Polenta Citrus Sable (Sand) Cookie Snaps

I have been obsessed, some would say possessed, with these Polenta Citrus Cookies, ever since I had them in this charming little patisserie in Israel this past summer. Perfumed by citrus zest, the added crunch of the polenta make these cookies sophisticated bites. Perfect for your next tea party with the girls, a part of New Year Eve's party bite size dessert spread, or just when it is dreary outside, and you snuggle with a cozy blanket, a book you cannot put down and a steaming cup of tea at the table right beside you. My guys will opt for a hot cup cocoa instead.
Citrus always brings back memories of home and Jaffa citrus. My escape from the orange groves, running for my life from the guard. My friend and I used to walk through the citrus groves as a shortcut. The scent of the white orange blossoms vivid in my mind. Sometimes the trees were heavy with beautiful fruit. We helped ourselves to some and the oils perfumed our hand and some peel got stuck in our finger nails. It was a tad like a splinter, uncomfortable. The innocent frolicking through the groves turned into a mad chase after, you would think by the persistency of the guard, criminals with a bounty on their heads. I was a sprinter but that guard had an impressive bounce in his step.

Nankhatai - An Indian Buttery Cookie: A Guest Post by Magpie Recipes

I am so happy to re-launch my 2011 India Series with a line up of talented bloggers. First up is sweet Rose blogging over at Magpie's Recipes.  Rose is the co-creator of Kerala Kitchen, a cooking club for those who are in love with Kerala, a southern Indian, cuisine. I am tempted to share more about Rose but her writing below will unravel some fascinating food and history. I was mesmerized by this carrot and rice pudding. Look at the first two photographs, such a stark contrast though so complete. Brainstorming with Rose was a snap. We quickly settled on Nankhatai, a buttery, crumbly Indian cookie my mom used to make while we were growing up. My mom didn't use nuts and she used all purpose flour. It is probably one of the only Indian cookies that is similar to the traditional Western cookie. It is egg free like shortbread and a snap to make for the holidays. Without further ado here is Rose...

Finnish Pulla

Finnish Pulla is very similar to challah, only fragrant with a warmth of spices. I find it intriguing how Scandinavians pull cardamon, a spice native to India, into their bread baking. Just like the tradition of baking cookies around the holidays, I love the Christmas bread baking tradition. I am mesmerized by cookies, but I have written about my frustrations with these crumbly, buttery treats in my Meyer Lemon Butter Cookie Sandwiches with Jam post. At least with yeasted breads I feel right at home. Unlike the cookies, I don't need to find a rhythm, I immediately get into the bread baking zone. I meant to tackle Stollen, Panettone, Swedish Tea Ring and Finnish Pulla for a number of years now, so when I saw this recipe on Red Star Yeast's website, I couldn't resist making it my next baking project.

Silent Sunday: A Tour of Mahane Yehuda Market, Jerusalem

This is mostly a pictorial tour of Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem, from my visit last summer. I wish I had more time that day to leisurely explore and photograph. It is a foodie and photographer's heaven. Rahmo restaurant רחמו is a must pit stop for its hummus and Iraqi food. The tables are always humming with diners, casual stop for the most authentic experience in the famed market that is a Jerusalem landmark. 
Just across the alley-street from Rahmo, you will find Hatzpuriya חצ'אפוריה (photo below), a Georgian bakery, Georgia as in a part of the former Soviet Union. Savory pastries filled with Georgian cheeses and other fillings. A great snack on the go. 
Just a curious tid bit Jonathan shared with me, Joseph Stalin was of Georgian origin. Born Ioseb Besarionis dze Dzhugashvili. Shvili is a commonplace ending to Georgian surnames in Israel. My findings came up with meaning of shvili as 'child of.'
Throughout Mahane Yehuda market you will find these murals painted everywhere. I am planning on going back on my next visit, hopefully, to explore the alleys, streets and do some more photography.

Baked Panko Sweet Potato Leek Pancakes (Latkes)

When Chanukah strolls around, if I can help it, I bake my potatoes latkes instead of, as traditionally done, frying them. Indian inspired latkes won't taste the same baked, with the gluten free chickpea flour in it. So certain recipes I will still fry in a little oil to achieve the best results. More often than not baked will be, if not identical, pretty close, and with a lot less hassle involved.

