in a small bowl. Add the Chimichurri and mix thoroughly. Drizzle on top of the veggies. I eat the leftovers for lunch all week long.
This Must Be Paradise!! (dairy/halav) serves 2
I really didn’t know what to name it, but have tried to combine the flavors of Israel into a delicious and elegant dessert. John will get this for Valentine’s Day….
- 3 leaves thin phyllo sheets
- 1 pound (1/2 kg) pitted Medjool dates
- 1 tsp Baharat spice (recipe follows)
- 4 scoops coconut (or vanilla) ice cream
- 1/3 cup Khadayif (recipe follows)
- Silan or honey
- 2 Tbsp ground pistachios
- 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk)
- 1 tsp rosewater
The flavors are rich and sweet, and are a decadent tribute to this amazing country. Not hard to make, but perfect for a very special occasion.
As you are working with the phyllo sheets, you’ll need a damp towel to keep them moist and rolled up after separating. Preheat your oven to 400*F (200*C). In a small bowl add your pitted dates and mash well with a potato masher, fork (or food processor). Add 1 tsp baharat spice (see recipe at bottom)and mix well, adding a tiny bit (up to 1/4 tsp) water to thin out a little bit. Unwrap the phyllo sheets. Place one sheet on a greased, parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Wrap the rolled unused phyllo in damp dishtowel.Cut the phyllo on the parchment into thirds. Thinly spread date mix over the sheets. Stack one on top of the other. Repeat the process until you have 2 rectangular stacks of six sheets each. Place on medium rack of oven for 3-5 minutes until they turn a crispy golden brown. Do not burn!! Remove from oven and let cool.
In small bowl, combine condensed milk and rose water. Microwave 15 seconds to warm. Mix well.
To plate: Drizzle your silan (or honey) onto 2 dessert plates. Drizzle the milk/rosewater mix over top. Gently move pastry to cover the drizzle. Add 2 scoops of the coconut ice cream. Drizzle more silan and warm milk sauce sparingly over top. Top with Khadayif straws and a sprig of mint.
Baharat is a wonderful Mid-Eatern spice that I use a lot in many different ways. It is available here at the shuk (open air market), but you can make your own easily at home. I keep a jar in reserve to use mostly in sauces and baking, but people here use it for meat.
- 2 tsp finely ground black pepper
- 2 tsp finely ground coriander
- 2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp ground cloves
- 1 Tbsp ground cardamom
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 2 tsp allspice
- 1 1/2 tsp paprika (sweet)
Feel free to ply around with it, adjusting the flavors to meet your tastes.
Khadayif might be a bit of a challenge to find in the US, most possibly in the international foods section of the store. It looks like bird nest material, light pale in color. I’ve experimented with a way to make this from home… it is used in so many dishes here, and I just love playing with it.
Take a sheet of the phyllo dough and brush on a warm mixture of 3 Tbsp melted butter and 2 Tbsp sugar, honey or silan. Fold the phyllo sheet in half on top of itself. Brush with butter mix, and fold over again, brushing with the butter. Roll with a rolling pin to compact it a bit, then, using a sharp knife, slice into really thin straws. It should look like nest material. Scatter on baking sheet. Bake in a 400*F (200*C) oven for about 3 minutes just to crisp up. Use as topping for puddings, ice creams, or desserts that need a bit of a crunch. Can be sprinkled with a tiny amount of baharat or other spice like clove/cinnamon/nutmeg before baking for added taste.
Happy Eating!! B’tayavon!!