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!