Doughnuts Article

This article has been months in the making. Countless emails, shot back and forth, across continents, and here in the US. Translation of recipes and measurements, switching from grams to ounces, cups and teaspoons, isn't as smooth or straight forward as one might think. Especially when it comes to baking, there is no rounding up. When 10 grams equals 0.35274oz you are faced with a quandary and need to find solutions around it. Often I did, but sometimes the recipe in metric was so perfect, that I had to raise my hands in defeat when it came to switching. Thank g-d, or whoever is in the skies, as I say on twitter, for a collaborative effort by the editors and recipe testers of The Washington Post Food section. The folks there are absolutely incredible! It was a learning and enriching process. By the end of it, I was dreaming doughnuts.
The first night of Chanukah, The Festival of Lights, will be celebrated at sundown this coming Saturday, Dec. 8th, in commemoration of the miracle of oil. During the rededication of the 2nd temple in Jerusalem, a small jug of oil was found, filled with enough oil to light the Menorah for one day, but the oil lasted for eight. Fried doughnuts are a symbolic food served during the eight day long holiday, but sometimes I am a rebel and bake them instead. 
Head over to The Washington Post article to find out the flavors we played with, get the fried and baked recipes generously shared with us by pastry chefs from Israel, and read the article with an interesting history of the art of pastry making in Israel, other fun doughnuts tidbits, tips and more delicious looking gallery of doughnut photographs. 
Don't forget to pick up a copy of the newspaper in print tomorrow, and join The Washington Post Food editors and writers at noon Eastern time tomorrow, Wed., Dec. 5, for a Free Range chat about Chanukah doughnuts, fruitcake recipes for Christmas and this year's best of in cookbooks. I will be one of the guests this week. Turn in all your doughnuts questions and musings early by clicking the Free Range Chat link above.

Thanks to Inbal Baum owner of Delicious Israel, a culinary guide company, for the introductions to some of the pastry chefs in Israel.

Other Doughnut and Fritter Recipes:

Savory Sesame & Fennel Cookies - Ka'ach & A Tahini, Yogurt Herb Dipping Sauce

As if I didn't love Jerusalem: A Cookbook already so much, but I fell in love with it even deeper...I will explain in a second.

Happy Belated Thanksgiving & Recipe Links

I haven't been posting much lately for many reasons, I wonder, if one of which is, just suffering from a sheer burnout?! My mind was preoccupied with many burning issues but I haven't forgotten you. If you follow me on Twitter and Facebook I shared with you many Thanksgiving recipes I came across in magazines, newspapers and on food bloggers' sites.
Meanwhile I haven't been posting but been cooking just the same. S headed back to college last night. He hitched a ride up north from NJ with his friend this am. It was too short of a time and not much proper mothering done. I love how the house comes alive with coming and goings, of S and his friends, and in between me feeding them.
I want to share with you some links to recipes I made recently. They would be relevant throughout the upcoming holiday and winter season. I found, with the exception of the cranberry relish, all three recipes in Food and Wine's recent issue. Once in a while I find myself famished, having a bite, most often sushi, at Whole Foods, before proceeding to shop. Two evenings prior to Thanksgiving was no different. I usually grab a couple of food magazines at the checkout counter to pass the time. This time Food and Wine recipes just jumped out at me and I re-invented my Thanksgiving menu on a spur of a moment.

The flash roasted broccoli with spicy crumbs, I never managed to shoot the final dish but you can find it in the link. I've got to say, I am really happy to have found this broccoli recipe. We usually don't play much with broccoli, but I found a recipe that jazzes it up without distracting from the essence of the vegetable. Use mustard moderately. Instead of pepperoni, I added a touch of red pepper flakes.

Same with the inverted caramelized apple pancake, a good photo in the link. 

The crispy baked kale recipe with Gruyere cheese I made with stove top croutons. A generous dose of olive oil coated bread, crust cut off, cubed, lightly salted and peppered on medium to high iron cast pan till golden on both sides. I had a 2 day old Tuscan bread at home. I used a Fontal and Parmesan mix I had on hand instead of Gruyere. I also added shredded brussels sprouts to the kale.

I hope you had a joyful Thanksgiving with family and friends.

Light and Fluffy Baked Apple Pancake
Crispy Baked Kale with Gruyere Cheese
Flash Roasted Broccoli with Spicy Crumbs
Spicy Cranberry-Apple Relish

Date & Orange Tea Ring

Memories of a crumbly, yet soft, date cookie* I had on a visit to a shuk (market) on last summer's visit to Israel swept over me when I saw this date coffee cake recipe. I love indulging in a prolonged holiday brunch with jazz playing in the background. Everyone is waking up at their own pace, having coffee, a pancake or two, stretching and chances are S is crawling back under the comforter of his cozy bed. He misses his bed mostly I think when he is in college, and the food of course.
Dates, edible fruits of a certain palm tree, believed to have originated around Iraq, are a popular Middle Eastern staple. Also popular in some parts of North Africa and South Asia. The ancient Egyptians as early as 4000BC cultivated dates for wine making There is evidence of date cultivation in Eastern Arabia as early as 6000BC and in Western Pakistan as early as 7000BC. Through the trade routes, dates were introduced to Asia, Africa, and Europe, and later in 1765 by the Spaniards to Mexico and California. 
Dates, rich in fiber, vitamin A, iron and many antioxidants are believed to curb different cancers, including but not limited to colon, prostate and breast cancers. Dates also contain 16% of recommended daily levels of potassium which helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Rich in minerals for bone health.
I was really hoping to find a good shaping video for this tea ring but am not happy with the search results. If you come across one please link in the comment section. This bread is more commonly known as a Swedish Tea Ring (Vetekrans) so I couldn't resist including a clip from the Muppet's Swedish Chef.  The Swedish version usually has cardamon in it.

This post is a part of my professional collaboration series with Red Star Yeast (see below for a full list).

Date and Orange Tea Ring
adapted from Red Star Yeast recipe

Date Orange Filling
1 tea ring
1 cup whole pitted (preferably Majdool) dates, chopped
1/4 cup plus orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon sugar

2 tea rings
1/2 cup water
1 cup milk
1/2 cup (1 stick/8 tablespoons) butter, cut up into chunks
2 eggs
5 1/4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons Platinum or active dry yeast (2 1/2oz packets)

1 egg for egg wash
Pearl sugar for topping

Date Orange Filling (1 tea ring)
In a small saucepan combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 3 minutes, until thickened. Cool completely. If filling is too thick to spread, add some orange juice to thin it out.

Dough (2 tea rings)
In a large mixer bowl combine 2 1/2 cups of flour, yeast, salt and sugar, and mix well. In a small sauce pan combine water, milk and butter on medium heat. Let it reach 120-130F, the butter does not need to completely melt. Attach dough hook to mixer, add the warm liquid to the flour and mix on slow speed. Add the two eggs and continue mixing on slow speed. Add the remaining flour gradually and knead on slow for approximately 8 minutes. Scrape flour off the sides once in a while so it will completely incorporate into the dough. Coat the dough with a thin film of oil, set back into the mixer bowl and cover with saran wrap. Let it rise for 1 hour.

Punch down the dough, divide into two equal parts. On a lightly floured surface roll out each part into 15X12 inch rectangle. Spread the filling. From the longer side start rolling tightly. Pinch the edges to seal and form a ring and pinch edges. Move to a parchment paper lined baking sheet with the seam down. With scissors, make cuts 1 inch apart, from the center top of the ring down. Turn each slice on its side. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for about an hour. Whisk an egg well and gently brush the top of the tea ring. Sprinkle with pearl sugar. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from cookie sheets and cool.

You can find a variety of fillings for this tea ring on Red Star Yeast's site.

Red Star Yeast Series:
Cinnamon Buns
Yeast Pancakes
Multigrain Oatmeal Bread
Marbled Rye Bread
Dark Pumpernickel Rye Bread
Jalapeno Cheddar Bread 

*Photos 18 , 19 and 20 in the link
**Author is not a health professional, please consult your physician for medical advise.

#WeCare Sandy Outreach

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy's devastation, the damage endured would be days, months, possibly a life time to recover. Not to mention the life lost, I just can't imagine. Today, there are still homes stranded without power. With the temperatures plummeting the challenges are mounting. It will be months, even years before this haze will become crystal clear. Only when I saw the photographs of toppled cars over fences, power lines down and wooden houses along the shore lines pulverized into saw dust, did I understand how powerful nature was in its path of destruction.

Watching this video Rockaway Needs Us sent chills down my spine. Sadness. So surreal yet real!

We as a community are set to do something, small, reach out and encourage all our friends to donate to the Red Cross, however much you can afford. Every little bit helps in the process of rebuilding and recovering the devastated communities.

Other ways to help, throughout the month of November, Macy's is accepting donations at all store registers. They will match dollar for dollar.

My computer was acting up so I couldn't join a few days back. I am still facing challenges, so am not publishing a recipe here, but including an image of a fig, illustrated by the very talented Alex Savakis, as part of a project for my site. Art and creativity makes us all the more human!

Burnt Eggplant With Garlic, Lemon & Pomegranate Seeds

It took me years to become Yotam Ottolenghi's champion, for the mere reason that both he and Sami Tamimi make what I consider a very familiar to me food.  When I eventually got Plenty from Amazon and then recently Jerusalem: A Cookbook review copy from their publisher, I recognized the brilliance of the subtle twist on simplicity.
I was ogling the upcoming Jerusalem: A Cookbook for months. I am not accustomed to pre-ordering, but I've been following the press coverage and occasional recipes that showed up in the media, so I was tempted to add Jerusalem to my queue. When I opened the package that was sitting on our front stoop, I let out a shriek. My obsession, fed and sated.
As Jonathan is particularly crazed about anything aubergine, I decided on this recipe to inaugurate cooking through the book. At a first glance the recipe seems similar to many Middle Eastern baba ganoush recipes, only for the zest of lemon that elevates it as reinvented. To think that I almost didn't add the lemon zest seems now sacrilege. Read this Huffington Post Taste rave review I couldn't have put it better.
Burnt Eggplant with Garlic, Lemon and Pomegranate Seeds
adapted from Jerusalem: A Cookbook

2 large eggplants (2lbs)
2 gloves garlic, minced
Grated zest of 1/2 large lemon
3 tablespoons lemon
3 tablespoon olive oil
4 tablespoons parsley
2 tablespoons mint leaves, chopped
Seeds of 1/2 pomegranate
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste

Char eggplants on a stove top, grill or on a broil mode in the oven. Turn around so it is charred all around. When broiling, I removed the stem and forked the eggplant all over the surface of the skin.

Let eggplant cool once charred all around. Peel and with a fork separate into strands. Add 2 tablespoons of lemon, mix and let strain in a fine mesh strainer for up to an hour. Cook's note: I add the lemon immediately so the eggplant won't oxidize too much. I let it strain for 20 minutes only.

Add the rest of the ingredients including 1 tablespoon of leftover lemon juice , mix, adjust for salt and refrigerate until serving. We loved it today as we were having it for lunch with olive bread during Hurricane Sandy. You all out there in Sandy's path,  stay safe! We had some tree damage and our driveway is now blocked but we are safe.

The proportions in this recipe are different from the book as well as the directions.

Related eggplant recipes:

Related Pomegranate Recipe:

Potatoes, Cauliflower & Celeriac Soup With Crispy Shallots

I don't recall ever enjoying Autumn days the way I enjoy it this season. I find myself constantly drawn to the outdoors, not wishing to stay confined within four walls. All I saw in the past was a world painted in brush strokes of rust, but slowly I started seeing the yellows and the reds popping through, weaving a cozy blanket of beautiful, warm autumn hues. The crisp, humidity free, cooler weather. The walks Wizzy, our indiscriminate food loving pooch, forces on me, all healthy, though I do begrudge him for interrupting me.

A couple of weeks back, on such a Fall morning, I attempted antiquing in the countryside. My efforts proved to be futile. Potential food photography props I was seeing in the charming antique shops brought about images of vintage laundry wash boards and chamber pots. My imagination was running amok, especially when my GPS was dumbfounded and the road I was on was not showing up on Siri's radar. Panicked, I scurried back home. My antique wanderings of sorts were an utter failure.

I like to know my destinations. Jonathan likes to get purposely lost and experience the unexpected adventure. Once, on such an Autumn day, I imagine, though it might have been a different season altogether, we wandered off. Just off the Susquehanna River, by the pristine long bridge, in Maryland, and came by a deserted army base. It was surreal in the eeriest sense of ways. In a nuclear holocaust of epic proportions end of the world circumstances of ways. Jonathan's eyes, on the other hand, were sparked with curiosity and excitement. His mannerism relaxed as if we were on a beach vacation. I, worry what's lurking behind the veil of the unknown. If I do wander off on my own, chances are I'll stumble into something odd. It is proven!

While my imagination is running ahead of me, I savor the everyday, little things that sweep me with the purest of pleasures. The strands of grass trying to reach for the sun through the blanket of reds, golden yellows, and yes, RUST. The Joy of Autumn.

In celebration of Autumn I let the seasonal vegetables in this soup shine. While I like the purity of flavors in this soup, you could most certainly use it as a canvas. Drizzle chili oil just before serving, swirl in a puree of sautéed peas and onions, or swirl in just a touch of basil pesto.  A nice change from the gourds for Thanksgiving.

Potatoes, Cauliflower and Celeriac Soup with Crispy Shallots

2-4 tablespoons canola or any vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
1 small celeriac, peeled and diced
1small head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
4 large or 6 small/medium garlic cloves
2 large Russet potatoes
5 cups water
1/4 teaspoon white pepper according to taste
Salt to taste

In a large pot on a low/medium heated oil sauté onions, celeriac, cauliflower and garlic, while occasionally mixing, for a few minutes until the onions soften. Add the potatoes and continue sautéing for a few minutes longer. Add water, white pepper and salt and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and let simmer on a low bubble, while occasionally stirring, for about an hour, while the lid is covering the pot but slightly ajar. Taste and adjust for salt. Let it cool a tad and puree with an immersion blender. If using a blender or a food processor, I would let the soup cool almost completely before pureeing. If making ahead, keep in mind the soup will thicken quite a bit because of the starch. Can be made ahead and frozen. The recipe can be doubled easily.

2 shallots, sliced into rings and separates
2-4 tablespoons canola or other vegetable oil

Heat up oil in a frying pan on medium/high heat. Add the shallots and crisp until brown. Scoop with a slotted spatula into a paper towel lined plate. Make sure the crispy shallots are separate laying flat. Crisp the shallots just before serving.

Related celeriac posts:
Celeriac Mashed Potatoes - No Traditional Recipe, Just a Thanksgiving Recount
Meatball and Rice Dumplings Soup, A Romanian Style Chorba (Ciorba)

P.S. I might do another photo shoot but couldn't wait to get this out to you!

Indian Dumplings - Silent Sunday Of Sorts, A Work In Progress

This Laru (ladu), an Indian dumpling filled with sweetened coconut and blanched, peeled and slivered raw pistachios and almonds, has been an undertaking and a work in progress. I have a cultural story that goes along with it that I've been in labor pains over, but it will be born when it is well seasoned and ready.

Fig Chutney

The fig tree, Ficus Carica, is a deciduous, tree or large shrub, with three or five lobed leaves, native to the Middle East. Later cultivated from Afghanistan to Portugal, in the 15th century was introduced and grown in Northern Europe and The New World. Figs are one of the first plants cultivated by humans for edible consumption. Fossils dating as far back as 9400-9200BC were found in the Jordan Valley just 13km north of Jericho. Middle Eastern countries to this day are the largest fig producers.
The flower of the fig is invisible as it is grown inside and each fig variety has a certain type of fig wasp which pollinates it. Read about the fertilized female wasp entering the fig and about the entire pollination process under ecology here.

Mission figs are one of the highest plant sources of calcium and fiber. In a dried form, figs are rich in fiber, copper, magnesium, potassium and vitamin K. Figs are rich in antioxidants and have laxative effects.
Figs are significant in many cultures and widely depicted in art. One of the more well known passages from Genesis is when Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden fruit "and the eyes of them both were opened and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig-leaves together, and made themselves girdles." Another quote is from the book of Kings I "Each man under his own vine and fig tree" which often describes times of peace and prosperity.

Buddha achieved enlightenment under a sacred fig tree (ficus Religiosa or Pipal). The Indian fig tree, Ficus Benghalensis, or Banyan tree, is India's national tree. Many idioms based on the figs anatomy and characteristics are commonplace in India.

The fig is also mentioned in The New Testament and The Qur'an, was important in Roman diet and appears in Greek mythology. The fig symbolizing femininity widely appears in many writings and art throughout the centuries.
I am co-hosting October #figlove bloghop. Please check out all the fantastic fig recipes in this series linked below and feel free to add your October fig recipes to the link throughout this month. Special thanks goes to T.R. @ No One Likes Crumbley Cookies | @TRCrumbley.

Fig Chutney

2 tbls canola or vegetable oil

2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1 inch fresh ginger, grated
1 Jamaican Hot Chocolate pepper or habanero pepper, finely diced
1 medium red onion, diced

1lb figs, stemmed and diced
1/2 cup Sugar in the Raw
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2-4 thyme sprigs, leaves only (depending on taste)

Sauté onions, garlic, ginger and pepper on low/medium heat while occasionally stirring until onions are soft but not caramelized. Add the figs and continue sautéing for a few minutes longer. Add the sugar, vinegars, salt, lemon and thyme and cook on low/medium, on a low bubble, while occasionally stirring, for approximately 20-30 minutes or until mixture is slightly thickened.

Your #figlove co-hosts:
Angela @ Spinach Tiger | @spinachtiger
Valerie @ Bon a Croquer | @Valouth
Deanna @ Teaspoon of Spice | @tspbasil
Shulie @ Food Wanderings | @foodwanderings
Evelyne @ Cheap Ethic Eatz |  @cethniceatz
Sheila @ Pippi’s In the Kitchen Again | @shlylais
T.R. @ No One Likes Crumbley Cookies | @TRCrumbley
EA @ The Spicy RD | @thespicyrd
Becky @ Baking and Cooking: The Tale of Two Loves
Susan @ Wimpy Vegetarian | @wimpyvegetarian

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I have baked the more humble cousin, the challah, on multitudes of occasions over the years, but never the more aristocratic Brioche. Although there are some idiosyncrasies to brioche making, I found the process much easier than I've imagined.  I made a couple of batches but even within one batch I experimented with different shaping techniques my research came up with. I am really in awe at how different proportions of flour, water, eggs, yeast and butter will produce such a different depth of flavor and texture in bread.

Daily Catch: Red Drum Fish Fillet on Green Basil & Spinach Risotto

Note to the kosher crowd: Sheila is a seafood restaurant but the dish could be replicated at home without the shellfish and be completely kosher.

As many of you know, Sheila is one of my favorite restaurants in Israel. If you haven't caught the article at The Washington Post, you can read it here. In addition to the recipes that appeared in The Washington Post, I was fortunate enough that Sharon, Chef Cohen that is, shared with me, one of my all time favorite restaurant dishes, his green risotto recipe. Here, I am happy to share it with you. It's absolutely phenomenal.

Wordless Wednesday - Black Beans

By the time I got home I couldn't tell whether I got black (turtle?) beans or black Adzuki (Azuki) beans.  Can you tell the difference? Thanks for your help.

Apple Bourbon Bundt Cake

A last minute search came up with an Apple Bourbon Bundt Cake by Melissa Clark published by The New York Times in 2011. I wished to change things around a tad from my favorite apple cake I bake every year. For 5773 I upped the stakes and went all boozy and I like it!

Artichoke Bottoms Filled With Carp 'Meatballs' In Ouzo & Fennel Sauce & A Gefilte Fish Rant

I am unapologetic for my distaste of Gefilte Fish. I shudder at the thought of the jello-y cellulite like jiggle of these Eastern European anemic carp 'meatballs'. One of my guests a few years past had the blasphemy to bring the canned version, it was his mom's tradition while he was a budding young boy. Sacrilegious to taint my holiday table. I was mortified!

Lamb Biryani - Rosh HaShana 5773 Indian Style

Every year as Rosh HaShana, The Jewish New Year, rolled in, my mom used to make this lamb biryani as a celebratory dish. The lamb was fork tender and still gorgeous pinkish inside, even after cooking for an hour and a half. Traditionally my mom adds potatoes into the dish, but I did not include them. The dish ages well over time, but potatoes are best when freshly cooked, not the next day or two. My mom also uses 4-5 chiles in this recipes but I toned it down. This particular version is super authentic even with the minor tweaks, directly from my mom's kitchen.


On Red Star Yeast's site, I found this description under their challah: "This egg-rich braid is traditionally served in Jewish households to begin the Sabbath. Try serving for breakfast with fruit preserves or slice thick and use to make superb French toast."
With the holidays approaching, the timing of posting this feather like textured challah could not have been more perfect.On Rosh HaShana, a round challah is traditionally baked symbolizing the cycle of the year. I hardly ever bake this loaf pan shape so I decided to give it a go. Surprisingly enough, this challah's taste and fluffy cotton candy texture was identical to the ones I grew up on. If you wish to make a round challah, please see my Honey Challah for instructions.

I adapted Red Star Yeast's recipe just slightly. I needed more flour, used 1 1/2 teaspoon salt instead of 2, braided it and baked it at a temperature I am accustomed to at 350F for 35 minutes. The original recipe calls for 400F for 20-25 minutes.

This post is part of my professional collaboration with Red Star Yeast.

Adapted from Red Star Yeast recipe

1 cup water
2 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoon canola oil
3 cups bread flour (I needed an additional 1/2 cup) 
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (RSY asks for 2 tsps I used less)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 1/4 oz packet)

Combine yeast, 1 cup flour, and other dry ingredients. Combine water and oil; heat to 120º to 130º F.

Combine dry ingredients and liquid ingredients in mixing bowl with paddle or beaters for 4 minutes on medium speed. Add eggs; beat 1 minute. Gradually add remaining flour and knead with dough hook(s) 5 to 7 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place dough in lightly oiled bowl and turn to grease top. Cover; let rise until dough tests ripe.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; punch down to remove air bubbles. Roll or pat into a 12 x 6-inch rectangle. Cut into two 3 x 12-inch strips. Twist the strips together. Place in a 9 x 5-inch greased bread pan or on a greased cookie sheet. Cover; let rise until indentation remains after touching. For a shiny crust, brush with a combination of 1 slightly beaten egg and 1 tablespoon water. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired. Bake in preheated 350º F oven 35 minutes. Remove from pan; cool.

Red Star Yeast Series:
Cinnamon Buns
Yeast Pancakes
Multigrain Oatmeal Bread
Marbled Rye Bread
Dark Pumpernickel Rye Bread
Jalapeno Cheddar Bread 

Challah Posts: 
Honey Challah
Spelt Honey Challah anc Chocolate babka
Quince Honey Challah Knots

Souvenirs from Tel Aviv & A Happy Birthday

First things first. So many thoughts I cannot put down to paper, so am going to simply wish my gorgeous son the happiest 20th birthday, today. So monumental. Enjoy your day, and stay as beautiful as you are, inside and out. Never change! Love you always. Mom and Dad

On another front, an article of mine was published today in The Washington Post Food section. Pop over and check it out. This photo is just an inkling to what you might find there. Love how it looks here and you might want this and this accessible.

Silent Sunday - The Trappist Monastery, Latrun, Israel (The Monastery of Notre-Dame de Sept-Douleurs)

Before I get into the history of this beautiful Monastery, I would like you to take a quick look at the aerial video of this stunning place and surroundings to get a better feel for the place. This print is pretty as well, I just found the image on the web and thought of sharing it.